Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Insert MIA Agent Here (part 3 of 4)

A scream tore across the forests of Ulthuan. It was human, and yet in-human at the same time. It was a cry of pain, a cry of anger and a cry of despair all in the same breath. Those on the ground who heard it felt pity for the poor soul in the White Tower, but went about their daily business regardless. It was becoming commonplace now, and those elves working regularly within earshot of the Tower learned to ignore it.

At the top of the White Tower, Louise hung by her wrists. A slow trickle of congealing blood coated the inside of her arm from the large cut where her restraints had been digging in. Her eyes, half open, tingled with the quantity of tears that had, over the last few days, been shed from the pain she was suffering.

She was mildly thankful that she was still afforded the floor to stand on, although she had been on her feet now for almost a week, and the lactic acid was beginning to build up steadily in her muscles.

The room was empty at present, her captors leaving her for a while, but Louise knew that it would not be long before her torturers returned. She was beyond the point of being able to struggle against her bonds, and merely wept with the pain that each new beating brought.

Between these beatings, Louise prayed to all the Gods and Goddesses out there that the Society would find her soon, and rescue her from her nightmare.

A horrible sinking sensation rippled through her semi-conscious body as the sound of footsteps reverberated in the stairwell from the floor below. Someone was coming up, and whoever it was was likely to cause more pain, more suffering... Louise closed her eyes, and braced herself for the onslaught.

The door opened with a soft squeak, and the footsteps – more than one pair, Louise noted – moved towards her. With her eyes tightly closed, she listened hard.


A hand impacted the side of her face, and Louise recoiled from the blow. She could feel the sting just beneath the surface of the skin, and knew that there would be a livid bruise at the point of impact soon enough.

"No one is coming for you, Mirani." It was Merle's voice; cold and yet full of passion. "You have been abandoned."

"No..." Louise murmured.

"Believe it girl..." Merle's words coincided with another blow, this time to the side of her torso. She prayed that nothing broke, although from the pain now shooting through her body, she wouldn't be surprised to discover a cracked rib or two.

Louise opened her eyes a little, and there, standing before her was Merle. Dressed all in black, she contrasted greatly with the pale stone of the tower room. She smiled as she spotted her foe's gaze on her, and slowly it turned into a sneer. Louise looked around briefly; where the second pair of feet were, she had no idea.

"You betrayed me..." Merle repeated the same thing she had been saying for days. Louise didn't bother replying to it. Every time she opened her mouth to protest, Merle hit her. "Nothing to say...?" The goading was not new either, but it took all of Louise's self-control not to yell back at her enemy. Even in her bruised state, she had fight left in her. Merle could beat her black and blue, but she was not going to break her... not in that sense anyway.

Someone seized a handful of her hair from behind, yanking her head backwards, and placing a blade at her throat.

"You are chaos scum..." the male voice insulted her. Louise knew that voice too well by now. Prince Tyrion. She tried to fight, but her suspended arms made the attempts all but useless. "You would see the fall of my great country..." he continued, and Louise saw in front of her, Merle's mouth form a contented smile. She was perfectly happy at the way things were occurring. This smile sent a shiver down her spine. Maybe Merle was right, and no one was coming for her...

Tyrion pushed from behind, and Louise swung briefly from the ropes that hung from the ceiling. She struggled to find her footing again, and as she did, Merle's blade sliced at her clothing. Holes appeared in both her top and trousers. She hoped, beyond hope, that they would at least remain in place.

As Louise came to a halt, Tyrion took the advantage, and grabbed hold of her hair again. Forcing her to remain still, he exposed her to the full force of Merle's wrath, and soon the blade crashed into her midriff again. She screamed, but Tyrion was quick. His hand came across her mouth, pulling back and stifling the noise. Merle swung again, this time for her arm.


Louise knew a bone had broken. Her arm felt like it was on fire. Even in Tyrion's firm grip, she wobbled on her feet. The agony was getting too much for her, and her mind was shutting down to protect itself from the continued onslaught. As she closed her eyes again, she could only wish and pray that either the Society or death would find her, because, as another blow crashed into her ribcage, she knew that before long she would be willing to say anything; anything to stop the pain.

The last blow that Louise remembered, before the darkness overcame her, was a whack around her head. She didn't know what caused it, but she slipped into unconsciousness as the pain split her head open.


The plothole opened in the forests of Ulthuan. The swirling rainbow colours lasted only as long as it took the agents to exit the aperture. As the portal closed, Tash drew Nephthys from around her neck, and soon there was a four foot long sword in her hand.

Aster grasped her staff firmly; Adrian's hand encircled the grip of his borrowed sword; Michael's sword appeared with a 'swoosh'; Phoenixia's Incandescent Silverreign hummed quietly; Cristoph fiddled with a number of sharp pointy things in his pocket. And Alice swallowed hard at the task before them all.

"Do we have any idea where Merle will be holding her?" Michael asked, his eyes scanning the woodland in which they had appeared.

"Um..." Alice looked around too.

"Well you're helpful. I wonder why Adrian..."

"ASTER!" Tash's voice cut across the final words. She turned to Alice... "Any idea?"

"Gimme a second," Alice held her hand up to the others. She was thinking. Out of the agents gathered in the woodland, she had had the most experience of Merle. The others were looking to her for information; it was the reason that Adrian had agreed to bring her along. She dredged up all the information Louise had ever told her about the fandom she found herself in, trying to find anything that could be of use in their present situation. "This looks like it's the forests around Ulthuan..." she murmured to herself, but Adrian caught it.

"So... where in Ulthuan could Merle be keeping Louise?" he asked. There was urgency in his voice that Alice had never heard before. She thought hard, knowing that this was her moment to prove to Adrian that she was more than just a spare wheel.

The others looked around too. All they could see for what appeared to be forever were trees.

"There's a path over here." Phoenixia reappeared through the undergrowth. "Maybe it'll lead us to where she's holding Louise."

Adrian looked around. "Where's Cristoph?"

A voice came from the trees above them. "There is a tower, Lord Adrian. At the end of the path."

Lightning thought struck Alice at the mention of towers. "The White Tower..." Her voice was barely above a whisper.

"You've heard of it?" Tash asked

Alice nodded as Cristoph swung down from the tree. "Is there a chance that that is where Merle is keeping Louise?" Adrian asked.

"More than a chance, I guess..." Tash tried to force her voice to be sure and confident. She looked sidelong at Alice as she spoke, who nodded.

As Adrian began gathering the others around him, Alice chirped up. "She will definitely be there."

"How can you be sure?" Aster's voice held all the disbelief that Alice had herself been trying so hard to hide.

"Because that's the White Tower... home to the swordsmen of Hoeth..." Alice whispered to herself... realising that she had taken in more than she appreciated from Louise's random ramblings. "And..." the group started moving through the undergrowth, towards the path and the tower as Alice finished her sentence, "and the mages."

As the group reached the path, Adrian held up a hand, and they all stopped as one. The sound of hoof-beats on the path caused them to drop into the bushes, and Alice winced a little as she landed on her arm.

"Alice..." Adrian turned to her before they moved off again. "If this tower is where they are holding Louise, we need to know as much now as possible. What kind of guard are they likely to have?"

"Swordsmen and mages mainly," as Alice spoke more and more of the information Louise had told her of this place came to the forefront. "All Elves" Alice added.

Adrian nodded, taking in this information. "And the layout of the tower?"

Alice looked a little thunder-stuck. Louise had never mentioned this before, and was a little nervous about admitting it to the Librarian. "Once I can see the building, I will have a better idea, but most towers are built around similar designs."

The path was not long, and soon the agents were yet again crouched in the undergrowth, this time staring at the base of a large, white-stone tower. Elven runes littered the sides, along with sections of shining silver and gold. It stood unsupported; and unhindered by the encroaching woodland. At the floor, one single door provided access. As Alice gazed at the entrance-way, she could feel her bullshit cogs crank into gear.

Tash peered up towards the top, hidden above the canopy of the trees.

"It must be hundreds of feet high," she was in awe of the construction, and yet conscious of the climbing this would therefore involve.

"We'd best get started then," suggested Michael.

Adrian gave the path a last cursory sweep before leading the agents out.

"HALT!" came a voice from inside the base of the tower. "You are not permitted in this area"

The agents ground to a stop, hands on weapons. Adrian proffered his still-empty hands towards the voice. Alice, however, stepped forward before the others could hold her back.

"Please..." she directed her comment to the voice in the tower. "We are here on the orders of Lady Merle..." She hoped that this would be enough; else they would have a giant fight on their hands.

"She gave us no news that others would be coming..." the Elf stepped from the entrance-way to the tower. He was in a long robe of bright aqua, over which were numerous sections of metal armour. His head was helmed with large silver wings, from which flowed several strands of aqua material. In his hand, he held a large sword. Even with his long flowing blonde hair, he looked ready for a battle.

"Of course she wouldn't have." Alice's bullshit cogs were at full power. "You are merely a guard of this door. We are here to escort the prisoner to Lothern to be judged by the Phoenix King." Behind her, she caught a glimpse of Tash's sideways look at Adrian, whose white hair shook gently.

It was clear to all the agents that this young elf was wavering.

"Are you going to risk her displeasure, and that of the Phoenix King himself?" Alice pressed home her advantage.

"Naturally not." The elf was young and inexperienced; else he would have seen through the blatant crap that Alice was now producing.

"Then stand aside, and let us about our business." Alice waved her friends forward. Michael forced a fake cough to hide his snigger, as the others walked towards the door.

"HOLD IT THERE!" the yell came from behind the agents. Alice, now at the back of the group, turned to see a large number of elves approaching along the path. They all carried long staffs, of the kind usually seen borne by highly skilled mages.

"We are here on the order..." Alice began again.

"SILENCE GIRL" the lead elf's staff pointed at her as he spoke. Alice was forced backwards, and landed awkwardly on her backside at Cristoph's feet.

"Alice!" Tash cried.

"We know who you are, and why you are here," the elf continued. "You will not interfere with the Lady Senlui's plans."

"The hell we won't!" Phoenixia blurted out as Cristoph helped Alice to her feet again. She cradled her arm gently.

"Are you sure you're okay, Lady Alice?" Cristoph whispered. "Maybe you should return..."

"I'm not leaving Louise." Alice's response was direct and to the point.

"As long as you're sure," he turned his attention back to the more pressing problem of the approaching mages.

The agents braced themselves for the onslaught that they expected to come. Tash's hand wrapped firmly around the hilt of Nephthys; she watched the elves approach. When they were approximately 20 feet away, they halted.

The mages seized their staffs, and lowering them towards the agents, sent several bolts of magical energy at them.

The first impacted Tash directly, and knocked her flying. Adrian's head whipped around to check she was not severely injured, before facing front again. The second bolt caught Michael on the shoulder, sending the chief agent spinning to the floor.

Phoenixia had already hoisted Incandescent Silverreign up, and was taking aim. She managed one shot; it sent the poor mage backwards into a nearby tree, before she too was the victim of a magical bolt. It crashed into the weapon she held.

"Oh damn it!" she cursed. "They turned my ammo into clay!"

"What?" Alice looked around at her.

"Someone, cover me!" she called to the others. Adrian stepped forward, shielding his friend from any incoming fire.

At the back of the group, Aster had a problem of her own. The swordsman, realising that these people had duped him, rushed forward in a rage. For a moment, he threatened to overwhelm the rear guard of the surrounded agents. But Aster raised her staff, and brought it down with a definitive blow on the poor elf's head. His silver wings crumpled beneath the weight brought to bear on them, and the soldier crashed to the ground.

Cristoph extended a quick hand to Tash, helping her to her feet; meanwhile Michael clambered up under his own steam. As Tash straightened up, she saw Adrian flashstep away from a well-aimed energy bolt.

He reappeared at her side as another bolt was directed at her. The two agents flashstepped to safety, coming to a halt beside Michael and Phoenixia. The latter's weapon had had all the clay removed, and she was now hoisting it onto her shoulder.

Tash and Adrian flashstepped in the direction of the attacking elves, their swords in their hands. As they appeared back in the group, Alice drew her own. She didn't know how effective it would be, but she was determined that these poncey elves were not going to stand between her and rescuing Louise.

"Are we making any head-way?" Michael asked.

"A little..." Adrian replied as the mages gathered together, and launched another assault on the agents. Alice gripped her sword tight, and to the shock of the majority of people present, the magic dissipated before it reached any of its intended targets.

All the agents and mages stared for a second, and then Tash turned to Alice.

"That's one hell of a sword."

Alice grinned, her attention for a second diverted from the still stunned mages. "I told you it was from the same universe."

As Tash turned back, it was as if that singular movement were a signal, and the rest of the agents launched their attack.


Phoenixia shot a mage before he had a chance to react to the movement of the enemy. His lifeless body crumpled to the earth. She silently thanked her lucky stars that the weapon never ran out of ammo, and that the stuff the mages had reduced to clay could easily be replaced.

Adrian and Tash, swords in hands, flashstepped forward, into the four mages. One snagged, brought down by a strike across the back of his knees. Tash finished him off with a swift slice from Nephthys.

Michael moved in, sword raised, and finished off another of the mages.

Seeing his comrades either dead or unconscious around him, the lead mage, sporting a graze from Incandescent Silverreign on his arm, pointed his staff at the group.

"You..." he stuttered. "You are the spawn of chaos." He looked directly at Alice as he spoke, his eyes on her anti-psyker sword. She was a little intimidated by the elf, his stare felt like it bored into her soul. The sword in her hand hummed quietly, sensing the build up of magical energy in the elven mage.

"In the name of the Ordo Maria-Rosa," she said through gritted teeth. As she spoke, she raised her sword. "I name thee Psyker!"

On the last word, she pushed the button on her sword and brought it up to touch the final mage's staff, electrifying the life out of him. As she removed the contact with her sword, the mage sank to the leaf covered ground.

She turned around, sword still active, and the other agents pulled back warily.

"Oops, sorry," she said, and powered down her weapon.

"Well..." Tash stepped over the unconscious form of the doorway guard. "Let's hope that was the worst of it."

"I doubt it will be, Lady Tash." Cristoph stepped around the obstruction, and peered into the base of the tower. "All clear," he announced.

As Alice and the other agents rushed in, all were praying that they were not too late.

"Hold on, Louise..." Alice murmured to herself. "We're on our way."


When Louise next came to, she could not see anything. It felt as though a wad of fabric had been tied firmly over her eyes. A gag remained in place in her mouth; her ears, however, were working perfectly.

She knew she was seated, but when she tried to move, there was no give. The bonds around her wrists were securely fastened to the arms of whatever she was sat in. She winced as a spasm of pain shot up her arm. She guessed it really was broken.

She strained to hear the smallest of sounds, but apparently the room in which she had been left was otherwise unoccupied. A quiet noise alerted her to another person's arrival, but who that person might be, Louise had no idea.

Was that a footstep? The tinkle of water? The creek of a floorboard?

The first certain thing that told Louise that the new arrival was no friendly was the hard whack across her face. She gave a startled squeak from behind her gag.

"Well..." came a voice that was oh-too-familiar. To the helpless Louise, it was as if Merle's voice could hold no more malice and yet at the same time, no more joy. She had her quarry in her grasp, and from where Louise was sitting, there appeared no way out. "... is she broken enough?"

Louise didn't know to whom Merle was talking. She struggled futilely against her bonds.

"Sadly not, my Lady," the other speaker was male. His voice had a musical lilt to it that brought images of elves and green things. "I cannot work the magic you have asked until her spirit is utterly broken." Louise despaired. She knew what this meant. More pain, more suffering.

"Well then..." Merle's voice got closer, and Louise screwed her eyes up as another slap caught the side of her face. She had barely recovered from that blow when something very narrow and very sharp touched the underside of her chin. "We will have to break her some more." The knife edge dragged along her skin, and Louise could not contain the muffled scream that was forced from her.

Merle's hand impacted the agent's face again, and it recoiled to one side. Her head throbbed, and yet all Louise could do was sit there, and take all the torture that her foe was dishing out. She didn't know how long this latest session was going to last, but prayed that it would soon be over.

"Your friends aren't coming for you," Merle's voice cut into Louise's semi-conscious prayers. She didn't know how much time had passed. "You are going to die here, Mirani... die a traitor's death."

Several hours before, Louise would have struggled with all her might at those words. The thought of suffering the ignoble nature of a traitor's hanging was enough to cause most people to fight for their lives, but Louise had long since resigned herself to the fact that the other agents didn't know where she was, and that no one would ever be coming to rescue her.

"I think she's broken enough now..." Merle's voice was distant in the barely conscious fog of Louise's mind. She was losing her tentative grip on reality. She felt the ghost touch of hands feeling her face, the light of consciousness was fading... fading... until, as one last ditch attempt to cling on failed, it vanished altogether, and Louise slipped into the blackness of unconsciousness.

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