Daemon Knights – Temnik

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Gregor had never done anything like this. In fact, if he was totally honest with himself, he hadn’t done much of anything with his life. He’d watched from the sidelines as his friends got careers and wives and children. He had eventually married, but that was more of a matter of running out of choices. Selenduma was not a large town and his prospective wife had approached him. He knew this was only after realizing that her options amounted to marrying him or facing spinsterhood.

He knew he was a coward and it should be him dead rather than Yuri, but the past couldn’t be changed. He’d watched his cousin stand up to the men who had destroyed their hometown and paid for it with his life, but even at the end, he didn’t regret it. Gregor had only gotten that job because of Yuri, and as much as he hated working for Silva, there weren’t many other options. It was a paycheck and it kept him and his wife fed.

Watching Yuri die just a few hours before had changed him. At first, he had considered his cousin a fool, but after some consideration, he understood what it meant to be a man. He knew that if he didn’t do something to avenge Yuri, he would never be able to live with himself. There wasn’t much he could do to fight the daemon weapon users of Silva’s force, but he would find some way to make himself useful to the strangers who had appeared to face the evil that plagued the area.

He knew what he had to do. While in Silva’s employ, he had been trained to drive the trains as a personal chauffeur. Obviously they knew that he would never have the nerve to cross them, making him a safe choice. Until this very day, they had been right.

His plan was simple. The timing was going to be the hard part. He had to be quick.

* * * * *

Angus recognized the train at once. It was the same one that Vitaly and Andrei had used to get to Selenduma. He and the rest of the team hid as it approached. As it neared them, the driver began to apply the brakes. He watched the train roll past them and spotted the driver. He knew it had to be someone from the town, but never would he have guessed it was Gregor.

“I’m gonna kill him,” he said under his breath, but loud enough for the rest of the team to hear. “I’ll bet that bastard is going to warn them. Here, I thought this might be the easy part of the mission. We’d better get moving. We’ve gotta hit them now.”

He ushered the team forward until they were hidden by the raised end of the boarding platform. He had wanted to get in position before Gregor had stopped the train, but he clearly knew what he was doing and was already stopped and disembarking. He appeared crazy, but there was something artificial about it. Like he was acting the part, but his heart wasn’t quite in it. Considering the look of calm determination that had been on the Russian’s face while he was driving the train, Angus guessed something was amiss.

Gregor was shouting and swinging his arms around, drawing the two men from the office. Angus had no idea what he was screaming about, but it seemed to upset the men plenty. There was much discussion between them while the team watched, and after a few minutes it seemed that Gregor had convinced them to come with him.

“We have to hit them now,” Angus whispered to the team. “If they board that train, not only will Silva know we’re coming, but it will be two more men to face when we get there. Plus I want to get Gregor alone without more friends to protect him. Angel and Prolier, loop around to the other side of the building. Once we’ve engaged them, I want you to come in from behind and finish this quickly.”

The group split and the main part of the force ran forward to engage the enemy.

The man with the claymore was the more alert of the two and spun around before Angus got close enough to catch him off guard. He was a mountain of a man, but he’d have to be for that weapon. The blade looked to be about six feet long and was three inches across where it met the hilt. It was a weapon that would be difficult, if not impossible, for a smaller man to control. Angus had to stop sharply and lean back to avoid the first swing of the massive weapon. If something like that hit you, you were, at best, losing a body part.

Renala’s halberd caught the next swing and by now, both men had squared off against their new opponents. The man with the hand axe pointed to the train and shouted something at Gregor, clearly an order to get moving, but Gregor didn’t move. He looked petrified with fear, reinforcing Angus’s opinion of him as a coward. The sensei approved of it this time though. He didn’t want Gregor escaping. He had a few choice words he wanted the man to hear, and he planned to use a language everyone understood: pain.

The axe wielder shouted at Gregor once more before shaking his head and moving forward to assist his friend. Despite the weight of the enormous blade, the man handled it like it was made of paper, swinging it with practiced ease in intricate loops that would’ve been almost impossible to block if not for Renala’s defensive daemon.

The team was fanning out to make room for their superior numbers to mean something when Gregor finally moved. Angus had been watching him out of the corner of his eye and his heart sank when he saw the man reach into his jacket and pull out a small pistol, aiming it at the melee in front of him. The sensei knew he couldn’t make it past the big guy before Gregor could get a shot off.

* * * * *

Prolier and Angel made it around the building quickly, but not before they could hear the sounds of battle from the platform. They rounded the corner just in time to see Gregor pull a gun from his coat and aim it at the fight.

“Please tell me you can take him out from here,” Prolier said. “I’m pretty sure not even Renala’s weapon can react fast enough to stop a bullet.”

“It will take me a second to charge enough to do any real damage, but it’s not a hard shot.” Angel lifted his rifle and sighted down at the Russian who had shot Marnie just a few hours before. He was almost ready to fire when they heard the sound of Gregor’s gun going off. He shifted his sight for a moment to see who’d been hit, but it looked like he’d missed as everyone in their team still seemed to be standing. It was when he was sweeping the gun back to Gregor that he saw what had happened.

“Well I’ll be damned,” Angel said.

* * * * *

The sound of the shot was near deafening at that range, but the results were much more visual than auditory anyway. There was a spray of red made up of a mixture of blood, flesh and bone fragments that erupted from the Russian swordsman’s chest. His swing stopped immediately, but he didn’t fall. He looked down at the wound before turning to cast an accusing eye at Gregor. He went to say something, but all that came out was a mouthful of blood before the man fell to his knees. He teetered there for a few seconds before falling to his side and laying still.

The man with the axe stood in shock, and Angus didn’t give him time to recover before clocking him in the side of his head with his weapon’s staff form, knocking him out cold.

There was silence for a time, with everyone looking at Gregor, not quite sure if he’d just helped them on purpose or if he was simply a terrible marksman who’d hit the wrong target. Once he lowered his weapon the answer became obvious.

Once the gun was placed back into it’s holster under his jacket, he reached into one of his pockets and produced a small folded piece of paper. He was shaking as he held it out to Angus who only hesitated for a moment before taking it and reading it aloud.

“If you are reading this, then I managed to leave it in the office at Temnik before leaving with the men stationed there. I am sorry for everything that I have done so far and I wish to help. I asked Yuri’s wife to write this for me since I don’t know English. I have a plan that will make it easier for you to get into Silva’s base. I will take these men back to Silva and tell them that I know how you plan to attack. When you reach Gusinoye Ozero, Silva’s home will be impossible to miss. It is a large, hideous looking building with a wall around it. Getting inside the wall should be easy for you, but the building is kept locked at all times. There is a small servant’s entrance on the north side of the building that I will have unlocked by midnight tomorrow. I will have them reinforce the south end and that should allow you to get in. Please make sure that Silva suffers for what he has done to my people. I am unlikely to make it back to my wife as Silva will kill me once he sees my deception, so please make sure the people of Selenduma reach safety. Again I am sorry for what I have done and for what I am asking you to do, but you are the only ones that I can count on. I will see you tomorrow night unless I am dead before then.”

The team said nothing. They had misjudged Gregor. The man who had seemed like a coward before was willing to give his life to protect his town and assist the team. He had just helped them eliminate two more of Silva’s men and although this clearly wasn’t part of the plan, he was handling it well.

“I know you can’t understand me, but thank you Gregor. You are forgiven and we will accept your help. I don’t know if your plan will still work now that these two won’t be able to go back with you, but if you’re still willing to go in there, we will make sure they never hurt anyone you love ever again.”

Gregor just stared in confusion. Then his face brightened as he had an idea. He went to the office, beckoning Angus to follow. Once inside he picked up the phone and dialed a number. Once connected he spoke for a moment and handed the receiver to Angus. It was Yuri’s widow. They both spoke to her, passing the phone back and forth in a complicated, but workable interpretation system. By the end of the call, they had a plan in place. Gregor would take the train north as planned and tell Silva about not only the attacks on Selenduma, but also that by the time Gregor had gotten to Temnik, those men were already defeated. Beyond that, they would go with the Russian’s plan to unlock the door for them. If all went well, they would all be safe and sound and going their separate ways in a couple days.

It was a solid plan, but Angus knew better than to expect things to go smoothly. So far, nothing on this mission had.

* * * * *

Previous Episode – Renala’s Funk   Next Episode – Mutiny

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