Shadow and Ghost
Chapter 15: Mar’cte
The Mar’cte watched as the young huntress was impaled by the Demi-queen Kainde Amedha. Briefly, he thought it was such a shame, she had been quite lovely. As the female’s body was taken deep into the cavern of the pyramid, the Mar’cte watched the hybrid pull herself free from the wall and still full of fight while poised precariously over the cavern aim her shoulder cannon at D’lex-dekna. Well this just got interesting. Let us see if the whelp is worthy. He thought as he watched her back away from the Hybrid and let her climb up over the edge.
He cursed silently as his clear shot of the Hybrid disappeared as she stepped from his view. He would have to expose himself to her before he could fire again, but D’lex-dekna was more agitated than usual and he turned up his microphone to catch what she was communicating to the Hybrid. So, the whelp exposes herself as a traitor. How interesting.
Warming up his shoulder cannon, he leaned from his cover and fired. D’lex-dekna saw him a split second before he fired and bolted down the newly open stairs ways. The Hybrid bolted down another before he could get a second shot off. Cursing his luck, he opened an encrypted communication link to his clan ship hiding in orbit around the planet’s moon.
“Why are you risking a call?” There was no mistaking the gravel thick rumble of the clan leader’s voice
“Sir. The whelp is helping the Hybrid. I fired at her, but she saw me and bolted with the abomination to the lower levels of the pyramid. How do you want me to proceed?”
“It looks as though you now have two to hunt. Bring me their skulls or I will take yours.” A soft click was all that followed the clan leader’s response as the communiqué went silent. With a growl of irritation, the Mar’cte pulled up his holographic map and watched the red and blue indicators pinpointing the Chiva huntresses and the irritating Kainde Amedhas. Closing his map, he began the steep climb down the sheer wall of the cavern.
Adjusting her visor’s vision to register the Kainde Amedhas’ unique heat signatures, Bhu’ja stalked through the lower corridors. She had been hunting through the labyrinth of tunnels for two shifts and concluded she was in the structural support at the base of the pyramid. Nothing had shifted since she entered this area through a dug out hole three stories above her. She had also come across a shed exoskeleton that belonged to the Demi-queen, and judging by how large her dome had already grown, time was running out before the female drone became an egg layer.
Tendrils of fog rolled over the uneven floor the deeper Bhu’ja traveled; her suit flickered with the moisture build up. Making a quick adjustment to the suit’s settings to compensate for the condensation, she continued to follow the screeching roars of the Demi-queen that echoed off the walls. The unmistakable scrape of claws and the quiet hissing between two drones pulled her up short as they rounded the corner in front of her. Bhu’ja spun herself into a crevice and waited for them to pass. As their domed heads appeared, she took note that one was a matching size to her first kill. Deciding she would take the chance and go for her second skull and tail, she pulled her Shurikens from their sheaths. Then with a quick test rotation of her wounded shoulder, stepped from the crevice and uncloaked.
As she flicked the blades open the creatures spun around snarling in surprise. The smaller one hung back as the larger one leapt into the air like a large cat pouncing its prey. Bhu’ja threw a Shuriken and somersaulted out of the way, as the spinning blades opened her attacker from belly to sternum. The beast landed in splash of acid and entrails. Catching her Shuriken, Bhu’ja turned to face the smaller drone but it had disappeared. Heading back to the Demi-queen most likely. Bhu’ja thought as she made quick but careful work of her kill, removing the trophies she was after and securing them so she could continue to hunt unhindered.
Running a visor scan for the little drone’s trail she began to follow the creature, she hoped, back to the nest they where building for their future hive. Pulling her map up she could see the Kainde Amedhas had hunkered down instead of fanning out to hunt. Shit you’re smart, strength in numbers and I assume you have your nest at a vantage point. Bhu’ja thought to the Demi-queen. Rotating her map she located her hunt sisters, one was one floor above her and the other appeared to be in a corridor heading towards the Kainde Amedha nest. Closing her map and re-cloaking, she began to jog through the corridors following the fading trail of the drone. As Bhu’ja got closer to the Kainde Amedhas, their incessant screeching grew quiet. Not good…what are you up to?
The soft sounds of lapping water became audible and Bhu’ja’s suit flickered as the humidity levels grew thicker as she approached the end of the shaft. A large rectangular room opened up in front of her, its lower floor covered in water with a platform surrounded by stairs in the center of the room like an island where the Kainde Amedhas currently huddled over a small drone with extensive wounds. The crisscrossing wounds over its body and missing arms told Bhu’ja that Dto’Luar-ke’s hunting net had done enough damage to the poor beast to cause it to bleed out at the feet of three of its pack mates. One less drone to deal with…wait…where is the Demi-queen and unless a hunt sister made another kill, there is a missing drone?
A faint shimmer and mild heat signature caught her attention as one of her hunt sisters appeared at another opening just to the left of the nest. Bhu’ja took a deep breath in relief seeing Yey’thwei with the outline of two heads in her trophy bag. So it is just the Demi-queen that is missing. Running through her visor modes Bhu’ja scanned the large room from the safety of the shadows for any clue to where the Demi-queen had scurried off. To her confusion there was no trail leading away from the huddled drones. You where just screeching…where are… oh no you didn’t… Bhu’ja slowly looked up and there on the vaulted ceiling swinging a large crowned dome from side to side, as she surveyed the room’s entrances, was the Demi-queen. Oh yes you did, you sneaky bitch using your drones as bait. Bhu’ja stepped from the shadows and gestured to Yey’thwei, pointing her to the Demi-queen. Her hunt sister nodded then faded back into the shadows of her corridor. They would now wait; D’lex-dekna still needed the chance to make her kills.
Purring clicks echoed quietly from behind Bhu’ja. She spun around prepared to fight but instead was greeted with a large male foot kicking her in the chest, the force launching her through the opening of the corridor into the waterlogged room. Bhu’ja landed on her back in a shower of water and sparks. Scrambling to her feet, she found herself face to face with the Demi-queen as she landed in front of her, roaring in challenge. The drones hissed and crouched awaiting the orders from their queen.
Yey’thwei landed in the middle of the trio stabbing two of them with her Combi-staff; the third launched itself to the aid of its queen. Bhu’ja extended both sets of wrist blades and parried the elongated claws of the Demi-queen away from her. The Demi-queen roared and stabbed her serrated tail at Bhu’ja who faded and lunged around the deadly appendage amputating one of the Demi-queen’s small arms. The drone’s large two toed feet hit Bhu’ja in her wounded shoulder, the pain and force of the creature knocked her under the feet of the Demi-queen. Water flooded over her and her view skewed under the acid colored surf.
Breaking the surface Bhu’ja pulled in a gasping pull of air as the Demi-queen’s tail broad sided her in the stomach and launched her through the room impacting the wall with a bone braking thud. Looking up she saw Yey’thwei dancing and dodging the energetic stabs and swipes of the last drone. The Demi-queen was screeching and charging in a spray of water towards Bhu’ja.
Ducking under the water Bhu’ja swam to the island while ignoring the pain in her ribs as she bumped them on the steps when she surfaced. The Demi-queen roared and stabbed at the water, frustrated with Bhu’ja’s disappearance. Climbing as quickly as she could to a vantage point against the Demi-queen, Bhu’ja launched herself with blades extended onto the back of the large Kainde Amedha stabbing her blades into the sensitive flesh at the side of its neck. The drone screeched in response to his queen’s pain and Yey’thwei severed its head while it was distracted.
Bhu’ja struggled to hang onto the flailing beast, as she continued to stab its neck repeatedly with one set of wrist blades. Acid blood hissed and sputtered as it hit the water around them. The inner jaws of the Demi-queen franticly bit at the air as the beast fell to its knees in the water. Using the moment of weakness against the creature, Bhu’ja punched her fist through the inflicted wounds and pulled the throat out of the creature.
The Demi-queen fell lifeless into the water. Bhu’ja franticly pulled her glove off as the acidic blood ate away at it and sat on the steps of the island watching the glove sizzle away into nothing. Yey’thwei stepped up next to her and extended her hand. When Bhu’ja graciously took it, Yey’thwei pulled her into a warrior’s embrace with their clenched hands between them. “Sister.”
Bhu’ja looked up at the much taller Yautja and nodded. “Sister.”
Yey’thwei released her and surveyed the room and the bodies of the Kainde Amedhas. “These where not supposed to be ours, where are our hunt sisters?”
“The Demi-queen killed Dto’Luar-ke when the Mar’cte attacked me.”
Bhu’ja nodded. “Long story that I don’t fully know, but keep a wary eye out, he is the reason I found myself under that bitch.” She nodded at the body of the Demi-queen.
As Yey’thwei scanned the entrances, she asked about their missing hunt sisters.
“D’lex-dekna was not far behind me when I first arrived and I don’t know about Thei-Kiloun, she fell off my tracking map long ago.”
“Mine as well. I have sent our request to return. It would be unwise for the Mar’cte to remain here. Come let us gather and clean our trophies so we may present them properly upon our return.”
The Mar’cte chuckled with delight as the Demi-queen landed in front of the Hybrid. He lowered his shoulder cannon and quietly aimed at the abomination’s chest, when to his surprise a Combi-staff pierced through his shoulder disabling the cannon. Spinning around with a force that pulled the Combi-staff away from his attacker hands, he saw D’lex-dekna the whelp that had turned traitor tossed against the wall.
Dazed the huntress got to her knees and tried to stand as the Mar’cte approached her. He grabbed her dreads and pulled her up far enough so he could look eye to eye with her. “You know little sister; father ordered your skull be taken as a trophy.” Before she could respond, he thrust the end of her Combi-staff sticking from his shoulder into her throat and relished the sight of her florescent blood coating his armor.
Dropping her body, he stood and threw his shoulder into the wall, shoving the Combi-staff back out the way it entered. It fell to the ground with a hollow clank. Checking in on his other quarry he saw the dead drones and the Hybrid was holding the throat of the Demi-queen in one hand. Turning on his heel, he pulled a knife to decapitate D’lex-dekna and collected his trophy before radioing for his own pick up.