Even with the room’s high ceiling, the man’s head stayed less than an inch away. Slouching, he stepped inside, putting him within arm’s reach.
Joe stepped back. He swung his arm to the left, hoping it would cross the circle. It hit an invisible barrier.
Magic, he thought.
Then he evaluated his opponent. The man looked like he was in his thirties, and wore a brown suit–not a uniform. Slightly pudgy with unkempt, short hair, he wouldn’t have seemed frightening at all if he weren’t so big.
“He’s one of the Jötunn,” Gunther muttered. “Norse legends. A giant.”
Short or not, the giant threw a punch at him, hitting Joe in the stomach. His armor didn’t break, but he felt the punch. Seconds later, he felt the wall hit his back, cracking plaster, and then he tumbled away from the inside wall, into the corner where it met the stone outside wall.
Pulling himself up to a sitting position, Joe pointed the M2, and fired, holding his fingers against his palm.
Not all the bullets hit, some ricocheting off the invisible wall around the circle. Others left holes in the wall. A few hit the giant.
He fell backward, throwing his arm back, and using the wall to brace himself. Plaster cracked around his hand, but he only stayed there long enough to get control of his feet. Then he moved left, putting Gunther’s circle between them.
Joe pulled himself off the floor. He couldn’t see any blood, but the M2 had torn through the giant’s suit jacket and shirt. It wasn’t much damage, he knew, but the fact that the giant had taken cover gave him hope.
He clicked his palm, switching to the armor-piercing rounds, and wondering if he should have gotten them blessed by a priest, or used silver like the man in the Lone Ranger radio show.
He felt the hum, and heard a clacking noise. Armor-piercing rounds were ready for firing.
“Arik,” Gunther said, “Let’s talk.”
Joe heard it in English, but as if dreaming knew it wasn’t. Whatever language Gunther actually used sounded Germanic, but aside from knowing it wasn’t German or Dutch, Joe didn’t recognize it.
Arik replied in the same language, but Joe didn’t understand it at all.
Gunther took a few steps forward, stopping at the edge of the giant’s side of the circle. “Now, I’m sure Hitler’s men talked about reviving the old religions, and it sounded like they meant it, but if it were me, I wouldn’t count on it. I think they’re willing to say whatever you want to hear.”
The giant replied, raising his voice.
Gunther nodded. “I’m sure that made it easier to sell me out, but ask yourself this… After it’s all over, how long do you think it will be before he goes after you?”
Arik gave a shout, and stepped forward, standing inches from Gunther.
“Yeah, I know, but decide now, because once he gets the circle down, you won’t get another chance.”
Arik snorted, and he started to walk around the circle. He clenched his fist and a flame burst from his right hand, growing until it appeared to be a sword.
Joe didn’t have much time to think, but it didn’t matter. He knew what to do. He couldn’t touch the circle itself, but the circle had been drawn on a wooden floor.
He could smash wood all day.
He stepped once, and then jumped, hitting the invisible barrier, sliding down it, and landing on the floor.
The wood cracked, but didn’t break.
He raised his left leg, and brought his foot down on the floor again, this time smashing through, destroying boards, and even snapping wood a foot inside the circle.
Pointing his right arm, and the M2 toward Arik, he fired.