I rush into the base, limiting my speed only to avoid puddles and the sloshing of my wet shoes. The hallways are warm, damp, and dark. I don’t think the dehumidifiers are working, it’s just as bad in here as it was outside. Gunshot echo through the base, a result of Miramita.
From a side room, footsteps grow louder and louder until, finally, someone pokes their head out.
“What the hell is wrong with you?! Do your target practice outside, asshole!”
The rank-and-file slavers tend to be pretty dull, but there’s a limit on how lax their security should be. They’ve captured our firryan brothers and sisters, surely they should know the FLF will come and rescue them.
The gruff, greasy, smelly non-firryan notices me run closer and his eyes shoot open in fear. He tries to scream for help, but I’m too fast! I jump quickly and send my knee into his face. I feel the hardness of his teeth and skull give way beneath my attack, and that satisfying crunch is always a joy.
Letting the momentum carry me, I land on his chest and steal the pistol from his waistband. As I ready the gun, my eyes scan the room in an instant.
A small stone room with a generator, a table in the center, and three more slavers playing a game. They’re so stunned by my sudden appearance that they haven’t even set down their cards, let alone stand or pull their guns.
Three bangs, one after another, all impacting their heads. They slump over where they sat, or fall off their metal chairs. As I leave the room, I casually put a bullet in the head of the slaver with the broken teeth.
I could not be more happy with how that went.
At some point, someone will stumble upon this place and try to figure out how these slavers died. It’s good to leave the corpses like that, clean and efficient. It will allow the legendary skills of the FLF grow even more, sink further into the hearts of the criminal underworld.
But that’s for the future. I need to focus on now. The room has no sign of the captives and, as such, it’s time for me to leave. I place the gun in a strap on my waist and take off down the hallway.
By now, the slavers must have realized they’re under attack. I burst into room after room, and while most are empty, I do jump into one and catch the occupants as they try to get their gear in order. There’s three in the room and it looks like they just woke up. I kill two with the gun but it clicks as I point to the third. He tries to bring his sub rifle my way, but I reel back and launch the pistol at his hand, squashing his fingers and forcing him to drop the rifle.
Before he can pick it up, I run over and crush his windpipe with a punch.
Disgusting slavers. You can’t drop your weapon when faced against a proud agent of the Firryan Liberation Front and expect to survive. Not even a novice on her first mission would give you a chance to recover.
I grab the sub rifle and sling it over my back. While my martial arts are more than enough for anyone in this base, save perhaps Miramita, guns are the great equalizer against numbers and distance. I’ll need one of my own in a pinch, and stealing weapons on-site is far more intimidating. It creates a kind of illusion of invincibility, that we don’t need expensive gadgets or equipment, just our skills are enough.
With this room cleared and my weapon secured, I continue. There are no rooms remaining on my path to the main chamber of the structure, the rotunda. When I arrive, I see Miramita on the far side, effortlessly tossing a slaver over the balcony and savoring the sounds of his screams as he falls towards his demise.
He glances over and gives me a wave.
A slaver screams from below, “up there!”
Miramita ducks below the stone rim of the balcony seconds before a hail of gunfire blasts through the air.
Slavers aren’t known for their military prowess. They prey on the weak and defenseless, sticking to lightly defended, remote outposts on the fringes of civilized space, or simple transport ships as they travel the void between stars. Most of the shots are wildly off target, kicking up dust far above and below his cover. Similarly, they fire shot after shot, emptying magazine after magazine even after Miramita had long since circled around and made his way towards me.
He whispers just loud enough for me to hear him over the gunfire. “So, how many have you killed so far?”
He gives such a warm, innocent smile, “better hurry up! I’m already at twelve.”
“…” I frown, “it’s not a competition.” I turn towards the nearest staircase and cock the sub rifle.
“Okay, sure then. Stay here as I totally lap you in numbers.” He charges forward and slaps my butt as he passes.
“H-hey! Wait!” I stomp my foot and chase him down the stairs. I don’t care about some silly competition, but I can’t let my partner run off by himself and clear out the entire base.
The slavers on the bottom floor finally wise up and stop pouring gunfire onto the balcony. “Clear out! Clear out! Search this whole complex and kill them!”
Miramita turns his head to me as he bounces down the steps. “They’re splitting up? Haha! This’ll be easier than I thought!”
“Please don’t get cocky and die to a stray bullet.”
“Oh pish-posh,” he waves his arm dismissively, “I wouldn’t even die to someone who knows how to aim, let alone one of these jokers.”
With two FLF warriors working as one, the slavers don’t stand a chance. Room by room, hallway by hallway, we clear all threats to the firryan people.
If the slavers are close, we dispatch them with our martial arts. Miramita uses a form of grappling, utilizing his incredible grip strength to grab their clothes, or even their flesh, and tosses them around. A man of his skill has no difficulty throwing them on the hard stone with enough force to break their necks. The martial art I mastered, on the other hand, utilizes lightning strikes to weak points. The solar plexus, the throat, the bridge of the nose, I can even hit joints hard enough to sever the ligaments inside.
If the slavers are too far for melee combat, we dispatch them with their own weaponry. Covering fire, flushing out the enemy with grenades, we tear a bloody path through the compound.
“S-stop, you monsters!” A fat sounding man on the lowest level screams. “Or-or-or… or I’ll kill your friends here!”
We came to this world to prevent our fellows from being sold into slavery. As sad as it would be, the FLF has a reputation to uphold. We will not stop, we will not falter, all threats to our people will be exterminated. If the hostages die in the process, then at least they won’t be pawned off to the highest bidder. At least their death will serve as a warning to others. ‘Kidnap a firryan and it won’t end well. You won’t get a prize or a sale, the only thing that awaits you is death’.
We continue to the bottom floor of the structure, unwavering in our goal yet with an increased ferocity after the threat. Miramita’s throws seem more brutal, I feel like bones break easier against my fists.
We stop just before a turn to the central chamber, our backs pressed against the warm, damp stone wall.
I close my eyes and lower my voice to a whisper. “I sense… fifteen at most. Fifteen individuals in the main room.” It’s a natural hunting skill all FLF agents are taught. There’s just certain… disturbances in the air that are hard to explain.
Miramita places his ear against the wall and focuses for a moment. “I think most are tied up. We’re here to rescue three firryans, but I’m positive these slavers have kidnapped other humans as well.” He closes his eyes, “I’d say three firryans, three other slaves, and five, maybe six enemies.” I’ve never been good with my sixth sense, I’m surprised how close I was.
I pat his shoulder and sneak away, “you go out and distract them. I shall return to the second floor and ambush them from above.”
He nods, seemingly unaware that I pawned the more dangerous job off on him. I had expected him to put up more of a fuss, or perhaps make a comment about it, but he does not. It seems he’s quite a capable man, perhaps he doesn’t mind.
I hurry back to the second floor while Miramita calls into the chamber, his voice echoing throughout the structure. “Hey in there! You said you have hostages, yes?”
“Y-y-yeah, that’s right, we do!” The slaver’s voice sounds greasy and rough, like he’s spent a long life barking orders at his captives, and a long time living in this disease-infested jungle.
“I see,” Miramita keeps his cool to give me time to get into place. “So how about this. Send the firryans out and we’ll leave. You can keep doing whatever you’re doing, you can do whatever you want to the non-firryans, but let our people go and I promise I won’t bury you in the first mud pit I find outside.”
I’ve tried using this tactic before, but for some reason everyone can see through it. Perhaps I’m not a very good liar.
I reach my position on the balcony above. Miramita is projecting his voice well, so all the slavers are looking down his hallway, unable to see far into the darkness. I see five slavers. Four cowering behind fallen stones and boxes, aiming down the hallway, and the leader of their ragtag group in the center. A disgusting man by every consideration, he has a poor firryan in a headlock, pointing a pistol at her neck. She makes for a poor shield, considering how thin she is.
“I… I can’t do that,” the man yells. “For a lot of reasons, that’s out of the question.”
“Ah, that’s too bad. I was hoping we could come to a peaceful conclusion.”
“P-peaceful?! You run in here, slaughter my men, threaten my life, demand MY prisoners, and you thought it could end peacefully? If you wanted them back so badly you should have waited until they went on the market like everyone-“
I can’t listen to any more of this. I bring my sub rifle up, aim it carefully at the side of his head opposite to the girl, then pull the trigger.
The sub rifle kicks back into my shoulder a negligible amount, and the fireball is short. The small bullet flies through the air at speeds impossible for even trained warriors like us to react to, and impacts the slavers skull with a meaty crunch. The bullet ricochets off his hard skull and hits the floor next to him. Sub rifles aren’t terribly strong. If the angle was bad, it’s entirely possible he survived that.
Regardless of whether he’s dead or just unconscious, his body goes stiff and he falls forward into a moss-filled puddle with a plop. The firryan still trapped in his arm goes with him, and now she’s trapped under his body. Uncomfortable as I’m sure it is, using his fat body as a meat shield isn’t a bad outcome.
For the rest of the slavers, there’s a brief moment of confusion, but less than half a second later, as a reflex most likely, they all begin to lay down fire into the hallway. They actually think it was Miramita who shot him! No wonder they’re all so afraid, no wonder their screams and curses can be heard even over the ringing of gunfire. They think only one man has done so much damage to their organization.
There are four slavers left, tucked under the balcony and cowering behind their cover. It’s hard for me to get a good angle.
Oddly enough, they’re not trying to kill their hostages. Slavers are vindictive, evil creatures. Why would they not use their last moments to act spitefully and deny us the rescue? Do they think they have a chance to survive, or are they just in such a state of panic that they can’t think straight?
Or maybe there’s something more going on. It never hurts to be paranoid.
Despite my bad angle, I lean over the balcony and open up on the slavers below, firing as fast as I can. My bullets ricochet off the pillar and only work to keep the slaver pinned.
“Gygh, what?!” One of the slavers huddles behind her fallen stone pillar. “There’s more!? Up above! Shoot! Shoot!”
I dive out of the way before they can. Bullets fly past the balcony with the same inaccuracy as before. I move along the rim and poke my head over for only a second at a time, taking pot shots when I can.
Utilizing my distraction, Miramita charges into the main room. The slavers are just disoriented, scared, untrained criminals. They can’t focus on both of us at once. Miramita closes the distance without a fuss and uses his martial arts to flip the nearest one like a pinwheel. On the third spin, the slavers head connects with the edge of the stone pillar she used as cover. It’s a disgusting mess, how her head reacts to such a forceful collision. I’d feel bad for her, if she was anyone else.
The noise of the crash explodes throughout the room, and the remaining three slavers whip their heads around in shock. I can tell by the silence how terrified they are. Guess they should have chosen a different career path.
One tries to flee but runs into my line of sight and I easily take him down. Miramita charges at a second, jumps over the cover, and uses his momentum to toss the man through the air, where he eventually lands on his neck. I can’t see the last, but I hear running. Miramita casually turns, draws his gun, then takes him out.
I hop off the second-floor balcony and land skillfully with a thud.