Winter Kill – Chapter Five

Britchy, Bond, Racquel, and Rue exited the cargo hold and headed back towards the other passengers. “You two could have killed yourselves,” Bond chided them, though Rue could tell that he secretly very, very much enjoyed what they did.

Britchy shot him a patronising smile. “I never do penance,” she retorted. “And we helped save you guys.”

Rue chuckled.

As they passed the still-tied up mole, they heard a noise on the ladder. Rue stopped in her tracks. So did the others. Rue peered up the ladder and immediately jumped away as a bloody mess slipped and fell in a heap at the foot of the ladder.

Rue looked closer.

It was a body.

She took a deep breath to steady her stomach and knelt down beside the person. A deathly pale and terrified face lifted up and looked at her.

A man.

He said something, but Rue did not catch it. She leaned down close to hear him.

“Help…me…”

“Yes, we will,” she assured him, then looked over her shoulder at the others. “Racquel, can you help me lift him up?”

“Sure.” One under each arm, they gently lifted him up onto his feet. Thankfully, he was able to walk, but only with someone to hold onto him. Racquel and Rue did that.

Heading back towards the others, Rue wondered where the captain and his men were. This man was not dressed like the people that had went up to fix the damage, and was bruised and bloody. Is he someone else entirely? Then a cold thought punched her in the gut. What if the captain and his crew were attacked? That would explain the blood. Several other questions popped into her mind. She decided to prod a little.

“What happened out there? Were you attacked?” Rue questioned.

“No…” the man coughed, his voice slightly louder. “The Captain and his men were all murdered.”

Rue’s blood ran cold. Murdered?

“By whom?” Britchy asked, horror lacing her voice.

“I’ve been held a slave by him for a year now.” He halted in his explanation with a hacking cough and a little bit of blood came out.

“We need to get him to a doctor,” Racquel observed.

Who is this ‘him’? And what ship?

Rue then realised that they had entered the room where the passengers were. “Is anyone here a doctor?” she called out.

A young, timid man with spectacles looked up from bandaging a young girl’s arm, from being knocked over by the explosions, Rue absentmindedly presumed. He raised his hand. “Me,” he stammered. “I-I’m a doctor.”

“We have a man here that needs immediate medical attention,” Racquel called back.

The doctor turned and motioned a young woman over. Getting her to finish bandaging the girl, he then came over, stepping over feet and between huddled-up passengers. “Alright,” he said, his accent had a slight Mediterranean accent and was soft and quiet and he had dark olive skin. “Put him down here.”

Gently placing the man down in an empty spot in the room, Rue happened to look up as she began to help the doctor and spotted a porthole. She saw something and froze.

An Ares brand spaceship that resembled a Starclipper was detaching from their ship and was beginning to fly away. As it passed by the porthole she was looking out of, she saw a face staring out of one of it’s own portholes, and seemed to stare straight back into her eyes, as if that person knew beforehand that she was going to be watching.

The blood drained from her face.

A Kabuki mask stared back at her.

For a millisecond their eyes met – his were dark holes in the mask…

…then the ship vanished into space with hyperspeed.

But the moment remained seared in her mind.

Ver’thad…

The Skylon exploded infront of her eyes again. Her scream filled her eyes just as loudly as it had when it happened. Tears blurred her eyes.

This time they weren’t sad.

They were angry.

A hand touched her shoulder.

Racquel.

“You okay?” she asked, her voice quiet and concerned. It was then Rue realized her fists were clenched and everyone was looking at her strangely.

She cleared her throat and quickly blinked the tears away. “Ahem, yeah. Now, what did we need to do?”

“We’ve got this. Why don’t you go rest?” Britchy offered.

Rue nodded and, pushing herself to her feet, weaved through the crowd until she found a spot quiet and isolated, away from everyone else, and slid to the ground. Burying her face in her knees, she kept replaying that fleeting moment – just her and Ver’thad – over and over again, clenching and unclenching her fists.

He’s going down.

~

Ver’thad stared out that window long after they had escaped from the ship. Not that they were technically escaping, mind you. I mean, no-one was coming after them. Which was an insult, according to Ver’thad. He loved the chase. The hunt. Loved people chasing him, only to be thwarted, discouraged, or killed in their futile and stupid attempts.

Like Jones.

Anything less than that was a bruise to his pride and joy.

He drummed his fingers on the rim of the porthole. One face – one face out of the many he saw in the millisecond he looked through the other porthole – kept staring back at him in his mind. That person was all he could see, all he could think about.

The Avenger.

He remembered their first encounter.

Her first mission.

He recalled the moment when his dagger sank into the flesh behind her ear. Slowly cut down her neck, and part way down her back. That was before she had managed to break free from her restraints and start fighting back, though she was not very good, due to some of her nerves being cut. He presumed that she must have had them surgically repaired since then.

Red tinged his vision.

His fists clenched. As he remembered what happened next.

She, realizing that she needed to change tactics, had then grabbed a nearby bottle of acid.

His hands still automatically went to his face, now covered by the mask, whenever he thought about the fire that afterwards ensued. The agony that had swept over his face. It felt like it soaked into his head.

A hell on earth.

Now he could get his revenge along with the rest of his plan. The mole was put in place. Now it was set and in motion.

And he would savor every moment of it.

I will have my cake and eat it too.


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