“What do you mean it’s not dead?” Cap’s voice came over the radio with just the slightest bit of static.
“I mean that your baddie just ripped out the silver stake you drove through it’s chest, and then put it’s head back on.” My thumb came off the transmitter to open up the line again as I focused my scope on the window some three hundred meters in front of me. Inside the abandoned building the rest of the team had just exited, the creature we thought we had put down was busy reattaching its limbs.
“You better not be fucking around Prospect.” That was Sarge, I swear I could almost hear a growl in her voice.
“That’s a negative, I am not screwing around. Cap, you want me to put a bullet in this thing?” My finger hovered over trigger, I’m not the best shot, but with optics the fact that this Barret could reach out and touch people from more than four times the distance I was sitting at, I felt pretty confident.
“Negative, we don’t need the locals reacting to that cannon. Doc, suggestions?”
“I’ve never heard of a Draugr powerful enough to survive what we did to that thing, so either we misidentified, or we should probably start prayin.” Doc spoke with the slightest drawl, like a Southerner who had spent too much time away from his little home town.
“Assume we aren’t hoping for salvation, give me alternatives.” Cap’s voice was even, and I could see the rest of the team fanning out around the most obvious exit in case the creature decided it was pissed off enough to go another round.
“Aw hell Cap, only other thing I can think of that looks anything like that nasty would be a troll.” I could hear the doubt in his voice, whatever it was, it seemed content to wait the team out for now. Maybe it wasn’t so stupid after all.
“In Arizona?” Cap sounded incredulous, me personally I didn’t know enough about well, anything to comment.
“Yeah, seems pretty unlikely but like I said, it’s that or pray.”
“Roger that Doc, Sarge, how we looking on incendiaires?”
“Enough to burn out this old piece of shit, that’s for sure.”
“Wait, wait, wait. I don’t get to shoot this fine weapon, but Sarge gets to burn down a building? Not cool Cap.”
“Benefits of seniority Prospect, give me a status on the target.”
“Target’s stationary Cap, I think it’s afraid of Sarge.”
“God damned right it is.”
“Hey now ya’ll, swearin’s fine and all but can we keep the Lord’s name out of this?”
“Sure thing Doc.” I could hear the amusement in Sarge’s voice, I swear the only time she’s happy is right before she gets to blow something up.
“Enough chatter. Sarge, take Miles and cover the rear, Prospect keep an eye on the prize. Doc, you’re with me, let’s do this thing and be ready to ride before the local Smokeys show up.”
“Roger that.” I adjusted myself to keep a square sight line with the troll, or what we were hoping was a troll at least.
“Wait Cap. Did you just call’em Smokeys? What are you seventy?”
“Stow it Miles.”
“Roger that Cap.” Miles didn’t manage to release the talk button before he snickered.
With brief glances away from my scope I saw Miller and Sarge begin to make their way around back. Doc and Cap began to creep in closer to the front, close enough to toss their incendiary grenades into through the windows. The sun was starting to dip low, which meant the troll, draugr, or whatever the hell it was, was likely to start getting an extra bit of pep soon. Most things were tougher when the sun went down, I guess that’s where the whole ‘things that go bump in the night’ saying came from.
“Alright. Give me a five count then let’s light this pyre. Five, four.” Cap’s count went silent when I noticed the thing in the window surge with movement.
“Shit. Cap, we spooked it, it’s on the move, north side, I
repeat north side.” My finger went back to the trigger, but the beast had already crashed through the sheetrock of the room it had been in, moving out of my line of sight.
The incendiaries went in. and the abandoned building was up in flames in a matter of moments. The blaze and the accompanying smoke cut visibility to nothing. Absent other orders I slung the Barret, and began to make my way to the van. My radio flared with calls for sitreps from Cap and the various responses from the rest of the team. None of them had seen the creature emerge from the blaze, and Miles offered a whoop of success.
I stowed the Barret in the back of the van, and cranked up the engine just in time to hear the sirens coming from the small town about a half mile back. The dirt road I had taken from to the hilltop was hidden from view by one of the area’s many rocky outcroppings, so I wasn’t overly concerned anyone would connect me to the scene. Down below I could hear the team’s bikes roar to life as they took off as planned.
“Rendezvous point. Thirty mikes.” Cap’s command came over the radio as I turned onto the main road, going the opposite way of the fire trucks, and cop cars that rushed past me.
Cochise County is home to a few small towns, but the rendezvous was a VFW just off the military base in the area. Despite being from Detroit originally I knew it pretty well, spent the better part of a year on that base when I first joined the Army. Back when life was simple, before I found out the things from old wives tales and campfire stories might actually rip your face off. Before I met Cap and the rest of The Revelators, MC monster hunters. It would be cool if it weren’t so fucking horrifying.
The VFW was tucked away in on a side street, one of the busier ones I’ve been to. Guess the actual soldiers need a place to get away from all the trainees, all in all it was a decent spot to meet and wind down. I opened the door, greeted by the pleasant aroma of smoke caked air, spilt beer and whiskey, and wintergreen dip. The classic rock playing cued me in that either it was too early for the younger guys from base to make it in, or that Miles had taken over the jukebox.
I spotted Doc, Miles and Sarge in the corner booth, tac gear
off, and cuts on. I stopped at the bar, getting a round from Henry, an old grizzled guy that had seen more shit in one tour in Nam than most guys saw on four today, but still managed keep it together, beers on tray I headed over to the others.
“Oh hey, you’re not completely useless Prospect.” Sarge grinned as she reached for one of the beers with those little silver mountains that turn blue when the bottle gets cold.
“Really Sarge?” Cap asked as he rounded the corner from what I assumed was the bathroom.
“What? I like it.” Sarge and Cap shared a chuckle over an inside joke I didn’t quite get.
“To a successful hunt, and no one dying.” Cap raised a bottle of his own, we all offered our drinks in cheers before taking a sip.
“But seriously Doc, what the hell?” Cap looked at the medic, who
glanced up and offered a small shrug.
“Don’t know Cap, I mean, I suppose this counts as mountainous…but I ain’t never heard of trolls in Arizona. Not like they’re a fan of the sun.”
“Who gives a shit Cap? It was here, it was killing people now it’s dead.”
“Yeah, we were…on fire today.” Miles spoke up in between swigs, and drew a groan from Sarge.
“Don’t you start that shit again.”
“It matters Sarge, because if the Prospect hadn’t kept an eye on it as long as he did, it would have gotten away.” Cap hadn’t touched his beer since the initial cheers, and had a look on his face like he had caught a bad scent.
“Why don’t we just burn everything we kil? Seems like a safe practice.” I asked, taking a drink from my own beer, and settling into a chair.
“Cept that would release a Revenant, givin’ it free reign to find another corpse to latch onto.” Doc spoke up, rubbing his chin.
“Not to mention call a lot of attention that we don’t need on us kid.” Miles looked at his nearly empty beer, then to me and quirked an eyebrow.
“Anyone else?” I asked as I got up.
“Just get a few buckets Prospect, think I’m gonna tie on a mean one.” Miles leaned back at that, kicking his feet onto the chair I had just vacated.
I was just collecting my beers from the bar, and thinking of an appropriately witty way to tell Miles to get his foot off my god damned chair when a mortar exploded. At least, that’s what my mind immediately equated the sound of an entire section of the wall near the entrance bursting open to. Several surprised yet somehow indignant shouts of ‘incoming’ let me know I wasn’t the only one with that instinct at least.
Unfortunately it was not incoming, a mortar attack I understood, I was prepared for, if not a bit surprised it was happening in the middle of Arizona and not Jallalabad. Know what I still wasn’t fully prepared for? A giant fucking troll, that should have been a burned pile of ash, breaking down the front door of the bar I was drinking at. Thankfully once again most of the rest of bar vindicated my delayed reaction with confused shouts and looks of their own.
But like any highly trained professional presented with clear and present threat, I reacted quickly, drawing my side arm, and promptly unloading the magazine into the thing’s chest. It was around a second after my magazine was empty, and I was staring down the sights of an empty gun toward a hulking monstrosity that had barely flinched, but was now solely focused on me that I realized, I am not a smart man.
The troll let out a ear shattering roar, and charged me, tossing aside several tables as it came. Hopping over the bar probably saved my life, so score one for a misspent youth. The troll didn’t bother leaping however and just crashed through the bar itself, sending forth a shower of splintered wood, and plaster. Several cuts on it’s mottled grey skin healed before my eyes, and I’m sure if it weren’t for the sound of gunfire, and general mayhem, I would have heard myself gulp.
I raised my own gun again, because well, if I was going to die, fuck it, go down down swinging right? I take aim at one of the trolls beady black eyes, put on my coolest ‘I’m a badass face’ and pull the trigger, and…click.
The next few moments were full of a slew of thoughts, like why was there a troll in Arizona? Why in God’s name did I think it was a good idea to spend my life hunting monsters? Why is Mountain Dew green? And was that a howl? No seriously, who brought the dog? That seemingly random thought was accentuated by the mass of black fur that suddenly lept into the troll, tossing it to the side, and ripping into it with abandon.
As my brain processed the fact that I wasn’t going to die, at least in the next few seconds anyway, I realized a couple of things about that mass of fur that was currently matching the troll in both strength, and ferocity. One, it was wearing pants, moreover, it was wearing pants I recognized, it was wearing Sarge’s pants…not that I spend a lot of time staring at her pants.
Sarge was apparently something I’d normally be putting bullets into, but judging by the lack of surprise on the rest of the Revelator’s faces, and the fact that she had just saved my life, I figured that would be a bad idea. Instead, I moved over toward Cap, hoping he had some idea on how to get out of this. Wolf Sarge was tearing the troll apart sure, but it was healing almost as fast as pieces were coming off, and I assumed Sarge would eventually get tired.
“Doc, what have you got?” Cap’s usually calm voice had the barest hint of stress to it, which pretty much meant I was shitting my pants.
“Thinkin’” Doc shouted over the din of crashing tables and snarls emanating from the fight in front us, by now the rest of the patron’s had fled the bar, so at least there was that, we had all stopped firing ourselves for fear of hitting Sarge, and it wouldn’t be long before the local cops showed up, random gunfire might not be the best thing.
“Wait…Cap, the Jotnar were the enemy of Thor.” Doc shouted after a few moments of contemplation.
“That’s a nice little tidbit Doc, but how does that help?” I winced as Wolf-Sarge was thrown several feet through the air and crashed into the far wall.
“You know, Thor god of Thunder? Electricity might do it.” Doc
Retorted and went about scanning the room, but I saw it first, a damaged light fixture throwing off sparks, and I was moving before I had time to think.
I took a running leap, grabbing exposed bx, which by the grace of god was loose enough to pull down and ram into the creature’s back. The wires made contact, and the troll seized and let out a mighty roar. It’s skin bubbled and popped for a few moments, and finally it burst apart in a puff of ash.
It couldn’t have taken more than a few seconds, but strangely the world seemed to slow down and I felt an oddly painful buzzing running up my arm. Worst of all I found I couldn’t drop the damned wire I’d used to kill the thing. I had a few brief moments to contemplate how royally screwed I was, when the chair took me in the chest and sent me sprawling to the floor. I looked up to see Miles grinning over me.
“Shut up Miles.” I turned my head to the sound of Sarge’s voice which still had a bit of a growl to it, she was covered up with a tablecloth, and was staring at me as if daring me to say something about what I had just saw. It was just then that it finally clicked, I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing.
“What the fuck is so funny Prospect?” Sarge’s voice had returned to her normal level of snarl.
“The beers. I get it now.”