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Surgical steel bone-saw in hand, Tetsuo Khan prodded the back of Voight’s lab coat with the serated bladed weapon as he stealthliy marched his hostage down the shadowed maze of corridors of the Nugenica facility,a fluid, deadly grace to his silent footfalls. One thing his former sensei had taught upon ascension of the Five Mountain Path: Always trust your own senses before that of another, lest one’s perceptions and judgement become clouded.

"Down the next hallway on our right." Voight managed in strained tones. The facility's lower levels appeared all but vacant, suggesting late night hours when the majority of employees would routinely disappear to their homes.

"Sssh." Tetsuo warned softly, tilting his head slightly to one side as he listened for any trace of unfamiliar sound or movement: the electronic hum of generators, the conditioned air in
the ducts of ventilation shafts. "Best not to alert others to our presence, else I’ll be forced to do improvised things to your innards. And I’ve had a while to think creatively." He managed
with a sneer. "Less talk, keep moving."

Voight nodded, pangs of fear causing him to tremble slightly as he motioned the way down the enclave. His gait quickened a notch. "I assure you, Subject 777- Mr. Kahn, the majority of our staff have gone home. Minimal difficulty will be meet with your…departure."

"One can never be too careful." Tetsuo growled, akin to a tiger growing weary with its prey’s tactics. "Now, the way out…" Inwardly the young man toyed with skewering this arrogant defiler on the spot, but restrained himself.Voight
was necessary alive for the time being, all the better to pave his road to freedom. Afterward was another matter entirely, after he had time to contact his late father’s business associates and manage a bid for power within the ranks of the underworld, as his late
father had wished for him. Then the possibilities were indeed endless, as was his destiny.

Seven feet down the hall,Voight pointed toward a stairwell coming up on their left. Indicating with his motions to follow suit. "An emergency exit, in case of fires." He kept his tone of voice to a whisper as he lead the way, heart pounding drastically in his ribcage.

If it’s a trick, I kill him now, Tetsuo thought, preparing himself for anything as he followed behind the doctor, all traces of sedatives purged, veins flaring with adrenalin...



****************

Out the glass doors of the clinic and into the parking lot, Risha raced toward her Dad’s Jeep Cherokee, keys already in hand. A chaotic flurry of emotions assaulted her psyche, too
much too quickly. If anything happened to Dani…whatever this ‘outbreak’ was and whoever was behind it…there’d be hell to pay, and she was more than willing to give the devils their due.

"Off to the rescue somewhere else?" Another female voice remarked in a sarcastic,weary tone.

Risha turned and glanced the direction the voice had come from, spotting the
urchin-like girl from the clinic, lounging on a bus stop bench a few meters away. A forty-ounce bottle of MGD was secured between her legs, which she reached for and took a long sip. Her dark grey eyes mirrored the overcast clouds above, save for the sickly green cast to the heavens.





Risha shook her head and exhaled. "Not in the mood for this, sorry. By the way you might wanna stash that forty after sundown. Open intox laws and all." She pressed the key, disengaging the Jeep’s auto-lock sequence with a whirring hum.



Arliss chuckled. "Thanks for the public service announcement, Girl Scout. Do I look like I have ‘Idiot’ stamped on my forehead? You gotta be from at least a C zone neighborhood
-cops don’t come to the lower rating districts at night to bust someone for public intox, and I have my backpack just in case. I think I’ll survive." She smirked, then rolled her eyes as her
stomach rumbled loudly. "Shut up." She told it, "I fed you two days ago."



Risha paused slightly, her hand on the door of the vehicle. Switchblade
girl had a point, she admitted, a tad grudgingly. "You’re right." She nodded eyeing the girl with a mixture of suspicion and concern. Her own stomach was beginning to feel hunger pangs, as she realized she hadn’t eaten since early this morning. She drew in a slow, deep breath. "I - you’re hungry, right?"

Arliss leaned over on the bench and raised a cynical eyebrow. "I don’t need a McPity meal, if that’s what you’re askin."

Risha exhaled slowly. "Forget it, I just thought you might be hungry. Never mind." She turned back to the Jeep Cherokee and disengaged the auto-lock. Giving Arliss one final look, she
shook her head in weary resignation and opened the driver’s side door. "Good luck." Risha slid her lithe frame into the seat and fired up the engine.

Arliss cast a glance in the direction of the Jeep. "Thanks for the public service message, G.I. Jane, but I live here. Have all my life. You don’t need to tell me twice." She chuckled and took a swig off her forty, then held it out in a semi-mocking gesture. "Ever wanna join me for a
brew though, I’m game."

As the engine roared to life, Risha wrenched the gears and slammed a combat boot on the accelerator, reversing then shifting to drive, giving the steering wheel a sharp right turn. "Some other time." She called out the window. "Right now there’s a potential epidemic in my lap, and I need to figure out what’s up with how far it’s spread. See you around." She spun the
wheel hard and vaulted out the lot, down Leroy Street, tires squealing as she raced toward the nearest highway on-ramp.

Arliss blinked. "Epidemic? The Hell?" She stared after the Jeep careening rapidly away, then bit her lip and pondered. Strangeness, weird shit like this had been going down for months
on end. The street waif shrugged, taking another sip. Hoisting her petite frame off the bench, backpack in tow, she put the cap back on her forty-ounce and hefted her backpack up over her shoulders.If something was about to go down, she intended to find out what.

**********************


































































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Comments

The following comments are for "Mourning Glory in the Sixth Age: IX"
by Tigerlily

still going strong
I've been trying to work out how much time has passed in the story over all these chapters... not much. You've kept a consistent fast and furious pace right through, and that alone impresses me. :)

But onto this chapter...

I still have a problem with the introduction of the Arliss character. I stand by the point I made back in part 7 that she should have been introduced better at that point.

I tend to be reticent to use profanity in my writing. You're probably quite justified to use it here; Arliss is the sort of character I would expect to swear, but depending on your target market for the story, you may need to be careful of it nonetheless.

I liked the stomach rumbling bit - very good.

"vaulted out the lot, down Leroy Street":

Firstly, I don't think 'vaulted' is the right word here. To me, it gives the impression of jumping the kerb, at the very least. Besides, you already used the word right at the end of part 8, to describe her running out into the parking lot, so you may want to vary your word usage in any case.

Secondly, I got the impression that she doesn't know this area very well? If that's the case, mentioning the street name here slows down the sentence, as it implies that she is noticing details like that, which I don't think she would be.

Finally 'McPity meal'. I actually really liked this - it's snappy and witty - so I'm sorry to pull you up on it, but you might want to be careful: I suspect a certain real-life fast food chain might not take kindly to you using the phrase.

Score 7/10 - almost an 8; I thought about it, but I think I raised too many points to justify an 8 this time.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: April 27, 2003 )





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