For millennia Starmark has been perpetuated as the crowning jewel of the galaxy by the upper class and the ruling houses, far from true. What the ruling lords and ladies refused to acknowledge was that when Starmark regained its independence in the time known as the Days of Fire, it left in its wake dozens of cities in ruin, abandoned by its citizens and ignored by the elite. They became inhospitable playgrounds of destruction, those brave enough to wade through potential hidden landmines and buried ordnance were the desperate scavengers.
Although not all who visit these cities are scavengers, some are outlaws and exiles. With little to no activity from military forces or government agencies they remained undisturbed. Unfortunately, this was not the case for LÃ©on, the Keshiri mercenary that had been in contact with James Xingh, a traitor of Starmark and House Exillion.
Near the Keshiri came a scavenger shielded in heavy cloaks and robes. They began to talk and while Marguerite could not hear what words they exchanged she could tell by LÃ©ons stiffening posture it wasn't good. Slowly, the Keshiri craned his head and looked directly at Achillios, some two-hundred meters away in a burnt out second floor window. "Engage, Achillios!" Marguerite demanded with a roar, but it was too late, as the assassin pulled the trigger the Keshiri had already dropped to his stomach. The slug whizzed overhead and took out the scavenger dead center with an impact that knocked the man off his feet.
Achillios grunted and readjusted his aim with an inhuman speed, he pulled the trigger again but where LÃ©on had been laying was now vacated. Dust and rubble exploded into a thick grey cloud. "Kark, target lost," Achillios whispered. Thousands of miles away, Marguerite slammed her hand on a desk in outrage. Silence followed for what seemed like hours as Marguerite watched Achillios projection, the assassin slowly got to his feet and began to pack his rifle.
A distant and quiet crunch alerted Marguerite, but Achillios didn't seem to pick up on it. "Achillios, did you hear that?" Marguerite queried, "Hear what?" he said but was quickly shushed by the High Domina. There was no noise now, but she had heard something. There was no denying it, she had a gut feeling someone was there. The gentle scrape of metal on leather told her Achillios was unsheathing his vibrodagger.
A flash of movement, a purple-fleshed man was in front of Achillios with a hand-and-a-half sword. A scuffle broke out, chaos erupted. Left, left, down, right, Achillios was blocking each incoming blow, he was stepping back and losing ground against the superior swordsman. "There's a pattern," Marguerite quickly analyzed, "He's going to swing for your right shoulder next, counter and thrust."
As predicted, LÃ©on brought around a wide arc with his sword for Achillios' shoulder but was deflected, the Keshiri's sword held against the assassins blade, Achillios pushed and as LÃ©on's sword disengaged the assassin thrust his dagger at LÃ©on and pushed the weight of his body against the mercenary. The vibrodagger dug into LÃ©on's right bicep and chewed through sinew, muscle and bone. He screamed out in pain and Achillios' weight knocked the Keshiri to the ground.
They wrestled for a time, Achillios holding the upper hand in the fight with his larger frame and superior muscle mass, while LÃ©on's own ability was crippled by his injury. In short order Achillios had LÃ©on pinned down and the dagger to his throat. "Ask him what James Xingh wanted and where he went, if he doesn't answer, cut off his hands," Marguerite ordered. "Copy that," Achillios answered.