August 12, 1938 5 p.m. Rome, Italy
The various thugs that had been hired to guard the underground laboratory were twitchy tonight. It was clear that something was going to happen shortly. Annabelle was willing to bet that some of the thugs that had been hired to protect the laboratory were loyal to factions in the Contedorri that would like to see the project fail. Hopefully they'd kill each other and the resulting shortage of personnel would give her a shot at Zvarich without a large number of mooks breathing down her neck.
Sure enough Marconi, the greasy, pot-bellied waste of space, got a bullet in the back 10 minutes later. Luckily, Annabelle hadn't lived this long without being as adept at dodging bullets as she was at firing them.
From an experienced point of view the firefight that followed was a pathetic affair. Annabelle didn't even need to "help" any of them into the path of oncoming gunfire, they managed that on their own.
"Honestly, would it kill you lot to hire someone with more than two neurons to rub together?" Annabelle asked the three surviving thugs.
The young blond gunman in the back shrugged and said with a smirk "It's a shame there was only one survivor."
One of the other thugs who was slow on the uptake confusedly began "What you talking about Edward, there's four of us.." only to have Edward put a bullet between his eyes before he could finish his question. Annabelle and the other remaining thug moved to get out of Edward's line of fire. A bullet passed by Annabelle's elbow as she rolled behind a stack of crates, but the other thug wasn't so lucky, taking a hit to the heart. Edward grinned like he'd won a prize.
"It looks like it's just the two of us now Miss Newfield. I didn't want to kill them, but I couldn't have them contradicting my version of events. You see, I'll tell Zvarich that you turned on us and I finally brought you down after you killed all these poor devils. He'll believe that you did it easily enough. Some of them," he gestured to the bodies of the thugs," call you the Angel of Death. Your reputation is such that killing you will make me a god in their eyes." Edward grinned ghoulishly " I can't wait."
Annabelle used his little speech to get into a better firing position. He was just a kid, hardly more than sixteen (and when had that age become young to a warrior whose career began at 14) but he had the mannerisms of a rabid dog already. He was probably Inspired himself and thought he was the best to ever hold a gun. He wanted to become a legend, but the only thing he was going to become was a corpse.
Annabelle called out "You don't want to pick a fight with me boy, I was killing more dangerous things than you when you were still in short pants!"
He didn't listen, they never did. Annabelle somersaulted out from behind the crates firing both Hell pistols as she rolled. The poor son of a bitch never had a chance. He fell to the floor dead with a surprised look on his face.
"What happened?" Zvarich asked Annabelle as she entered the area of the Tesla earthquake generator alone.
"There was a bit of a dust up." Annabelle replied "Apparently some of your associates have taken a dislike to this little project and hired some mooks to solve the problem with gunfire."
"All of the guards that were inside are dead?!" exclaimed Zvarich as he stopped fiddling with something that crackled with electrical energy
"It's not my fault you hired incompetent help." Annabelle snapped " The goons that wanted to stop this project are dead and no one from outside has gotten inside the lab to wreck that damn machine. That's what I'm here for."
"Yes, yes I know that." Zvarich muttered as he fiddled with one of dials " I was just surprised that's all. What about that nice young fellow Edward?"
"He took on more trouble than he could handle."
"Ah, a great pity that. Are there any more guards that we can pull in to guard the machine itself?"
"Not without leaving the rest of the complex practically unguarded." Annabelle replied honestly. Admittedly, Zvarich's problems weren't going to come from outside the room, but he didn't know that. Zvarich grimaced and gave her a speculative glance. He clearly believed that Annabelle had sent some sort of signal to AEon and that the society would be showing up to crash the party. As if they'd trust me now after what I've done, she thought bitterly.
"Yes, well we can't have that now can we?" he said with a smirk "I'll just have to trust in your considerable skills and leave the guards to deal with any... visitors."
Annabelle walked slowly over to the machine and pointed to a piece of the machine that was spinning wildly and making an eerie humming noice. "What does that doohickey do?" she asked.
Zvarich winced in horror at Annabelle calling the whatever it was a doohickey. Zvarich strode over to Annabelle and away from the device that could be used to call in the guards, precisely as Annabelle had intended, with indignation plain on his face. "That 'doohickey' Miss Newfield is the gravitational capacitor, and I would ask that you refrain from touching it."
"I wasn't planning on touching it." Annabelle replied as she eased a throwing knife down into her hand. Zvarich must have sensed the danger, as he made a move toward his radio device. He wasn't fast enough. The knife hit him in the throat and he collapsed to the floor. The blow should have killed him instantly, but it appeared he had made some modifications to himself as Hephaestia had done.
"I'll give you anything you want!" Zvarich rasped in panic as he lay bleeding out on the floor gazing up at Annabelle, who had a fey look in her eyes now. "Anything!"
Annabelle laughed then, a sound bitter and sharp as broken glass. "You can't give me what I want" she told him sadly. Annabelle twisted the knife to ensure the job was done.
The machine whirred and spun oblivious to the death beneath it. Annabelle gazed up at it. The device was far too big to move and once the Contedorri found out what happened they would likely use the machine immediately. Annabelle couldn't, in good conscience, leave the thing intact. Annabelle drew her pistols and began to fire at anything that looked delicate or important, including the gravitational capacitor.
At first the machine buzzed like a swarm of bees and towards the end it screamed like a living thing. As the machine finally began to tear itself apart the underground complex began to shake and Annabelle could hear the stone in the surrounding rooms caving in as the electrical lights went out. Annabelle heard the machine finally die in the dark. Then, she heard the several tons of scaffolding that had been holding the machine tear loose from the walls. There was pain and the sound of wings and Annabelle Lee Newfield found herself somewhere else entirely.
August 12, 1938 5 p.m. Rome, Italy