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A Fool's Errand

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Tana grunted as she leapt out of the way of a horizontal slash with a club. The bastards were working together. Whenever she went in close to score a hit on one, the other was there, swinging wildly at her face. She was spending more energy than she should on not getting hit, and not enough on finding a weak spot. 

The gaunt gangster rushed her right side. Tana turned, slipped under the outstretched pipe, and sliced her knife in a shallow arc across the gangster’s side. The gaunt gangster stumbled, hissing at her. From her left, the oaf swung the club again. She sprang back and flung a knife at the giant’s forehead. The blade sunk hilt deep into his eye. 

Tana ran forward, planted her foot on the club in the floor, and sprang up. The Oaf was clutching his bleeding eye and brought up a meaty fist too late to stop her. Her feet hit his chest and her momentum carried the both of them to the floor. With a swift motion, she jerked the knife from his eye socket and slammed it into his throat, holding it there until his body stopped moving.

The pipe hit her solidly across the back a second later.

A grunt of pain escaped Tana’s lips as she tumbled to the floor. The gaunt gangster was on top of her before she could get her bearings. He pinned her to the ground and slammed his forehead into hers so hard she saw stars. She flailed with her fists and caught him on the side of his temple. The rest of their fight was quick and dirty. Tana got in a lucky punch, pulled a knife, and ended the tussle in the shadow of a crate tower.

She staggered to her feet. Adrenaline was keeping the worst of the pain away, but her eye was already starting to swell and she tasted copper. 

The three armed one was still standing. Tana readied her last two knives, cursed whatever god was relevant to the situation, and rushed forward.

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Fortunately for Reis, the goon he'd been fighting took interest in something else, beginning to walk off towards the source of an even greater scuffle. Unfortunately, Reis knew exactly what that was. The kobold popped his head out of hiding, and took another shot at the good with a stray piece of rubble. That did the trick: The thug deflected the piece, his attention focused solely on Reis now. The thief smiled innocently. "Hmm?" In turn, the thug roared at him, blade held at the ready once more. Reis ducked behind the crate, suppressing the urge to giggle. Worked like a charm. . . Not taunting them, necessarily, but fighting his opponents to the point where they simply got pissed off that Reis wasn't dead yet, too pissed off to think as straight as before. It usually only worked with one or two people, though. Good thing Tana was handling the rest.

Well, technically it was a bad thing, but still. . . Khada would get to that later. For now, he waited until the goon was only a few feet away from the crate, before rolling out from behind it and diving out of the goon's line of sight, directly behind them. Reis wasted no time driving his two other daggers deep into the man's thighs, and yanking them to the side. The man howled, dropping to the ground. Reis tugged the daggers free of the thick muscle, before calmly wiping them clean on the sleeve of his coat. "Eww. . . Mutant blood. That's gross." He glanced at the goon, as if just remembering that he was there. "I'd stay down, if I were you. That'll sting for a little while." Maybe the thug didn't speak a word of his language. No matter. Hopefully, they got the message. Now, about Tana and the other thugs. . .

Reis's tail twitched. Damn thugs. There were around four or five more that hadn't been dealt with. Did that mean. . . Reis didn't waste any more time thinking about it, Already, he was dashing over to the source of the conflict, snagging his third blade along the way. Along the way, he hopped over one corpse, and saw another in the shadows. Reis knew how to handle death just fine, but killing folk felt. . . Slightly sickening to him. He avoided staring at the bodies too long and moved on. After a few moments of scampering around, Reis found Tana, about to engage in a fight with a three-armed mutant thug. She looked rough, but was still giving it her all. . . Once again, she reminded Reis of his sister. That just made him angrier, since she was injured. His gaze drifted over to the thug she was about to engage, and his frown turned into a snarl. It was time to play a little unfairly.

He reversed the grip on his own two daggers, before dashing towards the creature and leaping up, aiming to drive the blades into the thing's back. Of course they wouldn't kill, but he needed some handholds to work himself up to the thing's head. The only factor that looked like bad news was the thug's third arm. If he used that on him, he'd be in a bit of trouble. Then again, that was one less arm that Tana had to deal with. Tana was physically more capable, so there as a chance that she could just deal with the goon right then and there. Instead of taking out his third knife, Reis simply held on to his first to, bracing in case he was struck. Better to be a distraction than further endanger himself by overreaching. . 

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Tana caught the blur of motion in her peripheral as Khada rushed behind the three-armed mutant. She faltered in her charge as the kobold swung on top of the mutant by way of a few cleverly placed daggers. The mutant reared and swung his arm back, trying to swat the the thief away. If there were time, Tana would have whistled. The little guy had guts, she’d give him that. 

Tana took the chance and hurled a dagger at the mutant. The blade had barely left her fingertips before she came whirling forward, vaulting over a crate in a flash of steel and and fury. The dagger struck the mutant in the lower chest. Like Khada’s knives, it was too shallow to do any real damage, but it opened the door for the roundhouse kick Tana threw at his chin. The mutant dodged. Tana’s momentum carried her around, a fresh knife already in her left hand. She slashed a red line across his chest. A flip of the handle and her grip was reversed. She lunged and drove the knife into the mutant’s stomach. 

The mutant cursed something in his language and brought a meaty fist down to crush her. 

Tana faded away, too tired to counter. Her usual dance was turning into something messier. Her movents were brutal and held a stark contrast to the efficient style she fought with earlier. Adrenaline pushed her limbs past their usual limitations and rage burned away the cold strategy in the pit of her chest. She knew the feeling well- it was the same caged ferocity that she fell back upon time and time again when all the fancy techniques didn’t fix the situation immediately. 

Sure, the bosses had tried to train it out of her. Hamlin called it “barbaric” and the weapons master, Quintia, called it “sloppy,” but it was the reason they hired her in the first place. She hit hard, hit fast, and didn’t stay down. She had no respect for those who learned to fight from a book. Khada seemed a decent sort. While she hadn’t gotten a good look at his fight, she saw the incapacitated gangsters as she hopped away from another swing of a meaty fist. It was sloppy to leave them alive... but they had bigger problems.

The three-armed mutant swung at her again. Tana narrowly sidestepped the blow. “Do something while you’re up there, dammit!” She yelled at Khada. She had two knives left out of her seven. If she could get another opening, they could finish this. She couldn’t care less if he got pummeled, but she would loose her only (tentative) ally should the situation arise.

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Khada had an odd thought as he struggled to hang on to the giant thug. He’d heard of a few crazy souls who made it a sport to try and ride raging beasts for as long as they could. He had no idea what they called it, for the activity was never performed in the places Khada had been to, but right then he felt as if he was experiencing something very similar. The kobold was jostled around like a rider might be if they rode their wagon across giant rocks. It was all he could do to hold on and not get sent flying to who-knows-where. He nearly bit his own tongue off whilst trying to call out to Tana, which was, in hindsight, extremely stupid. Khada had needle-like teeth now. It would do him some good to remember that.

After he got a solid grip on the thug with his tail and arms, the thief yanked one of his daggers out of the large goon’s back, before jamming it into the goon’s armpit as hard as he could. He was rewarded with a roar of pain - and nearly got a hard smack to the head as the third arm came down to knock him to the floor. Khada abandoned hit knife where it was embedded, and swung farther up the thug’s back, up to their shoulders again. The three-armed thing seemed a bit preoccupied with Tana at the moment, so Khada managed to get on their shoulders, like with the first goon. Still, the kobold wasn’t blind. He could see the exhaustion taking its toll on the woman, and knew that she couldn’t hold out too much longer in the back-and-forth combat.

Khada frowned, then yanked his second dagger out of the goon’s back, jamming it into their shoulder to get a good handhold. With that, he twirled himself up to the thug’s head, pulling his third dagger out. Before Khada could be thrown off, he made a quick swipe across the goon’s scalp, smirking. ‘Let’s see him fight whilst blinded by his own blood,’ he thought smugly. His mood was soon ruined, however, when the third arm finally found its mark. Khada found himself trapped by a large hand, though not for long. The goon reared back in preparation to toss the kobold away. The thief cursed. “Oh, for the love of -” He didn’t have time to finish his sentence. He suddenly found himself flying through the air once more, slamming into a large steel crate. Khada saw stars. He slid down the side of the crate, coming to a stop at it’s base, vision blurring. 

It took a few moments for the thief to regain all his senses again. He could definitely feel some broken bones now. He wasn’t sure if it was anything too serious, though. All he knew was that everything hurt. His arm seemed to have gotten it the worst, though. Khada glanced down at it, and blanched. ‘Is it supposed to bend that way?’ His stomach turned, and the color of the room shifted to yellow. The kobold groaned, rubbing his head. That kind of knock to the head would leave a mark. . . He just hoped it wasn’t a concussion. Khada briefly growled. Why did this new body have to be so weak. . . If he’d been a human, he could have just shook it off. Hell, he wouldn’t have been thrown if he’d been a human. . . The thief ran his tongue around his teeth, and noted that some felt loose. Maybe he’d just sit here for awhile. . . He hoped that Tana could handle herself for a bit. Otherwise, they were both doomed.

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Tana started as soon as the blood ran over the mutant’s eyes. With the third arm occupied with throwing Khada, the opening she so desperately needed was exposed. She dashed forward, flipping both knives into a back-facing grip. 

Tana rolled behind the gangster and kicked out the back of his knees with an unpleasant crack. She used the momentum to lurch out of the way of the falling Goliath. The gangster roared as his leg collapsed out from under him. Blind, he lashed out wildly for the rogue. Tired as she was, Tana had no trouble avoiding him.

She rushed forward, a guttural whoop of victory escaping her mouth. Steel flashed in the space between them and Tana buried both blades hilt-deep into the gangster’s throat. 

She watched the body slump over with a dull satisfaction. Her fingers still twitched with the residual adrenaline. Lords she hated this place. Her shoulders ached, her hair was drenched with rain and sweat, and these gangsters were more trouble than they were worth. Even the goons in these parts were weird. Tana rolled her neck and winced at the loud pop that came out.  That one was going to hurt tomorrow. If it wasn’t for Khada, Tana’s ass might have been well and truly kicked by now. That opening wouldn’t have come easy if she was on her own.

Speaking of the thief...

Tana stepped forward to yank her knives out of the body. She glanced in the direction she had seen the kobold fly in. “You still alive, little man?” She called. “Blink twice if you’re dead.” She snickered at her last comment and slid the blades back into their holsters. She wasn’t sure if all the gangsters were accounted for yet. Tana dropped her guard anyways. If there were any left, they wouldn’t pose much of a threat alone.

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Somewhat distantly, Khada could still hear the sounds of a fight continuing in the distance, but they weren’t his primary concern at the time. Only when they stopped did he pay the sounds any closer attention. The voice that spoke next wasn’t that of a thug’s, though, but the voice of Tana. It seemed that she’d survived after all. ‘Good,’ the kobold thought absently. It would’ve been annoying to have done all that and failed all the same. He rolled his eyes at Tana’s joke, trying and failing to stand up. “I wish I was dead. Wouldn’t hurt as much.” The second time was the charm as Reis once more attempted to stand, succeeding at that. He wasn’t sure whether to nurse his ribs or his obviously-broken arm. He decided on minding the bones that could pierce his lungs if he moved the wrong way.

The thief growled to himself, and began to murmur quietly. “Kobolds are weak. . . This would have been much easier if I’d been a human.” An odd statement to anyone who didn’t know Khada’s predicament, to be sure. The thief was beyond it now. He slowly limped over to the corpse of the giant thug, trying not to look too uneasy as he searched for his knives. “Is that the last of them? I think that’s the last of them. . .” Khada stopped, then slowly scanned the room, counting out the bodies on the floor. There was a pause, then what looked like a metal pole leaning on one of the shelves pitched forward. The resulting clang caused Khada to flinch and whirl around, pointing his knife in the direction of the noise. “Was that - damn it.” He sighed, shoving the dagger into his bag.

It had been about a minute before the kobold decided to address Tana again. “Whatever it is you’ve come for, I suggest you hurry and try to obtain it. You aren’t a fool. It won’t be too long before someone else comes along looking for those thugs.” Reis wasn’t in the careless, joking mood then. He had shed that, reverting back to being alert and a tad bit irritable. His mind was already on what he himself needed to do next. He’d come here looking for artifacts - so far, he’d only gotten broken bones. He needed to be quick about finding anything at all, before someone else came along and finished him off. It’d be wise for him to bug out and live to steal another day, yes, but Reis couldn’t accept failure. Not like this.

The kobold adjusted his goggles and eyed Tana warily. There wasn’t anything stopping her from finishing him off, either. Logic told him that it was the most reasonable course of action for her. There wasn’t anything stopping her, and Khada had stated his interest in anything she was searching for. She’d put her knives away, yes, but it wouldn’t take too much to finish off an injured kobold. “You also have the storms to worry about. I don’t think it’ll get close to flooding again, but. . .” Reis honestly wasn’t sure. He really hadn't ever been to a rainforest before. The only hint at what was to be expected there was in the name: rain. Whatever happened, he could deal with it, most likely. He’d been hurt in worse ways.

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Tana tilted her head in visible confusion as Khada rattled on about being weak. He wasn’t wrong, but it was an odd thing to say. Hitting one’s head will do that to a person. “You’re a weird little bugger. You know that, right?” She stated.

She followed him out onto the floor, moving between the bodies as he counted. She found all but one of her knives, wiped the worst of the blood and debris off on her tunic (one more stain would make little difference now), and sheathed them away.

The pipe clattered to the floor. Tana all but jumped out of her skin. “Fuckin’ hell,” she swore. 

Tana raised an eyebrow as Khada told her to get her search over with. She twitched her mouth into the shape of a sarcastic smile. “You’re as bad as the boss,” she snarked. “Alright, give me a minute, there’s a lot of stuff here. Oh, and don’t try anything or else I’ll break the rest of your bones. Okay?” She disappeared into the maze of crates before listening for a response.

Despite the large area of potential hiding places, Tana didn’t waste her time searching each individual crate. The merchant had specified that it would be a small, hardwood chest with silver bindings. It wasn’t the kind of thing to get locked up with rotting books and farm equipment and whatever else was in these  boxes. She pushed through stacks of packaging and collapsed shelving. The dim lighting made the search difficult. She wiggled through the bent frame of a shelving unit to reach a shadowy corner. The only things she found were dust bunnies.

She huffed and called over her shoulder back to Khada if he was still in the building, “If you’re worried about flooding and more goons, then come help me look.” She wasn’t expecting him to say yes. If he was smart, he would get out of here while he had the chance. Tana had left him alone mostly out of amusement and respect for a fellow thief. He didn’t pose much of a thread anymore.

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