Chapter Thirty Nine

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"I'm not sure what just happened," Ayna said as the rapport of the blast died down. "I don't have an angle to see it."

"It must involve the mercenaries, one way or the other," Kavia Sari said through the earpiece.

"Yes. Go." Ayna hesitated before adding: "Please."

Ayna lay flat on top of a nice, thick wall in this strange nether realm, playing her little part in all this. She had about the best view possible on such short notice, but though she could see just fine there were simply too many ruins for her to catch more than glimpses of what was going on.

Mostly she'd been catching the flashes of plasma exchange. The mercenaries had sprung their ambush. She and the hunter had been just slightly too late. But maybe they were just barely in time as well.

Maybe.

"Wait," she then whispered. "They're coming my way, from the north-west."

"Numbers?" the hunter asked.

The wall was about four metres tall and well away from the lights, and Ayna felt in little to no danger as she smoothly turned around and peeked over the edge.

"Two," she whispered. "Heading straight for the blast."

Ayna had her hood up, to keep her white face from framing against the darkness. The two armoured mercenaries remained completely oblivious as they passed right below her gaze.

What a perfect time to shoot at them. Except the hunter still wouldn't trust her with a gun, which brought frustration and relief both. She didn't want to kill anyone. But...

"They just passed me by, going south-east."

"I will intercept. Stay away."

There was no need for further directions. The hunter could track her by the collar, after all.

Ayna could just do as she was told. She could just lie still while people more dangerous than her settled all of this. But no matter what happened she quite literally couldn't just walk away.

So as the mercenaries vanished from her sight for the moment and she caught a glimpse of her captor moving their way, Ayna got up. She leapt from the wall and onto a nearby one. It was much thinner, but she had balanced on more precarious things, and now ran along it until she could leap onto a semi-standing house.

She'd just gotten the mercs back into her view when Sari's concussive grenade went off right between them. The blast was weaker than the one she'd seen in the distance, but the two men were still thrown as if the hand of a deity had just slapped them, flying in separate directions.

The hunter immediate ran out into the open, staff in hand. That cable shot out from the end of it and wrapped around the rifle of the one further away from her. Sari both unspooled the cable and swung the staff, sending the weapon flying well away.

The one closer to her reacted with respectable speed and tried to bring his own rifle to bear from a sitting position. The hunter was faster, though, and sent the gun from his grip with a kick. A blow from the staff knocked him prone, and with one motion she plucked that weird, thin net from a pouch and threw it over him. It clung to his armour and the ground, pinning him down.

The other mercenary threw something, and Sari knocked it aside with her staff like a ball player. The grenade burst into searing flames into the air. The merc drew something Ayna had assumed to be some kind of sword, but it extended out into a short polearm with a keremak blade.

The hunter simply fired a bola from her gauntlet, but the mercenary darted to the side, narrowly avoiding capture. Sari charged at him before he could fully recover and swung her staff. He reacted with skill and ferocity, holding up against a relentless assault that pushed him back only slowly. The man finally managed to evade a strike and retaliate, and sparks flew as his blade cut into her pauldron. He swung again and missed, then missed again as the hunter danced about. His third miss gave her a clear shot at his head, and the blow wobbled him.

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