Shortly after the formation of the Confederacy, the Eldar instituted a
rotating citizen-soldier program in which every elf, male or female, is required
to serve in the armed forces. Service terms are four years long, but for
one month out of the year, every citizen of the Confederacy that is not currently
enlisted is required to train for battle as part of a reserve force. This
was deemed necessary due to their relatively small population in relation
to the requirement of protection the Senate deemed appropriate.
-A Treatise on the Eldar Confederacy
A razor? Duncan asked. How is that odd?
Dont you get it? she asked, rising from her seat, walking over to him and lifting her left arm high above her head, revealing her armpit. What do you see there?
An armpit? Duncan suggested. Kyrie, annoyed by what she thought was him simply being dense, let out a sigh and came up with another example.
Okay, fine, she said, lowering her arm and rolling her eyes as she unbuttoned her pants, folding down the top part and then sliding her underwear down several inches, halting just above her pubic area. How about there?
Did you drink too much? he asked, a bit confused and taken aback by Kyries sudden loss of modesty.
Shut up and answer the question, she said, her face beginning to blush slightly.
I dont see anything, Duncan said. Though I dont think I needed to know about your shaving habits. She let out an exasperated breath and restored her pants to their original state.
Thats just it, Duncan, she said. I dont. None of us do. Elves dont have body hair.
Why would Cyrius need a razor, then? Duncan asked.
I dont know, Kyrie said, sitting down again. Thats why I thought it was so weird. Why would he need to eliminate facial hair if he doesnt have any?
Are you saying hes not actually an elf?
He might be a half-blood, she explained. But I cant imagine anyone knows that. Somehow I dont think that would go over very well if it got out. Theres a certain bit of a superiority complex that we have towards half-bloods. For the leader of what seems to be the most powerful organization in the Eldar Confederacy to be a half-blood? I just thought it was odd.
Strange Duncan said. Yes, that is weird.
I think theres still more mystery to this guy, she said. But you heard him: he has no files with the LEA and I severely doubt theres anything personal about him here with the Eldar.
Have you checked Sol-Net for any information about him, too?
Yup, she said. Its just the kind of stuff that we knew already. Head the Swordmasters Order, a consummate warrior, high degrees of psychic and Lifestream abilities, et cetera. Id tell you that Id keep searching, but I think that there really is nothing available about this guy beyond what he wants people to know.
Duncan considered this for a moment before coming to a conclusion. Fine. Lets not worry about it for now. Hes a wheeler and a dealer, that much I can tell, but I trust that hes being honest outside of his own past. Weve got other business to attend to, now.
First off, I want you to contact Rydial. Im going to need his help. He might be a bit hard to track down, considering he was recently the victim of a massive lavoid attack, but I think you can handle it.
Were you going to bring other planeswalkers in?
Beyond him, no, Duncan said. Thats it in terms of planeswalkers. I may contact the rest of the Knights of the Round later, but to be frank, if the lavoids managed to subdue Caina Xyris, the others wouldnt be able to put up a fight, either. The reality of the situation is that the lavoids arent going for any of the others because their genes dont do them any good. The last thing I need to cause, though, is a panic amongst the remains of our species over a threat that doesnt really exist. I also dont want to bring them into a hostile environment, which is what this is. There are two non-planeswalkers that would be willing to help out, though, and theyd probably be more useful, anyway.
One is a Seralite named Thask Rhydon. Hes currently working for the Union Senator from Seral.
Do you know him from the Union military? she asked.
Yeah, Duncan said. Before I worked with him in Death Lance, though, he was a Dominion Inquisitor. While he can tell you the whole story, they did something to him that you never do to a Seralite.
Disgrace their honor, Duncan said simply.
So hell be out for blood.
Without a doubt.
Whos the other?
The other is a human named Ashton Locke.
Ashton Locke? Kyrie asked, making sure she heard him right.
You might have heard of him, Duncan said. Hes a treasure hunter and adventurer and a general jack of all trades. He discovered some life extending potion out in the Unexplored Sectors years ago, so hes actually a lot older than he looks. That brought him some perhaps undeserved fame, but hes a hell of a pilot and a wizard with firearms.
A human, right? she asked.
Yeah, albeit one with a considerably longer lifespan than that of most. I dont work with people that dont live at least 150 years. They dont the right mindsets.
And where am I looking for him?
Fringe worlds, Duncan said. Probably by the Unexplored Sectors. He might be tricky. No particular rush. Id just like to know theyre coming by the time I finish this kidnapping job.
Why will Ashton come? she asked.
Hes always up for a good time, Duncan said with a grin. Plus, I saved his life a few times and he owes me a good deal of money.
Okay, last question, she said. Why these two guys in particular?
We have a good history, Duncan said. Weve all worked together in the past, a few years before I started working with you, actually. Plus, theyre both kind of insane, and if you havent noticed, thats a requirement of all of my partners.
It seemed like no time at all before Duncan was sitting in a briefing room with Cyrius, going over the specifics of the operation that he was about to conduct. At his feet sat his combat equipment, some of which he had not worn since his days in the militaries of the major Galactic Powers. As he began get his things in order, Cyrius ran him through the plan one final time.
The dropship will leave the Tower in twenty minutes, Cyrius explained, pointing to a holographic wire image of the Tower and the surrounding area. We will enter cloaking mode once we get away from the ethereal resonance around the Tower. Your insertion point is here. He hit a button and the image became that of the Senate Complex, a perfect cylinder save for the roof, which was slanted at a sixty degree angle. He pointed to a small hole in the middle of the slanted roof that led to an airshaft. At the base of the airshaft, there is a door. After gaining entry to the compound, you are to make your way to the dormitory section where Siria lives on the fifteenth floor. Through her window, set off the signal flare, then proceed to the pickup point on the roof where we will retrieve you.
Easy as pie, Duncan said. Im assuming that when the alarm goes off, the lift shafts wont work, right? Cyrius noted that he had a grappling launcher in his bag of goodies.
You seem to have already taken that into account, he said.
What can I say? Duncan said. Im a man who knows how to work.
No trench coat tonight, I see, Cyrius joked. It was true. In trying to keep anonymous, Duncan had forgone his normal clothes. Instead, he sported a completely black combat suit over which he wore a flak vest full of equipment. His guns still sat in their holsters at his hips, though Duncan had placed the Dreamblade in a new, black sheath that was slung over his shoulder. His glasses had been replaced by a new pair with blue lenses that Kyrie had rigged up to display the schematics of the complex as he moved through it.
No, not tonight, he said, tightening his boots and fiddling through his backpack to make sure everything he wanted was actually there. Deciding it was satisfactory, he zipped the pack shut and threw it over his right shoulder. Giving Cyrius a nod, he motioned towards a door that led to a teleporter.
Hanger 17, Cyrius said as he called for a channel. A moment later, the green light came on and the two stepped onto the platform. Soon, they were inside a hanger full of dropships. Duncan followed Cyrius as he led them to the one they would be using.
Any other neat items youll be using? Cyrius asked him.
Ive got a few, but theyre mostly just the little perks that will make this easier to pin on the Dominion, he said. The boots Im wearing are the standard military issue for Dominion Special Ops, as is this combat suit. Im also using standard Dominion .45 rail gun ammunition. While Im going to take out any cameras as soon as possible, any evidence they find in terms of prints and bullets will lead to Cain. Also, Kyrie has modified this suit to incorporate ethereal disrupters. That means they wont be able to pick up on my astral form, either, which might lead back to the Tower.
It sounds like youve framed people before, Cyrius said with a laugh.
Once or twice, Duncan said, unable to help but grin. The trick is that Ive served in every major special ops group in the galaxy, and its amazing how little their procedures have changed in the last seven hundred years. The weaponry gets more advanced, but that kind of stuff is easy enough to procure when you have well, my connections.
This is us, Cyrius said, pointing to the dropship they were now closest to. It was gunmetal gray with short wings towards the front and a wide tail in the back. As he walked up the boarding ramp at the rear of the vessel, Duncan caught site of Kyrie tapping away at a computer station towards the front of the passenger area.
All ready to go? he asked, now fitting a communication device in his ear.
Piece of cake, she said, slightly unconvinced. Ill have that security system down as soon as were within broadcast range. Duncan nodded, taking a seat behind her station in one of the half dozen chairs that were bolted against the wall. Another half dozen were bolted against the wall on the opposing side.
Been awhile since I did an op without any magic, he admitted. Hope everything goes as planned.
Ive given you enough gizmos to counteract most of the resistance you could meet, Kyrie said with a smile. So youre as safe as I am talented.
Well oh shit, then, Duncan said sarcastically. A moment later, Cyrius climbed up the ramp and took a seat across from Duncan.
Were go in five minutes, he said. Any last requests? he asked.
Last requests? Duncan asked.
As in anything you need before you go? Cyrius clarified. Duncan chuckled.
A last request is something humans refer to as a final wish before they die, Duncan said. Thats why I found it amusing.
Oh, Im certainly not worried about you dying, Cyrius said. Hell, this is the easy part of the plan.
Right, Duncan said. They sat in silence for a few minutes before the ship emitted a few beeps, indicating that it was time to go.
Well, then, Cyrius said, rising and walking towards the exit. Ill see you in a few hours. And Duncan?
Elthar fi, he said with a wink.
Elthar fi, Duncan repeated with a nod as Cyrius walked down the boarding plank. The door quickly closed behind them and the internal lights of the cabin came on.
What does that mean? Kyrie asked him.
It means No Fear, Duncan said. It was a mantra of the LEA. That was my first tip off that Cyrius had been involved with them. It was a password to get into one of the places that we met here and theres no way hed know it otherwise. Its ancient Zealian, and that language is lost.
The engines of the dropship roared to life as Duncan buckled himself into his seat. There were two loud grinding noises outside as the hanger door opened and the blast shield behind the ships exhausts was raised. The dropship then began to hover for a moment before the engines ignited, surging the ship forward, out of the Tower and into the night.
Escillith was a good many miles away but they were within sight of the city in about fifteen minutes. A new kind of hum filled the cabin as the cloaking device was activated and the ship began to slow down as the primary engines shut off and they switched to a silent, magnetic based drive. After another five minutes, the ship was stopped completely and Duncan unbuckled himself from his seat, knowing it was time for action.
Ill have the primary system down in another 45 seconds, Kyrie said impatiently, apparently annoyed with herself that she hadnt already done it. But make sure to take out the cameras, anyway. It looks like they have an alternative power source that I havent found yet.
Got it, Duncan said, reaching into one of the pockets of his vest and taking out a black mask that he pulled over his head; there was an opening over his eyes that was just big enough to fit around his glasses. He stood up and tightened the straps on his backpack. Walking up to the exit hatch at the rear of the chamber, he hit a red button on the left wall and the gate opened outward, revealing the night sky above and the Senate Complex below. He looked back to Kyrie for a second.
That anti-order field doesnt extend to the airshaft, does it? Duncan asked.
No, Kyrie said. I checked the security details and they use magic to enhance the airflow through it. That means you should be able to fly down.
Just making sure, Duncan said, looking back to the hatch and stepping up the edge. Then, taking a moment to make sure that the Dreamblade was secure in its sheath, he summoned a bubble of wind magic and jumped headfirst out of the dropship.
As he fell, he quickly noticed that the shaft was a bit narrower than he had thought and that it would take some fine maneuvering to end up feet first when he hit the ground. He shook it off, tightening his body into a falling bullet as he dropped into the shaft and floors of the building rushed up past him. Assessing the situation in the narrow shaft, he pulled his knees up into his chest as tightly as he could, rolling them over his head until he was falling feet first. Then, using his wind bubble to slow his fall as much as he could, he landed on the floor with a bit of a bang, hoping he hadnt already caused too much attention.
Duncan, you there? came Kyries voice in his ear.
Yeah, he said. Im okay.
Okay, Ive got some disturbing news, she said. The floor youre on now had a sensor on it which Ive turned off, so youre okay for now. But, it looks like theres a timer on their backup security system that will set off an auxiliary alarm if the first system goes down for long enough.
Whats long enough? Duncan asked.
Another five minutes, she said.
Shit, he mumbled.
Look, youre fine, Kyrie said. Just get in there and do your thing. I already disarmed the alarm on the door you should be looking at right now.
Right, he said, looking at the door. Did you unlock it, though?
No, she said. The door locks are on a different system.
Fine, he said, drawing the Dreamblade and swinging it in a broad arc, tearing a gash through the door. Then, with a kick, he knocked the metal inward and sheathed the blade. Okay, he said curtly. I unlocked the door. Give me some directions.
Theres a camera on your left when you walk in, she said. Duncan drew his left gun, walked into the door and aimed where she directed. In a blink, the gun went off and a black camera in the upper left corner of the wall a few yards away exploded in a flurry of sparks. Duncan kept the weapon out and moved down the hall, which soon bent to the right. Kneeling low, he peeked around the corner, seeing another camera at the far end of this hall. He jumped out, aimed, and took out this one as well, then briefly turned back to see if someone was coming up on his rear.
The halls were white and the floors were cold tile, indicating that he had entered into the auxiliary passages of the building. White light illuminated the halls from the ceiling, adding to the rather hospital-like look of the place.
Theres an elevator shaft at the end of the third corridor on your left, Kyrie said and the schematic display on his glasses confirmed this. Hugging the left wall, he paced down the corridor with inhuman speed (even if he was not taking in any additional energy, he was still, as Lucent would say, pretty damned fast). He passed the first corridor in a blur, then the second. As he came up to the third, he slowed down, hearing voices around the corner. Two elves were conversing, making idle chat. Duncan, however, needed to get into the corridor they were in. Drawing his second gun, he held both weapons at the ready as he sprung around the corner and planted bullets in the heads of two unsuspecting guards. His eyes flitted down the hall and he saw another one, though, who uttered an expletive and turned to run. Duncan fired twice again, catching him in the back just as he began to round the bend.
Whats this? a voice called from around the corner at the end of the hall, likely shocked at the dead body that had planted itself there.
Shit, Duncan muttered. Scanning the right side of the corridor, he saw three black recesses in the wall: the lift shafts. In a flash, he ran and jumped up into one, unsurprised to find that the shaft was not operational. Unable to fly, he was forced to spread his legs out into a split and wedge himself into place above the entranceway. The sound of footsteps crept down the hall as what sounded like two more guards examined the scene.
Oh damn, one of them said as they approached the other two dead bodies. There was a pause, and then: Are these shafts working? he asked his partner.
No, theyre shut down for the night.
Sound the alarm, the first guard said. And follow me this way! They ran off to where Duncan had come from and he knew that it wouldnt be long before they found the locksmith job that he had ad-libbed.
Kyrie, he said. Weve got problems. He reached into his bag and managed to pull out the grappling launcher, aiming it upwards.
Whats wrong? she asked.
They know Im here, he said. What floor am I going to again?
The fifteenth, she said. Closing one eye and biting his tongue, he counted the number of white blotches of light that marked the openings on each floor. Finding the fifteenth, he set the proper force on the launcher and pulled the trigger. A metal rod shot forth, followed by a coil of rope that unfurled as the rod moved upwards. With perhaps a little bit of luck, the rod arched through the opening on the fifteenth floor and Duncan pulled a second switch, causing the rod to split open and form a T shape that caught itself against the sides of the door.
Going up, he muttered to himself, beginning to climb the robe. He moved quickly, his powerful arms working as fast he could make them. While the task was not terribly difficult, it was somewhat strange: this was the first time he had had to do something like this in a very long time.
Finally reaching the top of the rope, he peeked over the edge, checking left and right to make sure the coast was clear. Satisfied, he planted his feet against the wall below the opening, bent his knees, then kicked off and flipped his feet over the back of his head. He landed on the floor with both arms extended to the sides and guns drawn.
Directions, he said to Kyrie, holstering one of the guns again.
You need to get out of the service passages, she said. Go to your left for about twenty feet and theres a door that leads to the residential area. As he said this, the white lights that had kept this hall bright started flashing red and a loud claxon began to ring.
Well, this went to hell rather quick, he said, beginning to run where she had instructed. Kyrie, see what you can do about the security system.
Im working on it, she said, though he wasnt listening. He came to the door that she had told him about but found that it wasnt opening. He was in the process of drawing his sword again when shouts came from down the hall.
Over there! There he is! Two guards were running at him now, drawing their weapons, but Duncan was too quick. Even with one hand bent awkwardly to reach his sword, he leveled the gun in the other hand and fired two well placed shots, each into a chest, knocking their respective targets backwards about five feet. The guards fired several blasts of energy from their weapons as they were thrown backwards, but all went wide and high. Turning back to the door, Duncan holstered the free gun, grabbed the Dreamblade with both hands, and made two great slashes with it, taking the door completely off of its hinges and letting it fall inward.
More directions, Kyrie, he said impatiently, starting to run to the right if for nothing but the sake of running somewhere.
Umm keep going that way, she said. Therell be a guard coming around the corner about- Duncan drew both guns again and fired as another guard appeared around the corner. Now, Kyrie said. Well okay, good, you got him. Now round that turn and you should be in a long hallway. Take this all the way down to the end and make a left.
Duncan bolted, knowing that he was getting close. Running down the hall, though, he passed by what looked like another bank of lift shafts and quickly noticed that they had been completely sealed off. A blinking red light above each entrance seemed to emphasize this, hammering home that another plan of escape was going to have to be in order. He reached the end of the this hall (it formed another T intersection with the one which Sirias room was off of) and knew that he had to run left, though roughly twelve more guards were pouring into the corridor from the right. He ducked back into the hall that he came from and held his position.
It was time, he concluded, for a shootout.
Come out with your hands above your head! one of the elves demanded. Duncan stared at the corner of the wall with intensity and surmised a few things about his assailants from their lifestream forces. There were twelve of them, the first six kneeling in a front row and the next six standing behind. They were probably holding back because they couldnt all round the corner at once and they knew that he would gun them down as they came if they did.
Duncan looked around, assessing his options. Then, holstering his guns and drawing his sword, he plunged it into the wall to his right, about four feet from the corner. Cutting a large square from the metal wall, he removed a segment from the wall and held it in both hands. Then, summing up as much strength as he could, he spun around in place several times before extended his arms around the corner and releasing the panel of metal in the direction of his would-be captors. Forgivably distracted by the large chunk of metal flying at them, they barely even saw Duncan spin out and unload his clips into them as the piece of wall dug into the jaws of a few of the guards that were standing.
What room is she in? he asked, expelling his empty clips (Dominion standard magazines, chosen especially for this mission) and reloading.
Fifteen fourteen, Kyrie said. Youre almost there!
Duncan bolted down the hall to the left and eventually came up upon the apartment number fifteen fourteen. Wheeling back and giving the door a resounding kick, he followed the inward flying door and barreled into the room. A young blonde elf was sitting on a couch by the large window on the opposing wall. Duncan spun around and closed the door, breaking off the handle with a strike from the butt of his gun.
Hello, he said quickly. Im here to kidnap you. Are there any cameras in this room? he asked. The elf shook her head, so Duncan took off his face mask as he approached the girl. My name is Duncan McKlane. Im working for Cyrius.
We must be quick, she said, rising from her seat. Are we still going to be extracted from the roof?
No, Im afraid not, Duncan said, approaching the window and looking around outside with great interest. Theres been a change of plans. The passages off of this floor have been blocked. He turned to look directly at her. How far does the Anti-Order Field of this building extend?
I-I dont know, she admitted.
Kyrie! Duncan yelled.
I heard you, she said. And Im looking, but I dont know. Youre not going to jump, are you? The pilot says he cant get down into that street to pick you up!
Tell him to just follow my signal out of the city, then, Duncan said, raising his gun and firing three shots into the window which subsequently exploded outward. He moved as far away from the broken window as he could, beckoning Siria to come with him
Im sorry this isnt what you were expecting, he said. Just hang on to me, though, and youll be okay. She was a bit trepid at first, approaching him, but he quickly swept her up off her feet with one arm under her knees and one around her back and under her shoulder.
Do you know if this will work? she asked him, a rightful hint of fear in her eyes.
No, he said, honestly. But I think theres a pretty good chance. We just need to get over that courtyard down there and out to the street. The cars here wouldnt be able to run if they couldnt use ether, so the field has to end by there. Without saying anything else, he sprinted as fast as he could towards the window, kicking off of the edge with what Siria would later describe as demon-like strength. They throttled through the air as he tried with all of his ethereal might to draw on the Winds and slow their fall. They were falling fast, though, and still not out of the Anti-Order Field. The green courtyard below them was coming up faster and faster, the bright lights of the grav-cars and hover-bikes on the street coming closer and closer
Then, maybe ten feet from the ground (though still four feet shy of the street), Order finally filled Duncans body and he summoned a forceful bubble of air to slow their fall as much as possible, though it wasnt going to be quick enough. They eventually landed right on the edge of the street with a force that would have shattered the legs of a human, sending a ripple of energy though the ground and tearing up some of the pavement. Lucky for Siria, though, her kidnapper was not human, and his knees could absorb the force of the blow. He stood up with her in his arms and quickly gave her a glance.
All right, there? he asked. She nodded shakily, but that was enough for him. Now engineering the next step in their escape, he put her down and jumped in front of the next hover-bike that came by -a grey and red machine with a snubbed nose and sleek lines. The rider, probably having seen the man before him just fall from the sky, slowed down to help, but was quickly elbowed in the face and thrown off of his bike. Duncan then grabbed Siria and put her on the bike, climbing on in front of her.
Hang on, he said flatly, revving the bike and fishtailing it into a 180 before tearing off down the road.
You okay, Duncan? Kyrie asked.
Get me out of this city! he roared back.
Theres an expressway half a mile down this road. If you get on that, you should be able to get out of town in another fifteen minutes.
Are we being followed? he asked.
You look like youre clear to go. The alarm in the building is going off pretty fiercely, but I think you hit them quick enough so as to eliminate the possibility of an outside response.
Good then. Just keep an eye on my signal and well be home in no time.
Kyrie must have been right because Duncan and Siria cruised along without any sign of pursuers. The made excellent pace through the crisp night air onto an elevated expressway that made a long arc around the downtown area before bending back away from the coast and towards the inland. Deciding that a speeding ticket wouldnt be the greatest thing right now, Duncan enveloped the bike in a cloaking spell and ran the motor as fast as it would go. After nearly half an hour of speeding down the shoulder of the road at over one-twenty, the surroundings were looking sparse enough for the dropship to collect them without drawing too much attention. Pulling off of the expressway by launching the bike over the side rail and nearly losing Siria in the landing, Duncan located a nearby wooded area and a small clearing that was just big enough for the ship.
A minute later, a violent wind picked up in the area and a depression in the center of the clearing slowly formed as if something below the ground was sucking all of the grass towards it. What followed was a slight flutter of light as the dropship uncloaked and the rear hatch swung open.
Hurry up, now, Duncan said, grabbing the bike and ushering Siria towards the ship.
Why are you taking that? she asked.
Its evidence, Duncan said. You never leave any evidence at a crime scene that you dont want to leave. He lifted the bike and loaded it onto the ship as Kyrie came and lent Siria a hand in climbing up.
Shaken up? she asked the newly kidnapped elf.
A bit, she admitted. She motioned to Duncan, who was now climbing onto the ship himself. Hes kind of-
Nuts? Kyrie said. Yeah, thats what everyone says. Come on. Lets get out of here. The door behind them lurched shut with a mechanical whir. Everyone quickly took their seats as the vessel climbed into the air and re-cloaked before heading back to the White Tower with Stage One of Cyriuss great plan completed.
Mox Jet's Fanfiction