Chapter Fourteen: Buyer beware.
Anthony found out that leaving Fargo was going to be tougher than he thought. He and the twenty other Knights he chose for his mission would be a little conspicuous. They openly walked outside now with full armor on and swords at their side. The People’s Army was everywhere and more than a little hostile towards them. Navigating the streets of Fargo and trying not to get caught in a crowd would have been challenging to the best driver in the world. Anthony smiled to himself as he sat in the back of the Seminary van in his old spot. How he would hide back here with head phones on seemed so strange to him today.
The only thing that would have made it better was having Jonathan there. He did not choose Jonathan for this mission because if things turned south for them the Order couldn’t afford to lose both seers. He actually had to argue with Jonathan to get him to stay. In the end it came down to Anthony making it an official order to convince Jonathan to stay. He knew by issuing that order it would cause a little tension between them. He also knew Jonathan just wanted to help but Anthony only wanted to protect his friend. Anthony had a bad feeling about this mission.
The driver, a Knight by the name of Marcus, was a little older than Anthony. He didn’t know him very well just that he was from the south. Anthony joked to himself that when he lived down there Marcus must have been a moonshine runner because of how well the man could drive. Marcus was able to get them through the streets without many problems and soon they were on the highway. The drive was long and there was an almost unbearable silence in the van.
Anthony’s thoughts were on the one thing they were always on these days. Amanda. It has been two days since she was taken and it’s been two days of hell for him. Anthony remembered that dream of him rescuing her and that gave him some hope. It wasn’t the first time he had a dream of someone in his life but it was the first time he could remember one of someone that he loved so much. He knew he would save her but God only knows what Remus is doing to her while she is there. He tried his best to keep those thoughts out of his head but when you’re dealing with the spawn of hell anything can happen.
Anthony’s face still hurt like hell but has managed to heal some. He was able to move his jaw a little without it hurting too badly. He still talked to through his teeth as much as he could to avoid any more stitch pulling. He didn’t really like the idea that when it healed he would have a pretty nasty scar on his face. He never fell into that common guy thought that chick’s dig scars. He was married and had no reason to want to look any tougher than he is. He was after all standing tall now at six feet four inches. He barely noticed the last growth spurt because of obvious reasons.
He could see they were approaching Jamestown and he decided it was time to think about his mission. He had an idea of where he should start looking and in fact it was a pretty good one. He decided before they left that they would split into 4 teams and gave each team a destination and a set of instructions. His team is going to check out Amanda’s house for any evidence. He gave Marcus a team to go check out public records at city hall. He gave the other two teams the job of watching the first two teams in case of an attack.
They arrived outside Amanda’s old house and they split up there. Anthony couldn’t help but feel conflicted. Was he here for the mission or something personal? He decided to split the difference and saw no harm in killing two birds with one stone. He told his support team to take positions around the block and then took his team into the house. He told everyone to check out the main floor and he would take the top floor. He was half sure they wouldn’t find anything and wanted first crack at the bedroom that he saw in his first vision.
As he climbed the stairs he couldn’t help but think about the time he was here just after the fourth of July. She was crying on her bed rocking back and forth looking like she just had the worst beating of her life. He came to her room and decided to just ignore it as he walked on by. He came to the door which she claimed belonged to her parents’ bedroom. Of course that was all a lie. He pushed the door and felt he was finally having some luck. It was in the exact same shape and condition that it was in the vision he had. He proceeded to sift through various documents and tapes.
He found a lot that didn’t seem to apply then he came across a pay stub. He didn’t know Amanda had a job before he met her. The date on the stub was July 17 of last year. He couldn’t help but wonder why she was pulling in a pay check when she never went to a job. He remembered clearly that she spent of her time with him last year. The name of the business on the check was Sandford medical group. Amanda did tell him once that Remus paid her a retainer to take care of her basic needs. What was this Sandford medical group? He looked through some of her notes of him. He was more than a little surprised by what he read.
July 6th Report on Subject
I gauged his reaction to my obvious wounds and he only thought of helping me. I found this to be a different reaction to the first time I encountered the Subject. The Subject as you know acted with reckless abandon for his own safety the first time and this time the Subject acted with compassion. This was not the intended result and it turns out there is more to the Subject than originally thought. I will continue to push the Subject towards the goal that was originally intended.
“What was the goal originally intended? Was she trying to bait me into something?” he asked himself. He remembered Amanda saying something about Remus wanting him for something and was never made of aware of what that was. This report indicated she knew something more than what she was told him. He started checking through her earlier reports but could find no evidence that she ever knew the exact thing that Remus wanted him for. He finished his work and called down to the others.
“You guys find anything?”
“You could say that. There is a lot of stuff in the basement though.”
Anthony could not contain his shock as he replied, “This place has a basement? I didn’t even know.”
He felt a compulsion to check it out but as he passed Amanda’s bedroom something caught his eye. He pushed the door open and he could there was clearly an envelope sitting on her pillow with his name on it. He could tell it was her handwriting and he tore into the envelope. He felt he excited as this might be something to help him understand his wife.
I am sitting here watching you sleep and I can’t help but feel bad. You just rescued me from my captors and I want nothing more than to stay with you for the rest of my life. I need you to know that this was something that Remus wanted in the long run. He had designs for us to get married and that would help him to attain his goal of ruining you. If we are married by the time you read this I want you to promise me you won’t come looking for me. I am grateful for you freeing me from Remus but if we are married and I have gone missing you will be playing right into Remus’s hand. I love you with all my heart, please believe that.
Anthony felt that rage build inside again and he felt his arm smack into the lamp on her bedside table. He picked up her alarm clock and threw it against the wall. Was it all a lie? Did she really want to marry him or did she do it because Remus wanted her to do so. The feeling that his whole life was a lie and that nothing was real to him anymore started to take hold in heart. He pushed that all away and decided to deal with it later. He had a mission to accomplish. He left this room with the intention to never see it again. He went down to the basement and he couldn’t believe what he saw.
There were torture devices of every kind down here. He saw medical instruments, whips, a car battery with cables connected to it that reminded of something he saw in a Rambo movie, and also a furnace with hot pokers inside. The other Knights were as speechless as he was and couldn’t believe that Amanda wouldn’t have told him about this. “There isn’t anything else to be learned here. Let’s make contact with the other team and see if they found anything out.”
They were able to make it downtown without any trouble and approached city hall where the public records were kept. Anthony saw the cover team and gave them the motion for them to gather around. He had his group together standing outside the building waiting for the team inside. There were quite a few stares sent their way from people walking by. Anthony then felt that sensation again in his head. “TO ARMS!” He yelled and they formed a perimeter.
A few moments passed before he said anything. “Anyone see them? They are here somewhere.”
Each Knight responded with a resounding no.
“Are you sure Sir?
Dumbfounded that they could not sense the enemy Anthony asked, “Yeah, you mean to tell me you guys don’t feel that?”
“Feel what Sir?”
Anthony shook his head and said, “Never mind. They are here and they are watching us. Be on guard.”
Marcus and his team were exiting the building at that very moment. They noticed Anthony and the rest had their swords drawn so they did the same thing. They slowed their pace as they approached Anthony. Marcus went straight to Anthony. “What’s the situation Sir?”
“There are Death Knights watching us right now. We aren’t sure where but they are close.” Anthony paused and looked around one more time then asked, “What did you find out?”
“There are no properties under the name of either Remus or Leif Cuir. We did check on that house you mentioned your wife lived and it belonged to a Sandford Medical Group. We checked on them and they do a great deal of consulting at the state hospital.”
“That’s where my mom used to work.” He shook his head to refocus his thoughts. “That should be our next destination then. Everyone get in the vans.”
Anthony climbed into his spot in the back of the van. He had too much information to analyze and it was driving him a little crazy. Amanda, this odd Medical group and how it all fit together. He knew he could figure this out if given enough time. Anthony had a sneaking suspicion that the answers would come to him in time regardless. They were on the path to making a breakthrough he knew it. He felt sure that the answers they were looking for were at the state hospital. Anthony wasn’t paying attention to what was going on in front of him so was taken off guard when the van screamed to a stop.
Anthony leaned forward in his seat and asked, “Why did we stop?”
Marcus was calmer than he should have been. “Look!”
Anthony looked out the front windshield and saw the road was destroyed. They could see fortifications on the other side where the road was still good. Something or someone did not want outsiders to make it up there. Anthony was more than a little shocked but was able to keep his wits about him. “Marcus back up the van there is a dirt road a little ways back. Take that road.” Marcus did as instructed and after driving down the dirt road Anthony gave him the signal to stop the van. He then commanded that everyone get out so he could address all of his Knights at once.
“I believe we found what we are looking for here. This is more than likely the Death Knights base of operations. Why else would there be fortifications like the ones we saw? Marcus, I need you to take one of the vans, I don’t care which, and get back to the Seminary with this information. The rest of us will scout around the area. We need to find out what their internal defenses are like, how many Death Knights are here and if possible determine if there are any prisoners here as well. We will split up into teams of two. We will spread out all around the state hospital grounds.”
Marcus raised his hand to speak, “Sir wouldn’t it be better if we waited for the others to get here? Twenty of you against possibly hundreds of them are bad odds.”
Anthony thought about it for a second then said, “We are not to engage the enemy unless absolutely necessary. The information we gather here could be the difference in winning and losing.”
Marcus spoke again, “Forgive me Sir, but we have a right to know. Is this because your wife might be in there?”
Anthony thought about it for a second then said, “My wife is on my mind but this isn’t about her I promise you all that. This is about getting vital information to help us fight our enemy and that is all.”
Marcus lowered in his as if she was ashamed of himself and said, “Forgive me Sir. I had to ask because I know I would be tempted in your case to go after her if she was my wife.”
Anthony waved his hand as said, “I will find my wife someday I have already seen it.”
Sounding confused Marcus replied, “What do you mean you seen it?”
Anthony was never told this but the council never made anyone aware of his abilities. “You guys don’t know?”
Marcus face took a questioning countenance as he asked, “Know what Sir?”
Anthony exhaled before saying,“Forgive me, I wasn’t made aware that I shouldn’t have said anything. Now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag I guess I have no other choice. Me and another one of us for sure have been given visions. They started out in dreams when we were sleeping. We can now have visions while we are awake and it also seems we can sense when the enemy is near.”
Every single Knight standing around Anthony was speechless. They found the idea of a physic among them hard to believe and even harder to believe that the Council would not tell them about it. They started talking among themselves and intentionally not looking at Anthony. Anthony could see he started a firestorm and knew he had to put the fire out. “Listen to me guys and listen well. The Council must have had its reasons to not tell you but this is the truth. I once thought I was going crazy because I saw things in my dreams that were very terrifying. I did NOT ask for this gift nor did I ask to be put on the Council. All I wanted was to serve God in whatever way he wanted me to. Please my friends stay calm and relax. I am far from crazy and you should do well to remember that God sent visions to many people in the course of our history. Why shouldn’t he do it when the time comes for Faith to be the only thing that can save us? We are in the time of the Tribulation which was written in the Bible. So I ask to please put this out of your mind for now and concentrate on the job at hand.”
They all agreed and came away with a newfound respect for their leader. Anthony was younger than most of them and newer to the Order yet he had the makings of a good leader. They all saw in him what they wanted their leader to be and after this day they would never question him again. Each of them on their own decided that he was worth following even if it meant their deaths and even if they hadn’t decided that they would have to go along with it anyway. They each took the Vows and had to respect the Order.
Marcus jumped in the van and drove off as fast as he could. Anthony watched the van disappear into the distance. He paired all of the Knights together and chose one named Jeremiah as his partner. He told them the paths they should take to wind up the hillside that was around the perimeter of the enemy base. When he was younger he and Charles would run around these hills just for fun so he knew the hiking paths quite well. This spot was just south of the river and if you go west far enough you will get to McCrosky Park.
Anthony decided to take the steepest hillside path for himself and Jeremiah. He was trying to remember as best he could the layout of the state hospital grounds. He knew there was an administration building, two different psych wards, a maintenance building and there was also a building for employee housing. He remembered that most of the buildings were at least four stories high except for the maintenance building which was only one story. He also remembered that employee housing hadn’t been used in years since most of the staff lived in town. There was also a tunnel system that connected each building and was used for going between buildings in severe weather.
Anthony was struggling getting up the hiking path and thought to himself that it’s never been this tough. He smiled as he realized what the problem was and it should have been more obvious to him. His armor weighed a good 35 to 40 lbs and that takes its toll on you when climbing up a hillside. He stopped their advance so they could both catch their breath. They each leaned against a nearby tree and that’s when Anthony noticed it. He wasn’t sure what he was at first, maybe just a culvert of some kind then it hit him.
He walked off the track to get a closer look and discovered water coming out and realized what this was. The draining system used to protect against water collecting on top of the hill. The top of the hill where the state hospital was located was a low spot on the hill. It wasn’t a completely flat hilltop as it looked to the naked eye. The land at the top was higher closer to the cliffs than in the middle. Water would collect in the middle of the entire complex and cause major problems for the facility. The state a few years back built in this drainage system to prevent that from happening.
Anthony looked at Jeremiah, “You feel like getting dirty?”
“Sure I guess.” Jeremiah replied until he got closer and got a whiff of the smell coming from the inside. “OH GEEZ. That’s disgusting.”
Anthony looked at Jeremiah and said, “I know but this will lead right into the heart of the complex.”
Begrudgingly Jeremiah replied, “Alright let’s just get this over with.”
Anthony bent over to enter and found it would be really difficult to walk in there. He decided that going in on his knees would be better. He didn’t like the idea of scuffing up his armor but thought there could be worse things he could be doing. The tunnel they were in slopped up gradually and it was really slippery. Anthony had to brace himself on the sides of the tunnel to keep from slipping backwards. The tunnel leveled out after about a hundred years and Anthony could see light coming down the storm drains. They came across the main storm drain that led up to a ahole. There were rungs that the maintenance workers would to climb in and out. Anthony climbed up as slowly as he could to prevent his armor from making too much noise.
He stopped at the top and peaked his head up to peer out the side of the storm drain. He saw several dozen Death Knights training in various different fighting techniques. He could hear someone shouting orders on the other side but couldn’t see him because the Death Knights were in the way. He looked around and saw several tents set up and even some crudely built one room brick buildings. He recognized these little brick buildings as prisons cells and knew Amanda was inside one of them. The courtyard was indeed very different than what he remembered it looked like the last time he was there. “They have been very busy.” He thought to himself.
He was about to start climbing down when he finally saw the person who was doing the shouting. His mouth dropped and felt that all too familiar feeling creeping up his back. Remus was standing there and didn’t seem aware of Anthony’s presence. Anthony slowly stepped his way back down to the bottom. Remus was here and that was vital information to get back to the others. If only it was easier for them to crawl their way of this tunnel. Anthony was following Jeremiah back down the tunnel when he heard a great deal of activity above him.
He suddenly got a bad feeling and backed up to where the main drain was located. He slowly climbed back up the rungs and could hear a fight going on. He looked through the opening and saw two of his Knights defending themselves. They didn’t last long against the several dozen Death Knights but fought gallantly as they went down. He watched in horror as the Death Knights desecrated the bodies in several unpleasant ways. When he decided he could not watch anymore he climbed back down.
Jeremiah was already a good ways down the tunnel a long ways when Anthony reached the bottom. He started after Jeremiah again and came to steeper decline in the pipe. He was trying to get his hands in good bracing positions when he slipped. The next thing he knew he was sliding down head first on his stomach. His arms where flailing trying to find something to hold on to but couldn’t find anything. He caught up to Jeremiah close to the entrance and crashed into him causing them both to fall out the other side.
“Well that was fun.” Anthony said after he finally got his wits about him again.
Jeremiah shook the cobwebs from his head as said, “What happened?”
Anthony get back to his feet and said, “Lost my grip and fell forward. Sorry. Are you ok?”
Jeremiah stood uneasily but said, “Yes, I think so.”
“We need to get back to the van. Hopefully everyone else made it as well.” Anthony said knowing that was not the truth.
Anthony couldn’t get the sight of those two Knights’ bodies being desecrated out of his head. The images were burning through his mind as they made their way back to the van. He saw there were a couple of others waiting there for them. Anthony walked to the side of the van and decided he better clear his mind before he talked to them. He pushed it all away just as he always does when he doesn’t want to process something. He turned back to his Knights and asked for a status report.
The closest Knight to Anthony spoke saying, “We saw there were several hundred Death Knights at the very least. There was a lot of coming and going so it was hard to get an accurate number.”
The next Knight then added, “They are vulnerable to attack on the west side. There are no fortifications on that side just what appears to be a waste dump site.”
“Good work guys. Have you guys seen any of the others?” Anthony asked.
They all shook their heads no. Anthony was really worried about the fourteen others. He started to imagine them all being tortured and killed if they were caught. He felt responsible for them and decided if they were not back soon that he would personally go looking for them. He was pacing back in forth in the front of van and waited. He was growing quite anxious when he saw a few more coming and then a couple more after that. He felt relieved when all that were still alive came back. The others were asking each other if they saw the missing party.
Anthony couldn't look at his men as he said, “They aren’t coming back. Chris and Carl are dead. I saw them get caught when I was down in the drainage pipe.”
An uneasy silence fell upon them and before Anthony could speak that hot cold sensation forced its way into his head. He looked all around them and saw the Death Knights advancing down the hill. He could see they were clearly out numbered. The van could only seat eight to ten people normally. He ordered everyone into the van. The seats were all full and there were still three of them that couldn’t squeeze inside. Anthony ordered the other two to lie across everyone else. He was trying to figure out how he was going to fit when he realized the Death Knights were getting very close. He slammed the van doors shut.
Jeremiah then shouted, “What are you doing Sir?”
Anthony gave Jeremiah a confident look as he said, “This town was home, I know every inch of it. I will survive until you guys get back with the others, just go. GO NOW!”
Anthony ran towards the river and fell to his stomach on the embankment. He saw the van move and drive away. The Death Knights stopped their advance as they noticed the van was too far away to pursue on foot. Anthony was praying to himself that they wouldn’t search around anymore. He slowed his breathing as he peeked his head above the embankment. The Death Knights were returning to base and he was safe for the moment. He rolled onto his back to consider his options. He had many things that he could do but only one thing was that Amanda was his highest priority. She left him a letter saying she didn’t want him to go after her. If she proved to be that untrustworthy going after is exactly what he should do. He really couldn’t believe in his heart that she was willingly working for Remus.
Night was coming fast and he soon made up his mind. He knew he would be in serious trouble if anyone found out what he was going to do but he realized that he could not just do nothing. He had to find Amanda and get some answers that will hopefully put this whole mess behind him. He waited there until it was almost too dark to see. He peeked his head up again and saw nothing moving. He knew the best way to get into the complex was that storm drain he was in earlier. He made his way to the storm drain very slowly. He didn’t like smelling it again but put up with it because he was determined to see this done. Rain was starting to come down so he figured he would have to hurry.
He was slowly crawling his way up the incline making sure he had a good grip every step of the way. He got back to the same ladder he climbed before and started climbing. Water was coming down at his face as the rain outside increased. He was finding it hard to keep from slipping again. His metal gauntlets slipped easily on the wet metal rungs and his boots did the same thing. He was just about to the top when it happened. He felt his grip slip away and for a moment in time everything slowed down as he fell backwards. He crashed through pipe below onto the landing in the tunnel below. The world went dark around him as he laid there in pain. The final thought that went through his head was that he had failed her yet again.