Take Your Medicine!
Taros Vutch and his twin sister sprinted around the corner, their younger brother Shem conspicuously absent. The string of profanity issuing from Kay's mouth mirrored Taros's feelings exactly.
Ahead of them, Corlain d'Jeres—that scrawny and resourceful bastard—was climbing a drain pipe, and was high above them already.
Kay swore again, at Corlain this time, and began lifting herself up the pipe too. Taros eyed it, dubious. He doubted it would hold the weight of all three of them.
Their pursuers rounded the bend behind them and autopistol shots began to fill the air. Taros grabbed his sister's arm and hauled her into the mouth of an alley.
“Sactimonious, grox-khelking Leyays,” she muttered as Taros shoved his bulk past empty synth-board boxes. Shouts and more gunfire came from behind them, including, bless him, the crack of Corlain's laspistol. The offworlder was good for slowing the Throne-damned Leyays down a bit, at least.
“You've never seen a live grox,” grunted Taros as he clambered over a toppled disposal unit.
“Have too,” shot back Kay as she followed more nimbly, brushing the short black hair from her eyes. “Old Man Wheychetch kept one in his brothel for the 'verts, until it got stolen for burger-meat.” They rounded another corner, and the congestion in the alleyway began to thin. The gunfire, however, had slackened, and the shouts were starting to come closer.
“And you've been in Wheychetch's brothel, sis?” he growled. A metal-slat fence now blocked their way. He hooked his fingers into one of the slats and began to climb.
Clatters sounded from the alley's mouth.
“Drop it, Tem,” she said, drawing her plug-blaster and turning to face their pursuers. “Now's not the time.”
Taros pulled his weight up to the top of the fence and saw why the alleyway was filled with so much refuse.
“Throne-thucked,” he hissed, blasphemously. Corlain would have flinched.
Beneath him spread an endless drop, the sheer side of a hive-chasm. Every underhive had them; cracks in the foundation which rendered certain areas unsafe. He hadn't been aware of one in the area.
Blackness swallowed the falling edge, but was speckled, below, with pinpricks of light. Campfires and makeshift braziers, Taros assumed.
A concussive clap sounded behind him, and he glanced back to see the first White Hospitalier that had rounded the corner topple into the filth, a hole in the chest of his pristine robes.
The plug-blaster was an innocuous enough looking weapon, a haphazard cobbling together of spare parts that were easy to smuggle through checkpoints, and kicked a powerful punch, to boot, but its downside was that you only got one shot.
The volume of the shouting increased.
“Hurry up and get over already, Tem,” Kay said, gritting her teeth.
“Can't,” he said. “Sheer drop. Can't see the bottom. We're in a bind.” He dropped back down to her side, but his citizen's grays snagged on the top slat. He shrugged out of them.
“Thuck,” Kay replied. It was all that needed to be said. She continued, though: “It looks like we'll end up like Shem, then.”
“Don't say that!” hissed Taros harshly, grabbing Kay by the front of her grays. “We don't know that he's dead!”
“Tem...” she said slowly. “He took a full autopistol clip to the chest.”
He let her go and stepped away, shaking his head slightly.
The rest of the Hospitaliers arrived—six of them. Their white robes swished as they rounded the corner, and the three with autoguns carried them leveled and ready. Their weeping masks stared grimly back at Taros and Kay.
“Smugglers,” barked their leader, brandishing a broken, and obviously stolen, Arbites power-maul. “Put your hands where I can see them—slowly. You are accused of bringing unsanctioned medical supplies into the plague zone, and endangering the hive with your negligent disregard for quarantine. You have encroached upon Hospitalier territory and killed four of us. The sentence for these crimes is death. Have you any last words for the Emperor, scum?”
Three? Corlain had gotten three before they took him out? Taros's esteem for the scrawny offworlder went up a notch.
“The plague is spreading in spite of your 'quarantine' territory grabs, you khelking Leyays,” Kay spat. “You lot aren't even trying to find a cure.”
The Hospitalier laughed. “Be that as it may...” he said, and waved his inactive maul.
Lasbolts, not autogun slugs, greeted his signal. The three Hospitaliers holding weapons were scythed down from above by Corlain's uncannily accurate fire.
Taros, just as stunned as the Hospitaliers, launched himself forward. He would be damned before he squandered the element of surprise.
The leader swung his maul as Taros lunged. With a swiftness that belied his bulk, the smuggler stepped in past the man's swing and headbutted him in the face. Cartilage cracked behind the mask.
The leader staggered away, false face askew and blood dribbling from its ventilation holes. Taros stepped forward again, but another of the Hospitaliers tackled Taros from behind, bearing him to the ground.
Taros rolled and scrambled, but still ended up on bottom, and on his back. One of his hands was caught between their stomachs, but the other was free to halt the descending knife.
Taros had greater strength, but the Hospitalier had position on him. A grunting struggle ensued, Taros striving keep his ugly face in one piece. His opponent tried to push the knife that last few inches, but was not too busy to knee Taros in the groin.
He winced, but had by now worked his left hand free. He fumbled with his own hip-sheath, drew out the plug-blaster, and shoved it into the eye socket of the Hospitalier's mask.
The bang rang in his ears, and a heavy mist of gore and blown-out brains drizzled down over his face.
He shoved off the corpse and staggered upright, wincing for his injured bits. The fighting was about over, with Corlain dispatching the wounded from above. Kay had accounted for the leader, her second kill, but that left an embarrassingly large total of seven for Corlain.
“Corlain, you thucking bastard,” he called up, “When you stopped firing, I could have sworn you'd dropped the teat!”
Colain laughed. “Sorry that it took me so long to get to the other roof, Taros. They didn't find me that easy to kill, though.”
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
Last edited by Mossy Toes; 03-27-11 at 05:37 PM.