When she was sure they were gone, Adree Aeslin clambered down from her sniper’s nest over the building’s rubble, her rifle slung over her shoulder. Robbes followed; lacking her limber grace he struggled to keep up with her.

“Commander, wait a moment. Ma’am – “

Adree kicked the remains of the fire out of the way as she strode forwards. Behind her, Robbes jogged to catch up.

“Commander, I don’t understand. They were right in your line of fire. We could –“

Adree wheeled around to face him, her teeth clenched, a catch in her throat at the knowledge that he was quite right, that she had let a prime opportunity slip by. But that was secondary beside her fierce excitement. Almost gently, she grabbed Robbes’ shoulders and shook him.

“We just saw a woman walk into the Librais Tower, get subsumed enough to set it gathering power… and then walk out again. Alive. She was able to go in and come back out. Don’t you get it? She was able to use the Librais for something. It didn’t kill her.”

Adree let him go and walked towards the Tower, as carefully as if she was circling a wild beast. She removed a small hand light from her belt, and clicked it on. Under the beam, the puddle of gore the woman had vomited up glistened. Used to the smell of blood, Adree thought this smelt different – strong, like iodine.

“Give me your medical kit.”

Robbes handed it over. Adree removed a sample cup and a wad of cotton wool. Taking care not to touch it, she swabbed up a large sample of the blood, dropped it in the cup, and snapped the lid closed over it. She got to her feet and held the container up before her eyes.

“I want to know what kind of person it is that can go toe-to-toe with a Zodiac Engine,” Adree said, softly. “I want to know what she’s doing with Athellus Borden, and what those three are up to.”

The scars on her arm, which were already healing well, seemed to throb as she looked at her prize, then turned to her aide.

“And I'm going to use it to take them down.”

Robbes smiled, and came to attention. “Very good, ma’am.”

“Radio the air crews to send a pickup. We’re going home.”

 

 

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