From the Ashes: CATU Book 6 Ch. 03byJoeBarnosky©
ALARMS SUDDENLY CUT ON BLARING LOUDLY throughout the large estate. Martin Sternigan, head of the Black List, is out of bed and on his feet in seconds. A moment later his door is thrown open.
"Mater Sternigan!" the woman shouts. "We're under attack!"
"By whom?" he asks calmly as he begins dressing.
"Not sure yet sir, but the uniforms suggest it's the Black Dragon."
"Natalya, you bitch," he says under his breath.
"And sir, there's more."
"As there usually is," Sternigan says sarcastically. "Go on," he says a moment later when the woman looks at him with a puzzled look on her face.
"They have some kind of weapon with them."
Sternigan looks at her noting the serious tone she used. "Something we haven't seen before?" he asks.
Before words can even leave her lips the building shudders. The floor shakes threatening to force them both to their knees. The sounds of gunfire erupt a second later.
"They're past our first line of defense," she states. "Sir, we need to get you out of here."
"I'm not going anywhere," he says. He walks over to the dresser and slides out the bottom drawer. The female agent looks to see what he is doing and cannot see anything but a piece of black glass with a digital keypad.
Sternigan taps in a code quickly as if he had practiced it many, many times before. The buttons change from red to green and the keypad disappears. The black fades to reveal clear glass and a case full of weapons. He quickly opens the glass and pulls out a Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle and extra clips. "Are you ready Agent Rendon?"
"Yes sir," she says with conviction. She pulls out a .45mm pistol and steps back into the hall. The moment she steps out a large hand grabs her head, clamping down so hard it crushes and squeezes her head like pulp from a grape. The above human sized creature then slings her to the side and steps into the frame of the doorway.
The creature is green with spiky scales and large clawed hands. It looks almost human except for its height, very slender waist, large muscles and lizard like features. Sternigan isn't at all frightened by its appearance and he takes a stance and begins to unload on it.
The creature instantly steps back and raises it arms up to block the bullets. The bullets are deflected easily and are sent flying off into the surrounding hallway walls. Once Sternigan's assault rifle empties the creature throws down its arms. It steps forward into a pouncing stance.
Sternigan remains calm as he steadily drops out the old clip and inserts another. The creature grabs each side of the doorway and lunges forward, tearing huge chunks of the frame with it. Sternigan takes up a defensive stance and waits until the last possible second then dives under the bulk of the slender thing. He rolls up to his feet and dives out the room just as a grenade erupts. He lands on his stomach and waits for the flames to rush over him then back into the room before he jumps to his feet. He runs down the hall without looking back to see if the creature is destroyed or following him.
CHÂTEAU D'ESPOIR IS NEARLY A SHELL of a building and many of its wings burn or completely destroyed. Bodies of both Black List and Black Dragon are strewn everywhere where the majority of the bodies belong to the Black List.
More of the new and strange creatures walk precariously through the ruble and ash, searching for anyone that may still be alive. A squad of soldiers, led by Natalya Rhinheart, stomp over debris as they infiltrate the main portion of the manor.
Natalya snickers to herself at the weak defense offered by the Black List. "And to think Rolan, that these people have defended the human world from demons. They obviously have grown lax over the years."
"Yes Mistress," Rolan says respectfully. "Your superior force, of course, is no match for anyone if they can't stop it."
She stops to regard the man that has become her human lover. "You're right Rolan," she says smiling. "And soon not even Tancheres will be able to stop me."
"Mistress," a Black Dragon soldier says kneeling before Natalya.
"Report," she says with a wicked sneer.
"The manor has been searched. We have not found Sternigan, however, he was here. Recovered data from one of our Chimeras shows Sternigan just before he destroyed it."
"How can he have escaped?" Natalya says with fury in her voice. The whole point of attacking the château was to kill Sternigan.
"We believe he may be hiding in the library Mistress."
"Then why are you not bringing him here to me dead?"
"We are having trouble getting into the vault Mistress," the soldier says with a shaky voice.
Natalya growls in annoyance then turns to Rolan. "Lieutenant, would you please take your squad down there and force your way in?"
"Consider it done Mistress," he says with a large smile. He waves his squad forward and they race past the Succubus.
He stops dead in his tracks while the squad continues inside. "Yes Mistress?"
"Bring me the human out alive if possible and find me the book I require." He nods and turns around following his men inside. Natalya shifts her gaze back to the reporting soldier. "Prepare a defensive perimeter. The police will soon be on their way and I do not wish to be interrupted before we are through here."
"As you order Mistress," the soldier says. Without further notice he is up on his feet running past her, whistling for attention from the other Black Dragon members.
"You've got nowhere to run Sternigan," she says to herself.
THE CHÂTEAU D'ESPOIR'S VAULTED LIBRARY IS now running on emergency backup generators. Whether the power was cut by the attacking soldiers or from the initial explosions, Sternigan isn't sure. But as long as the generators held out, which they could for several years due to the one hundred and fifty ton tank of hydrogen gas tanks built underneath, the vault is virtually impenetrable from the outside.
"Just go Master Sternigan," Lewis pleads. "The vault door isn't going to hold against them and I can give you the time you need."
A loud clang echoes through the massive door reinforcing Lewis' plea. The clang comes again and again, each time louder than before. Sternigan looks up from the wounded man toward the door. He knows Lewis is right and for all precautions he had taken when he built Château d'espoir he had never expected it to come to this.
Lewis looks at the dilemma on Sternigan's face and he feels more concern for him than himself. Sternigan had taken him in under his wing at a young age and began training him personally. Now it was his chance to give back to the man.
"Get out of her Master Sternigan," he says again. "I'm not going to make it anyhow and you are the leader."
Sternigan looks back to the young man and sees the reasoning as it leaves a bad taste in his mouth but he nods anyway. "I'm sorry it has come to this," he says solemnly.