The old house creaked in the gentle autumn wind. The decrepit shutters clattered in the breeze as the silver truck pulled around the corner and up the street. The purr of the engine died as soon as the car rolled into the drive way. The four occupants stepped out of the car and shut the doors. They walked silently up to the door as their coats flapped in the wind. One of them gave the rotting door a push and it creaked inward. The four slipped silently in and the last one shut the door behind.
“Creepy.” Snickered Σ. The other three stood silently behind. He turned around to look at them. He sighed as he saw the disgust and shame in the girls’ eyes. “E what’s the plan?”
“We can find it quicker in pairs. Eyes out and eyes on your partner. Something is not right here, find the target and neutralize it.” E replied and the others nodded. “Orange with me. Σ I want the basement examined.” Σ saluted and went down one hall. Julia followed behind him.
Julia walked silently behind Σ. She watched as he ducked into each room and motioned for her to step behind. Part of her wanted to shoot him, right there, for what he’d done to Clark. After about a half dozen rooms later, Σ stopped and sighed.
“Don’t aim for the back of the head, or the heart.” Julia’s jaw dropped. Σ didn’t even turn. “The skull and ribs dissipate the light beam and protect the vitals. Go for the stomach or, if you’re less confident, the kidneys and liver are a good choice.” He turned to face her. “Well it won’t be the first time. Go ahead if you are going to do it. If not, stop lining me up.”
“Why’d you hurt Clark?” Julia asked pointing her pistol at Σ’s gut.
“Would you believe me if I said I didn’t mean to?”
“Should I?” Julia tightened her grip.
“Yes. I didn’t realize wounds would carry across forms. He’s never been hurt before.”
“So why now? Why build something that could hurt him?” Her hands shook as the image of Clark’s bloody body filled her mind.
“Would you be so upset if this had happened in reverse?” Σ asked flatly. “If I was the one beaten to a pulp?” Julia didn’t answer. “Or if it was E I had beaten?” No reply. “What about Orange?” No reply. “Point is your mad because it was Clark and you are afraid for him. If that fear is going to endanger the people of Smallfield, then kill me.” Julia looked in his eyes. She lowered the weapon.
“If he betrayed us, I could subdue him. Bring him back. I wouldn’t fail like last time.” Σ’s voice trailed off. He pushed a door open and found a long stair case. He brought a finger to his lips and drew his light. He rested his thumb over the switch as he stepped down the stairs.
As the two agents came to the base of the stairs Σ held a hand to stop. Julia froze gripping her blaster tightly. Voices came from around the corner of the stairs. Julia craned to hear them. One sounded like a young man who’s voice cracked occasionally. The other was deep and raspy like nails along a chalkboard.
“Baron Von Todersfurcht! Please I beg forgiveness!” The first voice screamed and his voice cracked. When he had recovered he shrieked. “It isn’t our fault! They proved stronger than us, more prepared, swifter…” The sound of the man’s throat closing with a squelch ended the sentence. Σ peeked around the corner and held up ten fingers.
“Nein!” Snarled the second voice. “The Führer is most displeased with your performance. Smallfield has yet to fall, even as weak as it’s defenders are. You are of no use to us.” The sound of bones breaking and a body hitting the floor followed. A gasp or two and Σ looked again. He showed nine fingers to Julia. “You there! You have been promoted. I sincerely hope you do better than your predecessor.” A voice babbled just around the corner as Σ drew a cell phone out of his coat. He whispered a single word into it “Todersfurcht” then replaced it. He signaled Julia with three fingers. Then he held up two. Then only one remained. Then he rushed around the corner. Julia raced forward from the stair well. As she did she caught sight of a couch and dove behind it.
“Congrats on the promotion.” Σ shouted as he smashed one of the figures to the ground. He smashed the man in the temple and she saw the man go limp. Julia popped up and took aim. The group consisted of teenagers, none older than high school age, all dressed the same. Black uniforms with gold and red trim. They wore shiny leather boots that came nearly to their knees. Then there was another. He stood almost seven feet tall, though upon his head was a helmet with a spike that scraped the ceiling. He bore a mantle the color of blood and trim with gold. Over one eye was a black patch with a gold skull on it.
“Penumbra. How ironic, you appear just too late to save the life of the former commanding officer.” The Baron rasped. “Now I will strike down Smallfield and bring the shadows across the world.” He raised his right hand in a nazi salute and black lightning arced down on Σ. The blast struck the light from Σ’s flashlight turning it bright blue. The energy blast deflected into the ceiling with a crash. Σ charged as the Baron drew a saber and swung at him. The two clashed and sparks flew. The blade of iron and light danced and sang with one another.
Julia peeked up and tried to aim at the Baron. Though he was much larger than Σ, Σ was dodging and dancing all around the Baron. One of the other soldiers went for their weapon. Julia didn’t hesitate, didn’t think, didn’t flinch. Center of mass, two shots, target down. The others moved for cover as Julia emptied the clip into the air. Julia reloaded and peeked over the couch to take another set of shots.
Todersfurcht and Σ swung at one another. Blue light and steel smashed into one another. Two soldiers charged the pair with a loud shout. Σ ducked below one and smashed him in the ribs. Julia shot the other one down with a single round. More shots flew towards her and she ducked behind cover. A bullet tore through the fabric right above her head. She peeked out of cover and fired again. Todersfurcht and Σ swung tirelessly at each other. The feeling like a fist smashing into her ribs threw Julia to the ground. She coughed and the world began to darken.
By TKH Hamilton