THAT WHICH GODS DESTROY - Act II - Patrick Forsythe
Captain Forsythe quickly waved the anxious corporal down. The damn fool was about to blow the entire operation. Finally, Jezziah caught the hint and was back down. Looking askance at the bar, the vampire didn't seem to notice. "Look away, Jez." he whispered.
"Sir, aren't we supposed..."
"Look away!" Patrick stressed as much as he could without raising his voice.
The corporal did as he was told, but the look on his face told Forsythe that he was still confused. "Aren't we supposed to get him?" Jez asked.
The captain drilled a stare into his subordinate. "Just us two? We don't know how tough this guy is!"
"The records say..."
"Hell with records!" Forsythe stressed, almost losing his whisper. "Who knows how many leeches this guy's sucked dry? Records? Huh! They're over fifteen years old. Keep your head. We need backup." Then the vampire moved towards the door. "Tag him."
Corporal Mokumbo nodded and pulled out a small tube from his pocket. From underneath the table, Jez aimed and fired. The "gun" gave a small cough, the tiny projectile sailed towards the vampire's back, dissolved, and casted thousands of nanobytes onto his coat. Now anyone with a detector could peg that leech within ten miles. With only one principal city on Wilke's Star, they wouldn't need much more than that.
Back at the command center... well, it was an abandoned warehouse, but Pat guessed you could call it a headquarters. In war, you made do with what you could get, and without a doubt in the captain's head, this was a war. A silent war in order to save humanity.
In the leaky, cold, bone-chillingly damp warehouse, 2nd Squad had set up a tarp to keep out the rain, then built an electronic arsenal underneath. Pat and Jez walked in as Sergeant al-Hajj was staring at one of the readouts. Salah looked bored as he stood over the nervous trooper at the console. "Try it again," the sergeant patiently told him.
Some punching of buttons, waving of fingers, and suddenly the box sparked... then sizzled. "Sorry, sarge. The mildew's took over this crate. I can't repair it."
"That's all, trooper." Salah finally looked up and saw the captain. Slowly moving to attention, he said, "Scratch our weather monitor, sir."
"We don't need it," Forsythe replied, taking a closer look at the charred device. "The light is dim, the cloud cover is thick, and the visibility is terrible over a mile. It doesn't change."
"And for half the year, there's no light at all," al-Hajj finished the thought, "vampire paradise."
"Which is why they're still here." The captain moved past his platoon sergeant towards the monitoring station. "Trooper, plug in signal at 720 kilohertz."
The communications specialist plotted the frequency and a glowing dot appeared on the hologrammatic readout. "What shall I designate it, sir?"
Salah answered for him. "Designate as Mark Three." Forsythe's eyebrows went up so the sergeant continued. "Out of fifteen teams, only three contacts were found. Mark One is some young blodd tearing up the street north of town. Mark Two... well, that team wasn't sure WHAT it was, but an etheral scan said vamp, so they tagged it."
"And record match?"
"Nope. Whoever they are, they're new."
Patrick looked back at Jezziah. "Corporal, your disk?"
Mokumbo opened his bag, pulled out the computer analyzer, and popped out a BLAM. The disk was no larger than a quarter-credit coin and he handed it over to his CO. Forsythe searched around for a player, finally moved some papers out of the way, and clicked it in. The holoproj kicked up and showed the picture of their target. "His name is Teleban Ramirez, spotted several times by Internal Security," Patrick snorted out a laugh, "in and out of trouble and is assumed to be 6th generation. Contacts name him as the Sabbat Bishop of New Bath, Planet Beowulf."
"Beowulf? What's he doing here?" the sergeant pondered aloud.
"I intend to ask him." the captain smirked for a second, but it was gone before anyone noticed. "Remember, sergeant, that we're working off antique archives. What the Sabbat was then is certainly not what it may be now."
Salah nodded. "What are your orders?"
"Squad Three's on Mark One. When they've scanned his lair, keep a close eye on him, but don't move in till I say so. Squad Four's on Mark Two. Give them some freedom on this one. Let me see what our new vets can do. Mark Three's all mine. Have Squad Two set up an interrogation chamber here. 1st Squad's with me for the drop."
"Get surveillance to work overtime on this leech. Everyone's got a pattern, I want his. Where he lives, where he goes, where he feeds... all of it. This guy's important so he's going to be tough. I want him at his most vulnerable. First Squad will do spot checks visually once surveillance flags them. You copy this, corporal?"
"Loud and proud, sir." Jez spoke with a little too much enthusiasm.
"Pay attention, Jez. Your ass is on the line."
Mokumbo sobered up quick. "Yes, sir."
"When you get any news, tell me ASAP. Now I'm going to go take a nap. Get to work."
Enlisted men suffer from the delusion that officers don't work. In truth, commissioned men have a ton of work, in addition to making the big decisions. The captain learned later the reason behind the delusion. When Pat was just a cadet, he was finishing up OCS on a tour with "Albion's Angels." His commanding officer, 1st Lt. Johann Albion told him something he never forgot. "Son, you've got to learn to relax. If you're tense, your troops will be tense, then they'll make mistakes. Look lazy, nap, scratch yourself... but act when it counts."
In truth, Pat couldn't sleep a wink, but it allowed him to plan his new move with his eyes closed. He only dispensed with the charade an hour later, when the platoon sergeant shook him awake. "Ummm?"
"Fourth Squad says they're searching the sewers. Mark Two slipped free of the bytes."
That leech was gravy anyway, Forsythe thought. "Tell them to clean up, then suit up as backup for 1st Squad."
In Patrick's mind, if a vampire is willing to silver through an ocean of foul-smelling slime, then let him go. We have bigger fish to fry.
After two days, they had finally got their mark's pattern. Teleban Ramirez turned out to be a planetside regular on Wilke's Star. He jumped from one bar to another, hit all the hot spots, and always moved among mortals as a thing to be feared. His resting place was guarded by four ghouls, fully armed; it was built like a fortress. However, the ex-human was a creature of habit. Soon enough, the captain knew exactly where to ambush him.
Most of the old city was abandoned or wrecked, so everyone had plenty of room to spread out. This particular leech had to cross an open field to get from the Raven's Grin to what passed for a city hall. A two mile distance, unwise to cross alone; but here, hell, Ramirez thought he was top dog. Who was going to try and knock HIM down? Well, Teleban was about to receive a rude awakening.
1st Squad had set up presser field generators to trap the vamp, once he stepped within the right area. If that didn't work well, 4th Squad stood camoflauged nearby. With their Mark 150 suits, nothing was going to detect them if they didn't move. Now all they had to do was wait.
You could set a chronometer to their targeted blood-sucker. Ramirez arrived right on time. The pale man walked across the rubble-laden field, his head twitching to one side or the other, as if he was looking for something. Forsythe didn't dare say anything; from his hidden position, the slightest sound could spook their prey. Finally, the red signal light turned green. Teleban was in the zone.
The captain pointed, the generators were activated, and suddenly Ramirez ran into an invisible wall. The vampire panicked; he started to run faster than the human eye could see, but each time he changed direction, he hit another force wall. The quickly shrinking area made Ramirez the victim of a mime show gone wrong. He tried to sink into the ground; unlucky for him that Forsythe had covered the ground with salt. Finally, the presser fields trapped him, leaving the pale man struggling vigorously to escape. His head was free and Teleban cried out, "Mordred! Aidez-moi! Aidez-moi!"
The name of Mordred, the Sabbat antedeluvian, sent a shiver down Pat's back. Mordred, help me, he cried. Time to end it. "1st Squad, ready!" The men appeared from their hiding places, carbines at the ready. "Kill the beam," Forsythe cried, then once it saw the power disapate, shouted "FIRE!"
The momentary liberty Ramirez had was cut short by the blasting of thousands of AP rounds on full automatic. The vampire quickly turned into swiss cheese. This was just to weaken him. Then Trooper Clemanceau stood ready with the crossbow, took aim, then fired. The wooden projectile hit him straight in the heart. Teleban's strings were cut; the leech fell like a broken marionette.
4th Squad phased back into sight; Their nanotech power armor worked perfectly. The captain pointed to them, "You! Secure the perimeter! 1st Squad, get the meat and be ready to transport! Move it, maggots!"
Forsythe smiled with the satisfaction of a job well done. As the demi-platoon moved to quickly vacate before the PO's showed up, the captain watched out for their squad cars. It had all come down to this; M. Ramirez had to answer some questions.
END OF ACT II
Text Copyright © 2000 by Marcus Johnston. All Rights Reserved.