Rising Tide: CATU Book 3 Ch. 09byJoeBarnosky©
CATU Headquarters, Undisclosed Location
Roger sits back in his chair letting the day's events roll through his head. He knows who was responsible for Senator Rustlin's death and it definitely isn't the mysterious assassin.
The headquarters for the now secret CATU is bustling with agents. A temporary monitoring station is set up until all the equipment could be assembled. Until then America has to rely on its other agencies to keep the people protected.
He tries to call Major Graves to find out exactly what his intentions were earlier this morning. Of course he isn't able to contact Graves. Not that he really expected to. A flicker across the bare room catches his attention. Averting his gaze without making it look noticeable, he casts a look in the direction of the flicker. It was gone, but he knows all too well what caused it.
"I often sat and wondered when you'd come for your revenge," he says to the seemingly empty room.
Several heartbeats pass before the silence is broke. You underestimate me then, Cornelius. And here I thought you were far better than that. Natalya slowly coagulates into view. She radiates with an essence of power that Roger can feel deep to his soul.
"Actually, I almost expected you to send your lackey to do the job for you," he says sneering.
My lackey? She asks with a laugh. Clearly you don't know anything or are you just probing in hopes that I'll give you the information you seek? No the "lackey" you refer to wasn't sent by me. I can assure you that. If she is truly as skilled as proclaimed then you can count on all of her targets turning up dead when she is done.
Roger remains comfortably sitting in his chair not showing emotion of any sort. Natalya, however, slowly walks around the room as she spoke. Your rescuers won't be able to assist you. I don't even think a Second Seer could break through the barrier I've placed. A smile crosses her face when she sees the slight change in Roger's body language. She refers to the agents Roger alerted the moment he realized Natalya had entered the room.
"I see you are still full of surprises. Since you are here to kill me, why don't you do so and get it over with?" Roger isn't sure he'd make it out of the room alive. He is skilled but not enough to kill a Succubus without first being prepared to do so. One thing he is certain about is he isn't going down without a fight.
You humans are always predictable. Rush, rush, rush. Always in a hurry. I've got all the time in the world and I enjoy playing with my victims before I grant them the much wanted death.
"Well then I guess I'm going to deprive you of that pleasure."
He stands grabbing an object from his desk and throws it at the demon. The object glistens as the light from the room's only fixture as it shines on it. Natalya jumps to avoid its impact believing it to be a Mythril blade.
Natalya lands rolling up to her feet, pressing her back to the wall ready to spring at Roger when the door to the room suddenly comes flying off its hinges. Doug Wiltkins rushes into the room flanked by two other agents.
Caught off guard, Natalya focuses on the new combatants, shifting her stance toward them. Each of the new agents brandishes their guns and begins firing. With amazing speed and agility, she begins dodging the bullets as she leaps at the agents. Most of the rounds whiz past her, but a small percentage manages to strike her. Even though the bullets don't deal as much damage as they would to a human, she still feels the pain as each one strikes her legs, arms and torso.
Gritting her teeth as each bullet makes its mark; she slams into the first agent and knocks Wiltkins off his feet. He lands against the wall slightly dazed from the impact while Natalya carries her victim up into the wall.
The agent's back thuds against the wall as Natalya's hand slips into her chest. The agent tries to cry out in pain, but the demon's hand wraps around her throat cutting off any attempt to do so. With a simple twist, the agent's heart is torn free leaving the light to slowly fade from her eyes.
Without wasting any time, Natalya throws the agent's lifeless body fully into Doug as he composes himself. The body slams him into the wall once more. The other unoccupied agent has to reload giving Natalya a much needed respite. She takes a brief moment to collect her thoughts and fight off the immense the pain coursing through her body. The bullet wounds hurt like all hell, but she isn't going to let a little pain stop her.
Roger realizing what is about to happen, jumps the desk attempting to reach the helpless agent before the demon does. His effects are useless as Natalya swoops down, grappling the agent then shooting up through the ceiling. By the time Roger reaches the spot the agent was standing, it is too late. He has just barely enough time to jump away as the agent's body crashes onto the floor. Blood flows from the stump where his head used to be. Two seconds later his head follows the same course landing on top of the body then rolling off to the side.
Natalya floats down from the ceiling gracefully. This is the second time I have been shot today. I am really getting tired of you fucking humans and your silly little weapons. And my barrier! There is no way my barrier could be broken!
"Sorry to disappoint you, but it seems you are the one doing the underestimating," Roger replies. "I guess demons aren't the only ones with special weaponry. That was courteously from the Black List"
Natalya screams with rage. The one thing that aggravates her the most is being mocked by a human. She rears back to attack when Doug tackles her. They both land into the opposite wall, his body hitting first leaving a circular, cracked indention. The walls are made of concrete and are barely strong enough to absorb the impact.
When Natalya stands up leaving Doug crumpled on the floor and bleeding, she turns to face Roger holding a gun straight at her face. "I almost believed I wouldn't make it out of here alive, but I guess it's you that won't be," he says solemnly. He pulls the trigger and then suddenly everything slows. Roger watches as the bullet leaves the barrel and as the slide moves back to chamber another round. The bullet meant for Natalya flies into the wall, impacting and blowing pieces of the concrete in all directions.
A look of shock comes over Roger's face at not seeing the bullet hit the demon. In an instant, time returns to normal leaving Roger a second to realize what has happened. By that time, it is already too late. He feels a twinge of pain in his back and knows right away it is over.
She whispers into Roger's ear. In the end it is you that has done the underestimating.
With a loud snap, Roger falls to the floor. Landing on his back, he fights the searing pain that threatens to overcome his entire body. He has never felt pain like this before and for the first time in his life he prays for it all to end.
Natalya reaches down grabbing his throat and pinning him down. Not that he will be able to go anywhere. He can't even feel the lower part of his body anymore. You should have never crossed me. I offered you a chance to join me and you refused. Now it has all come full circle and I have my revenge. A twist of her wrist is all it takes for Roger's neck to snap as easily as would a toothpick.
What is the status of the American Fleet Captain Tong?" General Wei asks when the captain enters his office. He leaves his back turned to the man not showing any acknowledgement other than the question.
Captain Tong stands at attention not daring to stand at ease until told to do so. "They are within our firing range but holding."
"No doubt we are well within theirs as well."
"And of my commands to move the fleets?" the general asks.
"They have been moved as you commanded. The fleets arrived at Cape Town before the American Fleet did."
"Excellent. We will show the Americans that we are prepared and willing to fight against them." General Wei turns in his chair to face the young captain. He gestures for the man to sit. Captain Tong takes a seat in one of the two chairs in front of the general's desk. He remains silent waiting for until he is spoken to.
"Delun, you have proven yourself a fine officer and loyal soldier to Mother China and because of your exceptional skill I am going to ask you to become my second in command."
Tong remains motionless and doesn't speak for several moments. This is the opportunity he waited for. The opportunity to expand his military career and bring honor to his family. He doesn't want the general to believe he could be taken advantage of by answering so quickly. Even if he didn't want to take such a path he didn't have a choice in the matter. To not except this kind of promotion was to show your upmost disrespect to your commanding officer. "I accept your offer General and am most gracious," he says as he stands and shakes the general's hand.
"This conflict will soon erupt into a full scale war," Wei begins as Tong sits back down. "These Westerners poison everything they touch and they believe they have the right to do whatever they want. They only interfere because we have formed a coalition and have taken over a meaningless continent. We have swept in to bring order to the chaos here and to expand our land. This is what we get in return. Russia has tried to bully us and now the Americans try. Why? Because we have taken an initiative that no other country has bothered to take."
"What will you have me do sir?" Tong asks now much more nervous with anticipation than his earlier feelings.
"I cannot be in more than one place at any given time. The Americans will try to not just attack using their naval force but secretly as well. We have an ally that will help us succeed. That, however, brings more enemies to the table. I need you to take control of 1st Fleets Flagship, the Gang Jun." A look of unexpectancy rolls onto Tong's face at the assignment. "Don't be so shocked Delun. I have reviewed your record, your academy record, and you showed some promise in the naval field. You are more than able to handle the situation out there. My question is why have you decided to not take that career path and instead the one you have now?"
Tong straightens himself up in the chair. He never expected someone to look into his military academy record or even ask why he made a change from naval officer to officer training. "My father was a naval officer. He died in a training exercise along with the entire submarine crew. He was blamed for the incident and it has brought dishonor to my family. When I joined the academy, I wanted to bring back that honor. But no matter how hard I tried, I was reminded of my father's dishonor. I had no other choice than to switch my officer training and bring back some honor to my family another way."
Tong hangs his head down. He hates to talk about it, most of all to his commanding officer. General Wei's response brings more surprise than his new promotion. "I knew your father. I can also say he didn't bring dishonor."
"You knew my father?" Tong shouts forgetting his place at the moment. He is quick to recover. "Forgive my sir for my sudden outburst."
"No need for the apology, you are after all, my peer now. At least while we are in the privacy away from others. You can speak freely."
"I understand sir," he says with a nod.
"Good. Now, like I was saying. Your father was a very talented naval leader, but due to the unforeseen problems with the sub he commanded in that training exercise he was dishonored. Mother China had just built the JL-2 and was still in the testing phase. Your father was selected to command it and work out any of the bugs that needed working out. The unforeseen bug led to the destruction of the submarine. Because so much money was put into it the high command had to save some face. So they blamed your father for the entire incident. In the end those who knew the truth were shamed for it but the bug was found and corrected and the JL-2 was put into production."
"Why hasn't my father's name been cleared after all this time?" Tong asks as the anger builds up inside.
"Because Mother China cannot afford any failures to be seen by its own citizens or any other country. That is why we joined the coalition and it is why we shall become triumphant in our conquest!" General Wei is standing with his fist shaking in the air. He radiates with an air of confidence. "Patience Delun, once we have victory over the Americans and any other country that dares to oppose us, you will finally be able to clear your father's name. I specifically had you assigned here to test your abilities. You have proven yourself to be as talented as your father."
A smile spreads across Tong's face at that moment. He will make his father proud and he will restore the honor that was stolen from his family.
We need medical over here!" Agent Miles Hood yells.
"Damn it all to hell. Director Cornelius is dead!" Agent Vernon Foster yells as he slams his fist onto the ground next to the director's body. "Check the Agent Wiltkins!"
Agent Hood runs the Wiltkins body and feels for a pulse. "He's alive!"
"We need medical in here now!" Agent Foster yells again.
"I'm here!" the medic announces as he steps into the room. Upon seeing the carnage, she bends over and vomits.
"So much for you being a medic," Foster comments.
"I wasn't expecting this," she says in her defense while trying to gain control of her stomach.
"Neither were we," Foster says under his breath. "Now get over there and help him with Agent Wiltkins."
The medic focuses on helping Wiltkins and tries not to look at the mangled bodies of the other two unfortunate agents. "Does he have a pulse?" she asks when she makes it without incident.
"A weak one, but he's alive," Hood replies.
"I'm going to need help getting him on the stretcher and down to the infirmary."
"No problem," Hood says to her. He then looks toward Foster's direction and yells, "Vernon, we need your help!"
Foster lost in his own thoughts is broken from them. He looks over in the direction of Hood's voice and for a brief moment a feeling of guilt falls on him. Shaking it off, he runs over to help.
It doesn't take the two agents and medic long to get Wiltkins on and strapped to the stretcher. Once he is secured the medic gives the command to lift. "On three. One. Two. Lift!"
Wiltkins is rushed to the infirmary while the medic fights to keep him from dying.
Report!" Alexander Chernoff demands.
"All your forces have been pulled back to protect the island. Security has been doubled as requested around the compound on White Island," the soldier answers with a thick Russian accent.
"Good. I want you to send a courier to General Wei telling him to stick to his agreement and follow my orders or the coalition shall be dissolved and he will no longer have Russia's support."
"It shall be done Prime Minister," the soldier says bowing. "Will there be anything else you require of me sir?"
"No. You are dismissed," Chernoff says waving his hand at the man.
Once the soldier has left the room, Natalya walks out from the shadow of a darkened corner in the chamber. "I've returned my master," she announces as she strides toward him. She is still in the process of healing from various wounds to both her body and wings.
"Yes, I know," he says turning to regard her. "I see you took quite a beating."
"Nothing I can't handle, though I will be glad once we rule over these pathetic fools," she says with a look of disgust.
"In time. Now what about the humans I told you to kill?" he asks with irritation lining his voice.
"They proved to be better skilled than we suspected."
"We? It sounds more like you."
Natalya knows she is playing this game close and at any minute she could be struck down. She does have one advantage and that is her position. She only hopes he won't forget that. "Yes master, I," she says pointing to herself. "I underestimated them as did Gravlis."
"Gravlis was weak."
Chernoff turns away from her and proceeds up the dais to sit upon the seat mounted at the top. Natalya remains standing at the bottom silently. Chernoff sits and casts down his gaze on her. He remains that way for what seems like ages to her until he finally spoke. "Either you are just as weak as he was and the humans I sent you to kill did all that to you," he gestures making a circle around her in the air. "Or you were in another battle."
"You are correct in your second assumption. I took it—"
"I don't make assumptions," his voice booms, echoing throughout the chamber. "You will take care in your choice of words in the future. Natalya, you are treading a very thin line and if I didn't need you. Well, I'll let you fill in the blanks."
"Forgive me my lord. I was indeed in another battle. I went—"
"I do not care about your personal vendettas. As long as they do not interfere with my plans or Winter's, you are free to do whatever you choose. Once Avyanna has been released Winter's plans will come into fruition and a new order shall take place with demons ruling the world and humans loathing beneath our feet. The time draws closer. That leaves me to one final request before Avyanna's release."
"Yes my lord?" Natalya asks feigning eagerness to please.
"I doubt General Wei will heed my warning and though he has become a thorn in the Council's side, he will still be useful to us. But in order to keep control of our assets in Africa I will need you to take control of the Black Dragon. I trust this is something you will be able to handle."
"I will not fail you my master," she says before fading out.
"If you do I won't be the one you will fear," Chernoff says to an empty chamber.