Friday, August 12, 2011

FICTION: Smuggled Arms by Gary Germeil

City of Palermo, Italy, Sunday September 23rd, 2035

Donatella Lombardi walked in the darkness, cautiously putting one foot in front of the other in an attempt to reach her obscure destination. A few minutes passed before she finally arrived in front of five mysterious men. Wearing formal suits, they each gave the woman an intimidating stare. It felt like their eyes were prying into her very soul. Donatella shivered, but she remained strong. She had to prove to these men that she deserved to be one of their own.

The man sitting in the center, seemingly the leader of the small group, finished breathing in a smoke of his cigarette before squashing the cigarette butt in the ashtray lying at his side. He then stared intently into the eyes of the organization's newest recruit.

"How long have you been an associate, Donatella?" he asked.

"One year, sir," the white-haired woman replied without hesitating. Her memories of her stay in Palermo were fresh in her mind. Each and every one of them.

"That's right," the man acknowledged. "And today, you will become a soldier of the Noce family. That is, if you can fulfill the simple task we have prepared for you today..."

"I will do as you wish, sir," Donatella replied, eager to earn their trust.

He took another cigarette from the inside pocket of his suit and ignited it with his lighter. His eyes did not wander from the woman's face. "A ship full of crates is waiting for you in the port of Palermo. You are to take the vessel to the New Port of Marseille. Our client's men will be waiting for you there and will help you unload the crates. They will take care of the transportation from that point."

"Understood," the Italian woman said before she was ordered to leave. Moments later, she left the shadowy mansion and returned outside. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, relieved to have finally stepped out of that stressful meeting. Looking up to the sky, she sighed, then smiled. Basking in the light of the stars brought her much needed comfort.

* * *

Hours later, Donatella rode on the vessel that had been put in her care for the duration of this crucial mission. There were only three people aboard the vehicle, including the driver of the ship, the Italian woman and a fellow associate who had been tasked to accompany her. Shrouded in the darkness of the night, Donatella walked nonchalantly aboard the small ship and engaged in small talk with her partner. Both hands in her pockets, she glanced inquisitively at one of the crates standing on the deck of the vehicle.

"What do you suppose is in those crates, Marco?" she asked her companion.

Her brown-haired partner shrugged his shoulders. "We were only told to carry those boxes to Marseille. We don't have to ask any further questions..."

For some unknown reason, the young man's practical answer hurt her feelings. "I know that, but still..."

"I'll tell you what's in those boxes..." thundered a female voice nearby.

Shocked, Donatella and her partner turned around to locate the person who had just spoken those words. They had been too careless... Two women seemed to have inconspicuously boarded their vessel while they were talking. One of the women had short hair, wore a skin-tight dress and held a lengthy whip in her hands. Her partner was significantly smaller in size, yet she wielded a long, impressive blade. She seemed like a child in every aspect of her appearance, including her quaint black dress; however, the malevolence emanating from her eyes told a different story.

"Who are they?" Donatella's partner said apprehensively while taking a step back.

"We are Organic Slayers sent from Germany to investigate a bothersome matter," the tallest of the two women said. "Those crates contain weapons... Hundreds of them. Knives, guns, rifles, you name it."

"We appreciate it when the Sicilian mafia smuggles weapons into France to help the French army defend their country against NATO forces. However, we take issue with the fact that you guys are selling to both sides for profits. NATO soldiers also seem to be receiving arms and ammunition from you."

"So that's what's in there," Donatella whispered in disbelief. "But we didn't know! Surely you'll let us turn back..." she pleaded with the newcomers.

"I honestly doubt the head of your family will let you live if you turn tail," the short-haired woman factually said. "In any case, I'd rather sink this ship and have the weapons fall into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea..."

"I have a better idea, Maria..." the shorter woman told her partner with an evil stare, licking her lips at the thought of the cruel deed she had in mind. "Why not slaughter everyone on this boat and take the weapons for ourselves? I want to redden the Mediterranean Sea with their blood..."

Hearing those words frightened the two mafia associates. They turned around and tried to run away, hoping they could swim to safety far away from their assailants. However, the smallest of the two German women quickly caught up with them and sank her large blade into Marco's back. As her weapon soaked with his blood, the woman smirked and mocked the man's misfortune.

Donatella glanced behind her in terror and watched her companion collapse to the ground in seconds. Distraught, she tripped and fell on the ground. The Italian woman gazed at the German child in horror, knowing she would soon meet the same fate as her partner.

But it couldn't end this way; she had to show the Noce family that she could handle any of their tasks. Her father had been a part of the Sicilian mafia for decades, and it had always been his wish that his little girl would follow in his footsteps. Fortunately for her, she possessed a talent those two women were unaware of.

The fire of determination burning in her eyes, the Italian woman leapt to her feet and pulled one of the crates near her to the ground. The box broke when it touched the floor, revealing hundreds of small blades and knives. Donatella's body glowed with a golden light. Extending her right arm toward the black-robed German soldier, she magically commanded the small blades to converge on her enemy.

"What's this?" the child said in astonishment. "You think you can beat me with those?" she sneered as she deflected the blades with skillful swings of her large sword. However, the small blades relentlessly and incessantly orbited around her in a manner reminiscent of an asteroid belt.

"Kalinka, she's a magic user!" Maria shouted at her partner before running toward the Italian woman, her magical whip ready to strike.

Unwavering, Donatella knocked down another crate. Contrary to the first box, this one contained guns of all kinds. The white-haired woman's body glowed again as she extended her arm toward Maria. The guns began to fire bullets erratically, in every direction. The surrounding area soon became filled with hundreds of stray bullets that shone as bright as the sea of stars in the night sky.

"Gottverdammt!" Maria cursed before attempting to protect herself with a swift martial dance during which she deflected bullets using her whip. Overwhelmed, she retreated behind a crate with her partner.

"Magic user you say?" Maria's partner screamed at the top of her lungs. "She's a fucking Organic holder!"

"We did get a report that the Astral Organic might be in the region," Maria remembered. "We can't let her escape!"

The German soldier's words were undermined by the sound of nearby crates exploding after stray bullets ignited the gunpowder they contained. Defeating this kind of enemy would require planning; for now, survival became their wisest choice. With no further hesitation, Kalinka stepped out of hiding and tore the ship in two with a swing of her magical blade. The two parts of the vessel began to tip over and sink into the water, plunging the three women into the depths of the sea. The Italian maiden breathed in cold water before losing consciousness.

* * *

Donatella regained awareness of her surroundings inside the shadowy mansion of the Noce family. She was embarrassed to find herself in the presence of the five men who had given her the mission to carry the weapons to Marseille earlier. She quickly shifted to a sitting position before they inevitably spoke of her lackluster performance.

"You failed us," one of them told her.

The Italian woman remained silent before protesting the unfairness of the situation she had been involved in. "There was no way I could have known those women would attack us!"

"You were tasked to protect the ship until it reached the shores of Marseille," another one of them said. "You should have defeated anyone who dared interfere with your mission."

"That being said," the leader of the group said after inhaling a smoke of his cigarette, "the driver of the ship you were on, the one who brought you back to us, explained what happened to us. He saw your... abilities. We cannot ignore the fact that you will be an invaluable asset for the Noce family."

He breathed in another smoke of his cigarette before continuing to speak. "The driver also said these women you fought against seemed to be part of the German military. Cosa Nostra will need supplementary muscle if we're to deal with individuals who want to end our lucrative smuggling business."

"The European conflict has been very profitable to us because we sell weapons to anyone who needs it on the black market. France, our neighbor, is defending its very existence right now. We supply them, and we supply their enemies. The longer the conflict lasts, the better for us."

Donatella timidly rose to her feet and swept dirt off her close-fitting outfit. "Don't they care that France or Germany could invade Italy like they did those other countries if NATO fails?" she thought to herself. However, she knew better than to question their ways now that they were willing to acknowledge her as one of theirs.

The white-haired woman noticed a gun, a knife and a picture lying on the table that stood in front of the five men. The leader of the group gestured at the items. "Surely your father has explained to you how the induction goes. You must first swear to never betray our family and to honor your engagements, no matter what criminal actions must be undertaken to see those engagements through."

"I swear," Donatella said with resolve.

Her interlocutor grabbed the dagger and the picture from the table, then stood up and approached the woman. He cut her index finger slightly, causing it to bleed. She then spread some of her blood on the picture, an image representing Felicitas of Rome, a saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church. Following her deed, the man set the picture ablaze with the same lighter he used to ignite his cigarettes. The photo rapidly burned to ashes.

"You are now a soldier of the Noce family," the man said while laying a hand on her shoulder. "Never betray us, for your own sake," he added, staring into her eyes. His fearful expression could not compare to the joy in Donatella's heart. Her father had been killed by the Italian police during one of his missions for Cosa Nostra; she could now carry on his legacy.

Soon after, they heard and felt an explosion outside the mansion. A man hurriedly entered the manor and announced in a shrill voice that the nearby weapons depot was under attack.

"It's possible the Germans followed them here, her and the driver of the ship," one of the five men said.

"This will be your first task as a full member of the Noce family," the man in front of Donatella said. "Go and assist our other soldiers, take down those who dare interfere in our affairs!"

"Right!" Donatella exclaimed before running toward the entrance of the manor. As she stepped outside, a large blade was put under her throat. In front of her stood the German child she had encountered on the boat earlier.

"We meet again," Kalinka said with a smirk. A short silence followed during which Donatella felt the coldness of the child's blade. However, the quietness was soon interrupted by the sound of flames ripping through a nearby building. "My partner is destroying the Noce family's weapons depot. I'm here to slaughter you all."

"I won't let you do that!" the Italian woman roared.

"Donatella, duck!" a man's voice echoed close by.

While the white-haired woman did as she was told, Kalinka turned around and saw a dozen men facing her, rifles in hand. They opened fire, but Kalinka deflected their bullets with swift movements of her blade. The child hurriedly ran toward her enemies and decapitated them one by one with her sword while dodging and parrying their fire. The battlefield soon became stained with blood.

More armed individuals stepped out of the mansion, including the five men who had inducted Donatella into the family. Guns in hand, they were about to fire on Kalinka, but the other elite German soldier appeared out of nowhere and reduced their numbers with the use of her whip. The two partners converged toward the middle of the battlefield and looked at their remaining opponents.

"Good timing, Maria!" the child told her accomplice.

"I set the weapons depot on fire, and the explosives took care of the rest!" Maria explained. "Took no time at all!"

The remaining members of the Noce family gathered around the two female soldiers and glared at them before opening fire. The German soldiers engaged in a nimble martial dance; they deflected the bullets with their magical weapon and killed their adversaries in the same breath. When the carnage ended, the two elite soldiers were the only ones left standing. Once the cloud of smoke around them subsided, they laid eyes upon the only remaining member of the mafia family they had just slaughtered.

"You're the only one left, little girl," Maria shouted to Donatella, who lay on the ground fearing for her life.

The Italian woman slowly rose to her knees and witnessed the extent of the damage the two German soldiers had caused. In a few moments, they had eliminated every member of the Noce family. Her father's life work had been rendered meaningless in the blink of an eye. She stared at her two enemies at first in disbelief, then with profound hatred; she despised these two outsiders who had meddled in affairs that did not concern them.

"Attack her before she overwhelms us!" Kalinka yelled before rushing toward her adversary, leaving her partner behind. She would soon regret her haste...

Donatella's eyes flared with a pure white color, and her flesh glowed with a brilliant light. She extended her arms in front of her, in the direction of her enemies. Her teeth clenched in resentment, tears streamed down her cheeks as she recalled fond memories of her father. She devoted her entire life to make her father proud, to continue his legacy. The German military had taken those dreams away from her. It was now her turn to crush their aspirations.

"To those who pledge their souls to the heavens, I bequeath upon thee the sacred, eternal truths of this Universe," she instinctively spoke the words of an ancient incantation. "To those who defile the graces of the stars, I bequeath upon thee a journey to nothingness from which there is no escape..."

A small black sphere appeared in front of her hands; it was a black hole that began to absorb everything around it. Kalinka felt her body being drawn into the sphere and tried to resist, but the gravitational pull was simply too much to handle.

"What is this?" the German child screamed as a rare expression of terror appeared on her face.

"Mugen," Donatella continued to chant the words of her spell. "Event Horizon!"

Every object in the area was pulled into the small black sphere. The family's manor disintegrated into small pieces that were absorbed by the black hole. The deceased mafiosi, their armaments, the flames burning the weapons depot, everything was pulled into Donatella's spell.

"Everything..." the Italian woman whispered with a broken voice as tears fell from her eyes. "Everything can disappear for all I care!"

"We have to get out of here!" Maria screamed to her partner as the other soldier desperately tried to resist the gravitational pull. The short-haired woman lashed her whip in the direction of Kalinka, who grabbed it with one hand. Maria then pulled with all her might and managed to extract her partner from the spell's range. Outmatched, they quickly fled the scene, vowing in their hearts to seek revenge against the woman who had defeated them twice in one night.

Once Donatella's rage subsided, her spell ended, leaving nothingness all around her. The mansion, the weapons depot, her fellow family members, everything was gone. The Italian woman stood in total darkness, with only the stars above to light her way. Glittering tears flowing from her eyes, she looked up to the sky, but the heavens could no longer comfort her heart.

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