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Black Angel Six: The Headhunter Protocol

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Well, she was a bestial huntress. Huntresss -> headhunter.

Natural evolution. Obviously, the next headhunter will be Vayne I guess.

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Frost Archer

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So I watched avp the other day.....

And felt really sad you didn't put up a new chapter

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lol sh*t. I have a C exam in a week. I'll see if I can squeeze out a chapter after that,

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Frost Archer

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-.- Seriously? Yautja? I only JUST caught that. At first I figured that it was Rengar and Nidalee's actual race. I kept thinking it sounded familiar -.- Why don't you call Kah'Zix a xenomorph?

Eh, the name fits. Kinda....

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-.- Seriously? Yautja? I only JUST caught that. At first I figured that it was Rengar and Nidalee's actual race. I kept thinking it sounded familiar -.- Why don't you call Kah'Zix a xenomorph?

Eh, the name fits. Kinda....

Because the name fit, so I rolled with it. And Kha'Zix is an engineered weapon, so calling him a Xenomorph would be semantically incorrect-- Kha ain't an alien, he's a lab experiement.

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Chapter 6

****. He didn't have... anything.
Lance Corporal William Jayce Westmoreland glanced up from his Two of Hearts and Seven of Clubs to sneak a glance at the masked man in front of him, Specialist Kegan Rodhe, who was the only one left in the pot. The fellow Headhunter betrayed no emotion; nothing showed through the man's full-optical mask. Only a self-inflicted brand of a black skull that covered the face of Kegan's mask.

Jayce and the rest of his Team Royal were seated around an ammo crate; they had been playing poker for the better part of three hours. Further around them, the Lito's ULNN marines milled about the bulkhead that they had set up around the umbilical tube; their lifeline back to the Kinkou ship that they had used to get onto The Ravenous Hydra in the first place.

Jayce licked his lips, and glanced at his cards again. There was almost two month's worth of pay in the pot right now, but Jayce had never seen Kegan read a man wrong. Could he really bluff his way past their team pyromaniac? He had never managed to do it before.
Well... there was a first time for everything.
"Call," Jayce announced, dropping a few more plastic credits into the pot; the chips clinked softly onto the massive pool of money set on the top of an ammo crate that Team Royal had converted into their dealing table.

Kegan said nothing; he only stared off into space. Did he finally stump their resident poker face? Jayce felt a smile creep involuntarily to his face. Damn his natural smile; this is why he would never win their weekly poker tournaments.
Still Kegan stayed silent.
Jayce glanced up from his cards, slowly reaching out to the pot.
"So..." Jayce tossed out carefully, edging the pot of credits towards himself. "You fold?"
"..." Brand wasn't looking at his cards. Jayce edged the pile of plastic a bit closer to himself.
"Eve quiet," Kegan's gravelly, muffled voice edged out. "Her report late."
Jayce took a quick glance around at his other teammates, to make sure this wasn't some trick to snatch his pot, before looking back down at his own watch.
1672 hours, his Piltover Custom said. He frowned. Their pyromaniac was right. Evey was supposed to check in over half and hour ago. And it definitely wasn't like Evey to pass up a chance to complain to Jayce about how hard she was always working. Something was up. Jayce thumbed his comms, connecting directly to Evelynn's radio.
A flip of a switch, and he had a line to her comms.
"Heya honey..." Jayce chewed his bottom lip, talking to his mic. "I was getting lonely... you wanna... let us know what's up out there? Over."
He released his comms, but only silence answered him. He thought he heard the slightest trickle of static, but as soon as it came, it was gone. The Team Royal leader felt a pit of concern grow in his stomach.
"Evey... don't play hard to get now... Over."
Still silence.
"We should go," Kegan muttered.
"...Yeah," Jayce stood up, and the rest of Team Royal with him, the pile of credits forgotten on the ammo crate. He reached out, and grasped his Mercury Hammer. The transforming weapon reacted to his touch, and folded its into a comfortable carrying position as Lance Corporal Jayce slung his signature weapon over his back.
"Ladies, Gentlemen," Jayce called out, leading the way into the darkness of the corridors of the Noxian supercruiser. As he did, his helmet automatically folded itself around his skull, entombing the Headhunter leader in full metal plate.
His power armor started its pre-processes warm-ups, and his Mercury Hammer charged, glowing bright at its heart.
His voice clackled up from his suit's speakers, warping his voice, making it sounder deeper and more serious. There was no trace of his jovial smugness left. Only business. Headhunter business.
"Let's get to it."

They had been fighting, claw to axe, tooth to nail, for almost ten minutes now, but those ten minutes felt like a lifetime for the Headhunter Leader.
For an instant, Creature and Headhunter clashed again, and the force of their blows knocked the dueling combatants from each other for an instant. And in that instant, the Creature made its move.
Spines, sharp as any armor-piercing bullet, shot through the darkness of the mess hall. They flew at Rengar with deadly precision, only the Yautja Captain's superior night vision and his quick reflexes let him deflect the spines with a sweep of his axe. Hardened Ceramic clashed with impossibly sharp bone, causing blue sparks to explode from the points of contact. Rengar could feel pieces of his Axe fly off it's blade, and he could see the deep grooves that the Creature's spines left in his weapon.
Rengar leaped backwards, and with a single paw, slammed a mess hall table, so long that could seat two dozen Noxian servicemen, so hard that the metal legs bent, and the mess hall table formed a temporary partition in between him and that... Creature. The Headhunter crouched, hiding himself from that Thing.
The Headhunter Captain could hear the Creature's inhuman growls, and feel more of its spines pierce the mess hall table randomly along its length. Only the Creature's line of sight saved him from becoming a furry pincushion. Rengar glanced down at his axes, and growled in annoyance as soon he saw that his weapons were at their limits; they probably couldn't handle anymore than three more blows from those spines each.
An old, long-lost emotion struck his heart. Fear of Death. The feeling had been absent from his life for so long that its return felt alien to him. So this is what his prey felt like, Rengar realized.
He smiled. He had never felt more alive in his life.
He gripped his axes once more, glancing over them one more time, as more and more spines punched clean through the half-inch metal plate that was the mess hall table that the Yautja was hiding behind. Three more hits, huh? A fang-filled grin spread over the Yautja's lion maw.
He tensed up, just like a Lion readying itself for the kill.
The very instant the spines from the Creature let up, Rengar made his own move.

A single move, a single leap and Rengar vaulted over the mess hall table. While in flight, he sighted his target. That insect-like Creature was lurking but ten meters from him. The moment the Yautja's feet touched solid floor, another flurry of spines shot out from the Creature. Rengar only choose to block the one spine aimed at his heart, the rest easily tore through his armor, fur, and body, but they were only flesh wounds.
Rengar roared, and leapt forwards, blocking two more spines in flight with his left axe. At the third block, he felt his axe shatter, and he was left with only one. But that was all he needed to get into melee range with the beast.
The Headhunter was about to drive his right-hand axe deep into the Creature's skull, but a flicker of movement to Rengar's right caught his attention, and the Yautja abandoned his killing blow to raise his weapon to block the blow. He had just enough time to realize what that flicker was, before ducking down to avoid the attack, but not before he had time to yank his weapon out of the way. As the flicker passed through, the most of his axe fell off it's handle, sliced clean at it's hilt. The worn blade clattered to ground, the Creature's attack slowed enough for Rengar to confirm the wisdom of his dodge, and the beast-warrior growled at his predicament- for an impossibly sharp scythe had shot out from the creature's arm, and it cut through Rengar's weapons like they were made of clay.
And now, Rengar was defenseless.
The Creature lunged out with his left claw, and this time Rengar did not have the luxury to dodge. Rengar screamed, Speciman Six lodged it's scythe deep into Captain Rengar Uhor's eye and the Yautja roared in pain as everything in the entire world turned red.
Through the burning sensation in his head, Rengar somehow found the strength to reach out and grab the Creature by it's chitinous, oily skull. With desperate strength, the Headhunter Captain threw the creature over his shoulder like a ragdoll, and slammed it into the nearest metal object, a table, while the thing screeched and flailed.
As he buried the Creature's skull in an aluminum table, it's scythe that was lodged in the Captain's eye tore out of his head, still carrying on it in flecks, what remained of the the Yautja's eye. The pain of that finally robbed the Yautja of his senses, and Rengar felt the world turn dull and black. His paw, still wrapped tightly around Speciman Six's head, gradually loosened it's grip, as the Yautja Captain fell backwards, unconcious from the pain. Yet Six did not move despite being freed, for the single blow to its head had rattled whatever resembled a brain in its body, and the Creature, too, was absent from the world.
All was silent. For now.

A rumbling could be heard from down the hall, down to where the remainder of Team Dark was resting. Heads snapped towards the source of the sound. The rumbling went on for a few more seconds, before fading away into the night. An even uneasier silence spread around the team of headhunters, as the roar of whatever it was lingered in their ears.
Riven was the first to break the silence.
"We all heard that, right?"
"Lieutenant," Yi whispered to Nidalee, who was already on her feet, a pistol in her hands. The liuetenant was staring off intently in the direction of the sound, trying to apply her ultra-sensitive ears to the task. "What the hell was that?"
The Yautja chewed her lip.
"I... don't know." She closed her eyes in concentration. "It's not mechanical, at least I don't think. There's no ringing of metallic vibrations. Maybe it was some explosive ordinance, but not any kind I've heard before; it's too long. Maybe it's a slow burner, like Thermite."
"It's not a bomb," Talon muttered, "or we'd already be dead. One leak, and Father Space is going to ram his giant, cold, vacuum **** straight up our-"
"If it's not a bomb," Yi said, cutting Talon off from his vivd description "then what is it?"
"Why don't we find out?" Vayne offered. "Maybe it's related to Du Couteau. Maybe the Noxian idiot blew himself the eff up."
"Hah!" Talon scoffed, to Vayne's predictable annoyance, "Du Couteau's no idiot. I'd say it was our glorious Lance Corporal Jayce being an idiot with his toys again if he's not sitting on his ass, losing all of his chips on Poker."
"Regardless," Yi cut in, nipping potential conflict in the bud, "we should go check it out" Yi turned to Lieutenant Loulee. "Nid, lead the way."
The Yautja slid up to the metal door. A few soft taps on the keypad, and she unlocked the door.
"Aye aye, Commander." Nidalee eased open the door to the hallway, and silently slunk into the dark corridor ahead, followed closely by Crow Talon; screwing the cap back on his flask, and Luce Vayne, who changed her cartridges. Yi was about to follow, when he noticed Private Riven, who was still sitting in the corner by herself, staring at a spot at the floor.
"Private? What's the hold-up?"
"..." Riven looked up, her brow still furrowed in concentration. "I was just thinking... that noise..."
"Hm? What about it?"
"... It sounded a lot like the Captain."
Yi felt a pit grow in his stomach.
"Let's hurry."

Quietly, calmly, a Crimson Elite shimmered into existence in the Mess Hall. His cruel helm betrayed no emotion as the Noxian special forces carefully approached the two unconscious combatants. His footfalls made only the slightest click on the fiber steel floor as he weaved his way through the debris of the battle. Arriving upon the still form of Specimen Six, he keyed his comms.
From the other end, a clear, cultured voice answered.
"My Lord." The Crimson Elite greeted, "I have a visual on the package."
"Dead?" Queried the Lord of Admirals Du Couteau from the other end of the comms, "Alive?"
"Both alive, my Lord." The Crimson Elite drew a pistol from one of his many holsters. He calmly leveled it straight at the Captain Rengar's head. "Is the Yautja expendable, my Lord?" The Crimson Elite pulled back the hammer in anticipation.
"...Ha. Idiot." Du Couteau rebuked, "Lower your weapon before you kill us all, and check the beast's left-hand vambrace, and what do you see?"
Confused, the Crimson Elite lowered his pistol, and reached out to grab Captain Rengar's left armguard. It seemed bulkier and and heavier than it should be. The Noxian turned the heavy arm over in his hand, searching for a clue as to what his Lord was talking about.
"The ultimate disgrace for the Yautja is to die with their bodies unburned, for those mystics believe that consuming ones flesh grants you their power."
A small blinking red light could seen on the bottom of the armsguard. From inside his helm, the Crimson Elite frowned. Then the realization started to creep on him...
"So naturally, when they die, they blow themselves up, along with anything else within a mile radius."
The Crimson Elite scrambled up, dropping the armsguard like it was venomous, cursing the entire way.
"Shi t! Crazy motherfu-"
"Easy now. Just retrieve our test speciman and extract calmly. We still have plenty more stuff to do, and this changes nothing in our plans."
It took a few seconds, and more than a few deep breathes, but the Crimson Elite gathered himself. He holstered his gun, and turned to restrain the unconscious Specimen Six, careful to avoid slicing himself open on the razor sharp scythes of his, before lifting the alien creature up like a package, and walking back.
The Crimson Elite activated his stealth systems, and soon, only a floating, unconscious Specimen Six could be seen, slowly bobbing his way into the darkness, and finally, out of sight.

"...Oh my God..." Jayce muttered through his suit's comms, as he looked upwards to the heavens. He pressed his suit's helm release, and his helmet automatically peeled away, letting him see the spectacle with his naked eyes.

The members of team Royal were clustered about the entrance to the ship's infirmary. No small clinic, the infirmary like everything in Noxus, was big. It was a state of the art, massive, multi-story complex that ate up a good three percent of the ship's total mass. The infirmary opened up to a courtyard of sorts at the center, which opened up every story of the infirmary above it, creating an atrium of some sorts, and at the center of that atrium, the two-story tall statue of a cruel doctor, standing tall and proud with limbs missing, and holding a saw in one hand and a cruel hook for a hand in the other.

Someone had reactivated the lights of the atrium, so that soft while light bled down from the atrium's ceiling.

Which made Evelynn's body, limp, bloody, and stuck through the doctor's hook, impossible to miss. Five feet, below her feet, lay her positioning transmitter, which was also reactivated and left by her body to ensure she would be found.

"...damn..." Jayce hung his head, while the rest of the headhunters milled about, glancing at each other, unnerved. No one had ever died on one of their missions yet. This was their first loss, and their first real brush with death. It was their first reliazation that the best technology that money could buy was not a complete replacement to experience and training. While his companions daudled about, Brand set himself to standing on the statue's pedestal, trying to pull Evelynn's body down.

After some effort, Brand managed to lay Eve's body down on the steel floor. Jayce knelt beside Evelynn's corpse, and put a cold metal palm up against her chin.

"Evey would have hated this," Jayce muttered softly, smiling a bit.

"...Boss." Brand said softly, glancing down at the bloody hole where Evelynn's chest used to be. Jayce glanced up, looking almost startled. Brand stepped down from the statue's pedestal to hand Jayce a bloody sheet. "This was in Eve."

Jayce took the sheet lightly, and read it over.

He fell silent. His employees watched him intently, looking for his reaction.

"...well?" Team Royal's long range specialist, Sivir, broke the silence first. Her arms were crossed in impatience, but her concern was plain on her face. She like everyone else was shaken by Evelynn's death.

"'Meet me at the engine room if you want revenge', it says." Jayce crumbled the piece of paper in his armored fist. His eyes narrowed. "signed, Lord of Admirals, Marcus Arelius Du Couteau."

Jayce slammed his fist into the steel floor, sinking his armored gauntlet in a half-inch. As he pulled his knuckles out the metal popped and creaked.

"We're going."

"It's a trap," Kegan noted, as Jayce passed him to stand up.

"I don't care! We're going." Jayce snapped, his helmet folding itself around his head once more. As he did, the authority in his voice grew once more. Jayce turned to stare at Brand, reflective visor to reflective visor. "This is for Evey. We go." Jayce then turned to walk out of the Infirmary, bidding his team to follow him. Without another word, they did. Team Royal set off for the engine room.

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Chapter 7

It was totally quiet.

Riven poked her head through the door, glancing around at the inside. She was standing outside of the dozens of mess halls, her feet planted yet another one of the thousands of gray, featureless hallways that they had been crawling through for hours now.

Why can’t people ever try to make warships look nice from the inside, Riven thought, as she scanned the darkness that filled the mess hall, before she slipped in, drawing her pistol up. Bolt it together with steel and don’t bother to even put a fresh coat of paint, and you’re just begging for something creepy like this to happen.
And it was creepy. This whole damn place. Riven had seen her share of Noxian warship insides back when she was serving the Empire, but never like this, dimly lit and shrouded in mystery and something that felt uncomfortably like… evil.
She felt like someone was watching her. She felt like the darkness outside was drawing out the darkness inside. She felt fear.
Riven sidled up to the next door, and laid her hand on the door's push handle. Her fingers brushed the cool metal, and memories swept up on her once more.
Just like before.

She closed her eyes. And remembered.

Lord of Generals Darkwill’s Quarters, Kalamandra Station, Oot Nebula, How many years ago, five, ten years? It's been too long.

The room was brightly lit back then, and unlike her present surroundings, pleasant and comfortable. The housings of high-ranking Noxian commanders were usually grand and extravagant; the symptoms of hollow men, puffed up with rankings and honors, and so self-absorbed that before they realized it, they were swallowed up, victims of their own glories.
This man, this General Darkwill, was different. The walls were relatively bare, painted over in a pleasant cream color, although a fresh coat of blood intermittently splattered their once immaculate finish. The furniture was minimalist, but soft and clean, and what few desks he had was covered in either work papers or crayon scribblings. The only trace of extravagance was an opened bottle of aged brandy on the desk nearest Darkwill's fold-down bedding. The bottle was half-way done, with the gift ribbon still tied to its neck. The Lord of Generals liked his alcohol.

She remembered.

She stood with six of her other comrades, around the defeated General Darkwill, who was on his knees in submission. He had put up a fierce fight, him and his own personal guard. But now his bodyguards were lying dead, their blood splattering the walls that led down to the General's bathroom. By Darkwill's side, lay a gorgeous woman, perhaps a prostitute or a girlfriend; the General they knew was not married. Her fiery red hair was splayed out from behind her in death, clashing horribly with the crimson in her blood, that pooled beneath her body. Their deaths were purposefully made more gruesome than Riven and her team was accustomed to. This was no ordinary assassination.
Specialist Katarina Du Couteau leveled her ULNN-issued rifle at the General's head. General Darkwill, dressed in nothing more than his sleeveless shirt and boxers, looked up with quiet dignity at the gun barrel aimed at his face. His clear blue eyes stared fearlessly up at the instrument that was to kill him.
If Riven had allowed herself to be a woman back then, she might have noted the General's strong features: his clear stare, his set jaw, or his upright posture despite his broken leg. But she was sent to kill him, and that left no room for her or her emotions in the equation.

She was a sword in the night, a blade for Noxia, she told herself back then, and nothing else.

She slowly brought her blade to Darkwill's exposed throat, to keep him from trying anything stupid. Her blade was a gorgeous thing, a beautiful two-handed sword made of runic black stone; sharper than any razor, and blacker than hell itself. Inscribed on it was her codename she took, shining in bright gold letters along the body of the blade.

Then the Lord of Generals spoke.

"A last request," Darkwill seemed to whisper, yet Riven could hear him clearly. "don't hurt my daughter. Don't hurt Karen."

Riven glanced up at her comrades. Katarina returned her glance, and the Specialist turned back to the man kneeling before her. The assassin nodded. As soon as Katarina nodded, the Lord of Generals sighed in relief. His solace was apparent all over his body. His muscular chest relaxed, and he seemed to resign himself to his fate.

"Thank yo-"
Before he could finish his thanks, Katarina shot him three times through his chest. Her stolen gun gave only the slightest kick, and the General wordlessly fell to the floor, like he had been knocked unconscious. They all knew he wasn't.

Katarina knelt a bit to prod the fallen General. He didn't move. Satisfied, the assassin stood up.
"Finally." she muttered. The rest of her team nodded silently. The had just been through a fierce fight.
"That Darkwill..." Riven muttered into her mic, sighing. "Toughest customer yet, ye?" her teammates relayed the sentiment. Many of them were still cradling the wounds that the Lord of Generals had made on them, and with only a six-inch letter opener.

Riven took off her helmet, letting her sweat-soaked hair breathe a little. When she got back to her quarters, she would sleep for a week.

"Time to extract," Riven called out, "ye?"

They were silent. Confused, Riven turned back. Four of her teammates were filing into the one room they hadn't been into yet. Darkwill's daughter's room. She couldn't see Kat, but somehow, Riven knew where she was.

"Kat," Riven called into her mic, "what are you doing?"
"Finishing this job." Katarina called back, from inside the room.

Riven rushed to Karen Darkwill's room. The door was ajar, and Katarina was standing a few feet inside, checking the pullback on her slide, surrounded by their teammates. The white casing of the ULNN rifle stood out in the darkness of the child's room. A few feet further in the darkness, Riven could see a small child's bed, with a small form asleep under pink covers. Karen Darkwill's chest moved slightly up and down as she dreamed sweet dreams.

"Kat..." Riven pushed through the door and past her teammates, a pit in her stomach. "What in hell are you doing?"
"Making sure the kid stays sleeping. Good night, sweety." Katarina aimed the gun at the little girl, but she yelled out as she was knocked aside. Her ULNN rifle fell clattering to the ground, while the assassin stumbled forwards. Specialist Katarina wheeled on her.

"The hell!?"
"I should be saying that!" Riven drew up, face to face with Katarina. "We gave Darkwill our word!"
"We have a job to finish!" Katarina snarled, her normally pretty features twisting into something harder. "No survivors is what my father said! What OUR Admiral Du Couteau said!"
"She's just a kid!" Riven shot back, her fists balling up in anger.
"So was I! Childhood sucks!" Katarina tilted her head so Riven could see he scar over her eye more clearly; her voice dropped to only a whisper. Riven had seen this before. Kat's 'souvenir' from her childhood. "My father did this to me when I was only twelve. I won't fail him again."
"She's asleep!" Riven bit her lip, pleading frantically, "She hasn't seen anything!"

"I'll make sure of that," Katarina muttered, picking up her ULNN rifle again. She lowered her head, putting her eye through the rifle's scope. "Now get out of the way so we can make a good little international incident just like my Lord of Admirals father wants."

"You won't." Riven stated flatly. She took a single step past Kat, putting herself between Karen Darkwill and her assassin.

Katarina lifted her head to stare at Riven with wide eyes, like she couldn't believe what she was seeing. Then, a smile cracked across the assassin's scarred face. Her chuckle, low and humorless, filled the child's room as she beheld her suicidal comrade.

"You always were a pain in our ass, Rivi. Now, of all times, you decide to grow a conscience? Why couldn't you just wait a few years for the PTSD to kick in like everyone else will, and kill yourself then?"

Katarina leveled her rifle at Riven again.

"And now," Katarina's voice dropped, her tone almost apologetic, "you're gonna force me to kill a friend." Riven stared back at Katarina, her face impassive. But her hand was creeping slowly downwards to where her runic black sword was holstered. Katarina spotted Riven's movement, and seemed to laugh at the notion.

"Oh, Rivi. You'll always be trouble." Katarina lowered her rifle, sighing. Across from the Du Couteau, Riven still had her hand drifting near her sword. Riven wasn't going to let her guard down. She knew Kat too well for that.

"Which means we'll have to finish our job before we deal with you." Katarina raised her hand, signaling, and the left-most of their comrades raised his rifle at Karen Darkwill, and fired.

"No!" Riven yelled. She lunged to the side, drawing her sword in one fluid motion.

Please reach! She pleaded desperately in her mind, as she flung her sword out to the side, trying to block the shot. For a single, glorious moment, she felt the weight of the bullet on the body of her blade, and she had an instant of relief. Then, impossibly, she saw her blade shatter. Runic black stone, one of the heaviest, hardest elements in the world. Shattered by a mere bullet when she needed it the most. The broken pieces of her blade fell clattering to the floor. The man who fired the shot, Falcon, lifted his ULNN rifle back up, his job done. The shattered pieces of Riven's bloade lay scattered about the floor; dark black pieces shining bright even in the low light.

Why...? Riven thought, horrified, as she turned her gaze to face the sleeping Karen Darkwill. At a glance, she looked fine. But there was a single point in the bedding that had been spun and sunk in deeply, and Riven could see blood starting to seep through the pink fabric.
She failed.
She felt her hand drop, the weight of her sword feeling alien in her hands; too light from the lost mass of blade. The rest of her body felt numb all over as the realization crept onto her.

Katarina turned to Riven, and for a moment, the assassin's eyes softened. She knelt down beside the motionless Riven; her friend still in shock.
"I'm sorry, Rivi." Katarina lowered her rifle, while drawing one of her two daggers from her leg sheath. "I should have known you were the most sensitive of our team. I shouldn't have taken you on this mission. That was my fault, and I apologize for that."
Katarina raised her dagger to Riven's throat, who was still staring out into space.

"But you're a liability now. Goodbye, Rivi." Katarina leaned in for a soft kiss on Riven's cheek, and then she would draw her dagger over Riven's throat. But before she could, Riven turned to face her. Katarina caught a full view of the blankness in Riven's eyes. And the fire deep within.
Then Riven leaned back, and rammed her forehead into the bridge of Katarina's nose.

The assassin stumbled back, clutching at her bleeding nose, swearing. Blood seeped out from between her slender fingers. Katarina fell against the back wall, and stared back at Riven, who was slowly rising, broken sword in grip.

"Kill her!" Katarina yelled into her hand, and her teammates raised her ULNN rifles at Riven, but they were too late. She was already in motion.
Riven shifted to put only a single man in front of her, and violently swung her broken sword at the man's helmet. The jagged runic black stone shattered the metal of his protective vision like an eggshell, and Riven could feel her sword dig into Falcon's skull through his polyester visor.

Before Falcon could fall to the floor, Riven grabbed his corpse by the label, and rammed him against the woman directly behind him. Loon stumbled back into Avis who fired a wild shot into the ceiling. Johka was faster on his feet, and he managed to avoid Avis to draw a bead on Riven. He got off two shots on Riven before she was on him. His bullets slammed into her suit and broke bone, but their impacts were not fatal. She rammed the broken end of her sword into the part of his suit that covered his neck, and the thin plating yielded easily. Johka choked, clutched at the sword in his neck, and died. More blood seeped out from the end of her sword. Loon and Avis were just beginning to recover, so Riven didn't give them that chance. She swung her sword as violently as she could, carving into both of their stomachs in a single cleave. If she had been holding her complete sword, that would have cut them both in half.

Riven was just about to catch a breath, before Katarina lunged at her from behind Loon and Avis's falling bodies.

"RIVI!" She screamed, a dagger in each hand. She pushed Riven back with her furious slashes, clashing against the runic black stone of her blade with every strike; blue sparks shot out every time their weapons made contact. Time and time Katarina lunged at her, going for the kill, and time and time against Riven deflected her by a hair's breadth. They seemed to be evenly matched. But they both knew that Riven was the close-combat specialist of their team. Katarina was tiring faster than Riven was. She was starting to win.

Riven checked a looping cut from Katarina, before slamming into her hard with her free hand. The assassin fell back, growling. Riven took the chance to leap at Katarina. In a flash of desperation, Katarina had flung her daggers at Riven, one at her heart and one at her eye.
If Riven's sword had been whole, she might not have been fast enough to block the lightning-fast throws, but her sword was lighter and Riven just barely managed to deflect the daggers. They spun off into the darkness of the room, clattering somewhere off in the distance, or perhaps lodging themselves into the walls. It didn't matter. Katarina was weaponless.

Riven held her blade out, leveling her jagged point over her friend's heart.

Katarina stared furiously into Riven's eyes, her chest heaving up and down in anger and exertion. Riven stared back, her eyes blank, sadness creeping slowing into her soft, grey eyes. Katarina glanced over at Avis's discarded ULNN rifle, and back at Riven. Riven didn't miss the glance either.

She could see it in Kat's eyes. Riven shook her head the slightest bit.

Kat. Please don't.

A grin almost formed on Katarina's face, the slightest tribute to their long-standing friendship. For a moment, Riven thought she would yield. Then, the assassin's face darkened, fury bleeding onto her scarred face.
Katarina lunged for the rifle, but Riven stopped her.

She stabbed with her blade, and rammed Katarina up against the wall, until Riven could feel the stiff resistance of the plaster wall at the tip of her blade. As Katarina heaved forwards, driving the blade deeper into her stomach, Riven could smell the soft scent of Sandalwood from Katarina's hair. That's right. Kat had wanted her to try her perfume after this mission.

"Might finally get you a man," Katarina had joked in the locker room. "Wait too long, and you'll be an old maid, Rivi." She laughed at Riven's strucken face, just to show she was kidding.

Riven seemed to come back into the world. She looked up, at Katarina, with the slightest bit of surprise dawning on her face.
Riven looked down at her blade, which was buried almost hilt-deep into her friend, and back up at her friend's dying face.
If she had looked up expecting to see some sort of smile or comforting gaze, she was mistaken. Katarina's face was contorted in pain and anger. Her teeth were bared in frustration.

"Riven..." Katarina muttered, in her dying breath. "Damn you... you idiot."

Riven drew back, drawing the blade out of Katarina, and the assassin fell forwards, dead. Everything was silent. Riven looked slowly around at the spectacle. Karen Darkwill was still dead in her bed. Falcon's helmet was shattered at it's visor, blood seeping through the cracked polyester glass of his helm. Johka was slumped against the wall behind him, blood flowing like a river from his throat. Loon and Avis were silently lying on the floor, clutching at the deep cuts in their stomaches. And Kat...

"No..." Riven started backing away from the horror scene.

"Oh God, what..." Riven didn't know whether she was thinking it or saying it out loud any longer. In a sense, it didn't matter. If a tree falls on a massacre, does it make a sound?
Riven fell to her knees, leaned upwards to the heavens, and screamed.

HLS The Ravenous Hydra, Horsehead Nebula, 0360 hours

Riven opened her eyes. How long had she been dreaming? She glanced back, but it seemed none of her teammates had noticed her lapse. It couldn't have been that long. Wordlessly, she opened the door, and glanced around. Only silence answered her. Tch. Empty. Silently, she closed the door again. And she tried not to imagine Kat's eyes staring back at her from behind the door crack when she did.

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Too Cool.
Miao, your work is still extremely... Awesome.

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Glad you liked it.

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Chapter 8

He woke.

But was he dead or alive?

Captain Rengar Uhor opened his only remaining eye to see only blackness. First, slowly and painfully, he clenched and unclenched his paw. A hot, burning sensation shot through his joints as he worked his fingers and claws. The pain felt real enough. So he was still alive. He slowly pushed himself up, until he worked himself into a crouching position on three limbs.

It felt like someone was driving a red-hot nail through his face. He experimentally waved his paw in front of his destroyed eye, and saw nothing. This lack of depth perception was going to take a bit getting used to.

Despite his injuries, the Yautja's mind was already racing.

The Creature. Where was it? He scanned the area with his eyes and ears. Yet there was only silence and blackness to greet him. It was gone. He knew he didn't manage to kill it. That meant it was still alive, out there someone. But he had injured it somehow. That would buy him some time.

Then what was next? Inventory. What did he still have on him?

He gave his ruined axes barely a glance before mentally striking them off the list. They were but bits of shards and clay now. He reached down, and fingered a smooth metal handle strapped to the outside of his thigh.

He grasped it, pulled it out in front of him... and squeezed.

His telescoping Kombi spear rapidly extended itself it it's full length, nearly as long as Rengar was tall. The double-sided spear shone brightly even in the low light, it's cruel point glittering. After turning it over to inspect for damage, Rengar closed the spear again with another squeeze, satisfied that it was working properly. The spear shrank back to it's original size and he snapped it back onto his leg without issue.

He had few other treasures. A razor-wire net. A few grenades. His armguard-mounted claws. And...

Strapped to Rengar's other leg... the Yautja reached down, almost gently, to his ancestral dagger that he always kept with him. The beautiful Yautjian tool was usually reserved for ceremonial trophy kills and for particularly significant hunts. It was edged from a single sharp chunk of Acalciamite, an intensely strong mineral that was indestructible. His ancestors spent generations slowly honing that chunk of Acalciamite into a blade; sharpened and formed from the bones of their enemies.

Rengar tilted the dagger in his hands to make sure that he still remembered its weight.

It was known among his people that such wondrous blades only sharpened themselves on the blood and bones of an enemy greater than they; and would dull and chip if it bit into a lesser foe. To cut his ceremonial dagger on anything, he would have to take a centuries' worth of ancestral killings into account to ensure he did not dull their family dagger.

Well? Rengar asked himself in his mind, Is this Creature worthy of your family's edge?

He only had to think back once to the Creature's wicked, scything claws, to it's torrent of spines and stings it shorn from it's back, and to it's inhuman, calculating gaze, to find his answer.
A fanged smile spread across his face, as Rengar rose to his full, terrifying height, his wounds and injures forgotten.
He pulled his ceremonial dagger, the Uhor Fang, up to his paw, and laid it's edge in his palm, and closed his paw around the cool metal.

With a single, sharp motion, he drew it out, and red blood flowed bright from between his claws, rolling down to well in his palm.
He dipped a claw into the pooling blood, and drew on himself the mark of his clan in blood.

And then he said his vows.

He, Rengar, son of Kargar, would find this beast. He, Rengar, son of the Uhor clan, would hunt it down and kill it. He, Rengar, son of the Huntress Goddess of the Jungle, would seize this beast's skull in the cold, metal forest that was his hunting grounds and honor his family, his clan, and his race.
This he swore to his ancestral spirits.

Finished, Rengar strode forwards, leaving his broken axes abandoned on the floor.

Captain Rengar smiled, full and truly, for he never felt more alive in his life. His grin revealed a rack of shining white fangs. The hunt was on.

And nothing would stand in his way to his prize.


Far away, in another part of the ship, Specimen Six woke as well. Unlike the Yautja captain, Specimen Six had no sacred vows or ancient rituals to undertake.

Confused, it woke upon sprawled in a cold storage room, alone and hungry. It sighted in front of him, a hand and a heart. Laid out neatly in front of him. It was obviously an offering, one that Six would gladly accept. He would never turn down a free meal.

Although Six didn't know it, the heart and hand had belonged to Evelynn from Team Royal, and that it was Du Couteau's Crimson Elite that had left the morsels of meat in front of him to consume. They were trying to accelerate his evolution.

No sooner than Six had finished Evelynn's heart, did he roar, and his body start to change. His purple shell took on a darker, more black hue, and light-sensitive spines sprouted all over his body, breaking through his old shell like plants out of the ground. With a shake, it shed off its old skin, to reveal its new plating. His shell seemed to swim with the light around it. A little concentration, and Six could turn nearly invisible.

Eager to try out it's new ability, Six melted into the shadows without a sound. With only a thought, Six disappeared into thin air.

“hA Ah...” This Six liked. This would help get him much more foods. But as it moved, it noticed something. An imperfection in it's camouflage. Something red and stringy was still on one of his claws, and it seemed to hover in the air; suspended from Six's invisible claws.
A scarlet shred of what once was Rengar's eyeball still clung to the tip of Specimen Six's scythe. Curiously extending it's neck out, Specimen Six chewed at that strand...


It found the meat delicious.
More than delicious. Six could taste hidden potential in Rengar's flesh. Every morsel, every scrap of that strand felt like it was made of pure energy. There was something hidden in the Yautja's flesh, a key to unlock everything that Specimen Six could be. Six tasted the next great step in its evolution. And that got him excited. Very excited.

Giddy, the creature slunk into a ventilation shaft, slicing past the metal screen like it was made of paper. His body was sated, but it's desires were not. It wanted that Yautja's flesh. No, it NEEDED that's Yautja's flesh. Six smiled in anticipation of the feast to come.

The hunt was on.


“....God.” Yi was the first to break the silence. Him and the rest of Team Dark had finally arrived at the mess hall where Specimen Six and Rengar had clashed. The site was a catastrophe. Half of the mess hall tables, made of plate steel, and bolted to the metal floor, were smashed forwards, backwards, or otherwise cut in half. Furious gashes in the metal marked where an impossible sharp scythe had parted the steel like water, and the arena was littered with bone spines, embedded deep in metal, concrete, it didn't matter.

Team dark slowly spread out around the savaged mess hall. Riven traced the path of a long, jagged slice in the metal wall with her gloved hands. The scars in the steel were nearly sharp enough to cut through her suit and break flesh. She gulped. What the hell happened here?

Lieutenant Commander stooped down to pick up a few up the spines. He carefully turned the projectile over in his hand, analyzing the bone missile with his seven lenses. These things... weren't machine tooled. They were grown. Then a shout got his attention.

“Oi!' Talon shouted, leaning against a fallen table. “Commander!”

Yiput the spines down, and strode over to where Crow Talon was pointing at.
“That look like the Captain's to you?”

Pieces of the Captain's axes, one, shattered, probably from whatever left so many grooves in it's body, and the other, sliced clean off at the hilt, from something impossibly sharp. Yi picked up the blade of the axe that was sliced in half, and examined the cut. The separation was as smooth as if it had been machine tooled.

Looking up, Yi let the axe blade drop; the hardened ceramic clattered noisily against the metal floor. With the other hand. Yi drew his blade out. A two handed sword, but light enough to be held by a single hand. Along it's edge, sharpened, honed waves that could take a man's head off with a glance.

“Commander?” Talon nervously drew his blades along with Yi. A single long blade slid out from Talon's arm, and a fistful of daggers had appeared in Talon's other hand.
“Dark,” Yi whispered into his mic, alerting the rest of Team Dark. “On me.”

At his command, the rest of Team Dark assembled around Yi. At the sight of Yi with his swor dout, some of them were already drawing their weapons in anticipation.

“Listen up, Dark.” Yi made sure to make eye contact with each and every one of his team. Talon, Vayne, Nidalee, and Riven. They few would be the ones he would have to rely one most now. “The Captain is MIA. That means I'll be your commanding officer until he can resume command.”

He held out his hand, with three fingers up.

“We have three objectives now.”

He pulled one finger down.
“One: our original objective. Find and kill Marcus Du Couteau”

Far away, in the cavernous engine room of The Ravenous Hydra, Du Couteau patiently waited for the arrival of Lance Corporal Jayce and his Team Royal. The Lord of Admirals had seated himself in a simple, but comfortable chair, enjoying a cup of fine wine while one of his two Crimson Elite stood by his side, arms crossed, waiting for the Headhunter's arrival.
He took another sip of the Chateau Cheval that he had his Crimson Elite bring up to him from private quarters. It really was very good. But a little on the harsh side.
He let the wine down from his lips to let it breathe more.
This headhunter named Lance Corporal Jayce was taking an awfully long time. He was starting to get bored. Mindlessly, Du Couteau raised the cup to his lip again, and almost took another sip, before realizing what he was doing, and stopping. He paused for a second, before laughing to himself.

He could wait.

Two fingers down.
“Two, find and retrieve Captain Rengar”

Finally, three fingers down.
“And stay the hell out of the way...” Yi motioned to the Captain's discarded axe, still as smoothly cut as before. “of whatever did that.”

Yi turned to Nidalee.

“Can you track the Captain's scent, Lieutenant?”
Nidalee nodded at this, and closed her eyes. She took in a deep breath through her nose, held it for a moment, before letting her breath bleed out the same way.

“The Captain's battle stench is so clear here...” Nidalee, lost a bit, took another sniff, blushing a bit.
She opened her eyes when she realized that the entire rest of the team was staring at her suspicously.

“Sorry,” Nidalee shook herself in a very animal-like way. “You humans cannot smell his musk so easily... but it is like pheromones to other Yautja. Very strong. Very obvious.”
“But can you track it?”
“Yes, but not for long. The Captain will have taken steps to cover his trail by now. That includes his scent trail.”
“Then lead the way.”


He had found prey.

Despite his bulk, the Captain managed to pad along the metal corridors of The Ravenous Hydra silently and stealthily. In his hands, his retractable Kombi spear, and his ceremonial dagger, the Uhor Fang, in the other. He could hear the sounds of people moving along the corridors next to him. The noises of their movement was as obvious to them as if they were parading down the halls of the ship playing band instruments.

“Heheheh...” Rengar took a side path, up along a stepladder, into the upper level of The Ravenous Hydra's main hangar bay. His prey would stumble into his trap soon.

And then... Rengar readied his spear, bouncing it a bit in his hands... it would be time to hunt.

Lance Corporal Jayce stomped through the entrance of the hangar bay, his Team Royal following close behind him. He grit his teeth as he walked, and he couldn't stop flexing his fingers.
“How much further!”
“The hangar bays are just above of the engine room,” Brand offered, “We must be close.”
“Good. Because when we get there, we are going to pay back Du Couteau ten, no, a hundred times what they did to Evey! Oo-rah?”
“Rah!” Though they put on a brave face, the remaining five members of his team still looked shaken.

“...” It was times like these that Jayce regretted buying everything he owned. It meant he never truly trusted whatever paid for. “Then let's move quickly, and get the hell off this ship.”

His comrades nodded, and they pushed forwards. Jayce was just about to round a corner around a Longsword R75 when he noticed one of his men lagging behind. The man was standing alone, letting his team ahead of his pass him easily.
“Hey, Jora. Quit lagging behind.”
The man didn't move.
Jayce moved in closer.
Then he saw the awkward angle Jora's head was tilted at, and the bola around his neck.

“Enemy attack!” Jayce shouted, and his team came running after him.
“What-- Jora!”
“He's done for! Take up defensive positions.”
His team did exactly as he told, and for a moment, Jayce felt a spark of hope when he saw how efficiently they slid into position. Inexperienced they may be, but they were still professionals.

His hope was snuffed out like a candle when he heard the high pitched whistle of something being thrown into the air, and then heard the grunt of another one of his men. He had caught the spear in his chest. He stumbled back a bit, lightly touching the metal shaft in his body, sticking out of his sternum like a grotesque plant, before wordlessly crumpling to the ground.

“Move!” Jayce shouted to the remaining three other members of his team. “To the left!”
He lead the way, his powered suit propelling him further, making a break for the exit to the hangar bay. He ducked underneath a gunship, and vaulted an assualt walker. He could see the exit!

“There! Double time!”

The four members of Team Royal sprinted to the exit, upon which a grenade came out of nowhere, landing straight in the middle of them. The three in front, Jayce, Sivr, and Brand, managed to scatter, but the luckless fourth Royal could not see what was in front of him. The grenade blast took him in the legs, sending him slamming against a nearby Brutalizer. The Royal hit the armored jeep like a sack of bricks, and the sound of breaking could be heard. It wasn't the jeep.

Coughing, the last few members of Team Royal pulled themselves up. As they did, Rengar Uhor strode over, and calmly placed his palm over the keypad, locking the door.

“...Uhor?” Jayce looked up, confused, and angry. “What... WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
Rengar raised his hand, revealing the jagged edge of his arm-mounted claw. It was stained with blood, and at his belt, was something red and round. Jayce realized with a pit in his stomach, what it was. Jora's head.

“BRAND!” Jayce screamed, as he closed his helmet around himself, “BURN THE FCKER!”

“HAHAHA!” Kegan flipped from his normally collected self, to the insane pyromaniac he really was, as he took off the safeties from his flamethrowers. He aimed his fists at Rengar, and from them, a stream of napalm burst out to threaten to envelop Rengar.

With a smirk, Rengar darted to the left, taking cover behind a Mk780 tank. The scorching napalm burned off the paint, but no more.

“On it!” She yelled, pulling out homing throwing stars. She threw them hapazardly about the scattered vehicles. The stars spun throught the air for a moment, before abrutly shifting direction, all aimed at Rengar, who was still pinned behind the tank.

The Yautja burst from cover, flaming licking off of his armor, but he was still relatively unharmed.

“Die, bastard!” Jayce transformed his hammer into its cannon mode, levelling the weapon at Rengar. The Mercury Cannon kicked back, firing a shock blast that Rengar avoided only by the skin of his teeth. The yautja crouched to the side, letting the energy blast soar over his back, punching a hole into a fighter ship behind him.

“It's over!” Sivir spun out an enormous bladed boomerang, it's arms forming an equal-lengthed cross. Rockets fired along the inner ring, twisting the boomerang faster and faster, until Sivir was holding a translucent disc in her hand.
She forced the disc forwards, sending the cross-shaped missile whirling at the Yautja.
To which Rengar simply caught the blades on his armguard. The bladed boomerang cut deep into his armor, but did not draw blood.

From behind the cross-shaped boomerang, Rengar grinned.

“You're right-- It is over.” Rengar charged forwards, his claws dipping low onto the ground.
“Ugh!” Sivir tossed star after star at Rengar, the sharpened bits of metal deflecting harmlessly off of the Yautja's thick armor and fur, right up until he rammed his claws from underneath her ribcage, and into her heart.


Sivir lurched forwards, dying instantly.

“Sivir!” Jayce shouted. From behind his armored helm, he was nearly crying with rage and frustration.
He changed his Mercury Cannon itnto it's hammer form, and swung upwards as hard as he could at the Yautja captain.

Rengar easily caught the hammer by it's neck, which let him draw his arm back, and deliver a vicious slash across Jayce's face with his claws. The Lance Coporal twisted away, his metal mask shining bright silver where he had been scored by Rengar's claws.

“Brand! Go Pyroclasm now!”
Brand released the limiters to his flamethrowers, and the gouts of flame that bleched from his hands exploded in size and intensity.

Jayce turned and ducked away as Brand started spinning around, burning everything in sight. The heat from the flames were now starting to metal even the metal of the various attack vehicles around them, and Jayce could feel the floor start to deform from the intense heat. He didn't know where Rengar was, but he damn sure hoped the bastard was burning right now.

But Rengar was elsewhere. Ducked behind a rapidly metal Brutalizer, the Yautja had his eyes closed, and he slowed his breathing.

“Phew.....” His ancestral Headhunter armor was starting to shimmer into the background. “<Focus>....” He muttered in his ancient, sacred tongue.

Brand was still spinning about, torching anything that moved, anything that didn't, and everything in between. Jayce was still curled on the ground. Sivir's body had been long lost in the flames. The pyromaniac was now lost to the world, and nothing could bring him back to it.

Not even the jagged claws that sprouted from his chest, after Rengar snuck up behind him, stabbing him through.
Brand, despite being lifted off of the ground by the impalement in his chest, was blind to pain, tried to torch the ground underneath him and Rengar in a bid to kill them both. But with a slash of his ceremonial dagger, Rengar cut the fuel lines to Brand's flamethrowers. The stream of fire from Brand's arms cut out almost comically quickly, and the Specialist was left with only useless, empty hoses.

“A worthy death for a worthy fight,” Rengar said, as he stabbed Brand through his helmet with the Uhor Fang. “May your fires burn bright, forever in my family fang! Huahahaha....” Without so much as another glance, he tossed Brand away like a ragdoll.

“And now... only you are left, y'sheelee...”

Jayce staggered upwards, bringing his Mercury Hammer to ready. From behind his visor, his eyes were already burning bright with hatred and contempt.

“You Monster....”