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First Reply These Four Walls

Bleeding Edge Tech
Another day, another job. The buzz and burn of neon lights spread a red-pink glow across a sizable balcony. It’s metallic planters and cushioned furniture blended into the walls that reached even further towards the sky, several dozen floors above. From below the sound of a busy main road could just barely be heard. Squeals of transports, crashes of crates, but no people. They were there, they could barely be seen, but they were not heard or felt.

A strong wind carried Amea’s hair back and forth as she slowly began to turn around towards the mercenaries pouring in from the door she had stormed out of. Each breath that passed between her lips felt like a blessing for her lungs but did very little for her nerves. It was over then, this was it. Her driver should have been here by now but they were nowhere to be seen. This was the time, this was the exact place that they had agreed upon. No alarms had been tripped, yet the mercenaries had been hot on her tail from the moment that Amea had picked the item up.

So, it was a set up then? It wasn't unheard of. Freelancers getting set up in a game where rivals measure their sticks between one another. A long sigh parted Amea’s lips as she began to consider her exits. Needless to say, the mercs that took up the balcony door and pointed their blasters at her were blocking the most convenient one.

But there was another exit somewhere around here, there always was.

There was always another exit.

Amea Virou Amea Virou

Something happened way out in the back.

A moment of silence.

Then? Absolute chaos breaking out. It started with the burst of a scatter-gun, followed by maniacal laughter and glass shattering. It wasn't immediately clear what that glass shatter was all about. Until? Until they heard the scream that sloooowly faded out. Until the body had disappeared into the deep amber crevices of Nar Shaddaa high-rise.

The mercenaries got nervous, because their target was right in front of them.

They had Amea dead to rights.

Before they could decide what to do? The decision was already made for them. In the shape of a grimy man. Scatter gun in hand, already stepping in between them. The gun going roar. Two were already down, before they realized what hit them.

There was nothing gracious about the way Archibald Sult fought. It was all dirty, all bloody and screams. At one point? Amea might have realized he bit someone's ear off. Well, hopefully she hadn't noticed that. Because right now was her chance to either get out dodge or take the opportunity to hit the rest of the mercenaries.

Either way.

Archibald was currently happy.

It wouldn't last. Never did.
Bleeding Edge Tech
Archibald Sult Archibald Sult

That silence said very little. Amea’s hands remained raised before her as the mercenaries seemed to remain by the door. Waiting, pointing their guns at her. Some part of her hated it, another figured it bought her time. As the sound of gunfire called from behind them they all twitched to look, even Amea. Through the windows by the staircase she could see the muzzle flashes and the occasional silhouette of a man on a mission.

Amea had no backup beyond the driver. This was not part of what she had been told about her task. Retrieve the crystal, escape, report back. It was her, a bunch of overly complicated traps and freedom. The recruiter had no idea who she was or what she could do. The more Amea thought about it the more she began to spin the weave of paranoia.

The men and women by the door turned around to face the man and his scattergun, and in that very moment she made a break for it. One of the mercs tried to shoot at her in the confusion but quickly found themselves at the receiving end of the newcomer’s own barrel. Making for the window Amea raised her hand to shatter it before she jumped through.

Tiny cuts stung as they carved their paths across her skin. The landing was rough, riddled in corpses and blood. Stumbling to her feet and falling to the floor Amea let out a curse as she struggled to get a grip against the wet floor.

This kyber crystal? It wasn’t going back to the mission provider anymore. The deal had changed and this setup was no coincidence. The man with the shotgun was either a fool, same as Amea, or a part of security. Either way Amea was not particularly keen on finding out.
Amea Virou Amea Virou

Amea's impromptu decision was the right one.

Correct, because Archibald wasn't here to rescue her.

Not that anyone who knew Archie would have thought that anyway. No, he was here for her. Or more importantly to take that crystal. It was all coincidence of course. He wasn't affiliated with her recruiter. Not with these mercenaries. Instead Archibald had been planning to steal it himself. Just to watch as someone else suddenly snatched it right from under him.

Feth that, aye?

His scatter-rifle was already tracking her progress through the air. Then a growl. Take her out now? And the crystal might be smashed to pieces. It was too fragile for this chit.

In the confusion he dropped a 'nade on the ground. Then hauled ass back into the building. Behind him? An explosion that took care of the merc problem. It was a mess out there. Body parts, groaning and screaming men. Usually Archibald would at least spare a look. Enjoy his handiwork. Sadly that wasn't an option right now.

Sult didn't talk- he was in business mode.

Killing mode.

A knife already dropped from his sleeve into his hand. Between two heart beats he threw it at the retreating shape of Amea. Leg-height. Make her trip and then see what else.

That was the plan anyway.
Bleeding Edge Tech
Archibald Sult Archibald Sult

The soles of Amea’s boots squealed as she clawed herself out of the pool of blood and back onto her feet and set off into a sprint that took her further into the office building. For each step she took she left behind an extensive trail of bloodied footprints, with each gust of wind that brushed against her stomach and chest she could feel the blood-soaked fabric of her tank top and pants cling to her side. How much of it was hers and how much of it had come from a mixture of armed mercenaries was up for debate. A debate that would have to wait.

With a cramped grip around the kyber crystal, an irregular breathing pattern and a hell of a lot of blood the situation was looking a lot more grim than it was. It was bad, that much was certain, but it wasn’t hopeless. The parameters had changed, the mission was forfeit. No doubt the plan had never been for Amea to succeed in the first place. As she ran it was the only reason she could think of. It was meant to ensure they were secure enough, a penetration test.

Only it failed. They hadn’t counted on that.

As Amea ran into the building she came across the atrium in which the mercenaries had picked up on her tail. Moonlight seemed to trickle down a precious few beams from a skylight several floors up, a steady stream of water drops poured down the middle from the windows the mercenaries had used to rappel down. For a second Amea considered using them for herself. It was too dangerous, too much of a sitting duck. Besides that the ropes were inaccessible from where she was. It’d take a jump and a hefty dose of luck to reach it. No, it was too risky.

From behind she heard the singing hiss of a knife mid-flight. Call it dumb instinct, call it Amea being out of her element, but she stopped and she turned around. A sharp pain pierced against her hip right above her thigh. The impact caused her to stumble over backwards, a pained yelp parting her lips as her breath was knocked out of her in sheer surprise. Her back found the ground again and yet before she could think on it Amea had already pulled the knife out again.

She pushed against the pain, pushed against her better judgment. Then again, better judgment would have never gotten her this far in the first place. Back on her feet Amea pulled her gun from its holster and pointed it towards her assailant to fire three shots in Archibald's general direction.
Amea Virou Amea Virou

Sult didn't stop running once the knife flew out of his hands.

Never let up.

Keep it coming. That was the way to win any battle. Then again, it also meant that when Amea's gun rose up? He was far too close for comfort. It was sheer tenacity that made him shift in that split-second. Her first shot burned straight through the edge of his shoulder. Took a nice chunk of meat with it, but Archibald was too far gone to realize that.

His momentum carried him forward.

Unless Amea did something? He'd barrel straight into her, intent to tackle her down to the ground, where guns wouldn't matter anymore. The hot sizzle and burning smell of his flesh was all around them.

Still Archibald didn't care.

Didn't care that he was screaming in pain either.

Too busy feeding Amea his fist.
Bleeding Edge Tech
There was a collision. Amea fell to the floor and everything went white for a second. Air grew more difficult to come by, the man’s hand grasping at her throat as one punch after the other began to pummel against the side of her head during the confusion. It was like getting hit by a train engine, repeatedly.

With parts of her remaining energy Amea thrust the knife she had pulled from her leg into the side of the man’s upper arm to get him off of her. Pushing against the current of the force she further distanced herself before turning around on her stomach to push back onto her feet and into a stumble. Her knees didn’t seem to want to carry her and she went shoulder-first into a cubicle.

And yet as it were with anything that involved fight or flight her determination to run overcame her better sensibilities yet again. She set off, the wound to her hip burning, the side of her head pulsating with pain as blood ran down her nose and leg to intermingle with the blood of those that had fallen before her.

With her hand extended towards her gun she pulled it into her hand and holstered it to continue running. Or perhaps, it was more fair to say limp at a brisk pace. This time she was ready for him if he tried to attack her again. She focused on her senses to see what they told her.

Archibald Sult Archibald Sult
Amea Virou Amea Virou

You get in a rhythm at this point.

Knuckles impacting tender flesh. The hard pound. Over and over as everything else fades to zero. Knuckles groan, teeth cut into skin, but the pain isn't there anymore. It's patiently waiting in the waiting room for its turn. It wouldn't come any time soon. Not as long as Archie had anything to say about it at least.

The blood thumped between his ears.

There was something brilliant about this. The systematic destruction of someone. That is why Archibald didn't see the knife coming. Embedded hard in his arm, causing him to gasp and blink.

That pause was what Amea needed to get out. Stumbled run. A growl there as his prey was escaping him. Pushing himself up. Knife pulled out and Archibald cursed at the flare of burning hot pain. His blood now. That wasn't the only pain. His fists hurt from using her face like a punching bag. It was all encouragement to keep going.

Scatter rifle came up from over his shoulder.

That's what Amea would feel- the piercing screech and warning of a dozen sharp pellets coming for her legs.
Bleeding Edge Tech
Archibald Sult Archibald Sult

Hard to deflect, flew at a higher speed, but far more primitive. Slugs weren’t on Amea’s list of weapons she wanted to use. They were loud and about twice as likely to puncture the ever delicate veil between a viewport and the void of space. She needed only her fists, most of the time. Or so she told herself and this situation was no different.

As the loud bang echoed down the empty atrium Amea threw herself to the side to avoid the shot. The pellets collided with a nearby wall, sending dust spreading around them. There was no time to think, Amea made a break for a staircase and began to ascend, set on finding a way out. With the pull of her hand she swept a desk to cover the top before she pushed on further into the building.

In one part to hide, in the other to recover. She needed to assess the situation, get a clearer view of what was up. It would be hard given the blood trail, but she would at the very least be able to find shelter, at least momentarily.