Chapter 10: Matthias
"Well, whatever it is I think it's safe to assume it's living," I said, "Or at least capable of movement, as our mission is to tag it for Daphne to retrieve at a later time. But it was contained in a small box, without and visible air supply..."
"So we can assume it's inorganic," Natasha finished my sentence for me, "What are we going to do with the other two?" Her voice quivered a bit at the mention of Nick and Jones, as though she still didn't entirely trust them. When we had arrived in Gettysburg, we had sent them off in search of a hotel for us to stay in. The four of us agreed we were tired of sleeping in Katie's trunk, as it was utterly disorienting every morning to wake up and stumble out into the dingy, grim hallways of the place. Additionally, the rooms had a tendency to change while you slept in them...
"We'll bring them with," I said, Natasha raised an eyebrow.
"Excuse me if I consider that ill-advised," she replied.
"You can consider it whatever you like, but we're still taking them with us. It's time they get some combat training, we're going to need them to learn some skills, otherwise they're just dead weight."
"True enough. Should we take them to a range, or offer them some sort of training?"
"That can come later. Just give them a basic rundown for now."
"Didn't they have SMGs when you broke me out of that Rousseau facility? Did you not teach them the basics then?"
"I had Sal take them to a range, I don't know how much I trust him to properly educate them."
"What about safety procedure?"
"They aren't total morons, show them the safety and they'll use it."
"There will be time for a formal introduction later. Would you mind getting some pistols from the trunk?"
"Fine," she said, opening the car door and getting out, "what do you want me to get them?"
"M9s should be fine," I responded. She disappeared into the trunk for several moments during which I decided to review Daphne's directions. They didn't lead to a specific address, rather giving directions to a large field that was only a few miles from Gettysburg. After that, it instructed me to head towards a large metal pole that was at the center of the field, and press the small red button that was to be found at the base of it. Natasha returned a few moments later, and the other two returned a few minutes after that.
"We found a pretty cheap hotel a few blocks from here," Nick said, "kinda old though. Apparently it's on the Gettysburg Ghost Tour."
"There's no such thing as gh-" Smith began, but I stopped him by covering his mouth with my hand.
"Ssssh, saying that summons them," I whispered. He laughed, then looked at my dead serious face and abruptly stopped.
"You're not serious are you?" he asked, worry creeping into his voice. I said nothing.
"Oi, you two," Natasha grunted at the duo, "these are for you." She handed back two, sleek, black handguns to them. Both recoiled slightly before accepting them.
"What are these for?" Jones asked.
"Self-defense," I answered, "we've decided it's time you two need some."
"Pay attention," Natasha said, turning around and brandishing her own weapon. "This," she pointed to a small lever, "is the safety. This," she pointed to a small button on the grip, "is the magazine release. You take it off the safety, you aim, you pull the trigger. Got it?" Both of them nodded.
"When you've exhausted the mag and you load in a new one, pull back the slide. Do you know how to use the sights?" I asked. Nick looked intently at the gun for a moment, then back at me.
"There are sights?" he said. I buried my face in my palms.
"The three dots on the top of the weapon. Line them up. Point, shoot." I ignited the engine and pulled out of the parking spot. "We're going to take care of Daphne's little project now. I only want to spend one day here."
"Do we even know what we're looking for?" Smith asked.
"We're looking for a large metal pole in the middle of a field. There is a button on the pole. We press the button," I said methodically.
"And then what?"
"We get to find out."
"Looks like a storm is coming," Nick mused, "I don't like the idea of standing near a giant metal rod in a storm. Plus, storms are generally just bad omens in the first place." I ignored his ramblings as I normally do, however he was correct. Large thunderclouds were rolling in from the northwest, incredibly dark, almost black. Regardless, I was undeterred, and we continued to drive towards our destination. As we left the limits of Gettysburg, it began to rain. Thunder boomed loudly as the field appeared on the horizon. Day turned to night as the clouds rolled over. A shade of pitch black unrolled over the land.
"I'm with Nick on this one," Jones said as we parked the car, "this is not a good sign."
"Suck it up," I retorted, hopping out. Sure enough, towering in the center of the field, there was a massive metal pole, pointed at the top. We walked towards it, sloshing through the muddy water that was slowly flooding the field. Natasha pulled out her pistol, clicking off the safety and nervously glancing around.
"Matthias. We need to get out of here as soon as we can. I really don't like the feel of this place," she said.
"All of you just keep it together, this shouldn't take long," I said as I approached the pole. It was made from metal with a chrome finish, down which a torrent of raindrops was streaking. I crouched down and felt around the base, which was covered in mud. My finger found a small button which I pressed. Then... nothing. No light, no sound, nothing. I backed away and put my hands on my hips. Then after a brief pause, I kicked the poll gently.
The sound that echoed out of it was the sound night terrors make when they die. It screeched viciously, piercing deep into our skulls. I closed my eyes and collapsed to my knees. Covering my ears did nothing, the sound still penetrated into my body, rocking every bone and piece of flesh. And then, with a loud, horrible cracking noise, it was over.
I looked up. The pole had been struck by lightning, and split in two. Above, thunder rumbled and crackled, bright flashes of blue illuminated the interior of the clouds for a split second then faded away.
"Lightning doesn't normally strike that often," Nick called. The wind was picking up, as was the rain, and the frequency of the blue flashes. One after another. The ominous booming of the thunder echoed through the air.
"Everyone back to the car!" I yelled over the gale. "We need to get out of here!"
"What about helping Daphne?!" Jones yelled back.
"We aren't gonna find what we're looking for in this! We'll just wait until-!" my sentence was caught short, viciously. There was a massive, ground-shaking impact behind me, followed by a gust of air that knocked me to the ground.
"What the hell was-!" Nick also dropped short of completing his sentence. I looked up to see him frozen, a terrified mask painted over his face. I rose myself up, dusted myself off, and turned around.
Standing there to greet me was one of the most magnificent sights I've ever seen. A massive, blue, horned bird, crackling with electricity, stood where the pole had been moments ago. It extending its wings to their fullest, they must have been ten feet each. Savagely, it reared its head and let out a call that echoed through the field like thunder. Lightning radiated from it, arcing between its two horns.
Barely maintaining my wits, I assessed the situation. The creature seemed aggressive, but only in a territorial way. I thought I could possibly approach it in a peaceful, nonthreatening way and it may let down its guard. Slowly, I reached into my jacket pocket and produced the syringe gun Daphne had given me back in Light. I took a cautious step forward. The beast screeched and a bolt of lightning emanated from it, striking the ground in front of me. The thunder was simultaneous, and deafening.
"That was a warning!" Natasha yelled. "It isn't giving another one! We need to get out of here!"
"What the hell is it?!" Smith called.
"A thunderbird!" I replied.
"It got bigger since last time!" Natasha screamed. I ignored her, focusing all my energy on looking the thunderbird dead in its hawk-like eyes. It glared at me, if animals can glare. Quickly, I glanced to my left, it followed my gaze. I returned to staring at it, then looked left again, then back at it. It wavered from side to side nervously, if animals can be nervous. Then, suddenly, I dodged quickly to the left, then just as quickly to the right. The creature had fallen for my fakeout, snapping viciously to its right, but nearly toppling when it found nothing there.
Moving with near inhuman speed, I leapt onto the creature's back, attempting to find a place to hold on. It bucked wildly, and sent a cascade of electricity around its body. I was thrown off, landing, hard, in the mud a feet feet away. The thunderbird rose above me, and screamed awfully. As it was about to bring itself down on me, there was a loud crack, the sound of gunfire.
The thunderbird roared and stumbled away, the bullet had clipped the base of it's wing. Lightning shot wildly in all directions, but the creature was too mad with pain to hit anything. I yelled to the others to head for Katie, but they hadn't needed my order. We fled as the thunderbird stumbled around frantically. As I ignited the engine, it flapped it's gargantuan wings and rose into the sky. As we darted down the road, it darted into the sky. Stalemate.