Mai took a step forward, aiming her pistol, sighting in on one of the thugs lounging on the docks. She had a fierce air about her, as she mentally readied herself for battle, Aaron could feel it.
She’s going to kill them… he thought to himself.
Aaron watcher her muscles tense. Stepping forward, he placed his hand on her outstretched arm. She looked at him in surprise.
“Just try not to kill anyone…” he grunted stepping past and tensing his own muscles. He felt the presence of the curse in the back of his mind tingle with the pleasure of an oncoming fight.
Kill! It whispered intently to him.
Not if I can help it, he thought back, pressing his mental defenses closed as strongly as he could.
Lunging forward, he broke into a run, dashing out onto the docks at high speed. He readied his hands as he came down upon the closest thug. The man barely had time to react to his presence before Aaron gave a swift and powerful jab to the man’s gut and swept him off his feet in one motion.
The crack of a pistol shot rang out and there was an explosion as a nearby crate shattered into a thousand pieces, sending several thugs lounging near it flying.
Damnit, Mai! If they didn’t know they were under attack, the thugs on his ship did now. And if she did any more damage to his ship, he was going to really leave her behind.
Dashing forward, Aaron ducked left and tackled one of the men in his way, landing an elbow square on his chest as the two hit the ground hard. Rolling to his feet, Aaron ducked his head as another thug swung the butt of his rifle at Aaron, trying to help his downed buddy.
Lashing out low with his feet, Aaron took out the man’s balance, toppling him.
There were several more explosions and Aaron saw the orange flash of a large cat streak by him.
Not stopping to assess the damage Mai was wreaking, he dashed forward, keeping his concentration on making it to the ship.
In the back of his mind he could feel the presence sending out it’s tendrils, finding cracks in his defenses. This was not good. If it took over…
He banished the thought, trying to keep his mind focused, but he was having a hard time.
The whisper startled Aaron for a second, but then he saw him. The man with the implants, the one he’d wounded in his last battle. The man had spotted him and was readying a rifle, steadying himself against the mast of the ship as he watched Aaron, a cold intent in his eyes.
Forgetting about the curse, Aaron’s mind went blank as he focused on the man with the implants. Time seemed to stop as Aaron stared back at the man. The only thought that went though his mind before he felt himself start to loose control was, Get off my ship!
Aaron felt himself lunge forward, dodging a shot from one of the thugs. Swinging his fists, Aaron made contact with another thug, jabbing him in his throat and ripping his rifle free from the man’s hands. Wielding the liberated weapon with one hand, he lunged and swung it at another thug blocking his way. The but of the rifle cracked hard against he side of the man’s head and he went down almost instantly collapsing to the ground.
Then suddenly there was no one between him and the ship.
Aaron could feel the curse driving his actions, as he slowly started forward, his shoulders tensed, fists tight, toward the ship. Yet he didn’t seem to care at the moment. His mind was fogged with effects the alcohol and for the first time, the only thing he wanted was to get back on his ship and get the hell away from civilization no matter what.
The man with the implant aimed and squeezed the trigger on the rifle. The shot ripped through the air where Aaron had been standing, as he ducked and leapt for the ship. He cleared the small gap, landing on the deck of the ship. The man took several more shots, firing continuously.
Aaron felt the heat and pain of each shot as they grazed him. He made his way slowly forward toward the man, making each step careful and deliberate. Then suddenly he found himself in front of the man with the implants.
The knife came out of no where into his vision and instinctively he blocked it grabbing the man’s wrist with one hand. Wrenching the knife from the man’s hand he heard the hollow crack of bone as the man’s wrist broke and the man cried out in pain.
The clatter of the knife falling to the ground echoed in his ears as Aaron used his free hand to grab the man by the throat, lifting him up, pressing him against the mast of the ship.
Kill him! Kill him now, demon! Urged the presence.
Aaron could feel he blood-lust rising in the back of his mind as his fingers started to tighten around the man’s throat. He stared down the writhing man with a cold emotionless gaze, watching him as he struggled, starting to choke.
He was going to do it, he was going to kill the man.
“STOP!” came the loud, firm command.
Aaron blinked as he suddenly felt the edge of cold steel touch his own throat.
Emotion washed back into his mind and he regained his own consciousness in a wave of fatigue. He blinked again, careful not to move, suddenly realizing where he was and what he was doing.
Pushing his mental defenses to their max, he forced his hands to relax, dropping the man with the implants to the deck of the ship. Fighting for control, he tried to block the curse as it tried to make one last attempt to take him over. Pressing his mental defenses he focused on the blade at his throat to keep his mind steady and strong.
He took a staggering step back from the sword, reaching one had up toward his head.
Van slowly lowered the sword. “If I had known you were going to take this long of a walk, I would not have let you leave.”
“I –I would have left anyway,” ground out Aaron, pressing his hand against his forehead.
“If you want to stay alive, I’d keep your weapon where it is and your cat by your side,” said Van.
It took a moment to realize that Van wasn’t talking to him but Mai. She must have thought he was part of the gang of thugs. Aaron slowly looked down at the deck where the man with implants lay crumpled. His wrist hung at an odd angle, but he was breathing.
Van had come at just the right moment to stop him from killing the man. And the last thing that he wanted was to kill anyone else. He didn’t know what had come over him, but he wasn’t going to let it happen again. He had to keep a better focus.
Turning, he spotted Mai over Van’s shoulder, one foot on the ship weapon in hand, frozen in place by his words, Katha at her right hip ready to pounce at Mai’s command.
“Stand down,” said Aaron firmly, taking his hand from his forehead.
Van watched him as he leaned down and picked up the man with the implants slinging him over his shoulder. Aaron hauled the unconscious man to the edge of the ship and tossed him onto the docks in one heft. He landed on another of the downed thugs with a grunt.
Immediately Aaron started on the mooring ropes holding the ship to the dock. Mai stepped onto the deck, holstering her pistol, but keeping a grip on it’s hilt. Katha stayed by her side at the ready as well, wary of Van standing in the middle of the deck, his sword still drawn.
“Get off my ship,” growled Aaron back at Van.
“And why would I be doing that? We still have a fight to finish, Aaron Backer.”
Letting loose the mooring rope he was holding, Aaron sighed. “And I told you, I’m not going to finish it.”
“That’s yet to be determined,” replied Van. He ran his sword along the opening of the sheath and then sheathed it in one motion. The clink as it slid into place made Aaron wince. It had a finality about it that he didn’t like.
“Since you don’t seem to be willing to stay, it seems I’ll have to keep you within my sight.”
Aaron looked back at Van. He hadn’t noticed it before, but he did now. He saw the small duffel bag slung over Van’s shoulder and his heart sank.