Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And Blue Skies From Pain 1-7 - Stina Leicht

"A bright flash lit up the room.

When he peered over the ledge he spied Father Jackson hiding behind the cover provided by the large cast iron bathtub. He kicked at the tin buckets. They rolled away, banging and clattering against the concrete floor. The men—Fallen, they’re Fallen—were dressed as orphanage attendants. One wore a priest’s collar. However, the words they shouted at Father Jackson were foul and in Latin. New to the Order and the priesthood, Joseph wasn’t quite proficient enough in Latin yet to translate. He had a feeling he didn’t really want to understand anyway.

Father Jackson aimed his pistol around the edge of the tub, squeezing the trigger twice in quick succession. One of the Fallen dropped. Its screams of agony filled up the room and echoed through the tunnels. Joseph watched the demon convulse on the concrete until its body dissolved into so much ash and smoke.

“Stop this, priest!” The demon’s voice was heavily accented with Eastern European and difficult to understand, but the force of command behind it was powerful enough that it gave Joseph a start. Although tall, its back was bent with a large hunch, and its movements were short and jerky like that of an animal’s. Unnatural. “You are alone. We have your friend. Do you not see this?”

The other remaining demon rotated the hanging priest on the rope so that his bloodied and bruised face was revealed.

It’s Father Drager, Joseph thought.

Father Drager’s shirt was gone, and blood oozed from several wounds in his arms, stomach, and chest. One arm hung at a bad, twisted angle. He was breathing and flinched when the man with the Eastern European accent placed a curved knife to his throat, but his eyes were wide and blind with internal horror.

“Put down your weapons, or I will kill him,” the taller demon said.

“You have no hope of leaving this place. Reinforcements are on the way,” Father Jackson said.

“Reinforcements?” The tall demon in the priest’s collar laughed. “Isn’t that wonderful? More human fodder.” It stepped toward Father Jackson. “So fragile. So easy to manipulate.” It muttered something under its breath. Once again, Joseph couldn’t understand the words—this time because he couldn’t hear. “You and your friend on the rope will be long dead. Or….” It cocked its head as if listening. “Ahhhh, I see.” It held out a hand and muttered something again. “Some things can’t be forgiven. Stand, and together, we’ll make everyone pay.”

Father Jackson stood.

“Drop your weapons,” the tall demon said.

To Joseph’s horror, he watched as Father Jackson did exactly that. They use your weaknesses against you, Joseph thought. A chill shivered through him, and he finally understood why Father Jackson had sent him upstairs.

Kill the half-demon first. Joseph settled into position, assuming a two-handed stabilizing grip on the pistol and then carefully aimed the Browning at the Fallen armed with the dagger. He didn’t want to risk missing. He was near the limits of the pistol’s range. So, he aimed for the chest. I can do this. He’d scored quite high in marksmanship from the start, surprising even himself. However, this was the first time he’d actually pointed a weapon at a human be— Fallen. It’s a demon. It isn’t human. He took a deep breath, hesitating for an instant. This is it. There is no going back after this. I’ll have taken a life. He thought of the worst night of his life in spite of himself—this is why I lived and she didn’t—and slowly squeezed the trigger.

The effect was instantaneous. The recoil sent a shock up his left wrist and arm. At the same time, the creature stumbled. Bright red blood splashed the wall behind it. Its knife fell away from Father Drager’s throat and clattered to the floor. Joseph didn’t wait. He placed two more shots—a second one in the chest and one in the head—then changed targets. The full-blooded Fallen whirled, searching for the source of the shots. There wasn’t much time. Joseph knew he’d be spotted in seconds. If the thing could control Father Jackson so easily, then he was certainly no match for it. Joseph steadied himself as best he could and fired another four rounds. The first went wide. The second clipped the demon on the shoulder. The last two struck home, creating dark patches on the creature’s chest.

Six shots remaining."


4 out of 5

http://www.baenebooks.com/chapters/9781597803489/9781597803489.htm?blurb

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