“Give it to me straight. I won’t hold it against you if you don’t want to join me on this.”
Storm watched the thin eyes of his partner as they surveyed the old warehouse across the neglected avenue.
“It is as you said, sometimes being partners is more important than the rules,” Drake said.
Storm’s confidence was barely lukewarm and growing colder by the minute. Or perhaps it was simply the heat of his rage evaporating away. Either way, a tiny voice of hesitation was starting to speak to him—this was not how cops did things anymore.
He knew he had his quarry trapped, unawares—a secret favor with a police technician friend had made this clear. And he knew Jasper Smith was responsible for Kirney’s death and the attack on his own apartment, though the investigation was still ongoing. The officers-in-charge were dragging their feet like they always did with the cult. Storm had to end things before another person was unjustly murdered.
“Abernathy, once you open the door for us you run, got it?” Storm said to the nervous man, “Hide in the car, or just get away, but don’t try to be a hero.”
“You’re sure you still have access here?” Drake asked.
“Why would they bother taking me off the system?” Ross said. “Who’d expect me to come here when they all want me dead?”
“Valid point,” Drake replied. “And you’re sure Smith is in there?”
“I am,” Storm said. “Trist ran a comms trace on him. Smith isn’t even trying to hide. He must think we wouldn’t dare attack his stronghold.” Storm turned to Ross. “What do you think will happen when they see him?” He asked, pointing to his alien partner.
“I’d plan for chaos,” Ross said.
Storm started to question how one could plan for such a thing as chaos, when he realized it was what he had done his whole adult life. The private investigations, the shotgun in the kitchen—they were all based on some expectation of disaster. He honestly hated to be right.
The warehouse was a large, two-story ground building, in a dirty area that had not seen much development since the war. Ross led them around the side of the building to a modern metallic door with a palm reader. Storm and Drake drew their pistols and readied themselves. Ross placed his hand on the reader and the door came to life, buzzing and sliding open. A gun barrel greeted them on the other side.
Before Storm could react, Ross shoved him aside. The blaster went off, filling the dim morning with electric green. Ross took the hit to his chest, twisting to the ground in an awkward heap. Drake sent a salvo through the door and rushed in. The sound of chaos was unmistakable.
“What the hell did you do?” Storm chastised the dying man.
“That book in your house…” Ross said under labored breaths, “said small hands move the world, right? These hands never did anything right before now…”
Life faded from Ross Abernathy’s eyes as a storm of gunfire and confused voices raged inside the warehouse. Storm dashed off to join his partner in the fray.
The door opened to a wide storage room, dimly lit by windows and weak florescent lighting. A metal stairway rose to the right, up to a balcony from which three gunmen fired down at Drake, who was hiding behind a makeshift metal shack on the ground floor. All around, men and women scattered like a broken herd, screaming of angels and holy wrath.
Storm swept into the room, grabbing the automatic blaster off the dead man on the ground. He raised it and sprayed a line of green up at the men on the balcony, hitting two and forcing the third into the cover of the upper room.
“I’m going up,” Storm screamed to his partner, “cover me!”
Drake nodded and fired a barrage of shots up at the open door of the upper room. Storm swung right and sprinted up the stairs, which clanked with each impact of his heavy boots. The detective’s long coat billowed in the open air and he had to place a hand on his hat to keep it from flying off.
Reaching the balcony floor, Storm ducked behind a metal crate to catch his breath. Two robed women ran by him and down the stairs, crying out in frantic fear. Satisfied that there was no more traffic coming his way, the detective snuck ahead towards the door. Drake ceased firing.
As Storm neared the edge of the door, the third gunman jumped out to the edge of the balcony, spraying green shots down at Drake’s position. By the time he noticed Storm, the man was tumbling off the balcony to the concrete floor below. Storm didn’t wait to hear the impact; he burst into the darkened room.
Jasper Smith was waiting for him, clothed in white robes and bathed in the glow of a dozen large candles. His back was turned away from Storm and his raised hand held a glass.
“Don’t think you have won detective,” Smith said with a distinct tone of disgust.
“The law isn’t about winning. You had a man killed, there needs to be a balancing.”
“Law? Your law doesn’t mean anything here. We answer to a higher law. God’s law.”
“There’s a Seraphim out there who would beg to differ.”
“He is a fallen beast, like Lucifer. His voice is deception.”
“Put the glass down, Smith. You’re coming with me.”
Jasper Smith turned to face the detective, pouring the contents of the glass into his mouth and tossing the empty vessel to the ground. It bounced to the far wall without shattering.
“What do you think you have accomplished here?” Smith asked with a smirk.
“I’ve shut down your insane little cult.”
“Is that what you think? How little you know. This place is but a tiny chapter in a global movement. You have stopped nothing. You will only force the rest of us to turn further inward.”
“What are you talking…”
Storm’s question was interrupted by a chorus of coughs and gags from Smith, who fell to his knees, clutching his throat. White foam oozed from his mouth, but his rebellious smile remained. After a few wild spasms, Smith fell to the ground dead.
Storm pressed his hand around his temples and muttered, “Fuck me.”
Many silent moments passed, the sound of fleeing people fading in the distance, before Drake appeared at the door.
“Chaos, indeed,” Drake said. “I hadn’t imagined it could be this bad. Is that Smith?”
“Yeah. He poisoned himself.”
“The captain is not going to like any of this.”
“Just tell him it was all me. You followed me here because I was acting strange…or something. Whatever you like.”
“No. I will not abandon you like that. You were right, these people were dangerous.”
“Are dangerous,” Storm corrected, looking his partner in the eye. “Smith said this was just a small group. There are more out there.”
Drake looked down at Smith’s body and sighed. “Maybe it is time for my people to take this issue more seriously.”
“I’d say so.”
Flashing lights and uniforms arrived to the scene soon after Storm and Drake reemerged into the morning sunlight. Ross Abernathy’s body was carted away respectfully, the three dead gunmen and their leader less so.
Storm tried to run the battle with the precinct captain through his head, trying to wargame the old alien’s attacks and how best to counter them. But he couldn’t focus; his mind continued to drift into the shadows where voices told him this would not be the end of it. He couldn’t help but agree with them.
Pulling his fedora down over his brow, Storm followed his partner to the car, leaving the frantic energy of the battlefield behind him.
*More stories set in the world of Storm Hamilton and the Seraphim can be found here: