- Author: Robert III
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Coyle and Fang: Curse of Shadows (Coyle and Fang Adventure Series, #1)
Coyle and Fang
Book one: Curse of Shadows
Robert Adauto III
Edited by Amanda Bidnall
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictionally.
The story takes place in historical San Francisco, 1892. For the purposes of the story, I have added fantasy and engineering elements which would be out of place in the real world given the time period.
Military vault Archangel
San Francisco, April 1892
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” quoted Drake as he stuffed a wad of chew into his lip.
“What’s that?” asked Gerrick, leaning down. His eight-foot, heavily-muscled frame was built like a freight train. Most ogrek were hairless, covered in tribal tattoos, and faithful to their employers, making them easy second in commands for special missions.
“Mail Pouch chewing tobacco,” Drake said. “It’s out of West Virginia. Want some?”
“Not that.” Gerrick waved his hand. “What was it you said?”
“Ah, that.” Drake folded the paper pouch and stuffed it into his pocket. “That was Robert Burns, a Scottish poet. Talking about things going wrong. It popped into my head just now, but it seems apropos.”
Gerrick squinted at Drake.
“It means appropriate given the situation,” Drake said while he chewed.
“Like something might go wrong?”
Drake nodded his head and spit a line of tobacco juice.
“Let’s hope not. Tonight’s not the night for things going wrong,” Gerrick said.
“Amen to that.”
There were twenty-four mercenaries in all, each of them armed with a bowie knife, carbine rifles and the combat skills to use them with efficiency. But no amount of muscle, armor, or weapons could prevent fate from dropping in. And it always did, unannounced and uninvited. But, as with all mercenaries, when there was a risk, there was a reward—and their pay tonight was more than enough to drive a man or ogrek to the edge of the abyss.
Their job was simple: break into a secret military storage warehouse, secure a very dangerous asset and get her out to the next objective.
Very simple. But not easy.
Drake was the perfect man for the job. He was one to plan very carefully and prepare for everything. He was given free rein to choose who, and how many, to take on this mission. The suggested number was ten, but he opted for twenty-four. Twice the number of the guards. He still felt as if he needed more.
Rain gushed from the night sky and drenched the mercenaries as they hid among abandoned storehouses and studied the scene with a careful eye. Their target warehouse was just ahead, a faded blue shadow through the torrential downpour. There were two sentries posted at the wrought-iron gate, but the rest were invisible. This was typical for a high-priority, top-secret installation. If a dozen guards were plainly seen on a regular basis, everyone would know it was a high-priority, top-secret installation. Best to pretend it was merely private property owned by the United States government. No trespassing. Move along.
Drake had received word that the veteran warehouse guards had been given a week off and replaced with fresh-faced, knock-kneed twigs, making them much easier to take down. After scouting the guard’s locations, Drake nodded. Gerrick gave the signal, and they advanced as a single unit: swift, silent and deadly.
They met and overpowered every guard before anyone could raise an alarm. One by one, their limp bodies were tossed over the railing into the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay with slit throats. Within moments, the mercenaries arrived at the gate and used forged keys to gain entry. The iron gates swung wide, and the men poured inside like water through a levee.
An automaton sentry waited just outside the main entrance, shielded from the rain by a canvas tarp. It was a simple, human-shaped mechanical apparatus with one purpose: to either grant access inside, or sound an alarm that would bring half of the US Army upon them. It swiveled to life and turned its small, circular head toward the group. A line of small bulbs on its head served as eyes. Its stainless-steel body pockmarked from exposure to the sun and briny ocean air. Three thin, multi-jointed arms hovered over various switches and buttons on a lighted control panel.
“Access key?” a mechanical male voice asked politely through a small rectangular speaker.
“Archangel,” Drake said. He spat a line of brown chew before he wiped his face with the back of his glove. Twenty-five years of chasing Comanche through the scrub and sun had made his skin leathery and worn. His time in the desert had also worn away his patience. He sighed and glared at the machine.
There were a series of mechanical clicks and taps before it replied, “Access granted.”
Its thin metal hand pulled a switch, and the armed men filed through the armor-plated double doors. A string of electric lights flicked on, and Drake glanced at a similar automaton sentry on the inside. Its shiny dome was powered off. He’d been assured the indoor sentry would not be an issue. He blinked and let his eyes adjust to the new light.
The warehouse was wide and tall and filled with endless rows of stacked wooden crates of all sizes. Most of the crates bore the symbol of the Templars painted in black. An occasional stray rat scampered through the man-made terrain, and by all appearances, it looked just like any other waterfront warehouse at Clark’s Point. But many of these warehouses were secretly owned by the government, and this particular one was especially “under the black”; so top secret most of the generals of the US had no knowledge of what lay therein.
Gerrick tapped the black symbol on one of the crates. “A dagger