“Oh. my. God.”
Nate covered his mouth with his hand.
“It’s a tragedy,” Pat confirmed.
They stood in the doorway of the communal showers, the steam from hot water billowing above their heads.
“It’s looks just like a penis,” Rocheniore stated bluntly. “Only smaller.”
“Hung like a elevator button,” Nate mumbled.
Deckard looked up at them with fury in his eyes. His lips were still blue even after shivering himself half to death in the scalding hot water for half an hour. Crouched over, he hugged himself hoping that the feeling would return to his body at some point. At any rate, it was clear that he wasn’t going to see undescended testicles for at least a week.
“Hope what Deckard?” Pat asked. “Hope that I put you down and spare you the humiliation?”
“H-h-h-hope y-y-you fffffucking die.”
* * *
It was only by some miracle that none of the Samruk mercenaries were killed in the cove, but they were all walking around with their tails between their legs as they paced the decks of the Carrickfergus. Their pirate ship was normally a heterotopia of guns, high explosives, and shitty attitudes. Now they were beaten, men had been shot to pieces and frozen half to death. An organization that was used to taking no shit from anyone was now having to admit that they were simply outclassed by the enemy.
With Frank dead, Pat was next in line to assume command of Samruk International since there CEO was temporarily incapacitated.
“I think we interrupted the enemy. If they had been expecting us they never would have allowed themselves to be trapped inside the cove like that,” Pat said as Samruk ran a video teleconference with SCOPE in Tampa, Florida. “They were caught by surprise and clearly didn’t think we would catch up with them that quickly.”
“Hmm,” Pat saw the old guy with reading glasses rub his chin on the computer monitor.
“But they laid a trap for us, expecting someone to try to follow their trail at some point. You were right about the enemy vessel, I’ve never seen anything like it, but it was definitely semi-submersible.”
“Forward us eyewitness accounts from your After Action Review,” Will said as Pat briefed them. “We can conduct our own analysis.”
“I will. Where are we at with our eye in the sky.”
As the JSOC think tank members looked down at the table in front of them, it didn’t take a high resolution feed to realize that something was wrong.
“Our satellite in polar orbit was blinded on its last pass,” Will informed him.
“High-powered ground-based laser. We don’t know where it originated exactly. Could have been Russia. Could have been China.”
“So I don’t have any ISR?” Pat said referring to Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance platforms.
“We are working on getting Global Hawk into your AO but it is taking time. The Russians are also not cooperating the way they were in the opening hours of this mess,” Will said.
“None of us know for sure how this thing is going to play out,” Craig said. “But we will keep working it.”
“No,” Pat said as he looked out from the bridge to the ocean in front of him. “I’m going to keep working it.”
“What the does that mean?”
“One of my boys put a hole in the enemy ship before it got away. 40mm High Explosive grenade. We’re following a plume of gasoline that it is dribbling out behind it.“
Pat smiled, looking at the clearly visible trail of fuel left in the ocean.
“Any idea where the hell they are going?” Will asked.
“Ship’s Captain says they are probably heading to T6.”
“The T6 ice floe,” Otter shouted from the helm. “A giant piece a floating ice. A Coast Guard aircraft spotted it a month ago and estimated that it was five miles wide. T6 is projected to be right in the path of where that bat-boat is heading.”
“It is going to take us about 14 hours to get to T6. That semi-submersible can haul ass above water when it wants to. They might be making a beeline for the ice floe for an extract, compromising stealth for speed, instead of staying submersed.”
“A plane equipped with ski wheels would do the trick,” Gary spoke up for the first time on the VTC from Tampa.
“If they are leaking fuel, they might be going slow to conserve gas as well,” Craig said as he turned towards Gary.
“Irrelevant,” Will cut in. “Get there as fast as you can. If you see the enemy, wipe them out. In the meantime, we are on the horn with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy. Thankfully, we have a submarine of our own that was on a routine patrol under the arctic that can help cut off access to the Bering strait. A Coast Guard cutter is also on its way to this choke point. We prefer to keep this problem isolated in the arctic. Once they make it into the open ocean, there is no telling where they will go. We will have lost them. At least this way, we know they are somewhere between the polar ice cap and the coast of Russia.”
“We’ll track ’em and assault them,” Pat said.
“Can Deckard move his fingers enough to type on a keyboard yet?”
* * *
Screams echoed down the cobblestone street. Baskets full of produce were overturned and laundry thrown off the line as the townspeople scattered. Doors and windows were slammed shut. In seconds, the street was empty. A single bucket lay turned on its side in the middle of the road, the water that had been in it now seeped between the stones.
A Blade Master stepped out of the shadows.
He squinted in the mid-day light and held a hand out in front of him to shield his eyes from the sun. The Blade Master wore ornate black leather greaves and a similar cloak under which his abdomen was protected by dwarven dragon scale armor. His knuckles were likewise protected by Cyridian metal built into his leather gauntlets, forged by a master blacksmith from ore which had been mined from a falling star.
At the end of the street, a wooden cart was flung through the air. It crashed into the side of a house and disintegrated into a thousand pieces. From around the corner, an Orc lord lurched into view. Standing nearly twelve feet tall, the Orc was clad only in dirty rags leaving his dark green muscular body exposed. Spotting the Blade Master, the Orc roared exposing his white fangs.
The Blade Master drew his weapons. A katana appeared in one hand and a Akkaidian dagger in the other, the weapons specific to the Blade Master’s particular style of fighting.
The Orc charged the Blade Master, bum rushing all the way down the street. The Blade Master stood his ground, ready for a fight. The Orc lord was almost on top of him when he was suddenly yanked back into the alley way.
“Have you lost your mind?” a voice scolded him.
The Blade Master was pulled further down the alley as the Orc lord tried for force himself through the narrow passage. A clawed hand swept frantically, scratching against the stone houses on either side as it sought out the Blade Master.
“You need at least a party of four to take on that bad boy.”
The Blade Master looked up at his rescuer. His wore a brown hooded shawl, his dark blue skin giving him away as a dark elf.
“Let’s go,” the dark elf ordered. “I’m going to take you to a newbie dungeon to show you how it’s done. This is a different world, with different rules.”
“Yeah, I’m finding that,” the Blade Master said sardonically.
Walking through the labyrinthine back alleys of the city, the pair came to an large open graveyard. Passed the tombstones was a marble massive mausoleum. The dark elf pushed on the heavy iron door and it swung open. A cloud of dust shook off the entrance as they walked inside.
Down the well worn steps, they came to a balcony. In the dark chamber below, a re-animated human skeleton paced with a short sword in one boney hand. A few burning torches mounted in the walls let of a dim light, casting shadows in every direction.
“Equip your rope dart,” the dark elf instructed.
“Really? The micro-bow mounted to your gauntlet at your wrist.”
The Blade Master loaded a dart affixed to a fiber chord into the six inch bow on his gauntlet.
“Now fire it at that wooden beam on the other side of the chamber.”
The Blade Master fired and the dart slammed into the wooden beam with a audible thwunk which made the skeleton look around in confusion.
“Tie the other end of the rope around the balcony’s railing.”
With the rope pulled taunt, the line now wobbled above the skeleton below.
“A Blade Master fights using indirect methods, which should be right in your wheel house. You can also use the environment to your advantage to get the drop on the baddies.”
“I’ll give it a try.”
The Blade Master leapt onto the rope and began balancing his way over the chamber, putting one foot in front of the other. The skeleton was now on alert, sensing someone else in the chamber. Once he was directly overhead, the Blade Master drew his katana and dropped down on top of his opponent. The four foot blade sank right through the skeleton man’s skull as the Blade Master landed a perfect attack. Bones cracked and scattered across the floor.
“Not bad,” the dark elf said from up on the balcony.
Just then a stone slab on the side of the wall began to groan. It receded back into a hidden passage. Inside, the Blade Master heard the distinctive clacking of boney feet scrapping against stone. Metal weapons gave off a ring as they collided with each other.
“Uh oh,” the dark elf said, now seemingly fresh out of sage wisdom for his protege.
Four animated skeletons burst from the chamber door and rushed the Blade Master. Turning, he found a way to escape, up a ramp that led to another part of the dungeon. Sprinting up the ramp, the Blade Master looked back to the see the skeleton’s following him up. A wooden barrel sat in the corner where the ramp changed directions, wax from a long since burned out candle decorating the top of it.
The Blade Master threw the barrel on its side and rolled it towards the ramp. The skeletons would be on top of him in another second. Kicking the barrel down the ramp, the Blade Master tapped into his magicka, casting a fireball at the barrel as it began to gain momentum. The barrel burst into flames and rolled right over the four skeletons. Their short swords went flying into the air as they crumbled and burst into bone fragments.
“Okay,” the dark elf said, somehow materializing back at the Blade Master’s side. “I think you are getting the hang of this.”
“Now you go and get their attention.”
“The ones you are chasing halfway across the world of course.”