Fairy slayer, p.13

Fairy Slayer, page 13


Fairy Slayer

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  This thing was so strong it had ripped cars in half. Some still smoked with the remnants of fires. Others leaked gasoline. The sidewalk to my right had been crushed under the force of something immensely heavy and strong, and now only sand and dust remained. A tree on the other side of the street was split in half. The top of the tree, filled with green leaves, sat upside down on the pavement.

  Next to the tree was a dead woman. Blood spilled out of the top of her head, and her neck was bent at an unnaturally sharp angle. Both eyes were open, and her mouth was agape as if she had called for help.

  “Here,” Ariette said as she tossed me a tiny round ball, “put this in. It’s a comms unit. It’ll connect you with Kalista and me.”

  I shoved the little ball into my ear and heard it crackle to life.

  “Does that ever get any easier?” I asked as I motioned to the dead woman in the street.

  “No,” Ariette said quietly, and her voice rumbled in my ear from both her mouth and the comms unit.

  We approached the tent with the human police, and they all turned in unison to watch us as we walked. I caught a few go slack-jawed at the sight of Ariette’s leggy figure, but she ignored their obvious drooling as she came up to the table.

  “Who’s in charge?” she barked.

  I was surprised at how rough her tone was, but the edge in her voice had the desired effect. Most of the cops shrank back slightly, and the ones who didn’t were silent. Finally, a buff man emerged from the crowd of officers.

  “I am,” he said with a raised hand.

  His blue uniform was crisp and clean, especially compared to some of the other officer’s. He was one of the few that wasn’t covered in dirt or torn cloth. The officer had short black hair and dark brown eyes set deep into his face. His slim nose came to a sharp apex that gave him a strangely ethereal quality, especially when mixed with his hard jawline and pointy chin.

  “Officer James Alfrisco,” he said as he reached out to take Ariette’s hand. She accepted and gave him a firm shake before she dropped his hand roughly.

  “I need an update,” Ariette ordered and cocked her head at the bank.

  “With all due respect, we’ve got it under control,” Alfrisco replied with a smirk. “You can go back to your guild.”

  Ariette took one step closer to him and drew herself to her full height. The blonde beauty stood at least two inches taller than the officer, and he fought hard not to shrink back under her gaze. Tension laced the air.

  “With all due respect,” Ariette spat as she repeated his words, “is the thing still in there?”

  “Well, yes--” he started, but she threw a hand up to cut him off.

  “Then you do not, in fact, have it under control. Put aside whatever disdain you have for me and my kind so that you can help save innocent lives.” Ariette’s eyes were on fire as she stared him down.

  Alfrisco took a split second to debate whether it was worth it to try to fight her or not. His nostrils flared as he inhaled sharply, and then he called over his shoulder.

  “Tang, report,” he said. His eyes never left Ariette, but she stood her ground.

  A short round officer bumbled up behind Alfrisco. His gray hair stuck out in strange clumps from his head, and he had about five chins. Unlike Alfrisco, Tang’s uniform was dirty and torn.

  “Yes, sir,” Tang said sharply. His voice was high and effeminate, not something I would have expected from the squat man.

  “Report,” Alfrisco repeated.

  “Oh, uh, right,” Tang stuttered as he scratched his head. “Well, sir, there’s a giant monster inside the bank.”

  “Thank you, Tang,” Alfrisco growled as he rolled his eyes. “We are all very well aware of that fact. What has been the monster’s activity?”

  “Well, sir, we don’t, uh, we don’t know that answer,” Tang said quietly, before he added, “sir.”

  Alfrisco’s body vibrated with rage, and it took everything in me not to burst out in laughter at this pompous ass’s terrible display of authority.

  “Maybe,” Ariette drawled with a smirk as she looked into the police commander’s dark eyes, “we should send in a drone.”

  “Oh, yes, ma’am, that would be a very good idea,” Tang spoke up excitedly. Quickly, Alfrisco shot him a demonic look, and Tang bowed his head and folded his hands in front of him in apology.

  “Send the drone, Alfrisco,” Ariette ordered.

  The police commander huffed and stomped back toward the canopy tent as Ariette turned back to Kalista and me.

  “I take it they’re not our biggest fans,” I remarked.

  “You could say that,” Ariette replied darkly. “They feel like we’ve taken away their independence with our government.”

  “Have we?” I asked. Instantly, I knew it was the wrong thing to say.

  “No, HC, we haven’t,” Ariette snarled back at me.

  “Okay,” Kalista interrupted, “so what’s the plan, Ari?”

  “First, I want to see inside that building,” she responded. “Then we come up with a plan.”

  “Uh, ma’am,” Tang’s voice called from a table underneath the tent, “we’ve got a drone right here.”

  The human police had a small black drone flying in front of the table. It was as big as a softball, and the entire exterior was a sleek black, except for the small camera lens that moved around as it captured different angles.

  Alfrisco stood in the back corner of the tent as he glared at the three of us with his arms crossed. Tang didn’t seem to notice as he waved us over excitedly.

  “We got this in last week,” he said as he motioned to the drone. “Super advanced technology straight from New Age Tech. I’m pretty excited to give it a test run!”

  “Don’t be so excited, Tang, people are dead and dying,” Alfrisco called from his perch in the corner.

  “Right, sorry, sir,” the rounder officer quickly corrected himself.

  “How does it work?” Ariette asked.

  “So, this,” Tang said as he held up a square made of the same black material as the drone, “is the controller. You use a finger and move the thing around where you want it to go. Up for up, down for down, you get the idea.”

  “And the video comes up there?” Kalista asked as she pointed to a screen on the table. It showed a picture of Alfrisco’s scowl, and Tang quickly turned the drone around to show us the front of the bank.

  “Yes, ma’am,” Tang responded.

  “Do we know if anyone’s alive inside?” I asked.

  There was silence for a moment before every officer there slowly shook his head.

  “Doubt that’s possible,” Alfrisco growled. “Thing is massively destructive. If anyone’s still in there, they’re dead for sure.”

  “Alright, let’s send it in then,” Ariette ordered. She shifted closer to the viewing screen, and Kalista and I followed suit.

  The drone slowly flew up to the doors of the bank and through a hole in the shattered glass of the building’s front. The lobby of the bank was totally empty, even of dead bodies. Desks and chairs had been overturned, and some had been torn apart, then the drone’s camera swept past huge metal columns placed throughout the bank lobby.

  “Iron,” Ariette muttered in an annoyed tone.

  The glass partition that divided the bankers from the public had been smashed to smithereens, and tiny shards of glass littered the floor on the way to a set of stairs in the back of the building. From there, the drone flew up one flight of stairs and stopped in a hallway. Tang looked up at Ariette hesitantly.

  “Keep going, Tang,” she said softly.

  He nodded and slid his finger on the screen to continue the drone’s path. It peeked in the first two doors, and both scenes were nearly identical. Mangled and bloody bodies lay among the twisted remnants of desks and chairs. Some had their eyes open, and others had their eyes shut. A few looked as if they’d died frozen with arms thrown across their faces and heads.

  “Where are you?” Ariette mut
tered under her breath. She stared so intensely at the screen that she didn’t even blink.

  Tang continued to take the drone on its trek through the bank building. When it finally reached the third floor, he flew it into the first room, and a gasp rose up from everyone, myself included.

  There, huddled under a desk, was a young brunette woman. Blood covered the front of her shirt, and her eyes stared at a spot on the floor in front of her.

  “She’s alive!” Kalista exclaimed unnecessarily.

  “Yeah, she is, but not for long if we can’t get her out,” Ariette responded.

  “Well, why don’t you go in and save the day, then?” Alfrisco asked snidely from the back.

  “Because,” Ariette snapped as she whipped around, “we still don’t know where the monster is. Would you like to go in there and get her? Because if you do, be my guest.”

  Alfrisco shut up after that.

  Tang flew the drone closer to the terrified woman, but she was so fixated on the floor that she didn’t see it.

  “Tang, can we get sound on this thing?” Ariette barked.

  “Yes, ma’am, let me get that up,” the officer said. Moments later, there was a crackle, and sound emanated from the screen in front of us.

  Everything was dead silent in the bank. There wasn’t the normal hustle and bustle of a busy workplace, and there was no growl that would indicate the troll was anywhere nearby. The woman’s shaky and unsteady breath was the only sound we heard as the drone moved closer.

  “Can she hear us?” Ariette whispered, so quietly it was almost an extension of her breath.

  Tang just nodded his head.

  “Okay, fly a little bit closer,” Ariette requested. “I don’t want her to scream.”

  The drone flew two feet closer, and Ariette put a hand up to stop Tang’s progress.

  “Hello,” she said as she leaned toward the controller in his hands.

  As Ariette had suspected, the woman was startled. To her credit, she didn’t scream, but she jumped so hard she rattled a piece of the desk that was situated next to her leg.

  “Shhh, it’s alright,” Ariette said softly into the speaker. “My name is Ariette. I’m with the Jefferson Guild. Don’t say anything, just nod or shake your head, okay?”

  The woman stared at the camera with wide green eyes and slowly nodded her head.

  “Good job. Do you know where the creature went?” Ariette asked.

  The woman shook her head this time. Then her body crumpled in on itself, and she wrapped her thin arms around her legs.

  “That’s alright, that’s alright,” Ariette said soothingly.

  I watched in amazement as Ariette talked to the fearful woman. She had a strong, motherly quality to her words, and even I felt calmer as she spoke.

  “Can you walk?” the elven warrior asked the woman.

  The brunette moved her arms over her body and checked to see if anything was broken. Shakily, she stood up and looked into the camera to give it a hesitant nod.

  “Okay, that’s very good,” Ariette soothed. “We’re going to get you out of here, but you need to wait for just a moment. We’ll check to make sure everything’s clear, and then come back to get you, alright?”

  Again, the woman nodded. Ariette took her eyes off the screen briefly to look at Tang.

  “Fly that thing back down the hallway to the second floor as fast as you can,” Ariette ordered.

  The drone zoomed through the building, and everyone kept their eyes peeled for any sign of movement. Suddenly, on the corner of the screen, the troll stepped around a corner.

  “There, move the drone in! Let’s get a closer look at this ugly bastard,” Ariette said, and Tang whipped the drone around so we could get a good look at it.

  “That thing is massive,” Tang whispered in a shaky voice.

  The moment Tang spoke, the troll turned two black eyes directly to the drone and stared straight into the camera with a menacing smile. Then one hand came down on top of the equipment before Tang could even think to move it.

  The creature lifted the camera up right in front of one of its eyes and let out a loud roar before it crushed the thing into scrap metal.

  “It’s intelligent,” Kalista gasped. “Look at the coordination, and how it stared right at us. It knows that’s a drone, and it knows we’re watching.”

  “We’ve got to go in there and save her,” I said and started to head toward the bank, but Ariette put a hand on my arm.

  “HC, I don’t know if that’s a good --” the elf started before I cut her off angrily.

  “She’ll die,” I said shortly.

  The elf stared at me with big blue eyes for a tense moment before she nodded.

  “You’re right.” She sighed and scrubbed her face with her hand. “So I guess that means we need to get her.” She met my eyes. “We.”

  “If you want to come with me, I’m definitely not going to argue.” I nodded at her. “Come on.”

  She didn’t move. Instead, she stared at me for a solid three seconds, and as I was about to leave her standing there, she finally spoke.

  “You have that gun?” she asked.

  I held it in the air to show her as I waited impatiently.

  “Good.” She nodded again. “Hopefully we won’t need it.” She took another deep breath and finally started walking toward the bank.

  I fell into step behind her and looked up at the face of the bank as we moved toward it. With each step that I took, my heartbeat kicked up a notch as adrenaline and a bit of fear coursed through my veins. I knew this was the right decision, I knew we needed to get in the bank or that woman would die a horrible and gruesome death, but that didn’t lessen the fact that this monster had killed dozens of people in a few minutes and this was only my second day on the job. I suddenly felt out of my depth and wondered if I should have asked the human police for a little backup.

  No. I shook my head as we climbed the steps in front of the bank. I couldn’t go in there plagued with doubts. Doubt and hesitation got people killed in situations like this. I lifted my head and watched Ariette stalk toward the building in front of us. I needed to have faith, both in the elven warrior before me and in myself. Ariette had said I was one of the most powerful adepts she had ever met, and I knew for a fact the blonde elf could really kick some ass. She was one of the top operatives of the Jefferson Guild, and I was the Racmoth. We could totally take down this troll and save the day. We simply needed to be careful and clever.

  As soon as we made it into the lobby, we crouched down and stepped as softly as we could over the broken glass and scattered debris. Without a word, we crept up the stairs to the second floor. The troll was nowhere in sight. My breath was like a windstorm in my ears, and I tried to slow it down so no one else could hear, but my palms were still slick with sweat.

  When we made it to the third floor, a low rumble emanated from the hallway in front of us, so we flattened ourselves against the wall and listened intently.

  My pulse sounded like a war drum, and it was so loud I was afraid the troll would hear it from down the hall.

  “She’s right in there,” I breathed directly into Ariette’s ear, and the elf nodded in response.

  I turned and slid forward enough so I could glance down the hallway. Only, I didn’t see the troll anywhere, so when I turned back to look at Ariette, I shook my head.

  She took a shaky breath and nodded.

  Go time.

  We slunk around the corner quickly and dashed into the first room. There, huddled under the desk with her eyes squeezed shut, was the young woman. Her fingers were stuffed into her ears, and a slight whine left her mouth with every breath. Her entire body shook. She didn’t hear us come into the room, and I approached her cautiously as Ariette stood guard at the door.

  I crouched down next to the woman and reached out a hand very slowly. The moment I touched her kneecap, her eyes flew open, and her mouth started to form a scream, but I pressed one hand over her mouth with light
ning speed, met her eyes, and then I placed one finger over my lips to tell her to be quiet. She gave me a shaky nod, and I removed my hand.

  I went to help her stand when Ariette rushed over to us. She waved her hands wildly, and then I heard heavy footsteps come down the hall. While part of me wanted to push her behind me and take on the beast, I had no way of knowing if this one would go down as easily as the last, and if I was wrong, we could all die. No, it would be better to take care of the creature after we got the woman to safety. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about her becoming collateral damage.

  Beside me, the woman started to hyperventilate, so I pushed her back behind the desk so that she was out of sight before Ariette and I crouched down next to her. Then I listened intently as the heavy footsteps stopped just outside the door.

  I could hear the monster’s raspy breath wheeze in and out of its lungs, and I willed it to go away, but it didn’t. Its footsteps echoed as the troll came into the room. The woman began to shake violently when the beast came up right on the other side of the desk. Ariette and I locked eyes, and she flicked her gaze over to an overturned conference table to our left. I nodded, and then I pushed the woman’s arm as I motioned silently to the table.

  As the troll began to move around the desk, we quickly crawled over to hide behind the table and out of its view. Its wheezing breaths came close again, and we crept around the table in a circle.

  Now, we faced the door, with the creature on the other side of the upturned table. I pushed the woman toward the door, and she needed no further encouragement to take off and took off running faster than I had expected she could sprint. Ariette and I sprinted after her. Thankfully we weren’t caught as we launched ourselves down the staircase. On the second floor, the woman froze and tried to start down the hallway.

  “What are you doing?” Ariette hissed as she grabbed the lady’s wrist.

  “My friend’s down there,” she sobbed quietly, but Ariette shook her head.

  “We’ll come back for her,” I whispered to the woman. She paused for a moment, but then she nodded and continued down the stairs and into the lobby.

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