"Humanity can survive, my friends. But it will take effort and it will take sacrifice. But first, we must rebuild the wheel to study these assailants from beyond. Any piece, any fragment of the Deus Pinnae that rears its head will be ours. Yamata 16 can no longer afford to linger in the shadows. If we must, we will take all of Bastion space in our grasps and ravage it until every metal sliver of the Pinnae is revealed... By any means necessary."
Iradell didn't want to tell the whole truth here. Right now, she felt as if she and Ian were getting along pretty well. That is something she wanted to continue. It was sincere, at least on her side, though she felt that part of why Ian was getting along with her was due to either fear or nervousness. Perhaps he was trying to remove her from where he thought she would do the most damage. But he didn't understand that she was a precise instrument, in most cases. Usually she was in and out and no one was ever the wiser. It just so happened that this particular mission had been screwed over from the start due to poor intel.
She did not want to tell him that she had been sent to kill Bregand. That she was not a bounty hunter, but more of an assassin. Because if she did, it might make him even more nervous or cause him to dislike her more than he already did. Truly, she did not like this job. Why did the Avarik always give her these jobs when they could easily just use her as a smuggler? Only smuggling would be nice. Even now, her crew was moving smuggled goods across the system, leaving her alone on this mission. It was almost as if Rastor did not care – yet, he always provided for her. They had saved her.
Iradell remained silent as Ian explained his thoughts. How Bregand could use his powers to use Leigh against them. It was a possibility that she had not considered. If she had chosen the right room the first time, instead of knocking on the old woman's door, then she would have just eliminated all threats in order to take Brigand down. Ultimately though, she was not in the business of harming innocent bystanders.
“It does not matter what you do,” Iradell said, looking towards the floor. An odd feeling came over her that she had only felt a few other times. Shame. “Bregand will not see the night. Now that I know what hole he is hiding in, he will die. I have not been sent to take him alive, but to make him pay the ultimate price for his actions against my employer.” She shifted on her feet, emotion striking her in a way that it usually did not. She did not usually have to talk about or explain what she did. Even though she was Hephaesti, her mind was effected by the gruesome sights and deeds that she was forced to see and perform.
“I am sorry to have dragged you into this,” she continued, speaking quietly while looking back up to him. “I feel as if I should tell you the truth, though. I have no reason to lie. Go and draw Leigh away. Perhaps you should find a reason to show her something outside. I will then go and do my duty while you have her in a safe place.”
Iradell moved to the door and opened it.
“And sir,” she said, holding the door open for him. “Please do not notify SLED until I am gone. I do not want you to feel responsible for what I will do to any responding agents. It is better to avoid that all together, I think.”
Ian stood in his bed room/ living room, in stunned silence. His eyes lingered solidly on Iradell though his stomach felt as if the contents were in zero-g. He wasn't sure how to proceed, Iradell had just admitted that she would kill Bregand but she was giving him a chance to save the woman. Leigh, his tenant and someone he knew nothing of outside of the information in her file. He didn't know her from anyone and for all he knew she was working with Bregand in whatever plans he is being targeted for. She could be his accomplice. She could be just as bad as him.
"She could be many things." He absently said aloud, the knuckles of his right hand popping as he clenched his fist. "But I don't know that." Ian looked up at Iradell and saw she stood with his door open. She apologized to him for getting him involved and knew from her words that she would have killed whomever had stood against her if Ian hadn't been. Leigh and Bregand both would be dead. She struck him as the kind that kept searching until she found her mark and completed her mission. But she didn't seem too proud or satisfied with what she was about to do. At least, that's what Ian's gut told him.
I have to do something. I can't just let her kill them...can I? Bregand may have done something to her employer but that didn't mean he deserved to die. Who of paragon like respect would hire a bounty hunter to kill someone? Ian's insides tore at him in worry, doubt, fear. Struggling to make sense of what was going down. If he called the S.L.E.D some might die, along with Bregand. If he did nothing only two would die. If he somehow got Leigh away, then Bregand would die. Every situation ended with bloodshed. Ian felt sick, his balance wavered and it took him clutching onto the nearest large item to help stable him.
He wasn't sure if Iradell was waiting on him but he could seem to see past the problems in his head. Ian had never held someone's life in his hand before. No matter what happens someone would die. Maybe it was all he could do to limit the number as best as he could. Tears of frustration burned at the pits of his eyes as he realized he was about to agree to being an accomplice in the murder of another person. Ian hated this. He hated Iradell for it. But most of all, he hated himself.
"Alright," he croaked out, "let's go." -----
Ian stood at the door to Leigh's living area and felt as if his heart was going to bludgeon him to death. Justifiable homicide or would that be a strange sort of suicide? He wondered as he stared at the door. A sudden sound brought him out of his stupor, the door to Leigh's space opened bringing him face-to-face with Leigh. The picture in her renter's profile did her little justice as Ian realized he was staring into eyes of blue that starburst into yellow. She had a perfectly heart shaped face framed by long locks of strawberry blond, a cute slightly up turned nose, and a smile that could start a war. A real life Helen of Troy.
Ian found himself without words as this gorgeous woman blinked in surprise at him. Her head made a motion that looked as if she were about to say something over her shoulder but advised against it mid turn. She closed the door and fixed her starburst eyes on his and spoke in a soft and pleasant tone. "Hello, Mr. Schlip. How can I hep you?"
"I uh," he stammered and mentally slapped himself, "um sorry. I was wanting to talk to you about your lease." He lied and apparently it showed, Ian wasn't a good liar.
Leigh raised one thin eyebrow and her eyes narrowed. "And what about it?" She asked, her tone a bit sharper. "I have had the same agreement with Gritaven for nearly two years and you never had an issue with it before."
"Yes, I know." He nodded stiffly. "It about the policy on guests." He said and something in Leigh's back straightened. Good catch. Now be careful. "I had been reviewing a few camera feeds and noticed someone over the past few days coming into your room multiple nights. I wanted to find out if he would be staying for a prolonged amount of time. If so I would need you to come with me and fill out the proper forms for it." Ian's tone and manner of speaking seemed to become more confident and fluid. As if he wasn't about to help grant a murdering woman access to Leigh's living area.
This time Leigh looked at Ian as if really seeing him, her eyes ran over him and then up and down the hallway. Ian had made sure to come up first to draw Leigh away, so she saw nothing as she scanned. "Mr. Schlip," Leigh said tightly, "I recommend you turn around and leave now before something bad happens." Ian was dumbfounded by that response.
"What do you-"
"Now, Mr. Schlip." She hissed, her eyes hard and unwavering.
Ian felt the floor drop out from under him and his mouth instantly dried. He attempted to speak but could find no words escaping his throat. This apparently was Leigh's sigh and with the heel of her hand, shoved her landlord back before slipping back inside her room and no doubt engaging the locking mechanisms. Ian's back met with the opposite wall and felt the air left his lungs and he gasped for breath. His eyes were wide in surprise and he found himself sitting on the floor grasping at his chest as if it would help him claim air.
Despite Ian's obvious reservations, he agreed to help her. She shut the door behind them and followed Ian down the hallway of the first floor, bowing her head and placing both hands in her pockets to obscure her face from view. The benefit of Ian showing her the security cameras was that now she knew where they were placed and it appeared that there was only a hand full per floor. Ian moved up the stairs to go bring his tenant to a safe place and Iradell lagged behind, walking up the first flight and then stopping on the second. She stood there for a moment, looking down that hallway towards Miss Vizzen's door. No doubt she was inside, waiting for Ian to return with his tool belt to fix whatever it was that she needed fixing. A simple life like that was something that actually appealed to her, but she could not forsee it anywhere in the near future.
After waiting a minute or two, she made her halfway up the stairs and waited on the landing there. Ian knew where she was waiting, or at least he should, so hopefully he would lead Leigh the other direction. Iradell looked up the stairs and when she heard a small commotion ending with a thud, she hurried up the stairs to the third floor. Ian was sitting on his rear end in the hallway against the wall and he looked as if he had just gotten the mess knocked out of him.
“Sir,” Iradell said, taking a knee beside Ian. She had never learned his name. Perhaps that was for the best. He had only been on the ground for a few seconds by the time Iradell had reached him. “It appears you have lost your wind,” she said, taking her hand from her pocket and reaching out to touch his face. Her hand was surprisingly warm and she put her fingers under his chin. Iradell raised Ian's head to better open his airway. Her eyebrows furrowed with concern, but her eyes still lacked the proper emotion.
“These people must be up to no good to treat their nice landlord this way,” she said, feeling protective of the nice man. Iradell looked up at the wall where Ian had struck and then towards the door, noting it was about six feet or so away. It took some power to knock him this far and he would be lucky if nothing was broken. “She must be augmented,” Iradell thought out loud, then she stood and walked over to the door.
As she approached the door, a clicking sound was heard and then the door began to slide open. Iradell fluidly moved to the left, the same way the door was opening, and Leigh took a step out of the apartment and raised a pistol up at Ian. Iradell recognized it as a nine milimeter lead firing pistol with a silencer attached on it's muzzle. They were relatively cheap and easy to obtain and the silencer made them extremely silent. Not quite as silent as laser fired, but not everyone could afford the good stuff. It was pretty clear to Iradell though, Leigh was about to put a bullet in Ian's head.
“You couldn't just mind your business, could you?” Leigh asked as she walked out. “You had to- AHHH!”
Her monologue was interrupted by a seven inch blade coming upwards through her forearm. This caused Leigh to pull the trigger and the silenced pistol put a bullet in the wall about a foot above Ian's head. The blade was stuck perfectly through the meat of the arm between the radius and the ulna, and as Leigh attempted to pull her right arm away Iradell stood still, holding it in place with the blade.
“Where is Bregand?” Iradell asked, her tone alarmingly calm.
Leigh responded by swinging her left arm across her body, attempting to take Iradell's head off with a sucker punch. Being shorter than the woman, Iradell ducked it easily and removed the knife from Leigh's arm, then stabbed downwards through the top of Leigh's right foot with enough force to pin a normal person's foot to the floor. Leigh was not normal though. Her beauty and strength clearly made her an Adam. Leigh cried out in pain again and kicked wildly with her left foot, catching Iradell in the side of the neck and shoulder. Like Ian, Iradell flew across the hallway and hit the wall, sliding down beside him. Leigh then went to work pulling the knife out of her foot, her body shaking with pain.
Iradell had no breath, though. As soon as she hit the ground beside Ian she planted her feet and rose back up. She quickly approached Leigh, who shakily lifted the pistol up again, and Iradell stepped to the side as another shot was fired into the wall near Ian. Iradell's hand snapped outwards and struck the pistol, pushing the slide back, hitting the release with her thumb and then yanking the upper portion of the gun off in order to make it useless.
What happened next was a series of attempted strikes and counters. Leigh swung, counting on her power, and Iradell evaded and circled around her slowly, landing harsh strikes on the woman's uninjured leg. After each strike, Iradell circled around her more and struck the leg again, causing the woman to become a limping and bleeding mess. Finally, Iradell had circled around to where the knife was on the floor and after Leigh through yet another sucker punch, Iradell squatted low to the ground and picked the knife back up again.
Holding the blade downwards in her right fist, Iradell raised both hands up in a boxing-like position. Leigh was instantly intimidated by the sight, even though she was much larger and probably stronger, and she fell to her knees in front of Iradell.
“Do you want to die?” Iradell asked her. Leigh hung her head and shook her head no, but she stopped to glare at Ian. “Then where is Bregand?”
“He is out... should be back any time now,” Leigh spat out, still glaring at Ian.
“I am with the Avarik,” Iradell said, noticing that Leigh was not looking at her. “Do you know why I'm here?” Leigh nodded.
“Bregand is going to fuck you up,” Leigh said to Ian. She then looked up to Iradell. “He is going to fuck both of you up!”
Leigh lunged forward from where she was kneeling and attempted to spear Iradell in the mid-section. Iradell went with it, catching the woman around the neck and then rolling backwards, until she came out on top of Leigh. Iradell stood and walked towards Ian, with Leigh laying dead on the floor a few feet away with the knife stuck up through her chin and into her skull. She bent and took up the two pistol parts and reassembled it as she walked over and took a knee beside Ian. Like most fights, the one between her and Leigh had only taken about a minute or so.
“She was strong,” Iradell said, dropping the magazine of the pistol in order to check for ammunition. There were ten more rounds. She slapped the magazine back into place and then looked to Ian. “I'm sorry I had to do that to your tenant. I believed that she was going to kill you, though.”
The feeling one gets from having their air knocked from their lungs is not a fun feeling. Ian had experienced this a few times in his young years but the last time was more than twenty years and many cups of alcohol away. Dealing with the lack of oxygen in an older and considerably much more sober body, was so foreign to him he momentarily regretted having been in less fights. Ian's vision was plagued by stars and the white flash of pain in his upper left side. "Shit..." He gasped as Iradell appeared at his side, her mouth moved but Ian could hear nothing over the sound of his heart beat in his ears. Luckily he wouldn't have to as a moment later the machine woman moved to Leigh's door.
The following series of events happened in a state of speed Ian wasn't used to watching. It was as if he was watching a movie in a faster pace than normal. Leigh stepped from her flat and had a gun pointed at him. Her mouth moved but Ian still couldn't hear her, but the look of detachment set Ian's eyes into wide screen. Iradell didn't let Leigh take a clean shot and drove the knife she took from his knife block through the gunwoman's arm. Leigh's reaction to Iradell's attack caused her jerk and fire off a round that flew off its mark by a foot or so. The murder weapon barked again a moment later and it too bit into the wall he had his back to. In response to the gun shots, Ian jerked to the floor and covered his head in hopes that he would not get hit by a stray bullet. The motion sent pain spiderwebbing through his body till his sounds of pain escaped his throat.
As soon as Ian opted to become one with the floor he felt something impact hard against the wall, he dared not look and a breath or two later the commotion in the hallway ceased. Ian peeked through his arms then and saw Leigh in an unnatural pose on the floor with blood pooling growing in size beneath her head. Iradell spoke to him, he heard her words, understand their meaning, but felt nothing. "Shock." He said to himself before he turned his head to find Iradell, his savior, staring at him. He nodded his understanding but said nothing.
He turned to look back at the lifeless body of Leigh. It was a surreal experience, watching as someone died. Ian stared at Leigh and, without any logical reason, extended his senses out to her mind. The pressure in his head increased and the throbbing took on a more gong-like feel, but even so he pushed through it. A dim violet hue began to illuminate from Ian's eyes as he sat with his gaze on Leigh. He knew the theory behind working with the mind but it was not a skill he had any expertise in. Usually it ended with him having a head ache and a grouchy attitude. Ian wasn't just going for information though. Ian was a softy when it came to women. Even those that try to kill me it seems. He thought bitterly as his eyes grew brighter. He could feel the lingering emotions Leigh felt, they left a stain on the walls of her dying mind.
The landlord opened himself to those emotions and took them in, replacing them with a sense of calm. He wasn't very good at tampering with the emotions of others either but something in him didn't want her to die in fear. To Ian's surprise Leigh wasn't afraid. Leigh was filled with delight, despite the pain she just went through. The woman Ian had tried to safe, that turned out to be a hostile and cold blooded person, was...happy to be dying. The lights in Ian's eyes died suddenly and he jerked in immediate pain, which did nothing but add a moment of sharpness to it. "Stars and stone!" He sucked in through his teeth. "I think one of my ribs are broken." He said as he lifted his shirt to reveal a pale tummy with a comfortable layer of fat and a dark splotch on his upper left side. "Archimedes," Ian growled and received a chirp of a response. "Dispatch mobile first aid pack to my location." He order and heard a chirp before the connection dropped.
"Did she say anything about where Bregand was? Before she..." He asked, trailing off.
“She did not mention that,” Iradell said in response to the question of Bregand, setting the pistol on the floor beside her as she looked with concern to Ian. She got on both knees beside him and watched as he made a few painful movements, showing off a bruised rib cage at one point. At times she wished that she could experience pain in a more human-like manner, but this was not one of those times. Pain to her was more of an alert, notifying her that something was bad was happening somewhere on her body. Her compact and tough body was not signaling her at the moment though, so that was good.
It only took a few short moments for Ian's computer program to respond with a medical kit. Iradell took it and set it down in front of her, opening it up to see what all a place like this would have. It was severely lacking – it wasn't a military grade emergency response kit – but she did find a medigel injector with a few unused cartridges. There were plenty of bandages and things of that nature, perfect for minor wounds, but she guessed that they did not treat major injuries very often.
“I have medical experience,” Iradell said as she loaded up the injector with the medigel. It was a pain reliever and would also stimulate the healing response. Instead of several weeks of healing, Ian might have to go for a week or two at the most. “Well, I had it programmed into me a long time ago,” she said, flashing a look to Ian. Her eyes seemed to glow again as she switched through different vision modes, attempting to better gauge where the break in his rib was. Iradell raised a finger and gently touched Ian on the chest. “If I inject it here, it should maximize the use of this gel... you should be able to get your breath back and move just fine.”
Iradell showed a small smile and raised the medigel up to the spot. It was loaded into an injector that looked like a small gun, which would extend a short needle and inject the gel when the trigger was pulled. It was usually a fast and nearly pain free short term solution to many injuries.
“But back to Bregand,” Iradell said as she worked. “I would go back downstairs if I were you. I would not expect it to be pretty when he shows up. There. You hardly felt that, right?” Iradell set the injector back into the first-aid kit and then looked at the bandages. “Bandages are not always recommended on ribs... you might compress them too much and then they will not heal properly. But if I put them on there without too much pressure it might provide some cushion and protection, I suppose. Do you want me to do that?”
“LEIGH?!” a male voice exclaimed and heavy footsteps were heard running from the stairs to where Leigh was laying in the floor. A large man, a surprisingly large man, knelt down beside the blond woman and took up her head in one hand, looking down at her as he dropped a bag of groceries on the ground haphazardly.
“Maybe later,” Iradell said quietly, raising from her kneeling position. “I am Iradell. You are Bregand?”
“Iradell?” Bregand asked, pulling the knife from Leigh's chin and dropping it beside her. He appeared to be going through many different emotions, but the one quickly and powerfully rising to the surface was anger. The bearded man raised his chin up from where he was squatting, his dark brown eyes almost appearing black as he glared at her. Bregand slowly stood up to his full height, about 6'9”, and he removed the leather jacket that he was wearing. He wore a tank top and on each of his large arms there was a tattoo. On the right, there were three coffins aligned with the words “Mortem Mangone” scrawled around it. On the left, there were a pair of dice that were rolled into a “snake eyes.” (Bregand looked like this: link )
“Oh yea, I know who you are,” Bregand continued, his hands squeezing into fists. “I've heard of you... I've been expecting you.” He looked down at Leigh again. “Didn't think she'd be the one to tangle with you first though.”
Iradell knew exactly what the tattoos meant and she glanced down at Ian. If she was able to express concern, she did so then. Basically, it meant that Bregand was in the same profession that she was in and that they had the same employer. The thing was, it took a lot of experience and a lot of kills in order to earn tattoos signifying your status in the group. Bregand must have either left the group without permission or had done something to extremely piss them off.
“Rastor must be trying to get one of us killed,” Iradell said, looking back to Bregand.
“Oh no, he is definitely trying to get you killed,” Bregand responded, glaring back at her. “You know I was training her?” He motioned down to Leigh. “She was going to do what we do. I thought she was better than this, though. Unfortunately for you,” he shook his head. “I am the best.”
Iradell snapped her hand to the ground beside Ian and took up the pistol, firing off all ten rounds in rapid succession. Bregand's eyes lit up as some type of telekinetic shielding sprung up around him. At an unexpected speed, he crossed the distance between where he was standing to Iradell and grabbed the small Hephaesti by the neck. His own strength was augmented with his telekinetic prowess (which was his speciality) and he whipped Iradell around like a rag doll, smashing her several times into the wall before throwing her down the hallway towards the stairs. Iradell landed flat on her back and slid several feet and then laid there motionless.
“And who the fuck are you?!” Bregand asked, now standing over Ian.
"Damn." Ian muttered, a feeling of uneasiness began to take hold of him. He wasn't sure if it was due to the blow to his head earlier or just a feeling but he took note of it all the same. His dark brown eyes watched as Iradell opened the medical kit once it arrived. She apparently had medical training, though Ian wondered if she had ever actually used it, suddenly feeling as though he were the guinea pig for a medical intern. "Just to note, one possibly broken rib is enough for me." He quipped with a weak smile. Ian didn't thnk himself a wuss, though he did sometimes wince at some of the smallest of injuries. Those moments made his daughter make laughter filled comments about his manliness. His worst injury was, without a doubt, his left arm. The damage was extensive and he ended up needing cybernetic implants to replace some of the lost muscle tissue.
Iradell's eyes shined a spectrum of colors that distracted Ian for a moment and explained where on him the most effective area for injection would be. He nodded, taking his eyes from hers and instead watching her touch his chest. Her mouth turned into a smile, not one with much warmness but one that was meant to help reassure and calm him. In her hand was the injection gun, a small ivory white contraption that had a small vial housed in a window. The medi-gel, a substance used to decrease pain, inflammation and stimulate the healing process, was an almost sapphire color. Nurse Iradell struck up a conversation as she went to work on his torso. The injection of the gel passed with almost no actual pain, had he not watched the needle pierce his skin he wouldn't have realized it happened.
Ian nodded to her question and felt his heart rate speed up at the thought of Bregand finding him and Iradell with Leigh's corpse. "I know," he whispered, his throat tight once again, "I don't like leaving women on their own but I'm no fighter. A few bar brawls in my youth but that was a long time ago." Iradell offered bandages and Ian nodded. He knew a little about first aid but barely enough to really help much. Compression on bone related injuries was one of the things he knew. As he was about to thank his "nurse" a voice broke through their conversation.
A large, bear-like man barreled down the hall, from the direction they had come. He stopped at Leigh and with one massive hand he cupped the beauty's head. Ian watched the man's face twist in pain and rage as Iradell introduced herself and inquired of his identity. Ian knew who it was, they'ed seen him on the recordings, he figured she was checking regardless of her knowing. The tone in Bregand's voice sent an alarm wailing in Ian's head. This man wasn't scared or even caught off guard by Iradell. Apparently he had been expecting her, which was even worse. THe giant of a man removed his jacket and revealed arms almost larger than his thighs, a tattoo resided on each arm. In his hand was the knife he pulled from Leigh's skull and something about the way he held it made Ian worry even more.
This man is not someone to mess around with. He thought as the two proceeded to talk about someone named "Rastor". He was apparently someone they both knew, possibly important, maybe Iradell's employer. Ian made note to make a note of it should he survive the encounter. And then they moved, Iradell moved so smoothly that Ian couldn't follow her movements and in an instant she had Leigh's slug thrower in hand and emptied it. However the results were nothing like they would have hoped. The bullets collided with a wall of air and ricocheted off a translucent half dome of pale blue energy hovered, shimmering roughly six inches from Bregand's body. Ian thought Iradell was quick but at whatever speed she was able to move at Bregand seemed to be faster.
In the span of time it took Ian to blink the mountain man had moved from Leigh's body to Iradell's throat. His eyes had a pale blue glow to them as his hamhands wrapped around the slender woman's neck, he jerked her around as if she were a puppy and whipped her behind him toward the way he came. Ian watched her fly down the hall and end up motionless on her back.
Ian was now the object of Bregand's rage storm. "J-just the landlord." He said truthfully, his legs taking on a rather gelatinous texture. "I came up here to ask Leigh about someone that had been staying here without notice. When I brought it up she threatened me and shoved me back against the wall. THen the fight started a few moments later!" Ian wasn't a fighter, he wasn't a brave man, or some unsung hero that could stand up to a man like this. Ian sat staring up at Bregand and could feel his gaze and presence as a physical weight.
"And you just happen to be with her?" He said, his tone permeated with skepticism and scorn. "Bullshit!" He spat and grabbed Ian by the shirt and with one hand, slammed him into the wall. Ian let out a bark of pain and attempted to break the personified tower's grip on him. Bregand didn't want to waste time with him and brought the knife up and began to slide it into Ian's gut. White hot pain erupted from Ian'd entrance wound and his heart began thumping against his breastplate. Ian's teeth clenched against each other as he tried to stifle his growing screams. "You're both going to die for what you did to Leigh!" Bregand growled and pushed against the blade. It got another few centimeter in before someone down the hall gasped and another called down the hall. Ian couldn't hear them over his own barely contained screams but he did see two of his tenants a few doors from them. One had a holo-screen up and the other had a small taser gun.
Bregand stopped pressing the knife into Ian'd gut and pulled it out in a jerking motion, rending more muscle and skin as his eyes began to glow pale blue again. Ian had telepathy, rather weak telepathy, but he didn't need it to know that Bregand wanted to witnesses. "Nagh!" He croaked and reached for Bregand's face, he couldn't reach it but it could reach something else. Bregand's face twisted into a mask of pain as his grip on Ian's shirt wavered as well as his balance. Ian's foot retreated from the mountain's pelvis but before he could land another blow Bregand's sledgehammer sized fist came in contact with Ian's gut. The impact was coupled with the knife wound and equaled a pain far too much for the landlord to withstand and he buckled to the floor, gasping and holding his stomach as dark red ichor ran through his fingers.
"Stupid fucking-" Bregand was cut off as a bright blue beam passed by his face. In pure reaction the large man rolled over his shoulder and came to his feet in a motion far too graceful for a man his size. His eyes ignited with pale light and he crossed the distance between himself and the interlopers. The tenants stood no chance as Bregand's cut sank int the chest of the one with the laser and the second simply slumped to the floor, eyes wide and her mouth agape. Bregand said nothing as he turned back to Ian and picked up the taser. The weapon was nonlethal but it did hurt and Bregand wanted them to hurt before he killed them.
Without even attempting to aim Bregand fired three taser beams into Ian eliciting hiccuping screams. He moved toward Ian, while slower than he had a few moments before his long legs ate up the distance in seconds. He put two more shots into the landlord before his eyes flashed and the taser shattered. The rage fueled man took a knee by Ian's head and gripped his mop like hair in one hand and drew his head into an awkward position and placed the knife against his neck. The pose Bregand put Ian in gave him a slightly obstructed view of the wide eyed woman on the floor. And as the knife started to bite into his flesh Ian's eyes blazed with violet fire.
Bregand wasn't caught unaware by the landlord's identity as a Pythian, his markings gave that away long ago, but instead he was caught off guard at the usage of them. Ian was a smaller man in comparison to Bregand but one didn't get to be the best at killing by being stupid and underestimating their targets. Ian fought to move the knife from his neck while also struggling against the vice like grip that was holding him. Ian fought against a man that outclassed him in size, weight, natural strength and even augmented strength and speed. Ian was the underdog of any movie he'd ever watched and while the underdog normally one in those vids...this was real life. Ian's strength began to waver as the blade moved closer to his neck once more, only with more of the point than edge this time.
The voice broke through the darkness and Iradell's eyes opened. There were many ways for a Hephaesti to be knocked unconscious. Most of them ended up in not being able to reboot without the assistance of someone else, but in this case Iradell was able to recover after a few moments. The world around her took several seconds to become clear and finally she sat up, recalling where she was and what she was doing.
By the time Iradell got to her feet, she saw that there was another dead body in the hallway and a another was slumped down. She turned towards Bregand and saw him bullying Ian around and now had him in a position that probably would not end well unless she intervened. Iradell sprang down the hallway, covering the distance in two leaps. When she came down on the second leap, she landed on Bregand's back. Wrapping her left arm around his neck as she flipped over his back, her momentum carried him over, using her hip as a fulcrum in order to launch him over her in a Judo style throw. Bregand was launched several feet and this time he was the one landing on his back. He rolled several times and then came up on his feet, facing Iradell.
Iradell squatted in front of Ian, giving him a quick glance in order to make sure he was alive and well. Or at least alive... he looked like he had gotten roughed up quite a bit. She gave him a nod and then looked back towards Bregand while she stood up into a fighting position. Bregand wasted no time and charged, his eyes glowing blue as he swung a heavy right hand down towards her head. The knife he held sang through the air with the speed of the punch and Iradell responded by ducking low and then jumping upwards, raising her knee up and into Bregand's mid-section with a resounding thud as metal struck flesh. As she came back down, her body seemed to cock at the waist and when she threw her counter punch, it “fired” and sent her heavy fist down on the back of Bregand's right ear. The two blows caused Bregand to continue in the direction he was charging, stumbling forward several feet until he went down to one knee.
“We are not out of this fight yet,” Iradell said to Ian, eyes still locked onto Bregand. The two strikes that she just landed were enough to knock out most any man, so Iradell could not help but to raise a brow as Bregand began laughing.
“You'd have to be in it to begin with,” Bregand said, getting back up on his feet. Blood was coming from his right ear and a trace amount was coming from his mouth. He spit towards Iradell and Ian. Bregand then burst forward with that hidden speed he used on Iradell the first time and once again, he caught the smaller Hephaesti by the throat, lifting her off the ground.
Iradell raised both arms up and came down on the bends in his elbows, striking them hard enough to put her feet back on the ground. With her right hand, she gripped Bregand's left wrist and in a display of extreme flexibility, Iradell's right leg shot upwards in order to plant the bottom of her foot underneath the man's chin. Bregand stumbled back and Iradell, with her leg straight up from the kick, brought it down so that her right knee hooked over his shoulder. Her neck coming free of Bregand's grip, Iradell hoisted herself up with her right leg and slung her other leg onto the other side of his head. She then crossed her ankles and locked his head between her legs, her fists going into rapid fire onto the top of Bregand's head as he stumbled backwards with her attached to him.
Unfortunately, he did not fall onto the ground. He hit the wall on the other side of the hallway and it kept him upright and despite Iradell having a field day on his face, Bregand raised both hands up and gripped her by the loose fitting hooded shirt that she wore. He pulled hard in order to get her off of him, but only succeeded in ripping the clothing off and exposing Iradell's small framed black torso. He reached again, this time gripping her around the waist with his massive paws, and then took to steps forward before dropping to the ground, power-bombing the ever loving shit out of Iradell. Her head bounced off of the floor and for a brief moment, she was sent for a loop. The grip she held on his head with her legs loosened, but Bregand did not, and he stood again and delivered another power bomb. This one did not do as much to Iradell, but it did remove her from his head.
Bregand bled profusely from his hairline as he shot a glare at Ian, then looked back down to Iradell. Raising a boot, he stomped her directly in the face with enough force to shatter a human's skull. Thankfully, Iradell's head was reinforced. Another stomp came down on her face and this time Bregand left his boot there, reaching down and grabbing her left arm by the wrist. The massive man then pulled.
Alerts went off in her head and Iradell managed to turn her head. Hephaestis were not known to cry out in pain, but Iradell let out a small cry as her arm was ripped from her body. Blue fluid sprayed out when the detachment happened, along with the sound of metal breaking, and once the deed was done Bregand took a step back to look at his handiwork. He looked quite pleased as he stuck the knife in his back pocket, taking Iradell's arm in both hands around her wrist and used it as a club to beat Iradell a few more times with it.
“Stop hitting yourself!” Bregand exclaimed with crazed laughter, raising a hand up to smear the blood on his face. His eyes were wild, shining blue in contrast to the crimson red. Tossing the arm to the side, before pointing at Ian again. “Now where were we? Oh yea,” he paused to pull the knife back out. “I was about to stab you in the throat. Let's get ba-AHHHH!”
Bregand suddenly screamed as Iradell crawled up behind him, her teeth biting deep into the back of his heel and into his achilles tendon. She had teeth, mostly for aesthetic reasons, but they were as functional as a human's. Her jaw was mechanical though, and it carried with it more power than a typical human's. Iradell had no idea how deep she could bite, she had never done it before, but when her teeth came together again she figured that was far enough. Bregand dropped down onto the ground and Iradell stood, spitting out a huge chunk of tendon and flesh.
“We are not out of this fight yet,” she repeated, looking like hell with a blood covered mouth and a missing arm.
Like an angel sent from the God of the old world's religions, Iradell descended upon Bregand and sent him soaring through the hall. "Pay back's...a b-bitch." Ian coughed as Iradell gave him a glance and nod. The following few seconds went on as a high end fight scene in a movie. They moved with lethal efficiency and grace that would have taken Ian's breath away, if he had it to spare. Bregand ended the scuffle with his boot on Iradell's head and proceeded to take his intimidation level even higher as he ripped the Hephaesti's arm from its joint and socket. Blue fluid jetted forth in an azure arch that painted the walls and floor in a contrasting color to the dark red of blood. Ian's nose scrunched in reaction to the metallic scent of the blood as it mixed with the acrid aroma of Iradell's fluid.
I know that smell. His mind screamed as a flash of an idea came into existence. Ian's only problem was after losing as much blood as he had, his body wasn't responding how he wanted especially after being shot with the taser beam so many times. Bregand laughed as he rained blow after blow down onto Iradell with her own arm, all the while screaming some cliche line Ian had heard in old movie vids.He then tossed the arm to the side and turned to finish what he started with before. Had he been less hurt or tired Ian believed he would have felt far more scared than he felt as he glared up at the moving mountain, as Bregand pulled Ian's kitchen knife from his back pocket.
He stopped just in front of the prone landlord and let out a sudden shriek of horrid pain before he met with the floor. Iradell, with blood dripped from her mouth, stood with the blue liquid from her wound running down her side. Ian heard her words but when his eyes fixed on Bregand and his now prone position in the blue liquid his eye illuminated with the same violet flame as before. The landlord was smaller than Bregand by a head and a half and out weighed by at least three score pounds. Bregand had the advantage in the physical application of his abilities, while Ian was more creative. The small puddles of blue liquid under Bregand's head rippled before the air right above the substance sparked and the blue liquid underwent a chemical change.
Flames enveloped the mountain man's face with such abandon that put piranhas to shame. Bregand screamed and thrashed, his primal instincts having him react in a way that took over from the practical mind. The flames lapped hungrily at his skin and burned his eyes as his legs flailed. The fire began to rapidly spread from Bregand. Ian fought with his body to move but found himself incapable of doing so. "Now!" Ian bellowed to Iradell, his voice rough as grey smoke took flight. "Archimedes, fire on floor two! Initiate suppression." He said into his ear piece and received a high pitched sound in response, a moment later a small red strobe light appeared from a pocket on the wall sending the hallway into a strobe of red light.
Following in the wake of the strobe were floor level panels on both walls opened around where the fire was. A beam of red light swept over the fire from above and from the sides. "Situation investigated." A strong female voice said. "Appropriate counter measures assigned. Executing counter measures."
Iradell stood there motionless for a moment, watching the man scream in agony as his achilles had been split in half by her teeth. It wasn't until Bregand's face and upper body ignited that she snapped out of it and realize than Ian had done this and she looked up to him when he screamed at her to finish it. From the looks of it, Bregand probably wanted to be put out of his misery, too. She was more than happy to oblige.
Moving to Bregand's right, she bent over and picked up the knife that he had dropped while thrashing. Flames still blazed as she moved over him, their heat having little effect on her, and she quickly plunged the knife down and into the top of the man's head. As the hallway filled with a fire suppression powder, Bregand went still and Iradell dropped the knife back onto the floor.
“Sir,” Iradell said, moving through the haze of the powder to Ian's side. Once again she looked him over and then she bent down, putting her head under his left arm while her right arm wrapped around his waist. She then straightened back up, effectively throwing Ian over her shoulder in order to carry him. Iradell moved down the hallway and bent at the knees to pick up her arm, keeping Ian balanced on the shoulder for the second it took to grab it. Then she walked towards the stairs, carrying him over her shoulder while her arm was in her hand.
It may have been a painful journey for Ian, but it was a quick one. Iradell hastily moved down the stairs and returned to the first floor, pausing only once as some tenants were standing in the hallway while entering their apartment. She waited around the corner and when the door shut, she continued down the hallway and returned to Ian's room. Once inside, Iradell shut the door behind her and then moved over to his bed, bending enough to let Ian fall down onto it.
“I did not mean for you to become involved in this,” Iradell said, finally taking a moment to look at the arm that had been ripped off. It appeared that Bregand had torn the metal on the rotating connector. It wasn't an expensive fix, luckily. “When SLED comes, you should tell them that you were attacked and a Hephaesti helped you to survive. Not much of a lie there.”
Iradell looked around for some sort of towel and finally found one on the kitchen counter. Hopefully Ian didn't mind, but she went to work, wiping at the blue fluid that was on her sleek black body. The fluid was important, it helped to keep her internal functions cool, but it didn't appear that she had lost much before the clotting agents stopped the flow. She then wiped at the blood on her face.
“Though I think I have you to thank just as much,” Iradell said, moving back towards him in order to help him if need be. “I couldn't have done that without your assistance.”
And just like that it was over. It was Iradell in the second floor hallway with the kitchen knife. Ian had the thump-thump-thump of his heart beat in his ears but despite that and the ruckus of the fire suppression, the sound of his kitchen driving through Bregand's skull seem to cut through everything. Ian watched as the silver of the blade all but vanished within the waves of hair that acted as tinder for the fire. While Bregand was a killer and a threat to him and all his tenants, Ian felt the contents of his stomach take the express elevator up. Squimish isn't a word Ian would use to describe himself but there is something about watching someone die that triggered revulsion throughout his body.
Ian's body still refused to listen and he painted the carpeted floor with pale brown and green bile and vomit. The landlord couldn't move himself so the sick ended up on part of his face and the collar of his shirt. However, the substance used in the fire suppression system also coated him and soaked into the fabrics of his clothes. Ian watched as Iradell moved to his side and hefted him onto her shoulder. Surges of liquid fire assaulted his pain receptors and the old man left out a cry of pain through gritted teeth. The trip to wherever Iradell was taking him took a subjective infinity but once they reached their destination Ian felt a bit of comfort as he was placed on the bed.
The muscles in Ian's body were thankful for the cloud like mattress beneath him but contrary to his muscles the first thought Ian had was, Well, this is ruined.
Iradell offered her apology for his involvement and a suggestion of what to tell the S.L.E.D. Ian went to shake his head but found that the movement hurt far too much. Instead he decided to just use his words. "I didn't want to be this involved, honestly. But it ended up being what the Universe wanted and hardly in my control. Leigh turning out to be a badass wasn't what I had expected, nor that she would hit on me. Literally." His tone spoke of humor but his face remained somber. "When the S.L.E.D gets here they'll review the cameras and they'll see what happened. Archimedes, pull up the video feed from my last location. All cameras in that hall." A chirp preceded the large screen's materialization, Three camera feeds appeared on the screen, each of different points of view of the fights. One from the left looking down the hall showing Ian on the left side of the screen at Leigh's door. One showing the same image but reversed. With the last showing Iradell waiting on the stairwell before bounding up the stairs and into the feeds of the other two cameras.
"This is what they'll see." Ian said before he pointed toward a closet door near the door. "Grab the small first aid kit from in there. I've got to stop this bleeding."
“And I wasn't expecting Bregand to be expecting me,” Iradell replied, looking towards the displays that clearly showed her face. The fight was playing on the monitors and Bregand was ripping her sweatshirt off of her body. Iradell managed to frown, not liking the fact that she was so easily seen. It was quite possible she could have just been killed if it was not for Ian's interventions. She only looked away from the monitors when Ian asked her to retrieve the first aid kit and she did so, crossing the room quickly and returning quickly. Instead of helping him this time, she tossed it on the bed next to him and then moved back to the viewing screens.
“I don't expect you to approve of what I am about to do,” Iradell said, glancing back at him briefly. A cable shot out from underneath her right arm, extending out from under the bicep area, and she caught the end of it with her hand. Despite having one arm, she seemed to adjust to it pretty well. “Rest assured, I will not harm your program.”
Iradell plugged the end of the cable into a port underneath the viewing monitors.
“Hello Archimedes. I am Iradell,” she stated. She stayed silent for a few seconds and then glanced back at Ian again. “Your name is Ian Schlip. Did I say that right?” Iradell had a pleased smile on her face as she looked back to the viewing monitors and one by one, their images became filled static. Within her mind, she spoke to Archimedes and as a superior synthetic being, it complied with her wishes. After a few more seconds the video monitors went blank.
“You have been having issues with the interior cameras,” Iradell said, turning back to Ian once more. This time she disconnected the cable and it retracted back up into her arm. Crossing the room to where Ian was on the bed, she raised a brow at him. “Isn't that right? That is why you have no footage of what occurred here today, or for the past few weeks. I need you to be very clear on this, Ian. You can not tell them any details about me, because you do not know them,” Iradell said, her tone serious. “I would not enjoy having to come back here.”
Once she got to where he was sitting, she bent at the waist in order to look him in the eye. Once more, her smile returned, despite of what she had just been through.
“But really, know that I appreciate your cooperation,” she said, then reached across him in order to grab her arm. “I doubt that we will see each other again.”
"What do you-?" Ian asked as a cable shot forth from Iradell's remaining arm and inserted it into an external connection port located under the screen generator. The wounded landlord watched her for a moment before he took to cleaning up his injuries. The blood had soaked through the fabric that Bregand's assault didn't ruin. The shirt was mangled and Ian's body was starting to feel the departure of the earlier adrenaline rush. With a slightly tremble he grabbed the handle of the medical sheers and began to cut away the shirt. It took a few tries to work them right but eventually Ian's stomach was lain bare.
Ian's complexion was a bit pale, it was in his genes he supposed, though his aunt, uncle, and cousins all had darker skin than he did. The blood loss didn't help the ghostly color of his flesh any. With the ruined cloth now out of the way he grasped a few pieces of cloth from the kit and wiped away the blood. While he did he heard Iradell mention his issues with the camera, which was true just not in the area they had fought in. At the realization of what she had just done he felt a mix of relief and worry wash over him. Iradell had just tampered with the system he set up. She had just broken through all the firewalls he had in place, despite the fact he housed the main surveillance programs in his computer, he reinforced the computer with multiple firewalls incase anyone had broken in. But Iradell had broken through them without a notion of effort. He sat in awe as she explained that he couldn't tell anyone about her. Even though the neighbors saw her a little while ago she expected him to somehow pull off not knowing anything about her.
I would not enjoy having to come back here. He heard her say though he received it as if he were in a cave, the slightest bit of an echo trailing after each word. He knew what she meant, and though he helped keep her being crushed by Bregand's wrath today, he knew, down in his gut, that she would be back if she was ordered to. And with how easily she dominated his defenses...Ian felt his blood run cold at the sure certainty of his death should she come back.
Ian thought for a moment but his mind was far too tired to deal with all the mess that had happened, was happening, and was going to happen. One thing at a time. His brain told him and he looked back to his wound. One large entrance wound from, ironically, his own kitchen knife and a spot on his upper right torso from Leigh's shove. He looked up again as she spoke and forgot that she had set her arm near him. She grabbed it and turned to leave.
"I-Iradell," Ian said as she reached the door, his tone a bit shaky, "thank you for saving me. And while I'm grateful beyond words for that...I hope we never need to meet again." Ian watched her, unsure what expression was on his face, before he felt the cold feeling of numbness take over his body. "Archime-edes, med-drone...now." He growled through the mixture of cold fire and burning waves that raged through his battered body. Archimedes chirped and a small white drone hovered from a small opening that appeared in the wall near the kitchenette and went to work on Ian's wounds. Ian sank into the bed as the drone's multiple arms picked and poked at the areas in need of work. "ARGH! Injection first!" He snapped, his body jerking in a painful twist as the drone lifted an injection gun, the same type as Iradell had used on him earlier, and shot a full vial of the vibrant blue substance into him. The relief, now that the adrenaline was gone, was practically instantaneous.
A moment later the ferryman of dreams carried him away from the world of the conscious.