Retribution: Part One
Part One: Mission
The streets of Darigan Citadel were quiet in the darkness. Deep shadows contrasted sharply with the bright, silvery light of a full moon that shown down upon a faint layer of fog. A shape flickered in the shadows, its head peering out of the alley to scan the streets. Good, he thought, red eyes narrowed. This should help us. He glanced behind him, calling, "Come quickly; we don't want to keep him waiting."
Amber eyes flickered in the shadows. "I don't see why we have to go to him. If he really wanted us to do the job, he should've come to us."
The first figure sighed. "He's a Darigan soldier; you expect him to go walking through dark, suspicious-looking alleyways and risk his reputation?"
"He should've thought of that before asking for help in the first place."
The second shadow walked past the first, stepping into the street so that the moonlight shown down on the blue fur of the Bori. "Cam! Get back here!"
The Bori sent a disinterested glance back at his companion. "Boss, we have to get to him, yes? Then there's no point hiding in the shadows all night."
There was a heavy sigh before the form of a Darigan Eyrie emerged from the shadows. "You're a handful, you know that?" When Cam didn't answer, the Eyrie sighed. "Come on; let's get going before someone catches us."
The two neopets hurried down the street, casting wary eyes around them and studiously avoiding large patches of light. The Eyrie stopped abruptly before a door, causing Cam to skid to a halt with him and look skeptically at it. "This is the place, then?" he questioned, amber eyes narrowed to slits.
"Supposedly," the Eyrie agreed, reaching out a clawed paw and pushing open the wooden structure with a slight creak.
A voice welcomed them from the shadows. "I was hoping you'd be here soon."
"We came, just like you asked," the Eyrie responded gruffly, shouldering through the entrance with Cam following close behind him.
"I see that," the voice replied, the faint light of a candle illuminating an armored Darigan Techo.
The Eyrie arched an eyebrow. "Now, what could be so important that a Darigan soldier would ask mere scavengers for assistance, hm?"
The soldier didn't bother to dodge around the subject. "Meridell."
Red eyes blinked in surprise. "Pardon?"
"Meridell," the Techo repeated. "When I requested you, I wasn't told you were hard of hearing."
The Eyrie bristled. "My hearing's just fine. But why do you want to attack Meridell? We're at peace now, thanks to Lord Darigan."
"And don't you think things were better with Lord Kass in charge?"
The Eyrie stiffened at the comment, and Cam turned curious eyes to his boss. "Kass is gone," the Eyrie informed him stiffly, his voice allowing no arguments.
"Of course," the Techo agreed without missing a beat, "but that's not the point."
"Then what is?" Cam was wondering the same thing himself.
"We should never have accepted this... 'peace' between us and Meridell," the Techo continued. "They're not worth it. So I'm asking you and you're little friend," he turned his gaze to Cam, who stood straighter, "to stir things up."
"Are you crazy?" Cam burst out. "This is-"
"I accept," the Eyrie replied, interrupting Cam's outburst. The young Bori turned wide eyes to him, and red orbs slid backwards, their narrowed glare indicating that he should remain silent.
"Very good," the Techo commented, the approval practically dripping from his voice.
"Is that all?" the Eyrie asked.
A clawed paw extended. "My pay?"
The Techo chuckled darkly, the sound grating against Cam's ears. "Oh, no; I'm no fool. You'll take the money and run." He shook his head, smiling slightly. "No, you'll get your pay when you've completed the job to satisfaction."
The Eyrie's eyes narrowed at the soldier. "And what exactly is 'satisfaction'?"
The Techo grinned slightly. "You'll know when you get there."
Seeing that they would get no more out of the neopet, the Eyrie bowed stiffly and walked away, leaving Cam to hurry after him.
The Bori was not in a good mood. "Boss," he called, trying to keep up with his quick pace. "Boss!"
"What?" the Eyrie asked, not bothering to look back.
"Why did you accept the job?" Cam hissed, eyes flickering in confusion. "You know as well as I do that he just wants to fight. This is going to cause way more trouble than we need. You should've just backed out."
The Eyrie stopped abruptly, forcing the young Bori to stop with him. There were several moments of silence before the Eyrie said slowly, "Do you remember when I found you, Cam?"
The Bori stiffened. "Yeah," he whispered quietly, his mind flung back to the past for a few brief moments:
The tiny blue Bori looked up at the imposing form of the Eyrie. "No one to take care of you?" the gruff voice asked.
The younger Cam sniffled, but tried to look tough. "I can take care of myself!"
The Eyrie snorted with amusement. "Of course you can," he agreed. "But it would be good to have allies while living on the streets, don't you think?"
Cam deflated slightly. "Um... yeah."
"Then come with me." The young blue Bori looked up in surprise; the Eyrie had a paw outstretched, red eyes silently asking whether or not he would take the offer. Cam slowly looked from the clawed hand, to the deep purple face, and then back to the hand. Hesitatingly he reached out a paw of his own, the appendage hovering over the larger paw of the Eyrie before it slowly descended. The clawed tips of the Eyrie's paw slowly curled around the Bori's before he gave the small creature's paw a rough shake, startling him. He released the paw, turning around and beginning to walk away. He paused half-way out of the alley, glancing back at Cam with a questioning look. "Well? Are you coming?"
"Then trust me."
The Eyrie's words brought Cam back to the present. He shook his head, protesting again, "But Boss-"
"Don't you want to get off the streets, Cam?" the Eyrie snapped, turning his head only slightly. His hands clenched, a faint shaking in them and his shoulders the only sign that he was agitated. "Aren't you tired of picking through other people's leftovers and stealing just to stay alive?"
Shoulders slumped under a ragged shirt. "Yeah," he admitted quietly, almost too quiet for the older neopet to hear.
"Then quit whining about what job we get," the Eyrie told him gruffly. "He's a Darigan soldier; he likely has enough money to not only get us off the streets but allow us to live in relative luxury for a long time."
"If we ever do the job 'to his satisfaction'," Cam retorted mutinously, crossing his arms across his chest and flattening his ears against his head.
"Well, we'll just have to make sure we do." He began walking forward again, calling over his shoulder, "Come on; we have work to do."
Cam sighed. "Yes, sir."
"Are you still sure this is a good idea?"
The question was pose by a Darigan Draik to the Techo soldier who'd previously employed the Eyrie and his Bori companion. By this point, he'd returned from the small building they'd met in, and he and the Draik were standing upon the ramparts of Darigan Citadel, staring out across the darkened sky of night. The Techo soldier glanced at his companion. "Of course. Why wouldn't it be?"
The Draik soldier behind him hummed, tapping clawed fingers against his arms. "You're trying to start a war with Meridell again. Tell me, what could possible go wrong?" His voice dripped with venomous sarcasm.
The Techo gritted his teeth. "Trust me, I know there'll be consequences, but we need this."
The Draik's eyes slowly slid towards his companion. "Martin, you're sure you want to go through this? What if it's all for nothing?"
"It won't be," Martin whispered. "I promise you, it won't be."
There was a long stretch of silence before the Draik let out a gusty sigh. "Well, I hope you're right, for your sake."
The click of claws against stone signaled the Draik's departure. The Techo remained standing where he was for several moments, as still as a pillar of ice. Then, slowly, he pulled a small mirror from a pouch at his waste, tilting it so that it reflected the dim, dreary light. This is the key, he thought, righting the mirror and staring at the reflection in its flat surface. This is what will put us back on top, I know it.
For a few moments, the image on the surface of the mirror seemed to change, a twisted, demonic face appearing instead of the face of a Darigan Techo. Then Martin slipped the mirror back into his pocket, and the image broke up, disappearing into the depths of the mirror it had once come from.
To be continued...