The team sat inside the temple trying to come up with a way to escape the army of daemons outside the doors. As long as they were inside, the monk assured them they were safe, but they couldn’t stay there forever. Once the men from the compound started rounding them back up, they would find the team and kill them. Worse still, they would likely slaughter everyone within the temple for harboring them. While Angus didn’t want the team to die, they had signed up for this life. He would not accept the deaths of any more innocents for their sake. Yuri had already paid with his life for associating with them and the sensei would allow no more.
Lethen had an idea, but was reticent about bringing it up. He didn’t want to do it and knew Angus wouldn’t like it, but after half an hour of sitting around and coming up with nothing, he decided that it might be their only option. “I think I might be able to get us out of here.”
Angus looked up. “How?”
“The same way I stopped the wolf daemon in Selenduma. When my daemon took over, it scared the wolf. I don’t know if there’s a hierarchy among daemons, but apparently the one in the room didn’t want to challenge this guy,” he said, holding up his shovel. “I’m not sure if it will work against so many, but I don’t think we have a choice but to try.”
Angus shook his head. “Absolutely out of the question. You know that the more you do that, the more of a foothold the daemon gets in your body. If you keep relying on that, he will eventually take over and use your body for whatever he desires. There’s also the little fact that unless something has changed, you can’t willing let him take over. The last thing we need is to step out there and have it not work. What we need is a distraction. Something to pull the daemons in a different direction.”
They had talked to the monk when they first sealed themselves within the datsun, and he had revealed to them a backdoor that might make it possible, but whoever drew the daemons away most likely wasn’t coming back. The beasts outside took many shapes and most of them were faster than a human on foot, even if they were all Olympic sprinters. Chances were high that the distraction wouldn’t even make it far enough to pull them away from the temple.
“What about food?” Renala asked.
Angus turned to the small girl. “What about it?”
“Well, the wolf daemon was starved. He could’ve been the only mistreated one, but I doubt it. Could we distract them with food? If we throw what we have out the door, then run out the back while they eat, we might be able to make it.”
Angus thought about it. “Now that might actually work. I don’t think the meager supplies we have will hold them back for long, but perhaps long enough for us to find shelter elsewhere. As long as Silva’s men don’t find us here, we might be able to hide out long enough for them to round up the daemons and think we made it out of town.” He knew they were no longer Silva’s men, but he couldn’t help but think of them that way. “The only problem is that if we throw all of our supplies, what we eat on the trip home? Getting away from here is pointless if we starve before we get back to Hikari.”
The monk walked over from where he was attending to the spiritual needs of the terrified townsfolk who had taken shelter within. “I may be able to help with that. We don’t keep much here, but we do have some food that can be used for your plan, or to restock your packs enough for you to make it home. I think there has been enough killing for today and I do not wish to see any more die.”
Angus nodded in thanks for the offer. “Before we decide anything for sure, I want to take a look and see what we’re up against. Is there anyway we can get out onto the roof and see what’s out there?”
The monk motioned for the sensei to follow him. He led the team up a set of stairs and took them to were they could exit onto the low, flat roof that jutted out from the front of the building. As they breathed the cool night air, they looked up and saw that the tiered blue-green roofs behind them were even more beautiful up close than they were from the ground. After taking a moment to appreciate their shelter, they moved forward as a group to see what they were dealing with.
They were shocked to see that only a few daemons were actually within the low wall that surrounded the temple’s grounds. Most of them were wandering the streets outside. They team had shut the gates as they ran in, but the wall looked to be only about five feet high and most of the creatures roaming the town could’ve vaulted that in an instant.
“What’s keeping them out?” Marnie asked to no one in particular.
“As I told you, they are afraid of walls. Their pens have highly electrified fences that they have gotten used to. They assume that all barriers like those will hurt them if they touch them. I’m actually surprised that there are any within the walls. I can only assume that they were emboldened by the sight of prey so close. Now that you aren’t within sight, they would probably wander off, but now they don’t want to approach the walls again.”
“We might be able to use that too.” Angus said, a plan forming in his mind. He walked around the edges of the small roof and looked at the town from his new vantage point. “Would you say that most of the houses in this town have walls around their yards?”
The monk nodded. “Almost all of them.”
“And these daemons will stay on their side of them unless they spot prey?”
“I can’t guarantee it, but that’s how they’ve behaved in my limited experience of them.”
“Then here’s the plan.” He pointed to the east side of the roof. “This side is the closest to the wall. If we can pull them to the opposite side and make it over the wall, we can start to make our way out of here. We will have to be careful, but If we watch for dangers and move from fenced in yard to fenced in yard, we might be able to make it to the edge of town without getting eaten. Renala, do you think you can remember the town well enough to get us to the edge of town that way?”
Renala looked scared, which was totally understandable given the circumstances. “I think I can at least get us close. Unfortunately the town is much more consolidated to the north. The south has more open areas and there will be at least one really hairy part. Once we hit the train tracks, there are more houses to the east of them, but we will have to run probably four hundred yards with no cover whatsoever. Then of course there is the point where we reach the absolute southern boundary of town. Once we get there, there will be no cover at all.”
“We’ll worry about that once we get that far. We may have to hide out for a little while.” Angus turned once again to the monk. “You don’t happen to know if any of the pens are south of town do you?”
“Yes, many of them are between here and Temnik. Most of the more dangerous beasts are kept to the west of the compound where they can be monitored more closely, but enough are south that it will not be an easy journey. Might I make a suggestion?”
“I’m all ears.”
“Head east and a bit north. You will find a train yard that is walled in. You can hide there for a time. Once you feel safe, go east to the lake. There is a place where there are a few small boats in the water and take one of them. About a mile south you will see a small jut of land that should be safe to land on. It’s near enough that a few of the creatures may have wandered down there, but most of them came into town last time. It seems they know where the meat is.”
Angus thanked the monk and looked over at the compound where the ones responsible for endangering the town were hiding. He wanted to do something about it. He wanted to see them suffer for what they had done to the town. These were good peaceful folk and they had terrorized them, much as they had the people of Selenduma. This time they had purposely loosed several dozen irate daemons into a town that wouldn’t have been prepared if they hadn’t run around warning the populace. People still might die and that made Angus angry.
“You’re not gonna like it, but we’re splitting up again for a little while. I will try to be back soon, but I can’t just leave this town swarming with daemons if I can help it. This should not only irritate our previous hosts, but give us a better chance of escaping. Angel, I want you to watch me through your scope. I want you ready to go when I get back, or just go if I don’t look like I’m gonna make it.”
Angel said that he would.
They went back inside to get their packs before regrouping on the roof. Angus pulled out a tiny mp3 player they had seen him listen to a few times, along with a small speaker. He smiled at the group and climbed to the wider roof just under the tiered ones. He got as close to the fence as possible and leaped off, barely clearing the wall and landing in a roll on the far side.
Angus was following their sensei’s progress as he looped around to the north, moving from yard to yard like a thief in the night. There was one place where he had to cross the grounds of the datsun itself, but the team made some noise to distract the daemons while he did so.
“Where is he going?” Prolier asked.
Angel was watching Angus heading west now. “I think he’s going back to the compound.”
* * * * *
Angus wended his way through the various obstacles, trying to stay silent and out of sight of any daemons who might be lurking in the area. His plan was ballsy, but very dangerous. He had noticed an intercom just outside the front gate of the base and he knew he could use it to do something these bastards wouldn’t like. He had already made it to the outer wall of the compound without being spotted by anyone or anything, and he was hopeful. The most dangerous part would be the time it would take him to set up his little surprise.
He got to the doors and pulled a small block from his pocket. It had only taken about half of the plastic explosives to blow a hole in the wall big enough to walk through. He wasn’t sure exactly what the other half would do to the flimsy doors he now stood next to, but he knew there wouldn’t be much left when he was done with them.
He carefully pried the faceplate from the intercom, smiling to himself.
He did like explosives.
* * * * *