Iron Rain Pt. 11byLost Boy©
Another installment of the series and as always I hope you enjoy. Vote. Comment. If anyone knows an editor that would be awesome, still looking for one, thanks and enjoy!
Iron Rain Part 11
We stepped out of the car and as we walked to the visitor's center our feet made that soft crunching sound in the freshly fallen snow. It was early morning in the town of Hammerton Missouri and true to her word the GPS failed about twenty miles from the tiny community and we had to rely upon the directions Morrigan had given us. Akira plucked a brochure from the clear plastic box and opened up the tri-fold advertisement which she noted had last been printed over eight years prior.
"I'm guessing they don't get a lot of visitors Kouryou," Akira said with a wry grin.
"Apparently not," I replied looking around at the snow shrouded buildings and noted the pristine snow and almost perfect silence broken only by the wind and our voices.
"They have a castle," Akira exclaimed. "Eisermann Castle, a Germanic landmark brought stone by stone from the old country in the late seventeenth century it says."
"Wow, if I remember right that is like way before the Louisiana Purchase. This just gets stranger and stranger you know," I said heading back to the car when I saw movement off to my left.
A solitary figure bundled up and fitting her keys into the glass doors of what could only be Stella's Diner. The door opened and the figure stomped her feet before entering. The door slowly slid closed behind her as one by one the lights came on, and as if by magic other people appeared out of the snow to slowly meander to other store fronts and as we watched the town came alive. With a soft buzz heard over the falling snow the neon lights reminiscent of a bygone time the pink and blue letters came alive 'Stella's Diner'.
A few minutes later that same figure who had unlocked the diner approached us holding what appeared to be two steaming cups of coffee.
"You two really should come out of the weather," the cheery middle aged woman said with a brilliant smile. "Here this'll warm you up and I know the diner isn't open yet but if you want to get out of the wind you are more than welcome to have a seat and I'll get you a bite if you're hungry?"
"How can we possibly refuse an offer like that?" I told her.
"New England area right, no let me guess Massachusetts?" she asked.
"Got it in one..." I said.
"Stella, just like the diner, and you are young man?"
"I'm Nick Shaw and this is my companion Akira Kusanagi," I completed our introductions.
"Ooh my, she is a looker, want my advice you should marry that one." Stella said turning and heading back to her diner.
Sipping our coffee and laughing we followed Stella back to the warm interior of her diner and had a nice home cooked meal. The interior of the diner reminded me of the 1950's and even that homespun attitude of the kindness to strangers seemed like it stepped right out of that very same bygone generation. If this was the way the rest of the town was I think we were going to enjoy our brief visit. Stella had barely turned the sign from closed to open before the morning rush flowed in they were slammed. The ethnic diversity was nothing short of stunning. It was little New York or something as men, women and children of every conceivable nationality, race and creed filed in and found their seat, booth or spot. We had chosen two stools at the counter to sit in and I waved Stella over for a quick question.
"How's the meal sweetie?" she asked.
"Great, don't take offense or anything by this but how big is this town?" I asked.
"No offense taken darling, I think the last census placed us at around fourteen thousand for the town and surrounding farms and factories."
"Nik!" A shout rose up and I turned to see a man in his late twenties early thirties with dark brown hair and eyes with a look that screamed a keen mind that little escaped his perception.
"Who is that," Akira asked Stella.
"Oh that's just Nik Salte our local golden boy he works at the power plant that supplies the town." She said smiling. "He's available if you want his number." She added with a wink.
We finished our meal in silence but couldn't help but watch the interactive nature of the entire crowd as everyone seemed to find time to say hi to everyone else.
"If you are looking for Quinn, he's the one in the booth next to tall blonde chap," Oswald Sebastian Kane said appearing out of the blue and sitting next to me without any warning.
I jumped and he just smiled.
"A little warning next time Oswald," I said biting back more than a few harsh syllables. "I thought you said you didn't know where the ring was or who had it."
"Oh about that I lied, Quinn is old school when it comes to dealing with people. He prefers face to face interactions."
"Oswald, I suggest the next time you make an appearance you do it with some style and grace," Akira said behind him with not a little menace in her voice.
"Dear me love I had no idea you were so protective of Nick here," Oswald said feeling the tip of the Japanese tanto knife pressed discreetly at the base of his spine.
"Keeping him safe is in my job description you might say now let's not upset these gentle folk shall we?" Akira said moving back to sit next to me with a friendly smile the knife never being seen by a single soul.
"Touchy city folk," he said and when I turned on him and he saw the deadly seriousness he had aroused his smile faded. "I take it things have gotten serious then?"
"You might say that, there has already been one attempt on my sister's life," I told him.
"Ah, then please accept my most sincere apology, had I known I would have handled my entrance less dramatically."
"Apology accepted, now why the heck did you lie to me, really?" I asked.
"To test your conviction to find the ring, it is not an item easily traced and few knew where it lay." He said.
"It took me about five minutes to discover who had it and where to find him," I said with a grin.
"Five minutes..." he began to argue but my next word stopped him dead.
"Oh, hmm that little tart is always in everyone's business. Not that I mind she is pleasant enough to look at and easy... well friendly too." Oswald said smiling at the memories.
"Yeah, she gets around... a lot." Akira said with a roll of the eyes.
"Well if you two are ready I will introduce you to Quinn and Sam," he offered.
The three of us walked over to the table in the back and the two men sat opposite each other and were as different in appearance as they were in demeanor. Quinn the dark haired man with the fair skin and green eyes was of average height and build and had that rough and tumble look of a man who was all business all the time. Sam on the other hand was well over six foot with broad shoulders and a long mane of wavy blonde hair and eyes so blue they were his most prominent feature easily. Then there was his gentle smile and general air of perpetual relaxation as if all was always well with his world every moment of every day. As we approached both men rose in difference to Akira whom they both looked at with some measure of obvious attraction. Quinn licked his lips as she approached and Sam bowed his head but his gaze seemed fixed on hers.
"Gentlemen, this is Nick Shaw a compatriot and seeker of rare antiquities and this lovely young lady here is Akira Kusanagi, Mistress of the Black Lotus School and Nick's talented bodyguard." Oswald said with a slight tip of his head.
Our mutual shock must have been a private joke with the pair at the table because the smiled and Sam actually chuckled at our expense.
"Please do not take offense your secrets are safe with us but Oz does have a rude habit of spying on people when they are unawares," Sam said in his slow tenor voice.
"Yeah, so I've noticed," I said not amused.
"So Mister Shaw," Quinn addressed me in his Texan drawl that he still possessed even after being away for if it was to be believed nearly seventy years now. "You have come about my little trinket that belongs to your organization."
"That is correct," I replied as they made room for us to sit with them.
Akira sat next to Sam and Oswald and I scrunched in next to Quinn. A fresh pot of coffee was brought over along with three fresh mugs and after it was poured and we were comfortable the haggling began.
"Mr. Shaw," Quinn began but I interrupted him.
"I prefer Nick, Mr. Shaw sounds like my father."
"Very well, Nick, what do you know about the ring?" Quinn asked.
"That the owner prior to you was," I stopped and looked around like some conspirator in a bad spy film. "Well he was a Nephilim."
"That is and isn't true," he replied. "When I cut his head off all those years ago he was a Nephilim and a monster through and through. Though we used the term revenant back then not knowing the nature of the thing we hunted down and killed. I have learned much in my time since then. Anyway the man was born human but was altered by the ring. Not by magic or curses per se but by the ingenious device built into the damnable thing." He paused and I could see the harsh memory cloud his mind and then he returned to the here and now. "When I took the ring as a trophy of our victory I was ignorant of its real purpose. When the sun had set and full night had fallen only then did the thing wake up and bite me. I say bite but there are a series of needles hidden within the confines of signet and they somehow took a sample of my blood and when I failed to pass as Nephilim it did what it was created to do. It injected me with highly refined and potent Nephilim blood. It only took a few hours for the change to take place and by the next dawn I realized I had become like the beast we had slain except for some reason or another I was unharmed by sunlight. Each night the ring bit me until nothing of my humanity remained. Well that is not entirely true, nothing physically human remained would be more precise a statement. I possessed their hunger and abilities and longevity but I was still well me. I realized that the monster we destroyed was the byproduct of decisions he himself had made and the power had corrupted him utterly. I vowed that I would not become like that poor lost soul I promised myself I would remain true to who I was and so I have."
"Why does the ring function as it does?" I asked him.
"That is an answer that took me fifty years to discover but you should know if you truly intend upon purchasing the ring. I will tell you all that I know and if some of it you already know please bear with me." He said and I could see him settle his thoughts. "It was just after the Great Flood and all of the Nephilim were drowned, all but one. Her name is lost to history but those that came after called her the Great Mother. She was the strongest of her race and it was that strength that allowed to her to survive as long as she had. She was dying when he found her and nursed her back to health. He allowed her to feed from him but due to his unique physiology she was unable to change him. Before the flood, victims of the Nephilim became Nephilim themselves but that was about to change. Her beauty and her hunger seduced him and in all they had twelve children, six sons and six daughters. Because of his uniqueness the twelve no longer required humans to reproduce they could do it amongst themselves in the traditional manner. Each child possessed a strong dominant ability which they passed down to their children. The siblings formed a single clan and wanting all the traits to survive they bore offspring with each other until they were sure the race as a whole would last. But the Great Mother was not satisfied with that she begged a boon from her lover and it was he who took her blood and stolen knowledge and fashioned the ring to ensure that no matter what that the Nephilim would survive."
"What madman would do such a thing," I asked.
"I don't know his name only that it was he who founded the Silver Twilight," Quinn said and fell silent.
"It makes a sick sense now," I said. "He created the lodge to help mankind against the plague he had created. He was the only one who could see far enough ahead to lay the ground work for humanities survival. But I still don't understand my part in all of this."
"I think you are over thinking things Nick," Sam said in his easy going manner.
"I don't doubt that at all," I said. "What is your take on this?"
"I believe from everything that Oz has told us about you and your unusual birth and all the obvious manipulation involved." He stopped and looked at everyone then continued. "You are the anti-venom Nick. If you believe the Nephilim are a sickness then you are the cure don't you see? He has taken his own children over untold generations and has been trying to recreate whatever it is that is unique to him. You are that endgame, that solution to the Nephilim. Not to kill them but to breed with one or more of them and cure them. Your children will not have the hunger; your children will finish what he started all those centuries ago."
The silence that fell was profound. I let my head drop and stared at the table's surface but not seeing it really. Sam's words had struck me to my core and I knew he was right. Down to my very soul I knew that was what he had wanted all along. Safe within the brotherhood of the Silver Twilight and with enough influence to nudge things along my children would provide the final link to end the negative impact the Nephilim had and who knows how many generations it would take but there was hope for something better, something greater to rise from all of this.
The others chatted but my mind was far away and I wondered at the thoughts of trying to find a Nephilim to have children with. This wasn't going to be easy unless a deep seated suspicion proved to be true. Even that hope was a two edged sword and there would be emotional fall out either way.
"Kouryou, we are going to Quinn's shop are you okay?" Akira asked and I nodded shaking off the last bit of the mental fog.
"Yeah, let's go." I told her.
A block off Main Street one could barely make out the tiny bit of the blue overhang under the inches of freshly fallen snow. As we drew nearer I could make out the flowing gold script that told us we have nearly arrived at Quinn's Emporium. It was a two story stone edifice done in turn of the century style with one large window allowing an easy view of the rows and rows of shelves and cabinets and one smaller window that showed the sales counter and the antique cash register the shown with its polished copper exterior. Between them a stout oaken door that would deter the most determined thief. Quinn approached the door as he fished out his keys and as he grabbed the door knob to unlock the store it turned in his hand and he just smiled and shook his head.
"Silly me I forgot to lock up last night," Quinn said and Sam chuckled behind him as we all filed into the chilly interior of the shop.
Sam moved directly to the western wall of the store where an ancient hearth stood and with a little kindling and a wooden match the fire was soon going. A few minutes' later logs were added and warmth radiated from the fireplace. Quinn started a pot of coffee as Oz turned on a few overhead lights. Just beyond the counter along the eastern wall were four comfy leather couches and it was here that we migrated to, to discuss the ring's price.
"So knowing everything you do about the ring do you still want it?" Quinn asked as Akira meandered among the shelves and cabinets oohing and ahing.
"More so now that I know what the damn thing does, I intend on destroying it." I told them.
"Good luck," Sam said. "We have tried many times over the years."
"What do you have in mind for your first attempt?" Quinn asked curious as hell.
"My company is developing a new Solar Furnace as a power source and also for manufacturing purposes. We expect to generate some four thousand degrees Celsius. If it proves successful we are going to create an entire branch devoted to solar power research," I said.
"So you are going to use focused sunlight to melt it?" Sam asked and I nodded. "Have to admit we have not tried that."
"That won't fit in the museum," Quinn said grinning.
"Museum, you have a museum," I asked.
"Yeah, there is a room in the basement that is dedicated to all the attempts to get rid of the ring." Quinn said smiling sadly. "They range from brute force to the sublime, care to see it so you know what lengths we have already gone through and you can check those off your list?"
"I am curious to see what you've tried so far..." I began but Akira's voice completely derailed that thought.
"OOH PRETTY," She was bent over a glass case and staring intently at something.
"Bet it's the matching bracelets," Sam said offering a crisp one hundred dollar bill.
"I am thinking it's the earrings," Quinn said shaking his hand.
All three of us stopped dead in our tracks seeing that Akira had shed her heavy winter coat and was down to her short skirt, tight black sweater and leather boots. Her skirt was just barely covering her round ass cheeks in her current position.
"Dddamn," I whispered.
"I second that," Quinn added.
"The motion is carried," Sam said smiling.
Akira without standing up turned her head and looked at us and just shook her head and smile.
"Boys... Nick, how much do you love me?" she asked licking her lips.
"A lot," I managed.
"Good be a dear and buy me the bracelets and earrings and I will love you forever and ever."
"Looks like we are finding a bed and breakfast eh?" I asked and she nodded.
I walked over and stood next to her and saw the items she was looking at and raised an eyebrow at the shiny violet metal bracelets with the queer designs etched into them. Then she pointed to the sparkling dangly earrings with the dark gems set into them.
"You certainly have interesting taste Akira," I told her.
"MMMMMM, I've seen those characters before," she whispered to me. "Where did you get these bracelets from?"
"Mmm those are from the Amazon River Basin somewhere, Jon wasn't specific in his letter, why?" Quinn asked.
"The pattern looks vaguely familiar is all," she lied.
"Perhaps it reminds you of the black obelisk in the courtyard of the Black Lotus School?" Sam asked nicely.
"MMMMM perhaps," Akira said knowing she was busted. "How does a man know what the Black Lotus School courtyard looks like?"
"I dated a student once," he said smiling.
"Dated," Akira said standing up and looking at him as she walked up to him.
"Well maybe that's a nice word for an on again off again affair," he grinned.
"Hmm," she said her hands moving like a blur and grabbing his hands. "Aha, you have the Marks! She taught you, didn't she?"
"Yes and no," Sam said.
Instinctively I took a step backward and Sam's fist shot out missing my nose by inches.
"Naughty, naughty you've been teaching Nick," Sam said.
"I can't be there all the time," Akira said smiling. "Now how much for the lot?"
"You mean the bracelets and the earrings?" Quinn asked.
"You forgot the ring," Akira said beginning the haggling in truth.
"Ah, well let me think... friend's discount and first time purchase plus sales tax... I think an even hundred thousand should cover it." He said.
"Pay the man," Akira said with a brilliant smile.
"That was some harsh negotiations," I said. "Where's the nearest bank I can wire transfer the money to your account."
"I'll take a check," Quinn said. "I mean you are the President and CEO of Numenor Technology right? I trust you, besides Oz can find you if the check bounces... like that's going to happen."
"Speaking of Oz, where the hell is he?" I asked and saw a strange expression on Akira's face and if I didn't know better she had that freshly fucked look.