Rowan’s breathing was metallic. The clanging of boots below her reverberated through the duct she was lying in. Trident rifles, bearing projectiles of lightning, were being loaded with the sound of growling beasts. She let out a slight sigh, fucking Apex, she thought to herself.
Her watch read 45 in bold red letters. Here we go, she thought, clenching her jaw. Seconds later the room below her erupted with more clanging feet. Coughing. The crashing of people falling over and knocking into one another.
Rowan slammed her hand down on the opening to the duct. She pulled herself through with a grunt. Falling twelve feet yet landing gracefully. Clicking and whirring came from her bo-staff as it protracted at the shake of her arm. Bodies around her had flopped to the ground. More men rushed in, grey-silver armour glinting against the flare of their trident rifles.
Arcs of electricity lashed out at Rowan. She was able to barely dodge one. Another burnt her shoulder as she redirected a third with her bo-staff. The guards reloaded. She lunged at the one closest to her, knocking his weapon away before shunting him in his visor with her staff. Their weapons purred. Rowan slammed each end of her staff into the two guards, they were knock off their feet. The smoke created by the bombs she had set, began to clear but she did not remove the apparatus which covered her mouth and throat.
She bolted down a hallway through flashing red lights. A door began sliding down to seal itself. Rowan slid underneath and felt it clip her staff as it closed. Alarms whined in her ears.
A woman with grey hair sat with her arms tied to a chair. Her make-up was running and her eyes bulged. Her mouth was covered with a piece of her own sleeve. She seemed to be screaming but her voice was muffled. Her head kept cocking forward. Rowan squinted at her, “Madame Holloway, I’m here to–,” something slammed into Rowan’s back before she was able to finish her sentence. A man with gritted teeth slashed wildly at her with two swords. She rolled away.
He span with his blades as she parried his attacks. Rowan tried to sweep his legs but he jumped with unrivalled speed. As her staff clashed with his blades, sparks began leaping from their meeting. Metal screamed as it scraped together. He flourished his swords as if he were performing a steel dance. All with yellow angry teeth flashing beneath a grubby, jet-black beard. Rowan feigned sweeping again as he jumped as quick as before. She quickly changed her motion and cracked him over the head, which jerked violently sideways as his body span away from her.
With blood oozing from his head he seemed unable to focus his gaze on her. He lunged at Rowan, clumsily missing. She side stepped away and brought her staff up to his neck. He began gagging as he dropped his swords and his face reddened and twisted. With a final knock across the skull, he went limp. Madame Holloway ceased her fidgeting and her whole body seemed to relax. “I’m here to fix your–,”Rowan nudged the man on the ground “predicament,” she said. Madame Holloway nodded. Rowan strode up to her and yanked the sleeve from her mouth.
“Who are you?” Holloway asked, her nose bleeding over her lips..
“I’m the good news,” Rowan said. She took her mask from around her mouth and neck. Reddened marks were left on her rosy complexion in the shape of the apparatus.
“You’re that,” Holloway said as spit caught in her throat, “the bounty hunter,”she said. Rowan nodded slowly. “Well, if you are the good news, my dear, then whatever is the bad–”
“I’m very expensive” Rowan said quickly. She showed Holloway her watch, it read payment pending in bold blue letters. Holloway cleared her throat and fidgeted with her arms. Rowan smiled and untied Holloway. They touched watches as a beeping sounded. Rowan gave a small salute.
“I suppose Miranda sent you, my dear,” Holloway said.
“Uh huh” Rowan replied, while tapping on her watch.
“She’s should have paid the ransom but she was always stubborn, since the day we met,” Holloway said.
“Uh huh” Rowan mumbled.
“Are you actually listening, my dear?” Holloway asked.
“Nope, I’m calling our transportation” Rowan said. She put her a watch to her mouth, “it’s winter and we gotta a whole bunch ‘o’ discontent if you’d like to stop by, Snake-Bitch”.
“Calling one of your, no doubt, reputable contacts” Holloway said, while straightening her torn suit.
“Get up, we’re leaving” Rowan said. They walked back through the hallway she had entered before. At each lock-down Holloway used her clearance card. Occasionally she wretched at the sight of a burnt corpse mangled by lightning, which Rowan snorted at.
“Did you have to kill them all?” Holloway asked with a shaking voice.
“I’ve never killed” Rowan snapped. “This is what happens when you put too many pirates in a room with military-grade weapons”, she said as Holloway opened the final door to the hangar bay.
“I only hired Macen and his men because I didn’t want a Vardoch Warlord to get any funny ideas my dear,” Holloway said through pearl-white teeth. Rowan cocked her head and smiled. She slapped her hand on Holloway’s shoulder.
“As someone who’s spent the last eighteen years fighting with and against scummy bastards like uh…”
“Macen” Holloway said.
“Macen. My advice is; never trust a man with rotten teeth and two swords,” Rowan said. Holloway shoved Rowan’s hand from her shoulder. The doors opened to a hangar bay full of soldiers lying unconscious. “That was me,” Rowan exclaimed.