Chapter _; book i
Working chapter title: the chaos method
The ruins stretched on much farther than he could see; a whole city, buried beneath wild plantlife. Pilot's maps had shown nothing but kilometers of open land. The marble and granite crumbled and cracked beneath his combat boots. He stepped carefully, his back pressed firmly against any remaining walls, one of his twin Glock 17 pistols drawn. A faint flicker of static crackled in his ear-piece, then, "We’re tracking you, do you see anything? Over." From somewhere to the right, he heard hushed voices. The speakers had to be over eighteen meters away, he knew, since even with his government issued implant, the whispers were so low he could have been imagining them. It wasn't enough, he had to be closer.
"Moving closer. Halt communications until further notice. Over."
Crouched low to the ground, he moved along the cover of the crumbling walls, the soft moss that layered nearly every inch of the stone civilization deadened the sound of his footsteps. He came to the end of the wall and peered around it to scan for any sign of the targets. He ran, stretching his legs to their full potential, across the twenty feet of damaged pavement to take refuge behind another piece of the ruins. Around the corner, a flicker of light thirty meters away caught his attention.
As silently as he could, he slid the pistol into it’s holster at his side and lifted his sniper rifle from his back. He crouched low, pressing all of his weight down on his knees. He could hear distant footsteps from ahead of him, just coming within the hearing range of his implant. He screwed on the silencer, the quick gestures natural and smooth, before settling his rifle comfortably on his shoulder. The scope monocle that rested over his right eye buzzed to life when he pressed the connect button beside the trigger. Through the scope, the thick darkness became a murky blue light and he could see a sentry wandering in his direction.
Pilot didn't hesitate; he pulled the trigger the instant he had a head shot and the sentry hit the ground with a muffled thud. Dark stains developed on the nearby wall. "Target eliminated." He darted for the next wall, twelve meters closer to the firelight, and settled himself back into a comfortable firing position. He could hear distinct voices now, though the words were still inaudible.
Turning the adjustable barrel to the right, around the corner, he watched through the scope, keeping his other eye closed, until he had his sights centered. As always, he felt a little strange being able to see two places at once simply by closing one eye and opening the other. There were four figures in the small clearing, huddled together, whispering among themselves. Pilot strained his hearing to be sure there was no one else close enough to stumble upon him.
The microphone embedded into his molar allowed him to speak beneath a whisper and still be heard by his team. "Communications go. Four visible targets; how many heat signatures? Over."
Artur replied, "Eight, total. A group of four fifteen meters due east. Two of them are twenty meters due north, five meters due east. Thirty-five meters due south, forty meters due east, there are two more. Over."
"Copy. Halt communications until further notice," he mumbled; he hated trying to work and juggle communications at the same time. At his heart, he was a solo mercenary. He worked best alone. He turned away from the group around the firepit and moved, instead, to his left. He bolted across a large gap in the wall, but was well covered by other sections of rock he hadn't seen.
Whenever things worked out this well, he questioned his surroundings. It usually signified that he had missed something.
With the sharp clarity of the scope, Pilot could see both sentries at the end of the paved road. His training told him to take them out with the rifle, told him to keep his distance. His awareness of his surroundings told him he couldn't risk either of them having the chance to holler out a warning to their four companions by the fire.
His experience told him to leave his rifle and pull out his pistols.
Above all things, he trusted himself, he trusted lessons learned opposed to lessons taught. He set the rifle on the ground, safety locked in, ready to be picked up quickly if necessary, and pulled both of his Glocks out of their holsters.
Under his breath, he said, "Targets acquired."
He screwed on the silencers and scanned the area before moving silently down the cement path. It wasn't a road, like the one he'd crossed earlier, it was more of an alleyway between the backs of the destroyed buildings. Just wide enough for one twentieth century vehicle. He moved along the available walls, even though they didn't offer him direct cover; counting on the shadows to help shield his motions from view. The closer he got, the more his heart pounded. Rumor was the vampires could hear a racing heartbeat. He flicked off the safety on each handgun.
If the rumor was true, these two were the exceptions, he thought, as he rose to his full height less than three feet behind them. They stood close together, smoking cigarettes and speaking in low voices about the miserable weather expected the next day.
Pilot levelled his pistols. This was too easy.
One said to the other, "I don't understand why we're monitoring this guy, anyway."
He pulled both triggers simultaneously, and the men before him crumpled into motionless heaps against each other. Headless, motionless heaps.
"Targets eliminated." Pilot turned around and went back the way he came, flicking the safety back into place on both guns. Holstering his pistols on the way, he scooped up the rifle and continued on for another forty meters. At the corner, he used the rifle to peek around. The scope showed two sentries, and once again they lingered beside each other. Though the scope didn't show him the group by the fire, he could see the light reflecting on the two men ahead of him. There was no wall to hide behind, the sentries were within sight of the firepit. In order to remain unnoticed by the larger group, Pilot would have to hit both groups synchronously, which couldn't be done with the rifle.
Some would say he looked for excuses to use his Glocks.
Flicking the safety into place on the rifle, he slung it across his chest and took the pistols out again. To Artur, 600 meters away, he said, "Communications go. Targets acquired. Two, now, four in approximately two minutes. Confirm, over."
"End communications until further notice," he said, holding his breath for a long moment. His heartbeat was erratic; he was nervous. He began to question why he hadn't brought a partner. No time to wonder, he reminded himself. He rolled his head, cracking his neck to relieve some of the pressure, and rounded the corner at a sprint. He swung his arms up, steadying his aim and pulling the triggers concurrently. Hot adrenalin rushed through him and, beyond his body, the world slowed down. His motions were fluid, agile; unhindered, it seemed, by reality. With both guns holstered, safeties locked in, he yanked a grenade from his vest and threw it toward the firepit. Both sentries hit the ground as he took a long leap over them, rolling forward once and spinning himself around as his feet hit, and slid on, solid ground. "Two targets eliminated," he yelled, the grenade detonating behind him as he found cover against a nearby mound of stone.
When the explosion passed and the ground beneath his feet stopped shaking, he rose and ran toward the damage. Sometimes a well placed explosive was enough; anything less than a well placed explosive, however, wasn't. The ringing in his ears was piercing, but he ignored it. His twins were out again, safeties off, his fingers anxiously close to the triggers.
The open area was littered with singed body parts, scorched stone and misplaced chunks of the ground. Pilot moved slowly, back pressed against an available wall, as he searched for his targets. A pit was left where the grenade had gone off, three feet wide and a foot deep. Slammed against the wall across from him was one of the four men, stunned and probably deaf, but alive. Pilot put a bullet between his eyes and moved on scanning the area. The buzzing in his ears was beginning to subside.
He found part of a head not far from the detonation zone, which left only two of the group left potentially alive. Over the remaining hum in his ears, he could just barely make out a wet groaning from the left. He levelled one Glock towards the sound and, more concerned with the missing fourth vampire than with the one that was likely taking his final, gurgling breath, glanced over. He'd been right; the vampire was alive but it wouldn't be for long. Most of his lower body had been severed, and what remained was losing pieces of itself quickly. Intensines spilled out onto the ground, dampening the earth with fresh blood. The vampire's eyes rolled to look at him, piteous and grotesque, and Pilot choked back a bout of nausea. He pulled the trigger.
The clearing was a gruesome mess of carnage, but it was missing one carcass. "Three targets eliminated; one MIA."