Lucia stared in shock at what she’d just witnessed. The man who had been so monstrously intimidating had just… done that. Doesn’t matter. He’s still got Nia, and I still need to get her out of this.
“Anyway, let’s get back to business, shall we, Niarith?” Ninia walked over and went back to fondling whatever parts of Niarith he could reach. She showed no reaction to the touch, simply staring blankly up at the machine. “You know The Words. You know they’re true. You know them, because they are all that you know. All that you are. The Words are your world. The Words are you. Say it, Niarith.”
“The words… are me…”
“What a good girl” Ninia said with a smirk. “You and this Lucia did a nice job with the guards up top. But you don’t want some pointless trinket for meagre pay, you want to stay here, you want to be my personal guard, servant, anything I want, don’t you Niarith?”
Niarith shuddered in what was undeniably intense pleasure and said “Yes... Sir. Anything… you want…”
“That’s it, good girl, Niarith. Your former life doesn’t matter anymore. Follow me, Niarith, and we’ll get to the more… intensive… training.” He began to walk away.
“Yes… Sir…” She followed without question or hesitation. Lucia began to panic. She needed to follow them, but her position didn’t allow for easy movement. She looked around, frantically trying to find some way of moving from her hiding spot without being seen. She looked up and found her salvation. One of the catwalks was right above her, and led right to the large garage door to the warehouse. The place was full of guards now, she’d be spotted if she climbed up onto it. Her only option was clear to her now.
She carefully flipped herself over onto her back, reached up and grabbed the floor of the catwalk, her fingers through the holes in the metal, and lifted her legs up to brace against it. This won’t be easy… she thought, as she carefully lifted a hand and moved it forward, pulling her body along slowly after it. She did the same with the other hand, inching her way along the catwalk, barely managing to keep her legs braced after every move. This is going too slowly, I’m gonna lose them. I can’t search this whole place for them…. Fuck it. Lucia looked at the floor, and saw she happened to directly below one of the guards searching for her. Guess you’re gonna find me, buddy.
She let go of the catwalk, twisted into an upright position, and unsheathed her dagger in one smooth motion. She landed atop the guard and slit his throat before he could even react. As the guard fell to the floor, Lucia looked around and saw Ninia and Niarith, they were nearing the exit. Around the corner from the shelf she was behind was another guard. Lucia swiftly and silently snuck over to him and stabbed him in the throat. She was close to the exit now, the exit that Ninia had just walked through with Niarith. She came to the end of the shelves, and between her and the exit was a large, well lit open area. As well as two guards on either side of the massive exit door. The door slid shut behind them. Lucia now had no exit other than the hole in the ceiling. Damn it, no! Okay, Lucia, don’t panic. You can do this. You just need to think this through. She crouched there in the dark for a long moment before thinking The ship! The hologram! I can track her using it! Just need to get there. Shouldn’t be too hard, these guards aren’t very bright. She turned to her left, the stairs she’d descended originally. She made her way up as quietly as she could. A guard was walking the other way, she ended him with little trouble and continued on. As she approached the hole Niarith had made in the ceiling, she heard shouting.
“Man down! Two men down!”
“Got another over here! That bitch is in here somewhere.”
“Somebody cover the breach up there!”
Heavy footsteps came from all around, and Lucia dropped all attempts as stealth and sprinted for the opening. “There she is!” She felt intense burning heat across her back, a near miss from a laser weapon. She had reached the hole. She scrambled up the shelves, which were beginning to melt from the heat of the lasers hitting it, and managed to squeeze back through the opening in the roof. As she did, a door to the security shack behind her was kicked open. “Don’t fucking move! You move so much as an inch, lady, and you’re gonna have a nice new hole in your head. Drop the knife! Do it now!” Lucia did as she was told, and put her hands behind her head. She heard the guard walk up to her, heard the jangling noise of cuffs, and in one swift motion turned and kicked him full on in the face, knocking him to the floor. Immediately afterward, she bounded up onto the control console, using it as a springboard to reach the hole in the shack’s roof. She could hear more guards running toward her position as she climbed up and strapped on her harness.
“I hope this thing can ascend as well as it can descend” She pressed a button on the harness, and suddenly felt herself shooting upward, bright flashes of light shot past her. The ascension took all of 10 seconds, slower than the descent, but not by much. The bright flashes continued. The smell of burnt metal hit her nose as she ran into the ship, closing the hatch behind her. “I hadn’t planned on getting caught, what do I do now?” The ship shook slightly as the shield took a laser hit. “It’s fine, Mirideth’s ship didn’t get through, handheld weapons won-” The Epsilon VI shook violently, and Lucia heard a faint booming noise from outside
<CRITICAL ALERT> <SHIELDS AT 35%> <MAN PORTABLE ANTI-SHIP WEAPON LIKELY> <ASSESSMENT: ENACT EVASIVE MANEUVERS IMMEDIATELY>
“I-it’s only 35%, it’ll be oka-” The ship shuddered violently, throwing Lucia against the wall as the lights flickered.
<CRITICAL ALERT> <SHIELDS DEPLETED> <MAN PORTABLE ANTI-SHIP WEAPON CONFIRMED> <ASSESSMENT: ENACT EVASIVE MANEUVERS IMMEDIATELY> Lucia rubbed her head as she stood.
“I’ve never flown this thing! How am I supposed to enact evasive maneuvers?!” The voice of the ship’s autonomous systems did not reply. Lucia sighed and ran to the cockpit, sitting down in the seat Niarith usually used. She looked over the myriad of dials, button, and blinking lights, having no idea what any of them did. “Oh fuck I’m gonna die.”
<IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE TRYING TO TAKE OFF> <WOULD YOU LIKE HELP?>
“Yes, please!” Lucia shouted to nowhere in particular.
<PLEASE PRESS THE FUEL INJECTION BUTTON LOCATED TO YOUR LEFT>
Lucia looked to her left, seeing just as many buttons and dials and lights as anywhere else. “What fucking button?!” The ship shuddered again, even more violently, Lucia barely managed to stay in her seat.
<CRITICAL ALERT> <STARBOARD ARMOR REPORTS BREACH OF 0.03 MILLIMETERS> <MAN PORTABLE ANTI-SHIP WEAPON CONFIRMED> <ASSESSMENT: ENACT EVASIVE MANEUVERS IMMEDIATELY>
Lucia screamed in frustration and mashed her fist on the panel to her left.
<FUEL INJECTION CONFIRMED> <PLEASE TURN ENGINE START DIAL TO ‘ON’ POSITION AND WAIT 30 SECONDS FOR SPOOL-UP>
The sound of screeching metal and an enormous explosion hit Lucia like a truck, as did the shockwave immediately beforehand. The entire ship listed to the side, but no damage report came. “They must’ve hit the landing pad. Oh gods, they’re going to make me fall! Nonono SHIP! Tell me what to do!” Lucia scrambled back into the pilot seat.
<PLEASE TURN ENGINE START DIAL TO ‘ON’ POSITION AND WAIT 30 SECONDS FOR SPOOL-UP>
Lucia did so. Another shudder, harder than before, and Lucia felt heat behind her. <CRITICAL ALERT> <HULL BREACH DETECTED IN TOPSIDE HALLWAY PLATING> <AREA NO LONGER SEALED> <DO NOT ENTER IF SHIP IS IN VACUUM>
“Fuckfuck fuck!” Lucia began pressing buttons in a panic.
<ALERT> <PILOT IS IN PANICKED STATE> <LOCKING CONTROLS AND ENGAGING AUTOPILOT> The ship suddenly sprang to life, and lifted off from the landing pad, enacting the evasive maneuvers it had been so adamant Lucia perform. To Lucia’s shock and terror, it then turned and began firing at the compound. “Stop stop stop! Niarith is down there! Stop! Just get us out of here!”
“I don’t know any locations here!”
<DESTINATION NOT FOUND> <DESTINATION REQUIRED>
“Fuck! Just stop firing!”
<SELF-DEFENSE PROTOCOL IS ENGAGED> <SELF DEFENSE PROTOCOL MAY ONLY BE DISENGAGED IF THREAT IS NEUTRALIZED OR VIABLE RETREAT DESTINATION IS GIVEN> <CRITICAL ALERT> <HULL BREACH DETECTED IN BOTTOM SECTION> <AREA NO LONGER SEALED> <DO NOT ENTER IF SHIP IS IN VACUUM>
The ship shook violently and Lucia’s viewport went dark, as did all lights inside the ship. <CRiTcAlllll ERRorrRRR> <Autonnnnnnous SYSSSSSSTEMSss MALfUncTiiiooonnnnnnn> Smoke curled up from several panels. Lucia felt the ship start to dip forward, and fall from the sky.
“Fuck fuck FUCK!! What do I do what do I do?!” There was no answer. She strapped herself into the seat. An alarm began blaring. Lucia began pressing buttons, hoping for something to happen. Most did nothing, but one fired braking thrusters on the bottom of the ship. Lucia began pressing it over and over, slowly, hoping to slow the ship’s descent, which she could feel was quite fast at this point. Unfortunately, she failed to take the ship’s tumbling into account, and in fact made it worse.
Lucia realized this as she felt the ship slam into something, crashing through it, and something else below it, falling for several seconds, smashing into another thing, grinding along something else, until finally sliding a halt. several seconds of stunned silence followed. Groaning metal and sparking electricty were the only sounds. Lucia took stock of her physical condition. “Well, I’m alive. No more than a few bumps and bruises. Good.” She unstrapped herself from the seat and promptly fell sideways, landing on the port wall of the cockpit. “Damn it! Ugh, gotta get out of here.” She stood and walked along the wall, sliding the DoorCard out from its slot in her bodysuit. She placed it on the DoorSensor, and nothing happened. “Nononono!!” She began banging on the pentagonal sheet of metal that was the cockpit door. “Hello?! Can anyone hear me?! Help!” There was no response. She continued this way for an hour, until deciding it was hopeless. “No one’s out there. I failed. I couldn’t save Niarith. And now I can’t even save myself. All I’m good for is killing.” She curled up in a corner of the cockpit and just lay there.
After what to Lucia may have been minutes, or hours, a sudden banging was heard on the door to the rest of the ship. Lucia was startled by the sudden noise “H-hello?! Is someone out there?! Help me! Please!”
“Stay away from th' door!” Came a muffled voice from the other side. Bright light began to shine on the edges of the door, and it took Lucia a moment to realize it was the door itself, glowing with heat. After several minutes of loud hissing and intense heat, someone began kicking the door, and eventually it flew free of the doorway, landing with a loud metallic crash right next to Lucia. “What the hell?!” Lucia yelled, more in surprise than anger.
A tall thin man was standing in the doorway, silhouetted by a bright light behind him. He had long straight hair, and was wearing tattered clothing. He took out a cigarette and lit it, illuminating the rest of his face in red-orange light. He was gaunt, with grey hair and dark eyes. His face was scarred and bruised, and he looked weathered and aged. He exhaled foul smelling smoke into the cockpit and said in a deep, raspy, strained sort of voice “What th' hell is right, lady. What in th' absolute shit happened here?”