I’d done it, I’d fucking done it. After I’d shot that bitches lapdog, I knew I was fucked.
Theodor was in terrible shape, but he was alive and with some luck, he’d be for a while longer. None of his wounds looked mortal, and he’d endured worse before.
He gave me a weak grin when I helped him up.
“Thanks for that one, wouldn’t have hurt if you’d been a bit earlier though.”
“Let’s get out of here. That bitch will not be happy about what I did here.”
“Heh, thanks for the heads up,” Theodor mumbled before he passed out.
I reloaded my gun and scanned the surrounding trees, but all was quiet. To be honest, though, I hadn’t expected her to dirty her own hands like this.
Making our way out proved tougher. I was pretty damn sure Marcia had informed the clean-up crews about our little misdemeanor.
Still, I’d lived in this city for the better part of my life and after some deliberation found a route that led us to safety.
As we went on our way, though, I was quick to destroy my phone. That way, she’d not be able to track us, at least for a while.
We weren’t able to make it far. Theodor’s condition was critical, and he needed immediate care.
Before long, I dragged him into an abandoned construction site. The official story was that the western outskirts were going to be revitalize and a big change was coming to our city. Everyone knew it was bullshit. No, this construction site, like the many others in the area, was most likely abandoned for good.
With some luck we might be able to hide out here, at least for a day or two before a manhunt started. It would give us enough to think of, well, something.
With what little medical supplies I had with me, there wasn’t much I could do for Theodor. I bandaged his wounds, administered some healing contraptions, but that was about it.
After that, I sat in our small hide-out for hours. I was on pins and needles the entire time. My brain was going crazy. If headquarters wanted me dead, I pretty much was. There was no way I’d be able to escape them. Eventually, I decided to get into contact with them. I didn’t know what it would do, but it was the only chance I had.
My phone was gone, of course, but every exterminator had their emergency number beaten into his head. All I had to do was to find a public phone, if there were any left.
As carefully and as inconspicuous as I could, I made my way to the inner city area by using a mixture of taxis and public transportation. I should be able to find a public phone there, and I was sure Marcia wouldn’t take me out in the middle of a pedestrian area. At least, I hoped so.
Still, I had to be fast. By now, they had probably added my face to the wanted list of half a dozen police stations in the city.
With swift fingers, I punched the long emergency number into the phone and waited. The monotone voice of headquarters informed me I’d reached their emergency line.
The moment I stated who I was, there was an abrupt click as I was dispatched and connected to another part of the system, knowing fare well that my location was being traced.
“Exterminator 7D11087, you went against the orders of a high-ranking exterminator, this offense is punishable by nothing short of-“
“All right, hold on! Mar-, Exterminator 5A00114 not only withheld critical information about signatures, she also employed an artificially enhanced human. Haven’t they been outlawed by the codex more than a decade ago?”
“We will look into your allegations and we will analyze the data of the latest incidents. However, as a high-ranking exterminator, Marcia Loggia is allowed a certain extent of freedom.”
“What the fuck does that mean? That she can just do whatever the fuck she wants?”
“It only means that there are certain exceptions to the rules, as you well know considering the organism you and Exterminator 4B98344 have been employing.”
“And you know that this organism, as you call it, is the only reason we even know about the giant shitshow that’s coming our way!”
“We are well aware of the dangers you’ve informed us about and we’ve been preparing for an incident exceeding A-Class.”
“So that’s it then? You don’t need us anymore, so you’re just going to get rid of us? That bitch went against her own rules! You’re just going to ignore-“
“Exterminator 7D11087, you went against the direct orders of the organization. Exterminator 5A00114 was given special permission after she laid out her concerns.”
“Heh, so that’s it then, I’m a traitor, aren’t I? You’re going to get rid of me then?”
“Punishment will be carried out as we see fit.”
“All right, one last thing. Exterminator… Sandra’s got nothing to do with any of this. She’s done nothing but follow your orders.”
“We will of course start a full investigation of her involvement, but we have no suspicion that she went against the organization.”
“Well, thanks for that at least.”
With that, I dropped the speaker. For a moment my eyes darted over the surrounding crowd, expecting to see police charging me, but I was undisturbed.
With the strangest of feelings, I hurried away. Marcia, it had to be her, she was planning something.
I carefully made my way back to the abandoned construction site where I’d left Theodor. I forced myself to act as calm and inconspicuous as I could, but I was nervous the entire way.
When I’d made it back, I felt a sliver of relief, but I knew I shouldn’t. It was only a matter of time before they were coming for us.
Theodor was still in awful shape, but he looked somewhat better. His face, however, was as apathetic as always.
“We’re officially not part of headquarters anymore.”
“Well, isn’t that great? And here we are, fighting amongst each other. Shit, it doesn’t matter, anyway.”
With that, he slumped down against the wall again and closed his eyes.
“Headquarters stated they are prepared, so maybe-“
“Don’t you get it, Dylan? There’s no preparation for what’s coming, none! We’re all fucked and this, this little scuffle here, it doesn’t mean shit!”
“Yeah, all right, Mr. Doomsday, what do you suggest we do then?”
Theodor said nothing.
“Fucking hell, man,” I cursed. “All right, we can try to stay hidden here for a while longer, but this is not a permanent solution. I might try to hit the apartment soon to get some supplies, but I’ve got no clue if I can get there.”
“What about Sandra?” Theodor asked.
“She’s got nothing to do with any of this. Best we can do is leave her behind.”
“You plan on running away, Dylan?”
“Well, you got any better idea? You want to stay and fight Marcia and whatever else they’ll throw at us?”
Theodor’s face turned serious.
“You still don’t get it, do you? Marcia, headquarters, none of it fucking matters! That thing, it will tear everything apart. If we don’t do-“
“I thought there was nothing we could do about it?” I asked sarcastically.
His face turned to a slight grin. “If it comes through, yes.”
“And you think you can stop it? You think you’re going to save the world and-“
“No, Dylan, I don’t. I fucking don’t, all right, but I can try, can’t I?”
I couldn’t help but laugh and shake my head.
When Theodor saw that, he pushed himself up and started towards me.
I opened my mouth to throw another set of words at him when I heard Marcia’s voice.
“You thought you could hide from me, Exterminator 7D11087?”
I jerked around, ripped out my gun, but she wasn’t there. Instead, I saw a small sentry drone hovering in the buildings entrance.
“Well, it was worth a try, wasn’t it? What now, Marcia, you’re too afraid to come for us personally? Or are you going to send some of your little suicide drones here to-“
“I don’t know, Exterminator 7D11087,” she started, and I heard the humor in her voice. “I might just start with Exterminator 4B98344, after all she was involved in this as well, wasn’t she?”
“Sandra!? She’s got nothing to do with any of this! She’s been fucking comatose for weeks!”
“But she might have valuable information. Extracting them might be useful, considering that dire message your little friend had for us.”
“Don’t you dare fucking touch her!”
“And what are you going to do, Exterminator 7D11087? You think you can stop me?”
When she started laughing, I couldn’t contain my rage anymore. I pointed the gun at the drone and shot it down.
“Fuck!” I cursed. Then I turned to Theodor.
“Change of plans!”
As I said this, I saw a slight grin on Theodor’s face. “Guess you’ve finally got enough of that bitch.”
“Yeah, and it’s only a matter of time before she’s going to smoke this place out, anyway.”
With that, we set out on our way back to the apartment. I knew it was a trap, and I knew I was doing exactly what that bitch wanted. But I also knew she wasn’t bluffing. If we wouldn’t go, she had no problem scrambling up Sandra’s mind.
As we hurried from street to street, I kept my eyes open. I scanned every street and all the people I saw, but it didn’t seem like anyone was looking for us. No police, no agents from headquarters, no clean-up crews, nothing.
I couldn’t help but grin. That bitch, she wanted us all for herself. She was arrogant, and even worse, she was enjoying this. God dammit, she really was the fucking worst.
“How are you doing, Theodor?”
“I’m good, apart from being in terrible fucking pain.”
I tried to come up with a plan, but Marcia was most likely prepared. No, our only chance was that she was as arrogant as she seemed. There had to be a chance to overwhelm her.
The moment we saw the small apartment building, I turned to Theodor.
“I’m going in alone for now. It won’t do much, but maybe you can surprise her.”
He gave me a curt nod and vanished down a nearby alley.
When I made it to the building, Marcia was already standing outside, a cold, condescending grin on her face.
“Will you look at that, you actually came? This makes things so much easier.”
“Wasn’t much we could do, was there?”
“Oh, Exterminator 7D11087, you never cease to disappoint me. You know what the codex says, don’t you? Should a fellow exterminator find themselves in harm’s way, you shouldn’t risk valuable assets on a rescue mission, but here you are.”
“Didn’t you say, I was useless anyway?”
For the first time, I saw a genuine smile on her face.
“I’m going to enjoy tearing you apart.”
In an instant I pointed the gun at her, but before I could pull the trigger, she used her powers to bring up an unconscious body in front of her.
My eyes grew wide when I recognized Sandra.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Marcia said nothing, instead she put her hand around Sandra’s neck. For a moment she seemed to just rest her hand there before she twisted.
“Just getting rid of another useless asset.”
At that moment I saw red and was about to rush her. I’d taken only half a dozen steps before she brought me to the ground with her powers.
“How foolish of you. I knew from the moment I laid eyes on you that you weren’t fit for the righteous work we’re doing.”
I tried to get up, closed my hand around the gun, pointed it, but in an instant it was torn from my hands. Then her powers washed over me, searching and finding my throat.
A moment later, I wasn’t able to breathe. Her eyes rested on me as she pushed down on my throat harder and harder. Dark spots appeared in front of my eyes. I tried to reach my throat, tried to cling to it, to push her powers aside, but I felt my arms restrained.
Right at that moment, Theodor came for her.
“And you thought I didn’t know you were here all along?” she laughed.
With a wave of her hand, Theodor was thrown aside and came crashing down a few meters near me.
“I take it you thought all mentalists were as weak as her? Believe me, my powers far exceed anything she could’ve mustered.”
With her eyes resting on Theodor and me, she began twisting Sandra’s neck again.
“Useless, you’re all so useless.”
In a moment, though, Theodor fought himself back up and charged at her again. For a moment Marcia’s eyes grew a bit wider before she threw another surge of her powers at him. This time though, Theodor pushed against it and then took another step towards her.
This time, disbelief showed on her face. Sandra crashed to the floor and the pressure against my throat was gone.
“Guess not everything’s going as planned, is it?” Theodor asked with a grin.
And then he pushed through her powers and stormed at her.
“You ungodly abomination!” she screeched.
Marcia’s face was contorted by rage, and for a moment her powers brushed against my mind.
While I cringed back, it did not affect Theodor at all.
“That won’t work,” he spat at her.
When Theodor attacked her with his combat knife, she avoided his attack, retreated and then brought down a new onslaught onto him.
Theodor staggered but didn’t go down.
Sweat was running down Marcia’s face. She raised her arms, spread out her hands and then threw all of her powers at him.
“Useless,” he brought out.
For a moment he staggered, spit bloody froth on the ground before he attacked again.
Marcia was freaking out. Blood was running from her nose, but now her hands moved delicately. I knew she was going for Theodor’s mind, was going to rip his consciousness apart, but a second later she jerked back.
“Told you this wouldn’t work. Ever since we’d been in contact with that A-Class creature, my mind’s all sorts of fucked. Can’t tell what it is, but those tricks of yours won’t work on me.”
“How dare you, how dare you,” she brought out in a shaken voice.
In a new ditch of effort, Marcia threw everything she had at Theodor. The ground was upheaved and this time, even Theodor didn’t try to push against it. He threw himself aside, but crashed to the ground hard.
Theodor pushed himself to his feet, but he staggered, almost fell down again.
I saw Marcia grin in triumph. She was about to go for him again, but in her rage she’d completely ignored me.
I lit her up, but I knew the bullets would be useless. She warded them off before she twisted my arm. I screamed up in pain, but at that moment I got out what I’d been holding in my left hand all this time.
Marcia knew my modus operandi and when she saw the small metal object flying into her direction, she shielded herself. When no explosion followed, her eyes grew wide and changed to disbelief when she saw the small beacon I’d thrown at her.
Got you, I thought. As her eyes turned from the beacon to me, I gave her a condescending grin. It was the last thing she ever saw because right at this moment Theodor drove the combat knife right through her throat.
Right at that moment, I fell to my knees. My entire body was hurting, but the grin on my face didn’t waver. Got you good, bitch!
Fuck monsters and fuck high-ranking exterminators.