Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CH2: Homecoming, Part 13

Left, right, left... Mara staggered up the spiraling catwalk, struggling to run with the leaden weight of Dee on her back. Somewhere behind and below she could hear shouting, the cultists hot on their trail.

Above her she could see a bridge leading from the catwalk to the wall-gantries of the Hive, close to an elevator. If they could reach that, they were as good as free. She tried to move faster, to summon some as-yet untapped reserve, but it was all she could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Right, left... Footsteps behind her, close. There was a narrow space between two containers to their side, and she squirmed into the gap and set Dee on the ground behind her, almost standing on top of her. She drew the knife, and tensed to spring.

He didn't see Mara until she was already on top of him, driving the blunt knife towards his neck. By some miracle it found his throat, and he collapsed. He blubbered blood and struggled for an instant, but Mara held him down, and he stopped moving. She staggered to her feet, gasping for air, blackness starting to fog the edge of her vision. He must have gotten ahead of the pack, but the rest would be coming on soon. Need to move, I need to move, and she sobbed with exhaustion and terror as she pulled Dee to her feet and staggered on.

Each step was an eternity of struggle. Mara was on fire with pain – but finally they rounded the bend and she could see the bridge ahead of her, steel slats lying on thin plastic cables. If they could get across, it would be the work of a moment to cut the plastic, and there wasn't another bridge to this side of the Hive for four levels down.

And that was when Tam appeared on the other side of the bridge.

She grinned. “Thought you'd go this way.” The pistol was in her hand, pointing at Mara's chest.

Mara let go of Dee. Her lungs bellowed, sucking down air. 

You know, I don't care what you've seen.” Tam's tone was conversational, almost friendly. She started to walk across the bridge, slowly, not in any hurry. “I see His Glory in my dreams every night. What could your words mean to me?”

Mara's eyes were locked on the muzzle of the pistol, focused on it like she was hypnotized. 

I've seen the glory of the Last City. I've seen the abomination of desolation. We are as nothing before the Final God. To be able to sing His praises is enough. But that won't stop me from killing you.” Tam's smile widened in anticipation. And then she made a mistake.

Tam's foot came down in a gap between the bridge slats. For a moment she glanced down, and Mara hurled herself forward, reaching for the gun. There was a moment of frenzied struggle, the crack of a shot, and then Mara's momentum carried them forward, and she slammed Tam's head into the bridge, again and again and again and again, until she the steel was stained with blood. She felt Tam go limp under her, and she reached for the gun, found it, aimed it, pulled the trigger, once, twice, the roar of the gun deafening.


We successfully escaped, but Dee was injured. I have relocated as planned in the event of compromise, and believe our current position is secure. Will communicate with further information as available. 

Mara saved the document, encrypted it, and pulled the datastick from her tablet. It would go to their contact in Lucky Strike tomorrow. She leaned back against the steel wall and sighed.

They were in the Bowels again, in a cavernous former warehouse. She wasn't sure if the cultists would keep tracking them, but she figured they wouldn't expect them to head down instead of up, and this was as safe as any other place. She'd deposited Dee here, then made a brief trip upwards to get supplies and their gear and spray every surface of their former domicile with industrial cleanser, to destroy any forensic traces.

She tried to think, to clear the cobwebs from her brain, to think of anything else she needed to do before she could sleep. She'd cleaned and bandaged Dee's wound as best as she could – it looked like the bullet had gone straight through. She hoped Dee wouldn't need a doctor.

She needed to sleep. 

Mara?” Dee mumbled. 


For a minute, she thought Dee had fallen back asleep, but then she spoke again. “Killing Lir... You know, in the waste, I envied you. You seemed... hard. Like it wasn't anything to you, to kill. I thought...” She trailed off again. “Does it get any easier?”

Mara sighed. “Yeah. Yeah, it gets easier.”

And, with that, she slept.

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