Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rise of the Machine (Part Four)

"... because fighting vampires at night is stupid." ... Goblin Mike


Saturday February 21st, 2060


0300 hours, local time


Location:  13.950°S 33.700°E (Lilongwe, Malawi)


"Machine, I've got six escorts on the south end with our primary.  Thermal shows cold, confirm targets." Odin's voice whispered in my ear.


I had felt the unnatural presence of vampires since we had touched down in Malawi.  We were surround by the infected everywhere we went.  They hid in plain sight and fed upon the populace of Lilongwe with impunity.  It was a terrible secret that lay hidden just outside the corporate enclaves, and just below the surface of the well bribed government.  I glided to the edge of the building, suspended on a subtle field of levitation magic, and looked down at the group striding across the street toward the capitol building.  Small motes of twinkling lights danced along the six figures escorting the president elect.


"Confirmed.  Six hemophages plus primary." I whispered.  We were thirty meters above street level and I was on my first assignment with a new team.  I opened my astral sight and shuddered at what I saw.  Our primary target, known to the world as president-elect Daniel Wakumbe wasn't metahuman, he was a corpse inhabited by a dark spirit of a kind I had, unfortunately, faced before.  "Drek." I muttered.


"Elaborate." Odin's voice carried a soft but insistent note of command.


"Primary is dead.  The body is inhabited by a possessing entity."  I drifted back from the edge of the from.  "I've seen this kind of thing before.  They are nearly impossible to destroy."


Odin's voice was calm as he whispered, "Control, reference report of Machine. Are we go or no?"


Samantha Goode's voice came through my earbud with the same calm clarity as Odin's. "You are go. Proceed on target."


"Machine, you've got experience on primary so engage same on my mark.  All other units on escorts on my mark." Odin said with a calm I didn't share.


"Zero, confirm same." The ork rigger replied.  He was waiting in an old surplus Osprey at the airport.  His signal boosting blimp drones floating high overhead and watching the scene play out around us.


"Flick, confirm same." The elf woman stood out in any crowd.  A tall albino, with fierce pink eyes, she possessed a potent magical gift.


"Tap, confirm same."  Somewhere down the street the dwarf was watching through the scope of his sniper rifle.


"Lets frackin' do this." Jazz sounded irritated.  He was wired to the gills with more cyberware than I thought any metahuman could carry.  He was fast, jumpy, and usually very pissed off.


"On three." Odin whispered.


I drifted over the edge of the roof and started floating, face down, toward the street.  I kept myself close the building and felt tremendously stupid.  'Why am I fighting vampires and a dark spirit at night?' I asked myself.


"Two." Odin continued.


I readied the spell as the target reached the steps leading up to the capitol building.


"One." Odin's whisper reached my ears.


I released the manaball with everything I had behind it.  My astral sight went white with the flare of mana.  I closed my astral sight, which has always been hard for me to do, just in time to see one vampire's head explode and a second vampire's head come right off its neck.  Seems they had been lined up for one in a million shot from Tap.  The dwarf's rifle hadn't made a sound.   The manaball had hurt the remaining vampires but they reacted quickly and with a horrible professionalism.  Their hands flashed and came up with handguns even as they surrounded the president-elect and started hurrying him up the stairs.


Fire exploded around them, announcing for all the world that Flick had joined the fray.  Plascrete melted and bullets cooked off in the guns carried by vampires.  The world went white from the intensity of the flame that exploded on the steps.  A blink later the flames were gone and only the walking corpse of Daniel Wakumbe remained.  He was untouched by the fire storm, and looked up at me with a terrifying smile.


A chorus of voices sounded in my ear as the team unanimously expressed their surprise that the target was still standing.


"Don't let him touch you." I said grimly.  I sent out the mental call to a pair of fire spirits I had bound just two days before.  "Get him!"


Daniel Wakumbe looked rather dapper.  If you hadn't known what lay below the surface you would swear the man before you was in the prime of life.  It was a lie the spirit driving the corpse put forth to hide the ugly truth.  I was still drifting down, having sent the order to the spirits, as those dead hands rose and pointed at me.


I felt the mana hit me like truck.  My head swam, and I nearly blacked out.  I lost focus on the levitation spell and fell, catching a window ledge by blind, dumb luck.  I lay there, stunned, as Odin and Jazz closed on the monster.  I saw Odin's spear flash forward with a speed and skill that any physical adept would envy.  Daniel Wakumbe caught the haft of the spear in one dead hand and stopped it cold.  Jazz put three rounds from his AK-97 into his chest, to no affect.


"I've got contacts closing on your position people." Zero called out.  There was a note of concern in his voice. "I've got movement, folks with low to no heat hit signatures.  You've got company coming!"


Odin was nearly as large as Little Rickie.  His strength enhanced by his own innate magic.  He jerked at his spear, trying to wrest it from his foe, but the dead man held fast.  "Weapons free!" Odin called out.


"I've got targets," Tap reported. "firing free."


"Hemophages are advancing on Odin and Jazz, going hot." Flick growled.  I saw flame erupt in the street half a block to the north.  A dozen figures were illuminated as fire surrounded her.  Four large fires, each four meters tall, sprang to life beside her.


I pushed myself up to a kneeling position on the ledge. "Machine, sit rep." Zero demanded.


"I'm hurt but I'll live. Engaging target, put everything we have on him." I said.  I raised my hands and looked down at the monster.  It raised its arm and lightning danced from its outstretched hand, catching Odin full in the chest and sending the large troll sailing through the air.


"ODIN!" Jazz's yell echoed off the walls around me.  He sprinted past the monster that held Odin's spear, and slid next to the downed troll.  "Odin is down!"


"Confirmed, I've got flat lines on Odin." Zero reported grimly. "Control, advise."


"Stay on target," Samantha Goode replied.  Her voice was calm, cold and detached.


I could sense scores of vampires closing on our location.  I was the new guy on the team, our team leader was down and I was the only one who seemed to know just how bad our situation was.  Well, other than Samantha who was safe back at the office.  "Zero, go for fire mission.  I'm calling Ragnarock.  I say again, Ragnarock."  I hardened my will, started to rise higher, and rejoined the battle.  "Avante! Avante, dark spirit! Begone demon of the pit!  I rebuke you, I cast you out, begone!" My will, the full force of my magic, slammed into the spirit possessing the dead man like a river hitting a stone.


Daniel Wakumbe rocked back on his heels. A blink later his right arm came off at the shoulder. "Nicked him," Tap called out.


"Control," Zero said grimly "we're requesting authorization for Ragnarock. Please confirm."


Samantha Goode's voice came back clearly.  Her voice in my ear as I held the monster locked in a battle of wills I was certain I was going to lose. "You are go for Ragnarock.  All assets evacuate target area."


On the steps of the capitol building, thirty meters below me, the spirit possessing Daniel Wakumbe's corpse fought my banishing effort with a strength that terrified me.  My fire elementals manifested and engulfed the corpse, burning at it even as it fought against the energies seeking to force it from our world.


A dozen vampires ran out from the building.  Two brought fire extinguishers and started spraying foam at the elementals burning away at Wakumbe. 


"Launching in three seconds, everyone get out of there." Zero called out.


I made it to the top of the building.  "Avante!  I banish you from this place, never to return!"  I called out, my voice laced with magic.  Sweat beaded on me and my nose was bleeding.  The struggle was terrible as the dark spirit possessing Wakumbe held on to the corpse, weathering the damage from the elementals and my efforts to banish it.


"Machine, get clear!" Flick's voice sounded urgent.


I heard the voice of Daniel Wakumbe just as if he had been next to me. "I will not leave this place.  You are pathetically weak little magician.  I will drink your soul dry."


"You ARE leaving!"  I growled.  I floated another ten meters up, continuing my litany against the evil below me. "Begone from this place creature of the pit!"


"Lauching!" Zero called out.  Two miles away a missile dropped and launched from an old Peregrine IV drone Zero had standing by for just such a calamity.  Hell was coming.


"Zero!  I've got Odin, get me some wheels!" Jazz yelled over the comm.  I couldn't spare a glance for him. I had my eyes locked on Wakumbe below.  I kept the pressure on him as my stomach threatened to revolt and gunshots started ringing out below me.  Bullets missed me by inches.


"Detonation in three seconds... two... one"


There was a white light that erupted below me.  Something like a pillow swung by a giant hit me across every inch of my body, throwing me a hundred meters skyward.  My limbs went numb, my lips and gums started bleeding, and the wind was knocked from my lungs.  The capital building's facade shattered, and the building began to collapse even as flames swept through its ruins. A tic later, the street erupted in a fireball as the gas line below the street ruptured and ignited.


The osprey was lifting off from the tarmac as I flew toward it's still open rear door.  Jazz was manning the heavy machinegun swiveling it on its mount as he looked for threats.  "I'm in." I reported.


I heard the props pick up speed and felt the craft lift below me.  Tap and Flick were trying to resuscitate Odin.  I opened my astral sight and saw that he was gone, his aura vanished, leaving only a corpse behind.  I kept my eye on the body, watching for any dark energies that might have tried to take up residence.  Thankfully, his body was left in peace.


We flew on to Cairo.  From there we caught a flight to London and from there a semi-ballistic flight to Seattle.


I walked into my house a little after 0500 hours on February 22rd, spoke with Rose for a few minutes, then climbed into the shower.  I contemplated the bruising that covered my body as the hot water ran over me.  I washed up, took a long look in the mirror, then went to the kitchen where Rose applied a healing spell to me for several minutes.  My bruises faded away, the vision in my right eye cleared up, and the broken bones in my left hand knitted themselves together.


Rose made coffee, eggs, bacon and toast.  I ate quietly so as not to disturb Aria.  With the dishes cleared, I took a seat on the couch.  Rose shimmered and changed into her rottweiler form then lay down on the couch next to me and rested her head in my lap.  I petted her head, rubbed her belly and drifted off to sleep watching an old flat-vid anime.


*****


To be continued in part five


________________________________________________________________________




Thank you for reading my fan fiction.  I am looking forward to telling this part of Tommy's Story, and I hope you are too.


I hope to see you next time for part five!


W.S. Quinton







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