Ink in the Shadows

Midnight. Ink recognized the dragon at once. How could he not? There weren't many feathered dragons in the Eyrie. Ink always had admired the beauty of Williams' friend, who was circling the Pack's canyon, seemingly torn between keeping distance and staying close. If Midnight was close, Williams couldn't be far off, and considering her dragon's behavior, Ink did not need guessing as to what had happened.

Midnight would not go anywhere, and wouldn't let himself get captured, even by me, Ink mused. Best to let him fly. With a touch, he directed Void into a sudden dive, looking for a large shadow for her to hide in. She landed with barely a whisper underneath a rocky outcropping just below the edge of the canyon. Ink dismounted quietly and patted her flank twice. She shrunk back, melding into the shadows, and lay motionless. If you didn't know she were there, you would never see her.

Ink began his rapid, quiet descent into the canyon...

***

The syndicate thief was howling as if he was already being tortured when they dragged him from the cell. Ink winced as they approached. What a noisy person. He was hanging from the ceiling, invisible in the shadows of the dark cave. In the back of his mind, a counter was ticking down.

57, 56, 55...

Two pack members. A woman crawling on all fours, and the large brute carrying the screaming and howling thief.

47, 46, 45...

Just as they passed, Ink leapt down, detaching his pickaxes from the sandstone. He drove one heel into the back of the woman's neck, which was so very vulnerable in her prone position. He could practically feel her neck vertebrae detach beneath his boot. She crumpled with little more than a strangled "ugh". Before she'd even hit the ground, Ink had caught himself on his other foot and swung his axe upward, driving the blade straight into the butcher's throat. The brute dropped the syndicate thief and reached for his neck. The gurgling sound indicated he tried to scream, but it just meant he inhaled his own blood faster. He went to his knees, keeled over, and lay still.

42, 41, 40...

The thief had screamed in surprise and horror at the amount of blood, but was now quieting down. That was bad. Ink pulled the pick from the brute with a wet squelch and walked over to the thief, who had dissolved into whimpering. Ink leaned down and said in a bronzed, smooth voice: "Keep screaming."

"W-what?" the thief said.

Ink sighed. No time for this...

33, 32, 31...

He kicked the thief, who yelped, and sliced open one of his Achilles heels. Now his screaming resumed in earnest. Good. The Pack would not suspect anything was wrong yet. Timing was of the essence.

He strode deeper into the cave, instinctively avoiding the direct glare of the torches. There they were. Williams and Braga, and two wimpering syndicate. Williams seemed pretty out of it, but Braga looked alert.

11, 10, 9...

Ink nodded to Braga, a look of recognition dawning on her face. He strode up to Williams and with a swift motion administered a needle of epinephrine. She gasped awake almost instantly, while Ink sliced their bonds and those of the two thieves, who immediately bolted.

3, 2, 1...

The bomb at the far end of the canyon exploded. The boom shuddered the canyon walls, dust drifting from the ceiling. Confused yells and screams echoed up the tunnel. Ink did not react but helped the two women to their feet. "Let's go," he said.

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