When Nestor’s henchmen saw what happened, they did not react quickly. Some simply stood shocked, while others tried to take charge of the situation. A few even fled the room. Obviously Nestor hadn’t been in power long enough to have a clear cut second, so the ones that were trying to lead were mostly being ignored.
Prolier had a stroke of genius at this point. He stood from under the table, Nestor still impaled on his blades and scanned the group with an evil look on his face. After taking the whole scene in very slowly, he turned and let the body flop onto the table. He withdrew his weapon from the man’s midsection and casually wiped the blood from the claws using Nestor’s shirt. He made a great show of making sure there was no remaining blood before looking back up at the assemblage. “Who’s next?” He asked with a grin.
The men may not have understood the words, but the intent was unmistakable. They remaining Russians fled.
Angus rose from his chair and looked at his team. If they were already this brutal, what kind of daemon knights would they become? He had no doubt they would become incredible warriors, but if he couldn’t temper their independence to some degree, they may eventually decide they didn’t need the structure of Hikari and strike out on their own. “That was a dangerous game you played.”
Lethen saw the look on his sensei’s face and felt a twinge of shame. “I could see no other way out. It was going to come to a fight either way. I just wanted to even the odds some.”
“Plus, it worked.” Prolier added with a sneer. “I didn’t see any better ideas coming from anyone else.”
Angus saw the defiance in his student’s eyes, but knew he couldn’t do anything about it right then. Prolier was right. Angus was still working out a plan when Lethen set his in motion and it had worked. “It was reckless and could’ve gotten us all killed. I’m not saying it wasn’t a desperate situation, but we could’ve gotten information from Nestor. There was no need to kill him. You could simply have poisoned him, giving the impression that he was dead. The effect would’ve been the same, but we’d know where he’d hidden the data and a likely escape route. As it stands, this place is in chaos. Someone will unite these forces soon and we still have to get our gear and retrieve Gregor. I’m not saying it was a bad plan, but it was just a little short sighted.”
Lethen was about to say something snarky, but realized that the urge was coming from somewhere other than his own mind. Angus had a point. They were still inside the compound and there could be an army between them and their escape by the time they got everything they needed. They were also unlikely to get what he’d really come there for. The reason Angus had taken the Russia mission was to gain information about the shovel and it’s origins. Possibly even get something they could use against Turiel. With both Silva and Nestor dead, they were unlikely to find any answers.
As much as they had survived against crazy odds, their mission was actually a failure thus far. Their official mission was covert recon. Get in, find out what’s going on and get out without attracting attention. That was definitely a bust as they had been neither covert nor any better informed about the illegal daemon farming going on here. Their secret mission to gain info about the badger daemon looked like it wasn’t going to happen either.
Angus had a quick look around before snatching up Nestor’s sickle and hooking it into his belt loop. “Alright guys, look alive. We have to get that memory card. It’s the only way to prove that we were set up. Our mission was to watch without being seen and we failed. That data had to come from somewhere and we will make sure that source pays dearly for their treachery. For it to have been sewn into the strap on that pack, it had to originate within Hikari. I think I knew where it came from, but hopefully the info itself can prove it.”
They all knew where it came from. Lethen had told them everything he knew about his weapon and it’s origins. Turiel was the only non-student they knew of with a connection to the Russians.
“Should we split up?” Angel asked. “Make the search quicker?”
Angus shook his head. “If the halls weren’t filled with homicidal maniacs I would say yes, but we just cut the head from this snake. The rest of the body is likely to lash out in an attempt to seize control. As of right now, there is no coordination, giving us the advantage. We’re unlikely to meet any large groups while they move into their little factions, but the longer we wait, the more these will band together and put up more of a fight. We need to find Nestor’s room soon, but let’s go get our packs and Gregor first. He might be able to help us out.”
They headed back to their quarters, trying to stay out of sight of the men wandering through the place in search of comrades. These Russians weren’t stupid, they knew they’d have to come at the team in force or they would lose.
When they arrived at their suite, Gregor was starting to come to. They let him get used to the idea of consciousness while they made sure everything was in their bags. The luggage would make it harder to move and fight through the confining hallways, but they couldn’t afford to leave them behind. Once they had gathered their belongings, Angus looked around the room. “Where are the weapons?”
The team looked at each other, then around the room. The daemon weapons they’d taken from their fallen enemies weren’t there. The Russians had been into the room and taken them.
“Damn it.”Angus said. “We really should’ve hidden them better, but we were all tired and didn’t have long in here before we were ushered into dinner. It’s not a huge deal, but they would’ve been nice to take home with us as trophies. Who knows, we might’ve even been able to use a few of them. It doesn’t really change anything. We still have to find that data stick and get out of here before these guys can get organized.”
Angus walked over to where Gregor was now sitting up, bandages covering a large portion of his body. “C’mon buddy, we have to go find Nestor’s hiding place and we need your help. You know this place and we don’t have time to search everywhere. Point us in the right direction and we’ll make sure you get back to your wife safely. You did a very brave thing and chicks dig scars.”
Gregor allowed himself to be helped up, but the blank expression on his face reminded Angus that the Russian had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. In the madness of the situation, the sensei had forgotten about the language barrier. This complicated things a bit.
He spotted a phone in the corner and brought Gregor over to it. “Can you call Yuri’s wife to translate?” He mimed passing the phone back and forth as they had at Temnik, and Gregor seemed to understand. He took the receiver and dialed a number. He stood for a minute before hanging up and shaking his head. Apparently Yuri’s widow wasn’t home. Hopefully they’d already left Selenduma and it wasn’t a sign that something bad had happened.
“Crap.” Angus paced around the room for a moment, trying to figure out how to ask for directions from someone who he couldn’t talk to. “Nestor,” he said pointing down to the sickle strapped to his waist.
Gregor’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. He knew what that meant. There was only one reason a daemon weapon would be away from it’s owner. This brought a grin and a few unpleasant sounding words, accompanied by spitting on the floor when he said the man’s name.
With that out of the way, Angus pointed to the bed and said the name again before pointing out the door and shrugging. It took a few tries, but Gregor seemed to get the idea that he was looking for where Nestor slept. Gregor started to move toward the door and stumbled a little. He may not have had anything vital damaged, but he was still very weak from his ordeal. Angus’s estimation of his ability to move quickly may have been premature.
“Angel,” the sensei said, “help him walk. Your rifle isn’t going to be much help in these tight quarters anyway.”
As Gregor went through the door with Angel’s help he stopped for a moment to get his bearings. He’d never had enough status to warrant being given one of these rooms. After a moment, he led them to the left, toward the main hall.
With their need to avoid running into the various men roaming the halls, it was slow going, but they made it into what Angus guessed was the staff sleeping area. Gregor led them to a door and they ducked in just before another small group of men rounded a corner up ahead. The room was bare.
“Nestor’s?” Angus asked, pointing at the bed.
After a minute of looking around the room and finding nothing, Angus realized why the room would be empty. “Crap. With Nestor being the power hungry ass that he was, he probably moved into the master bedroom before Silva’s head even hit the floor. We’re in the wrong place.” He turned to Gregor and said “Silva,” making the same sort of motions he had to ask the Russian to lead them to Nestor’s room.
Gregor sighed and nodded, leading them from the room once more. There were a few close calls on their trek to the leader’s old room, but again, they made it without incident. The door was locked, but Angus made short work of that by switching back to his bowie knife and prying the portal open.
This time they were met with a room full of random objects. Some decorative and others with obvious uses, not all of them pleasant. It was obvious that this room was now occupied by someone who took the job of torture very seriously. As Angus surveyed the walls he realized that Nestor had been a twisted and evil man. He now reconsidered his opinion on Lethen’s plan. Killing Nestor had been the best plan. A man this adept at the art of pain would never have told them anything, no matter what they did to him. He would’ve given them no answers.
He closed the door behind them and told them to fan out. He wanted the memory card first and foremost, but they were to take the daemon weapons as well if they found them.
It didn’t take long for the team to locate the weapons and they were bundled up as they were before, with the sickle and Silva’s club added to the mix. It was rather difficult to hide a six foot long claymore after all and the others were nearby. The data chip was proving to be more elusive.
“Hey,” Prolier called out, poking his claw behind a large framed map of Russia. “I think there’s something behind here.” He pulled the picture back and behind it was a small, but secure looking wall safe.
“Great,” Angus said. “We don’t have time for this.”
“Shh,” Angel said, who was nearest to the door. “I hear voices. Someone’s coming.”
Angus cast his eyes around quickly. There was no other exit. They were trapped.
* * * * *