Stealth is what the Cevan Special Forces was assembled for, with no room for mistakes.
Laiserta knelt on the scaffolding and remained motionless save for the slight rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Her stealth-suit was in its black mode, and in the night during the freezing rain, she was virtually invisible against the black of the building behind her. The air exiting from her lungs condensed in cold winter atmosphere, and her red eyes glowed slightly as she scanned the building directly across from her.
Laiserta had her eyes on four figures inside, and she needed the distance away from the building to be able to watch them all. "Leblanc," she said quietly to the radio in her left ear, "there's a guard approaching you from behind."
She watched as the tall man stilled himself where he was hiding in the rafters the long hall he and now a security guard occupied. The guard casually passed underneath, walking through on his routine pass by the area. Once he'd left the hall, Laiserta gave Leblanc the 'all clear' signal and he continued creeping forward in the cramped space of the ceiling.
Quickly scanning again, Laiserta saw that Reine and Maison had the target in tow and were headed for the roof. Leblanc and Alain were only inside to provide distractions should Reine and Maison need them. Reine's group was on the highest floor of the complex and silently moving toward the last stairwell that would lead them out. Leblanc was slowly moving toward his exit four floors beneath Reine's team, and Alain was on the other end of the building two floors below Leblanc, in position to exit when Laiserta gave the signal.
Laiserta turned her attention to Reine and Maison once more. The pair had stopped moving for a few minutes on the final floor, just below their exit to the roof. "What seems to be the problem?" Laiserta asked evenly, keeping her voice low.
"Blueprints indicated there would be an access to the roof here, but..." she heard the feminine voice of Maison trail off.
"It's been sealed shut," Reine cut in. "The hatch has been welded closed. We can't get out from here," he finished quickly.
"I'll find you another exit," Laiserta responded as she zoomed in on their location with her eyes. She had the blueprints memorized too, but trusted her eyes to help her more in the current situation. "There," she said, refraining from the instinctual need to point to the area. "Down the hall to your right about twenty meters, take a left and follow that hall to the end. There's an emergency exit to the roof."
"Got it," Reine replied. He and Maison began moving again, with Reine carrying the mark by himself.
"Damnit," Laiserta cursed as she saw a pair of security guards headed for their level, "you've got company. Two guards will be approaching from the south."
"Copy that," Reine quickly replied. He passed the target to Maison and slowly moved towards the hallway where the two guards would appear. Maison moved onward, carrying the unconscious form of Brigadier General Diethelm with little effort.
Reine stood flush against the wall right next to the corner of the hall. He could hear the guards coming, and he pulled out the six-inch knife he carried in small sheath attached to his right thigh. Gripping the weapon tightly in his right hand, he knew he had to be quick in silencing both guards before any of the others heard of the commotion. It would only take two quick slices, as long as he was accurate.
The moment the guards set foot around the corner, Reine rushed the guard farthest from him, giving the soldier a strong knee to the abdomen. After hearing the air leave the guard's lungs, Reine quickly slashed the other across the neck before he could speak. The spy felt the warm blood of his victim spurt across his face and chest, but ignored the feeling as he pushed the soldier and to the side, letting his body slide along the wall to the ground to lessen the sound of the impact.
The Taydran assassin then turned his attention to the one remaining soldier. He quickly grabbed the man's jaw with his left hand and ran his knife across the front of the guard's neck with his right hand. After hearing the soft sound of blood rushing out from the guard's body, Reine let the man fall to the ground and sheathed his weapon.
Before Reine had moved an inch, Laiserta's voice cut into his left ear. "Don't move. The only clear spot is directly behind you. You need to jump backwards at least a meter to clear the mess you made."
"Are you kidding me?' Reine whined before his features settled into a smirk only he knew he wore. "Not a problem." With that, he leapt straight up and grabbed the beams of the rafters above. Hanging by his hands on the metal beams, he turned himself around and moved away from his two victims to clean the range of blood they'd spilled, or at least he assumed that's what his commander was talking about. He dropped from the rafters and heard another female voice in his ear.
"Let's go Reine; we're clear," Maison spoke to him. He turned and jogged down the hall again to the exit his commander had pointed him to before the two guards showed up. Once on the roof, he saw Maison still carrying the much-larger-than-her unconscious Taydran General.
Laiserta stood on the scaffolding once she saw Reine's team was on the roof of the building waiting for extraction. "All right children, we're done here."
Laiserta was wiping off her yellow sunglasses and when Reine entered the room. She glanced up at the spy briefly before returning her glasses to her face and addressing him. "Something you need, Captain?"
Reine went ahead and seated himself across from her in the only chair in the room. Laiserta was sitting on her bed, back leaned against the metallic wall of their ship. They were headed for a Cevan space station to turn in their first three captures because they didn't have the resources to detain any prisoners for an extended period of time. "Is there anything wrong with wanting to get to know my commanding officer better?" he queried, flashing a white smile.
Laiserta rolled her eyes at him before she responded. "That's gonna get you nowhere real fast, kid."
"Kid?" Reine echoed. "You're two years younger than me if I remember correctly."
"Why is it that you all know so much about me?" Laiserta asked, genuinely concerned. "Is it some huge joke I'm just not part of, or what?"
"We're all expert assassins," Reine replied, "and all of us in this unit are guild members. It's kinda hard to not know of one of the few assassins to refuse to join our ranks, especially someone of your caliber." Laiserta thought she saw honesty in his green eyes, but the fact that he'd brought up the guild made her doubts rise once more.
"I'm not one for group projects; sorry," Laiserta replied flatly, her eyes falling away from his. What she told Reine was a bit of a lie, sure... but admitting the awful truth aloud to another person wasn't something Laiserta had planned on doing in her lifetime. Ever.
"After two ops with us I'd beg to differ, Xyros," Reine smirked as he used her given name.
Laiserta glared at him. "I thought I told you to address me as 'Commander' and nothing more?" She didn't like that so many of these guild members knew her real name, and she was highly irritated that Reine thought he could use it whenever he felt like.
"Sorry," Reine said with a shrug. The pair sat in silence for a minute before Reine spoke again. "I'm Nassas, by the way."
"What?" Laiserta wasn't entirely listening to him when he spoke.
"Nassas Reine," he repeated. "Otherwise known as 'the Derelict Blade," he laughed slightly.
Laiserta rolled her eyes again. "I'm not fond of the whole nickname thing. Especially when I get something as dumb as-"
" 'Death's Shadow?' " Nassas supplied. "That's a badass nickname, actually. You should appreciate it," he smirked.
Laiserta's gaze flattened. "How so?"
"We're all assassins, so we're all death dealers," Reine began. "When someone actually has the word 'death' in their nickname it automatically means you're badass," he laughed. "I like my nickname, but something like 'Death's Blade' would have been a hell of a lot cooler."
"And you wonder why I've refused to join the guild," Laiserta sat upright. "You're all too concerned about stupid shit like nicknames and ranks and whatnot. I don't need any more complications in my life, thanks."
"Aw come on," Nassas whined, "you should at least consider it. Hell, I bet if you met the Republican and free zone guild master you'd change your mind." Laiserta raised an eyebrow at Reine and he continued. "The guy's about as badass as any of us get. His nickname's 'The Devil' and he does this thing with these scythes," Reine motioned in the air with his hands though his gestures did little to actually convey his thoughts to Laiserta. "They're not real, but they look and feel real... not sure how he does it," Reine laughed. "It's awesome; you have to see it to really understand it, though."
Laiserta sighed and stood, moving towards the open door of her room. She didn't care to hear what Reine had to say and if she had to vacate her own room just to be rid of him she was fine with that.
"Whoa," Reine jumped up and stood in the doorway, blocking Laiserta's exit. He was closer to the door from where he sat and she thought he might do that when she started to rise. "C'mon Commander," Reine addressed her according to her wishes for once. "Don't you wanna spend a little quality time together?" he asked with an open-mouthed smirk.
Laiserta's visage was flat. "Move out of the way before I break a few of your bones."
"Hey, I can take it rough," Reine replied with a slight laugh.
"Reine," Laiserta growled. "You may think you're funny, but I don't, and my opinion is far more important than yours at the moment," she continued, starting to become really irritated by the captain's actions. A thought suddenly hit her. If this is how much I annoy Trunks... damn. She grimaced, making a silent promise to herself to leave her comrade alone when she saw him again.
"How about we make a deal?" Reine smiled, still blocking her path. "If I can set up an operation to capture Hinden, and it's a success," he paused, "you have to kiss me." The Cevan spy grinned at his commanding officer.
Laiserta rolled her eyes and shrugged. "Sure kid, whatever, just get out of my way." Reine obliged and moved aside and Laiserta strode out of her room. Reine assumed she'd be heading to the bridge to find something to do, probably check on their progress back to Ceva.
He moved to the other side of the room and flopped down on Laiserta's bed. She could be a workaholic if she wanted; he was going to take the opportunity to rest.
Laiserta landed as softly as she could manage on the roof of the building, immediately falling into a crouching position once her feet hit the concrete. She stood and looked to the five spies standing behind her before turning her attention to the skylight window that lay before her. She could see the dim security lights on inside the building, but that wasn't enough. Using her enhanced eyes, she scanned the area for any security. The two guards scheduled to patrol the side of the building she and her comrades were currently located walked along a path on the other end of the complex.
"Okay, let's go," Laiserta commanded her subordinates. They immediately fell into step preparing to enter the building, equipping and tightening the harnesses they would wear to descend into the building. Their current position was forty feet above the floor of the highest story of the building they were about to infiltrate, so unabashedly dropping in was out of the question.
As her troops readied themselves, Laiserta quickly disarmed the security system around the window and opened three panes, specifically the three panes she and her spies would enter through. She stood and approached the group, quickly outfitting her own rigging to lower herself into the complex. She briefly eyed each of her spies as they finished setting up the anchoring system on the roof that would allow their stable descent.
"Reine," Laiserta spoke sharply to the Cevan spy. He immediately looked up her with curious eyes. "I told you to use a double hex knot. You'll fall if you don't-"
"It's fine how it is," Reine shot back. "I've done this a million times before and it's never been a problem."
Laiserta glared at him but didn't bother to press the issue further. /If he wants to get himself killed, fine by me/, she thought bitterly while checking the last of her gear. She was bringing both pistols this time, and they had been equipped with silencers. Conversely, she'd left her short staff at their current encampment, deeming it unnecessary for the current mission.
"Okay," Laiserta addressed the spies, "you all know what the plan is. Don't screw up," she added and turned to the open window. Reine lowered himself into the first open window pane while Laiserta scanned for the guards again. They were still on the other end of the complex, so she signaled Reine to continue. The captain let go of the building and began lowering himself with the ropes, but just as he was three meters down he heard a tearing sound.
Laiserta looked at Reine, and just as she did his ropes tore and Reine fell the remaining thirty feet, hitting the ground inside the complex with a dull thud. "Damnit," Laiserta cursed under her breath. Getting a bearing on the situation, she quickly scanned Reine in one of her vision modes to get an idea of his injuries. It was hard to tell but she thought she saw a fracture in his left tibia. Worried that guards might have heard him, Laiserta looked for the two men she knew to be watching the floor. They must have heard Reine's fall because when she saw them they were sprinting to the fallen spy's location.
"Maison!" Laiserta wheeled around to look at the brunette woman she'd addressed. "This mission is aborted; you all know what to do."
"What?" Maison questioned in shock. "But Reine-"
"He fucked up; that's his problem," Laiserta shot back. "Maison, you're in charge until I get back, now get your squad out of here!" she barked at the still stunned brunette.
"But what about you Commander?" Maison was quick to ask.
Laiserta sighed and moved towards the skylight once more. "I have to go save someone's ass."
Maison only stood still for a few seconds once Laiserta had turned her back to her. "This mission has been aborted!" she barked and spun around to look at her comrades. "Fall out!"
Doing as told and following their preplanned directive for a mission abort, the four remaining Special Forces soldiers complied with their orders and headed toward their exit. They needed only to move to a building across the street via zip lines set up from their own equipment before heading back down to ground level.
Laiserta didn't pay any attention to what her squad was doing once she'd placed them under Maison's command. She knew the Cevan woman was perfectly capable of handling the situation, and Laiserta's current focus was getting down into that building and extracting Reine. She knew that she'd told them all she'd leave any of them behind to die the moment they screwed up, but the idea of not seeing his grinning face anymore bothered her on some level.
Laiserta scanned again and saw the guards were closing in on her and Reine's location. With little time remaining to get down there unnoticed, Laiserta loosened one of the knots of her ropes and closed two of the windows up top before lowering herself in to the third. Knowing that the landing was going to be messy at best, she let go and fell at a slightly slower pace than Reine, bending her knees and preparing for the landing.
Laiserta landed with about the same level of noise as Reine, and her bones burned from the impact. Clenching her teeth and ignoring the pain, she yanked on the rope leading from the ceiling forty feet above. The window she'd entered through closed and the rest of the rope fell inside, sealing her entrance and ensuring that she wouldn't escape the way she had entered. Laiserta rapidly rolled up the rope and hoisted it on her right shoulder.
"Command-er...?" Laiserta heard Reine painstakingly whisper to her from where he lay on the floor. He'd managed to crawl several meters toward a wall from the time he fell to now.
Laiserta ran over to him and scanned with her X-ray vision once more. "You've got a fractured left tibia," she said hurriedly. "Ready?"
Reine had no idea what she meant by 'ready' but nodded anyway. Laiserta grabbed Nassas by the shoulders and hefted him up, pulling him on to her back. Reine held on to her shoulders with his arms, and Laiserta finished by pulling his thighs forward to rest on her pistols. She wouldn't be able to pull out her weapons quickly but she had no other feasible way to carry Reine; he was at least three inches taller than her and being all muscle meant he wasn't light, either.
Hearing the footsteps of the guards and knowing they were only seconds from spotting her, Laiserta took off in the opposite direction, dashing around a corner split seconds before being seen by the Taydran soldiers. Once she was around the corner, Laiserta immediately stopped. The guards had stopped, and if she kept running they'd hear her footsteps, so now she had to take it slow. She moved deliberately, taking one step at a time and trying to move as little as possible. If she bumped Reine's injured leg against anything there was no telling if he would scream out in pain without thinking, so that left Laiserta to consider tactics that would work for the both of them.
She held on to Reine's thighs with both hands, still afraid his legs would fall if she didn't. Laiserta kept moving forward until she heard one of the guards speak behind her. She couldn't tell what he said, but she instantly knew what the problem was. The one item she hadn't picked up... Reine's rope. He'd taken it off after he fell, and the guards must have found it. Damnit/, Laiserta thought to herself. Now they /knew someone was inside and would call others to search for the pair.
Laiserta took a deep breath to try and calm her nerves. All she had to do was make her way to the other side of the building and then down two flights of stairs until she found an emergency exit. That'd be the fastest and easiest way out of the building. Now all she had to do was get there with an injured comrade in tow and at least a dozen guards scouring each floor for her. Easy... right.
Tresia sighed as he sat down and leaned back into the unusually soft cushioning of the booth. "So," he said, rubbing his hands together inside his trench coat to warm them up faster, "what have you got for me?"
The brunette man sitting across from him avoided the subject. "It's freezing out there, isn't it? I lost feeling in my toes within five minutes!"
"It's winter," Tresia replied, obviously annoyed. "There's also two feet of snow everywhere. What do you expect?"
"Right, right," the other man replied. "I get your point." He coughed and drank from his cup of hot tea before continuing. "It seems your girl has gotten herself involved with a mercenary."
"Oh really?" Tresia raised an eyebrow. It was odd to think of Laiserta doing anything in a group, but he'd been wrong about her before. He never thought she'd be a mercenary, but then again she never was a real assassin in the first place.
"The group is supposedly responsible for the collapse of the Federation Alliance-or al least they triggered the beginning of the end," the man across from Tresia replied. "There's a rebel group led by a Senator from the Republic that's looking for the mercenary Lai's been traveling with." With that, he slid an envelope across the table to the Taydran sitting across from him.
Tresia picked up the envelope and deposited it in a pocket on the inside of his black trench coat. "I take it I need to give this little group a visit, hm?" Tresia asked while pushing his sunglasses farther up on his face.
"Visit may be a bit of an understatement," Tresia's companion laughed. "As far as I can tell, they're the closest to locating your girl." Tresia stood to leave but looked to his comrade once more. "Good luck," he added, nodding to his fellow assassin.
"Thanks Maison," Tresia replied with a curt nod before turning and heading on his way. He was going to find Laiserta no matter how long it took... and he was going to do it before she got arrested.
Laiserta was only two hundred feet from the emergency exit when Nassas began to stir. Now that the shock of the injury had faded the pain began to really settle in, Reine involuntarily groaned. Laiserta grimaced; she couldn't risk telling him to shut up and there wasn't anywhere to stop yet. She continued taking slow steps forward, trying to move as little as possible to keep Reine quiet.
"Hey, stop!" Laiserta heard a voice shout out down the hall behind her.
"Shit," Laiserta cursed under her breath. "Hold on tight," she said quickly to Reine, pushing his right thigh off of her pistol holstered there. Drawing her weapon, she turned and fired, taking out the security guard with two shots to the heart. Nassas cried out with the movement, the sound echoing how Laiserta felt. She was tired of killing, but she couldn't afford to let anyone live... at least not when she was supposed to set and example for her unit.
Nassas moaned again. "Reine," Laiserta said his name with pain her voice-he was hurt and she couldn't do anything for him at the moment, and it was killing her. Using her eyes to scan ahead of her, Laiserta saw a small area she could take Reine to rest. She took several hurried steps forward with Reine still groaning the entire way.
Once she'd arrived at her destination, Laiserta kicked open a locked door and made her way inside. 'Inside' was really a small storage room, and the mercenary carefully set down Nassas on the ground in a seated position, letting him us the back wall as a support to sit upright. Laiserta rushed to the door, pushing it closed and using a few pieces of metal pipe to jam it shut since she'd broken the lock by kicking the door open.
"What...?" Reine was confused when Laiserta knelt by him.
"Be quiet," Laiserta whispered, her voice considerably lower in volume than his. She glanced down at his left leg before looking into his eyes again. He wasn't scared as much as he was confused. "I can't move fast enough with you to outrun the guards," she whispered to him. Reine could feel her breath on his face; only a few inches separated his face from hers. "We'll need to wait here and hope nobody comes by until there's an opening big enough for me to carry you out of here without running into anyone."
"Why'd you come for me?" Reine questioned in a whisper. "I thought you said if any of us ever screwed up, you'd leave us behind?"
Laiserta looked at him earnestly. "Even I'm not that heartless. I told you all that so you'd have more reason to not fuck up. I don't want you all thinking I'm a miracle worker. If any of you were to get into a situation I couldn't get you out of... think of what would happen to the morale of our unit."
Reine nodded. He /was /the commanding officer before Laiserta showed up, so he understood what she was getting at. A sudden bolt of pain in his leg caused Reine to tense up and suck in a sharp breath. He bit his tongue in an effort to keep from screaming.
Laiserta cupped Reine's face with her hands and leaned her forehead against his. "I know it hurts, but you've got to keep quiet. Please."
Reine brought his hands up and grabbed Laiserta's arms. When the pain rose again, he squeezed slightly, and Laiserta was fine with that... as long as he remained quiet. If they were found, Laiserta knew she could get out alive, but she couldn't guarantee Nassas would be safe.
After staying still for a little over fifteen minutes, the last pair of guards on Laiserta and Reine's side of the building descended to the next floor down. Laiserta dismantled her makeshift barricade on the door before hoisting Reine onto her back once more. He wrapped his arms around her neck, and while Laiserta couldn't breathe comfortably with him in that position she wasn't going to complain. There wasn't a better solution to the problem at the moment, and she wasn't far from the emergency exit.
Laiserta made one more scan down both ends of the hall with her eyes to be sure the path was clear before exiting the room. She crept outside and took long but careful strides down the hall. Her destination was the emergency exit just around the corner at the end of the hall. From what she could see of it, the door led to an emergency elevator that operated by generator, or at least she guessed it did since none of the wiring of the elevator mixed with that of the rest of the building.
Laiserta sighed in relief once she approached the elevator. No guards were around and by the time they heard the elevator she'd be far enough down the building they wouldn't be able to catch up. After the emergency release for opening the elevator door proved to be useless, Laiserta pried open the elevator doors by hand. Once inside she tried the buttons again, and much to her surprise they responded. The doors closed and Laiserta and Reine made their descent.
Laiserta set Reine down on the floor with his back against the wall in a seated position. She stood up once more and leaned backwards to stretch out her back.
"Commander," Reine spoke in a pained voice, looking up at her. Laiserta turned and gazed down at him. "You said... my leg is broken," his eyes fell. "I'm useless. You'll send me back to Taydr, right?"
Laiserta sighed, and turned her gaze away from Nassas. "I won't send you back to Taydr, Reine. It's only a few weeks for you leg to heal and you can still do reconnaissance in the meantime."
"Thanks," he replied, sounding almost out of breath. Laiserta stood and waited for them to reach the bottom, and Reine returned to his thoughts.