The smell of failure was in the air. It was a mixture of expired industry, dirt, vermin and sweat. Not to mention the indescribable stench of the creatures. There were at least six of them surrounding him as far as Will could ascertain. He was no longer panicking as the ache of his shoulder invaded every thought, he was calm in the face of death. Nevertheless, an amber of red hot rage sat low in his stomach, waiting to be ignited.
Blaine was the closest of course, he wanted to stand over his prey, to gloat.
‘Yes, as I say, it wasn’t all my doing.’ Angel said, slightly out of Will’s view. ‘Blaine assembled this elite gang hell bent on your capture, I’m merely one part of it.’
Blaine’s fanged maw expanded into an approximation of a smile.
‘Capture?’ Will croaked. He tried to move his left arm, it was immobile. He still couldn’t tell whether the bullet had been stopped by his armour. In the distance he could hear nothing of Chen and Jovan. He didn’t know if they were alive.
‘Yes, orders from up high,’ Angel continued but was cut off by a glare from Blaine. ‘Well anyway, it’s been fun, I’ve managed to thin your ranks somewhat. It was a pity about that woman, she was a tough warrior, Derrick remembers her fondly.’ Will couldn’t see the smirk but could hear it in his voice.
‘Angel,’ Will whispered. He could sense the shapeshifter lean in closer. He reached out with his right hand, felt his crescent blade at his fingertips. He may have only one working arm, but it would have to do. ‘Angel,’ he said again, the vision of Natasha and Jovan falling ran through his mind as the amber of pure rage began to grow, so to his connection with his inner power. It had left him, but now with a calm mind, it returned. ‘Before this is over, I’m going to cut your fucking hands off and feed them to you.’
‘Is that so?’ He said with some apprehension, he could no doubt sense Will regaining his strength. Will knew he had only a few moments before they knocked him out, before he grew too strong, he had to do something, now. He sent some power to his eyes, his night vision returned, he then scanned the room with his mind and plotted the location of all the creatures around him, there was a small gap through it he could see the moonlight stream in through the now opened front door. It was a great distance, how could he get there without getting cut down?
The moment to strike was upon him, but the decision was taken away, he was wondering what he would do if he got to the door, was Chen alive, could he get him out? The questions were answered by a scuffle which drew the attention of the entire assembly. Chen staggered to his feet, he looked groggy, but he drew something out of his pocket and threw it across the factory floor, it was a ball, palm sized and it bounced towards the creatures who began to back away fearing an explosive. Will knew what it was, had wondered if his friend was able to secrete some away within his clothing, and closed his eyes as the device exploded. A powerful burst of light filled the open factory, the creatures all staggered grasping at their eyes. With their huge black eyes ideal for night time, they struggled especially hard. Will staggered to his feet, unable to leap up as smoothly as he’d hoped. He grabbed both of his blades into his right hand and ran to Chen. The few seconds he had could be spent killing one or two of these creatures, maybe even Blaine himself, but that wouldn’t also give him the time to get him, and more importantly, Chen out of danger.
The sound of bullets rang out, Will realised that Chen was firing repeated blasts from his 9mm into the space above him. Will had nearly reached him and looked up, realised that he was going after the sniper. Will couldn’t sense anyone there, they must be human, that’s a trick. The sniper ducked away from the blasts, they to were blinded by the light, but not as much as the creatures. Chen had done exceptionally well at buying them the time they needed.
With remorse Will looked at Jovan’s body, even if he were alive, there was no way he could carry him, his left arm was useless, and Chen was not in best condition either.
‘Come on!’ he yelled as they ran through the door. Chen dropped another flash bang inside the doorway, it exploded a few seconds later. The creatures no doubt weren’t as badly affected by it, but it gave them a few more critical seconds to disappear. Thanks to Jovan, they knew exactly where to go in Tartu, there was a safe house within three blocks, at basement level of an old apartment building. The once vibrant door was chipped and bland and it gave way thanks to a skeleton key given to them by Jovan.
They were safe, they’d made it, but they didn’t feel like celebrating.
Two hours ran by, the heavy night lay over the two men like a blanket. They had moved to a second safe house, a little further away from the trap that had been set for them. Will had kept his powers to a minimum, not wanting to be discovered, stealth was their only chance for survival. He could sense the creatures spreading out through the city, two he’d lost track of Angel was one of them, as for the others, they were moving systematically and they would find them, if Will and Chen sat still too long.
The only bit of good news from the evening was that Will’s shoulder wasn’t completely out of action. The bullet had been stopped by his armour, the new improved variety, but Will’s energy shield had done the rest. Given that it had taken him by surprise he was unable to stop it completely, but nevertheless, his shoulder had regained some feeling-mostly pain, and the large bruise was the only sign of the impact.
Waiting for a space between the scouting creatures Will put his shirt back on, his armour discarded. It had been damaged beyond use, now it was only his bare skin and power to stop his attackers.
‘Ok, go.’ He whispered. There was a space, he could sense it, they moved quickly between buildings and escaped the net. Within a few minutes they were back at their townhouse a little out of the city, grabbed a couple of bags of equipment, were in the car Jovan had stolen for them and they were on their way.
‘You’re sure?’ Will asked as he settled into the passenger seat.
‘Definitely, if we get to Tallin quickly, Derrick wont even know you’ve escaped Blaine’s trap. And I figure we’ve got a head start on Blaine and his cronies, you can take down Derrick whilst he’s unguarded.’
‘Ok, what about my arm though, I can’t use it in combat.’
‘No, not like that you can’t, don’t worry, I’ve got an idea for that as well. Get some sleep, it will be a couple of hours to get to Tallin.’
Will laid back and as the adrenaline receded from his system, his body allowed the shock of the night to kick in and he fell into a deep sleep.
The road to Tallin was long and winding with plenty of trucks to get in the way. Chen sped along paying no attention to speed limits. If he was going to give Will the best chance against Derrick he had to get him to Tallin before the night was over.
His ribs ached from the attacker earlier in the night, he suspected he had some internal bleeding but couldn’t afford to divert his attention to it.
It was after 2am when they reached Tallin, the capital of Estonia. Suburbs of Soviet squalor surrounding a medieval town centre that captured the imagination. Large walls, towers, cobblestone pathways, even dancing jesters during the summer.
But they weren’t going to the centre, not now. He drove the car to a safehouse Jovan had told him about. He had to hand it to Jovan, the man was thorough. Using the skeleton key, he opened up, checked it was ok, unloaded a few things and then woke Will up.
He was groggy to start with but soon got his wherewithal to return.
‘Where are we?’
‘About a five minute drive to Derrick’s office, haven’t seen anything suspicious yet, his security is relaxed, but that wont last for long.’
‘Give me a minute will you,’ Will said testily as he went inside and grabbed a glass from the kitchen, not caring if it was clean and taking water from the tap, he decided to risk unfiltered water on this occasion.
Chen looked at him, sighed gently and then directed him to a chair, a relatively new soft lounge chair that squeaked as Will fell into it heavily. Chen checked his bruise, it had grown slightly in size but wasn’t too bad.
‘Hurts like hell,’ Will grumbled.
‘Yeah, well, I can fix that.’ Pulling out a needle and syringe Chen filled it with a clear liquid and injected it into Will’s left arm. He then filled it with something else and did the same.
‘What was that?’
‘A pain killer for your arm, it’ll feel perfect, move as normal, but there’s a good chance you’ll do damage to it if the night goes on too long.’
‘Ok, fine I’ll ask them to play nice.’
‘The other one was a ‘pick me up’ a concoction of various little bits and pieces, better than a double espresso. Should give you some pep for an hour or two.’
‘Hopefully I wont need anymore. What about some armour?’
‘I’m afraid we’re all out.’
‘Well your last set got left behind in all our recent turmoil, and I only had one set of the good stuff and it’s royally buggered I think is the expression.’
‘What the hell am I going to do now? Ask them not to fight me too long because I have a boo boo on my shoulder and not to scratch because my tailor is unprepared.’
Chen looked back at him, his stare said he had plenty to say but didn’t want to. He stood up, went to an opposing chair and sat down gingerly.
‘Anyway, you’d better get going,’ he said quietly.
‘Chen are you ok?’
‘I’m fine, but I’m going to have to rest here a while.’
Will looked at his friend, he wasn’t ok and he wasn’t going to explain what was wrong. His hand was over his stomach. He must have been injured in the attack, what a fool! Will admonished himself.
‘Thanks for your help Chen, you’ve gone above the call as usual.’
‘Just doing my job.’
‘Well don’t get up,’ Will sprang to his feet, feeling suddenly invigorated. He collected his things, put on his jacket. ‘If I don’t see you-‘
‘I’ll see you,’ Chen said quietly.
‘Right,’ Will nodded and left the small apartment, fearing not for the first time that he may never see his friend again.
It took Will eight minutes to reach the location of Derrick’s main base of operations. It was, as was often the case in dealing with the Nameless, an unassuming buildings in a sea of similar models. That was the point of course, they weren’t to stand out, ever, secrecy had been their greatest weapon for centuries, not getting too overt in their actions lest they be discovered and set upon by human kind. For now however there was only one human left who could face them. A broken man with a sore shoulder and shattered heart. His friends had died, his closest friend was in bad shape but wouldn’t let on, he didn’t want to distract Will in what would be his most important mission. The convoy of weapons had already been distributed to the Russians, the other half had likely been circulated as well. Will’s only hope of stopping the coming war was to kill Derrick once and for all, hopefully getting the location of the other half of the weapons out of him, then getting out in one piece.
He spent six minutes stalking the four storey office building, it looked dank and unkempt, minimal lighting was probably the kindest aspect of its current position.
Will had determined that Blaine’s failure to capture him hadn’t reached Derrick, nor his escape from the city, otherwise there would be a more visible sign of security, perhaps he still had a small window of opportunity.
Getting into the building was simple, unlocking a window, disabling the alarm was a sinch, it was a very old system.
Within two minutes he was already up to the third level. Using minimal powers of detection, he sensed a small group of creatures on the ground floor, and one at the top, likely one guard to keep close to Derrick. The hallways were dark, Will used his night vision and watched for any movement, so far so good.
Suddenly, as he was about to make his way up the stairs to the top floor, he sensed something, something was close by, a creature. It felt familiar, where had he sensed it? No it wasn’t Angel and it wasn’t Blaine. He racked his brain, what was it?
It got closer, he was undecided as to whether he should go up the stairs now if there was something following closely behind he risked getting attacked at a critical moment.
(C) T.W. Norrich ‘The Nameless Saga’ 2017