Not a good night for me. I’m miles away from getting back to my team, in a rain forest, during a monsoon, and being…followed…by something that’s managed to stay just outside of my ability to identify it. This adds up to me being very, very pissed off. Whatever’s on my trail is dangerous. Everyone who knows me knows how I deal with dangerous things — usually with the edge of my blade.
Shinobi is as shinobi does, I suppose.
Why Angel had us take a mission in one of the most volatile parts of Southeast Asia is beyond me. It boggles my ruthlessly honed ninja mind. Deal with a ring of poachers and smugglers working for a Dreamer from Sarnath, she said. It’ll be easy, she said. No one told any of us that they’d have Beings from Ib in their employ — Ghosts of a long dead species who revere a Dreamlord named Bokrug, beings who shame even me in stealth and sneakery. F***ing ghosts. We destroyed them, but the energy surge caused by their dissolution scattered us all across what used to be called Indochina.
Godless Cosmos, I hate that word, except when Marie uses it. Bastardized and promoted by purveyors of bad 1980s comic book and cartoon fiction everywhere, with no end in sight. Wait. How did I know that? Mindbleed again? Maybe, but it doesn’t seem to be from Angel. The ‘feel’ of that thought was different…
Push that out of mind for now. Back to my pursuer. Wait. There’s a village up ahead. Maybe I can find shelter from the storm…Collect my thoughts and find a way to rejoin my team, to ensure Marie’s safety.
Once I settle in, I can deal with whoever, or whatever’s, been shadowing me. Isn’t that a funny thought; a shinobi being shadowed. Me. The guy most shinobi wish they were…End that thought. Something’s wrong. This place looks incredibly run down. There are huge gaps in the roofing of these shelters, no smoke, no light. No people. This place is abandoned. Futz. My mood just got ten shades darker. I’ll take particular care to make what’s trailing me hurt extra badly when I fillet it.
I smile as I see a figure emerge from the forest into the same clearing. I begin speculating on amusing ways to prolong his agony…
Wait. Not him, it. It’s not human. Looks human, but the movement’s all wrong, like the control of an intoxicated puppeteer who’s never seen humans move before. No, not a zombie. Even zombies have better coordination than that. My mind generates a list of things that might match what I’m seeing, as the figure stops just twenty feet from me and raises both hands to its head — removing the top of its cranium to reveal — I suppress the urge to get ill as a lightning flash shows me — the thing crawling out of its braincase, three pale green eyes looking tonfas at me.
Double futz. It’s a Feaster. With an animated cadaver for a disguise. There’s a damn Feaster after me. Where’s a flamethrower when I need one?
To be continued…