Hive 18-VIII

From A Certain Point Of View.

This set of tunnels didn't have the walkways on the sides like the last ones, so I had no option but to continue sloshing through the sewage as I ran. The lack of light meant turning corners involved smashing into walls and trying to use the slight differences in lighting to make sure I was bouncing off the right way. The trail of impact craters that method left wasn't exactly subtle, but I figured that they could see as well as I could, so-

Diffused light rolled over me from behind, as one of them turned on a torch. Well, that just pooping figures. On the plus side, I could somewhat see where I was going now. On the minus side, so could they, and at least one of them was faster than me. And it wasn't really like I knew where I was going, anyway. I was just trying to get away and hoping I didn't run into any dead ends.

“Why would there be dead-ends in a sewer system?”

Why are there secret tunnels and giant caverns?

“...hm.”

The splashing behind me grew louder, and quicker. Then, quicker still, until it didn't even sound like feet anymore. It wasn't hard to puzzle that one out. I spun around just as the speedster rounded the corner, raising a gun to point at me.

Just for the first instant, seeing the weapon made me panic. I yelped and jerked backwards, and the bullet he fired whizzed right across the bridge of my nose with an earsplitting noise. Almost as quickly as it had come, the fear was replaced by embarrassment; I'd just been hit by far more bullets than that and come out unscathed. Then my eyes instinctively darted over to the bullet’s impact site, and the foot-long, deep gash it had left there, and I revised the assessment. I'd been hit by regular bullets, which, I was pretty sure, couldn't do that. Panicking was probably the only thing that saved me. If that had hit me-

Not the time.

The gun was still pointed at me, and I ghosted just as he fired again. The flash, now that I was looking in his direction, was bright enough to almost blind me, and once the roaring crack had passed I could hear a faint ringing in my ears. My first reaction was to try and look around behind me at the impact point again, but something told me looking away would have been a bad idea. I was immediately proven right, when Schaus darted forward, faster than I could follow, and suddenly there was a knife in my face.

No, wait, that's not right. Let me rephrase. There was a knife inside my face.

I stared down the dull, matte length of the blade, frozen. I couldn't feel it, I couldn't feel much of anything while ghosting aside from a mild chill, but there was still an eight-inch piece of sharp steel. Inside. My. Face.

Schaus’s eyes were thin and heavy, staring at me as I tried not to hyperventilate. “I don't know what will happen if this is still here when you go solid, but I suspect it won't be pretty.” He must have seen something in my face, because he shook his head quickly. “Don't run, you know I'm faster. Same goes for trying to hit me.” Then, he fell silent, staring at me.

“W-well, then,” I managed to choke out despite feeling like a vice had been clamped around my throat, “what are you waiting for?”

He tilted his head slightly. “Why are you here?” he asked, instead of answering the question. “You can't be more than… what, eighteen?” A small, detached part of my mind tried to jump in and correct him with 'sixteen’ (I get it a lot because of height), but I clamped down on it. Doing that distracted me a little, though, and so the next words I said sort of slipped out on their own. “This may seem a little unimportant, considering the knife, but would you laugh at me if I said pursuing justice?”

The corner of his mouth twitched, but then was immediately replaced by something unreadable. It should be kind of obvious by now, but I'm not great with facial expressions a lot of the time, and the stress wasn't helping. “No laugh,” he said. “The school, then.”

I didn't see the point in denying it. “Yeah.”

“And…” he trailed off, frowning a little. “Ah. Some sort of encounter with the Tower left a sour taste in your mouth, and so you turned to vigilante justice.”

I'd have objected to the term if I hadn't been too busy gaping at him. He saw my expression and grinned. “Psych degree. I was good, but the money wasn't there.”

“And so you turned to paid killing?”

“Turns out I was good at that too.” Wry, now, with the same hint of something as before. Regret? Then he laughed, and it was gone. “Funny, where life can take you.”

It was a strange feeling, having a pleasant conversation with someone who was trying to end my life. “Are you going to kill me?” I asked him.

“I don't want to,” he replied immediately. “But, yes.”

“Oh, well, that makes me feel better.”

He shrugged a shoulder. “That's the job. We get a contract, we fulfill the contract, and this particular one specified high security. And you're a security risk.”

“And you don't have any problems with that?” I was feeling pretty disconnected from the events, which was the only thing keeping me calm. It was more like I was watching a video of it happening than actually experiencing it.

“I take sleeping medication,” he admitted. “But we all do what we have to do.”

“So do it, then.” If I moved quickly enough, if I could get the knife out of me for just a moment, I could go solid and… well, it was a start.

He smiled. “And give you an opportunity? No, I'm going to wait for the others to show up. Just being safe, you know?”

Well, if I was going to die, at least it'd be polite.

The light behind him brightened slightly, and he looked back slightly. “That'll be her now. Khan’s great, but she's not that qui-” He paused, looking quizzical.

“What?” I asked, despite myself.

“...hmm,” he said slowly. “That's inconvenient.” Then, he slowly toppled to the side and hit the ground with a splash.

Standing behind him, arm roughly bound and bandaged, murder in her eyes, was Green Cloak.

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