The woods weren’t the place for her, Ygrid Vohilla thought to herself as she stumbled over a hidden log, grunting as she scraped her knee. For about the billionth time she got to her feet and cursed every tree and branch and stone in the stupid place. Eventually, she took another step and kept going, hauling herself through shrub after shrub.
It’d been almost two months since she’d lost her shipment, since she’d lost her gang. Almost two months of trudging through mud, scrub and filth. Her days of smuggling seemed all too distant now, all too far away and impossible to reach. It was funny, how much she’d missed it.
She’d often thought of smuggling as a means to an end, then she’d thought of it as a way to survive from Uek Ferris’ deadly hands. But now…now she knew that she’d actually enjoyed the thrill, enjoyed setting targets and deadlines, and had loved the feeling of credits in her hand at the end of a successful operation.
Of course, the old man and his gang of freaks had ended that. Now, she had to resort to blundering her way through the wilderness, too afraid to go back to civilisation, too afraid of the Storm. She obviously hated the man, but she knew what he could do, what he would do if he ever found her.
Not that she could find her way back if she wanted to.
She’d gotten lost long ago.
Another curse escaped her lips as she slumped against a tree, ignoring the pain in her body. Not for the first time, she was grateful of her species’ survival instinct. Her kind could go without food for months without needing to be replenished, and her tongue could take in pretty much any liquid and use it to keep going.
But it didn’t make up for the taste of slime that clung to her mouth, or the constant gnaw of her stomach begging for food. She lowered her bandanna and spat, wondering why she still wore the thing.
She sighed and checked her weapon for the fourth time in as many minutes. Still fully loaded. She’d used almost all of her remaining clips already, shooting down eager predators that plagued her sleep. But still, it was a comfort.
After Uek had caught her ammo-less, she’d made sure she’d never be found empty again.
The pistol clip slid back in with a click and Vohilla closed her eyes, letting her tired body rest while the night was young. But she knew it couldn’t be for too long. She’d need to get up into a tree soon…before…before…
Something in the night shifted.
Vohilla stirred slightly as her instincts woke her. Something, all of a sudden, was off. It felt like someone was watching her, something deadly. But whatever it was, it made no sound and when she opened her eyes and scanned the dimly lit forest, she couldn’t see it either.
Her gun was up before she’d even registered what was going on, and her eyes scanned back and forth, searching for whatever animal had wandered upon her sleepi-
Voice: “Ygrid Vohilla. We need to talk.”
Vohilla screamed and sent a volley of bullets into the night, waking the forest with the bellow of gunfire. A voice! It was the first voice she’d heard in months, other than her own!
But-but nobody knew she was out here! Nobody could know….
Unless…. unless she’d finally lost it. Unless her head had finally started the hallucinations that she’d known were coming. But still…the voice wasn’t one she recognised. It was deep, low, edged with an accent she didn’t know.
Surely her brain wasn’t that creative, but…but what other explanation was there?
Here she was, in the middle of nowhere, talking to herself.
Vohilla: “Okay, okay Ygrid, you aren’t crazy. This is all in your head…”
Voice: “A perfectly understandable assumption, but not a correct one.”
Vohilla: “Shut up…me. Wait, do I tell myself to shut up? Can I even do that?”
Voice: “I wouldn’t know. But I am no hallucination.”
Vohilla: “Right, of course ya not. Because someone managed to track me down in this dlug-filled scrimhole of a forest! Yeah, right. I’m not stupid, just insane, as it turns out.”
Voice: “I am no voice Vohilla, I am flesh and blood.”
Vohilla: “No! Stop talking! Just…c’mon Ygrid, it’s all in your head, it’s all in your head…”
Voice: “No, it isn’t. I can assure you of that.”
Vohilla spun, hearing movement to her left. But…that couldn’t be right, could it? Could hallucinations move? She didn’t think so, but…well, she was crazy know. Officially.
Who knew what her thoughts meant….Who kn-
A man stepped out of a tree.
Not from a gap between the trees, not from behind a tree, but out of a tree.
Vohilla screamed again, pure horror in her throat, and her pistol rocked backwards as it spat out its deadly load. She closed her eyes and fired as much as she could, as many rounds as she could until her gun clicked empty and she risked a peak.
The forest had gone dead silent, her gun was hot and the whole area smelt like gunpowder, tree sap and depleted ozone. She cracked open both eyes and took in the scene before her…
And her whole body went numb
Voice: “I’m sorry about that….”
Smote: “…Scaring you probably wasn’t the best of ideas.”
Smote stepped forward, brushing off the remains of the bullets from his clothing, and met Vohilla’s eyes. She was very still, apart from her legs, which shook wildly. She was taller than her reports stated, but thinner as well. A lack of nutrition, most likely. He spoke again, making sure to keep his eyes locked on hers, making sure she understood his intentions.
Smote: “Anyway, would you mind putting your weapon down? I have a proposition for you.”
Vohilla straightened and kept her weapon steady. She almost spat out the words she said.
Vohilla: “A... a proposition? How on earth did you even find me? It’s, I mean, impossible!”
Smote: “And yet here I am. Not so impossible. So, will you hear me out?”
Vohilla: “Who are you? Did the Storm send you?”
Smote: “No. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want to ruin his reputation and bring him down.”
The woman’s eyes widened and she gripped her gun with determined vigour.
Vohilla: “Wait, so it was you?! You sent those men that destroyed my operation, put me on the Storm’s watchlist?!”
Smote: “No. Whoever they are, I didn’t work with them. What did they look like, out of curiosity?”
Vohilla: “Shut up! You don’t ask the questions! I…I ask the questions!”
Smote: “Very well, then let me issue you a statement. I want to see Uek Ferris, yes, I know who he is, I want to see him beaten. I do not want to see what becomes of the system, any system, if he ends up in total control. However, his influence has spread like wildfire. His reputation proceeds him. I want someone to break that reputation.”
Vohilla: “And what’s that got to do with me?”
Smote clasped his hands behind his back and relaxed his stance, not taking his eyes off her for a moment. She, on the other hand, was beginning to shift focus as the conversation went on. She was curious herself.
Though whether she was curious about his offer or her sanity, he couldn’t tell.
Smote: “Quite a lot, actually. You know he’s the Storm, for one, and you worked with him. All I am saying is that a statement from you, to the right people, would be a major help in bringing him down.”
Vohilla: “But…but if you already know the truth, well…why don’t you tell them yourself?!”
Smote paused, frowning slightly as he digested her words, taking her in fully before coming up with an adequate answer.
Smote: “Quite honestly, it’s…complicated. Perhaps the easiest explanation is that the Council does not trust me.”
Vohilla: “The Marauder council?”
Smote: “No, the Imperial Council.”
Vohilla: “Scrim, you know them?!”
Smote: “We’ve met, and we don’t entirely get along, to say the least. But regardless of that, I am unknown within this galactic community, at least to the public. The word of a stranger would mean little, whereas an interstellar smuggler like yourself, turning themselves in-“
Vohilla: “Now hold on! I’m not turning myself in! I ain’t that stupid!!”
Smote: “I admit, it would be risky. But with your statement, the Council and the community may begin to question Uek and push an investigation into his private affairs. People will talk, weapons will be found and he will be forced to withdraw whatever operation he has planned.”
Vohilla: “Yeah right. I’ve seen what he can do…a few curious glances won’t change a damn thing.”
Smote: “I disagree. The power of the people can be quite unbelievable. Why do you think Uek has put so much thought into his public image? But regardless, nothing can be done if you do not wish to turn yourself in. I urge you to do so. Make a statement, help bring the Storm to his knees and spend a few years away from this life that you’ve led. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but smuggling has been quite… unhealthy for you, as of late.”
Smote saw the fury in her eyes slowly fade as the silence stretched between them. Very slowly, she lowered her gun and her eyes, pointing both at the ground. She was considering it.
It wasn’t without its risks, Smote knew that much. Uek could send any number of people after her, even within prison walls. But she would be a lot safer than being out in the world. Out here, well, few could protect you.
Especially with a man like Ferris on your heels.
Vohilla: “Heh…you….you almost had me.”
Smote stepped forward, confusion in his voice. She quivered gently, like little jolts of electricity were being periodically forced through her nerves. He tasted the air.
Fear. A slight sweat. What was she thinking?
Vohilla: “Oh, it’s a brilliant story. Very well done. But so…so damn wrong.”
Smote: “My story is no lie. My ship is positioned a few kilometres from here. I can take you to a lawman I trust, a man named Arthur Saville. Do you know him?”
Vohilla: “No...no, no no!”
Smote: “Please Vohilla. You’re currently my best shot at ending this peacefully.”
Vohilla: “Yeah, of course I am. But you made a mistake, Mr. Mystery. You asked me to give up smuggling. That ain’t something I’m gonna do, not now not ever!! I ain’t going to some damn hole where they’ll melt the key and leave me to die!”
Smote: “I assure you, that wouldn’t happen. I trusted Arthur, I trust him now. I’m sure he’d listen to me.”
Vohilla: “What you need is to listen to me right now! If there’s a way to end this, I’d take it. But going to prison? I’d never get out of there! Never, you hear me?! I’d be serving myself to Uek on a platter, staying in one place like that! I’d be left there to die!!”
She cursed under her bandana and raised the gun once more. Smote stayed where he was, the only movements he made was to raise his hands, hopefully getting her to understand.
Smote: “Ygrid, please. I offer this gesture as a way to end this war. Though you may not think so, this IS the way to end this.”
Vohilla: “Oh yeah? How do you know my testimony won’t be cut to shreds by Uek’s cronies, followed by me? Prove it! PROVE IT!”
He faltered slightly under her words, his thoughts rearranging themselves. A frown appeared on his impassive face. Vohilla noticed instantly.
Vohilla: “Exactly! You ain’t got the slightest clue!”
Smote: “Incorrect. Your statement will have the desired effect. So long as it and you are in Arthur’s hands, people will listen.”
Vohilla: “Bull. One thing I’ve learnt lately is that you can’t trust anything. If it wasn’t for Zorack, or my men breaking down like they did…we could’ve won. I could’ve won. Scrim, I can’t trust you. For all I know, you could be…could be working with Uek!-“
Smote: “I assure you, I am not.”
Vohilla: “Yeah, whatever. I…I. can’t trust you…can’t trust anyone….can’t, just can’t. Not even me….I can’t trust me! How do I KNOW you’re even real?! HOW are you real?”
Another frown appeared on Smote’s face as he stepped forward. Vohilla stepped back and slowly collapsed to her knees, her hands beating her own skull. She was having a mental breakdown.
This wasn’t good.
Smote: “I am very real. Here, I’ll pr-“
He barely took another step before the night filled with panicked gunfire. Immediately, he shut off his hearing again with a mutter of a few ancient words. A number more slipped from his lips, and the bullets shattered when they touched his clothing.
Vohilla kept up the firing, exchanging clips and emptying her rounds into the woods. Her eyes went wilder by the second, and he saw one of her eardrums burst. She howled in pain but kept her finger moving, blasting apart nearby shrubbery and flowers alike.
Finally, the gunfire stopped as Vohilla scrambled to remove a single bullet from a pocket on her vest. Judging by the look in her eye, it was the last one she had. Her last chance at stopping the ‘threat’ before her.
He sighed, defeated. He’d found her too late. Her mind was already too far gone to believe that what she saw was truly real. To far gone for her statement to have any true effect. Uek’s lawyers would dismiss her immidiatly.
Beyond that, she was a smuggler by heart and by nature. It’d been a long shot to think she’d give it up, even with a chance to bring Uek down.
Maybe a Ygrid with a working brain may have agreed…
…but he wouldn’t know now.
He raised his arms and began to back away and she raised the gun, tears beginning to drip from her eyes. Her bandanna had slipped, revealing a snarling mouth behind. Her voice screamed into the forest, animalistic and furious.
Vohilla: “You can’t be real! But you are, but you can’t be! Oh scrim…I’m insane! Is this what insanity feels like? Is it?!”
Smote: “I…don’t know.”
Vohilla: “Damn it, of course you don’t. I mean, of course I don’t. But you can’t die, because you aren’t here. I’m firing at nothing but my own head!”
Smote: “Well, that’s not- “
Vohilla: “Shut up! Shut up shut up! If you really existed, you wouldn’t need my help! Nothing could stop you! NOTHING! You don’t exist! You don’t, you can’t! Leave! LEAVE!!”
Smote sighed and backed away, leaving Vohilla with the lone bullet and the broken mind. Once he was out of her earshot, he ghosted back to his ship, moving quicker than anything else that drew breath.
But even still, his enhanced hearing picked out the sound of her muttering as the distance between them grew longer.
She was right of course. If he had the choice, he would’ve gladly walked directly into the Conduit building and stopped the threat of the Storm there and then. He wasn’t the only one of course. The Archmage could do it, a handful of Core Agents could do it, agents that he knew wouldn’t be corrupted by Uek’s words. But they had their own reasons for not doing just that…
If only she knew. If only she knew what he was, what he’d become. Then, maybe, she’d understand.
A kilometre away from his shuttle, almost down to the metre, he heard a single gunshot that echoed around the hills.
And the mutterings of Ygrid Vohilla were no more.
28 July, 2097
Risa: “Alright, we’re clear.”
Dustin nodded as Risa ducked down from the broken window and checked her pistol for the second time. The few sounds from the Imperial patrol echoed around the low buildings as the pair crossed the near-deserted road, their eyes roaming from side to side.
It’d been a long two months, made longer by the amount of time Risa had taken to heal. Her dad had beaten as much as he was physically able to. It’d taken days for the swelling to die down, weeks before she could move on her own. But even now, she refused to talk about it. Every time Dustin brought it up, all he got was a shrug and a frown.
Still, it wasn’t the biggest concern. No, the biggest concern was that the Commander of Wheatview had made it a personal vow to hunt down the traitorous Risa Donovan herself.
And she’d given it a fair show. The patrols moved constantly, even now, still searching through hovels and known hiding holes for the pair of them. Sometimes the pair of them would see them coming and get out with hours to spare. Other times, they’d escape under a hail of gunfire.
Dustin ran his finger along his arm, where a fresh scar had been placed by one eager bullet. As it was, it’d skimmed him. A few centimetres to the right though, and he could’ve kissed his lung goodbye.
Risa went in front of him and pressed herself to the alley wall, her eyes roaming the street. Her left hand was bandaged tightly, after one officer had gotten a little too eager with his combat knife. Still, he was in hospital with a snapped wrist, and she still out here.
So, there was that.
Dustin leapt into the alley and kept moving, Risa a moment behind. In the distance, his well-trained ears picked out the cries of the dog the patrol had with them, still being berated for having lost the scent of the traitors. Thankfully, that was all the dog was getting. Dustin was still picking off the bits of trash that clung to him after the dumpster diving he’d had to do.
Admittedly, both of them were filthy. They’d gotten rid of their other bags long ago, moving everything they needed to their satchels. Showers were few and far between, and a dunk in the odd swimming pool didn’t really count in his book. Even the Skarr hadn’t been as bad as this.
Still, in the Skarr, he hadn’t needed to run or hide nearly as much. Nobody cared about anybody else there. A horde of patrols certainly didn’t.
Ahh, the joys of framed murder.
Once they were in the clear, the pair slumped against a wall, regaining their breath remarkably quickly. Risa grabbed the water bottle from her bag and he grabbed the fruit from his. They each took a swig and a nibble before stuffing them back into their leather prisons.
Risa sighed and holstered her pistol, the one she’s carried for as long as he’d know her. Dustin let out a groan himself as he slowly fell down the wall till he was sitting comfortably. Or, as comfortable as the wall would allow.
Dustin: “You know what, I could go for a pizza.”
Risa: “A pizza? Really?”
Dustin: “Yeah…would really hit the spot right about now.”
Risa: “Well, you’re not wrong. How long’s it been since we ate?”
Dustin: “Like, a proper meal? About nine hours…you hungry?”
Risa: “Of course I am. Just not for pizza.”
Dustin: “Right. Any sign of another patrol?”
Risa: “Nope. I think your trip in the trash scared them off.”
Dustin: “Pull up some concrete then, we’ll be right for the moment.”
Risa sighed again and sank down beside him, checking the bandage on her hand. It was clean of course; any money they managed to get went toward medical equipment and clean water. Dustin still had money in his Core account, but after over a year of running from the law, renting apartments and houses as they went, those credits had been eaten away. But it wasn’t like he could go to a bank to get what remained. Somewhere along the line, Wheatview had managed to grab his face…his anonymity was somewhat lost, at least in the city.
Thankfully, Commander Sian was stubborn. She hadn’t let the news slip out of the city, hadn’t even told the public who the patrols were looking for. She wanted the glory of bringing them in all to herself. Which was good in one way. It meant Uek didn’t know where they were…yet. It wouldn’t take too much longer for a word to slip, for the underground to spread the rumour, for Uek and his cronies to come looking.
Still, they hadn’t had a chance to get out of the city. The keys that Hector Donovan had handed over after reducing his daughter to a punching bag still clinked gently in Dustin’s bag. He and Risa had talked of course, but the airfield where this ship was located was far too secure at the moment. And public transport was out of the question.
They were trapped, totally and utterly.
Dustin: “We really need to get out of here.”
Risa: “Thank you Captain Obvious.”
Dustin: “Any ideas?”
Risa: “None come to mind that we haven’t already thought of.”
Dustin: “You absolutely sure we can’t sneak into this airfield place?”
Risa: “Positive. Mick was an old friend of my Dad’s, and security won’t have died down since last time we checked. Unless you’ve got one heck of a disguise with you, we won’t be getting in.”
Dustin straightened slightly, an idea beginning to form in his head. It was a small possibility… but also a simple one. And simple plans often had the most chance of succeeding. Well…usually.
Dustin: “What level of disguise are we talking? New ID’s, obviously.”
Risa: “No, that wouldn’t cut it. Mick’s a little less sophisticated than that. Your datapad won’t get us around that.”
Dustin: “Less sophisticated how?”
She turned and met his eyes, her face calm as her own mind began to think. It’d been ages since they’d be able to sit down and actually talk about this. They rarely had the opportunity.
Risa: “Well…Mick goes by appointment only. You can’t get into his airfield by just waltzing in without his say so, so a pair of new ID’s won’t turn his head. On top of that, with this security, I’m sure everyone going in will be having background checks done.”
Dustin: “Roger, so we’d need our fakes to be more detailed than the one’s we’ve been using, and we need a reason for being there. Doesn’t sound too hard.”
Risa: “Second problem, Mick doesn’t trust easily, no matter who you are. Judas Boan or the Archmage could walk up to Mick’s gates and demand entry, and he still wouldn’t open them without the background check. So we need to gain his trust quickly.”
Dustin: “Couldn’t we be old friends of Hector Donovan?”
Risa: “Unlikely. I…I knew my Dad’s friends well. He didn’t have many after…well…um…he just didn’t have many.”
Dustin frowned at her hesitation, but pressed on. During the past few months, he’d learned something about his companion, something he hadn’t picked up on before meeting her father. If she didn’t want to talk about something in her past, he couldn’t force her.
Coax her perhaps, when the mood was right. But force her? Not a chance.
Dustin: “Right. So…that’s no good. Well then…hmm…the way I see it, our best bet is to use our own glorious reputation to get in.”
Risa: “Umm, right. Please explain?”
Dustin: “Just an idea I’m working on. Give it awhile, and it’ll flesh itself out. Needing money though, is the problem. And we’ll need a fair lot of it.”
Risa: “And we still can’t get to your accounts?”
Dustin: “Nope. We’ll just have to be think of something else. Maybe we-“
Dustin was cut off as an angry yell echoed out from the street. He turned to Risa, who was already removing her pistols. He nodded and stood, shaking his shoulders as he rose. An instant later, and they were moving soundlessly back the way they’d come, ready for the sight that greeted them around the corner.
As they drew nearer, they made out voices. Three men, by the sounds of it, one quite a bit more vocal than the others. Dustin didn’t need his well-trained hearing to pick out the words.
Man: “-drink wherever I want! C’mon, it’s the middle of the day, and I ain’t even close to being done!”
The pair slowed and Dustin poked his head round the corner, careful to keep his motions minimal. One man stood in the centre of the quiet street, two others directly across from him, guarding a door to what appeared to be a bar.
The loner looked tired, but his eyes were alive with anger. His clothing may have been good once, but it was clear that he took little pride in his appearance. He was young, and his hair was long, but apart from the anger in his eyes he was surprisingly plain.
The bouncers shrugged and spoke, cutting through the young man’s voice.
Bouncer 1: “Look, like we said, you were being disruptive. We don’t have to serve you.”
Man: “Come on! I’m tired and I’m thirsty, and I’ll drink wherever I damn well want! You don’t get this kind of thing on Earth, no siree!”
Bouncer 2: “Sir, I’m from Earth, and I’m pretty sure kicking out noisy patrons is universal.”
The man growled and fumbled with his wallet, as if a valid ID would somehow change his situation. One bouncer shook their head visibly, unable to leave their post. Dustin turned to Risa and grinned. They weren’t needed here.
But the next words caused Dustin to perk up again, and his smile grew even wider when he heard them.
Man: “Look, I know my rights! I can drink here, I’m more than old enough! Look, read this!”
Bouncer 1: “Sir, I don’t think-“
Man: “See? That’s my name, right there! Brack Kast'erre!”
Dustin faced Risa again, only to find a welcome smile on her face as well. Brack Kast'erre, a murderer with a bounty on his head. Of course, they’d considered bounty hunting as a potential out but, ultimately, it’d been impossible. They’d been having a hard-enough time keeping the police of their own backs when they stuck to the shadows, let alone chasing down bounties with next to no information.
But, for once, Lady Luck was smiling down on them. And with that, the final pieces of Dustin’s plan fell into place.
Dustin: “Risa, stay here. I’ll be right back.”
She nodded and removed one of her guns, covering his back as he strolled around the corner without a care in the world. He mocked surprise as the trio of faces glanced at him, but beamed back with an over the top smile that dripped with happiness. He hoped it was enough to distract them from how filthy he was.
He raised his voice, dropping his Australian accent to mask his identity as best he could.
Dustin: “Brack? Brack Kast'erre?! What a pleasant surprise! It’s been, what, a year now? Two? What on earth are you doing here?”
Bracks’s eyes shot upward at the greeting as his mind began backpaddling, trying to remember how he knew the stranger on the street.
One of the bouncers took the opportunity to step back into the pub, leaving his mate to mop up the remains of the situation. Brack looked around for a moment, but ultimately came back with the same response most people had.
Brack: “Er, oh! Yeah…um… Hey. How have you been?”
Dustin: “Oh, here there and everywhere. About to go for a drink? C’mon, I’ll treat ya! What are friends for?”
Bouncer 2: “Um, I’m sorry sir. Your friend was causing quite the ruckus before, and my managers refused him service for the remainder of the day.”
Brack: “No! Now look-
Dustin: “-No problem at all. Don’t worry, he gets like that. I’ll take him home, catch up on old times, all that sort of jazz.”
Brack: “Now wait-“
Dustin cut the man off again and slapped the young man’s back the way a long-lost friend would. Brack immediately backed up, but Dustin grinned and gave him a slight nudge forward, keeping the stream of friendly conversation going.
Dustin: “Thank you for your patience guys. I know old Brack can be hard to handle, especially with a few beers in his system. You have a great afternoon now!”
Bouncer 2: “Thanks. You too.”
Dustin: “C’mon Brack, let’s get going! I’ve got a place a few blocks down, nice little pad. Fully stocked fridge too! What’s your poison?”
Brack: “Um…look man, It’s great to see you, but I’ve actually got somewhere to b-“
Dustin: “Nice try Brack, but you won’t get rid of me that easily! Your pub can be my place! C’mon, you can’t say no to free beer?”
Brack: “Well, yeah…I guess. So…you look well.”
Dustin: “Thanks! Hardcore Pilates. You ever done Pilates? It’s phenomenal, you know? Feel healthy, lose weight, and look fantastic, and you could certainly lose a few, if you know what I’m saying.”
Brack: “He, I…guess so. I mean, I’ve been busy. I only arrived here last night. I’ve been on Earth for a while.”
Dustin: “Dude, you’ve been missing out! Qoter is where it. Is. At! Apart from all that death robot business, and the destruction of Knightborn, and the countless other happenings that go on. I swear, it’s like there’s a million movies all going on here, all at the same time.”
Brack: “Erm…yeah, I guess so. Look, sorry, but what was your na-“
Risa: “One sound and you’re dead.”
Brack’s eyebrows shot upwards and he went to run, but Dustin pinned him in place with the arm on his shoulder. The man went to scream, but Risa jammed her gun into his chest, repeating her statement. Brack glanced around desperately, trying to alert anyone of the peril he was in.
But the bouncer had already gone inside, and the alley was dead silent.
Dustin sighed. Sometimes, misdirection was almost too easy. Of course, having a few drinks in the man’s system had certainly helped. He’d barely noticed where they were heading once he begun to contribute to the conversation.
Risa stepped back, but kept her gun steady. Brack slowly raised his hands, sweat dripping off him in buckets.
Dustin stepped to Risa’s side, his natural smile on his face as he recalled the file he’d read. Brack Kast'erre was definitely a violent man, but only when he had the upper hand. He’d ran after killing his husband in cold blood, avoiding the public eye as much as possible.
Brack: “Who…who are you people?”
Risa: “I’m Risa, he’s Ted. I’m sure you’ve heard of us.”
He certainly had. Colour drained from his face like a leaky balloon as his knees began shaking and the sweat flooded out. His eyes didn’t leave the barrel of the gun as he uttered the next words.
Brack: “So…you going to kill me traitor?”
Risa: “I’m no traitor, and I’m no murderer.”
Brack: “That’s not what the news says.”
Dustin: “Yeeeah, a tad hypocritical coming from you mate. Look, it’s nothing personal, I promise. It’s just, well, we need money, and the bounty on your head’s more than enough.”
Brack: “Er…er…oh, OFFICER!”
Instinctively, Risa and Dustin glanced down the alleyway, taking less than a second to search for the officer.
There wasn’t one.
With a cry, Brack snatched the gun out of Risa’s hands and pulled it on the pair, the colour returning to his face as his confidence grew.
Brack: “HA! You idiots! I’ve been on the run for ages! Do you know how many times I’ve had a gun pulled on me?”
Dustin: “Do we care?”
Brack: “WHAT? Morons! I think I’ll turn you in myself, thank you very mu-“
His sentence was left unfinished as Risa stepped forward, snapping her palm into his jaw with the speed of a cobra. Brack stumbled back and hit the ground, his eyes losing focus and the gun slipping from his fingers.
In a flash, the pistol was back in Risa’s hands, trained on the man again. Dustin nodded to himself. No matter what Risa told herself, she was good. Her aim on that blow had been perfectly timed.
Dustin bent over and checked the man softly groaning on the ground. No broken bones, only the mother of all headaches. He grinned to himself as Risa finished checking her gun.
Dustin: “Nice one!”
Dustin: “Alright, so how are we going to do this? We can’t drop him off at the police station.”
Risa: “Well, I do know of one place. It’s right across town. A little run down, but the cops aren’t exactly… the sharpest knifes in the drawer. A quick disguise, and I’m sure you’d get away with it. Then we get on with your plan…whatever it is.”
Dustin smiled again and produced some zip ties from his bag, securing Brack’s hands behind his back. Once he was satisfied, he turned to face his companion, his smile still beaming. Risa stared for a few seconds before her eyebrow arched and a puzzled look filled her eyes.
Good one! Glad to see things moving along! I agree that Vohilla's part/ending was very nicely done and I liked the way you worked the bounty hunt into your story. I also love reading your episodes just because they always seem to help tie the universe together. The mentions of Judas and Eris etc. And was "Ahh, the joys of framed murder." a nod to Tank? Haha!
Good stuff all around! Your points and coins have been added!