I love being right.

Adree took a sip of water, set the bottle down, and looked through the scope again. Her rifle was propped on a sandbag to keep it level, aimed downwards across the street, and she’d spent several minutes lining up a good shot.

It didn’t look as if her two targets had moved in the meantime. The younger man, the one with the white forelock, was sitting close to the fire, his arms wrapped around himself as if he was cold. Adree, remembering what she had heard on Lailenus Street, let her gaze linger on him before moving away, putting that aside.

Athellus… Athellus was sharpening a knife against a piece of stone with quick, deft strokes. His feet were stuck out near the flames, which set his face in sharp relief and cast deep shadows around his eyes. Adree could see that he had retied the black bandage around his left arm.

From behind her, she heard Heston Robbes shift position, probably adjusting the night vision goggles against his eyes. He was dressed, as she was, in an opaque dark grey jumpsuit. It was traditional garb for Evinthei sniper teams, designed for camouflage in the shadows of the buildings. It was also equipped with thick padding on the wrists and at the back of the neck, because anyone who lingered in the southern ruins risked an Earthborn’s teeth.

Over the years, the Evinthei had come to know and respect the fact that Nones had many dangerous places, of which the Librais Tower was one – though it was far from being the worst. They knew enough to keep them under surveillance, both with remote sensors and regular patrols, and to keep an eye on all routes to and from them. Knowing she had lost her quarry on Lailenus Street and that the so-called Chapel was nearby, Adree had thought it over, and taken an educated guess that the trio would take the service tunnel to cut some time off their journey. She’d used an aerial drop to get across the river with Robbes, hoping to have enough time to set up a sniper’s nest and catch sight of them. Which she had, quietly congratulating herself on her foresight.

What she hadn’t expected to see, even as she was lining up her shot, was the white haired woman who had attacked her, walking calmly into the Librais Tower.

Incredulous, she had watched as, after a brief argument, the younger man raced after her, chased by Athellus. The two of them re-emerged shortly afterwards, running, but the woman hadn’t reappeared. With her natural gifts augmented by the implant in her brain, Adree could feel the Librais stirring, having subsumed a new operator, and radioed a warning back.

But now the other two were still by the Tower, apparently just…waiting. What were they waiting for? It wasn’t as if the woman was going to come out again. She was effectively dead, and even if the younger man didn’t know that, Athellus would.

If she was a perfect soldier, Adree supposed she would have taken her shot and completed her mission then and there. But the sheer oddity of these events had aroused her curiosity, and besides, if those banru were doing anything to the Librais Tower, she wanted to be the first to know. So she had settled down to wait, and to watch.

Something nudged her foot – Robbes, getting her attention.

 

 

previous | archive | next