“That will mean nothing if your planet is destroyed and dead,” Leta snapped.
“She’s not wrong,” put in Dez, to Leta’s deep shock, though she didn’t say it. “Both contingencies will be more successful with the support of the Ellegian populace.”
“Gods, even he agrees with me,” Leta growled, rolling her eyes and then seeking out the woman who had brought her in. “Where’s my pack?”
The woman looked startled and then searched around the room for someone to assist her, but no one did so she pointed down the hallway. “Eh–it’s in the storage room on the left, but–”
“Great,” Leta cut her off and headed back to the hall just as Ezra stuttered, “W–what are you doing?”
“Taking my stuff, freeing my med team and getting back out there,” Leta called back as she walked straight past the stunned guards into the storage room and sought out her medical bag. Slinging it over her shoulder, she made a pointed glance at the man guarding the holding room where her team was waiting. He nervously cast a glance at Ezra who didn’t seem to know what to do, and then Dez, who nodded. The door swung open and Leta smiled, heading back into the main room.
“And if anyone tries to stop me? Like this guy said,” she jutted her thumb at Dez, “You can wave goodbye to your Plan A.” Whatever that meant. It didn’t matter. There was work to be done and damned if she was just going to sit here as someone’s captive. She made for the door, her team, confused but ready to go, filling in behind her.
“Wait — is she — is she really?” Ezra sputtered in desperation and Leta could have sworn she heard Dez laugh appreciatively before he said, “I did warn you not to pick her up.”
Fiearius ducked beneath the arc of Ophelia’s blade, but left himself completely open for the mean right hook she delivered to his ribs straight after. He recoiled and lashed out for a counterattack that she easily side-stepped to slash at him again.
Fiearius had fought Ophelia before, a few times actually, but this time something was different. The woman’s style could be categorized only as ‘relentless.’ Even back in his days in Internal, she was known for her ability to just keep going and going and going without a pause for breath. ‘Inhuman’ was a word often assigned to her, although only behind her back. Fiearius had often gotten the impression she didn’t like the description.
Relentless and inhuman, however, were not applicable now. Though she was currently swinging a blade furiously in the direction of his abdomen, Fiearius sensed something surprising as he stumbled backwards away from her: hesitation.
There was a subtle hint of distraction in her eyes as she continued towards him, this time slashing at his leg which he slid out of the way and used the momentum of to pummel forward with his fist. And though she was paying attention enough to dodge him, her elbowing counterattack was clearly delayed and not even aimed at a vital organ. She had made a few contacts in this scuffle, but Fiearius was still mostly intact and not out of any skill of his own. He was a scrappy fighter and could hold his own against normal brunt force, but Varisian? She was a creature of grace. And distracted or not, she should have been kicking his ass.
So why was she holding back? Why had she wanted him to leave? What was with that look she’d given him? were all questions he might have wondered had he not been too busy trying not to fall down the stairs she’d managed to back him up against.
He tried in vain to raise his arm enough to get even a decent shot with his gun, but Ophelia’s blade came down on his wrist, forcing his hand back. Fleetingly, as he used her momentary preoccupation to slide away from the stairwell’s edge, he caught glimpse of the Councillor at the other end of the hall. She leaned against the doorframe, her dress whipping around her ankles from the wind, watching with her chin propped in her hand and a smile curling her lips.
She was fucking enjoying this, he realized, narrowly avoiding having his shoulder sliced open.
That fucking asshole.
Fueled by a sudden spurt of rage, Fiearius looked back at Ophelia, coming at him again with her weapon and felt that familiar thought rise into his head: fuck it. She may have been faster, but he was still bigger. He tensed himself and ran straight at her.
The collision hurt even more than he had anticipated as her blade cut through his shirt and into the flesh of his side, but it had worked. He planted his feet firmly in the ground as Ophelia staggered backwards, no match for his full force. He gripped his gun and raised it again, but not at her. Fuck her, she wasn’t what he was here for. He spun around and aimed at the woman in the doorway whose expression flickered from amusement to, infuriatingly, curiosity. It wouldn’t last long, he thought to himself. Time to end this.
His finger pulled the trigger just as another force plowed into him from the side. The bullet shattered the top of a pillar in a cloud of plaster.
Smaller she may have been, but unprepared as he was for Ophelia leaping on him, Fiearius lost his footing in an instant and the two of them tumbled to the marble floor. She seized his wrist and twisted until the pistol fell from his grip then kneed him in the ribs. She wanted to wrestle? Fine.
Fiearius ripped his arm from her grasp and pushed, flipping her off of him and onto her back where he pinned her down and returned the favor, forcing her blade from her hand to clatter onto the ground. She struggled with her hands for a moment, desperate to release herself, but without the advantage of weight or gravity, she was stuck. That is, until she realized he’d accidentally left a key opening available for her to kick.
As Fiearius recoiled, resisting the urge to howl in pain, he thought he heard something that only made this worse. Laughter? Seriously? It was bad enough that he was rolling around on the floor with this goddamn woman trying to kill him, but this Councillor had the audacity to think it was funny? He’d felt some sympathy for the Ascendian official. A little respect even for the Synechdan, managing to stay hidden in plain sight for so long. But this one? This was the first Councillor since Vescent he’d wanted to murder so fucking badly.
Which was probably why, after fending off Ophelia for another few seconds, when he was finally granted just a split second of reprieve after getting in a punch to her collarbone, instead of going for another attack as he should have, he stretched his arm out in a desperate reach for his gun. Just shoot her, that’s all he wanted to do. Shoot that damn Councillor and finish this.
But his fingertips never touched the gun. It was the wrong move. It put him off balance, it gave Ophelia the edge, and when she put her palms on his chest and shoved, he didn’t have the chance to resist. Within instants, he was on his back again, pinned to the floor by her knee with her gun pressed against his forehead.
Neither of them moved. Fiearius stared up at her, breathing heavily. She stared back, unreadable as ever, her face stone. The laughing, thank the gods, had stopped, but now the sound of clicking heels on the floor met his ears. They stopped a few feet away and a barking voice snapped, “I gave you an order, Varisian. Kill him.”
Ophelia still didn’t move. Her shoulders were rising and falling hard, her nostrils flaring with each breath. She continued to meet his gaze, unwavering.
“Kill him!” shouted the Councillor again and this time, he saw Varisian ever so slightly flinch. Then, she took a deep breath and moved her gun from his head to his heart. She mouthed, “I’m sorry.” And fired.
Before he could move, before he could think, fire blasted cleanly through him, more painful than anything he’d felt before. And then — numbness spread through his limbs. Warm, wet blood started to seep over his skin and, dimly, he registered that he was probably in shock — he made a choking sound, he had to press his hand against the wound — his lungs were starting to feel heavy, full —
But then his thoughts became nothing. A curtain fell over his mind; he only saw noise. Ophelia, the Councillor, Ellegy, melted away, his head slumped back onto the ground. He exhaled one shaky last breath and then breathed no more.