Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dashed Expectations

Matt checked himself over. Once, then twice. Everything had to be perfect. One mistake and he wouldn't be walking out alive. He was still riding high on the energy rush he'd taken from that lovely girl named Kristy at Whataburger.

Would she be able to walk tomorrow? Did it matter?

His pistols were the first to be examined. They were clean and charged, energy pulsing through their stolen handles and pilfered rounds. Two high caliber handguns straight from the cold, dead hands of high ranking St. Michael hunters, they were two of his closest companions. They'd be ready for what laid ahead. Probably, he thought bitterly, they were more ready than he was.

A moment's thought checked the burning wrath in the core of his soul. There, the angelic sword lurked like an angry sun, straining to rise phoenix-like and turn him to ashes if his control ever slipped. If he was wise, he'd throw that thing in the nearest sewer and never look back.

Oh well; he'd never been accused of wisdom. The sword was his, damn it, and he wasn't letting go of it. If the fucking flapbacks of the Celestial Host hated him for that, they shouldn't have tried to kill him in the first place.

He tightened his coat around his shoulders and felt the fit of his vest. It was a memento of the night he'd broken out of Fort Brag - an MP slimline bulletproof chest guard with kickers plates in front and back. It would stop a shotgun blast at point blank and a .30-06 round as long as the angle wasn't dead on. Literally. Of course, it was also the recipient of a bastion spell, the strongest one he could cast. As long as whatever hit it wasn't enchanted by someone stronger than him, the vest would probably hold up just fine.

Sadly, assaulting an Order of St. Michael Archangel stronghold in Chattanooga, Tennessee meant he'd likely be going up against several dozen mages, most of whom were practiced experts in their fields.

Yay.

This was going to hurt.

Matt ran down his readiness checklist again, pulled on his helmet and gunned Zephyr's engine. It was a straight run down the street, over the brick and steel fence and then through the old building's plate glass porch window. It was ballsy, insanely violent, and utterly without sense, reason, or logic.

All his hallmarks.

With a roar of defiance at the god who'd put him on this one-man's road to hell, he kicked off the brake and accelerated as fast as his possessed motorcycle could go. It was do or die. Kill or be killed. Matt was damned sure which choice he'd be making tonight...

-----

The little girl jumped at the sound of something heavy smacking against the hotel room door. The older boy had said not to approach it for anyone and to never open it for anyone. If it was him, he wouldn't need her help and if it was anyone else, there was no sense making it easier for them to catch her.

His warning wasn't wasted. She scampered down off the bed, crawled along the floor and ducked into the closet behind a bag of dirty clothes. They smelled like sweat and blood but that's why Matthew had told her to use them for cover. "Most people won't get near anything messy, " he'd said. "Hide behind something ugly that stinks and you'll have a better chance staying safe."

She wrinkled her nose and tried not to cry out. Crawling was still painful for her; the wounds in her side were not completely healed yet. Still, if what she dimly remembered was true she was lucky to be alive. There had been an accident - a car crash. Two others (her parents, maybe?) hadn't been so fortunate; they were dead. She was only alive because the boy saved her.

There was a thud outside, a heavy sound of someone sitting down in the front room's only real chair. No footsteps, no signs of searching or anyone coming into this part of the suite. If they were here to hurt her, this was a strange way of going about it.

Slowly, cautiously, she slipped out of the closet and peered into the front room. Her reasons for doing so were two-fold. First, she didn't think the kind of people Matthew had said would be after them were the sort to sit and wait for her to come out. Secondly, there was food. The smell of something edible. Right now, as empty and growly as her tummy was, any food at all would be a reason to risk to getting caught.

There, in the chair by the door, was Matthew. His coat was on the foot of the bed, his guns on the table beside him. Between them, a stuffed bag full of fast food beckoned like a checkered flag at the end of a long race. She crept forward, unsure what to make of the shadowed expression on her savior's face.

"M-m-matthew sir?" She didn't speak very loudly; she couldn't. Her lungs still hurt every time she breathed and it was hard to get enough air to talk sometimes.

"Yes, Stay?" his dire voice whispered just as softly, bleak and dark.

That's what he called her - Stay. She couldn't remember her own name so ti was as good as any. She'd heard the name Stacie on television and asked him if Stay was short for that but he'd said no. When she'd pushed further, he'd told her it was short for "Stay of Execution". She wasn't sure what they was but it certainly did not sound pleasant.

She came over and crawled up on the bed next to the bag with the big W on it. Inside were cold hamburgers and nuggets of what might or might not be actual chicken. Right now, she didn't not really care. It was all edible and as much of it as would fit was going in her mouth. Right now.

"Cahnn ah asph oo summphn?"

Matthew didn't look up. He just murmured. "Sure. Ask me anything. Just finish eating first."

That took a while, and the whole time he never looked up, barely breathed, and felt so cold even the room heater kicked on in a vain attempt to warm the room.

"What's wrong?" She slurped the big soda he'd brought, even though the ice was long melted and it was badly watered down. It was still better than this place's tap water. Ugh. She was probably at a worse risk of infection from drinking that than she was from her surgical scars. At least, that's what Matthew had said and he seemed to know everything.

"D...s....p....ed" His tone was too low, too muffled. She couldn't make it out.

"What?"

He looked up and glared. "Disappointed. Okay? I'm disappointed."

She frowned. "Did your fight with the bad men not go well?"

Matt got up and started pacing between the door and the bathroom. He reached into his pocket, took out his last pack of cloves, tapped one and brought it to his lips. Then he looked at Stay and grumbled. The cigarette went in the trash.

Then so did the pack.

"It didn't go at all, Stay. They were already wiped out. Every last one of them."

Her eyes widened. "All of them?"

Matt nodded and started pulling his things away in his big military duffel. "Pack up, Stay. We are getting out of here."

She scrabbled down and headed over to the little pink backpack he'd gotten her from Wal Mart. She didn't have the heart to tell him she thought the Powerpuff Girls were sort of lame. She'd wanted the dark purple Megatron bag but no... here she was with Blossom on her back. "Where are we going?"

"The Order House. They are having a 100% off Going Out of Existence sale and I'm in the mood to shop."

1 comment:

Erisraven said...

Now *that's* the kind of discount sale I appreciate!

Poor Matt. He didn't get to do his bit of suicidal violence today...