Mags tried to draw out their path down to the storage doors as much as possible without making it look like she was trying to. While most of the Titans had separated to look less conspicuous, Mags was stuck with Blind Jack, Ozzy and one other Titan. They passed remnants of mining endeavors, some of which dated back to the original owners of the base. After thirty minutes of descending through the winding tunnels, she could tell Blind Jack was getting impatient, so she headed for the rendezvous.
The hallway turned and then opened up into a large room. Two massive double doors occupied one of the walls. They were thankfully still closed. Empty crates were stacked throughout the room. Rocks and pebbles from extracted minerals littered the floor. There was an elevated sealed catwalk that ringed the space. This last feature was the reason why Mags choose this room.
Most of the other Titans had already arrived, presumably having taken a more direct route. Mags glanced up at the catwalk as she made her way towards the control panel beside the door. She opened the panel to find the terminal ripped out. She stepped back like she was assessing the damage. In reality, she had no clue how to hotwire a door, much less this one.
Thankfully, she didn’t have to wait long.
“All right, everybody!” a voice boomed from the catwalk. “Let’s see those hands.”
The Souther Titans all turned to see Executive Devin and a small army of PA administrators aiming weapons from the catwalk.
Mags tried to look as surprised as everybody else. On the inside though, she was glad her message got through. She wasn’t entirely sure how she was going to wiggle out of Devin’s custody again, but one thing at a time. Especially since none of the Titans made a move to drop their weapons.
Blind Jack Sticha stepped into the center of the room and looked over the faces of the administrators.
“Gotta be honest,” he slowly drew his pistol and kept it aimed at the ground. “I don’t see a killer among you. Now us . . .” he motioned to his crew who started getting emboldened. “Killin’s our stock and trade.”
This is not good, she thought to herself.
A tense pause hung in the air. Weapon sights sought out targets. Every movement felt like it was going to be the one that kicked everything off.
She noticed one of the TItans slowly edge their way towards Ozzy. Dressed in an ill-fitted patchwork space suit, there was something weird about their walk. As they passed Mags, she noticed fresh blood on the collar of the suit and, more importantly, recognized the face inside.
“Trin?!” she shouted without even thinking.
Trin whipped up her shotgun and leveled it at Ozzy. Mags’ shout gave him enough of a warning to yank up the eriesium lockbox right as the shotgun went off. The shot caught the lockbox flush and knocked Ozzy off balance.
That’s when everything went to hell.
Ballistic and laser fire erupted from every direction. Titans scampered for cover as they opened up on the People’s Alliance.
Mags dove behind the nearest crate. She could see the lockbox with the eriesium had landed between Ozzy and Trin, who was pinning him down with shotgun blasts.
The Titans and People’s Alliance were each taking casualties at an even clip. Gunfire blasted apart cover.
Mags tried to time a dash to go for the eriesium. Right as she started to move, bolts from rapidfire energy weapons opened up on both groups, cutting down Titans and PA forces alike. Mags scurried back behind cover and looked at the source of the shots.
Arno and Osane had jumped into the fray. They were loaded with tac-vests, body armor and grenades, surgically firing at their targets with what looked like milspec assault rifles. Osane advanced quickly through the Titans, firing shots from her assault rifle until it ran out of charge. Without missing a step, she slung the rifle and drew a knife. The Titan she was approaching unleashed a desperate flurry of shots. She wove around the shots as she closed and finally dashed past him, slashing his throat in the process.
Osane slid behind cover a short distance from the eriesium.
“Go for it, I got your back.” Trin shouted.
Mags couldn’t believe it. She’d teamed up with the Four Points?
Osane sprinted for the eriesium as Trin raised her shotgun towards Ozzy. At the last second, she turned the barrel on Osane and fired. The shotgun blast caught her flush in the midsection. Blood exploded out her back and her body slammed heavily into the ground.
Trin grinned and racked another charge in the chamber.
Blind Jack charged towards Executive Devin’s positioned, two grenades cooking in his hands. Jack cackled as he puffed to get within throwing range. He flung one grenade.
Devin tagged him in the shoulder before he could toss the other. The grenade landed with a thud by Jack’s feet. One of the PA administrators dove to shield Devin right as the first grenade went off.
The second detonation marked the end of Blind Jack Sticha.
“Osane?” Arno shouted from his firing position. “Osane! Talk to me!”
He must not have seen what happened, Mags thought and looked back at the lockbox. It was just sitting there, in the middle of a war zone, and she didn’t have a gun. She could barely see Ozzy, but it looked like he had run out of ammo.
Trin sensed it too and started to advance on his position. Most of the other gun battles had subsided. Moans of the wounded started to fill the space.
Mags took her chance. She raced out of hiding and slid to the lockbox near Osane’s body. Trin realized too late. She turned her shotgun towards Mags. It took a moment for Trin to recognize her, but it didn’t change anything. She had that same look in her eye she had when she almost threw Mags out of the airlock. She raised the shotgun.
Ozzy tackled Trin right as the shotgun went off. The blast went wide. Mags could feel the crackle of energy singe her head as it passed.
Trin and Ozzy rolled on the ground. He fought to wrestle the shotgun from her. She went for the kill. She punched him in the kidney once. Twice. Three times. Rolled on top of him and rammed her forehead into his nose. It broke with a wet crack. His grip weakened on the shotgun and she took full advantage, ripping the weapon out of his grasp and rising.
“Couldn’t even kill me, right, could you?” she said as she paced around him and pumped another charge. “What the hell happened to you? We used to be a team. You remember? What happened to that guy? That guy who was hard as nails. Who pushed me to get tougher? Nah, my brother died on QuarterDeck.”
She spit out some blood and snapped up the shotgun to execute him.
“Wait!” Mags yelled.
Trin stopped and looked over. Mags was standing, holding out the lockbox.
“You want the eriesium? Take it.”
Mags tossed the lockbox at Trin’s feet.
“You heard me.” Mags stepped back.
“What is this?” Trin asked as she looked around suspiciously. “You’d just give it over . . .”
“Sure,” Mags said with a shrug. “Between you, the goddamn Four Points, the Titans and the cops. I don’t think I’ll be walking out of here with it anyway.”
Trin studied Mags for a second, searching her face for signs of deception. She turned the shotgun from Ozzy to Mags as she walked over to the lockbox.
“So I got to thinking,” Mags stepped further back, hands still raised. Trin reached down, weapon still trained on Mags, and flipped it open. “Like you said earlier, I can live with no one having it.”
Trin looked into the lockbox. One of Osane’s grenades sat next to the lump of eriesium. The pin was out and it was whining to a high pitch. Trin flung the lockbox away at the last second. The thermal blast turned the eriesium, the lockbox and even part of the floor into molten slag.
Trin’s shock quickly turned into white hot homicidal rage as she whirled to face Mags. She raised the shotgun when a bullet punched through the side of her head. A fine mist puffed out the other side. Trin stood there for a second, like she had suddenly been unplugged. Then crumpled to the ground.
Executive Devin, charred and smoldering from Blind Jack’s grenade attack, lowered his rifle.
Silence settled over the room. A few Titans who were still mobile fled out into the tunnels while the remaining People’s Alliance administrators moved in to secure the prisoners and treat the survivors.
Mags went over and helped Ozzy to his feet. He clutched his nose to try and stop the bleeding.
“You okay?” She asked, wincing at the still steady flow of blood.
“No, but I’ll be fine.”
None of the administrators seemed that interested in them, so Mags started to ease her way out of the room. She then came face to face with Devin.
“Hey, thanks for the save,” she offered up.
“Sure. Thanks for the tip-off, Kristin,” he replied. “Oh wait, it’s actually Magdalene, right?”
“Um . . . yeah.” She looked around for a moment. “So . . .”
“Get out of here,” he walked past her to rejoin his team.
“Do me a favor and don’t come back?”
“You got it.”
Mags motioned for Ozzy to follow and the two walked out.