From the Ashes: CATU Book 6 Ch. 23byJoeBarnosky©
DUPREE AND STONE HANG NEARLY SUSPENDED against the far wall of the busy room as technician after technician rush back and forth between stations. Before them are a group of monitors with various satellite images and diagrams surrounding a very large central monitor with a scene that just finished playing out the destruction of London, the second city since their arrival.
"We've got to get out of here," Dupree whispers to Stone. The look on her face matches his: anguish, disgust and most of all anger. "We can't believe help is going to come now."
Before Stone can answer, a familiar voice answers for him, "You are correct in your assumption. You are all alone now and no one is coming to save you or the rest of the world."
Both agents look over toward the direction of the voice, spotting two familiar figures as both their eyes go wide with confusion. It is Stone that finds the words first. "Grines? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Odd choice of words coming from a man in your circumstances considering you were just thinking how there was no hope for you."
"Please tell me you're not working for these bastards," Dupree says leaving out no bit of the anger that is starting to build up within her. "Because if you are, I'm going to personally kill you myself."
"My dear I would really enjoy seeing you try," he answers with an amusing smile. He turns to the woman accompanying him. "Natalya, please have our guests moved to the Solar Firing Chamber for the final target."
The Succubus nods her head and steps past Grines. "It really is a shame Agent Reeds isn't here to join you, but no matter in due time I will deal with him."
"You're not going to get away with this you son of a bitch!" Stone yells.
A flash of light shoots through Grines' eyes and in an instant the flesh melts away revealing a different body, one larger and covered with a chitinous like skin except for the eyes and the jet black hair covering the head. The creature in almost a flash steps forward past Natalya and wraps a hand around Stones' throat. You dare make threats against a force you know nothing about. It is why I Tancheres will succeed in my plans this day and why you feeble, weak and pathetic excuse for an existence will cease to live beyond today.
"History repeats itself jackass," Dupree says venomously, "You've gotten your asses handed to you time and time again and it isn't going to change now."
Tancheres flashes her a look of pure evil and grins. We're going to see about that. He releases his grip from around Stones' neck and turns once again to regard Natalya. Put them in the chamber.
As soon and Tancheres has left Natalya begins pushing the two agents down the vacant hallway until they come to an unmarked door. The Succubus quickly enters a code into the control panel next to the door and shoves the two roughly in a soon as the door opens, following them in quickly.
"Tancheres has already destroyed two of his targets as you've seen," Natalya begins to say. Both agents look at her with questioning looks and quickly she changes the subject explaining the matter. "In just a minute Tancheres is going to be distracted giving you two the opportunity to escape."
An instant later the clamps holding their wrists together release and fall with a clang to the floor. Stone rubs his wrists and says, "And why the hell should we trust you?"
Natalya grins deviously. "Without me you will fail in your feeble attempt to stop Tancheres."
Dupree places her hand on Stones' arm stealing a glance from him which she ignores as she steps forward toward Natalya. "And you're going to let us go in exchange for us to stop Tancheres. What's in it for us other than the fact we get to stop him from destroying anymore cities?"
"Oh I don't want you to stop him from destroying cities, at least not his next one," Natalya says drawing a serious look from both agents. "Moscow is the next target, the hub of the demon world."
"And you'd like to see it destroyed?" Dupree asks skeptically.
The Succubus examines her nails as if looking for some kind of defect in them for a moment before finally looking up with an answer. "Let's just say I have a few enemies I'd like to be rid of and at the same time it becomes beneficial for all of you as well."
"I can't guarantee if we cross paths out there we'll stay on the same side," Stone threatens.
Another grin forms on Natalya's face. "I wouldn't expect anything different."
AS TANCHERES ENTERS THE TARGETING control room flanked closely by his horseman, Rahkar, silence falls. The room's occupants turn to regard them and quickly Errios leaves her station to step up to the Ancient Asura.
Everything is ready as planned master, she says with a curt bow.
I would expect nothing less. Tancheres looks past her then steps past without regard. Have my guests been placed into the chamber yet?
Not yet, Errios answers as she stands with anger flaring in her eyes.
I have found your actions here very disturbing as of late, Tancheres says stopping short as he places his hands behind his back.
I do not understand master, Errios replies feinting denial. She looks over to Ehiel and the horseman gives her a curt nod but remains motionless.
I specifically gave you two targets, Tancheres continues unhindered. You've targeted London as directed but New York City still stands and Washington D.C. is leveled.
I must have misunderstood your orders, Errios uses as an excuse.
Do not play me as a fool, the Ancient Asura says raising his voice. I do not know of your personal objectives, but I will not have you interfere with my own.
I dare not make such moves against you my lord.
You reek of Natalya's betrayal, Tancheres snorts. It is something I have expected for a long time and it will be your undoing as well as her own.
Rahkar takes the cue and begins to move from his position from the door toward Errios. The Succubus throws a casual glance toward the advancing horseman and cuts a smile. You shouldn't have one of your goons do your dirty work for you.
Tancheres still unmoving says, I would not waste my time with one as low as you.
And in there is your mistake.
Tancheres turns to regard the Succubus just as Ehiel steps into the path of the approaching Rahkar and Errios, with a look of fierce determination and Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi in hand rushes him.
The Ancient Asura smirks, waiting until the last moment possible to side step the sword thrust. He reaches out grabbing Errios at the wrist with his right hand and her throat with his other. Stupid little bitch, he says sharply, you dare think you have a chance against me?
He turns Errios' head around enough for her to see Rahkar with his arm wrapped around the neck of the other horsemen. With one quick twist Ehiel goes limp and the life fades from her eyes. Now what to do with you, the Ancient Asura says as if lost in his own thought. Killing you quickly would be too rewarding for you.
Why...don't you ask them? Errios gurgles through the tight grip around her throat.
Suddenly the door opens and Tancheres' smile quickly fades and is overcome by complete surprise. Instead of the two agents he had sent with Natalya that he'd expected to show up, instead was Agent Spencer Reeds and he wasn't alone. The power that radiated from the being next to him sent a jolt of both curiosity and fear through the Ancient Asura.
What is this? he questions aloud.
That is your undoing, Errios mocks. I don't need Natalya when I have someone greater to promise me the power I seek.
Tancheres looks toward the Succubus with questioning eyes, slackening his grip slightly. Errios doesn't move right away as she takes in the moment and says, Yes Delgrious has set the wheels in motion and he is your ultimate betrayer.
Before Tancheres can say anymore Errios takes advantage of his lessened grip and twists her body to maneuver out of his grasp to strike. The Ancient Asura isn't fully caught off guard and manages to slither aside catching only a glancing strike from Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi before putting distance between himself and Errios.
The room falls into silence once more with its many technicians quivering in their chairs, staring at the scene before them. Rahkar stands full of rage, his muscles pulsate and tense waiting for the word to strike. Errios stands poised with her sword drawn in preparation to strike Tancheres down while the Ancient Asura attempts to mask his freight behind a veil of confidence and authority.
By what right do you dare come here? he questions.
Aurelia smiles adding to her radiance even more. "You have no idea who I am, do you?" she asks with a voice that almost sings.
I care less who you are, Tancheres answer defiantly as he tries to mask his trembling fear. The power that radiates from this creature is like nothing he has ever felt and yet somehow it feels very familiar. Or of what you are.
"That is too bad," Aurelia says, "because I could be your salvation."
I bow before no other demon, Tancheres says. And I won't hesitate to destroy you.
Aurelia answers his threat with laughter matched only by Spencer Reed's. The Ancient Asura ignores the gesture by turning his attention toward his technicians. Continue with the firing sequence no matter the interruption.
"Oh I think not," Aurelia says as she snaps her fingers. In an instant every one of the technicians burst into an agonizing ball of intense heat, burning into ash within a matter of seconds leaving the room empty save the demons and Spencer Reeds.
Anger flares in the eyes of the Ancient Asura. Without further hesitation he launches himself at the Succubus. Kill them all!
Rahkar doesn't need another command and the horseman is moving like a tiger sprung from its cage. His immediate target is the human companion as he already determined some link between him and this unknown demon. The confidence that the link between them being broken would hinder Aurelia becomes his demise.
Aurelia moves like a blur against the horseman throwing a sidelong kick to his midsection, doubling him over. Before he can recover, she drives an elbow against the base of his skull sending him to the floor. A wicked smile appears on her face followed by her tongue moistening her soft lips. She raises her foot and slams it down onto Rahkar's skull driving it through, sending pieces of bone and brain matter in all directions.
ERRIOS JUST MANAGES TO STEP back and avoid the reach of Tancheres buying her just enough time to recover from the sudden surprise attack and strike out with one of her own.
Tancheres being much more powerful proves his prowess against her sword skills by merely sidestepping or completely dodging each of her strikes, but the Succubus has a trick of her own.
With each strike at the Ancient Asura she ensures she oversteps and extends the attack making it seem she is overly trying to strike him and continues this way until she finally appears to show signs of exhaustion giving Tancheres the confidence and edge he needs to feel safe enough to step in and strike.
And strike he does.
The first blow lands across her face sending her reeling backward and is followed quickly by another and another then one to the stomach. Each blow is heavier than the last and each one makes it feel like her bones are about to break, but she takes each one until the opportune moment presents itself. When it finally does, Errios drives Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi home.
The sword tears through flesh sending Tancheres' right hand away then his left leg, severed just above the knee. As his body falls past a look of total surprise comes over his face and the last thing he sees is Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi cutting through his skull, cleaving it into two pieces.
Errios stands over the now lifeless body of Tancheres feeling no remorse and the sudden sound of clapping brings her attention back to the reality of things. She spins around to see Spencer Reeds smiling and clapping in an almost mockingly way and anger swells inside her. I will not have a human mock me no matter who he is.
She takes a step forward but as she does Aurelia impedes her way.
"You did an excellent job," the Avatar says, "but your services are no longer required."
Errios opens her mouth to question and Aurelia simply reaches into it and rips her jaw free then her head from the rest of her body. She then turns around to Spencer Reeds and says, "Come now, we have one last task to deal with."
"Natalya Rhinheart," Spencer says in a near whisper.