Sorcery Amongst the Stars
The night air was quiet. The star in this galaxy burned particularly bright over Kaeris tonight. Local superstition called these nights Firewatchs, they were times suited for celebration, when the students were encouraged to blow off steam and enjoy the nightlife, you needed only to be a bouncer at a club tonight to know the students didn’t need to be told twice. Everywhere else though nightwatchmen let down their guard a bit, nobody committed crimes during a Firewatch, it was bad luck and the stars lit up the night too much to conceal any illicit activity.
Unfortunately, these thieves were from out of town. A single arrow sailed expertly through the sky before finding its mark in the back of the nightwatchman’s neck. A mechanical device in the arrow’s shaft delivered a potent drug to the guard’s system. Knocking him out before he hit the ground.
His assailant repelled down to the ground, from the roof where she had been laying in wait. Touching two fingers to the watchman’s neck she confirmed her kill before signalling to her fellow thieves. One of them repelled off a rooftop, opposite to the one the archer had been hiding, while the second opted to simply jump off the building. He landed with a dull thud on the grass below, rather than the sound of broken bones and screaming that you would expect after a three storey fall, the man simply grinned and walked up to the archer.
“I’ll admit I was wrong. When Nero told me we’d be working with some girl who used an honest to god bow and arrow; I rather thought he’d started sniffing crater dust again.” The man who survived a three storey fall said, his voice was alight with mirth.
The archer girl shouldered her composite bow alongside a quiver of trick arrows. Her eyes were hard with a combination of suspicion and fear. You’d think she had never seen a man survive a certain death fall with only a smile.
“What?” The man shrugged, unsure of why the girl was so quiet.
“Don’t bother Guan, our new little Robin Hood-ess is starting to realize she is wholly underprepared for making a deal with the Dark Triad,” the aforementioned Nero spoke as he walked over to the unconscious security guard. He was a tall and dangerous looking man with a dark and sunken-looking eyes.
Nero placed the open palm of his hand on the unconscious man’s forehead a hand on the unconscious guard, Nero had a thoughtful gaze before he looked over to the archer. “Remember little girl, as long as you remain loyal and useful nothing untoward needs to happen. Step out of line…” As he spoke white whispy smoke flowed from his mouth and into the security guard. The energy seemed to drain from Nero’s face, the dark and dangerous look in his eyes was replaced with a confused one. “What… Where-”
Before he could complete the thought Nero caught a knife in the guts. The security guard, now fully upright and with a dark and dangerous look in his eyes, pulled a bloody knife from the thieves body. The guard looked at the archer, knife still in hand, as he pulled the arrow from his neck, speaking with Nero’s voice. “To borrow a cliche, capiche?”
- two of them inhuman and the third reluctant and terrified but no less effective- moved skillfully through the rest of the place’s defenses. They were headed for a massive storage room containing recently purchased relics and exhibits for the Interstellar Library.
The three criminals
Usually, the Library had better security, particularly when their precious artifacts were concerned, but they still weren’t fully recovered from the terrorist attacks a few month forcing the curators to keep unprocessed items here under a temporary guard.
The big man, Guan, spoke up once he was sure there were no guards remaining. “You know, kinda ironic that we’re still all of this. Don’t the Library get a lot of their history stuff from us?”
Nero, still wearing the security guards body, sighed as he put his hand to a biometric scanner. “Yeah, real big coincidence. I was at the last deal, those Library mages paid a pretty penny for this junk. imagine who much they’ll pay to get it all back.”
The archer girl spoke for the first time tonight. “Wait, is this op even authorized? You said this would fulfill my debt to your organization.”
Nero looked directly at her. “Listen to you, op? This isn’t the army anymore. And I said this would pay ‘part’ of your debt. Which I should remind you, is to me not the rest of the Triad, no one else will need to hear about this.” He turned back to the door as the biometric scanner gave the friendly chime as it granted access to the next room. “As far as they know, I’ll just happen to come into a lot of money very suddenly. Perks of the job.”
The electronic door slid open with a soft, and rather anti-climatic, ding. Well, it wasn’t like they were robbing an ancient tomb, though with all the treasure beyond that door they might as well have been.
Gold plates, stone slabs, and ornate sarcophagi lined the wall. There were so many relics in this room the guards had run out of white sheets to cover them all.
Nero gestured to Guan, who began picking up the heavy relics like they were made of papier mache, and then the archer who went to go look for an anti-grav loader. While Nero himself began pulling off what white sheets that covered his new treasures. Greedy eyes studying each one in detail.
The work passed slowly until Nero noticed one particular relic, an innocuous stone casket, though it was impressively large it was nothing compared to the wealth of gold elsewhere in the room. However, it did remind him of a funny memory back when he witnessed the original trade-off between the Dark Triad and the Library. “Hey Guan, check this out.”
The ox of a man walked over to his friend, a gold sarcophagus draped over his shoulders, he didn’t bother racking his brain over the box, aware that Nero would shortly fill him in.
“You should have seen those Kingdom assholes when this thing got rolled out in the trade-off. The dapper dead my ass, they nearly had a fit in front of the clients. Threatened to call off the entire deal. Too bad they got outvoted by the H.A.E.S and Skinrider representatives.” Nero had a good chuckle over it, the Kingdom always acted so high and mighty, it was nice to see them get flustered for once.
Guan, for his part, was more perplexed than anything. He supposed it kind of made sense, the Kingdom were originally Egyptian so maybe they had weren’t big on selling their own cultural relics. He paused, deep in thought, no that couldn’t be right, among the Dark Triad the Kingdom were the most corpulent. They’d sell their own grandmothers if it would turn a profit. In fact, that’s exactly what they were doing with all these sarcophagi.
Now curious Guan leaned in for a closer look, completely forgetting he was holding a huge slab of stone and gold on the back. Nero was knocked to the ground by one end of the sarcophagus. The other end smashed open the lid of the stone casket.
“Guan, you idiot. Put the coffin down!” Nero yelled in annoyance, that hit had just knocked him on his ass, it has smashed open the guard’s skull. He wasn’t done with this body yet.
Guan dutifully put the relic on the ground before reaching out a hand to his friend. Neither noticed that something was bubbling through the crack on the stone casket. At least until it leaped at Guan.
As Nero watched his friend be consumed by whatever monster had burst out of that ancient box. ‘Times like this. I’m really glad I’m a shade.’ The immaterial skinrider slipped out of the security guard’s body like it was silky clothing left on a lover’s floor. Yet, there was still some sense of loyalty to his friend that prevented him from simply running for it. At least for a few seconds.
Without even a word the devious shade turned tail. It was a tactic he had used a thousand times in his immortal life. After all, no one could touch a shade. At least so he thought, a cold and clammy sensation ran through his immaterial skin. The sensation of something touching him. Truly touching him was something he had never experienced before. The sensation was quickly followed by another new one. Fear.