Nighthawks at the Mission
by Forbes West
4.6 average rating from 18 reviews
In today’s universe, The Oberon is the last place a settler from the USA can find the American dream alive and well. Thousands of settlers have come to live in this mysterious land on another world accessed only by an energy portal in the South Pacific. Facing a hopeless future and betrayed by her long-time boyfriend, Sarah Orange is one of those who leave the Earth. Quickly she falls in with a group of illegal salvagers that operates at night in the empty ruins. Sarah risks death from both The Oberon’s corporate overseers as well as the indigenous beings who hate the settlers. With her life spinning out of control from drug addiction, Sarah searches for love and money in a world so close to – and yet so different from- our very own. But first, she must survive a terrorist threat that slowly begins to destroy her new homeland.
Excerpt from Nighthawks at the Mission by Forbes West
Your heartbeat and the footfalls of your companions echo through the temple’s tall, wide corridor. Guy asks you to take a look at your book’s map section. You look at it again. “Look for the correct passage to the donation room.”
The map reveals that there is indeed something called a donation room, down the massive hall and upstairs to the left. You explain the directions and all follow.
“Good, otherwise we’d be wandering and wandering,” Guy says. “These buildings can be such a maze.”
You stare at the frescoes decorating the inside of the temple, amazed at their beauty and detail and the outlandish events each one depicts. In one the Storm King has the world under his feet, crushing cities of unbelievers in little mushroom clouds. Another is the view at street level of human being after human being with bright green eyes drinking the blood of babies and of regular human beings. Another image shows Ni-Perchta entertaining humans by slaughtering each other in crazed gladiator events.
One scene really catches your attention though: a depiction of a human woman fighting another human woman who looks exactly the same — same face, same features. An old man with three faces watches the fight in front of a castle, with a black beast or dog.
You and the others walk up a flight of marble stairs. Moonlight streams in from broken glass windows lining the corridor.
Red eyes flash in the darkness ahead and then disappear. A ghostly reddish form darts from one part of the hall to the other. You stumble for a second, pausing as Treena and Winniefreddie scan the area with their Schufelt rays.
“I just saw red eyes. Red eyes right there.” Your friends unload their guns into the distance and drill bullet holes into the walls. You fire your carbine too; there is a ricochet sound and then you feel something fly by your ear. You hear a snuffle of something and then a dragging noise.
“Shit,” Treena says, reloading her gun. “Shit, shit. Snuffy.”
“Oh lawds!” Winniefreddie says with a nervous giggle.
You look dumbfounded and lift up your visor. “The hell is Snuffy?”
Guy snaps out his telescoping ori-baton again and starts to envelop the whole area in front of him in a blast of flame, burning away some of the frescoes and destroying thousands-of-years-old art and furniture. The flames die out after a moment as if turned off by some unseen switch. A small spark still emits from the end of his baton.
“Mr. Snuffleupagus,” Guy whispers.
“The hell did you just say?”
“You ever see Big Bird? Sesame Street? For years they said his imaginary friend wasn’t really there, but then they found his nest or something. Same idea here — people thought it was just the imagination of a few hawks but…”
You hear a long moan somewhere in the dark maze and your blood freezes. “Here we are, with a vicious creature with a stupid nickname.” You hear a couple of odd mewling calls, like a cat that’s been struck by a car. “Christ.”
Guy flips your visor down before you can. A slight scattering of ash descends from the ceiling; more comes down with each snort and snuffle from the darkness.
“Spooky, huh?” Winniefreddie waddles ahead of you before she pulls you closer to Guy. Your shadow suddenly drops back to be with you, after pausing for a moment.
At the end of the corridor, Guy finds a box — a green, glowing box with handles, ancient and high tech-looking all at once. A million wires cover it, snaking around and going inside. A couple of human skeletons are near it; one bony hand still clutches one of the handles. Guy snaps the hand off.
“Stasis box. Must’ve been trying to bring it to the shelter inside.” He checks the box and cracks his knuckles. “No lock.”
The girls cover him as he pops open the lid ever so slightly, a green glow emitting from the crack.
He smiles, lifting up a baton that had been left inside. It was definitely of the ancient style – silver, with a blue-green orichalcum stone in the shape of the Taurus zodiac sign embedded into the hilt.
“Animal control ori…Sarah, we just found ourselves a nice little stasis box. Can hold anything in perfect condition forever and ever. Worth, jeez, a lot. Okay. Oh-kay. This is more than good enough. Forget the donation room — there could be more Snuffies here.”