101 Spying Samuel

    --Sam POV--

    Rubbing my clean-shaven chin a bit wistfully, I walk side by side with Aponi. My vision is dyed green from the goggles we snatched from the guards. I hold up a small chain with a pendant that resembles a pair of palms with faces hanging from it. Upon first glance, the pendant seems normal enough if not a tad edgy for my taste, but when I brought it close, I saw the intricate engravings carved into the little pendant. After seeing the engravings, I noticed a small warmth emanates from it as well. According to Eira, these are both positive signs that these pendants are actively utilizing mana.

    'Damn, I hope this thing actually works. If I have to relive my juvenile years one more time, I think I'm gonna lose it. The worst one was when I'd go through the hellish training to lose weight only to relive the memory again later. Although the upside was, I got to read my favorite book again for the first time, that part was pretty great. Still, it was all overshadowed by the constant emersion breaking inconsistencies and an uneasy atmosphere. A constant mix of nostalgia and feelings of being horrifyingly out of place.'

    I glance at my black uniform and state of the art equipment, among which some I have no idea how it works or what it is.

    'How does some random organization have such better equipment then the special forces ever had? Not to mention, the others told me that they heard some hydraulics or something under some of the other guards' clothing, like some kind of exoskeleton. I want an exoskeleton too! Not fair! Ah, but also, I'm not gonna lie...'

    Turning to Aponi, I smile widely. "This is both the coolest and dumbest thing I think I've ever done-no paperwork, no drawn-out briefings, and almost no preparation beforehand. Basically, the plan is to wing it however, we see fit. We never had this kind of freedom in the navy."

    "Yep," she responds, shaking her head with exasperation, "Dressing up as the enemy and scouting the enemy's base with hardly any intel is a bit outside our job descriptions and my comfort zone. Glad you seem to be enjoying it, though."

    "Yeah, I feel like a real spy. Oh, and check this out!" I remove a small silver plate from my pocket. The plate is in the shape of an octagon with a lens in the center. "I'm afraid to turn it on, but what do you think it is?"

    "How am I supposed to know?" She studies it for a second and then shrugs. "Could be some kind of mana grenade for all I know... or just a regular grenade."

    My mouth partially opens as my stomach drops. "D-d-do you really think it's a grenade!? I tried to turn this thing on, you know!"

    "I thought you said you were afraid to turn it on? Why would you try to use something if you don't know what it is?"

    "I lied! I just thought it sounded worse to say I couldn't figure out how to turn it on! This thing doesn't look anything like a grenade! I thought it might be like some kind of holographic communicator!"

    "Sam! If you don't know how it works, don't touch it! If it was a communicator, you could have given us away!"

    "B-but what if someone asks what it is!? O-or how it works? I won't know what they're talking about! We'll be done! Done Apon!" I say, throwing my arms up exaggeratingly.

    "No one's going to ask you how it works or what it is! Let's just hope they have a lot of faith in their little warehouse, and we don't have to talk to anyone. Best case, we just waltz in there, gather information, and then walk out."

    "Do you really believe it'll be that easy?" I ask, with a trace of surprise at her optimism.

    She looks at me, bursting into a long fit of laughter. "Of course not! I don't believe that for a single second," she says, wiping away a single tear.

    'That was more dramatic then I expected, but it's good to see her laughing again.' Awkwardly, I smile, waiting for her to finish.

    Looking much less tense, she stutters, "S-sorry, but I haven't had much to laugh at recently."

    Eventually, we arrive at the place I've heard everyone call the 'warehouse,' and as expected, it is, in fact, a warehouse. Still, the walls and doors are oddly bulky and thick; moreover, there are the same two edgy palms with faces depicted on its outside.

    "So this is it, huh?" I ask.

    "Yeah, Eira said she only made it to a wine cellar in the back before things got too bad to continue," she picks up the pendant, saying, "We think the Brutes might be immune to the 'Mind Magic,' but it would be a risk to send them in if that isn't the case. It would be disastrous if hundreds of those Palm things ran out imitating Brutes."

    Scratching my head, I shrug. "I-I guess, I don't really know what you're talking about, but hundreds of Brutes sounds scary... Anyway, we should get inside in case someone sees us. It would look weird for us to sit here gawking at the place."

    She nods.

    We march through the warehouse together. It's near impossible to see either end of the place, emphasizing how large this building truly is. Still, it's a bit anticlimactic after having it built up as this awful funhouse kinda place. There are a few broken crates that Aponi says was from a battle that took place while I wasn't around. Aponi told me that Eden and her have already reached level three.

    '...Man! I'm still level one! The first fight, I had to watch the cubs, and the second I was unconscious. This feels like someone gave me the coolest, most realistic game in existence, and I can't even play it!... Not that this is a game, but still, I can't help how I feel! I'll never be a powerful, charismatic, and eccentric vampire at this rate! But I think I know how I can fix this!'

    "Sam, you aren't thinking of something goofy again, are you?"

    Aponi interrupts my thoughts, so I decide to bring her in on my amazing idea. "I just thought, maybe, I should grow my hair out and buy a trench coat. Go for like a reverse Van Hellsing look, y'know? I think it would be a great twist on people's preconceived expectations. It would go something like, 'Hey look, it's a vampire hunter,' and I'd be like 'Nope! It is I, Count Samuel!'"

    Aponi lets out a long, drawn-out sigh. "You could have just said, yes, and kept it short," she says, with a chuckle, "Anyway, time to get serious here's the hatch to the wine cellar. Not to mention..." She motions to the area around us.

    'Huh? What is she...' Suddenly, I notice the figures in my peripherals. 'Damn, she's right. Time to stop thinking about my future luscious locks, and concentrate on the present.'

    "Those are the palm things, or they become the palms. We aren't as sure about them, but as long as the pendants work, we should be fine," she explains.

    She opens up the cellar door, and together we climb down.

    Cautiously she looks around the room. "How's your mind?" Aponi asks.

    "You sound like my mother," I reply, smirking, "...but if you must know, I feel normal.���

    She grunts, staring at me with disapproval. "Can you just be serious for once?"

    "I am taking it seriously, Jimmy's my friend too, and Kardama is cool. It's just that the mood was getting heavy, and it makes me nervous. It's better to be calm and act as if you belong."

    "You sure that's how we should go about this?"

    "Believe me!" I answer with an enthusiastic thumb up, "I've been acting like I belong my whole life."

    "That's... incredibly depressing."

    "Relax, after I joined the navy and met you guys, I stopped caring so much." I walk away, leaving Aponi standing there, apparently unsure of how to respond. Nearby I see a small table with a physics book that has a far too complicated title. "Well, this definitely isn't like the Trixie novels.'

    Aponi breaks her silence. "Sam... This may not be the best time, but can I ask you something?"

    I glance at Aponi and raise a masterful finger gun. "Sure, shoot!" I say, pretending to pull the trigger.

    "First of all, I appreciate your words," her face turns a bit red as she continues, "b-but also can you tell me, why do you like vampires and Trixie so much? From the beginning, you've been okay with everything that's happened since we were basically kidnaped from the navy."

    'Not surprised she changed the subject. She never was the mushy type, except when it came to her sister.'

    Crossing my arms, I chuckle. "Funny story, actually, it's because the guy who wrote it made the most perfect special edition copy of his book imaginable."

    "Huh?" she responds with a raised eyebrow, "What is that supposed to me? That's not what I expected."

    "Yeah, he released a version of his book that looked like it was scriptures. So since it looked like the scriptures, my crazy religious parents didn't know what I was actually reading..." Smiling broadly, I attempt to rub my nonexistent beard. "I can't tell you how many times I read that book. I've probably almost memorized it by this point, and the sequel written by his rumored daughter was pretty good as well."

    'I won't lie; that book saved my life. Although, I'll keep that to myself for now.'

    We exchange a few more words, but the conversation dies as we search the room meticulously.

    'As Eira said, the place looks like some incredibly rich wine connoisseurs dream basement.'

    Every wine is atleast two decades old, and the selection is incredibly varied. There are a few large tables, some out of place empty filing cabinets, what I think is a wine corker, and even a large shelf of coffee beans all individually labeled.

    'Weird that the coffee is genuine beans... Well, all coffee is, but these aren't roasted.'

    "Shit," I hear Aponi say, "Look at this."

    Turning around, I find her near one corner of the massive room. She points at a small black number pad fastened to the wall.

    Walking over, I stop and make an attempt to analyze the thing. "We either need a code, a card, or both. Maybe, we have it on us?"

    "Hmm, it could have facial recognition as well. I wouldn't be surprised," she adds.

    Suddenly, I hear a mechanical noise and glance up to see a small, indiscreet camera rotating to look at us.

    'Uh, oh. That's not good.'

    However, as I'm contemplating ripping the camera from the wall, a seemingly innocent voice rings in my head.

    'Don't worry, fools. I'll let you two through.'

    'Huh, Eira?' I respond.

    'Yep, and as usual, I'll take care of it,' she says a bit mockingly.

    'Wait, if you can see us, why are we even scouting? Can't you just use the camera's to see the inside of the facility.'

    'I only have a few cameras and door controls. Most of them appear to have been disabled, destroyed, or something. The cameras I do have, seem to be near the doors and a couple in what looks to be an abandoned office. I can't move it for some reason, though. Moreover, they probably wouldn't have cameras in the top-secret areas that feed to this security office. They'd likely handle some security on-site to avoid allowing too many secrets in one place... Anyway, don't do anything stupid,' there's a pause before she speaks again, 'Its got to be this button, right?'

    The wall concrete wall in front of us vibrates.

    'Ah, got it that time.' She chuckles. 'Anyhow! Good luck!'

    A straight verticle crack appears as light shines through. The walls separate wide enough to allow the passage of crates or large equipment. A spacious white hall is exposed atleast big enough for a few forklifts to drive next to one another.

    Aponi glance at me, and I nod. The two of us straighten our backs and prepare to walk down the hallway as if we are in one of the naval bases.

    'One-step. Two-step. The-'

    "Hey, you two!" a commanding voice shouts.

    "Nearly three steps. Better than I expected," Aponi remarks quietly while rolling her eyes.
Previous Index Next