Week 386: Second Strike

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MoonlitRain014

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On the rough side of Terminus, the sliver of shadow that was Torbru’s laicar assassin paused below a shabby apartment block and glanced up at a particular It seemed that Aeria Luxus was at home. Another bloody gash of a smile touched her features and she began slipping stealthily forward.

The lone watcher waited until she saw the light go out in Aeria’s window before she began creeping on silken feet up the rickety staircase that led to the spurii’s humble apartment. The indifference of this working class neighbourhood to her presence combined with the darkness in an area that could scarcely afford lighting were all the disguise she needed. Reaching the top of the stairs, the laicar drew out a case full of lock picks and set to work on the door. The lock didn’t make a great deal of noise, so she moved with greater vigour now.

In her bed, Aeria slept soundly, oblivious to the soft sounds at her door. The silence of her room was only punctuated by the steady noise of her breathing. Outside, the assassin quietly worked the door open, stepping inside. Lightly she began to make her way over the rough floorboards but her foot struck one of them and a loud creak sounded. In the bedroom, Aerie’s violet eyes snapped open. Slowly, quietly she sat up, cocking her head. Now she could hear the footfalls in her apartment. Reaching out, the contigeri grasped her halberd and slipped out of bed, dressed only in an undershirt and underwear.

Aeria’s lean, lithe frame glided easily, avoiding the creaky spots in her floor to stand stock still behind the door, waiting for it to open. The intruder was soft-footed and easy too, but was unable to avoid more noise. The footsteps stopped outside of the door and the unknown visitor began to cautiously push it open. The spurii swung around the corner and jammed the butt of her halberd into the intruder’s face with force. There was a startled yell, a spurt of blood and the crunch of cartilage as the laicar woman staggered backwards. Aeria lunged with the haft again, aiming to hit the woman in the gut, but her attacker was good.

In spite of the blood and the pain, she rapidly dodged the halberd and growled in her throat, drawing her long blade from a back sheath. The spurii stubbornly kept her halberd with the butt facing out. Her attacker closed, still pouring blood from her broken nose and Aeria parried her sword aside with the metal-capped haft of her weapon. The other woman made a series of ast and fluid attacks, but the special skills of a contigeri allowed Aeria to maintain the distance between them. Close quarter fighting wasn’t easy with a polearm, but at least it kept the lethal black blade of the other woman at bay.

In a lightning motion, the would-be assassin struck again and the blurring speed of Aeria’s block met it, but she was slightly off balance and in an almost imperceptible secondary lunge the laicar struck again. The blade headed right for the spurii’s throat but she managed to slip aside and instead the sword gashed into her upper arm, immediately resulting in an upwelling of blood and a pained yelp from Aeria.

As the two women circled, Aeria made a sudden rapid feint at her assailant’s stomach, causing her to dodge and immediately followed it with a sharp crack across the temple. The other woman staggered away,, stunned, falling backward over a chair. Before she could rise, Aeria gave her one more calculated crack in the head and the woman slumped into unconsciousness.

When the hired killer awoke, she found herself staring at thick stone walls and a stout wooden door with an observation window in it. From outside the window, the featureless faceplate of a demvir stared in at her. She rose and looked around before facing her captor. “I know you’re Quaestor Laermont, but this isn’t a quaestorium! Where the fuck am I?”

Laermont sighed deeply. “You are somewhere that’s safe for both of us. It’s safe for me because you’re locked up and it’s safe for you because it’s shielded from The Outside Ones’ communication ability.”

Furrowing her brow, the prisoner glowered at the detective. “Outside Ones? What are you talking about?”

The quaestor shook his head. “It won’t do. I checked up on you. I know you are working for TorBru.”

The feral-faced woman scoffed and shook her head. “Well aren’t you a good little cop. Listen, asshole, no one is safe from those things. They’ll find me and they’ll find you. We’re all fucking dead or worse.”

The detective’s faceplate kept staring at her and neither his tone or posture gave much away. “You are thankfully unaware of a great deal of information to which I have access. However, right now, I am more interested in what information you might provide.”

She snorted derisively at him. “I ain’t gonna say shit to you and you haven’t got any way to make me. Your lot are a buncha pussies, you won’t torture me and I know every interrogation trick in the book.”

Laermont gave a barely perceptible shrug of his shoulders. “You’ll respond to money, won’t you?”

The whipcord lean woman stared hard at him. “Do you know what I’m being paid? I doubt you can beat it.”

The detective exuded the impression of a smirk. “We have our funding sources. I believe that we will indeed match your paymasters. I am also certain they could pay you more, but won’t”

The laicar crossed her arms over her stomach. “You’ll have to prove that to me and then we might talk more. Otherwise you and the rest of your idiot bunch can fuck right off.”

The detective nodded curtly. “I’ll return and you will have your proof. Until then, enjoy your stay and the amenities provided.”

Laermont turned away slowly and felt the woman’s glower aimed at his back. He allowed himself a small internal smile and left the woman stewing in her cell.
 

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