Mega 4: Behemoth Island (9 page)

BOOK: Mega 4: Behemoth Island
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Kinsey looked up and the shadow of Dr. Logan loomed over her. He seemed a thousand feet tall even when he crouched down close to her. His hand went to her forehead and she shivered at his touch, her nerves on fire.

“Dammit,” Dr. Logan said from a million miles away. “Harley! Come help me! She’s going into tachycardia! Oh, shit! Now’s she seizing!”

Kinsey tried to speak, but her jaw felt like heavy iron and she couldn’t get it to move.

“Just try to relax,” Dr. Logan said. “We’ll get you stabilized and somewhere safe. Just hold on. Don’t you quit on me.”

“I…don’t…quit,” Kinsey growled through gritted teeth, forcing the words with all of her will.

“That’s good,” Dr. Logan sighed. “Because our facilities are far from ideal. You refusing to quit may be all that saves your life.”

 

***

 

The boulders were nothing but vague shapes in the night’s darkness. The moon had set and the jungle hung over the huge stones like a shroud. Team Grendel pulled up and studied the boulders for several seconds, keeping a safe distance, before they cautiously moved in closer.

Thorne gestured for Shane and Lucy to each take a side and circle the boulders as he and Darren waited, their eyes scanning the shadows and darkness that surrounded them all.

Night noises were everywhere, sounds that Thorne couldn’t identify, and with every squawk and screech, his muscles tensed even further. If he didn’t get a chance to put his back up against something solid and relax, he was afraid he’d snap a tendon just standing there.

Lucy came around from one side then Shane came from the other side. They both shook their heads and looked up at the boulders. Thorne assessed the best route to climb up by and he snapped his fingers to get their attention. He shook his head and the two operators walked back to him.

Shane gave him a quizzical look, but Thorne just shook his head. He turned about then found a fist-sized stone on the ground a few feet away. He picked it up and bounced it in his hand a few times before he drew his arm back and chucked the stone up into the boulders. It clacked and conked, stone on stone, then fell silent.

There was a thunk and a loud grunt. Then another thunk.

Shane’s shoulders dropped and Lucy balled her fists while Darren only stood there, his eyes locked onto the boulders, his head cocked and listening. Thorne grumbled and took a deep breath, his anger rising as he realized their chance at finding a hide was shot to shit. Something was already in there.

The snapping of a twig drew his attention away from the growing disappointment and he spun about, the rest of Team Grendel following suit. Bodies tense and ready for a fight, the four operators waited, senses on high alert.

Another twig snapped, but it was a few yards to the right of the first noise. Then a third snapped, several yards in the opposite direction. A rustle was heard from behind them, but it sounded like something had been thrown, not like something was actually there. Thorne sighed.

“They’re fucking with us,” Darren whispered.

“I know,” Thorne whispered back.

“What kind of animals fuck around like that?” Shane asked.

“Human animals,” Thorne said. He cleared his throat. “Might as well show yourselves. You obviously want us to know you’re there.”

Nothing. No twigs snapped, nobody stepped out from behind a palm or pushed aside a fern. Thorne didn’t expect them to. It was obviously a game. He’d been soldiering for long enough to know when a combatant wanted to mess with you. He just didn’t have the patience to deal with it anymore.

“Listen, we aren’t here to hurt you,” Thorne said. “We haven’t invaded the island to take it over or anything. We’re stranded like you are. All we want to do is figure out what happened and how we can help.”

“And how we can get the fuck away from here,” Shane added, his voice low and directed at Darren.

“No shit,” Darren agreed.

“Two over there,” Lucy whispered, nodding her head to the left. “By those whatever they are plants. One short, one tall.”

“I see them,” Thorne said. “Darren? Shane?”

“I don’t see any others,” Darren replied.

“Me neither,” Shane said.

“You two,” Thorne said loudly, turning to address the figures standing by a set of thorny bushes that looked like cacti crossed with orchids. “I’m Commander Vincent Thorne of the Beowulf III. We came here with a man called Ballantine. He sent us—”

Before he could finish the figures ducked back into the deep darkness, lost from everyone’s sight. Team Grendel waited, but they didn’t reappear anywhere.

“Maybe dropping Ballantine’s name wasn’t such a good idea,” Lucy said. “The man doesn’t exactly make many friends.”

“These are supposed to be his people,” Thorne said. “If they survived the blast then they should be happy we have showed up. We’re here to rescue them.”

“Since when?” Shane asked then winced as Thorne slugged him hard in the shoulder. “Ow.”

“That is our mission,” Thorne growled. His voice was raised loud enough for anyone in close proximity to hear. “We came to the island with Ballantine to check on the facility. Once we saw the destruction, we switched the operation to a rescue mission.”

“Right,” Shane said. “I got confused. Forgot the mission had changed when we saw the facility thingy all explodey and shit.”

“Jesus,” Thorne said quietly. “Can you sound like more of an idiot?”

“I can try,” Shane said. “Give me a second.”

“We don’t have one,” Darren said, his voice serious. “More on our three.”

The Team turned to face their right and saw six figures framed against the dark foliage. They all held something long in their hands.

“Ballantine?” a voice asked. It was a woman’s voice, but there was something wrong with it. It sounded thick, choked, like she hadn’t spoken in a while. “Ballantine?”

“Yes. Ballantine,” Thorne answered. “We came with him.”

“Where?” the woman asked.

“He’s not here now,” Thorne said. “He’s back on the ship.”

“The ship?”

“Yes.”

“Ballantine on ship?” the woman asked, her thick voice taking on a hint of excitement.

“Right,” Thorne said, interpreting the excitement as the woman’s happiness at the possibility of being rescued. “We have rafts on the beach we can use to get all of you off this island.”

“Raft,” the woman stated.

Thorne frowned in confusion. “I’m sorry?”

“Raft,” the woman said. “No rafts. Raft.”

“No, we have two rafts on the beach,” Thorne said. “The only problem is we got turned around in this damned jungle. If you lead us back to the beach then we can get you to the ship.”

“And Ballantine,” the woman responded.

“Yes…and Ballantine,” Thorne replied. The hair on his neck stood on end.

“Vincent?” Darren said.

“I know,” Thorne said. “Doesn’t feel right, does it?”

“Not even close,” Darren said.

Team Grendel waited. The figures waited.

“Uh, we can take you to Ballantine,” Thorne pushed when the woman didn’t speak for a full minute. “We just need to get—”

“Ballantine come here,” the woman said.

The figures lifted their arms as one and there were the sounds of several small coughs.

Thorne slapped at a sudden, sharp pain in his neck. He found something sticking from his skin.

“Motherfucker,” Shane said next to him.

Thorne pulled the thing from his neck and looked down at it, barely able to make out what it was because of the darkness.

A dart.

Thorne was about to agree with his nephew, but he quickly found his lips and tongue going numb. Then the rest of him went numb and he collapsed onto the ground, landing in a pile with Team Grendel. He expected unconsciousness to follow, but it didn’t, just a full body numbness that spread and spread until he didn’t even know if he was breathing or not.

A face leaned down and got right in his. Thorne wasn’t sure if it was a side effect of whatever the dart had on it or not, but the face looked very strange. Thick, thick brow, heavy cheekbones, a protruding jaw. It took as a second for Thorne to realize he was looking at a woman, despite the tufts of hair that sprouted from random places on the face’s cheeks and chin.

“Ballantine come here,” the woman said and grinned.

Her teeth were razor sharp and they filled her mouth with violent menace.

 

 

Chapter Five- Someone’s Lost Their Shit

 

Ballantine sighed.

It was a heavy, bored sigh. One that started at the top of his head and spread down to his toes. It was a sigh he was quite practiced in making.

He held a suppressed .45 in each hand, their grips cold against his palms despite the heat that permeated the below decks sections of the Beowulf III. Not having a working engine meant not having a working generator which meant not having air conditioning.

Ballantine was sick of not having air conditioning.

Yet, despite the lack of cold air, Ballantine maintained his normal cool and calm composure. He walked the length of the corridor, his ears sharp, his eyes narrowed, and the pistols ready. He knew there were intruders on board. He always knew when there were intruders on board. Ballantine made a point of knowing every single movement, every last detail, every bit of information pertaining to the goings on of the Beowulf III.

Not knowing would just be stupid. Ballantine was not stupid.

There was a loud creak down at the end of the corridor and Ballantine stopped walking. He pressed himself against the grey metal wall and waited, his eyes penetrating the red gloom that the emergency lights provided. Again, without a generator, there could be no full illumination. The crew had to settle for small, red bulbs powered by a meager bank of solar cells and batteries that the elves had rigged up, even though they had full power in the Toyshop.

Ballantine didn’t begrudge them that. The Toyshop was essential to survival. Without the many gadgets and gizmos Carlos, Ingrid, and Moshi produced, the B3 and its crew, including Team Grendel, would be sitting ducks in a world that wanted them very dead. During the day, they diverted some of their esoteric power (he had no idea what apparatus they used to generate it with) to the other decks, but during night they cut off the trickle of electricity. No need to waste it while folks should be sleeping.

Which was what the entire crew seemed to be doing. Sleeping. Or that was how Ballantine found them. Knocked cold where they had dropped, small handmade darts sticking out expertly from their necks. Whoever was on board, they knew how to use a blowgun.

Too bad for them, Ballantine knew how to use real guns. Which he raised and took aim as a hunched shape crept slowly from the hatch at the end of the corridor.

“Do not shoot me, Ballantine,” Ronald whispered. Or tried to whisper. His voice was too deep and powerful to really be considered quiet. “I know you are ready to.”

“Ronald,” Ballantine sighed, but the sigh was one of relief, not exasperation at having to play hide and seek on his own ship. “I almost pulled the triggers.”

“You were half a second from doing so,” Ronald said as he stretched to his full height, the top of his hairy head scraping the corridor’s ceiling. The compact spaces of a ship were not ideal for a gigantopithecus. “I could hear the tension in your finger and smell the surge in adrenaline.”

“You could smell me that fast from that distance?” Ballantine asked. “Impressive.”

“Not particularly,” Ronald said, but did not elaborate as to why. “Are you the only one awake?”

“I’m afraid so,” Ballantine said, walking towards the Bigfoot-like creature that was quite possibly smarter than ninety-nine percent of the human population on Earth. “How did you escape the attack?”

“I didn’t,” Ronald replied. “I took three darts to the jugular. They obviously have experience with non-human creatures. Unfortunately for them, my kind can burn through neurotoxins at a highly accelerated rate.”

“Were you in Gunnar’s lab?” Ballantine asked as he reached Ronald, tucked a .45 under his armpit, and extended his right hand.

“I was,” Ronald said, enveloping Ballantine’s hand in his own and giving it a healthy shake. “Boris, Gunnar, and Lisa are still there. I checked their vitals and they are stable, but will probably be unconscious for several more hours. I have secured the lab and the intruders will not be able to harm them.”

“Have you made it to the upper decks?” Ballantine asked, retrieving the pistol from his armpit and wincing at the moistness on the grip. He was not as calm and cool as he had thought. That bothered him. “Have you found any of the rest of the crew?”

“I have not, to answer both questions,” Ronald said. “As soon as I took care of two of the intruders, I came looking for you.” He tapped his wide-nostrilled nose. “You were not hard to find.”

“Took care of two intruders?” Ballantine asked. “Any chance they are available for interrogation?”

“I’m afraid not,” Ronald said, shaking his massive head. “While I may be a highly rational being, I am also a creature of great emotion. Seeing Boris fall to the ground, along with my new friends, may have stirred the more primal inclinations in my behavior.”

“You tore them apart,” Ballantine stated.

“Yes,” Ronald nodded. “Yes, I did.”

“Good for you,” Ballantine said. “Uninvited guests on my ship must not be allowed to go unpunished.”

“I have to say I didn’t particularly enjoy the actions,” Ronald admitted. “Made me feel dirty, like I cheated.”

“Kind of like bringing a couple pistols to a dart fight?” Ballantine asked, a smug sneer on his face. “We do what we have to, Ronald.”

Ballantine and the Bigfoot stood there for a second.

“I’m going to have to rely on your senses,” Ballantine said. “I’m pretty sharp myself, but I believe you should guide us to the main deck.”

“Of course,” Ronald said as he turned back towards the hatch he had just come through. “There are six more on board, if my senses are correct.”

“I am confident that they are,” Ballantine said.’

“We should encounter three shortly,” Ronald said, his head cocked. “I believe they may even be able to hear us and are coming this way right now.”

“Hear us?” Ballantine asked. “Are they on this level?”

“No, they are not,” Ronald replied.

“Then how can they hear us?” Ballantine asked. “I know sounds can carry and echo on a ship, but we are speaking quieter than a normal conversational tone. Even with the vent system they shouldn’t hear us.”

“Oh, of course,” Ronald chuckled. “I forgot to mention that our intruders do not appear to b
e
Homo sapien
s
. At least, not anymore.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, it is so,” Ronald said. “I am only guessing here, but I would wager that they are in the Cro-Magnon family. Possibly Neanderthal. I must apologize for my inability to say for sure. You’d think my knowledge of hominids would be sufficient to tell, but there are too many anomalies with these intruders.”

“Yes, I was afraid of that,” Ballantine said then saw the look on Ronald’s face. “No, not at your confusion. I was afraid that more than just simple animal life had appeared on the island.”

“I would hardly call the creatures that we have seen simple, Ballantine,” Ronald responded. “But then I am sure you are only being your reductionist self.”

“That I am, my friend,” Ballantine said. “That I am.”

“So, is our plan to engage the intruders or avoid them?” Ronald asked.

“Hmmm, good question,” Ballantine said. “I say we avoid them and check on the rest of the crew as we make our way topside.”

“Fine plan,” Ronald said. “I do not relish another encounter where I must rip more limbs off. I enjoy it too much, I believe.”

“You and me both, Ronald,” Ballantine said. “You and me both.”

 

***

 

The raft quietly bumped against the hull of the Beowulf III as Darby secured it as tight as she could with a set of magnetic clasps specifically designed for situations where a drop ladder was not available.

“Where’s the other raft?” Max whispered. “Did they board on the port side?”

“No,” Darby replied, nodding back towards the island. “They went back.”

“They passed us in the bay?” Max asked. “How the hell did they do that?”

“They are good,” Darby said and left it at that.

“Well, shitty shit shit,” Max said. “I guess we’ll have more company soon.”

“I guess we will,” Darby said. “You up for climbing?”

“I was born up for climbing,” Max said as he craned his neck and looked at the railing that was quite a few meters above them. “If I’m not up for it, you’ll mock me forever and that’s just no fun.”

“Fun for me,” Darby said. She leaned in and gave Max a kiss.

“That was a surprise,” he said. “Usually you are all business on an op.”

“This is not a usual op,” Darby said. “And I’m getting very sick of business.”

“Don’t let Ballantine hear you say that,” Max laughed.

“Who do you think I plan on telling him next?” Darby said.

“Well, shut my mouth and call me Lenny Bruce,” Max smiled. “My killer ice queen is thawing right out.” He swallowed hard. “I just totally ruined the moment with the ice queen thing, didn’t I?”

“Yeah,” Darby replied.

“I did preface it with killer, though, so that should get me points,” Max said in a pleading whine.

“You are so far in the point hole that it barely matters,” Darby said.

“Point hole,” Max snickered.

“Climb, dumbass,” Darby ordered.

“You talk so sexy,” Max responded, giving her an exaggerated wink.

He did as he was told and placed his palms to the ship’s hull, letting the magnetic properties of his compression suit activate until he had a solid grip. Hand over hand, foot over foot, Max climbed quietly up the hull until he reached the bottom of the railing. Slowly, trying to match the rhythm and rocking of the ship, Max peeked over the edge.

Two shadows crouched across from him, hunkered down by the superstructure. If Max hadn’t known the ship as well as he did, having spent every moment on it for over a year, he probably would have missed the crouched figures. But to his trained sniper’s eyes, they stood out as if they had neon arrows flashing and pointing down at them.

When Darby reached him, he nodded in the figures’ direction and she turned. He knew she saw them. She was Darby.

They dipped down in unison and moved hand over hand sideways until they were behind the figures’ lines of sight. Darby raised her chin at Max and he rolled his eyes, but obeyed and climbed up over the railing first.

The figures were waiting for him.

“Oh,” he said. “Hi there.”

They stood a couple meters away, their dark eyes locked onto Max, their heavy brows furrowed, their muscled bodies tense and ready to strike.

“I’m guessing you guys have the same parents,” Max said, trying to act casual as he straddled the railing, giving Darby time to do whatever Darby was going to do. “Are you brothers? I bet you’re brothers. You know, I have a brother. Some folks think we’re twins, but we aren’t.”

Max didn’t know what made him jump off the railing and roll across the deck. That sniper’s instinct that could feel crosshairs trained on him. Or maybe he just got spooked and didn’t want to wait for the Brow Bros to make a move. Whatever the reason, he tucked his shoulder and hit the deck just as several darts flew past where he had been sitting.

The Brow Bros had him by the arms before he could even roll to a stop. They picked him up as if he was a child, lifting him high into the air, and started moving in opposite directions.

“No make a wish!” Max yelled. “No make a wish with Max!”

Two shots rang out and the Brow Bros dropped Max. He hit the deck hard and scrambled away, grabbing a pike that was strapped to the railing. He was up and brandishing the pike, making sure the hooked end was between him and the Brow Bros. Not that it mattered.

The Brow Bros fell to their knees, most of their heads missing. They collapsed face first, revealing Darby standing behind them, a Desert Eagle gripped in her hands.

“What the fuck?” Max asked.

“Lake has these stashed all over the ship,” Darby said. “After the Monkey Balls incident, he said he didn’t ever want to be more than five feet from a firearm at all times.”

“You know where another is?” Max asked.

Before she could answer, she spun about and fired three times up towards the bridge. There was a scream, guttural, primal, and a body fell fast and hard, its limbs snapping and twisting as it hit the deck a couple feet from where Darby stood. It had a blowgun clenched in one fist and the weapon snapped as easily as the body’s legs.

“What’s with the blowguns?” Max asked.

There were shouts from below and Max pulled his eyes from the broken body and looked at Darby.

“Hello, where’s another pistol?” Max asked.

“Lifeboat,” Darby said, nodding behind Max. “Not a pistol.”

Max didn’t wait for her to clarify as he ran to the lifeboat and pulled back the cover. There, in all its beautiful glory, was a classic Winchester 30-30 repeating rifle. Max nearly cried when he saw it. It was like an old friend had showed up to help kick some ass. Memories of the years he and his brother had spent shooting his dad’s rifle flooded his mind.

As poignant as it was, Max didn’t let the memories slow him down. He grabbed up the rifle, chambered a round, and put the butt to his shoulder. He methodically moved the rifle back and forth, scanning the rest of the ship for threats, but saw none. When he reached Darby, the two were ready to take on whatever came at them from below.

BOOK: Mega 4: Behemoth Island
12.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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