Read Ghosts of Koa, The First Book of Ezekiel Online
Authors: Colby R Rice
Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fantasy, #Urban Fantasy, #Alchemy, #Post-apocalyptic, #Dystopian
More Alchemy, More Ass-kicking, I
More Alchemy, More Ass-kicking, II
Shadows flittered in the night, and Xakiah jerked his head up, his eyes automatically tracking the movements. The light was sparse, but even from the passenger seat of the truck, his eyes could outline the three distant figures in the dark. About thirty yards away, the shadows of the hunted jerked and twitched with a contained haste as they assembled themselves in their sedan. It was time. The driver would be first.
He lifted the rifle and anchored the butt in the soft of his shoulder. He lowered his eye into the scope, positioning the crosshairs over the figure settling into the driver's seat. As he began to depress the trigger, he wondered how exactly the man's head would splatter-- when the tires of the sedan
against the asphalt, and it shot off into the dark.
"Shit," Xakiah hissed, letting the scope drop. "Gun it, Joseph!"
His body felt slick with a cold sweat as their truck roared to life and lurched forward. Joseph jammed his foot down onto the gas pedal, pushing nearly one hundred as the truck's tires kicked up the slag of the country road.
His jaw ached beneath the grind of his teeth. Their hubris was surprising, that they fancied even for a moment he'd let them get away after what they'd done.
of a round being chambered ricocheted through the truck as Bly, a teammate sitting behind Joseph, prepared to shoot. The only man in the van who didn't move was the one sitting directly behind Xakiah, silent beneath his hood and cloak. He looked out of his window, even, his chin on his knuckles, as though enjoying a slow Sunday drive.
The fleeing sedan far in front of them turned and reeled off the dark path, clunking across the vast stretch of green that separated the road from the main highway.
lose them, Joseph." Xakiah said, his voice low in the dark.
"Y-yes, sir!" Joseph said, a whimper choking his voice. He veered off the road, leaves and branches snapping in dry whispers as he leaned in harder on the gas, following the hunted across the soft, mushy green. Both cars' headlights made yellow eyes in the growing dark, like one nighttime monster chasing another.
Xakiah grinned, joy swelling under his frustration. They were going catch them.
was going to win-- and he felt himself nearly thrown into the driver's seat as Joseph yanked the steering wheel, sending the truck into a hard lean.
The truck's tires lifted a couple inches from the ground, and the far right side of the windshield exploded open, fragments of glass flying inward as hot metal grazed the SUV in a messy swarm. A rogue in the scattered cloud clipped Xakiah across the high crest of his cheek, kicking up a curl of flesh, a splash of blood. As his mind made sense of the pain, his joy eroded. Bullets. The thieving bastards had the audacity to
He focused his thoughts on the wound, and his flesh began to heal itself. "Vassal--?"
"I'm fine, Proficient," the man behind him cooed.
Joseph jerked the truck to the side again as more bullets whined in the night. They were already just a couple minutes off the freeway, which budded with shining cars and vans.
"Christ, Joseph! My granny burns rubber better'n you!" Bly shouted from the backseat.
"What the hell are you waiting for, then?!" Joseph cried. "Shoot back!"
Bly leaned out his window and sprayed, aiming for the tires of the fleeing sedan.
The truck lurched from side to side as Joseph avoided the returning gunfire. "We're losing ground!" He yelled.
Xakiah leaned forward, realizing that he was right. The rebel's muscle car skirted the mud with ease, whereas their truck was in danger of toppling over if Joseph made another turn like that...
"That Page is the heart of the Order, Proficient."
The simplicity of his Vassal's statement threaded calm through the dark belly of the car, but the threat in his voice was unmistakable.
Xakiah locked his jaw, nodding as much from obedience as from the tightness in his throat that had stolen his voice. If they didn't get the Page back, he'd be punished. But far worse than that, his Vassal would be disappointed. He wouldn't fail. He
"Take them out," his Vassal murmured. "I know you can."
Xakiah swallowed and nodded at him, fear and pride swelling in his chest. He rolled down the window, and wind blasted into the truck. With a smooth slide, he navigated his body through, positioning himself on the ledge.
White bursts of fire lit the night as Bly's shots knocked out one of the sedan's tires, slowing it down. Thirty seconds until they hit the freeway.
"Steady, Joseph," Xakiah said, lifting the rifle scope to his eye. He focused his thoughts on the driver's head, searching for it in the long dark stretch in front of him. He had homed in on the driver right before they sped off, and he could do it again. He just had to feel it.
He stared down the scope, letting it drift across the swerving sedan, and something aligned, linking his slamming heart, the rifle, his eye, and the bobbing head of the driver in far front of them. He pulled the trigger--
--and the driver's head snapped forward, slamming into the steering wheel. Metal squealed high, and rubber peeled from the rims of the sedan as it veered off its path. It crashed into the bordering thickets of the highway, the hood folding in on itself like an accordion, crushed.
Bly roared with triumph, slamming his fist into Joseph's headrest. "Xakiah, man, you're an animal!"
Xakiah frowned as he looked back at him.
"Uh, I mean--" Bly stuttered. "Nice job, Captain."
"Badges," Xakiah commanded.
Joseph maneuvered the truck a few feet away from the crash. They had barely rolled to a stop before Bly popped open his door, jumped out, and ran over to the wreck. Joseph hurried after him, his gun up.
Xakiah followed, holding up his rifle, aiming at the overturned car. The fools. The hunted could have any number of traps prepared, and the young rookies were ambling over, hooting in celebration. He, on the other hand, kept his distance, and his eyes remained ready for even the slightest movement. Joseph and Bly were good cops, for what flatfeet were worth, but neither of them understood the true magnitude of this mission.
Behind him, Vassal Moss seemed to glide out of the truck, never once making a noise in the night. The leaves didn't even crunch beneath his feet as he followed them to the crash.
Bly and Joseph had already made their ways over to the steaming wreckage and were fumbling with something in the front seat. There was scuffling, and a scared whine wound its way out of the twisted metal as the two agents dragged something out of the front passenger seat. One of the hunted was still alive.
Bly threw the rebel to the ground and spat on its shadow. "Lay down, scum!" he snarled.
Xakiah tightened his grip on his rifle. Bly, like a jackal, was stealing
"Calm, Proficient," Vassal murmured from behind him.
Xakiah nodded tightly at the warning. His Vassal knew him well,
well, but he was right. Closing out this mission was more important than a few seconds of glory. Resigned, Xakiah slung his rifle on his shoulder as he approached the two agents.
"Only one survivor, Captain," Joseph announced. "The driver's head is dog meat, and the one in the back died in the crash."
Joseph tossed him something, and Xakiah caught it, already knowing what it was. A porcelain mask, just the bottom-half of it, hard and smooth. A tell-tale trademark of the Knights of Almaut-- Koa-- terrorist dogs who fancied themselves men.
Xakiah cradled the mask in his hand, feeling the ridges of the molded nose, cheeks, and mouth, all of them together barely the size of his own palm. It was the captive's. He looked up at the squirming rebel, finally noticing the long red hair that spilled out onto the grass--
He smiled, somehow feeling impressed amidst his annoyance. Her face was speckled with a constellation of freckles,
even. She couldn't have been any older than 16.
"Show her to me." The soft command had come from the shadowed man at Xakiah's heels, the Vassal.
Joseph and Bly hoisted the rebel to her knees and lowered their heads in the Vassal's direction. Xakiah cast down his eyes and stepped to the side, allowing his Vassal to pass before he lifted his gaze again.
The Vassal stood before the captive, staring at her with soft eyes. Finally he spoke: "How young. I might have known Koa would send pups to do a dog's work. What should I do with you, I wonder? What purpose will you serve?"
"No purpose, sir," Bly said. "I say kill the Koan scum."
"No. We'll do no such thing. We are to honor the Articles39," the Vassal replied. He turned to Xakiah. "The car."
Xakiah nodded and went to work. He tossed the sedan, cast the corpses aside, ripped up carpet, gutted the trunk, seats, and glove compartment, or what was left of it. Nothing. There weren't even any
of it. No traces of energy, not even a ripple in the air where it might have passed through. Nothing betrayed its location.
He frowned, turning to his superior. "Vassal. This faction must have been a decoy so that the real transport could get away." Bitterness coated his tongue, almost forcing the words back. "They've hidden it somewhere else."