Arrows of the Leviathan - Chapter 35 - Expl01t
Daniel and Reyes made their way along an inner hallway that overlooked the interior courtyard. The wedding had disintegrated, and the crowd was terrified, unsure of what was happening and why they were imprisoned. A furious mob had gathered around the large gate, slamming their fists into the ancient wood, trying in vain to knock it over. But one man amidst all the chaos was staring right back at him:
The groom, Adnan.
Daniel backed from the edge, but it was too late. The young man tugged at his uncle’s sleeve.
Rupinder followed the gesturing finger and spotted Daniel ducking back into the alcove. Furious, Rupinder pulled out a tablet and screamed orders to his men.
“We’ve got to move,” Daniel said.
Reyes nodded and together they ran down the hallway, looking for a way onto the roof.
The Goan building, earlier so full of life and mirth now seemed cold and bleak. It now felt imposing in the heavily built way of most fortresses. Daniel was ready to get out as soon as possible.
Daniel and Reyes reached another hallway opposite the ocean. He looked over the edge and grimaced at the rocks and crashing waves several hundred feet below.
“Rocks below. That's not going to work,” he informed the Norseman.
Gideon’s steady voice sounded over the com. “Make your way to the third room on the right.”
Suddenly, two men in uniform, armed with rifles, surged out from a side door. Reyes’s training took over. She ran and made a flying leap, kicking one of the two men in the chest, which was accompanied by the sound of several cracking ribs. She quickly dodged when the other man attempted to slam his rifle into her face. Sidestepping the swing, she moved around to his exposed left leg, grabbed him and threw him like a ragdoll against the wall. She rabbit-punched his face and then slammed his head against the ground for good measure. She paused for a moment to catch her breath, activated an additional dose of stimulant and pain relief from her internal dosing system.
Two more armed men appeared, and Reyes was already moving swiftly to close the distance between herself and the nearest one. As soon as she was within reach, she slammed the man in the face with his own rifle, and he slumped, unconscious, to the floor. She dropped the rifle as his companion rushed at her and she used his momentum, grabbing him by the collar of his armored vest, turning and then throwing him over the ledge. Only then did the man realize that he was plummeting to his death and so he screamed, his voice gradually growing fainter until it was washed out in the roar of the ocean’s waves crashing against the rocky cliffs.
Daniel glanced at the men still left lying in the hallway and decided they would be down for a while. He walked over and picked up one of the discarded rifles. “Let’s go.”
Reyes dusted herself off and gave him a sidelong look as she caught up to him and said blandly, “Thanks for the help.” She wondered if his inaction was a vote of confidence in her skills or if it was just a reflection of his general reluctance to expend any effort he deemed unnecessary. Maybe some of each, she thought.
From the ocean vantage, Reyes and Daniel could see the Norseman approach the fortress, its sleek appearance suggestive of the longships once used by its namesakes.
The fortress had towers built in the cardinal directions, which had been an advantage in defending against shipboard intruders hundreds of years ago. Today they served the same purpose. There was a whirr of machinery from the fort as four automated anti-aircraft missile emplacements rose smoothly from its four corners and fired, sleek missiles streaking through the air with shrill whines, headed toward the Norseman. The Norseman responded with a horde of flare countermeasures which lit up the sky with their eye-searing brightness. The missiles veered off from their target and exploded upon impact with the flares, a cacophony that could be heard for miles. The fireworks show bathed the airspace above the castle in red-orange light.
Tandem railguns popped out from the strange blisters on the underside of the craft that Daniel had noted when he had first seen her decloak. The dual guns each fired twice and sent four sizzling bolts into the emplacements, blowing them up in a spectacular burst of sound and light. Debris and smoke filled the air around the fortress, reducing visibility.
Rupinder clenched his fists as he surveyed the destruction from the courtyard. Furious that this aircraft had evaded the missiles and wreaked so much havoc on his fortress, he jabbed a button on his tablet control device.
A swarm of small but menacing quadrotor bots swarmed into the skies like a plague of insects. Each was about six feet in diameter, small missiles and large guns slung under their bellies. They rose in a spiraling cloud as the Norseman hovered and began to orbit the fortress while keeping her nose pointed at the target.
The 20mm Vulcan cannons on the Norseman positioned beside the railguns spun up, gleaming, but no fire issued from their barrels. The drone cloud undulated, but the many tiny rockets and guns did not fire on the Norseman.
Rupinder looked up in confused surprise, then back to his tablet.
Then the terrible angry bee sound ended. Every rotor stopped spinning. The drones hung in the sky for a moment, then began falling like stones.
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