Tio and Destyn, pt. 4/?

As silently as he could manage, Destyn crept down the alley in back of the Sisters’, doing his best to avoid the gathered throng, and what sounded very much like a shootout. Not that he was gun shy, far from it. He just preferred to be the one getting the drop on the other, not milling about like a duck in an old arcade shooting gallery. Slipping between dumpsters, he finally came in sight of the Sisters’, and had a brief moment of relief wash through him. The back door was standing wide open, and it didn’t appear that anyone was there to hinder him in his ingress. Giving a silent prayer of thanks to whatever bothered to listen for such things, Destyn crept further toward the entrance, his eyes never stopping their hasty lookout of all the too-many points of attack in the back alley.

He may as well have done it blind, however, for all the resistance he faced getting there. It seemed that all the commotion up front had drawn away any and all resistance in arrears, and he planned to take ample advantage of the distraction. Drawing his long rifle, Destyn swept noiselessly through the back door, hurriedly ducking into what appeared for all intents and purposes to be a laundry setup for the Sisters’. Large aluminum pots, big enough to cook a man, were set into the floor, and currently boiling at full tilt. Steam billowed up and out vents placed in the ceiling above, seemingly for just such an action. Making every effort not to blanch himself, Destyn manoeuvred through the boiling heat of the back room, sweat already pouring down his face. With his left hand, he kept the worst of it from his eyes, with his right, he kept his rifle aimed in a general centre mass height on the off chance that anyone decided that now would be a good time to burst in on him making his way through the building. Still, his luck held, and as he moved from the sauna of the laundry room to the relative cool of the adjoining kitchen, it seemed like this was going to be an easier job than he had anticipated. That was, until the ceiling began to collapse all around him in a flurry of plaster and a hail of bullets.

Without thinking, Destyn dove beneath one of the sturdier looking metal prep tables, his arms flying over his head to save it caving in, should the barrier not hold. The whole building was shaking now, and he could distinctly hear what sounded like rocket fire in the not nearly far enough distance. There was a volley of screaming missiles, at least five in all, each met by a foundation quaking explosion. Whatever the firefight had been about had clearly escalated to something akin to a miniature war, all of it taking place over his head. He crouched for a good five minutes there as the dust settled, enough time to reconsider the bounty and, more importantly, get his rebreather helmet on. He usually didn’t need it for planetside work, not unless it was a new start-up colony without an Atmogen, but he guessed that by the age of the building materials and the colour of the smoke billowing down from the ceiling that he would be best off not breathing what the ongoing catastrophe was putting forward for him.

Finally, it seemed the building had settled, and Destyn took a cautious sidestep out from underneath the fast buckling table. The kitchen was a shambles, covered in a heavy layer of dust and debris as it was. Looking up, he found the hole where all the smoke was coming from, and it seemed a deep one. Or would it be high? Either way, there was definitely sunlight flickering down among the flames and black clouds of toxic burning gas. A quick survey of the room and some exceedingly cautious footwork took Destyn to an emergency staircase that seemed, if luck would hold, to run all the way to the roof. It even appeared to be blessedly free of any debris that might otherwise have impeded his progress. On the other hand, it was fast filling with panicked Sisters and their charges, barreling down the stairwell as fast as their legs would carry them.

Not one for decorum, Destyn began shoving his way past the weak and infirm, up through the throng of panicked clergy. By the third floor, thankfully, the masses seemed to have all but dried up, though he could hear, in the distance, feeble moaning and cries for aide. He paused at that, staring into the flame-blackened hallway, and for a moment he debated going to see if he could help. He may well have gone through with it, too, had the gunfire not resumed, and that close by. Swearing a goodly amount under his breath, Destyn abandoned the injured and dying and took to the stairs two or three at a time, his thighs pumping in time with the blood now pounding in his ears. The inside of the rebreather was blessedly air cooled, but the noise of his breathing mingling with his over loud heartbeat always got to him. It limited his access to the world, and in situations like these, limited his access to getting out of the thing on his own two feet.

By the tenth floor, Destyn had well run out of steam, and he was sucking in great lungfuls of filtered air. His heartbeat was like thunder, and his chest ached, almost more than his burning thighs. He had always prided himself on his athleticism, but he had never been one for stairs, be they for a workout or otherwise. He leaned his left side against the wall and clenched his eyes shut, willing away the pain. The gunfire was definitely closer now, but whoever it was had to be low on ammo at this point. The bursts were less erratic, more focused than they had been. There had also blessedly been no more rockets. On noticing that, Destyn took a good look around for the first time in five floors or so, and noticed that the smoke was pooling below, not above. Giving up another unaffiliated prayer, be pulled off his rebreather and relieved himself of a terrible gob of spit that he’d been working up during the climb. The air stank of soot and spent nitro, a smell he was all too familiar with. Just once, Destyn thought to himself, it would be nice to get in and out without the world coming down around his ears, and maybe, just maybe, a lack of gun play.He was by no account a violent man, but he dealt in violent people, and violent people, well, they dealt in violence. There was seldom any way around it.

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