Storm - Chapter I

Fiction By Stephan // 2/3/2010

Charles tightened his hold on his pistol grip; blood was making his fingers slip.
Sprawled on the rain-soaked floorboards of the now roofless building, water pelted down in apathetic torrents over his defeated figure.
The heat from the burning house around him made the numerous cuts and wounds on his body sting, the blaze illumkinating both him and the tall man standing across the room. "You thought you could go on, have a life?" the menacing voice echoed in Charles' ears.
James was evidently gloating over the fact that he was standing resolute while Charles lay unmoving, a humiliatingly pathetic picture of the once most feared agent.
Charles tried to struggle to his knees; his limbs felt like he had run a marathon with arthritis. He stopped for more breath, it coming out in ragged pants.
"You decided when to end your life." James said firmly, as if to justify his deeds. "You signed it in blood and ink. You traded your life for fidelity to us."
"You sound brainwashed, James." Charles croaked. His throat tasted like dirty blood.
"Dedicated, is the term." corrected the other. "Oh, I wish you hadn't done this, Charles. We could have served the Crypt together. Like Calixtus and Escorial of old."
"They were heroes, don't sully their name!" barked Charles; he rose to his knees, but stumbled forward, catching his fall painfully with outstretched arms.
"Look at you!" James said scathingly, stepping out of the shadows. His tall, thinner build looked more tough and stocky the trenchcoat he wore, his unusually refined machete glistening in his gloved hand.
"You are a shadow of what you once were! You used to be renowned as the greatest of the Black Knights, but now you are to submit your last breath to no other but your young brother."
"Sad thought indeed," Charles said slowly. He raised himself to a kneeling position, taking a large gulp of air. He looked through the holes in the room around him, results of their vicious duel; the city lights of Paris lit up beyond as if everything was fine. It was truly strange how the world continued happily, oblivious of his pain. He tried to regulate his breathing to regain his composure, but it was no easy task. He sighed. "The difference is that I am now free."
"Free from what? A life of deep purpose? Of a mission, a challenge worth dying for?" Though emphatic, James never raised his voice no matter the tribulation of the moment, an evident, callous mark of a Black Knight. "Free to do what? Run around to make a life preserving corrupt bureaucrats? Counter-terrorism is to true justice as a weed is to the oak tree. Those dinner parties and classy events you began attending are all part of the world's cosmetics that delusion you further. The life you lived long ago and chose to return to is a dream; the real life of how the world runs is now no longer yours. What I wonder is how you could return to a life of small-mindedness after all you've known and done."
"What I wonder--" Charles' words were suddenly choked from him as he gargled a mix of fluids in his mouth. He spat them out, panting. "What I wonder is how after all I've done for you as a brother you've so readily turned on your own kin."
"When you enter the Crypt your life ends," James said coldly. "You commit yourself to an unending mission, your life is replaced with devotion to the cause. You leave us...it'slike you've tried to leave your grave after death. And as you know, no one has ever done it."
A smile glinted across Charles' mouth. "You know, two thousand years ago, there was this guy..."
He swung up his pistol firing off two rounds, water from his soaked suit sprinkling over James. The spattering water drops seemed to reach James in cursed warning so James was able to sidestep the line of fire. James swapped his machete to his other hand, and swung it around at Charles chest. Charles bent back, the sharp blade scything his tie as if it wasn't there. Before Charles could move, James jumped forward and planted a kick in his chest, sending Charles back head over heels.
Almost winded, Charles fumbled back up to a crawl, reaching for his gun which lay on the ground ahead of him.
"Still not broken," James cooed condescendingly.
He kicked aside the sidearm, Charles looking at it mournfully as it clattered off the edge of building.

"She's dead now," Charles said. A lump formed in his throat, making words difficult. His eyes glazed over. "Vanessa...she fell."
"I saw." James' face didn't flinch int he slightest as he spoke. "And I thank her for her sacrifice. It was how you were reduced to losing this duel. You know, I was telling my superiors that it was not possible more me to defeat your infamous skills, but they said there was none other to do it. "Find a way," they said. So I organised it that she would be here too. We knew you couldn't focus on just one task. You had to be the delusioned hero. You had to disarm me - without killing me - and save her at the same time. You should have known that saving a lady in a burning building is a constant task: she just kept finding a way to become endangered again didn't she? I can't number the amount of times you left our melee to save her from falling off something here or being impaled by something there. At least her fall distracted you enough so I could cut you down; and we don't have that incessant screaming for help." with these last words he touched his ears tenatively, as if they had hurt.
Charles couldn't take this.
His blood boiled furiously; he could feel it in his veins. He glanced at his medieval-styled sword which lay idle on the ground to the right. The knight's sword, his only remaining possession he kept since he defected the Knights, gleamed in the flickering blaze; the cold carbon steel calling for James' blood, crying for justice.
His hands yearned for nothing more than to grasp that waiting handle.
"I believe she has now served her life's purpose; it was fate. "
Charles' rage was so overwhelming that he could barely find words to express his thoughts.
He turned up, not looking at James, but at the fiery chaos beyond him. His two dark eyes glinted in the fire light.
"Jimmy," his voice was tinted with confusion. "...She's...your...wife!"
"No more;" said James stoutly. "Marriage is bound until death. When you enter the Crypt, you are dead to common life."
Charles gave a loud, long shout, one of anger, one of pain, one of resolution, one of sadness, one of fatigue, one of unleashing long-awaited justice as he bounded up at James, faster than James could react. There was the loud sound of metal puncturing flesh.

Charles held Jimmy close to him, almost in an embrace. Charles' sword, snatched from the ground as he leapt up had run through James to the hilt. James blinked senselessly as he held onto his brother, his machete falling from his fingers.
"You did it...you actually killed your own brother..." Blood frothed from James' mouth. "We were...so sure...you...wouldn't."
"You were right," Charles said, his voice hoarse as tears spilled from his eyes. "My brother died years ago, when he was admitted into the Black Widow Crypt."
Charles wrenched his sword out, kicking James back. James fell back into the dark smoke billowing from the huge hole in the floor behind him. As he was smallowed by the void beyond, he hands stretched out to Charles as if asking him to hug him in forgiveness.
Charles didn't move as his brother vanished down from sight. But despite everything evil James did, Charles still missed his little brother.
Now there was nothing but smoke and debris where he once stood.
Charles' heart panged.
"I loved you Jimmy."

***

The French surgeons wheeled a hospital bed rapidly through the emergency room, calling out orders back and forth to different nurses as their newest patient had been moved to their top priority list.
Charles ran alongside the bed, giving as much information as he could to the doctor to help his assess Vanessa's critical situation.
She had tumbled through almost two stories of a burning building, how specific could he be?
As he spoke in rushed French, Charles' heart was pumping hard as his eyes stayed glued to the digital screen hooked up to her heartbeat. The signal was so weak it seemed it may stop at any moment; and he felt so weak right now he wasn't sure if he could take it. He was grasping onto the metal side of the bed in case his knees buckled.
The noise of the doctors rushing through the corridor with her, shouting back and forth, linking up this with that was almost deafening, but it seemed to become mute for Charles' ears. His hearing could only zone in on that heart meter's beeping signal.

Suddenly he felt a strong hand planted on his chest and his grip slipped from the wheeling bed.
"Pardon Messieur, met---" the doctor began, but then howled as Charles grabbed his wrist and spun him around so the doctor had his arm bent up backwards behind him, every joint in his arm tensed. Charles checked himself, knowing a slight move could split every bone and from wrist to elbow to shoulder in the man. He surprised himself that his foot had been raised for a kick that would break the doctor's spine.
Several people around had frozen in shock at his instinctive self-defence move.
"Desole, Docteur." Charles said after an awkward hesitation, gently releasing him.
Charles turned as the two metal doors closed, cutting him off from her as she was wheeled through the nonpublic medical area. He understood the doctor who stopped him was only trying to tell him he was permitted no further.
He had to let her go.
Charles didn't even check if the doctor had recovered, he couldn't tear his eyes from circular window through which he saw the cluster of surgeons taking away that one person he would have suffered a hundred more blade wounds rather than be so battered...so humiliated and in such suffering.
But they were taking her away to safety, they were the professionals; she was in the best hands. She was hurt, broken, dying... she was now with the only people who could really make a difference, no matter how deeply Charles felt for her. He had doubted he could ever tell her of his feelings when James married her...but now even with James dead, he felt couldn't dare tell her, after he had let her down; almost had her killed.
If she wasn't to die in surgery.
His hand moved up to the door window as the the medical group went around the corner at the end of the hall. The blood on his hand left sticky traces of scarlet on the glass.

She was gone.

He had taken her as far as he could. There was nothing more he could do.
He walked to the long lines of chairs along the wall, dotted with a few anxious or fitfully sleeping people. He sat down heavily, putting his head in his hands.
His suit was both bloodied here and sliced like ribbons there, so he had a gray trenchcoat pulled over it to avoid drawing useless attention to himself instead of Vanessa.
Charles ran that one moment over and over in his mind, when in his fight with James in the burning building he saw Vanessa calling to him as a heap of fiery rubble collapsed around her and she fell through the cracking floor. In his horror of beholding the sight, he had dropped his guard and awareness. James was then able to slash his arm and after a few solid punches, throw him across the room. It felt like forever ago, and yet it felt like it had just happened.
The reason for revisiting this agonising memory was a cross between tormenting himself in penance for failing her, and whether there was truly anything he could have done.
His wits were sharp back then in the tension of the moment, but now they were dulled and oppressed.
Flashes kept coming to mind of her in one of her choice evening dresses she collected, holding a glass of champagne and commenting on the lack of appreciation for the small things in life. She was good about noticing the frequently overlooked joys in life, things taken for granted, making one feel as if the most mundane day could become the jolliest occasion of the year. She cared about so many other people instead of herself. She couldn't be gone; the world's chemical balance would be overthrown. An apocalypse might even ensue. She just couldn't...be...gone. She had to stay alive, had to help make the world a better, brighter place.

***

About an hour later, the last in the world he wished to hear rang through the room.
A few drowsy people to turn to him.

His phone was ringing.

Pulling it out of his pocket, he looked at the caller ID that popped up on the screen before he opened it.
"Hello?"
"Hello Mr. Storm," a strong Scottish accent was a defining mark of this certain person."This is Eddy from the Counter Terrorist Central in Sussex?"
"I recall you, Mr. Lessing," said Charles politely. He still recalled the lack of co-operation he had had with the indifferent characters of MI5 when suppressing the Black Widow Crypt headquarters in Brighton.
There was an un comfortable pause, then Lessing said, "Cutting to the quick, one of our tech facilities have been broken into and we have two people missing."
"Yes?"
"There seems to be a direct link to your 'Black Widow Crypt' organisation." Lessing explained. "We've recognised their combat patterns."
"I'm listening."
"Shortly afterwards the wife and children of one of our Cabinet Ministers were abducted. There have been many sudden kidnappings across the country of late; they very well may be linked."
"The Black Knights do not frequent abduction." Charles commented.
"What is most strange is that they returned the whole family and the Minister, except for one of the children. And he is still gone."
"That does sound odd," Ian straightened in his chair a little. "No correspondance of ransom or blackmail?"
"None, they just wanted the boy. But you have been requested to be in Sussex as soon as possible. The government official Sir Burke has a difficult son who buried himself in scandalous trouble and is wanted by vengeful gang members. Sir Burke has the boy in some distant living, keeping all information on the boy's whereabouts secret."
"How is MI5 and CT concerned about gang vendettas?"
"The gangs are the least of our concerns. Someone anonymous want to know where the boy is. If the boy isn't handed over, they will detonate a bomb in Times Square this Sunday."
Ian sat up straight. "What is this, gangsters turned terrorists?"
"These aren't the gangsters; we believe it is the Crypt."
"That's a rather uncharacteristically drastic threat." Charles noted.
"That's where we need your help." Lessing said. "We trace it to be your Black Widow Crypt cult, but their moves are unusual, at least as far as you've informed us when we worked on Brighton."
"And they seem very specific with whom they want abducted." He ran it all over in his mind, then glanced at the hospital doors, Vanessa's face glowing in his mind. He cleared his throat. "It sounds like an all new plan of theirs then. Alright, I'll be there when I can."
"There is a festival on this Sunday in that Square," Lessing urged. "If they bomb it, the death toll will be enormous."
 

Comments

Hi, Stephen. I read your

Hi, Stephen. I read your Redshaft chapter a while back, but it was quite some time after you had written it. I really liked it, so I hope you write more, because I will definately read it. This is a good story as well, so please write more to it as well. I noticed a few spelling errors, and some missing words, but it's really interesting and well written.

>>edit<< And it's exciting :)

Laura Elizabeth | Sun, 02/07/2010

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The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

http://lauraeandrews.blogspot.com/2014/05/dont-tell-me-hes-smart.html

Stephen...

That was awesome! Does this part come before or after the part where the people come and attack him at the mansion? Its so incredibly intense! I hope you have a happy ending in store for poor Charles!

Clare | Sun, 02/14/2010

Dear Clare, A thousand

Dear Clare,
A thousand pardons; as I suffer from multiple stories formulating themselves simultaneously, a few confusions may unfortunately occur!
This is the story of "Storm", whose hero is Charles. The story starting in the mansion outside Recietal City is the novel of "Credo", whose hero is Leo. The two stories are completely different and wholly unrelated.
And you wish Charles to have a happy ending? Hmm...you shall have to wait and see!
Viva Christo Rey,
Stephan

Anonymous | Sun, 02/14/2010

Yet another thriller

Another exciting tale.  (I read CREDO first)

You have quite a head for a good yarn.  I'll keep checking back for more.

You should talk to Ben about becoming a monthly writer, in my opinion.

James | Sun, 02/21/2010

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Monthly writer?

Thank you for your encouragement, James.

Becoming a monthly writer? What does this mean?

'A head for a good yarn' is certainly a novel compliment!

Anonymous | Sun, 02/21/2010

Thank you!

I have written more on Redshaft, and I am glad you enjoy it so much.

I hope to write more on CREDO and Storm soon, though CREDO is the more likely.

Thank you for your kind words, Laura!

Anonymous | Sun, 02/21/2010

About monthly writers

Ben would be the best to consult about what it means to be a monthly writer.  I'll just say that the nice thing is whatever you write is promoted to the first page.  Ben recently put up a page explaining it:

http://www.apricotpie.com/types-writers-apricotpie

In my opinion, you should apply for it.

James | Tue, 02/23/2010

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle