Trojan Wolf: Olympia, страница 1
Copyright © 2015 Tobias Gavran
All rights reserved.
Daya observed the faces of her teammates, her hands fiddling with her dagger while the streetcar rattled through Olympia, Washington. Dispatch had warned them about the critters crawling around the area, but since they’d spotted the city on the horizon the ride had been anything but troublesome. Jack was even snoring next to her, his arms wrapped around his great sword.
The Everwhite State had fallen under the rule of the Barbarians and the Wildlanders at the end of the 21st century, but recovery missions still occurred from time to time. Their current assignment was different however. They’d never been sent into a city before. “Got any thoughts on this, Dom?” Daya asked her superior.
Sergeant Major Thompson stopped rubbing her hands together while she met her subordinate’s eyes. “A few,” she said. “There’ve been talks of colonizing back the place.” Melany Thompson shook her head. “I don’t think there’s much to it, though.”
“Might have something to do with the Treasures,” Diego joked. The Lost Treasures were an urban legend about powerful artefacts hidden in the fallen cities of the north. Many an explorer had ventured into Canada in the hopes of making a fortune, only two had returned so far, empty-handed.
“Even if that’s it, we aren’t going to keep it, trublion,” Daya retorted with the occasional French loan word for troublemaker.
“Way to shatter my dreams, cookie!” he complained.
She had always hated that word, slang for a good-looking dark-skinned woman since the mid-twenties, her teenage years. She’d learned not to take offense when he used it, though. Diego’s lack of sensitivity was rooted in his noble upbringing. He meant no harm. Thompson did flick him behind the ear. It was her role to keep them in check, after all.
Jack suddenly sat up. “Lost coms,” he grumbled and cleared his throat. “The links just broke, might be the place, though.”
“Might not,” Thompson retorted. “Daya, you’re on point. Diego, be ready to veil on my signal.” The Sergeant Major quickly reached the command panel but didn’t alter the streetcar’s course.
Daya sheathed her dagger and stood up. Magic surged through her body, keeping the cold out and making her smile despite the ominous development. They’d warded the vehicle before they boarded it, but only the Gods knew what was waiting for them.
Her instincts told her to get out and rush for their target, a building two blocks from there, but she trusted Thompson more than her guts.
After a few seconds of tensed silence, Daya noticed a distant trampling, a not-so-distant trampling, a close one in fact.
“Brace!” Thompson warned.
Jack and Diego sat between the seats and anchored themselves using a simple charm. Daya went with a more traditional approach and grabbed the nearby pole. The charging beast entered her field of view seconds before it hit the 80-year-old vehicle as it crossed an intersection. The monster would have looked like a gigantic boar, if boars had been carnivorous.
The magically enhanced metal screeched, bent, then broke under the shock. The monster’s tusks eviscerated the electric car, the sharpened wreckage cutting through its bloody snout. The enchantment kept the streetcar from derailing, so it went on, dragging the monstrous pig along.
The beast let out an enraged roar, one devoid of fear or pain, an unnatural call for an abnormal being. Daya didn’t hesitate for a second when she grabbed a javelin and pierced through the palate and into the skull. She was about to try and push the monster’s head out of the car when the vehicle suddenly stopped.
She was about to ask Thompson why when she noticed that they’d finally reached their destination: Antenova’s headquarters, a shard of metal culminating in the middle of Olympia’s skyline.
“Jack, status?” the Sergeant Major asked as she exited the vehicle, her longsword drawn.
“Coms are still down. There’s nothing going in or out. It’s like a vacuum,” Jack explained.
“Okay. Diego, check us for charms,” Thompson ordered while they jogged towards the entrance.
Daya felt the waves of power crashing against her, laced with the distinctive color of nobility. Diego was probably the strongest caster she’d ever met. He radiated energy whenever he used magic, be it for the simplest things.
In the dusty lobby a gigantic portrait still displayed the charismatic face of Quentin Lewis – the so-called father of magical engineering – behind the front desk. His company hadn’t survived the Dissolution of the Union much longer than the state of Washington.
“Nothing,” Diego concluded. “We’re clean.”
“Okay. Jack, clear the elevator shafts. Daya, keep an eye on the front door.” The Sergeant Major got to the main staircase and suddenly stopped.
“There’s still power,” Jack and Thompson exclaimed at the same time.
“Intel tells us all activity has ceased in Olympia since 2072,” Jack added.
“That’s 70 years of unmanned power generation,” Diego quickly calculated. “Isn’t that a lot?” he asked Jack.
“That’s some prime enchantment, yes. Might be what we’re looking for,” the expert technician replied with a hint of excitation.
“Not the only possibility,” Thompson interrupted. “This city might not be as deserted as we thought.”
“Dom, with all due respect, did you see the critter that got to the streetcar? That’s some wildlife if I’ve seen any,” Diego retorted. “And I don’t picture a Wildlander keeping the electricity up.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” the Sergeant Major continued. “Wild boars aren’t part of the landscape. Gigantism isn’t that common, and a carnivore that size would need a lot of beef to feed. It might have been a gen-mod.”
“A tailor-made monster, an electricity generator, and a communication-free zone, that doesn’t sound like Washington to me,” Jack said as he closed the control station of the elevator. “I stuck everything down the basement.”
“Okay, ward the lobby. I don’t want anything to track us from the outside. Daya, up you go,” Thompson ordered as she held the door to the staircase open for her.
“Dom, yes, Dom,” Daya answered obediently before she jogged to her and up the stairs. The place felt oddly narrow to her. She’d crawled through tighter spots than this huge building before, but life as a member of the team had made her somewhat claustrophobic on the job. It probably was the price to pay for training in the wilderness for months on end.
Her javelins and Jack’s great sword were quite inefficient tools in a building, they weren’t fit for that kind of mission. On the other hand, a SWAT team wouldn’t have made it through the wilderness.
Despite the thick layer of dust that covered about everything Antenova’s headquarters were well preserved by the ages. The building hadn’t been scavenged for materials when the city tried to survive without any proper infrastructure. Daya had an eerie feeling as she climbed the stairs steadily, alert to any sudden movement in her vicinity. The place just didn’t feel old or empty. She had the sense that something was afoot in these offices, like some ancient magic still roamed the steel and concrete walls.
As she was about to reach the third floor, Daya suddenly felt a familiar sensation, pain. Fire suddenly sprouted from the ground. Flames embraced her and burned her flesh. She immediately lost her balance and fell down the stairs without letting out as much as a sigh. In the age of magic and technology, suffering had a whole new meaning. In a matter of seconds, the fire died out, unable to feed off of her warded uniform outside the trap’s radius. Her skin and hair regenerated just as quickly, but her body wouldn’t allow for this kind of
Daya waited for an opposing force to attack her assuming she’d be weakened state, but after a few seconds spent clutching at her dagger, she pondered whether standing still was such a good idea. She tried contacting her commanding officer through the little enchanted pearl tied around her neck, but quickly remembered that all communications were down in and around the building.
She got up and grabbed the railing. “The staircase is trapped!” she shouted.
“You need support?” Thompson asked from the lobby.
“I think I can push through,” Daya told herself before she yelled the four last words of that statement.
“Okay, reach the eighteenth floor!”
Daya took a deep breath and looked up. She grabbed a marker and drew a cross on the wall, even though she trusted Jack would detect the enchantment when she couldn’t. Daya then started sprinting up the stairs as fast as she could. She was set ablaze the moment she stepped foot near the third floor, but this time she didn’t fall. She ignored the pain as best as she could and kept going up. The fire died out by the time she reached the fifth floor. The smell of her own burning flesh made her nauseous, but she didn’t slow down until she reached the seventh floor. Each level resembled the next, except for the numbers marking her ascension.
The trap couldn’t possibly have been set while the building