Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Heart of Ice

Heart of Ice

      The wind gave another horrible roar as the sun crept closer and closer to the horizon. Its light was cast on their backs and reflected in the ice in front of them, forcing them to shield their eyes just to see where they were going. At times it seemed like the sound of snow crunching underfoot was the only sign that they were making any progress into the frozen wasteland at all, much to the pair's dismay. One of them looked to the other, doing their best to speak through their layers of scarves, "You're lost!"

      The second turned slightly, continuing to trek forward as he did so. He regarded his companion for a moment, eyes squinting behind his goggles, before he replied, "What?" His reply was carried off into the wind, which was slowly beginning to pick up, dark clouds beginning to appear in the sky, even darker now that the sun was making its exit.

      "I said you're lost again!" the first said, cupping his hands over where his mouth would be, were it visible. Once his companion offered him the same reply as before he simply waved dismissively at him. The fact that they were lost didn't surprise him, but that didn't mean he wasn't worried about it. He didn't exactly like the idea of spending the night out in a snow storm.

      They continued on in silence, the first's ears straining for any sign of a noise. The second continued ahead, certain that he could find the safe house he had been told to use in times of emergency when he was stationed here. Of course the last time he had been there it had been during the day, and there hadn't been a snowstorm going on.

      It was night by now, and the first could only hope that would give them more time before whoever would be sent after them could catch up. There was a small part of him that kept hoping they wouldn't send anyone at all. They were just a few lower level infantry, why in the world would they need to send operatives or agents after them? But they wouldn't need to. They just had to put a number on their heads and the work would do itself.

       Off in the distance he swore he heard some animal let out a roar, though he did his best to ignore it. He was far too concerned with the fact that they might freeze to death, or be murdered by some hunter looking for quick pay. Adding on the fact that they could be some beast's midnight snack was too much.

      Some ways ahead of him he heard a shout. The wind died enough for a moment to allow him to hear the tail of what was said, but it was enough to make him burst into a sprint. “Found it.”

      It was a small place, and couldn't have been more than a few rooms consisting of a small kitchen, a living area, and a bunk room, but it was enough. He went off to turn on some generator, and soon enough it was starting to feel warm.

      Within a few hours, they had eaten, and were ready to settle in. Considering the number of bunks available in the room, they had a number of options but none of them would really be comfortable. The wind outside continued to roar, but really that was soothing to the first man. It meant that the storm was still going on, and that they would be harder to find because of it. What they would do come tomorrow was still a mystery, but he felt more confident now that he wasn't worried about freezing. Besides, if someone even came for them, they had raided what small armory the safe house had. They were prepared for it. What they weren't prepared for was the horrible noise that filled the air an hour or so after they had finally drifted off to sleep.

       The sound of the generator dying.

      Her red eyes scanned the horizon, squinting in the dying light. The storm was going to destroy any sign of their tracks. She was fully aware of that. It was a matter of deciding which way they were going to get lost in that mattered now. They would have attempted to stick to the road for a time, and she thought it best to do the same.

      Her armor was covered in a small layer of cloth made to help keep the heat it produced in when she was in weather such as this, and it happily was doing its job. Only the exposed part of her face was cold, and she found it hard to care about that. The fact that her people had been forged on a planet similar to Hoth, one of cold temperatures and ice storms, likely contributed to that fact.

      The road was deserted for all save her. Everyone else who would even have considered using it would be waiting until the weather cleared up. It was the smarter thing to do. When you're being hunted though, the smart option isn't always the best option. The storm would be the perfect cover for her prey, and they were obviously well aware of the fact.

      As with all of her hunts the days prior to this one had been spent doing her research. Two men, close friends, who had decided to cross their commanding officer and flee their post for a midnight run to see their girls instead of stand guard. Instead of face the charges, they just kept running. One had been previously stationed here, and he was likely returning to a place he could hide.

      Guessing where they would have gone based on known outposts in the area would have been useless. They would be avoiding those, not going near them. So where would they run? Somewhere unused, but not civilian area. If they tried to hide with civilians they risked being turned in for a quick cash grab. It had required digging, but she had been able to find a number of smaller outposts, safe houses in case something had gone wrong or someone was stuck out in a storm. There was only one in this direction.

      Why they ran of course didn't matter to her. The reason for such events never really bothered did. The only thing the information would do for her is tell her what sort of reaction she might get from them. She could only guess as to why they did it, though that was actually part of where she got her fun. Perhaps they wanted to live a life on the run, as they might think it to based on vids they had seen, or books they had read. Their records before the incident weren't exactly spotless, so fear could have drove them to it. Punishment in the Imperial Army was rarely light, especially on multiple offenses. If they were scared, they were more likely to make mistakes.

      She held no fear of getting lost. Having plugged the coordinates of the safe house into her armor would make it simple to find them. It wasn't going to be nearly as much fun as she hoped it would have been. They wouldn't put up much of a fight. They wouldn't even know she was coming. Who would be crazy enough to trek through a raging snowstorm for a simple two marks? Even with her hood up the disappointment she felt never appeared on her face.

      As she reached a point in the slowly disappearing road, she turned to her right and set off straight again. She gave it fifteen minutes until she was there.

      Off to her left she heard a roar. Turning, she expected the beast to come charging directly at her. She underestimated it. The creature slammed into her from the right side, settling on top of her and letting out a loud roar in her face. She made no move for her blaster, opting to simply shove her fist in its gut and let the flamethrower attached there do the rest.

      Rearing back the beast, she could see that it was a wampa now, kept its distance. The two stared off for a moment, before she quickly drew her blaster attempting to fire a shot off at it. As if it were an actor waiting for its cue, the wampa charged again, taking the shot to the shoulder but giving no sign it even felt it. It held her down again, this time making sure to keep her arms pinned. She had to give the species credit. Wampa were smarter than most.

      Jerking her head to the right, she brought her nose up under the small switch to the light mounted on her shoulder. Blinking to life, she pulled her shoulder forward as far as she could to shine it right in the monster's eyes. Its hands moved to defend itself from the horrible weapon, and it fled to a distance again, watching, waiting. Rising, she turned the light off. Her patience was wearing thin.

      She brought up her right arm slowly, bending her left but keeping it at her side. She let off another shot, which the beast deftly avoided. In doing so, it missed the blinking dart that had landed on its stomach. As it began to beep it looked down, searching for the new noise. It wasn't quick enough. She covered her eyes and turned as the explosive detonated.

      The safe house wasn't much to look at. A small building, likely five rooms maximum. She was hoping that the Imperials would have been smarter about how they built such things. She circled the building, giving it a look over. One entrance. Few windows, likely none that opened. If someone gave it an open assault it wouldn't last for long, but she knew that that wasn't its purpose. The worst offense, though, was that someone had decided it a bright idea to build it around the generator being outside. A simple pull of the plug and it would be a matter of waiting for them to come out on their own. Of course she wasn't going to wait for that.

      Inside she could see what few lights had been left on flicker off as she turned the machine off. Rounding her way to the door, she pried it open. Whoever had decided it best to let it remain locked into place after the power had gone off was an idiot. Entering the small living room, she flicked her light back on, willing to take the risk of being a target because of it. She wasn't really expecting a fight.

      Silently creeping deeper into the room, her eyes fell on a small door. To the side it was marked “Bunks.” From where she stood she could easily hear the two scurrying about trying to ready themselves in the now darkened room. Pressing her back to the left of the door, she waited for it to open. Shutting the light off, there was a long moment of silence.

      Finally she heard the door being pulled open. Blaster prepped, she only had to wait a few moments before one of them stepped out. A moment later he was lying on the floor, a nice sized puddle forming around his head. She turned suddenly, entering the room, blaster still drawn. The second one had let out a panicked scream, and scampered towards the back of the room. This was getting fun.

      The light was flicked back on. Slowly making her way along the rows of bunks, she stopped suddenly. One of the bunks to her right had let out a small cry. In one quick motion she bent down, grabbing the man by his foot and pulling him out to where she could see him, not without heavy resistance on his part.

      He flipped over, looking up at her with nothing but sheer terror showing on his face. Bringing his hands together she had to work hard to not smile. He was going to beg.

      “I'm sure you hear this a lot, but,” he tried to grab for the words, but simply left the sentence hanging alone, as if it finished itself. She stared unblinking at him. There no sign of emotion on her face, no sign that she would show remorse. He obviously didn't like that. “Say something. Please. Just say something,” he begged. She assumed there was some horrible feeling of being alone that was setting in. That wasn't unusual.

      When she spoke, her voice as a cold, unfeeling monotone, “Something."

      “This is just some sort of joke to you, isn't it?” he said, the last inch of hope disappearing from his voice. “Just another payday.”

      She shook her head, leaving him with one final statement, “It's never about the money.” With that said, she let off another shot, before allowing the room to grow silent, even the noise of the storm outside dying.

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