Now that he had contacted Angus and the others, Gregor was feeling much better about the situation. He had hoped to be gone before they got to Temnik, but actually getting to meet them and have a response to his plan was much better. The other way, he wouldn’t have been sure if they would believe the note and go along with it. With Angus’s help and Yuri’s widow as a translator, the plan was much more solid anyway. Gregor was new to this type of thing, but Angus had been doing it for years.
The train ride north was a pleasant one, with the brisk Russian wind whipping through the open windows of the cab. Knowing that this was likely to be one of his last days on Earth brought Gregor a kind of peace he had never known before. In the past he’d been a worrier of the highest order. Will there be enough money, will my wife cheat on me and leave, among other niggling little bothers to his mind. Now, all of that washed away. It was too late to worry about the plan, and anything that would come afterward was no longer any of his concern. It was so freeing he wanted to sing.
He would arrive in Gusinoye Ozero very soon, being only a few miles to the north, and would have about thirty six hours to figure out a way to get the back door unlocked. After seeing how fast the team had gotten to Temnik, Gregor had suggested that they should move that very night, but Angus didn’t like it. He wanted at least a day to plan the attack once he had the target in his sights and he’d told Gregor that the first night the guards would be more alert. By the second night, not only would they have gotten used to Gregor wandering around, giving him the opening he needed to unlock the door, but they would be bored by then. Angus had met them before and they weren’t hardened soldiers. After the first night of expectation, they would likely go back to playing cards or dice or whatever they used to pass the time.
Gregor watched as the town slowly came into view, with the pretty waters of Lake Gusinoye off to the right, and recalled the first time he’d been to the town as a child. That was before Silva and his men had taken over the town, destroying its idyllic peace. The bastard had built his eyesore of a compound just to the west of the Tamchinskiy datsan Buddhist temple and sadly, it was viewable from the grounds. Gregor wasn’t Buddhist, but he’d always had a deep respect for their peaceful beliefs and as a child, the Tamchinskiy datsan was one of the few places he could go and relax. Silva had destroyed that serenity and he would pay for it dearly.
As Gregor pulled the train into the station, he put his game face on. He had to look scared. He had to sell the part of being a victim to the evil invaders from the south. He mussed his hair some and partially untucked his shirt to give the impression that he had come here in a hurry. He waited a little longer than he should have and applied the brakes harder than necessary to ham it up a little more and before the engine had even come to a complete stop he dashed from the cab and into the office where he knew some of Silva’s men would be posted.
“I need to see Silva immediately,” he shouted in Russian as he ran into the room. “There are daemon users invading from the south and they’ve already killed some of us.”
At first the men looked bemused to see Gregor come rushing in. They knew Gregor as he had been before, a sniveling little scaredy cat, but once they heard his news, they were on their feet in seconds. “Are you sure?”
“Yes! How else do you think I have Andrei’s train? The southerners came into our town and fed Yuri to the beast. Then, when Andrei and Vitaly came south to see why the machine had started, they were killed too. After they left, I made sure the townsfolk were safe, refueled the engine and headed north. I was going to warn the men at Temnik, but by the time I got there, they were already dead. I can only assume they’re headed this way.”
Now that really put a fire under them. The taller of the two told Gregor to follow him and they ran to Silva’s compound where they were immediately admitted and Gregor told Silva the same thing.
“Tell me more about this group.” Silva said once Gregor had explained the situation.
“There was one older man and five younger people, two girls and three boys. One of the boys was shorter and looker a little odd.”
“Did he happen to carry a small shovel?”
Gregor pretended to consider it. “As a matter of fact I think he did. Have you met them before?”
Silva smiled. “I have indeed, and I have been waiting to do so again. That boy is very valuable to me and my superiors. You have done well and you will be rewarded for your loyalty. I’m sorry to hear about Yuri. I will make sure his widow is taken care of. One of my men will see to your comfort.”
Silva waved over to one of his men. “Take him to a room and make sure he has a bottle of our best vodka and something to eat. Tonight, when our enemies come, we will destroy them and feast to our victory.”
The man Silva had summoned nodded and took Gregor to a well appointed room with a large, comfortable looking bed and a thick carpet that would feel amazing to Gregor’s tired feet. The man left for a few minutes, allowing Gregor to take his shoes off and feel the opulent flooring between his toes, but returned a few moments later with a bottle of Stolichnaya Elit on ice before leaving again.
Gregor found a glass and poured himself a few fingers of the clear liquid. He had never been able to afford vodka like this and after taking a sip, knew exactly why they charged so much for it. The stuff Yuri and he drank when they got together in the evenings was rotgut compared to this stuff. He knew he was doing the right thing, but he must admit that if this was the kind of life he’d have under Silva, it was tempting to stay right where he was.
As he sat and enjoyed the vodka, he felt a wave of fatigue wash over him and he realized he hadn’t slept in almost twenty four hours. Knowing he had a day and a half to get things ready, he decided to make use of the bed they had provided for him.
He snuggled up under the covers and knew that he’d never laid in a bed like this. He didn’t know what it was made of, but it was heavenly. It only took a few seconds before he was sound asleep.
* * * * *
When Gregor awoke, it was to the sounds of fighting somewhere in the building. At first he decided Silva’s men must be sparring somewhere nearby, but when he heard a scream of pain, he guessed something else was happening.
He cautiously poked his head out the door and saw nothing, but the sounds were coming from the direction of Silva’s main room. The same room where Gregor had met with him earlier that day.
Gregor cursed to himself. Apparently Angus and the team didn’t trust him enough to wait for the predetermined time and had gone on the attack already. Part of him wanted to go back into his room and wait it out, but he knew he should go see if he could help.
He crept down the hall, hearing the noise get louder with every step. Now it didn’t seem like the sound was coming solely from the main room, but from all over the compound. The loudest action was still in the direction of the central chamber, but minor quarrels must be going on all over. What the hell was Angus thinking splitting up the team like that? Gregor had seen them in action and they were much better as a single unit, able to watch each other’s backs. If they were all over the place, it didn’t bode well for their chances. Even with four of Silva’s men already taken care of, the group from Hikari was still vastly outnumbered. Something was very wrong here.
As he got to the door of the main room, he peered around the corner and couldn’t believe his eyes. Angus and the kids were nowhere in sight. Silva’s men were fighting amongst themselves. What in the world was going on here?
He watched and it became obvious that Silva’s men were divided over something, but why and where the faction lines were drawn wasn’t clear. As he watched, it became increasingly clear that the side that was opposed to Silva’s leadership was gaining ground. The leader himself only had two loyal men around him and they were surrounded by six mutineers. The fight didn’t last long from there.
Silva and his men took two of the attackers down, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Soon enough, Silva himself was taken down and relieved of his weapon before being tied to a chair. His face was bloody, but he managed to keep all fear from his features. There was nothing there besides anger and hatred. If they were planning to try to break him, they might have quite the job on their hands.
“Are you planning to yield like you did to that little half-breed kid?” A man with a sickle said, staring down at the man who was, until recently, their boss. The other rebels laughed.
Silva grinned. “He made a fool of you too if you remember. He took you down before he even got to me.”
That comment earned him a right hook, but it didn’t remove his grin as he spat a mouthful of blood on the floor.
“He may have gotten past me, but I didn’t yield to a child and allow him to siphon a portion of my power. That was the moment you lost all credibility and any respect we may have had for you. You must’ve known that after that, this was inevitable. You have become the laughing stock of our organization, and therefore we have too. The very same team is coming to deal with you once and for all. If you are in charge when they arrive, we will lose once again. Your time has come to an end here.”
Silva’s grin finally dropped. “Do you think you can take them? That half-breed will destroy you all. If he could defeat me, even through luck, you have no chance. This time I will kill him and mount his inhuman head on my wall, along with the rest of that team.”
Sickle-man didn’t move. “No, Silva. You won’t. I will have my way with his female teammates in front of him before I kill them all.”
Silva laughed. “You really are as stupid as I’ve always suspected. If you touch the taller girl while he still lives, he will tear this whole building down. This is why you need me. I understand what sets him off. Untie me and I’ll only beat you a little before we set up our defenses. You have my word.”
It was Sickle’s turn to laugh, which he did right up until he swung his weapon and relieved his former boss of his head. He wiped the blood from the blade and turned around. It was then he noticed Gregor lurking. He pointed at the terrified man.
“He’s loyal to Silva, seize him.”
* * * * *