There’d been many distasteful things Talia had done over the course of the war but executing the human had to rank near the top of the list. Maybe it was the fact that the immature species felt a small amount of power was worth ending the lives of billions, or perhaps it was just that she was tired of killing. Either way, it didn’t matter now because the enemy commander lay dead on the floor, and Josephson’s office lie only a few hundred meters away.
What made things worse was that mankind stood on the cusp of encountering the galactic community around them. When that happened, their barbarism wouldn’t be received well and in Talia’s experience that generally meant an interdiction. Being confined to their home world and what colonies they had would be a death sentence to the young race and she doubted they’d survive more than one to two decades.
I can’t let that happen, she thought, even if I have to save them from themselves.
She dropped down and landed in a runner’s crouch before exchanging magazines. If things were moving as planned, then Georgia and the fire team should be arriving soon.
“Talia,” Georgia said as she approached. “What’s your orders?”
“Josephson’s upstairs being guarded by six marines. Two outside and four inside.”
“Sounds easy enough.”
“You guys are going to take care of the guards in the hall. I’ll kill the ones on the inside.”
“Where are you going, Talia?”
“You’re in charge now, Georgia. Keep your people alive. I’ll see you inside Josephson’s office.”
Once again another wild idea, this one crazier than the first one, got her mind racing. If it worked the way Talia envisioned it, then Josephson would be like a ripe fruit ready for the picking. Only thing left for her to do was to be at the right place at the right time to make it all come together.
She thumbed on the com unit. “Dannae, you okay down there?”
“Nice of you to ask since you’ve not bothered to check on me!”
“You said you were busy.”
“Don’t backtalk your elders, young whippersnapper.”
“Get over it. You’re only five minutes older than me.”
“Which made me the first one to wake up,” Dannae said.
“If we follow that logic, then Methos would be the whippersnapper.”
“Hey! I heard that!” Methos said. “I’ve got your whippersnapper right here in my hands and it’s called a five knuckle sandwich!”
“I don’t think you could reach my face,” Dannae said primly. “You’re barely tall enough to reach my ankles…”
“Ok, that’s it! Dannae, you’ll get yours when we get back to the ship. And the next one who makes a crack on my height is getting their ass kicked!”
Talia chuckled. “And how do you plan to do that, pipsqueak?”
“You’ve just earned yourself some serious trouble, Little Miss Perfect!”
“What kind of trouble is that?”
“As ticklish as you are, it’s gonna be fun tormenting you!”
“Hey…can we talk about this?”
“Too late, you’re in it up to your neck now!”
Talia swallowed hard. “Great…”
“That’ll teach you to run your mouth,” Dannae said.
“What are you talking about, Dannae?” Methos said. “I might have April cut the hot water off while you’re taking one of those long baths of yours!”
“Hey!” Dannae protested. “That’s not fair!”
Crios laughed. “See what happens when you pick on Methos? At least I don’t have anything to worry about.”
“And why’s that?” Dannae asked.
“Because it’d take her a ladder to reach my face.”
“Oh, Crios,” Methos groaned. “I know of a Gunny that would love to help me tickle you…”
Crios just gulped.
“In all seriousness,” Methos said. “Talia, where are you?”
“I’ve killed the ground forces commander.”
Dannae snorted. “Typical! I’ve been working my fingers to the bone and you’re on vacation!”
“Yeah, right, smart ass. The morons keyed on you when it should’ve been me. Common sense says stop the one advancing the most, but we know how smart humans can be.”
“What the hell are you doing? You’re breathing like a race horse.” Methos asked.
“Climbing a ladder.”
“In the elevator shaft.”
“Great…we finally start to make headway and you go racing off to do something stupid!! I’m telling you, I’ll be bailing your ass out yet. Have you even bothered to think this one out?”
“I’m kind of winging it.”
“And here we go,” Dannae said.
“Wonderful,” Methos said. “You throw your brain out the window?”
“Not that I checked.”
“Of course, she’d need one first,” Dannae said.
“And you stay out of this, Einstein,” Methos said. “You’re already up to your eyeballs in trouble and steadily digging deeper.”
Dannae was curiously silent.
The door to the hall was in front of her, waiting to be opened, and Talia went to work. Having to hold onto the ladder with one hand complicated things, making it a long, slow job while she listened to the sound of gunfire below. For once the warrior wished things worked the way she envisioned them in her head instead of being a pain in the ass to get done.
That would make things too easy, she thought bitterly.
Sometimes Talia wondered how she could be so stupid as to come up with plans that had very little chance of success. In many ways Methos was right in the fact that many times they ended up with Talia needing help. Other times it worked perfectly and things turned out the way she planned them and everyone won.
She opened the door and then jumped through the opening, landing on her knees in the corridor. The sound of her heart pounding filled her head and she contemplated shutting down the systems that simulated body functions. That would take away the sweat and fatigue, but what would it accomplish? To hammer home that her body was fake and so was her existence?
Because a person isn’t based off who they are, she reminded herself, but what they accomplish with what gifts were given to them. While she might be cybernetic, that particular gift could be put to good use to help others and prevent injustices from happening.
And after eleven deaths, she thought, I refuse to quit feeling alive.
She jogged down the hall and then zipped up a short stairway to reach the roof of the building. The wind rustled through her hair and the faint smell of sulfur hung in the air as Talia looked over the edge. In the distance a rumble of thunder foreshadowed the oncoming storm that would rock both the building and the galaxy as a whole.
On the floor below a firefight raged and another plan rapidly formulated itself inside the warriors head. She wasn’t sure how good of one it was but she would carry it out because people were dying at that moment and she could help keep them alive.
A thick rope was attached to a bucket on one end and then a small platform that hung over the edge of the roof. She worked quickly, untying the rope from the bucket and then testing it with a yank. It was strong, capable of holding a good deal of weight, but whether or not it could support her body Talia hadn’t a clue.
One way to find out, she thought.
Talia leapt off the roof, using her legs to push herself as far away from the building as possible, before she gave herself a chance to rethink the action. By now Georgia and the fire team would be closing in on Josephson’s office, so the timing would be perfect. And if it wasn’t, then she could handle the six marines herself if need be.
“Take down as many as you can!” An older man snapped as she swung towards the glass.
In thirty years of service to the Alliance, Adrian never feared death until now. It seemed utterly impossible to the Admiral that four girls no older than someone in college could cut through his experienced soldiers as if they were children. And to make things worse, he was convinced that the Talia De’Zahna he’d seen on the screen was the same one the General feared.
It doesn’t make any sense, he thought, because either the General lied about her being dead or something strange is going on here.
“Admiral!” A Sergeant snapped. “Major Langdon is dead, sir!”
“What are your orders?”
“Take down as many as you can!”
A gunshot rang out, close enough to make Adrian’s ears ring, before the window behind him burst inwards. Razor sharp shards flew past, with a few cutting through his coat and into the flesh underneath, as a small figure in blue and silver raced past like a ghost.
The Sergeant took two rounds to the head and hit the ground before the figure moved towards another soldier. Three more shots and each of the remaining marines guarding him went down, leaving Adrian alone with the attacker.
For the first time Adrian got a look at the girl and she proved striking and despite it all he felt himself respond physically. Something about a dangerous woman appealed to him and caused Adrian to go wild with lust and this girl proved to be no exception.
She was no more than five foot six, with silver hair wet from sweat hanging down to her breasts. The eyes that looked at him were a pale blue, almost the color of ice, and reflected both an intellect and ruthlessness for beyond anything he’d ever dealt with. Dirt and blood covered her blue and silver armor, making it impossible to try to find a clean spot anywhere on it.
She’s beautiful, he thought.
Her eyes narrowed and he could see the rage behind them. “Admiral Josephson I presume?”