“Hang on!” she shouted to a woman who had taken a direct hit from the blast grenade. Her eyes were wide and she was looking down at herself, her whole body speckled with red from where the debris had buried itself in her flesh, as though she wasn’t sure if it was hers. Leta inched towards her, careful to duck as bullets zipped over her head.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Leta’s team had been headed out to provide support to the survivors of a crashed dreadnought when they had been ambushed by Society forces. They had struck more quickly and more viciously than anyone, medical team or military escort, had been ready for. But they were going to get out of this. All of them. Alive. Leta was determined.
“You’re gonna be okay, just stay still!” she told the woman as she finally reached her. It wasn’t the ideal place to stage a rescue, but there was no way she could drag her to cover in her current condition. It would just have to do.
“Am I–am I gonna die?” the woman asked, her eyes starting to glaze over.
“Not if I can help it,” Leta answered, scanning around her immediate area. She needed someone to cover her while she did this, but everyone in sight was too busy covering themselves. They were overwhelmed.
She gritted her teeth. It would just have to do.
“This is going to get a lot worse before it gets a little better, but you’re gonna be okay.” The woman didn’t seem to hear her, not that it mattered. She had to get the dirty shrapnel out and cleaned and sealed before infection started to spread. Bracing a hand on the woman’s chest to try and keep her still, Leta dug out the first piece of glass.
A horrific shriek filled the air and Leta winced. Please don’t draw attention, please don’t look over here, she begged internally as she went for another wound. And another. Just make this quick, everything will be okay, she promised, meaning it for her patient but reciting it only for herself.
She was still screaming and the noise was not going unnoticed. Leta could see in her peripheral vision Society agents turning her way, but her fellow teammates were managing to pick them off before they became a threat. Just a few more pieces to dig out, then hit her with antibacterial sealant and we’re done. Her screams were starting to subside. Too exhausted to continue, probably. Almost done. Almost–
Leta looked up just as she heard the gun cock. An agent was staring straight at her, decked out in full Society-issued body armor save the helmet and pointing the barrel of a high-powered rifle directly at her skull. Their eyes met for just a moment and time seemed to slow down. His muscles tensed, his finger on the trigger and Leta’s instincts sprung into action.
Her hand reached for the gun she knew was hanging out of her patient’s limp hand, she lifted it and fired, sending a bullet directly through the man’s head. A splash of blood landed on her skin as he fell backwards, crumpling to the ground with a thump.
The gun still in her hand, she aimed again at another agent further back and fired. She went down. And another. And another. And one more until the trigger clicked uselessly in her hand and she tossed the emptied weapon aside where it clattered across the ground pathetically.
Her immediate surroundings clear, she reached into her pack and pulled out the sealant gun to start applying it to the still bleeding woman in front of her. “Let’s get you back on your feet.”
Fiearius cracked his fist over the man’s face and kneed him in the stomach as he fell. He let out a groan of pain as Fiearius spun around and shot the next assailant in the arm. He recoiled, grasping his bleeding limb as Fiearius strode forward and slapped him across the cheek with his still warm pistol. There was one more that came stumbling towards him, but a well-aimed bullet from Dez put her straight on the ground instead.
Fiearius heaved a deep breath and shook the fight from his head to his shoulders, down his arms and out his fingers. He then glanced at that final agent who’d fallen.
“Ya didn’t have to kill her y’know,” he pointed out.
“Either kill them now or kill them when they come after you later,” Dez replied simply, aiming his gun at the other agent Fiearius had just knocked out and firing.
Fiearius winced. “I thought they were our ‘brethren’.”
“Not yet they’re not.” Dez aimed at another, but Fiearius grabbed his arm and yanked it out of position.
“Cut it out,” he snapped.
Dez regarded him curiously. “Don’t you remember what happened on the Ascendian Delta base? After you insisted I not clean up your mess?”
Fiearius rolled his eyes and spread his hands, backing away from Desophyles as he said carelessly, “If I’m meant to get shot, I’ll get shot, can we move along please?” Dez seemed to relent so Fiearius turned back around into the hallway and continued forward. They weren’t far. All of Ren’s research and all of his own digging through the Verdant CID had been pretty clear where to find the Ellegian Councillor.
Once a woman by the name of Tearan Norosa, an Information officer of the highest level, she was skilled at hiding in plain sight. Impressively skilled. Masquerading as a reclusive and eccentric billionaire, she had lived in the Ellegian Central Complex’s most luxurious loft in its tallest spire for going on two decades without anyone catching onto her. She wasn’t the only rich weirdo on Ellegy after all and as long as she continued to pay off whoever she had to pay off to reside on what was definitively ‘public’ property, no one would question her.
So far, they had made good ground. The ECC was by no means deserted, but Fiearius and Dez had managed to slip past the vast majority of Society agents and loyalists by simply taking alternate routes through the complex. The Society’s real heavy-hitters were out on the battlefront. These people were mostly bureaucrats.
It was only when they reached the spire itself that they met any real resistance. Fiearius had taken a few hits. His ribs were feeling a little bruised. Dez had a close call with a bullet past his shoulder, but nothing a little sealant hadn’t been able to fix. The first stairwell had been a thrilling experience.
Now, however, as Fiearius sprinted up the second stairwell, there wasn’t a soul in sight. Maybe for a reason.
The COMM in his ear fizzled a little. “–ar–we–por–bzzzzt.”
Fiearius tapped it, hard. “Sorry, say again?”
“Looks like your host isn’t looking to take on guests.” It was Quin. “Just saw a transport try and land on the top of your lil spire there. Seemed like they was there to pick somebody up.”
Fiearius’ fist clenched and he looked back at Dez. “Shit.”
“Oh not to worry, sweetheart,” Quin cooed. “I sent that piece o’ shit to hell ‘fore it could even touch down. Got a couple of my boys on watch to make sure no one else outta there is lookin’ to leave anytime soon.”
Just as quickly as it had arrived, his panic dispersed and turned into relief. “You’re a saint, Q.”
“Tell that to my priest, she’ll have a laugh,” Quin chuckled and the line fizzled out.
“Still, we should hurry,” Fiearius said to Dez off-handedly, picking up pace just as Dez slowed down.
“Fiearius,” he said suddenly and Fiearius looked back to realize he was no longer behind him. Instead, he stood in the center of the hallway, looking out of its ceiling-heigh windows onto the smoky haze of Ellegy below. From here they could see all of it. The city, the ground battles, the ships engaged in distant firefights far above the planet. From the ground, everything had been a blur, but from this window, everything was laid out clearly.
But now wasn’t the time for sight-seeing. “We need to get–” Fiearius began, but Dez interrupted.
“Do you trust Carthis?”
Fiearius gaped at him. “What?”