Drake (Book 1)

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[56]-Watch the world burn

Chiltern Hills

8:52 a.m.

Serina’s lab reverberated with two consecutive booms from a shotgun. The muzzle flash illuminated the dark lab with every shot, and heavy thuds hit the floor. A mercenary clad in darkness, a ski mask, and body armor was blown back by a shotgun, his body landing on top of a steel gurney. Serina scoffed and pumped her weapon, a single shell ejecting and hurtling to the ground.

Several slain mercenaries, much like the one before her, scattered across the ground, their bodies lying in pools of blood. A creature roared from upstairs, announcing its presence almost like a foreboding howl of a banshee. Its steps shook the lab as it walked downstairs and suspending light bulbs flickered and swung.

She rushed to a computer terminal and ejected a USB drive.

“Take this,” she told Aaren, placing it in his hand. She darted to a desk and scribbled a note on a piece of paper. “Take it to this address. They’ll know what to do with it. We can’t let them get a hold of my research…”

The room rumbled, and the beast roared again. Serina loaded more shells into her shotgun and cocked it. Aaren reloaded his pistol and kept it aimed at the basement doorway. Each step the beast took was slow and deliberate, intimidating, and struck terror in their hearts. Serina gulped as beads of sweat formed on her head. She glanced at her son, whose expression never wavered; she saw a fierce determination in his eyes, and she smiled. He was his father’s son.

The footsteps ceased, and they could only guess the beast had stopped at the door’s threshold. Aaren sniffed the air and turned to his mother. His face was ashen.

“Mom!”

He pointed at a spot on her side where blood raved and saturated her white coat. It continued pouring and Serina dismissed it, only covering it with a hand. More blood dyed her platinum colored hair in lengthy streaks.

Aaren rushed to her side. “We have to get you to a hospital!”

Serina shook her head and chortled.

She winced and threw herself forward, dropping her shotgun. The steel door guarding the basement crumbled inward as the monster behind pounded it without relent. Steel dinged and dented with each blow and it was apparent the door would not hold much longer.

Serina propped herself up using the shotgun and mounted it on the desk before them. Despite Aaren’s urges, she persisted on making the lab her last bastion, her alamo. She would be damned to let some thugs tarnish decades of research, much of it in which she devoted her life to. Despite the dire situation, she saw hope in her son.

“Listen Aaren… I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. But you- you were the one good thing I made. You need to go, I’ll hold them off-”

“I’m not leaving you!” Aaren retorted, his eyes widened and body tense.

By now, only one hinge secured the door. It hung askew from its frame and massive, fleshly arm shot through looking for something to grip. Elongated spikes lined its armored arm, scratching the walls. It pulled its arm back through and continued to wear down the barrier. It roared, this time more deeply and agitated.

Serina pressed a hidden button beneath the desk and a secret passage opened among the back walls. Light bulbs showed the path ahead of the dirt tunnel; its foundation supported by beams and wooden planks. The tunnel looked as if it would collapse. But Serina knew their adversary would be forced to shape-shift to fit through the tunnel.

She was careless, entrapped in her own world of botany and science. She overestimated the exclusiveness and remoteness of her farm. It didn’t take long for her to deduce they had tracked her by scent. Only one being in the world demonstrated such lethal prowl and tracking abilities, another Shaytan named Abbas.

The mercenaries caught them off guard in their initial barrage of gunfire, storming the farm with speed, surprise, and violence of action. She and Aaren fought them off with limited success. However, in any game of chess, the pawns always went first. Serina thought of Abbas as a chess piece: Drake’s knight.

Only sheer luck allowed her to reinforce the entrance with the steel blast door. She somewhat regretted the action; Abbas was big, and he was pissed…

Aaren persisted in helping her defend the lab. She was moved, but aggravated at his defiance. An idea sparked in her head and the words escaped her breath.

“He’ll shift back to human form to follow you through the tunnel. You go first, you’re faster than me. I’ll lead him in and then detonate the tunnels to bury him. I’ll be right behind you, I promise…”

Aaren didn’t seem convinced, but he conceded, the reluctance on his face plain. They embraced each other as mother and son an ultimate time before parting. She and Aaren exchanged a glance before he made his descent into the tunnel.

He strolled off, but stopped and turned back.

“You’ll be right behind me?”

Serina nodded and faced her adversary as he caved in the door. Aaren continued through the tunnel and when Serina was sure he was gone, she gripped the detonator in her other hand. Abbas lowered his head to fit through the door and sauntered to her.

His skin was covered in armored sections from head to toe in dark onyx. Spikes extended from his arms and back. Two horns situated themselves on his monstrous head with bright, blood-red eyes. He snorted, blowing a puff of hot air that blew Serina’s hair. Her body trembled, and she nearly lost her grip on the detonator. Despite facing the precipice of death, she dumped the remaining shotgun shells into the monster’s armor.

Aaren heard three shots that preceded Serina’s terrible scream. He turned around and dashed back.

“MOM!”

An explosion blasted his body back, and the tunnel collapsed. He coughed as the dust and smoke cleared, followed by silence. He stood up, relieved to see himself uninjured. Another chain of explosions boomed above him, and more dirt fell from above.

His body reacted well before his mind could process anything. The chain of explosions pursued him, drawing closer with each boom. He summoned his uncanny abilities gifted by Drake and sprinted. Chips of stones and dirt flew past him and he saw light ahead. His body was airborne as he escaped the tunnel, fresh air and freedom greeting him.

The last explosion showered him in rubble as he curled into a ball. He opened his eyes and stood, checking his pocket for the USB. He felt its outline in his pocket and released a relieving sigh. The farm stood over the rolling hills a good distance away. In the other direction, over the horizon, stood the towers and skyscrapers of London. He unfolded his mother’s note and gasped.

It floated to the ground and Aaren stood there petrified…


9:59 a.m.

A jarring pain poked at Serina’s head, and she groaned. Two mercenaries dragged her through the sewers. Running water greeted her as they passed an entrance that led to a platform which overlooked four waterfalls. This was a section of the sewers, a maintenance tunnel where the overflow of water joined and dumped into one basin. From there, the water being already pre-treated would be further cleansed for redistribution.

She peeked beneath the catwalk where throbs of mercenaries made their home. Several columns surrounded them, reaching for a concrete sky several stories high. Flood lights illuminated the haven and water fell from above in light douses.

“I told you to kill her…”

She recognized that forbidding voice, and the marveling blue eyes before her, Drake.

“I thought she might be more useful alive,” Abbas said, his voice flat but apologetic. “Shall I kill her?”

Drake dismissed him with a wave. “No, you may go…”

Abbas and the other mercenary bowed. They released Serina, and she hit the metal floor face first. Drake continued to wrap bandages around his arms and wrists. His body glistened with sweat and the light monsoon that showered them. Serina found the strength to sit on her knees and glare.

Drake chuckled, and he bandaged his last arm. Serina gawked at the deep scars and burns that covered his back and torso. How could anyone have survived such gruesome wounds? She placed a hand on her side, where the blood had dried and the previous hole in it sealed.

“Serina Ackner,” Drake said, leaning against a rail and crossing his arms. “It’s been a long time. How’s the husband doing-?”

“Shut your fucking mouth!” Serina snapped.

The sudden outburst caused tremendous pain in her side. Drake’s icy blue eyes continued to survey her.

“Abbas was supposed to kill you and Aaren. Now, he’s led you to our home. I guess I have to do everything myself.”

“You’re a monster…” Serina murmured.

Drake raised a brow. He ambled over to her and knelt. “I wasn’t born a monster; the world made me into one.”

He walked away and took his spot against the catwalk again. He placed an armored vest over his body and tightened the straps around his sides. Now he looked like any other mercenary floating around the sewer. To top it off, he put on a dark trench coat; the same one gifted to him by Lyn and adjusted its collar.

Serina regarded him coldly. “You take away my sister; you threaten my son and try to kill me. Why are you doing this-?”

Her head turned sideways and blood drizzled from her nose. The smack resonated and caught the attention of the other mercenaries. They glanced at the platform and then returned to their duties. Serina covered the side of her face, now a hue of red.

“Don’t you dare use Anna against me like that!” Drake barked. “If I wasn’t for me they would have tortured her for a confession and burned her alive. Their only vindication being her red hair, that’s how the humans justified their acts.”

Serina lowered her head and wiped the blood from her nose. “She was my sister…”

“She was my wife. I loved her, and I had to watch her die. They made me watch…”

The catwalk’s rails bent under Drake’s strength.

“So, what happens next?”

Drake retrieved a blue paper from the workbench beside him, shielded by a plastic. He handed it to Serina, and she unrolled it. She studied it for a moment, intrigued, and shared a glance with him. Her expression was aloof.

“It’s a design for a breathing apparatus that pumps an anesthetic gas.”

Drake nodded. “I made the schematics myself, but no one builds as well as you do.”

“Who is it for?”

Drake looked away. “It doesn’t matter who it’s for…”

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