Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dark Omens

"Are you going to tell me what I want to know?"

The man he was holding up by the shirt spat at him, starting to say something in a language that hurt to hear. After the echo of an invoked name he heard before, Matt cut him off with a swift cuff across the side of the jaw, a hard enough stroke to loosen teeth, pop the man's mouth loose and send hind him the ground, unconscious from shock.

"Damn it. That was the last one left to question."

Matt looked around the room, a hallway strewn with soldiers. These were not members of any recognized armed forces but they were soldiers nonetheless - private muscle hired and trained by... someone.

That was the question Matt wanted answered. These people had been operating most of the dark magic rings in Chattanooga, eastern Tennessee and most of Georgia. They were big, whoever they were, and they were connected in some way to the Dark Order. That was how he'd found them and ended up in this business complex, getting shot at from all sides and as 'popular' as a small fish in a house full of hungry cats.

This guppy, however, was nowhere near defenseless. Ten soldiers were dead, another ten easily in critical condition and if he was still counting accurately in this room of pain, eight more would be joining one total or the other.

The man missing his molars was the fifth he had tried to question, all to no avail. They were not just combat trained and effective at battling witchcraft. They had some magical training as well. Enough to use quick battle spells, hence his abrupt silencing smack from before. If Matt had let the man finish his little Enochian chant, the results could have been explosive.

If the Dark Ones were funding the creation of a corps of magical mercenaries, he needed to know about it. More than that, he needed to stop it before the DO turned those troops on him. He had taken this lot out by surprise and momentum, moving from room to room before they could raise an effective alarm or counter attack in mass. Matt had no illusions about what would happen to him and Stay if these sorcerer-soldiers were to strike on their terms.

None at all; he'd lose. Hard.

And he just was not prepared to let that happen. The only way to win this was to stay on the offensive but to do that, he needed information. There was only one more place to check here, whatever was behind the doors these eight were so keen on him not investigating.

Hopping onto his motorcycle, Matt gave Zephyr's engine a hard rev and pulled up on her handlebars as he hurtled into the door. Her front wheel came smashing down as they made contact, 'knocking' quite destructively.

The doors shattered inward, their locking clattering useless to the titled floor just inside the room's landing. Inside, four men protected two others, raising machine guns as their surprised eyes gave way to hostile intent.

Hostile? Matt growled. These people had not seen the true face of hostile. He leaped off his bike, letting Zephyr rocket forward to slam into the desk as he vaulted over the four-way stream of bullets. As he came down, his guns came out. One heavy handgun resting in each steady hand, he was firing before his feet hit the ground.

The gunman on either end of the quartet went down in a spray of blood, two men dropping as their bodies were ripped through in a hail of sacred force. Their Kevlar meant nothing to the rounds in these guns, 'gifts' from the Order of Saint Michael, Archangel. Gifts the Order would kill him for having... that is, they were just one more reason on the Order's long list. Matt did not care; the Order were bastards and deserved to get put down but he could only handle one genocide at a time. The Dark Ones needed erased. The Order of St. Michael would just have to stand in line.

As nice as the handguns were, they were only able to regenerate bullets so quickly. He had used them a LOT on the upper levels so it came as no surprise that they went dry as he was gunning down the two soldiers. Dropping them, knowing full well they would find their way back to his holsters before he left the room, Matt rolled forward towards the shattered desk.

This move dodged the new rain of steel as the two remaining gunners tried to cut him down while running for cover. One went behind half the desk while the other dashed towards a nearby steel fronted wet bar.

Matt did not let him get that far. Reaching out, he called to the sword resting fitfully in the leather case on his cycle. Though they hated him with a literal Holy passion, the blades answered his call, albeit unwillingly. Two finely wrought swords appeared in his hands, turning parallel to the floor as he whirled beside the runner, crouching low.

One step past Matt, the mercenary fell to the ground, his legs severed at both the hip and the knee. Raw shock drove him unconscious. Blood loss would finish the job quickly enough.

The hard punch of three bullets painfully failing to penetrate his warded coat reminded Matt that the last gunner was still up and functional... and not yet out of ammo. Turning to face the soldier while the man quickly tried to reload, Matt threw his left hand forward and hurled Avia, the angelic sword that so recently been impaling his shoulder. Though it despised him, it did as it was Heaven-forged to do.

The sword's quillions spread in mid flight, arching into golden wings of divine light. These beat just once, speeding the sword arrow-straight towards the startled gunman. Before the man could react, it had penetrated the desk, driven straight through his body armor and pinned him to the far wall, buried a full foot into the stone foundation at his dying back.

That left Matt on one knee, holding one sword, in a room with two living men. One was under Zephyr, having be bashed unconscious when the desk splintered beneath his bike's ramming assault. The other was running...

...but not for long. Matt was out of bullets and his only throwing weapon was out of reach. This did not mean he was out of options. As he had discovered many times when dealing with the Dark Ones and their vassals, they were personally immune to his entropy magic. Personally immune. He could not affect their bodies at all.

But he could affect everything else, including what they were wearing. He made a slashing gesture at the fleeing man's shoes and every form of binding in them, from thread to glue, dissolved in a gush of black chaos.

Suddenly overbalanced, the dark suited warlock hit the ground with a yelp of pain and rolled over, already framing a bolt of hellfire between his hands. Matt had been hoping for a more damaging tumble but Life seldom ever went his way.

Cussing, he barely had enough time to throw up an entropic barrier before the sulfurous flames smashed into it. Turning the attack aside, he ran to close the distance before the downed caster could conjure another blast. Matt was not very lucky but he was very quick. Halfway through the spell, the man found himself without hands. Fountains of red gushed from his wrists as he screamed in pain.

Matt spared no time in bringing his blade to the man's throat. "You've got a minute before you bleed to death. I'll stop the flow if you tell me what I want to hear."

Howling, the blood-covered sorcerer nodded frantically. "Anything, anything!"

"I've been hearing a name. Oriax. Who is that?"

The Dark One mage trembled, slumping back as he tried to go into shock. Matt brought him back to the here and now with a quick stab to the shoulder. The pain roused the man enough to force a few words from his lips, "Louisville! The stars and planets... Oriax comes!"

Before he could get any more, Matt saw the man shudder and pass out. If he didn't get medical attention, the wizard was a goner. It did not take Matt long to decide.

"Sucks to be you." He turned away, heading over to his bike. Losing one was not a big deal. There was a fresh mage right over here under the wheel of his bike. All he had to do was smack the bastard awake and...

...figure out how to wake up someone whose face and throat were burned to a crisp by a stray bolt of hellfire. Now EVERYONE was dead.


It took Matt less than ten minutes to get out of the building and from the sounds of fire engines and police sirens around the front of the complex, he was not leaving a moment too soon. It had not been as productive a night as he had hoped but at least he had learned two things.

One, he needed to go to Louisville. Oriax has been involved in the ritual that had originally tainted his magic and corrupted part of his soul. If he or any of the people back home that he cared about, like Ariel or Jaynie, had any hope of a cure, this was a lead he could not pass up.

And two, he really needed to invest in a taser...

1 comment:

Zay B. Eve said...

I always look forward to your combat scenes.

They have such flow, and unlike other books I don't have any trouble at all picturing the action.