Hot steamy breath hit the window, the light from the moon and street lights barely filtered in through the cloudy glass. Inside the old building was a blanket of darkness, there was only one light in a solitary room on the far eastern side, but with the door closed only a small crack allowed a line to escape. The shapeshifter known as Angel craned his neck around and reviewed the troops, he could see them clearly in the darkness of course, they were all standing at the ready like the professionals they were, this was why they had chosen them. This group had been assembled and tasked with hunting the human down.
One, a heavy built enforcer, still young but nevertheless one of the strongest enforcers under Derrick’s authority and would no doubt challenge even Blaine to leadership one day, as was his right. It was this enforcer that had helped Angel attack the human and kill his female companion. They were both fully healed from their encounter.
There were two creeps, the smaller scouts, devious ones that could stay hidden, but attacked with the ferocity of wild animals. These two were especially skilled with their powers which set them apart from most creatures. Then there were the three shapeshifters, Angel being one of them. They were skilled at subterfuge as all shapeshifters needed to be, but these ones were also combat experts. They didn’t just slide a dagger into someone’s back and take their place, they were warriors, in human or creature form.
Lastly, a true surprise to all, a highly skilled spy who also happened to be an incredible sniper and hand to hand combat expert. Additionally, the sniper was a human. That she was a female was not as surprising as the ferocity and skill that a simple human could posess. Angel didn’t like humans, he barely trusted Derrick as it was, but her record spoke for itself. In the heart of Belgium she had eliminated a human, he couldn’t remember who it was, it wasn’t that important, but it was the way she did it that was significant. She silently sniped the man, then either removed or distracted the security team long enough for a shapeshifter to get in, remove the body and become the human in his stead.
An entire security team in the next room, had no clue as to what had happened, it was most extraordinary.
At any rate, Angel felt that his current task would be over soon, with the team in place, the trap was set. He’d even recruited two useless guards, low grade filth who were trying their hand at shape changing, they were expendable. Now all he had to do was wait, but knowing this human, it wouldn’t take long.
‘Chen, can you hear me?’ Jovan whispered. The smell of sweat and dried blood surrounded him, his left eye was swollen and bruised from a direct hit earlier in the evening, but in the light of the one inadequate bulb that hung from the ceiling in a precarious fashion he could see that Chen, with a streak of dry blood down the right side of his face was beginning to regain consciousness.
‘Yeah, I’m here,’ he said groggy but lifted his head. What happened?’
‘Well, we managed to track the weapons down, could even point to the exact whereabouts of the Russians who took about half the convoy, but we got jumped by some of Derrick’s men.’
‘Is that who hit us?’
Jovan noticed that the empty room they were in which seemed comically big given that it had been gutted and now laid empty except for their two chairs they were tied to and two guards watching them. They were shapeshifters, they stood at the solitary door and watched them, but seemed unconcerned.
‘Yeah, seems that way.’
‘Why the hell would Derrick be protecting the Russians, he armed them, then he had an escort for them as well? This doesn’t make any sense.’
‘Got that right, the other question is where did the other half of the convoy go?’
‘I thought it was headed to Tallin.’
‘Right, but who is going to use it? Derrick has armed a modest army of Russians, then he’s going to arm another group to an equal amount, what is he playing at?’
‘Beats me,’ Chen bowed his head in silence for a few moments. “I wonder if Will is ok.’
‘I expect so, he’ll come for us,’ Jovan said, but he knew that if he did, the odds were stacked against him.
‘Look, Chen. I know you don’t like me, you think I’m a reckless mercenary, but there’s something you should know. I fought in the Balkan wars in the early nineties, I was a soldier. I saw a lot of horrible things in my time, Serbs killing Bosnians, Croatians killing Serbs, Bosnians killing Bosnians. The one thing I learnt from that is that none is right. Everyone has a reason for what they do, but that doesn’t make them right, but taking on a holier than thou attitude simply makes you one of the masses. The only thing I’ve stayed true to this whole time, since I went into business for myself was me, my idea of right and wrong. I acknowledge that not everyone will agree with that, and that’s fine, but my home, Serbia, even though it was taken over by maniacs for a time, is still my home. I have to keep it in check, keep it safe, if I can. That’s why I do what I do. Sometimes that means I take on the Nameless, sometimes I go after crime lords, but right now, Derrick is the biggest threat, not just to Serbia but all of Eastern Europe, and if my suspicions are right, all of Europe is on the brink of war. So we’d better figure out a way to get out of here, what do you think?’
‘I think that’s fair, but how do you propose we do that?’
Jovan didn’t answer, he looked to the door, he could be wrong, but he thought he heard something.
The night continued to darken as Will made his way through the city. A dog barked in the distance and he heard the gentle hum of an occasional car, but once he got near the address he was given, there was little sign of life. Tartu was a small city. Estonia itself only had about two million people. Tartu being the second city behind the capital had pleasant streets, old buildings, parks, everything you’d expect. During the day it beamed with a pleasant earthy red from the bricks used during the industrialisation phase of construction, but now they were dull and drained what little light was offered from the moon, stars and very occasional street lighting.
The building in question was a rather obvious one, it was an old brick factory, not likely used since before independence in the early nineties. There was no obvious activity but by tapping gently into his powers Will was able to sense two creatures inside. He didn’t suspect for a moment that that was all he faced, but where the others were he couldn’t tell. The creature, Angel wasn’t anywhere he could sense. Having sensed him twice before, Will would know if he was close.
Directing a tiny parcel of power to his eyes Will could see clearly in the poorly lit street as he moved around the building. There was only one entrance, all windows and doors had been secured and wouldn’t come open without excessive noise. There was one door in and out, this wasn’t good but Will was still fuming. He had lost Natasha already, now Jovan and Chen had been captured whilst he was napping. Ok it was more than napping, he wasn’t coping well with the current events, first Derrick was alive despite all his efforts and now he was losing his friends, his grasp on his strength had slipped, but now he held onto anger, pure frothing anger. He thought he could taste something bitter in his mouth, was it bile or blood?
He opened the heavy front door and slunk inside. He tried to sense any creatures with his mind as he scanned in the dark with his night vision. There were flickers in the periphery of his mind, like he could see things in the corner of his eye, but when he turned they were gone. What does that mean? He could easily see the one door with light underneath it, it stood out in the large open factory, it had been gutted years ago and now only scraps of metal and dirt remained.
He stalked quietly towards the door, two creatures were inside, he looked around, thought he saw something moving in the dark. If Angel was here, why couldn’t he sense him? Had the creatures learned how to conceal themselves as he had? It was possible. Feeling anxious, but still angry he walked up to the door put his hand gently on the handle, there was no sign of movement inside, another flicker in his mind. There was something here. Damn it! He froze in place thinking of what to do. He drew his hand away from the door and pulled out his phone. He had a week signal, but it was enough, he went through the call registry and found the last received call from Chen, he hit redial. After a few moments there was a familiar buzz and beep ringtone that came not from inside the room but the depths of darkness of the factory. Will hung up, smiled and then drew heavily on his powers, the game was up, there was no need for stealth. So apparently Angel could conceal himself, but he hadn’t turned the phone off.
Having learned many times before, it wasn’t good to fight on two fronts, he kicked in the flimsy door, it gave way with little resistence. He dove through, rolled, came up on his haunches and sent two slices of energy from either hand, the two guards, shapeshifters, fell to the ground having only had time to draw their sidearms before death found them.
To his surprise, Jovan and Chen were actually in the room. So it wasn’t a complete ruse. He ran to them, drawing one of his crescent blades and sliced easily through their restraints of rope and cable ties.
‘There’s only one door, out of here and to the right, do you think you can make it?’
‘Nice to see you old friend,’ Jovan managed a smile under his battered face, Will winced at the sight of him. ‘We’ll do our best, what about you?’ Will handed both men a handgun, 9mm, not enough to bring down a large creature, but the smaller ones would stop and think before attacking them at least.
‘There’s a party out there waiting for us, I’ll keep them busy, besides, there’s one in particular that I want to meet again, I owe him one.’ He stopped, looked at Jovan. ‘Jovan, I-‘
‘Later Will, later, let’s go.’
Will lead them out of the small room and into the wider expanse of the factory, he could sense several creatures now, they were in the walls of the building, the iron support work above them, and they were closing in.
‘Go, quickly,’ he told them as he drew his second blade. ‘Time to dance,’ he muttered to himself. A creature moved in quickly from behind him, it had been hiding in the walls and now flew at Will at full speed. It was a small creep, but it seemed to be teeming with power, it was a tough one. Will freed up a hand for a moment so that he could send a blast of energy at the creature before readying his blades again. The creature reflected the blast, which slowed its momentum somewhat but continued to charge. Will met its outstretched claws with his blades as it dived full length at him. He managed to shift his weight and force the creature to bounce off him, neither drew blood. Will sensed another fast moving creature, it was close, but directly above him. Suddenly it dropped. He fell to one knee, fired up another blast of energy, rolled to the side and the weight of the large dog sized creature smashed into the ground, a plume of smoke and dirt firing up around them. Will was up and ready but was smashed to the ground as the first creature pounced. He collected himself and had his blades up as the creature’s claws flew at him, sparks flew as his shield held up. This was a very strong creep, but he could take it, the problem was, two more creatures now came towards him. These were shapeshifters, they had guns, cowards. Shots flew through the dark factory, Will ducked and weaved, perspiration flew off him as he managed to deflect two shots that came close, his energy was still holding up for the time being. When the creatures got close, they dropped their guns and allowed their true forms to take over, vile creatures, human sized and bipedal. Their claws now added to the fray, Will slashed at them with his blades, but they too were shielded. They were tough, he could best them, but not with two creeps behind him readying to pounce. Then he sensed him, Angel. He was here after all.
Will gritted his teeth, smashed a charged foot into the ground, a shockwave knocked the creatures back and propelled him backwards, giving him a moment to collect himself and ready his defences once more.
‘Show yourself!’ He yelled. Will turned to the front door, less than thirty seconds had passed since he had left Chen and Jovan and they had neared the front door, but something was wrong, it had been bolted, they were wrestling with it, seemed to have it under control but it would take a few critical seconds before they were free. They were too far away for him to help, and he had his own problems to deal with.
‘Very well!’ The call came back, the voice echoed throughout the factory, but Will knew where to look. His blood ran cold. Angel was near the door, he emerged from the shadows, only a dozen paces from Chen and Jovan. They appeared to unhinge the door, they could escape, but Will knew it was too late. He ran to the them and cried out, they turned began to fire but the bullets bounced away from the creature as it waved a hand, a blast hit the ground, Chen flew backwards, another gesture and a slice of pure energy flew at Jovan.
‘No!’ Will yelled as one of the creeps jumped on him, knocking him backwards, he slashed at it, looked up and saw Jovan, on the ground, still.
Angel turned to smirk at Will. ‘Oops, looks like it happened again.’
‘You Monster!’ Will screamed with rage, this is all your doing!’
‘Not quite,’ he called back. Rasing a hand in signal, a loud bang reverberated throughout the empty factory as a huge blow like a hammer smashed into Will’s shoulder and he was flung back onto the dirty ground. He gasped for air, his powers left him as his concentration snapped, with it his night vision was gone. But he could see in the slight stream of moonlight that came in through a window higher up in the building, a figure, feminine, moving amongst the higher support beams. He’d been shot, by a high powered rifle. Did it get through his armour? He couldnt’ tell, the pain from the impact was so intense he couldn’t move his left hand.
Chen, Jovan, I’ve let you down. He closed his eyes for a moment. He heard the creatures move in around him, they surrounded him, this was the end.
He opened his eyes as a creature loomed over him. He froze in shock, could it be? The large fangs, the huge eyes, the massive form.
‘Blaine,’ he whispered, the creature smiled back at him.
(C) T.W. Norrich ‘The Nameless Saga’ 2017