No regrets, p.1

No Regrets, page 1

 part  #17 of  Valens Legacy Series

 

No Regrets
 



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No Regrets


  Copyright Jan Stryvant 2019

  Cover Credits: eBook Launch (http://ebooklaunch.com/)

  No part of this eBook may be reproduced in any form without expressed, written consent from the author. The material in this story may feature graphic depictions of a sexual or adult nature and is intended for a mature audience only. All characters in this story are fictional and of the legal age of consent for any activities they engage in. Any resemblance between characters, places, or things in this story, and people living or dead, actual places, or events, is purely coincidental. It's fiction; I made it up.

  License Notes

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be copied and given away, or copied and sold, to other people. Got that? No copying, please! If you would like to share this book with another person, it would be really nice if you purchased an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use, please consider purchasing your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  #85476

  Jan Stryvant Books:

  The Valens Legacy:

  Black Friday Book 1

  Perfect Strangers Book 2

  Over Our Heads Book 3

  Head Down Book 4

  When It Falls Book 5

  Stand On It Book 6

  Vegas Rules Book 7

  Desperate Measures Book 8

  Secret Treaties Book 9

  It Ain't Easy Book 10

  Red Skies Book 11

  Demon Days Book 12

  Simple Things Book 13

  Trying Times Book 14

  Firestarter Book 15

  Times Like These Book 16

  No Regrets Book 17

  Wives Tales Books 1, 2, 3, & 4 (Assorted Short Stories)

  Shadow

  Take the A Train

  Sean looked over at Roxy, Peg, and Cali, all three of whom were studying the tablets in their hands. Apparently the concept of wireless tablets was a well-known one by the Inangar. When the First pried Mahkiyoc out of his chair, Mahkiyoc had grabbed one so he could continue his studies. Upon seeing that, Rowan had asked if he had any extras, and apparently he did.

  So now everyone, even Keairra and the rest of the First's wives, were studying on them. It was a long trip, after all.

  Estrella was currently being questioned by Mahkiyoc—in great detail—about her time here in the Onderwereld. Apparently he was fascinated by her entire ordeal, how she had fit in among the djevels and what she had learned about them and their culture. For all of the hundreds of thousands of years Mahkiyoc had lived here, his contacts with the djevels had been necessarily few, and his abilities to observe them even fewer.

  And that was how the First had convinced Mahkiyoc to come: full, unfettered access to ask them any questions he wanted to, versus leaving him there with no one to talk to. Apparently the First knew a thing or two about appealing to a researcher's vanity.

  The gateway control was only a three-hour trip, but the facility where the weapons were made was an additional four hours past that. After some discussion, Sean and the First had agreed, along with everyone else, that the weapons were their first priority. After they'd investigated that facility, they'd determine their next step.

  "Sean, how do I search through their history?" Keairra asked, coming over and sitting down next to him.

  "You'll need to use their search engine."

  "What's a 'search engine'?" Keairra asked, looking at him quizzically.

  Sean laughed. "You’ve really never used a computer, have you?"

  Keairra grinned and shook her head. "My last triumph on Earth was learning how to program a VCR. So I know what they are, but that's all."

  "Ah," Sean said with a nod. "Okay. A search engine is like a card catalogue in a library—you know what those are, right?"

  Keairra nodded.

  "You enter in the terms or words you're looking for, and it will search through all its records and return all the matching results."

  "Won't that be an overwhelming number of matches?"

  Sean smiled. "Perceptive! Yes, it can be. So you have certain special characters and words you can use to help you narrow the search down. Here, I'll show you."

  Sean spent the next half hour teaching Keairra, and then all the rest of her sister wives, the Inangar version of Boolean search operators. For the most part logic is logic, and the string operators were exactly what Sean was used to. However, they had an additional one that Sean had never encountered on a search engine before, and that one equated to 'near'. You could request results that were 'near' to those you were looking for, things that almost matched, but didn't. Sean wasn't exactly sure how that worked; obviously it relied on the abilities of the limited AIs that ran the search engine.

  When he finished explaining that, Sean started his own searches. What he was most curious about now was, what had the Inangar known about mana and magic? And how had they built machines to manage and manipulate it? Especially when none of the Inangar had any personal abilities with the use of mana at all.

  Roxy and Cali were studying the weapons, the 'cubs' were all looking into different aspects of Inangar history, and the First was sound asleep on the floor, no doubt dealing with problems back home.

  By the time they got to the manufacturing facility, Sean was starting to regret not studying engineering. He understood a little of what they’d done, but he had no idea how to unravel the concepts and techniques he was seeing and track them back to their root techniques.

  The Inangar didn't view it as magic or anything like that, however. To them, it was just another force of the universe—like, say, electricity—one which was far more plentiful here than it had been back on their home world. Sean had learned that much at least. They'd learned about it, and how to deal with it, before coming here, but the amount of such force available back home was a small fraction of what they’d found here.

  That discovery had led him down a bit of a rabbit-hole as he got wrapped up in the Inangar history. Apparently they’d found mana to be even more useful than electricity, and had relied on it heavily. As opening up a gateway increased the supply, they'd built a number of large facilities that doubled as batteries, and made sure those gateways were opened at regular intervals to keep their batteries charged.

  Something about that statement tickled something in Sean's memory, but he couldn't quite pin it down.

  "We're slowing down. Weapons, everyone!" Estrella said, sitting up and looking around. "I'm sorry, Mahkiyoc, we can continue this discussion later, but right now we need to be sure there aren't any demons in here."

  Mahkiyoc nodded. "Yes, yes. I understand."

  "Hey, Mahk!" Roxy called out. "Is there any chance you can use your tablet there to tell us if there are any demons inside the facility?"

  "I am sorry, but no. Privacy rules prevent the scanning of both public and private places."

  "Seriously?"

  "Yes. We are a most civilized race. Privacy is very important."

  "But what about the cameras and microphones in all our rooms?" Roxy asked with a scowl.

  "Those are for interfacing with the room’s appliances and having conferences with others, remotely."

  "You know, if we could tap into those, we could learn an awful lot," Peg said with a thoughtful look.

  "I don't think we have the time to figure it out," Sean said with a shake of his head. "Hacking into those systems wouldn't be easy."

  "How much do you wanna bet someone else already did it?" Peg said with a smirk.

  "No one would ever do such a thing," Mahkiyoc said, looking faintly offended. "It goes beyond the basic beliefs of our people."

  "Oh? What if it was in the n
ame of research?" Rowan asked with a frown.

  "Oh, in that case it would be acceptable," Mahkiyoc replied.

  Sean got the impression the hypocrisy of his own answer went right over Mahkiyoc's head.

  "Let's argue later," the First said, getting to his feet as the car exited the tunnel and came to a stop in another subway station. "Load your weapons. Let's see what's waiting for us."

  "Let me put up a shield," Sean said and, moving over to the opening door, he cast a medium-sized one in front of him, then drew his rifle.

  "This shield is three feet to either side of me; watch where you step," he said in a low voice.

  "Why only three feet?" Rowan asked.

  "So I don't get stuck on any walls. Those stairways are pretty wide, but we come to anyplace narrower than that, and I'll have to drop it and use something a lot smaller."

  Sean moved out of the car cautiously and quietly. Roxy was on his right and Keairra was on his left, everyone else carefully lining up behind him as they moved off the train.

  The room they were entering was almost an exact duplicate of the one they'd departed from. It was large, probably a hundred yards square, with a large set of stairs that came down in the middle. The back wall, made out of a shiny white substance that reminded Sean of tile, was about fifty feet back from the tracks and had about a half dozen doors in it, all of which were closed. There were square columns that ran down the center of the room about every twenty-five feet or so, and that was about it. There was nothing else in the place; it was completely clear and clean. There wasn't even any dust.

  "Let's move to the bottom of the stairs," Keairra said, "then we can hold that while the others check the doors.

  "Sounds good," Sean agreed and they slowly made their way there.

  "Stairs look clear," Sean said, looking up.

  "Sash, Die, Nib, Jip. Take the doors," Keairra said while pointing to the doors on the far left. "Work your way across. Kal, Lib, Row, cover them. Saf, you're with the First; the rest, watch the stairs."

  Sean watched as everyone spread out to their assigned tasks. It was quickly obvious that Sasha, Dienna, Nibisa, and Jipouet had worked together often, from the way they moved and used hand signals with each other. Then he almost slapped himself—lionesses were the ones who did all the hunting. They'd probably been working as a team longer than western civilization had been around.

  The first door they came to turned out to be the elevator. Sean could see that much from where he was at the base of the stairs. After that, it wasn't as easy to tell. So he paid more attention to the top of the stairs than to what the lionesses were doing. They were being very thorough, and it was a while before they came back to where he and Keairra were standing.

  "We found the elevator, a local monitoring and control room, two machine rooms, and three storage rooms for tools," Nibisa said.

  "Any monitors in that control room?" Sean asked

  "Monitors?"

  "Screens displaying camera feeds."

  "Oh! Yes, but they only looked down the tunnel."

  "I got us a map of the station!" Peg said, holding up her tablet.

  "How'd you find that?" Keairra asked, looking surprised.

  "By playing around with search queries. Apparently these things got some sort of GPS in 'em, because I finally got fed up and asked it to show me where I was, and a map came up! If I'm reading this right, the next level is storage, but we have to go through a set of security doors to get into the factory after that."

  "Is there a layout of the factory on that thing?" Sean asked, looking over at Peg.

  "Yup. Here, see?" Peg said, holding the tablet out.

  Sean took a moment to examine Peg's map. "Looking at this, a lot of the buildings are out in the open, on the surface," Sean said, looking back at everyone. "If there are demons up there, cleaning them out isn't going to be easy."

  "Yeah, but we could all use a bite to eat!" Peg said with a smile.

  "Fine," Sean said, rolling his eyes and handing the tablet back to her. "Could you figure out how to put that on everyone else's tablets while we check upstairs?"

  Peg nodded. "I think so. Give me a few minutes."

  Sean nodded and turned back to Keairra. "Let's head upstairs."

  "Fall in, girls!" Keairra said. "And Kal!" adding him with a laugh.

  Sean shrugged and, after dropping his pack with the others, made his way up the stairs slowly, keeping his rifle up and his eyes open.

  As the stairs led them up to the floor above, it was very much as Peg’s map had shown. There was a large open area the same size as the room below. There were a few crates stacked around the area. Well, Sean assumed they were crates, in this place they could be anything. Keairra detailed the same four to sweep the place, and as there were no other doors beyond the one set of elevator doors, it only took them a few minutes to confirm it was empty.

  "Well," Sean said with a heavy sigh, "let's go take a look at those security doors."

  "Lead the way," Roxy said and beckoned for him to go on.

  Walking over to the doors, Sean looked around to make sure everyone was ready, then grabbed the bar, and pushed.

  Nothing happened.

  "What the…" Sean gave them another push, and when that didn't work, he tried pulling.

  "Someone get Mahkiyoc to come up here and take a look at this," Keairra said.

  "On it!" Sasha replied and ran back down the stairs.

  "Maybe they're locked?" Roxy asked. "They're supposed to be security doors, right?"

  "Could be," Sean said, looking first at the handles, then at the walls around him to see if there was any kind of lock or release mechanism.

  "What is the problem?" Mahkiyoc asked when he finally made his way upstairs to the doors.

  "These doors won't open," Sean told him.

  "That is strange." Mahkiyoc went up to the door and pushed on the metal bar.

  "Are they locked?"

  "No. I can feel the mechanism release when I hold the bar. They are blocked."

  "Great," Keairra growled. "Is there another way out of here?"

  "The elevator?" Mahkiyoc suggested hopefully.

  "Hopefully it still works," Sean said.

  "If it doesn't, we can just climb up the shaft," Roxy pointed out.

  "Good point," Sean agreed, and they headed over to the elevator doors. Rowan and Kalif had already forced the doors open by the time they got there.

  "I guess this means it's not working?" Sean asked, looking into the shaft.

  "A security system may have locked it when the demons came," Mahkiyoc suggested. "I think there may have been an order to lock down the transport tube stations to keep them out of the tunnels."

  "Well, I guess we're climbing up," Roxy said. Jumping off the edge, she grabbed one of the beams that made up the shaft's support structure, and picked out a path up them.

  Sticking his rifle into the scabbard on his back, Sean followed suit, and started climbing up as well.

  "How far up do you think the next door is?" he asked her, trying to make out the details of the walls above in the dim light.

  "I was thinking of going all the way to the top; I don't think that's too far up."

  Sean smiled as he watched her butt above him.

  "Remember the last time we were in an elevator shaft?"

  "Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it?" Sean replied.

  "Two lifetimes ago. Just remember not to do anything stupid this time, alright?"

  "Uh-huh." Sean looked down below him. Cali was next, then Keairra, followed by the First of all people. Peym was the next to start up as they continued climbing.

  "What are we going to do about Mahk?" Sean asked as he realized he was climbing past a closed door.

  "Leave him down there for now with Peg, Row, and Kal," the First grunted. "We can always figure out a way to get him up here later if we need him."

  Sean just nodded and continued to climb. When he got to the third door, Roxy had moved to the side a
nd was working her way towards it.

  "Why not try that maintenance access on the top?" Sean asked her.

  "It probably leads outside or to a machine room on the top of the building. I'd rather start inside, wouldn't you?"

  "Good point," Sean agreed and made his way over to the door. On this side of them, the opening mechanism was quite visible and easy to work.

  Moving carefully, Sean worked his way over to the door, pretty much hanging from his fingertips. Looking down the shaft, he thought back again to when all of this started. Here he was, hanging by his fingertips on an alien planet, with a rifle on his back, a pistol on each hip, and a bunch of other people who last month were all dead, or whom he never even knew existed.

  And it all felt normal.

  Not only that, it felt good. He was strong enough he could do this one-handed if he had to, and he probably would when they opened the doors. He was running around with people so much older than him that you couldn't even begin to understand it, and they were listening to him, even following him.

  He thought about everything that had happened to him leading up to this moment, as he hung there and waited for the rest of the girls and the First to gather around the door. Some were hanging to either side like he was, some were above it, others were below.

  "Okay, when Rox and I open the door, we'll come in one at a time, left, right, left, until you're all in. The ones below the door are next, ones on top last."

  "Why are we last?" Sasha asked.

  "Because I don't want anybody's fingers getting stepped on?" Sean replied in his best 'duh' voice.

  "You're learning," the First said with a laugh as the others snickered.

  "On three," Sean said.

  "One.

  "Two.

  "Three!" And with that, he and Roxy pushed the doors back into the wall, and Sean swung out into the hallway.

  There were demons everywhere. Gnashers and a bunch of other, smaller things he didn't know the names of, so he cast the mass magic missile spell as he moved forward to give Roxy room, then drew his pistol and started shooting.

  The spell dropped a lot of them, probably a hundred, maybe two.

 
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