Encroaching Shadows.

Dehr and Ekajra emerged from the trees into another small clearing. In one corner of it was the building where the Legion had hired Dehr, looking still as rundown as ever. Dehr set Ekajra down, and then moved his arm around, stretching it out. “Man that takes a lot of energy. A lot faster than dragging you along the ground the whole way though, that’s for sure,” he said, and started to walk away from Ekajra. “Now where’s the Legion guys with the rest of my money? They were supposed to meet me here.”

“Oh, I am here,” a voice said from the trees. “But you won’t be getting the rest of your payment.” A cloaked figure stepped out of the trees. “I’ll kill you both right here!”

* * * * *

A car pulled up in front of a small house on the edge of Echidnaopolis, right next to the forest. Out of it stepped a fox, who looked intently at the house, then at a piece of paper in his hands. “Well, if I got into the right database, this should be the place.” He put the piece of paper in a pocket, closed his car door, and walked up to the house. He rang the doorbell, and waited. Nothing happened. After a few minutes he tried again. This time he heard motion from inside the house.

“Ekajra, if that’s you, cut it out!” a voice said, coming closer to the door, which flung open. Standing in it was Alerak, who looked quite surprised to see a fox standing before him. “Oh, sorry, thought you were someone else. Uhh, who are you, and why are you here?”

“My name is Mitchell, I’m a scientist, specializing in various fields.”

“Really? I’m a bit of an inventor myself,” Alerak said, leaving out the fact he was trained as a Dark Legion technician.

“Yes I know. I know quite a bit about you Alerak. You’re a former Dark Legionnaire, who left the Legion with your friend Ekajra, who’s probably been captured by Dehr by now.”

“Wait, captured? Who now?” Alerak, said, reaching towards his gauntlet.

“I’d recommend not doing that,” Mitchell said, already holding a small blaster. “If you’d let me inside, I can explain everything.”

* * * * *

“What are you talking about, killing us both here?” Dehr asked angrily, looking at the Dark Legionnaire before him.

“Well, I really have no current reason to kill you, bounty hunter. But I will destroy the one you have brought to me. A traitor has no place in the Dark Legion!”

“And why exactly is that?”

“I know exactly why he wants to kill me. Judging by the fact you’d even go against orders for the “good” of the Legion, you must be that Shadow Claw guy, correct?” Ekajra said.

“Ahh, so you’ve heard of me, traitor. Yes, I am the one you speak of,” the Legionnaire said, removing his hood. “I am Kage Tsume, soldier of the Legion.” He stepped into the light a bit more, and his features could now be more easily distinguished. His fur was a deep purple color, one of the less common shades among most echidnas, and along with it came the slightly elongated snout. His left eye was cybernetic, the iris and pupil glowing red. His right arm was cybernetic as well, as were most of his dreads. And though unseen beneath his cloak, both of his legs had been replaced with robotics as well.

“You know him?” Dehr asked Ekajra.

“Well, I’ve heard about him, if that counts as “knowing” him. Apparently he used to be in the EST, but he joined the Dark Legion when they managed to save him from death. Basically, he’s really dedicated to them now. Though I guess since you want to kill me, I guess that’s the only reason the Legion wanted me back.” Ekajra explained, directing the end towards Kage.

“Actually, I don’t know why my commanders want you back, but you’ll never make it back to them. I’ll see to it. A traitor should never be allowed to return, no matter how unique.” Kage said, a tone of disgust showing as he said the word “unique”. “And of course, if you resist, bounty hunter, I’ll have to kill you too.”

“Okay, first of all, my name is Dehr Blademaster, get it right. And I’m afraid I can’t let you kill Ekajra.”

“And why is that?”

“Well, for one thing, if I let you kill him, I won’t get the other half of my pay,” Dehr said, stretching his left arm out towards Ekajra’s cage. “And two…” He shoved Ekajra underground. “I kind of like this guy.”

“So, you really wish to die then?” Kage said, twisting his right arm quickly, extending three claw-like blades.

“No, and certainly not to you.” Dehr unhooked the wakizishi from his leg. “Which is why I’ll just have to win,” he said with a smirk. At the same time he activated his comlink and quickly muttered a sentence. “Bring it Purply!”

* * * * *

“So wait, the Dark Legion actually hired a bounty hunter, this Dehr guy, to get Ekajra back?” Alerak asked as Mitchell was explaining the situation to him.

“Yes, and if he figures if we bring you in there’ll be more money involved. Besides, you don’t really have any problem with the Legion, do you?”

“Well, they treated my friend like garbage. I’d consider that a problem. But that’s not what I was asking about. I can’t think of a reason the Dark Legion would hire someone to catch a traitor. I mean, I’m pretty sure they didn’t send anyone after the last person that left. And the fact they want him alive…”

“What about it? I don’t know much about echidna politics and all that, but if you guys are in a war, wouldn’t you want as many soldiers as possible?”

“Well, yeah, but I assumed that if a traitor ever returned to the Legion, they’d likely kill them.”

Just then a small device on Mitchell’s person began to emit a series of beeping noises. He grabbed it, turned it on, and held it to his ear. Dehr’s voice came out of it. “Mitchell, the bounty is a fake, forget about the techie.”

“Great, I guess you were right,” Mitchell sighed as he put away the comlink.

* * * * *

Dehr ran towards Kage, switching his grip on the wakizishi so that the blade was pointing down. He slashed upwards, but Kage pulled his arm in front and blocked it, the sword sliding in-between Kage’s claws. Kage twisted his wrist, causing Dehr to let go of the wakizishi, which flew away. Dehr jumped back, drawing two smaller knives, and ran towards Kage again. He slashed with one, which Kage blocked, then the other. However, Kage managed to twist his arm away from the first and block the second. Dehr went into a sequence of slashes, but Kage continued to block them.

After a while, Kage decided he’d had enough, and slashed at Dehr himself, cutting his arm. He slashed a few more times, before kicking Dehr in the stomach. Dehr bent forward, coughing. “Dang, guess my fight with Ekajra really took a lot more out of me than I thought,” he said to himself as he jumped back from Kage’s next attack. He threw a bomb-equipped knife in front of Kage to distract him while he caught his breath. “Alright Kage, time for me to get serious,” Dehr said as the dust cleared.

“And you weren’t just now?” Kage asked mockingly.

“Of course not. I haven’t even taken off my coat today.” Dehr flung off his overcoat, grabbing his shotgun and Reipar and placing them in secondary holdings on his back. “Ah, much better. Now I won’t have all that extra fabric slowing me down.” Dehr grabbed Reipar, and looked towards Kage. “Your move.”

Kage ran towards Dehr, slashing with his claws. Dehr held Reipar in a staff fighting position, blocking the assaults with the handle, before making a wide arc towards Kage. Kage jumped in the air, dodging the attack. Dehr couldn’t bring up Reipar in time to block Kage’s next attack, as he swung down out of the air.

Kage stood up slowly, but quickly realized his target was missing. He heard the sound of cracking rocks behind him, and turned around to see Dehr swing at him with Reipar. Kage brought up his arm, but the force of the attack was too much, sending Kage flying backwards. Dehr now fully stepped out of what seemed almost like a stone coffin. “I love that technique. It’s certainly good for a quick escape. Wouldn’t you agree, Shady?”

“Yes, that was rather convenient. I won’t let you do it again.” Kage charged Dehr, who decided it was best to ditch Reipar for now, flinging it towards Kage. He ducked quickly, but the distraction gave Dehr enough time to grab his shotgun and fire off a low energy blast. However, as it neared Kage, it was deflected by something. “You’ll have to try better than that!” he said, still running, but a laser sword now in his left hand.

“Great, just what I need. I doubt I have anything that can block that.” Dehr jumped away, charging up a blast and firing it, before switching the frequency to a wider shot. “This is gonna kill the battery cell, but he’ll just keep deflecting focused shots.” He landed back on the ground, and fired off the shotgun again, this time spewing the regular shotgun style blast, as blue plasma spread out in a wide radius around Kage.

Kage jumped to dodge the attack, spinning his laser sword to deflect as much as he could, yet still some hit him, though the did almost no damage to Kage. He slashed downward at Dehr, who barely managed to jump to the side, the heat from the blade singeing his fur. He rolled away, throwing a knife as he did so. It embedded into Kage’s arm, and he quickly pulled it out as it began to make beeping noises. He managed to fling it far enough away from himself just as it exploded.

Dehr knelt on the ground, pointing the shotgun at Kage. Kage whirled around just in time to see Dehr fire.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, underground, Ekajra could still sense the vibrations from Dehr and Kage’s battle. “Dang it! Why do I have to miss all the action?!”


Previous Chapter.


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