"For the Mission." Quiz 173:
Posted 20 January 2006 - 09:39 PM
Annika grinned, raising her rifle. C'mere, you bastard. She could pinpoint her target on her HUD, but there were several reinforced walls between her and him.
“Hey Lead,” Imoen's voice raised in her ear. “Got your contact yet?” The code-names were essential. If their comms were decripted, it was essential that no one knew who they were.
“That's a negative, Joker.” Annika whispered back. “He's still under cover.”
“Lead? Loremaster here. I'm getting a lot of comm traffic from your target. Check your stealth suit.”
Annika simply had to think. The cybernetics made it easy. “Nope, nothing. I'm all in the green.”
“That mighn't mean a damn thing, Lead.” That was Imoen again. “I'm betting you've been had. You should consider pulling back.”
Annika shook her head. “That's a negative. We're being payed too much for this job, remember?”
“Lead, don't be stupid this time?” Anomen sounded frustrated. What else was new.
Grin. “Sorry, Knight. Stupidity seems to be my stock in trade.”
There was an exasperated sigh on the other end of the comlink, and she chuckled. Exasperating Anomen was fun.
“Lead, Joker might be right. The building just went to high alert. There's a lot of comms traffic.” Nalia sounded worried, but a while in the field had made her a lot less green. Annika was just glad they hadn't brought Aerie along on this particular mission. Though the elf was far from green, she was far more an infiltrator then a true soldier. It hadn't been possible here, due to the strict laws against magic users.
And Nalia was right, Annika could see it with her thermal optics. The energy signals on the base had intensified, and there was a glow that Annika attributed to a low level energy shield. Great. Just what I need. She sat there for a moment, staring at the building. Do we pull out? If we do, we loose the money. And Runners never back down from a mission. Her face set into a grim line. “No. I'm going in. If we can make our target we can still get the payment. But I won't have active transmissions. Those'll be too damn easy to spot when I'm inside, hell, they might be picking them up now.”
“I can't argue that.” Nalia's voice held a bit of a tremble. “Make sure you come back to us, huh?”
“Good luck, Lead.” Imoen's voice sounded almost somber for once.
“Good luck and Godspeed.” Anomen's parting words were almost cut off as she flicked the comlink off.
And here goes nothing. And Annika crept forward.
Posted 31 January 2006 - 04:54 AM
Annika groaned. Why did her head hurt so much? It felt like the hangover after a three day drinking contest. . . but no. . . that wasn't . . .
“Oh. . . I see you're awake.” There was a voice beside her. She was lying on a bed, that much was clear, but it wasn't the hardness that she would expect of a bed in a cell block. Blankets. . . pillow. . . I'm probably in a medical bay. The young solider opened her eyes, trusting that they would adapt fast enough so she wouldn't momentarily blind herself. Cybernetics were good for that.
“I want to apologize for the manner in which you were brought here . . . and you don't remember, do you.”
Shit. Well, at least I've confirmed I'm not in a holding cell. But why am I in a medical bay?
“I only hope that you are alright now. The gas you were exposed to does affect short-term memory, though there should be no lasting consequences.”
There was idle amusement in that voice. As her eyes adapted, she could see the figure, a human woman, long brown hair in a braid down her back, and was dressed in the traditional lab coat. “Yes, yes, that does not surprise me. And despite what you think, we are not here to harm you. Indeed, my commander was very impressed with you, young one.”
Young one? Annika raised a brow. The medic chuckled. “Ah, so you are awake, and you can understand me. I had feared for a moment that I would need an interpreter.”
“W-why?” Her mouth felt like it had been sandblasted.
“Because you were completely unresponsive, despite reading as awake.”
Annika nodded. With the many languages of this country alone, it was an assumption she might have made. “I understand you.”
“Good. Good. Our commander will see you now.” The medic got up and turned towards one of the doors.
“Your commander?” Annika fought hard to keep a tremble from her voice. Oh, shit. . .
The medic stopped mid-step. “Why yes. The man you were after, was he not?”
Damn, she knows way too much . . .
There was that smile again. “You needn't fear. Actually, our commander was quite impressed with you, getting as far as you and your team did. He wants to congratulate you personally.”
Annika's eyes widened.
“Oh, no, you don't have to be afraid,” she smiled. “Our commander is a most fair man.” She turned with grace and left Annika staring at her form from behind. What the hell was going on? Well, whatever it was, she had to get out of here. Now.
Posted 03 February 2006 - 10:37 PM
Annika stared at their commander, the two guards at her side fading into the back of her awareness. He was an elf, with black hair and blue eyes the colour of ice. Yes, just as she remembered. The images were right. It was him. “Irenicus.”
He smiled. “Yes, Annika, it is I. I wondered who would be sent after me. . .”
Annika couldn't help but gape. He knows my name? Swearing mentally at her lapse, she forced her face back into something she hoped was neutral and simply nodded. Don't tell him that it wasn't the alliance who went after him. . . don't tell him the Alliance condoned his actions. . . .
Apparently, something of that showed on her face. Damn him. He had always been good at reading people, she remembered that. “I know it wasn't the Alliance that sent you.” He turned his back and motioned to the guards beside her. “Let her go.”
Annika frowned. What was he playing at? She hadn't known him that well, but he had never shown mercy to enemies, and that was what she qualified as. The guards stepped back a few paces and lowered their rifles. Irenicus still stood with his back to her, and Annika knew that if she chose, she could kill him then and there. . . she had been trained to fight with her bare hands if need be. . . . and he knew that. Damn.
And yet she couldn't assume he had planned for every contingency. To do that was to admit defeat. She shook her head. “Is this a test? To see if I'll strike you down when your back is to me? To see if I'll strike down someone who's not drawn a weapon?” But even as she spoke the words she knew she had lost. It was always harder to kill someone at the end of a blade then through the scope of a rifle. Damn.
“Perhaps, but not in the manner you think.” He spoke with his back turned, but she could almost see his slight smile. “I am not omnipotent, as well you know.” He turned and spread his arms out. “Therefore, I offer you a challenge. Defeat me, and you may leave.”
Annika couldn't help but stare. “A duel?” She snickered. How quaint. Yet she doubted he would be offering such a thing in any sense of honour. No, he wanted to study, to learn from it. So . . . “And if I say no?”
“Then you are of no use. And I shall kill you.” It was said completely impassively, without the thrill or threat a lot of people would have had in their voice upon saying such things. That made it more frightening.
Annika nodded. “And if I win?” she asked, unsure of what the answer would be.
“Then you defeat me. And you shall have that gratification.”
“But you'll still kill me, I bet.” He wouldn't let someone live who had bested him. She knew that too. She would have to kill him in the duel, and then get herself killed by the two guards who were still standing there. Damned if I do, Damned if I don't. She raised her head. Well I'd rather be damned for doing.
“Then I accept.”
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