The shadows crept up the wall of the old and weary building. Chipped concrete pierced by razor sharp claws sprinkled down to the ground as the second floor window’s minimal light did nothing to dissuade the creatures from moving ever onwards.
They could see perfectly in the dark, the light of the room would be a small issue once they went inside, but their sense of smell was also of an exceptional standard. They looked at each other, a tiny click emanated from one, the other two replied in kind, they were ready.
Will sipped his coffee, he was troubled by the news from Jovan, that Derrick’s group had already been well established in neighbouring Latvia for at least the past two months. That meant that even though Will thought that he had killed Derrick six weeks ago, in fact, they had already snuck away and begun their operation in the north before he had struck.
‘So they were already winding down their operations in the South before I even took Derrick out?’ He asked.
‘Yes,’ Jovan said, his Serbian accent giving an especial emphasis to the ‘y’ sound. ‘They were already channeling resources into the North.’
‘But why? They had a good thing going, why leave it vulnerable for me to attack?’
‘Don’t know,’ Jovan shrugged as he sipped his coffee, the strong Turkish brew wafting through the small apartment, ‘but maybe they thought it was already vulnerable, after all, you’d caused them many issues before, you knew most of their network. I’d upset them once or twice as have others. Perhaps they vwanted to start fresh.’
‘Maybe, but-‘ Will was cut off but a slight tap on the window, they all turned but were caught off guard as the window smashed in towards them and three dark grey figures swarmed inside.
Will was grabbed by his shoulder and dragged straight through the window, he started to channel his powers, but it wasn’t enough to stop the attack. Before he could register what had happened he was hurtling towards the ground, being on the second level it didn’t take long to hit, and being dragged out by the shoulders, he landed head first with a thud and a spark of white-yellow light as his power flickered then faded and everything around him went dark.
Jovan stood up as Will was dragged out the window, he made to grab for him but was too slow, he instead moved to his right and shoved Chen, who fell back as a claw grasped for him. Hitting the ground, Chen slid away on the floor, panic in his eyes. Jovan backed away as one creature jumped on and smashed the small table, it was big, like a hound, it moved on all fours, its large dark eyes and sharp teeth gave it an alien look, this type was less humanoid than the ones Jovan had seen before. He had encountered creatures before, had even killed a few, but he wasn’t what he would call an expert, that was Will’s job, and he’d just gone flying out the window.
A second hound crawled into the apartment and made its way towards Chen who continued to slide up against the wall of the separate bedroom. He had only a small handgun on him, a type he didn’t even know by name, but was too scared to grab for it, Jovan on the other hand, was moving quickly to his rifle, a high powered weapon, although not great at close quarters combat, it could be devastating if he could only get to it.
He could smell the stench of the creature’s breath as it pawed towards him, there wasn’t much room to move in the small apartment and the hound knew it and seemed to be savouring its kill. The large wiry muscles tensed, it was about to pounce but Jovan hadn’t quite reached the front door where he had lent his rifle, he stupidly thought that the door was more vulnerable than the window, it would take a crucial second to get his rifle, another to aim it, another to pull the trigger, it wasn’t enough time, instead, with his right hand inside his coat pocket clasped around his silenced pistol, he pulled it out and fell to his left, firing as the huge hound leaped at him.
It misjudged his descent and went over, its claws narrowly missing him, at least one of the bullets found its mark, the creature whimpered but was not stopped as it crashed into the front door, shattering it.
It turned, stunned and Jovan had just enough time to grab his rifle, kick the creature’s backside, which did little to it given its greater mass, but it pushed him far enough away from that he could bring the rifle around to bare. The hound knew what it was looking at, caught in the doorway, half twisted around looking at its prey turned hunter, it could only follow its killer instinct and snarl as it jumped awkwardly at Jovan. A high powered shell went directly into its skull, killing it instantly, the body’s momentum slowed quickly and landed short, only it’s front haunches fell onto Jovan’s legs. He twisted around, surprised at the weight of the creature, he couldn’t dislodge from it, and couldn’t get the rifle around to use it on the other. He saw it though, it moved in on Chen, it too was taking its time, savouring the kill, Jovan wanted to make it pay for its hubris. He reclaimed his pistol, swung it around and fired three shots at the creature. Two hit home, causing it to whimper, it turned in a panic and flew through the smashed window with incredible agility.
‘Chen!’ he called, are you alright?’
He frantically kicked at the dead creature which had, like all other times Jovan had seen a dead one, begun to dissolve. Within minutes it would be gone, leaving only a fine ash behind, but for now it was easy enough to move, and ignoring the pain in his ankles he ran around the corner into the bedroom where Chen sat in stunned silence, but he appeared unharmed, the clawmarks in the wooden floor showed that the animal was only a step away from Chen before it had bolted. Not wasting his time with the stunned young man, he ran to the window, looked out and his heart skipped a beat.
He could see one of the creatures hobbling away into the darkness, but the third stood over Will, looking down at him, it seemed to have hunger in its eyes, but was also somehow on guard, as if it wer watching over him. That made no sense to Jovan, who raised the sniper rifle and aimed at the creature.
The large hound looked up at him and roared, this one was the leader, it wasn’t just bigger, it was more powerful, he couldn’t detect their energy like Will could, but he knew it.
The creature got down on its haunches and built up its strength, it happened in a heart beat and Jovan had only just enough time to pull the trigger as it roared with incredible intensity, the bullet as fast as it was, as deadly as it was, never found its mark. The roar from the creature hit it, seemingly knocking it away, the shockwave continued on and smashed into the broken sill, Jovan was knocked to the ground landing on the broken table, grunting, heavily winded. What the hell was that?
He had to get up and try again, or it would all be over for Will. He clambered up to the sill, looked down, he may already be too late, Will still wasn’t moving, was he already dead? The creature looked ready to pounce back up to the window and finish Jovan off, his rifle now lay at the other end of the room, hopelessly out of reach. He grabbed at the pistol, struggling to get his breath back, he knew it wasn’t powerful enough to stop such a strong creature, but it was all he had. The creature jumped, one single bound would take it up to the window, and one slash with the claw and Jovan would be finished, but halfway up, in mid flight, the creature was hit by something as a loud crash echoed through the night.
It fell to the ground, got up and looked at its new enemy. A dark figure stood in the distance, Jovan squinted, it was too dark to see, but a glint of metal and another loud boom that was the unmistakable discharge of a desert eagle, a pistol with enough stopping power to put down any man, but was it enough?
The creature winced again, its tough hide stopped it from getting torn apart, but not enough to stop it from getting injured. It ran at its attacker, the figure stood still, side on and calmly lined up the shot as if on a shooting range and squeezed the trigger. The deafening roar of the gun echoed twice more and the creature fell, face first sliding on the damp and uneven street.
‘That’s my girl,’ Jovan muttered. ‘Check on Will!’ He called, ‘I’ll get Chen downstairs,’ he went to Chen who was sitting up now, seemingly more alert. ‘We have to go.’ Chen nodded, got up and followed, Jovan grabbing a backpack as he went, stuffing his rifle inside.
Upon reaching the street, in almost total darkness, with only distance lights and a slight beam emanating from their now destroyed apartment, Jovan walked over to Will and looked down at him. He shook his head, it looked by the angle that he had landed on his head, no one could survive that.
Chen bent down in partial shock and impotently checked his friends pulse. He held his hand there for a few moments as Jovan looked at the dark feminine figure next to him.
‘Good timing Katalina,’ he said in Serbian.
‘Just on patrol as you ordered, was coming back to tell you-‘ she stopped when she heard a gasp from Chen.
‘He’s alive,’ Chen croaked.
‘There’s a pulse.’
‘Can’t be, he landed on his head,’ as if to silence his objections, Will opened his eyes and looked around, unfocused at first but then he smiled at Chen.
‘Well now, why do you look so concerned?’ He said quietly.
‘You had me scared there.’
‘We should really get off the street,’ Katalina said.
‘Can you walk?’ Jovan asked.
‘I think so,’ Will sat up, twisted his neck back and forth, ‘a little stiff, should be fine.’ They all moved on following Jovan and Katalina, they knew the city well and would have them hidden in a moment. The noise from their altercation would bring the authorities no doubt, all they would find is two piles of ash and some damaged property.
Moving four blocks away and stepping down a short set of concrete stairs with black handrails, Katalina opened up the cracked and damaged door with hints of the old red paint that once adorned it.
Inside, in a dark corridor that stretched on for a dozen paces, they went into a more secure room behind another equally abused door. Now deeper inside the four storey building they began to relax, a small light was switched on on the side of one wall. It lit up the ugly brown wallpaper and the small lounge with attached kitchen. The furniture was newer than anything else in the room, perhaps only ten years used, a dull grey but was of welcome relief to several tired bodies.
‘Ok Will,’ Jovan said scratching his head, ‘how on earth did you survive that?’
‘I was wondering that myself. The best answer I can give you is that I can recall channeling my powers and when I realised that I was going down head first I put up a bit of a shield around my head.’
‘You can do that?’
‘Well, yeah, I can concentrate power around a certain area, or my whole body, in theory to stop an attack from a weapon, or claw, but I guess it can also help with blunt trauma. The shield took the impact like a helmet.’
‘Damn,’ Chen muttered, ‘I really thought you were dead.’
‘We nearly all were, I’m surprised they found us so easily, I’m normally better at this,’ Jovan frowned as Katalina handed bottles of water to everyone.
‘Me to,’ Will said. ‘Thanks for your help, I’m Will, this is Chen.’
‘I know who you are,’ the woman called Katalina said, she seemed cold, but Will knew it as the tone of the slavic, cold on the outside, but not necessarily in meaning. ‘My name is Katalina, I work for Jovan.’
‘I gathered, I haven’t met many of his people.’
‘So,’ Jovan said, business as normal, ‘they know that vwe are in de city and vwant to put an end to us, that happened quicker than I had hoped.’
‘Yes, that would be my fault for letting that creature get away.’
‘Forget it, we’ve got to move on.’
‘Ok, so what next?’
‘We move to Riga, we follow the convoy, find out where it’s going and what Derrick’s next move is. If he really is going to start a war we need to know what he’s up to, how he intends to do it.’
‘Ok, I guess the big question is, who is it going to? I mean, by what you tell me, he has a huge amount of weapons, so does he have the army himself or is he supplying someone else?’
‘Good question, that’s what we have to find out.’
‘Ok, when do we leave?’
‘You get some rest, you did nearly die after all.’
‘So did we all,’ Chen added.
‘Well three of us did,’ Katalina said, without giving a smile. Will smiled at her anyway.
‘Ok, let’s rest up, then I’m going back to get a few of our things, it wont take long. Then, if I’ve got this right, we’ve got to follow a convoy to find out where it’s going, then somehow stop it from getting there, then bring Derrick down finally, did I miss anything?’
‘Yeah,’ said Jovan, ‘if we mess up, and the army is supplied first, then we also have to fight them.’
(C) T.W. Norrich ‘The Nameless Saga’ 2017