Monday, November 30, 2015

Chapter 1 continued...

            The boy’s amulets shone even in the blackness.  The earring and ear cuff on the left ear to enhance hearing; the rings on his fingers, likely speed and strength charms; and metallic bracelets jingled off his wrists.
            Two long daggers, perpendicular to each of the boy’s arms, slashed through the ranks.  Drake followed suit, killing everyone in his path.
            Death breathed silence through the abyss.
            As the guards faded to dust, Drake flew the blade to the boy’s carotid artery, stopping short of the skin.  A second later, the boy wrenched out a gun, pointing it at Drake’s heart.
            Drake smiled.  The boy was fast, but not fast enough.  He could have killed the assassin in that second.  But he didn’t.  He was much more interested to know why a young assassin had come knocking on hell’s door.
            “Since when do assassins enter the Paris Underground?  Death wish, perhaps?” Drake mused.
            “It’s knight, you asshole.”
            Sweat gleamed off the boy’s brow, sliding down his temple to dribble across the square jaw, before becoming just another drop of water on the sewer floor.  The boy’s dread thundered in Drake’s ear through his thumping heart.  He couldn’t have been more than twenty-five, with a sandy crop of sunshine on his head.  Yet he held Drake’s gaze and gun with steady eyes and hand.  Young, but well trained.
            “Move and I’ll kill you,” the boy said, cocking back the safety on the gun and pointing it closer.
            Drake didn’t bother to glance at the gun he knew it so well.  Military issue 1862 Smith & Wesson revolver; wooden grip, rare nickel finish; elite alchemic weapon of the Assassins Association.  Any bullet fired from it homed in on the intended victim, sought out the heart, and exploded.  Only three still in existence…all in the hands of the ruling family.
            “Nice Blooming Heart you have there.  You must be a Steele.”
            The boy didn’t answer so Drake decided to goad him a little.
            “Would you mind being a little quieter next time?  I don’t want my recon ruined by an inexperienced assassin.”
            The boy gave a bitter laugh.  “That’s rich.  You don’t actually expect me to believe—”
            “I killed all of those guards, didn’t I?  I’m sure we have the same goal in mind.  After all, isn’t your enemy’s enemy, your friend?”
            When the boy didn’t immediately answer, Drake smiled.  He knew he had a willing partner in wait.
            “I’m going to lower my hand.  I believe you are a gentleman and will lower your gun also.”
            Drake caught the razor blade and put it back into his pocket.  The boy didn’t move.  After a long minute, he too lowered his hand and stuck the gun in the back of his belt.
            “So let me ask again.  Are you a Steele?”
            The boy nodded.
            “My name is Drake.”
            “Ian.  Ian Steele.”
            They said nothing more and merely turned to open another door into the unknown.
            Yellow fluorescent lights lit a long corridor of white walls sparsely dotted with brown wooden doors against polished linoleum floors that branched off to unknown destinations.
            No more guards.  This was it.  Behind one of those hallways, beyond another door, the Council met, plotting to sink its claws and exert its influence on another aspect of the world.
            Chary footfalls tread across the white, immaculate strip, empty save for the lone pillar supporting the ceiling and city above.  As they neared the middle of the corridor, Drake suddenly grabbed Ian’s shoulder and pushed him behind the pillar.  Ian threw him a curious look but said nothing.  Two hundred feet from them, down the left hallway, someone had opened a door.
            Ian pulled two small throwing daggers from his boots as two sets of feet came towards them.  The delayed clicking of the approaching wooden loafer indicated a long, familiar stride.
            “Well that was a surprise,” came a voice.
            Drake caught Ian’s wrist, staying the weapon.  He’s my friend, Drake mouthed.
            “Does anyone know who she is?” the same man asked.
            Drake heard Ian’s heart skip a beat.  He glanced at Ian, who had held his breath, waiting to hear.
            “She was caught in New York,” said another.
            Ian’s hands clenched the leather weaving of the daggers and Drake tightened his grip for fear the boy would run out and expose them.
            “That’s Christoff’s jurisdiction.”
            “If I find anything else out, I’ll let you know.”
            The footsteps turned the corner and Drake held his breath and slowed his heartbeat.  Sure enough, the clicking of the wooden heels stopped a few feet from the pillar.
            “What is it, Kelley?”
            “Nothing,” Kelley replied, continuing down the hall.  “I just realized I left something in the lab downstairs.  Mind walking with me?”
            The two men disappeared down another hallway and it wasn’t until Drake heard the ping of an elevator did he feel safe to step out.  Kelley must have heard their heartbeats and likely guessed Drake had killed the guards at the front door.  To avoid any questions, Kelley had purposely taken the Council’s man back down to the basement.
            Ian put away his throwing daggers and removed the long knives he battled with before.  Anger flashed across his face.
            Tonight’s mission had taken a different turn.  But Drake didn’t mind.
            He called forth his powers.  Blood rushed through his veins and energy coursed to his hands leaving his fingers tingling.  He stretched his hearing through the corridor, past the drywall, searching for the Council, feeling for a mix of powers congregated in a single room.
            Badump…badump…  Three…five…ten…  Fifteen down the right hall.
            He grinned at Ian.
            “How about a flashy entrance?”

*          *          *

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