Gunfire. Las and solid projectile alike ripped down the corridor, stray rounds punching holes through the wooden walls, showering us in pouts of exploding dust, which engulfed much of the hallway in a thick, white haze. Forcing my colleagues and me into cover. Two of whom, Jarvus and Callague, never made it. A Las round burned through the side of Jarvus' skull as the ex-guardsman desperately dived. Callague was dead before he could even move, the poor bastard almost cut apart by the intense fire.
Cursing, I blindly fired my auto gun from the corner, Into the dust obscured corridor. "Spray and pray" is the technical term and wondered for the hundredth time why I had joined this line of work. No way in hell could I get a clean shot; my only hope was to pin the assailants.
With a quick-fire signal to Garrakson behind me. I slipped back, and the ex-guardsman took my position.
"Fire in the hole!" he sang out in his oddly melodic voice, and with a grunt, the middle-aged man hefted a tube-charge down the hall.
The explosion's deafening roar preceded by the hefty clatter of falling debris.
Without hesitation, Elandria and I slid into the corridor. Side by side we sprinted through the dust and debris, firing our auto guns from the hip. Two unfortunate gangers buckled and collapsed under our withering fire. A pair of darkened figures stunned by the grenade's force.
At the last moment, we dropped our weapons and fell upon our enemies. Elandria drawing twin monomolecular enhanced blades from the sheaths on her back. I drew my mono-sword from its hip scabbard. Elandria let out a spine-chilling cackle and dodged a ganger's clumsy blow then countered with a deft slice, relieving him of his head.
Not in such humour. I parried a ganger's stabbing knife and kicked my boot's knife into his shin. The man's agonised scream became gurgling as I stabbed through his chest and I kicked the convulsing idiot off my blade. Immediately, I was forced to duck the next Hammer's wild swing of the butt of his Las gun. My blade arced into his left hip and through to his right shoulder. The man gurgled blood then fell onto his back.
Beside me, Elandria also finished her last attacker, disembowelling the ganger with a quick slice of Setsukia then decapitated him with Katrina.
She and I worked well together, but our combat styles could not have been more different. I was taught the way of the combat pragmatist: to do anything and everything to win, to fight with quick, brutal and practical techniques.
She fought like a gymnast, with acrobatic and fanciful techniques I found at first contemptuous. But I could not deny that she was skilled, very skilled.
She had yet to reveal what school of assassins she was taught in, but I could hazard a guess.
Elandria enjoyed killing. To such heights, it disturbed me and her obsession with decapitating her victims, unnatural. Hence why she wielded twin blades: Setsukia, for blocking and wounding. Katrina, specifically to decapitate. She fought while amped on combat drugs, which I was taught to do too, but detested. If you relied on enhancements, what good would you be without them? I supposed that was why her fanciful style was so effective.
I do not enjoy killing; I do it because needs must, in a professional manner and pride in my work. I am Attelus Xanthis Kaltos, I am a mercenary, and that is that.
Despite her ruthless, bloodthirsty nature, Elandria was an attractive young woman. At times her beauty held me in awe. Her skin, deathly pale and her straight brunette hair, jaw length. But I was wise enough to know a girl like her was only to be looked at, not chased being so indoctrinated by her cult, all she would ever know was the mindless urge to kill. It was quite depressing really.
The four that fell to our blades were the last; another three had taken the brunt of the blast.
'Good work you two' said Garrakson, his heavy boots crunching on the debris as he approached our backs.
Elandria and I turned to our colleague. Elandria was tense, shaking and as she spun she almost toppled over. Fortunately, Garrakson was smart enough to stand out of range of Elandria's blades; she was hugely unpredictable when in such a state.
I shrugged. "All in a day's work," I said, trying to sound nonchalant. "We must be getting back before the local Magistratum arrive."
Garrakson grimaced slightly, "or the damnable Arbites."
"C-cut the chit chat s-shall we?" said Elandria her voice was painful, needy. "Our master will be wanting, to hear of our exploits.' She was twitching madly now, another reason I kept off stimms; the withdrawal was intense.
"What?" said Garrakson. "Our exploits being that we lost even more good men chasing yet another dead end?"
I sighed, Garrakson's words rang true. I had been part of Taryst's personal army for half a year now, and so far this had to be the most horrible, thankless job I've ever had.
Taryst, a famous Rogue trader, well known throughout the Calixis sector as a master of trade and business. Who, for an unknown reason, was waging war against the gangs of this Hive world: Omnartus. So secret this struggle was any mercenary who joined had their mind blocked from psyker intrusion. That was over two thousand men and women. Emperor only knows how even he could afford it.
"What are we to do about Callague and Jarvus?" I said; starting down the corridor and past Garrakson, although already knowing the answer.
Garrakson sniffed causing his scarred, square-jawed face to contort. "Do what we always do," he said, shaking his head. "Leave 'em; we don't have the time, kid."
"Just for a change huh?" I sighed. "Poor bastards. I hope that the Magistratum treat them well."
"Why does it matter?" asked Elandria, despite a drug-induced withdrawal approached she with such feline grace she seemed to float. "The dead are dead; it does not matter how well you treat them."
I sighed again. No matter how many times I explained it, she still didn't understand.
Garrakson sniffed again but this time he hawked up a wad of phlegm he unceremoniously spat to the floor. "Okay kiddies, we split up," he said, "Elandria go south-west-"
"Yeah, yeah," I interrupted. "We know the drill: I go southeast, and you go south, meet at the base at eighteen hundred, we know."
Garrakson shook his head with a bemused smile, "how long has it been now?"
"One hellish half of one hellish year," I answered, though I was not sure either.
"Hellish? Hellish?" said Garrakson. "Now that's the damned understatement of the damned century. Alright then, just move out now, if you know the bloody drill so frigging well."
And we did it, yet again.
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