Scrap paper. Rough-edged pen. The faint scent of intoxicating aromas and delicate oils.
“Orokin?” she said,
“Of course, they can try hide their handwriting all they want…” he replied,
“You really fancy heading to the outer termini?”
“Not really, but the pay is handsome…”
“Leave a note at the contact point – I want the reward doubled… this is the amount they would pay any single operative and they know we come as a pair”
A moment passed between the two. The light overhead flickered, offering the shadows false promise of concealing the room.
“I love you” he smiled, slumping to the table with a thin smile on his lips, one his partner could not see.
“and I, you”, she placed a cold hand on his as another moment passed, it seemed to drag on, she slapped the side of his face slightly harder than he would have expected a playful slap to be.
“Go place the reply” she laughed, it clearly wasn’t a playful slap after all, “before I make you ask for triple!”
She turned away and quickly disappeared into the enveloping darkness. He stood straight, lifted his crude linen hood over his face and lightly tapped his chameoline device.
“Give me thirty seconds” he chuckled as the chameoline covered his body in light-distorting nano-machines.
“The Veil appreciates your service” a robed and hooded female bowed curtly to a member of Pluto’s Corpus before gesturing him to leave with the slightest flick of her hand.
“They accepted” she said without turning, the warm glow of the vast amount of candles dotted around the cavern danced along her finely-wrought clothes. She didn’t move, “what now?”
“We wait, this is the risk we take” came another feminine voice from deeper along the tunnel network.
“It won’t take them long”
“No, of course not”
“Did anything go awry? They took the payment?”
“They didn’t suspect a thing, our agent was the best in the field”
A slender figure emerged from behind the turn in a tunnel, she was draped in the same clothing as the first, “loose ends, sister”
“Of course, forgive me-”
The second figure raised her palm slowly to stop her speaking, “it is fine, sister, events are proceeding as planned”, she allowed herself a quaint chuckle, “they did demand double, though…”
“It’s a good job we’re married” she said as the landing strut housed in-front of them, reducing their space even further.
“The last time I checked, we weren’t?” he smirked, “paper-trail and all that?”
“We- you know what I mean… we should be”
“We are as far as I’m concerned, I don’t need it in writing” he leaned over, cupped her head in his hands and kissed her forehead.
The landing gear bay doors slowly began to close, however the ship was already hundreds of meters in the sky.
“About time” she sighed, habitually reaching for her arrows to begin sharpening them. They each needed a focus. A routine or a distraction. Being a mercenary for hire in the Orokin Empire could cause intense mental trauma.
“I wonder what happened to Ordan” he muttered, shuffling away slightly to give his partner room for her pastime.
“What?? The Beast?”
“He was the best of us, he got a bit close with the Executors aye, I’ll give you that but… where did he go?”
“I heard he went stark-raving bonkers and slit a dozen throats before he was quelled”
“Everyone’s heard that”
“He stopped counting stars after… you know… drove him mad”
“I do, the Sentients… they’re not normal, you wouldn’t find me getting anywhere near those things”
“and here we are heading for Pluto? So far away from home?”
“Why would the Sentients want Pluto? They’re diving for the homeworld, for Earth, like a majestic spear carving through the galaxy’s meat into it’s blackened heart”
“You almost sound like you sympathize with them”
He stumbled, he got carried away but the truth escaped him, “I-I- do, in a way… the Orokin are monsters, depraved Emperors from a long-dead era who used their position to rule with a new totalitarian system… but I guess, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right?”
“What, we’re keeping the balance are we?”
“We’re keeping the Orokin in check, of course…”
He sat back and began juggling a long, skinny knife, his wife paused in her work and tried to stop a slanted smile spreading across her face.
“Keep warm,” she said, “the ship’s atmospheric field should be sufficient but… don’t die for nothing”
“I will” he replied, his eyes completely fixated on the spinning blade dancing mere centimeters before his eyes.
The cavern was vast with only one exit. Almost one hundred kin dressed in identical robes and cowls knelt silently before one stood before them all as a shepard would appear to his flock.
A single figure hurried along the outskirts of the coven, wearing the same clothing as the rest, towards their leader and whispered behind a concealing, outstretched hand.
The figure dismissed the messenger, who joined the rest. The figures robes were only slightly more intricate than the rest, but it was the aura of power they carried that marked them out as being significant.
An elderly, wrinkled hand raised to her head and lifted her veil, revealing her average, untelling face of pale skin, fair hair and brown eyes.
“Brothers. Sisters. They are here.”
Thanks for reading,