Following a pungent trail of filth and debris, punctuated by the occasional fresh track, I ignore the protests of my nose to the smell, and follow deeper into the cavern.
My prey is near. It is also either unbelievably confident or unbelievably stupid. Given that my team and I made short work of the giants’ war party, I’m leaning toward the latter. Only a bit further now…
I hear them now. Several. Judging from the sound of the voices, I’d say ten of them, a small band, probably a family, minus the ones who’ve already tasted steel. Some sound younger, maybe toddlers, judging from the higher and louder vocal pitch compared to full-sized adults, crying and pleading for attention through vertically-hinged mouths.
Just…children. I steel myself. These are still dangerous, even at this age, and must be destroyed along with the adults, lest they become a threat later. They are no children like my Marie. They’ll come after us later as adults if I let them live.
So, no. No mercy.
I move further along, my cat’s foot walk helping to maintain my silence, my blades already drawn and as dull black as a moonless cloudy night. Kind of like the world I found myself in when my memories begin, when I met and rescued Marie. Strange. Something in the back of my mind tells me it wasn’t always that way, that there was something that lit the sky during the day, the sun, I think it was called. Perpetual night now, and soon, the same shall befall the Guggies.
I see a light ahead. Firelight, shining from a chamber, and a large central pyre burning in a pit on the floor. A red haze almost fills my sight as I see what’s on spits just above it. Humans. Humans and other…things…being cooked for a communal meal.
I see that there are few males, those mostly young. It seems my team and I killed off their warriors. Now. Time to strike. I leap, in a way that would be the envy of any martial arts movie stuntman, and when I land…
…that I’ve just been caught by a giant paw. They’ve found me out. Stupid me. Must have been following me from the start, trailing me despite my precautions. Clever beasts. I reassess my opinion of them, while slashing the paw holding my leg to free myself.
The adult females rouse themselves to protect the young. That makes them even more dangerous, so I map out in my head where everyone stands, while my assailant holds the spurting stump of her paw. Done. My internal tactical map complete, I regain my footing and this time leap onto the now unhanded giantess’s shoulder blades, driving both of my swords into her upper spine, or at least, where I think the spine should be.
I’m not disappointed with the results, and my efforts are rewarded by her collapse when I puncture what passes for the base of her brainstem and sever her dual spinal cords.
That works every time.
I leap again, just in time to avoid being mauled by a hairy paw, as one of the young giants swats at me, only to catch my blade in its larynx, or what passes for it. I give it the benefit of a quick death by beheading before the poor thing chokes on its own blood, flick both blades clean, and dodge another of the increasingly desperate and clumsy attempts to hit me.
Two down. Eight left. Five young and three adult females. I visualize the updated tactical map, noting where all stand.
Damn. Angel’s trying to contact me. Not now. Need to focus, but I tactfully signal in my mind that things are pressing. Tactfully, because I’m her ‘familiar,’ and I know my place. As I said earlier, she frightens me almost as much as Marie. She signals a flash of understanding and breaks contact for now. I resolve to update her on my progress when it’s over.
I narrowly miss having my head taken off by a giant-sized chipped stone cleaver, and my reflexes respond by a leap backward, an aerial somersault, followed by a strike to a giantess’s shoulder joint, severing her weapon arm, and finally, one to her split skull and newly perforated brain.
She falls instantly. I hope she felt no pain. I’m not feeling particularly cruel right now, but business is business, and these things need to be taken out, at whatever cost.
Seven left. Two adult females and five young, one of which charges forward, paws outstretched and swinging, and summarily separated from their owner. All four of them, both of the right and left shoulder joints. I cleave it in half quickly.
Did I say no mercy? My bad. I’m feeling charitable this night. There’s no need for suffering, but elimination is a must.
I leap and land atop an oversized clamshell cranium, flick the blades and drive them into the braincase.
Five. Only one adult left. I keep careful track as I go.
They’re starting to get frightened, and the din of their howling and grunting in the cavern chamber gets louder as their dim intelligence registers that their size, strength, and surprising quickness isn’t having much effect.
Poor stupid things. Then again, I am Sergei, for all that’s worth.
The only remaining adult charges, roaring at the top of her lungs and almost hits me.
Almost, but that won’t do the job. My blades do, however, and her compact vehicle sized head rolls with a thud to the cavern floor. I flick the blades clean, and again when a young giantess grabs a fire-hardened spear from the wall, and does an admirable try at fatally poking me with it.
I’m in combat overdrive though, a sort of systematically controlled rage, in which every move I make is carefully orchestrated. One blade swings down, the other left to right. Her death is almost instantaneous, accompanied only by her species’ equivalent of a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look.
Where did I get that expression from? Probably data-leakage via my links to Angel and Marie. Three left, now literally paralyzed with fear. I have to admit, it was fun, in a bloodthirsty sort of way. But I must end this. I take a limpet explosive, set the timer, place it, and calmly walk out.
I signal Angel that my mission has been accomplished, and that I’ll meet her and the team shortly, just as the limpet bomb detonates, collapsing the chamber I just left, the billowing smoke from the pit fire and rumbling accompanied by silence when the dust settles.
Ashes to ashes, I suppose. My work here is done, but there’s more to do elsewhere. That should be fun.