- - - - - - - -
Lir began to fold up under the impact of Mara's booted foot. She grabbed the front of his tunic with one hand and held him between her and Tam's gun, the other hand reaching for her knife. “Behind me!” she shouted to Dee. The cultists began to move forward, the shock of her sudden attack passing. She held the knife to Lir's throat. “Let us go,” she said, “or I'll gut him right in front of you.”
Tam grinned. “Are not our deaths nothing in the eyes of the Living God?”
“Don't shoot them,” Lir croaked, his eyes rolling back in his head. “They've seen His Glory! They've seen!”
“Will you please shut up,” Mara hissed, backing up to keep the cultists from circling behind her.
“Mara,” Dee hissed. “Mara, what do we do.”
And Tam fired – not at Mara, but at Lir, once, twice, his body shuddering under the impacts, the noise deafening in the enclosed space. Mara turned and shoved Dee through the door into the storage room, one hand dragging Lir with them, Dee slamming the door behind them.
Mara braced herself against the door. She only just managed to hold it against the first and second blows from the cultists on the other side. Then Dee had slid the heavy stone statue in front of it, and with its weight helping she held the third and fourth blows easily. By the time the fifth blow came they had effectively barricaded themselves inside.
Lir lay against the wall watching them, blood pooling underneath him, his breaths clearly labored. “That won't hold for long,” he observed as they finished. “And even if it did, where are you going to go?”
“We'll figure something out,” Mara replied.
“Why are we fighting anyway? We both want the same thing.”
“I doubt that,” Dee said, leaning against the wall, breathing hard.
“Don't we all want to see the corrupt nobility overthrown, and a just order instituted?” Lir paused, gathering himself. “Do you know how I found the True Religion? I wandered into the bowels one day. And I realized that any order that would force people to live like this is not a just order. What have any of us to lose but lives full of pain and suffering?”
“That's nice,” Mara replied, not really listening. “The grey fabric on the wall, that's sound proofing?”
“Yes. Some of the rites can be a bit loud.”
“I bet.” She dug into it with her knife, cut a section away to reveal the sheet metal of the cargo container.
Her knife was ceramic, a derivative of a design used in an industrial lathe. Supposedly, it would hold an edge cutting through anything... “Dee, do me a favor and gag the asshole.”
She pressed the tip against the metal wall and pushed. It took a great deal of effort, but the thin steel eventually parted under the pressure. Then she began to work it back and forth, sawing downwards.