Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Seas of Blood and Fire Part 2

Drop Anchor

The Commandant’s men were waiting for us as the E-Rail car approached Pelé Station. Their stone faces watched us as we sped past their double-breasted slate gray uniforms. Like most of The Commandant’s Gargoyles, they were all humans modified to look like statuary with rock hides. On a rare occasion, he had his engineers reveal a patched together winged monstrosity to serve as a lieutenant. None had bothered coming today though. The Commandant was underestimating us.

How quaint. I suppose it hadn’t been a bad plan on his part, but woefully lacking in imagination. After all, why would we feel compelled to us the station?

I kicked open the doors in the side of the car and hurled out an anchor crafted from the power cables in the rear cars and four of the padded steel benches. The benches bounced and skipped across the asphalt beneath us until they finally found their target: the poles supporting this chunk of the black line. I drove my feet through the floor and ground them into the car’s frame. The bent benches snagged on the pole and I grunted as I wrapped the power cables tight around my wrists. The E-Rail car hissed and sparked as I held us in place.

“Sir, might I suggest a rapid exit? I’m not entirely certain how long my arms will hold out. This is no wooden ship and these cables are not Toledo forged steel.”

“Moving now Gregor. Mr. Jonathan, you and I will be first. Then Trevor and Rebecca. Wrecking Crew, you guys bring up the rear. Will you be alright to jump from this height Gregor?”

“Not a spot of trouble. Just be expeditious please.”

Michael nodded and Mr. Jonathan scooped him up under his arm before hopping onto the power cables stretching from my arms to the poles below. Balancing on the tips of his shining dress shoes, he slid down the wrapped cables. Trevor and Rebecca followed moments after, both leaping out into the air, landing on the cable supported by strands of her hair. I could feel the plastic around the wires stretching, the copper inside stretching thin as the train squealed in place. James, Manfred, Whitfield, and Charles each saluted me with a grin and a wink before scampering onto the cables themselves. I gritted my teeth and nodded back to them. I could feel my biceps cracking. It would take just a few moments longer. Mr. Jonathan and Michael had reached the poles and hopped to the ground. My forearms were turning to gravel beneath my suit and the dust was spilling down and out my cuffs. Trevor landed and began firing upon someone I couldn’t see. They must be coming. The imps were each lunging off the cables themselves, trying to avoid incoming fire. Everyone was clear. Time to go.

I leapt out of the E-Rail car, my spats almost certainly irreparable scuffed, and made the long descent to the ground without the aid of the cables. The concrete below approached all too quickly as I spun in my air until my feet were back beneath me. The ground gasped for breath and split wide as I landed. My knees creaked for a moment, but then I was up again.

“Mr. Jonathan! If you would sever the lines please!”

“Certainly, my good man.”

Dodging the oncoming rain of bullets, Mr. Jonathan slipped Michael behind the makeshift benches and sliced the cables free. Trevor was firing from the cover of the posts while Rebecca and the Wrecking Crew hid near our master. There were still more bullets than Michael had expected. Several squads of Gargoyles marched down the ruined street from Pelé Station, rotating ranks as they reloaded. This was absurd.

I lashed the power cords around my wrists into the ranks upon ranks of approaching Gargoyles. Uniforms were split wide as deep cracks were left in their stony hides. The Commandant had trained them well. They kept marching forward, concentrating their fire on Michael’s hiding place. Another crack from my makeshift whips and the dozen Gargoyles at the front had their legs shattered. They fell, screaming in pain. It was the first noise any of them had made and it was nice to finally get affirmation that they were not just movable statuary.

Over half of their number scattered, looking for cover in alleyways or behind long dead cars. Their sporadic fire was now centered on me, even as I slid behind one of the massive E-Rail support poles.

“Good work breaking their lines, Gregor. Trevor, keep picking off the fools not behind cover. Do we have any further suggestions as to how to take care of this now?””

Manfred and Whitfield were juggling six sticky balls back and forth between themselves.

“We have way to clear them out.”
“Make them scream; make them shout.”

“There a little ways out for you two to reach. Gregor, do the honors please.”

Manfred and Whitfield tossed the little balls into my waiting hand. I picked up one of the balls between the right thumb and forefinger.

“What sort of radius gents? How hard will it take for detonation?”

“Fairly light will make them ‘splode Cap’n.”
“Aye aye. And they’ll sink them like cannonballs. Boom!”

“Thank you gents. Now get back below deck before you’re spotted.”

They ran off to hide behind the thickest parts of the twisted together benches. If only I had crew like them back in the day, I may have never had to give up pirating. If I never gave it up, then I wouldn’t have met Michael though. I shook my head. Unimportant tomfoolery.

I lobbed the first two balls of explosives into the disorganized crowd of Gargoyles standing in the middle of the street. Two flashes of red and green were all that flickered before our eyes before the ground blew apart. The hail of gunfire stumbled dramatically as its most concentrated source was converted to particles of dust and burnt cotton.

The next two compressed globs of destruction were sent into the furthest alleyways. Their explosions were accompanied by panicked screams, and the collapse of their entrances. The final two found rusted electric cars with Gargoyles gathered behind them. As they saw the small, apple-sized ball of death hurtling for them, they bolted. Those who tried to flee were gunned down by Trevor’s twins or caught in the back by their cover turned to shrapnel.

Mr. Jonathan darted from our hiding place and ran down the nearest pocket of Gargoyles. Even with machine guns, they weren’t fast enough. Their bullets moved too slowly to catch him as he slid past the car they were cowering behind and lunged over it among them. His razors sliced the first Gargoyle’s gun and arm in half before carving the stone man a new face. They were shouting and firing and screaming as he moved among them, his blades slicing through their supposed impenetrability.

“Gregor, these idiots can’t be this loyal. They’ve got a commanding officer hiding around here somewhere. We need him found.”

I nodded and scanned the skyline. Show me your wings my albatross so that I might wear you around my neck. There. Two buildings away a dog-headed figure in a sharp white uniform with wide bat wings perched, watching the battle through a pair of field glasses. I sighed. I was without tea and without a cannonball. What a bother.

I took hold of the support pole our bench anchor had lashed itself around and dug in my fingers. Beneath my own stone skin, I could feel muscles strain, even though I knew no such things existed. I was stone through and through. Trolls exposed to the sun did that. We became stone eternally. Too bad some of us kept a stiff upper lip and refused to stop moving. I strained and the pole began to whimper as a chunk the size of my head broke free in my hands.

“What are you doing?”

“Getting myself a new necklace.”

Spinning, I crouched low with the hunk of pole in my right hand. When I had proper momentum I launched the piece of concrete through the air. I could have been an Olympian, I supposed, if the Greeks hadn’t thought me an unpleasant cousin of the titans. My makeshift shot put hurtled through the air on a collision course with the bat-winged lieutenant. He turned to observe the whistling through the air just in time to see his doom slam into his chest.

I watched as he crumbled beneath the chunk of concrete. What few troops he had left on the ground finally began to retreat. It was too late for them though. By now, Rebecca’s strands of hair had found the abandoned toy store listed in the old phone books we had used as research. Antique dolls were blocking the Gargoyles retreat, forming their own firing line with tiny flintlock pistols. As the Gargoyles diverted their fire to clear the dolls from their path, Trevor and Mr. Jonathan struck from behind. Great holes burst into life whenever Trevor’s guns spoke; just as limbs came loose wherever Mr. Jonathan danced among the already dead. The battle was over.

Michael adjusted his suit and tie as Rebecca straightened his bowler.

“Good work everyone. Now we make our way to The Commandant’s Coliseum. If they’re foolish enough to get in our way again, we’ll remove them again. However, from the information we’ve been given, our way should be clear now. The Commandant respects military skill and will be interested in our arrival.”

“When do we kill him?”

“Oh we’re not here to kill him Mr. Jonathan. We’re here to bring a message from the Mayor himself.”

“What message?”

“That the Mayor wants a cut of the action at The Coliseum in return for it being televised across all of Chrysalis Falls.”

“And if The Commandant says no?”

“We get persuasive.”

I stroked my chin. Perhaps Jonathan was right. Perhaps there was a reason why this butler had been a pirate for most of his life. After all…

I could be very, very persuasive.

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