Read Resistance Online

Authors: John Birmingham

Resistance (page 2)

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‘That’s because it’s their job to look cool. But they are not cool, Dave. They are a thousand miles from cool. You think She-Ra managed to survive in the Outback because she’s cool? No, she survived because she’s a life-sucking hellspawn who uses kittens for sanitary pads. Can’t you use some of your superhero speed to put your fucking pants on? I’m going to lose my job if we’re not there five minutes ago.’

‘Okay, okay,’ he muttered, putting on a burst of speed which, far from helping, put them even further behind the clock when he tore the new pair of Levi’s as though they were made from wet tissue paper.

‘Shit,’ said Dave. ‘Tore my jeans.’

‘It’s a headshot,’ Foxy fired back at him. ‘We don’t need the pants. Let’s go. Get a bathrobe.’

‘Mine’s wet. In the hot tub.’

And that was how Dave Hooper, American superhero, found himself hurrying through the corridors of the Bellagio Hotel, without pants, but wearing a dry towel and the fetching black silk blouse of a sleeping Saudi princess as a concession to modesty.

They headed for the double doors leading into the hallway where he found Chief Petty OfficersZach Allen and Harley ‘Igor’ Gaddis. The Navy SEALs were dressed in dark polos and khaki cargo pants with pistols at their hips and Oakleys on their mugs. They were talking about firearms while sipping coffee. Seated in comfortable chairs they did not give the appearance of being on guard duty. Dave noticed for the first time that Igor sported a simple wedding band on one of the thick dowel rods the man called a finger. Or rather, it wasn’t that he noticed the gold ring, but he attended to it for the first time as Igor lifted his coffee mug to drink. Dave rubbed at the smooth skin of his own ring finger. The imprint of his discarded wedding band was almost faded. Almost.

‘I’m thinking an Alexander Arms fifty cal might do the job,’ Igor said. ‘Just swap out the upper receiver and away you go. Better than trying to haul a Barrett around.’

‘Yeah,’ Zach said, taking note of Dave and Foxy without making any comment. ‘You’d lack the range of a Barrett and I don’t know that I want a bunch of those monsters turning my legs into drumsticks while I’m changing mags. Mornin’ Dave. Ma’am.’

‘When did you guys come on shift?’ Dave said, trying to act as though he emerged from luxury suites dressed like a transvestite every morning.

‘Six,’ said Zach. ‘Busy night?’

‘Up all night, am I right?’ He winked at Foxy.

‘Ma’am, I can shoot him, if you please?’ Igor said to the producer, who just shook her head.

‘After my live cross,’ she said, taking Dave by the arm as she worked her cell phone, requesting the concierge deliver a light blue business shirt to the hotel’s media centre ASAP.

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you, Armando. I love you, babe. And I owe you. Big time. Yes, it’s for Dave. Something stylish, but not too gay, no offence. No, I can’t give you a size. You’ve seen him. Make your best guess. And bring a couple of sizes on either side of that. Big through the neck and chest, narrow at the waist. Yeah, your basic male stripper.’

‘I was a stripper once,’ Igor supplied, trying to be helpful and possibly make some ground. Foxy ignored the six foot four SEAL completely.

‘Igor, one night drunk in a Manila strip club does not make you a Chippendale. It just makes you a little sad,’ Zach said, tapping his mike. ‘Asset mobile, overwatch in close order.’

Dave might have objected save for the fact he was hurrying down the hallway in his undies, a towel and a princess blouse, escorted by Igor and Zach, all of them whipped along by a small blonde hurricane, herself kitted out in nothing more than bed hair and the sole surviving waffle-weave bathrobe from Dave’s suite. Always a leg man, Dave was enjoying the sight of her brown calves and dainty ankles as she hurried on ahead of him. The robe was short enough that the slight H-shaped folds of skin on the backs of her knees were visible. He had always found that sight powerfully arousing, and he glanced to either side of him at his military escort to see if either of those good old boys were enjoying the view.

Igor looked pained. So enticing, so close and yet so far away.

Zach, on the other hand, smiled for a ghost of a second.

‘Dude, what would Sammy think?’ Zach whispered.

‘You know that’s not me. And Sammy’s cool,’ Igor said, trying to sound unrepentant.

The married man, Dave thought. You could always tell them by the clinking of the ball and chain.

Foxy finished her call to Armando the concierge, decelerating to drop back beside Dave but only to take hold of his arm and speed up again, dragging him along. It was early enough that most of the hotel guests were either still in bed or hanging on grimly at the gaming tables. The breakfast traffic hadn’t started up yet and Dave and his escort moved down the hallway toward the elevators without having to dodge around tourists or conventioneers.

‘You need to get up on what’s happened, Dave,’ Foxy said. Dave was aware of the feel of her hip against his, and was way more interested in getting up on Foxy than the news. ‘Normally this first interview would be all about you, but after last night they’re going to want to ask you about the dragons, and the demons, especially if they’re busting out all over, like the one in New York, and they’re going to want to know what people can do to protect themselves.’

Dave almost stopped in his tracks and Igor had to swerve to avoid running into him.

‘There were Horde in New York?’ he asked as they got moving again with a few excuse-me’s and apologies.

‘Yes,’ said Foxy. ‘What, they didn’t mention that onThe Dukes of Hazzard?’

‘Shit,’ he said. ‘I didn’t know. That sucks. Anyone hurt?’

‘It was only one of them, as best anybody knows. And it jumped into the middle of some FBI thing. Totally unrelated. Got cut down pretty quick, but there were some people killed, some more injured.’

He hadn’t seen or heard anything of New York, but then he had been distracted and there was more than enough monster news from New Orleans, and now with the dragons, that maybe a lone monster didn’t rate the front page anymore.

‘The Feds locked down the scene,’ she said as they weaved through a couple of housekeeping carts. ‘They blacked out all the surrounding phone calls going in, and put all the witnesses into protective custody. Or quarantine or some shit. Hardly matters. No visuals, no witnesses, no story. And we got plenty of orcs and dragons to go around. So, what you got for us on that?’

‘But I don’t know shit aboutdar Drakon,’ Dave said, dropping into the old language without thinking about it.

‘What’s that?’ Foxy asked, turning to him but not stopping. ‘What did you call them?’

Dave had to think about it for a second. ‘Dar Drakon,’ he repeated, a little slower and more thoughtful this time. ‘That’s what the Hunn call them.’

‘Cool,’ said Foxy. ‘Right there, you can talk about that, everyone’s calling these things dragons, except for the freaks who think they’re like mystical visitors or some shit. You tell us that the real name is that Day-crone thing and right away we got a news lead. What else can you tell me about them? No. Hold that thought. You need to get across your brief.’

‘My briefs?’ Dave asked playfully as they pulled up in front of the elevator. She ignored him.

‘What a dick,’ Igor sighed.

‘I know, right?’ Foxy said, taking proper notice of Igor for the first time. ‘And yet. . .you know.’ She sighed, and shrugged. ‘What a dick.’

Igor nodded.

‘Come on, Dave,’ Zach said, sounding peeved. ‘Some of us didn’t get to party in the Frank Sinatra suite. Which floor?’

‘Down on five,’ Foxy said. ‘They’ve set aside a lounge for us.’

Long before the doors of the elevator opened on a large party of drunken frat boys, Dave could hear them coming. Or at least Dave took them to be drunken frat boys. Maybe they were drunken software millionaires. Who knew these days? They were already pretty rowdy but as soon as one of them laid eyes on Dave, they erupted.

‘Holy shit! You’re that guy. Super Dave. You kicked fuckin’ monsterassdown in N’Orleans, dude.’

‘Don’t encourage the egomaniac, please, sir,’ Zach said.

‘Why yes, son. Yes I did.’ Dave grinned at the boys.

‘DAVE!’ they shouted at once, and it was much better than being blamed for an explosion and a fire that had nothing to do with him.

Foxy cursed under her breath, Zach and Igor both broke out of character to roll their eyes and the frat boys erupted in cheers and hoots. Mostly for Dave, but in one confusing case somebody let go with a loud, lingering shout-out for some guy called ‘Leroy’. They poured out of the elevator in a sweaty, masculine wave punching Dave on the shoulder, slapping him on the back, trying to do the same with the SEALs who had kicked a lot of monster ass too. A couple of the boys finally paid some attention to Foxy, standing there in her little Bellagio signature waffle-weave bathrobe looking fit to blow steam from her ears.

‘Autographs, man. We need autographs.’

‘No. Beers. We need breakfast beers with Super Dave.’

‘Sooooooper Dave!’

‘Woot woot woot.’

‘Later, boys, later,’ Foxy cried out over the uproar. ‘You can have all the beers with Super Dave later. Right now he’s got some very important TV to do.’

‘Awesome,’ one of the drunken frat boys said, ‘What TV?’

‘Fox and Friends, guys. He’s going to be onFox and Friendsin just a few minutes. Get on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, tell everyone you met him and where he’s gonna be. Then go back to your rooms, turn on your TV.Fox and Friends,’ she repeated, slowly. ‘Hashtag it. He’ll do his bit to camera then I’m sure he’dloveto have breakfast beers with all of you, isn’t that right, Dave?’

In truth, all Dave wanted was to get Foxy back to his hotel suite so he could do this take-charge piece of ass like her old man owed him money.

All of his appetites were running hot; had been since he’d recovered from the first real fight with the Hunn, in New Orleans.

Foxy prevailed upon Zach and Igor to gently remove the drunks from the elevator door, which was madly pinging in protest at being held open so long. The SEALs tried to manoeuvre Dave inside, suffering a slight delay while he posed for a few selfies with the bros, which they promised to hashtag as #SuperDave.

‘Breakfast beers later, fellas, for sure,’ he promised, waving them off. They cheered and hooted him some more as the doors began to close on them, still calling out a few final questions.

‘Dave, you eating downstairs? Don’t go there, man. They ran out of waffles.’

‘Dave, are you wearing that chick’s nightie?’

‘Dave, is that like a super boner?’

The doors of the elevator whispered shut on peals of laughter and the four grown-ups all pretended not to notice the massive erection testing the structural integrity of Dave’s Y-fronts.

Igorpunched the button for the fifth floor and they rode down in awkward silence before Dave could stand it no more. ‘So, I’ve never been on television before.’

‘Don’t worry,’ said Foxy. ‘The camera won’t show anything below the waist.’

‘Give me strength, Lord,’ Zach muttered.

‘We can totally shoot him,’ Igor offered again. ‘He’ll probably get better.’

‘No one is shooting anyone until I’ve had my live cross,’ said Foxy, powering up the screen of her phone again and flipping through some sort of list on-screen.

‘Right. Dave. We’ll cover New Orleans after the first break, but there were six dragon attacks last night. And that’s leading everything today. Two of these things were killed. The one that attacked Joe Biden’s plane was shot down, I guess, by the escort.

‘Another one seems to have ridden an American Airlines passenger jet all the way into the ground. As best we can tell the other four knocked their targets out of the sky and then disappeared. Where the fuck you hide a dragon these days, I have no idea. But they’ve gone to ground somewhere.’

Dave thought on this for a moment.

‘Prey,’ he said at last. ‘They weren’t targets. They were prey. You know, like an eagle or a hawk taking a big fat pigeon.’

They all stared at him as the elevator dropped through another six or seven floors.

Igor faced Dave. ‘They were trying to eat Joe Biden’s plane?’

‘Probably hungry,’ Dave said. ‘Been a long time between feeds.’

‘Okay, we can go with that,’ said Foxy. ‘But let’s not get carried away with the Biden angle. We don’t want to turn him into some kind of victim, or a hero for fuck’s sake, not for just. . .not getting eaten. We got lots of good, innocent dead people on those other planes. Lots of dead dragon chunks too. We might push that. Anything you can tell us about that, Dave?’

‘Tell you what? I don’t even know where this happened. I was preoccupied.’ He smiled, to no good effect. Foxy just stone-faced him. Damn, but this chick knew how to maintain focus. He was certain she still wanted him. And it wasn’t just Bad Dave being bad. He could smell it coming off her. Same way he’d smelled it on Mulan and half the chicks in the casino last night. It was a musky, salty, meatyanimalscent he could taste at the back of his throat.

He had to admit, he was sort of impressed she wasn’t blowing him right now. But she stayed on mission.

‘I’ll be feeding them the questions, and they’ll be asking you the questions. Don’t worry, it won’t be anything you can’t answer. There’s a seven second delay, so if you get nervous and swear, it’ll just get beeped. Oh, and the American flight went down over Montana, by the way. If that makes any difference.’

‘Not really.’

‘Okay,’ said Foxy. ‘So, news of the day. We’ve got six aircraft down. Two. . .dragons down with them.’ She shook her head, obviously tripping on the insanity of what she was saying, before gathering her wits together and pushing on. ‘So all commercial and noncombat military flights are currently grounded throughout the continental United States. Canadian airspace has also shut down. The Europeans will be closing their airports as soon as those flights currently in transit have made their destination. You got all that?’

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