Inquisitor 28: The Escape

Udo raised his right hand – whether to ward off the rounds or beg some kind of restraint from me I didn’t know – and the Jackal reduced it to a broken mass of bone and tissue. The freak went down on one knee, keening its pain in an atonal voice. I’d seen what Quintus had done to it at the palace so I knew it could take a shitload of punishment and still keep coming – the hasty and crude bionic graft in place of its left leg was testament to that. The grisly butcher sound of metal meeting flesh heralded the end of the first of the Paralt bruisers, Sanctus’s hammer breaking every bone in his upper torso. Still no sign of Quinn, and we were running out of time. Harsh stab-lights from the heavy speeder circling Caparthia illuminated the slaughterhouse interior of Raduls guest-suite and a faint suggestion of gunfire from downstairs reached my ears. Definitely not a good sign. Concern for Quinn took my attention from Udo for a brief minute, eyes flickering to the closed bedroom door I knew she was behind. The suite had been quiet when I’d finally escaped Radul and his ersatz good humour, but neura-chem cranked vision had shown me her long body shapelessly elegant beneath silken sheets.

An unexpected pang of relief hit me as the door to her room cracked open, Quinn dressed and looking more alert than she had been hours ago. That pang died quick and hard as the second Paralt hit the door frame, dropping to the floor in a smear of crimson and slamming the door shut in her face. I had time to shout a wordless cry before a frakking freight train hit me and smashed me right through the wall and into the hallway outside. My vision greyed out for a second, the impact driving the air from me and popping my left shoulder from its socket as I hit the floor. Blood drooled between my teeth and mixed with plaster-dust on my skin from a thousand cuts and grazes. The neura-chem got me up onto my knees and the one working hand before a boot the size of a small car hit me square in the ribs and punted me down the hall to the top of the stairs leading down to the club proper. Ribs snapped like twigs, tearing the breath from me in an anguished howl and leaving me trying vainly to curl up around the pain. I couldn’t find an inch of me that wasn’t hurting right now and the neura-chem was finding it hard to damp down the pain signals clamouring for my brains attention.

Biting down on the pain, I spat a wad of bloody phlegm and pushed myself to my knees. That big frakking freak Udo was moving slowly down towards me, right arm a mess of bone and tissue and left reaching out to me, hand already flexing as if closing around my throat. He gurgled blood, ropes of it running down the pallid flesh of his chest. Thrones sake, I’d wanted to die of a cardio-fault, drunk out of my frakking skull and surrounded by joy-girls, not on my knees in a shithole like Carpathia with my neck snapped like a chicken by this inbred genetic freak.

“Fu…” My voice caught. “Frak….this…”

Udo drew closer, the clamour of shots from downstairs and the crash of combat from the suite seeming to grow louder. Somehow, I got to my feet, neura-chem burning like fire under my skin to keep me going. The Tebbit knife was in my hand somehow, pitifully small against the bulk of Udo, and I felt a mirthless rictus grin creep its way across my bloody face. My left arm hung limp and useless at my shoulder and I raised my right in a stupidly silly frak-head ganger taunt, beckoning Udo on. A hysterical laugh bubbled out of my throat, matching the burbling wet-roar from Udo. Barely a metre from me, murder in both our eyes, I heard the sweet sound of the Jackal’s roar, paired with the higher bark of my Hercuter piece. Udo stumbled to a halt, twitching as rounds hit his broad back, before falling face-down in the hall. Behind him stood the old man and little Quinn, Jackal and Hercuter in outstretched arms. A brief few seconds of silence passed before it was broken by a roar and crash from the suite, snapping us back into reality. Quinn rushed forward, throwing herself round me in a brief, but painful, embrace. Quintus moved up slower, Jackal still held in one hand. I held his eye, nodded. He nodded back and handed me the Jackal butt-first.

“We need to go, now” he growled, passing a veterans eye over my wounds. Powerful hands gripped my left shoulder, held it for a second before snapping the joint back into place. Waves of pain washed over me again, and if not for Quinn I’d have dropped back to my knees. Tougher and stronger than she looked that one. Pale green eyes looked at me through a cascade of scarlet hair, no fear in them this time, only concern at the fraked up situation we were in.

“The roof,” she said, “Schematics show we can get to the next few buildings over and from there I can get us to Rourke” Clever girl, she hadn’t forgotten she was Ordo trained.

“Sounds good” I gasped, “just lead the way Red”. She’d always hated that teasing nickname and it was good to see a small smile flash across her mouth in response, a good sign she was over the shock of the Palace. Supported on each side by Quinn and Quintus, I limped over to the heavy door blocking the stair access to the roof. Quintus slammed it open, accompanied by a pained scream cut short from the suite. As one, Quinn and I licked the shattered doors of the suite with gunfire, driving the hulking form of Sanctus back inside.

“Probably best to move quite quickly I think” opined Quinn, always a mistress of understatement. She manhandled me through the door, Quintus closing it after us and wedging it shut with an iron bar he’d pulled from the wreckage of the suite. Quinn handed him the Hercuter with a sheepish look at me.

“He’s probably better with it than me”. I didn’t argue, right now she could have punched me in the face and I’d have let it go. Besides, the Headsman had almost proved himself to me. Almost.

A few minutes of pain-wracked climbing of stairs saw us on the roof of Carpathia, strobe lights and pounding bass replaced with stab-lights and Arbite sirens. From the streets below we could hear the booming of shotguns and cries of pain as the Paralts threw down to protect their boss and income. The heavy rain was a soothing touch on my face and skin and soaked my undershirt in minutes. Quinn pointed the way and Quintus moved off swiftly, brought to a halt only by the oiled snick of metal as my neura-chem steadied arm held the Jackal at the back of his head.

“Now then old man” I growled, pain making my voice harsh, “start talking. And make it frakking good.”

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