1.7

Gargoyle 1.7

5.18.2024
The armoury was still pretty barren, with only two scoped Remington 700 bolt action rifles, and two cheap surplus AR-15s.
On the plus side, he had counted six ammo cans of 7.62×51, and six cans of 5.56×45.  Assuming they were all still full, that put the inventory at slightly more than six thousand each.  It seemed like a lot, but in an emergency Steve had seen people go through several hundred rounds per minute.  Even a couple hours of practicing could almost empty an ammo can.
It was a popular statistic that an estimated twenty thousand pounds of bullets were shot during the siege of Montreal in 2014.
The corner of the room closest to the door was occupied by the lockers, and a low privacy wall.  Two rows of four lockers each were back to back, with benches in front of them.  The rest of that was was divided between a long workbench and some toolboxes.
Boxes of ammunition components were scattered around, a quick glance over gave him the impression that there was  enough here for several thousand each of the popular military cartridges.
Steve debated bringing his own person guns down for a cleaning, but he knew if he did he would end up spending all day in here.  He could already feel his wallet aching at all the things he was getting the idea to buy.  Regretfully he left the armoury and grabbed his jacket.  The team environment was making him a bit nostalgic, and it was as good an excuse as any to head to the city’s contractor depot.
The train platform was mostly empty at the moment, only a handful of other people.  Steve tapped his ID card against the scanner and pushed his way through the turnstile.  The waiting area was partitioned into five sections, corresponding to the cars of the train and separated by two inch thick reinforced glass.  Outbreak prevention protocols limited how many people were allowed into each section to reduce the number of possible contamination vectors.
Long gone were the days where everyone would stand in a big crowd.  Steve remember what that had been like, the mob instinct to stampede that flared up every time someone coughed.  Some places had calmed down, others had stuck with it and never removed the “emergency measures”.  For a while there had been mandatory curfews and rumblings about outlawing unauthorized gatherings.  That had lasted not very long at all.  Public transit was one of the major holdouts, due to massively inflated budgets thanks to efforts to reduce road congestion.   The upside was that the trains didn’t stink like vomit anymore, they now smelled like bleach and disinfectant.
The depot was located on the north side of the river, clustered into several groups of large buildings.  The face of the ravine revealed how far underground it extended, descending all the way to the river bank two hundred feet below.  Various landing pads and balconies dotted the exposed face of the complex, with a small dock for water craft below.
As the train crossed the bridge a small flock of UAVs fluttered around it, observing in a multitude of visual spectrums from every possible angle.   Their data was being transmitted to the server clusters deep underground, compared against archived information to search for threats and hazards.
The entrance of the tunnel was surrounded by nozzles that sprayed disinfectant onto the train as it passed through.  Even though the train was sealed airtight Steve held his breath.  Those things freaked him out.
The tunnel was well lit, no shadows for anything to hide, let alone an Infected.  Cameras, motion detectors, thermal sensors, and pressure plates set into the floor all worked together to ensure that nothing entered unannounced.  Other, less visible devices would ensure that nothing uninvited ever left either.
As the train coasted into position at the station red, green, and yellow lights began flashing above the doors.  After a few seconds only green remained, and the doors opened with a puff of air as the positive pressure inside the train vented out.
A few years ago Steve had been on a train and the light stayed yellow.  It had taken almost two hours for the trouble to be sorted out and anyone was allowed off the train.  Red lights didn’t stay on very often, when they did very bad things tended to happen.
The depot itself was separated from the station by a wall of reinforced glass doors.  As normal, only the centre two were open, leading to a vacant hundred foot perimeter.  In an emergency, the entire chamber could be hermetically sealed, and filled with any number of things from aerosolized bleach to fast-hardening liquid cement.
Beyond all the security precautions the interior was almost disappointingly normal.  A few groups of people lounged around the reception area.  Some of them paid no attention to the outside world, a few paid too much attention.  As soon as Steve walked in a loose cluster of three guys started eyeing him up.  Freelancers, new ones by the look of them.  They were wearing immaculate uniforms and masks, painfully blatant in how cleanly groomed they were.  Steve had found that two types of contractors obsessed over their appearance that much, those with no experience, and the ones who were truly terrifying because they were proficient enough that they could afford to spend all that time making sure every crease and fold was perfect.
The trio were ever so casually resting hands on their holstered pistols, as if they needed constant reassurance that they were in fact allowed to do it.
Steve remembered back when he bothered with all that posturing and presentation, it had been a singularly unpleasant period of time.  Leaving those memories behind he walked into the depot armoury.  He tried not to come here while he didn’t have a contract, it was too cruel to look at all the things he couldn’t buy, and too expensive to afford the things he could buy.  Today he had a mission though, so he went straight through the public retail area and into the restricted access section at the back.  He needed to scan in with his ID, and the door’s camera squinted at his face for almost long enough to seem suspicious.  Then the door slid open, and gave everyone behind him a glimpse at the hidden treasure inside.
“Hello, somefink I help you with?”  An elderly man loomed behind the counter, stooped with age yet still head and shoulders above most men.  He spoke with a think Russian accent and wore glasses that were only marginally thinner.  After a moment of scrutiny he scowled, “Oh.  It you.  What you want?”
“Do you not love me anymore?”  Steve was genuinely concerned.
“You leave me alone.”
“I didn’t have a contract.  Or money.”
“Why you no have money?”
“You know damn well since I gave it all to you.”
“Yes.  You did.”  Then the old man smiled, showing as many missing teeth as a jack o’ lantern.  “It has been long time, even for me.  Come here.”
“No.”
Already the old man was reaching across the counter and with his deceptively thin hands clamped onto Steve’s jacket and pulled him in.
“I could stab you, old man.”  Steve wheezed as the elderly giant hugged him.
“You no have enough balls, little boy.”  Then the old man let him go and clapped him on the shoulder. “You will marry my daughter, Nika.”
“Nika is older than my mother, I’m not going to marry her.  Isn’t she still married to that Brian guy anyways?”
“Yeah, but I no like him.  You much better husband for Nika.”
“Okay, Ivan, I’ll think about it.”
Steve stepped back out of reach and glanced around.  This section hadn’t really changed much, the quantity of individual brands had changed but the overall amount of equipment was still here.  Guns, ammunition, body armour, and just about every other type of equipment a discerning contractor might need.
A few other folks were looking around, nowhere near the crush of the retail area.
“What you like?  You have money for me, yes?”
“Yeah, I found a new job.”
“Doing what?”
“Saving the world.”
Ivan made a disgusted noise and waved the idea away, “Okay hero, let me know how that works for you.  You need this.”  He pointed to a large beltfed machinegun displayed on the counter farther into the room.  A sign proclaimed that an extra crate of .50 caliber ammunition would get 25% off if purchased as a package, all for the low, low price of $7500.
Steve inspected it, and then hefted it at Ivan’s prompting, it had to weigh at least 30 pounds, and that was with no ammunition.
“I could save the whole goddamn world with this thing.”
“Is good.  You buy?”
Steve carefully set the rifle back down.
“Unfortunately not.  I need pistols, six of them, I’m thinking those trade in Glocks if you’re still selling those.”
“Why you want six?”
“One for each hand.  For some reason I’m team leader with this group, I need to get them equipped.  I’m thinking about taking them out for some team bonding.”
“You should kill Nazi.  Is good team bonding.  Will save world for sure.”
Steve had to stop and give Ivan a look.
“Have you been holding out on me?”
“Maybe.”
“Spill it, old man.”
“My memory is foggy.  I forget so many things.”  His eyes drifted over to the machinegun and he waggled his eyebrows.
“You are despicable.  I’ll call my boss.”
He got out his phone and called Blaithe.
“So, I have a possible source of information.  He says it has something to do with your line of interests.  Except he’s not going to talk unless he gets some money.”
“About how much money?”
Steve glanced around the armoury, “Umm, nine thousand? Yeah, nine.”
“Do you think the information is worth it?”
“I’ve known this guy a long time, we can trust him.”
“Okay.  Give me a minute and I’ll send you the money.  When I get back to the office I’ll need to talk to you.”
“Okay, thanks.”
Ivan laughed and clapped Steve on the back.
“Ah ha, nine thousand!  I like you.  Is good thing you don’t work for me.”
He waved over to one of the other men behind a different section of counter. “Come, come.  Put this in box, he is buying it!  I will get you lots of toy gun.”
Ivan went off into the back room to collect the pistols, and the other man began packing up the machinegun.
“Wow, I didn’t think he’d ever sell this.  What are you going to use it for, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I have no idea.”
After the money changed hands and the guns were packed up Ivan led the way to a small side office.  The walls of the office were covered in mementos from the past.  Mounted in a position of honour on the wall behind his desk was a life-scale poster of a much younger and superhumanly muscular Ivan standing triumphant above a battered and broken android.  The poster was signed by the photographer, Lens, and dated August 15th, 1962.
The old man rummaged through the shelves for a few moments before finding a ring with an eagle crest and an occult symbol on it.  He handed it to Steve, who held it up to the light.
“Okay, now I’m curious.  This was from The Thousand, right?
“Da.  Die Tausend.”  He indicated the poster behind him. “Not make me as famous as robots, but good fight.  They mostly all dead after fifties, but some move away so I not kill them.  By then The Thousand  mostly just hang in mother’s basement praying to devil.  No fun beating up wimp so I move to Canada to wrestle bear.
“Anyway I talk to my friend Dan last month and he says grandson Anton coming to visit.  Anton is in The Thousand, he some kind of supervillain or something now and want to summon devil and kill everyone.  Is stupid plan, not going to work anyways.”
“Why not?”
“Devil not going to come.  I already beat him up in Russia.”
“You beat up the Devil?”
“Da.  He not so tough.”
“Okay.  So do you know where this Anton kid is?”
“Da.  I will send you email.  Have good pictures.”  Ivan began typing on his computer.
“Who is this Dan guy you mentioned?  Is he German?”
“Is Nazi.”
“So why didn’t you kill him?”
“I retire.”  He shrugged,   “We play squash now.”
Steve just had to laugh. “Alright.  Thanks for the information.  I should get back to the office now.  It’s been good seeing you.”
“Da.  Come back soon, tell me about beating up Nazi.  If you see devil tell him I willing to do rematch, give him fair fight.”
Just then, Steve’s phone chimed, the email had arrived.  He opened the message, and contained within the various photos of soldiers and scientists and sorcerers were a few candid shots of a nude woman.  When Steve glanced over at Ivan the old man gave him a thumbs up.
“Is Anton’s mom.”
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4 thoughts on “1.7

  1. Votes on topwebfiction would be greatly appreciated.
    http://topwebfiction.com/?for=gargoyle

    Chapter 1.7 is up, concluding Arc 1. It also marks 998 views to date, which is about eleventy billion more than last month. I’m almost famous enough to start up one of those cam shows where I get naked for money.

    Also, I’ve been tinkering with the site layout. Hopefully there should be a menu at the top of the page, with buttons for Home, About, Index and Update Schedule, and Links and Promotions. For quite a while it was giving me one appearance on my computer, but another on my phone which I use far more often. Hopefully now the appearance should be universal.

    I’ve learned a few things about how to improve as a writer, a lot of that has to do with me spending too much time living inside my own head and forgetting to actually describe things since I’m the only one who can actually see these people.

    If anyone has any comments or critiques I would greatly appreciate them, a primary goal of this whole scheme is to become a better writer and I can’t do that by talking to myself.

    I’m also going to see if I can find where I left my artistic ability, and see if I can’t scratch out some sketches or maybe even some lineart.

    • He just sort of casually mentions that he beat the devil. Not really a big deal, just doing what anyone would do in that situation, right?

      • Part of what I’m aiming for here is a classic case of an old guy remembering his past with everything heightened to hyperbole. The other part is the idea of the Golden Age that took place between the 1930s and 1960s, where the heroes were larger than life.

        Some of the people back then did things that are still unrivaled today, seventy years later. If you haven’t heard of him yet, look up Leo Major, of the Canadian military. He single-handedly liberated an entire city and captured nearly a hundred enemy soldiers. This was after he lost one eye and decided that he only needed one eye to kick ass. Then he turned down a Distinguished Conduct Medal because he didn’t think the general presenting it was competent to be giving out medals.

        Those guys knew how to party back then.

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