The rain fell as the large creature stomped through the mud towards Will. No it was not Blaine, it was however a large enforcer of the same ilk. All such creatures needed to be treated with maximum caution, they were the strongest of the horde.
The shapeshifter began to circle behind him, the larger came straight on. They were trying a tried and true method, encircle the enemy attack from front and behind. Will however had played this game before and continued to charge his body with more energy. He kept enough in his eyes so that even in the pitch black he could still see every detail. Both creatures were drawing on more energy, getting more powerful as time went by, Will couldn’t wait much longer, but he suspected that he didn’t need to.
The larger creature stopped, its clawed feet slapping in the mud, its hands, long claws ready for blood, it’s face, large dull eyes and fangs, hungry for flesh.
‘Well-‘ The shapeshifter, in human form began, it never finished as Will flung a whip of energy at its head. He didn’t wait to see if it hit home as he and the enforcer began running at each other, closing the gap of ten paces in a heartbeat. They met head on, feet slapping in the mud, claws flailing. Will held his dual crescent blades out wide and brought them back and forth, almost in a dance. The creature’s claws slashed at his jacket as bright yellow-white sparks flew. The energy he used to shield himself sparked in defence. The creature’s claws could cut through flesh as if it were nothing, but they too were supercharged with energy making them truly deadly weapons.
Will’s blades sliced the creature’s forearms but caused only superficial wounds. He needed to go deeper, the creatures healed quickly and this one would be fine within a few hours, he must go deeper.
He ducked as a blast of energy flew by him. He could hear the shapeshifter, having been distracted for only a moment by Will’s attack moving against him now. Its boots slopped towards him and Will was forced to turn and face the new attacker, a sharp blade slashing through the air, hitting water droplets as it flew.
Faced with two simultaneous attacks, Will threw a ball of pure hot energy into the ground, the burst of mud splashing against his jacket as he turned, but covered the creatures for a moment blinding them. He attacked, his blades cut two lines into each creature’s chest. He couldnt’ get close enough to finish them as they flung their own respective weapons in erratic self defence.
The enforcer looked down, this time noting the greater wound as Will gave a moment’s pause, in battle ready position and drops of blood dripped from his blades. The larger creature looked shocked and then enraged, it was not mortally wounded but it would move just a little slower now.
The smaller creature however checked its wounds and smiled at Will. Damn he thought, it too had a shield and it held out.
Both creatures flew at Will, claws and blades flying, his heart thumping, he fought valiantly to make sure nothing hit his body. Trying to dodge a claw flying at his head, he slipped and went down on one knee. Rolling to get away, he slipped again as he tried to recover.
The creatures pounced keen to press their advantage when a repetitive ‘thock thock thock’ ran out across the clearing. It was the sound of a silenced pistol and the large enforcer flinched heavily three times. Such a weapon wouldn’t kill it, but it now moved slowly, hunched over clearly in pain. It lurched towards the trees seeking cover, it had no fight left in it.
Will looked up and saw Katalina shifting her aim to the shapeshifter. It moved smoothly and slid down on one knee, twisting purposefully and gestured with its right arm.
‘No!’ Will yelled as the whip of energy flew from the monster’s hand, through the air and hit Katalina, she fell to the ground with a groan. Enraged, Will regained his footing and charged at the creature.
Sensing the advantage had left with its comrade, it blasted a huge bolt of energy into the ground, a wall of mud flew upwards in response as if on command. Will flung blast after blast from his hands into the thick of it, but when it cleared, the creature was gone. He could not see nor sense it. How is that possible?
Forgetting his enemies he ran to Katalina who lay in the mud.
‘I’m sorry Will, I was too slow.’ She sounded weak.
‘No, it’s ok, you saved me, you did well, I’ll get Chen.’ He began to panic, they would have left a few minutes ago to track the convoy. As if sensing his thoughts Katalina looked up at him
‘It’s ok, I managed to reach them, they’re already on their way back.’
‘Keep the fight going,’ she cringed in pain.
‘No, you’ll be fine.’
‘No Will, remember, set backs should inspire you, otherwise they will destroy you.’
‘What?’ He said dumb, unable to reply with any meaning. But it didn’t matter, her eyes were closed and he knew they would never open again.
He fumed and raged, his body boiled with anger, how could this happen, right in front of him, yet another person in his life, forever destroyed by the Nameless. His mind flashed with images of a memory, a blonde woman, staring at him , her expression was of sadness, he reached out to her, she barely recognised him anymore. He realised he was reaching out to Katalina’s face, his hand trembling.
The hairs stood up on his arms, Will turned and peered through the rain, he regained his composure, his vision returned, a perfect view of the clearing lay out in front of him, he could see various forms moving in the trees. Nameless, dozens of them, they weren’t even in human form, they didn’t need to be. This was their territory, just far enough from town, the dark of night, they didn’t need to be still. No doubt they sensed the battle taking place here and were drawn to it, there must be a hive nearby. It didn’t matter, Will could slip away, they hadn’t quite reached him yet, but he couldn’t take Katalina’s body with him if he did so. He had to hide and leave her to her fate. No, he couldn’t do that, he would make a stand here. He had enough anger to feed him for a battle, the flames of the fire had ample fuel now, he made no attempt to stop it. The creatures that came towards him were nothing significant, there were no enforcers and highly skilled agents, they were merely soldiers, simply numbers, they would suffice.
They plunged into the clearing and raced towards Will as the rain fell. He stood up, placing Katalina’s body gently on the soaked ground and stepped towards the oncoming horde. He retrieved his two crescent blades, held them out by his side, his torn, muddy jacket flapping in the wind. Rain clinked against the metal of his weapons, he kept his eyes closed, he could see everything clearly anyway.
The first group converged on him, like a swarm of huge insects, they were gnashing and clawing, hungry, eager to kill this thing in front of them which they had not the capacity to understand. Will bellowed a battle cry, a scream of rage as he ran at the mass, slicing with his blades, cutting them to shreds. One creature after another received mortal wounds, a slice across the neck, a cut through a large black eye, a head severed. Three creatures jumped simultaneously, he buried one blade in the chest of the two outside ones, their claws cutting his jacket, bouncing off the slim energy shield he had around him, or getting through and slicing the light body armour he wore underneath. The third creature flew straight at Will’s chest, his arms buried in the two now deceased creatures, he lifted up his right leg giving a strong front on kick which sparked as the energy in his limb transferred to his enemy which sent it flying back into the mud, its rib cage shattered, its internal organs crushed.
Dropping the two bodies to the ground, Will surveyed the area, the sea of creatures continued to flow at him, he’d rarely seen so many in one place before, but they had sensed his power and were enraged by it, they moved on him as a moth moved to a flame.
He couldn’t deal with an endless amount of monsters, but he wouldn’t leave Katalina’s body to them, he wouldn’t fail her again.
The lead creature in the next wave leaped at him, his blade dug deeply into it’s jaw of sharp teeth, shattering them, he dragged it to the ground smashing its skull, he withdrew his hand, continued in a spin that took him around in a full circle and unleashed an intense line of yellow white energy from his hand that cast out into the crowd. Several fell to the ground, sliced in two, others lost their feet or hands as they clamoured forwards on all fours, some jumped over the blast and kept coming. Will faced them, withdrew his blade from the creature’s head and tried to regain his strength. In his rage he had unleashed an impressive amount of energy, now he had little left and would take a few crucial seconds to regain his strength.
A screech of tyres drew his attention, a van pulled up with a skid on the ground not far from Katalina’s body. Jovan jumped out of the van, his large sniper rifle up to his eye, the Serbian pulled the trigger again and again, moving expertly from one target to the next.
‘Come on Will, get moving!’ He yelled in between shots.
Will took the moment of distraction to run towards the van, closing the gap in a dozen fast strides. Creature after creature fell from Jovan’s assault until his rifle clicked, out of ammo. He threw the rifle into the van and grabbed Katalina’s body, Will turned to see the horde, their numbers thinned by half since the attack began, but still enough to overwhelm them, they would be on them in seconds.
Will had managed to regain enough strength to focus some energy in his right hand. He returned the blades to his jacket pockets and sent every scrap of power he had into the front of the creatures. The blast shattered at their feet with such an impact that their momentum completely stopped. Perhaps only two were killed and half dozen injured, but the group stopped long enough to allow Will to get into the van as Katalina’s legs disappeared inside. He shut the door and yelled for Chen to drive unnecessarily as the young Taiwanese had already hit the peddle and the van took off quickly despite the mud.
The creatures ran after them, one or two even manged to dig their claws into the back of the vehicle. Will grabbed two pistols from the small stash they had in the back of the van, and still with enough power to see in the dark, he fired on the claws that protruded through the metal. He heard whispers as the creatures let go and fell onto the soft ground. They were away, they’d made it.
Will turned and looked at Jovan, who was staring back at him, cradling Katalina’s lifeless form in his lap.
Will sat quietly looking at an oval dish, was this really his prize? His chair was made of a beautiful oak varnished to a perfect finish. He wore his standard combat gear, light body armour covered in black clothing, his crescent moon blades by his side, blood trickled from one of them and made a small puddle on the floor.
The cold dead eyes in the platter stared at him, Derrick’s severed head, Will’s ultimate prize at last had nothing to say.
The body lay on the far side of the room, in the edge of the light that appeared to be coming from a lamp on the table, also made of finely polished oak.
In his periphery Will could see Jovan and Chen looking rather pleased with themselves. There were various dark shadows behind Jovan that chittered with delight. Yes, this is a shared victory, Will allowed a small smile to creep up the side of his face.
He noticed someone else in the room, but who was it? He knew this person, this woman. Someone from his past. She stood silently at the very edge of the light, Will had to strain to see her, but he knew who it was. A lump formed in his throat.
‘Ha!’ Yelled a voice. Will snapped his head around, but he couldn’t see where the voice came from, but a flicker of movement told him who it was. The head was smirking at him, the patches of blood gave it a devilish grin.
‘You think you have defeated me?!’ It shrieked, Derrick’s normally calm demeanour broken. He began to laugh maniacally as Will surveyed the room. He cried out as he saw the tittering shadows from behind Jovan leap forward and drag him backwards into the darkness. Chen looked around confused before he fell to the ground, claw marks showed on his back, Will cried out but it was no use. The woman in the corner, looked at him with sad sorrowful eyes as bars snapped up from nowhere, she was now imprisoned and she stepped back out of the failing light.
Will looked around again, to his surprise, the body of Derrick had risen and was now holding the head. The hands moved up to the stump of a bloody neck and with a grin of victory, the head and body were reunited.
Will leapt out of his chair, his crescent blades flashing, he sliced off the head once more, the body fell to the ground. Will stood panting, looking around at the carnage of the room, a dream, it must be a dream.
I must wake up, I must wake up. His head began to spin, he was losing control, but worse still, the body rose, the head was reattached, Will cried out and sliced again, the body fell once more but the head sat by its side and smiled up at him.
He noticed, finally and suddenly, that the blood wasn’t red, it was black. So to the blood on his blade.
‘You’re not real, you’re a shapeshifter,’ he muttered.
‘True,’ the head cackled, ‘but one of us is real.’ Suddenly Will realised that he was surrounded by a dozen bodies, all with heads missing, but he knew instinctively that they were bodies of Derrick. He flung his blades left and right, bodies fell but there were always more Finally, desperately, he dug deep and drew on his powers, slashing blasts of energy, slicing through the entourage before a voice finally broke through.
‘Will!’ He turned, the woman had returned to the bars of her cell, ‘you must keep fighting, but not here,’ she said.
Will looked down at Chen’s body, his friend was motionless. Suddenly, Chen looked up and cried, ‘Will!’ The bodies of Derricks moved in and grabbed Will, dragging him to the ground, he was trapped, there was nothing he could do.
We can’t wait any longer,’ Jovan said ‘you said yourself he’s out of the worst of it.’
‘That’s true,’ Chen replied replacing the cloth on Will’s forehead. Since they had escaped the creatures, Will had gone into a comatose state, Chen recognised it as a form of clinical shock. He would be ok, he just needed time. He gave him an injection, a good little pick me up that he’d put together himself with his basic medical training. Then, once they had put Will to bed, in their small town house that Jovan had arranged carefully, Jovan had disappeared with Katalina’s body. He had returned an hour later looking dirty and tired, but he seemed to be holding together rather well all things considered.
Will had seemingly calmed down, his body no longer churned in the sheets, he no longer sweat profusely. He now had a drip going into his arm, Chen set it up with some standard IV solution.
‘He should wake up in the next couple of hours feeling very hungry, I’ve left some instructions with him. With any luck we’ll be back before he wakes up.’ Chen stood up, still a little concerned for his friend. He looked at Jovan, the Serbian’s face was stern, yet calm. ‘You sure you’re ok to do this?’
‘We have to move quickly, the weapons are being distributed as we speak. We’ve learned a lot about Derrick’s plans, but if we don’t stop him raising an army, all hell will break loose.’
‘Ok, I’m ready if you are,’ Chen picked up his small bag and the two men left Will to his slumber.
Will awoke several hours later feeling disoriented and groggy. He looked down at his body, he was in his underwear, he had a drip trickling into his arm and was in a small room he didn’t recognise. It was dark, so likely night time, although there were no windows so it was hard to tell, but the single bed and one set of draws gave little away.
He removed the drip and left the room looking into the main area of the house. Looking outside there were trees, but there were lights in the distance, so they weren’t too far from a town. Townhouse?
He felt terrible, his muscles were stiff and his memories were fuzzy. He saw a few things on the bench next to the relatively modern kitchen. There was also a small lounge but he paid it little attention.
On the bench was a new set of armour for him, a bowl of some food, some medical equipment and a phone.
There was also a piece of paper with Chen’s writing on it.
‘Will,’ it began, ‘New armour for you, finally got it modified, it’s a little tougher than the old stuff, adding almost no extra weight, try it on. We’re in the outskirts of Tartu, Estonia, we crossed the border last night when you were asleep. Have a shower, eat something, Jovan and I have gone to investigate the whereabouts of the convoy, we should be back shortly after nightfall.’ Will allowed himself a wry smile. Chen was good to him.
Night had fallen by the looks, but not so long ago. So this is Estonia? It didn’t look any different to Latvia from his current vantage point.
Will took a shower, brushed his teeth, shaved, drank two large glasses of filtered water. His mind began to clear as he did so. He remembered what happened, all of it. Was it his fault?
He had nearly finished the bowl of rice and vegetables, a nice chilli sauce, not too strong gave it a pleasant flavour, when the phone on the bench rang. The number on the screen was Chen’s.
‘Hello?’ He said, there was a pause at the other end and some breathing.
‘Hello my friend,’ a voice came back he recognised, but he couldn’t quite place. He knew it was bad news, his heart began to beat faster.
‘Who is this?’
‘Ah, you still don’t remember me, well I suppose I haven’t formally introduced myself, my name is Angel.’
‘It’s you,’ Will knew the voice now, the creature he fought the night before, the one who had killed Katalina.
‘Yes, and now I have your friends. I’m afraid they have been rather troublesome and must be taken care of. You however are even more important, so I’m going to use them against you, if you don’t mind,’ the cackling voice sighed in satisfaction.
‘Where are you you son of a bitch?!’ Will growled.
‘I’ve just messaged you with the address, see you soon. Take your time, but I’d make it within the hour or there maybe one fewer friend to rescue, or at least a smaller amount of him.’
Will hung up, his eyes blazed, not again. He wouldn’t let this creature, Angel win, not again. He went back to his room and found some clothes, the old torn jacket had been thrown away. A message appeared on his phone, an address. Will picked up a few of his belongings and stormed out the door and into the night.
(C) T.W. Norrich ‘The Nameless Saga’ 2017