Intestines steamed like fat sausages on a griddle as the cold rain hit them in big, spattering drops like marbles. The rain diluted the blood, shit and bile into a bilious cocktail. It washed into the gutters, clogging them with severed fingers and offal that floated like macabre little boats of organ meat, bobbing merrily in the sanguine rivulet. A jumble sale of limbs, bone and muscle was tangled in a disorganised heap in the street, stray dogs already fighting over the ‘bargains’ amongst the dross.
“So…” Said Jartan, flicking blood and viscera from his blade. “What the hell kind of sword is that anyway?” He’d never seen its like, half again as long as a power claymore, double-bladed and apparently with no connection between the haft and the blades themselves. It looked… wrong.
T’nk looked down at him disapprovingly, shaking out her fleshy dreadlocks and showing her sharp teeth in a display of dominance. “A trophy, taken from a worthy foe on a faraway world. I call it the M’nth K’Knn, ‘Far Soul’ in Killan.”
Jartan looked down at his own sword, feeling a little inadequate somehow, even though he’d done his own fair share of the killing. “A trophy? So it’s not SLA technology then? I’m surprised they let you keep it.”
T’nk grunted again, nudging half a body into the gutter with the toe of her boot. “The killing is done, why do you want to talk?”
Jartan tried to look nonchalant as the rain beat a boss-nova rhythm against his helmet. “Just making conversation… new to the team, you know. It’s not every day you get caught in a DarkNight ambush with your squad leader.”
T’nk rolled her eyes, perhaps if the humans lacked vowels they wouldn’t be so keen on filling the air with mindless chatter either. “The duel I fought was caught on camera. The blade is associated with my brand and is the mark of a defeated enemy. So… my sponsors insisted and Head Office acceded. To them it means money, to me, honour. Since you ask… what of your blade, it looks non-standard to me.”
“This?” Jartan raised his own sword once more and tried to make it sound as good as possible. “This is a custom Dynamic Precision Blades vibrosabre from Mother’s Milk Studio. Offworld ceramic, custom inlay, shock battery, twice the vibe of your standard model with a sword-breaker back edge and a lifetime guarantee on the cutting edge. Cost me a pretty penny and seems to have paid off.” He tried a smile on her and began to pick his way across the strewn body parts, almost slipping on the fleshy slurry that the rain was only beginning to clean away.
“Nice.” T’nk offered, which was as close as she ever seemed to get to a positive word. “Though small.”
They sheathed their blades and stepped out from between the buildings, the rain came down harder and washed them clean.
“Should we…” Jartan hooked his thumb back towards the alley and the tangle of growling dogs.
“Leave it for the Shivers.” She said and started down the street. “It’s what they’re for.”