Act 1 – Woman

The black form Fenix had seen in the crowd in Denzil remained on his mind. He couldn’t help but make a connection between her and the operatives they had dropped in the forest. Yet he hadn’t seen any of them contact the outside after they had engaged them.

A suspicion rose in him as he thought of the boxcar they had held them in. He hadn’t given the area the good look over after they dropped them off.

He stood up and made his way down the aisle.

“Where are you going?” Ryan asked.

“I’m just going to check something out. I thought I heard something knocking about back there.”

Ryan looked like he was ready to get some shuteye for he shifted in his seat and waved him off. Fenix headed down to the back door and slid it open. The cool breeze whipped at him as he climbed the ladder to the outer-railing, walking around the bridge until he could heave the carriage door open.

The door slid across and he walked in, letting the light and wind give detail to the room previously darkened by the forest shadows. He scanned the area they had been sitting in and guessed the range that they could have thrown something. Then he found a lump on the floor with a clear edge to it. He knelt down and peeled at the sticky edge until it came free.

Although thinner than a fingernail with a reflective surface, the red light underneath it showed it for what it really was: a tracking device.

He had used hearing a knocking sound as an excuse to look, but it wasn’t until he was at the back carriage that he actually heard a knocking sound on the roof. He couldn’t help but smile. Whoever this person was, she had caught up with them in Denzil using the tracking device, missed them there, but had managed to catch a ride on the train.

“Quick little bird.”

He pulled open the door, too much in a rush to close it again behind him. He swung over onto the gangway, opening the door just in time to hear a gunshot from the carriage ahead.

“Shit, she’s on the roof!”

He didn’t know if it was the wind again, or the angle, but the bullet had missed and he managed to get inside and closed the door. Ryan was gazing at the river they were passing, completely oblivious.

“Ryan!” he called as he thundered down the aisle. “We’ve got company. She’s on the roof.”

“She?” Ryan shot to his feet. “Don’t tell me you’re sending me up after her?”

“Not this time, too many variables to account for up there. Besides, I don’t know if my luck extends to you.” He ran to the next compartment, assuming it would be less effective if he stood downwind. “Just keep an eye out.”

“Should I give you cover fire?”

“No. With us moving around up there, you might end up hitting me.”

Fenix bolted out onto the next gangway and climbed the rungs until he could poke his head out over the rooftop. He was met with a gust to the face, but he much preferred wind to bullets. The operative was running over the rooftops toward him. She was going to try and jump him.

Fenix made to climb up and reached out to grab her foot as she made to leap over the gangway. Instead of jumping over the gap normally, the operative somersaulted and as she was upside-down, she fired a shot from her pistol right in his face.

It should have killed him.

In the past, Fenix hadn’t been sure if the wind had saved his life as though it had a will of its own or if he was just so lucky that it seemed so. However, as he saw the flash of the gun and the projectile curve off path right in front of his face, he couldn’t put it down to luck anymore. There was something that was saving him, but as with every other time it happened, he didn’t have time to question it.

He ground his teeth and pulled himself up onto the rooftop. If the wind was his friend, then it should at least be able to keep him upright. He stood up, facing the woman with the wind blowing in his face.

“That was point blank at less than two feet. You should be dead,” the operative spoke and pointed her gun again. “But the wind is going against you now, so—”

He brushed the hair from his forehead and she suddenly stopped talking.

“You’re telling me.” He grinned. “Even so, I don’t want to shoot a woman so that might make this more interesting.”

The woman shook her head. “Fenix?”

Fenix’s brow furrowed. “Yeah… I’m Fenix. How do you—”

“No… you can’t be!”

The woman charged in, pulling a military dagger from a sheath on her waist. After all, if bullets didn’t work then a blade just might. That would have been the case if Fenix hadn’t been more than competent with hand to hand combat. He had spent nearly half of his four-year training schedule practicing several martial arts with five other Lurseed agents.

He stepped back to dodge her first swing and caught her wrist on the backswing. Surprisingly, this didn’t stop the blade. The operative pressed a button on the hilt, shooting it toward him. Although the wind swayed it enough from him to avoid it, he caught the blade nonetheless, allowing it to cut his hand. He winced and blood flew from his palm, causing the black-clad woman to stop in place.

He used this time to bring the caught blade up to her throat and she visibly swallowed, her eyes going wide under the goggles covering balaclava. From her expression alone, his assumption that injuring himself would cause her to stop proved correct, and he thought he knew why.

“So, you know me,” Fenix said, blood dripping from his fingers. “You know, the honorable thing to do would be to tell me yours return.”

The woman eyed the knife. “Why would I give up my anonymity?”

Fenix shrugged. “It might be a little difficult once I’ve slit your throat.”

“You need work on your bluffing. I know you spared the first men who attacked this train and I have no doubt you plan to spare me as well.”

“Oh no, you’re way too dangerous. I’m not going to let you go so easily.”

“You say that as though you’ve already caught me.”

Fenix smirked. “Your options are pretty sparse right now.”

“I’ve been on this train since Denzil. What do you think I’ve been doing since then, biding my time?”

She lifted the hilts of her knives. Aside from the button she had pressed on the side of the hilt to launch the blade, there were also buttons on their ends, and with a smirk, she pushed both of them.

“Goodbye.”

Fenix’s brow shot up. “Oh shi—”

An explosion ripped at the side of the train, rocking it to one side. The noise was cacophonous and the glass windows shattered. Traveling on a railway between a river and a cliff-face, the explosions rebounded the train off the rock as it rocked from the tracks and began leaning toward the water.

The woman dived into the river as Fenix attempted to find his balance again, trying to ride out the explosion. He hoped that Ryan had remained sitting on the riverside seats when the explosion had gone off, but all thoughts of his partner were replaced with panic as the train left the tracks and crashed into the water.

The splash drenched him as he held on to the side of the carriage, his already bleeding hand gaining splinters from ruined wood. Up ahead, he saw Ryan swinging from the gangway as the train screeched to a holt, gauging deep holes in the ground.

“What the hell happened?” he yelled.

Fenix breathed heavily in shock, several carriages and the caboose sinking into the river, the fat conductor doggy-paddling toward the shore.

“Explosives… she jumped in.” He looked at the river behind them but she was nowhere to be found. “Escaped… water…”

“She beat you?” Ryan asked.

Fenix grinned, scrambling onto the earth. “Alive… aren’t I?”

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