Silver glanced around, his platinum blonde hair brushing his shoulders as his green eyes took in the dark street. He listened warily for any sign of footfalls before cautiously peering out on to the main road. He examined every shop closely, a small dark one, a tall one with a few awnings, a clay red one with no windows. When he came to a particularly nondescript one a woman’s voice in his head said, that's the place. Silver watched for a moment, and then retreated deeper into the alley, his light steps carrying him to a wall. He swept himself on to the roof and skirted the edge of the shop, his black cloak fluttering as he casually stepped over the 8 foot wide alleyways between buildings. He came to an abrupt stop, crouching on a nearby chimney like some great cat stalking its prey. He sat there, watching. A silent observer.
A small group of four people stood near the front of the shadowed store as if waiting for something. The first was a tall, lithe woman whose shimmering black hair fell in ringlets around her shoulders and her brilliant green eyes were visible from where Silver sat. She stepped with a strong, confident gait and wore a blood-red cloak that whispered softly in the breeze as she walked. The second was a broad-shouldered, muscular man who wore no cloak, just plain black shirt and pants. His face, framed with short-cropped brown hair, was creased with a look of dissatisfaction. He glanced around suspiciously at the rooftops before leaning towards the woman and mumbling something in her ear. She nodded, but looked unconcerned. A third man stood nearby, shorter than the rest. His pale face matched his spiky white blonde hair and his eyes glowed bright blue. Silver shifted his weight uncomfortably as he watched this man. If Silver feared anything, it was those eyes. He felt as though they pierced his soul, digging up long suppressed secrets...
Silver started. He’d seen a movement on the rooftops across the street. “Hey, Bead. Did you see that? Is it one of theirs?”
Chill out, came the response in his head again, you’re so jumpy. It’s just Ripple coming to meet you.
"Good. I'm going to need her." As much as she made him nervous, he knew what he'd said was true. He watched Ripple's dark form flicker across the buildings. As he waited, he studied the last man in the group. He was somewhat unnoticeable compared to the bright appearances of the others. Silver guessed this man was the Dreamer. He was the group's ultimate target, but not Silver’s. His job was to eliminate the competition. He sighed and let his eyes trail back to the shorter man. He was looking off into the distance, the faint traces of a smile on his lips. Silver shuddered. "We're shielded, right?"
Yes. Fog's doing her best.
"Let's hope that's enough. I'm guessing he's the Seeker." The blue-eyed man wore an elaborate green vest with brown shorts and cloak. His outfit was a little overboard. Silver studied him a moment more before shivering slightly and turning his eyes to the Moon.
He didn’t bother to turn and watch Ripple land with her gentle grace, blue fabric and long, waist-length brown hair mingling in the breeze. She drifted over to sit beside him, her shining aqua eyes digging in his emotions as they always did. After a long moment of staring at him intently, she also turned to examine the targets.
“The woman is a Walker like you. The big man’s their Guard,” Ripple said before stating more softly, “The shorter one’s their Seeker.”
Silver squirmed a bit and Ripple shot him a questioning glance. He hesitated, and then shook his head slowly. “I know we’ve got our new shield, Fog, but they still make me uncomfortable.”
Ripple flinched visibly, then pivoted slowly to face him, her waist-length brown hair flowing around her back. “Do I bother you?” she asked with hurt eyes.
Silver met her gaze and held it for a brief moment before shifting his eyes awkwardly away. “You know that’s not what I meant.”
Instead of answering her, he looked back toward the green-vested Seeker. The man stood there unafraid, staring down the road. The big man nudged him, whispering something to him worriedly. The Seeker just smiled and shook his head. “So overconfident,” Silver mumbled, half to himself.
“Hum?” Ripple queried.
“Nothing,” Silver murmured. Ripple let out a long sigh, rolling her eyes and throwing her hands up.
Don’t pester him, Ripple, Bead said. I know how you feel about them. Silver knew the comment was spoken to him alone.
“Ripple. The other guy is the Dreamer, right?” Silver got up, pacing to the edge of the roof. He leaned down a bit, gazing across the street as Ripple answered.
“Yeah,” she got up as well, but stood a few feet away from Silver, as if keeping her distance.
“Then let’s do this. Bead, could you ask Fog to cloak me?” The only response was that he faded to invisibility, leaving Ripple alone on the rooftop.
The Guard was posted outside the dark building as a lookout for trouble, though Silver knew they weren’t expecting it. He knew that the Guard had brute strength on his side, but Silver was skilled in stealth in speed. He signaled to Ripple and the two dashed away from each other, running in opposite directions according to plan. Ripple sped towards the right before dramatically leaping out into the street a little ways away from the Guard. He spun, yanking his sword from its sheath, and charged directly toward her. She moved like a snake, weaving in and out around his blade as it sliced at her; it didn't touch her. He swung in a broad sweep, but Ripple tugged out her dagger and lunged towards him, ducking his blade as it flew above her head. She caught him on the ankle, but the gash was minor and he barely flinched. As he struck yet again, from the right, she leaped, twisting over his blade and positioning herself so that her heel would connect with his chin. He stumbled, but was back on balance after a few seconds.
It didn’t matter much, however, because the whole fight was but a distraction. While it went on, Silver snuck around behind the Guard without making a sound to alert those now inside the shop or the Guard himself. As Ripple took a chunk out the man’s arm with her dagger, Silver charged towards an opposite wall, leaped into the air, hit the wall sideways, on his feet, and launched himself off directly at the Guard. Twisting in the air, he crashed into the man with perfect aim, carrying him off his feet. In an instant that seemed to last forever, the two flew backwards, Silver’s left hand firmly planted on the man’s chest. His right hand moved swiftly to his boot and removed a small concealed knife; he flung his hand back up and rammed the knife solidly into the center of the Guard’s heart an instant before the two hit the ground.
Silver tossed the man’s body aside, embedded dagger and all, and slowly stood, turning to Ripple; she stood, dumbfounded where she had last attacked the Guard, and Silver smiled, a cold, cat-like smile. Behind him, the body disappeared and Silver’s knife clinked to the ground. He stooped to pick it up and then spun, strolling past Ripple. He motioned to her discreetly before moving towards the back window of the shop and swinging himself up and inside.
He landed in what was presumably a sleeping chamber, and carefully and painstakingly made his way forwards, towards the front room. As he neared it, he heard the hushed voices of the three remaining enemies and even more quietly, if that was possible, approached the doorway, invisible to all, and watched.
The room was scantly furnished with a few simple wooden tables and stools on which the opponents sat. At one end of the room the Seeker lounged lazily, his legs up on the nearest table’s surface; he looked…mildly bored. Silver smiled, and told himself that he would take care of that soon enough. The curly-haired woman sat across another plain table from the Dreamer, the target of Silver’s team, and appeared to be interrogating him. The man seemed to match the furniture, plain and dull. Silver could tell that the man did not want to talk, but was obviously frightened.
After a few moments, Silver heard muffled noises from outside—the shuffle of footsteps and a loud thud that everyone in the room heard and immediately reacted to. The woman stood swiftly, her chair shoving back across the floor; the Seeker’s jaw dropped as he took in the fact that his judgment had been wrong before he shook himself and stood, alarmed. But it was already too late. Ripple burst through the door, daggers out, and leaped viciously towards the Seeker, who was closest to her.
The woman lunged towards the fight, distracted by the invader and trying to reach her comrade. She hadn’t taken but a few steps before Silver struck, lurching forwards into the room and landing on a table next to the Walker. He slashed at her arm, but she spun, noticing him for the first time, and swung her arm around in an attempt to knock his feet from under him. He expected her move, and jumped high, twisting in the air to form a back flip over her head. He landed facing her and grabbed her wrist tightly, swinging her towards him and throwing her off-balance before his fist met her cheek. He released her wrist and she slumped to the ground, unconscious. Silver removed a long loop of rope from an ornate pouch at his belt, and then turned to watch as Ripple finished her fight as well, ending it with a smoothly performed roundhouse kick to the man’s face.
Silver smiled at her approvingly and then nodded towards the Dreamer, who had been inching toward the door throughout the fight. “Don’t worry; we’re not going to hurt you. We only came for information. Information that our client believes you have,” Ripple said soothingly. The man looked unconvinced, so decided to test Ripple’s words. He suddenly made a break for door, and Silver raised a silent eyebrow, unimpressed by the man’s rashness. Silver glanced at Ripple, smiling, and dashed for the door at an inhuman speed. He reached it first, of course, and stood blocking the portal. The man sighed.
“We may not harm you, but we certainly aren’t going to let you go.” Ripple stared at him, and the Dreamer turned and slowly returned to his seat.
The Seeker dusted herself off daintily with her palms and said to Silver, “You and I should take care of these two.”
They pushed the bodies up into chairs and began tying them into the seats with the woven cord that Silver still held. As they worked, Silver thought back to their client meeting. It was a rarity that Silver had been there at all, let alone participated; Bead usually took care of that sort of thing. All Silver’s team knew was that they were to prevent the enemy’s team of Empowered from gaining the information that the Dreamer has. They were also charged with getting that information themselves. If they could, they were to find out who had employed the enemy; Silver doubted that they would get this information, but it was worth a shot for the additional pay that would come with it.
As Silver and Ripple tied their captives, they removed all of their weapons. It seemed almost rehearsed, but Silver still quietly asked Ripple if she had checked all of the usual spots. “The boot, the waist pouch, the—”
“Silver, I got it! Do you think I’m a baby? Really! I know all of the concealment spots!” Ripple whispered, frustrated. “I’ve been doing this almost as long as you have!” She gritted her teeth. “Just because you hate me, doesn’t mean I don’t do a good job!”
Silver murmured quietly, “I don’t hate you.” But he knew that he should just stop talking.
Ripple sighed, composed herself, and turned to the Dreamer once they had finished. “Okay. Tell me what I need to know.”
And he did.
Silver paid little attention. Instead, he sat back and watched their captives, trying not to think too hard. He closed his eyes, but the flood of images it brought to mind was something he couldn’t deal with right now. He forced them away, leaving his mind blank and his eyes watching the back of his eyelids, numb. He thought about Ripple, the client, Bead, and the future. As it was, he was mostly happy with his life. Not entirely, because his life had never been complete since that day, that day seven years ago when his world collapsed and everything went wrong. Not now, Silver thought. He pushed the pain from his mind.
After a few minutes, something changed. Silver felt it like a shift in the air, as if it had suddenly gotten denser, more forced and still, but he knew this was not exactly the case after a moment’s mental inspection of the room and atmosphere. He didn’t open his eyes immediately; he listened closely for the source of the change, trusting his perfect hearing far more than his eyesight. His ears scanned the room carefully, searching for the minute change that had caused his reaction.
He found it. The Walker’s breathing had shifted very subtly. She’s good, Silver thought. But he had caught her. He stood, finally opening his eyes, and approached the “sleeping” woman. He tapped her shoulder but she made no visible response. He smiled, raising a quiet fist, and slammed it into her face once again. He turned, realizing that Ripple was staring at him and said, now a little self-conscious, “She was awake.”
“Ah.” Ripple nodded slowly, turning back to the Dreamer.
“That’s really all I know, I swear,” the man paused, “what happens now?”
“Well, in a few moments that Seeker of yours will begin to wake up. We need one more piece to the puzzle and then we are done here. You will be free to go back to your own dreams, no more intrusions. I promise.”
The Seeker woke up; Silver sensed the breathing change more obviously than the Walker’s. Silver walked to him and tapped him on the shoulder, repeating the ritual; fortunately, the Seeker was smart enough to open his eyes at the touch. He immediately started to squirm, but quickly found it useless; Ripple’s knots were always flawless. Still speaking to the Dreamer, Ripple asked, “What’s your name, by the way?”
The man paused. “My name is Drae.”
“Well Drae, you seem like a good man. Do you know who their employer is?” She nodded to the two tied in the chairs.
“Well,” she turned to the Seeker ominously, “I guess you’ll just have to tell me. You would want to hurt my feelings, would you? I would hate to go without all of the information…”
“I won’t tell you anything!” The man gritted his teeth and tried to kick his bound legs.
“Actually, I think you will. It’s not like you have much of a choice; I mean, I guess you could pull out, but you seem really desperate. I’d guess that your employer really needs this information. Well so does mine. Unfortunately for you, we already have it. You don’t. So tell us your employer and take a chance or pull out. Simple really; just remember that I don’t need this and I already have what I need. It’s your choice.” Ripple put on an adorable innocent face, lip stuck out and all. Silver chuckled internally. She really was good at this.
The Seeker muttered under his breath, and Silver couldn’t make out most of the words. “Can we…do you…You can’t expect that…take the chance? ...man, I guess so…surely…by the Moon! ...Oh, fine.” He sighed deeply, exasperated, and looked at Ripple. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. Man named Renard. He hired us.”
“Thanks much. Now, if you’ll excuse us, our work here is done and I’m afraid we’ll have to say goodbye.” She threw and playful glance at the Seeker, “I do hope we meet again, though. It was a fun fight!” She winked childishly and at that moment a dense blackness washed over them. As they left, Silver heard only a single word uttered from the room.
© Copyright 2016 Aurora Somnis. All rights reserved.
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