Swamped Chapter 18 Page 14

It suddenly occurs to you that you’ve only been thinking about the difficulty of hitting Rotmouth in the head with your weapon.

But your head, that’s another matter. You only need a bit of adjustment to start striking her helmet with your own.

“The hell are you doing?” Rivers shouts. “You’ll just hurt your head!”

It is a painful process, you have to admit, but Rotmouth’s helmet is already dented. It’ll give way before yours does. You hit her a few more times, and hear a few futile attempts to startle you with her breath, but before long, she’s out.

Though you’re a bit dizzy yourself. Ugh, that was more work than you hoped it would be. Well, there’s just one left now…

“You might want to consider giving up,” Mudviper says to her captor. “Unless you’d prefer ending up like your friends?”

Grips growls for a bit, then lets go and makes a run for it. She doesn’t get far before Starling and Rivers catch her; and then a good solid blow from Mudviper’s gloves makes sure she doesn’t get away from them.

“How good of you to turn up, Corvus,” Mudviper says. She reaches into her pouch and hands you a notebook. “I just had a meeting with Doc about the poisoning; she asked me to have a talk with these troublemakers.”

“Surprised they managed to grab you,” you mutter.

“They’re not very experienced, but they know how to work together. Anchor deliberately gave me a good opening to strike her down; it was a feint, but I missed it. When I got close, she pulled my mask off just as I made the blow, then Rotmouth startled me with her breath, and Grips used the moment to close in.”

“Pulled your mask off,” you say, in disbelief. It’s one thing to do that inside the fortress, but out in the swamp proper… that’s the sort of dirty fighting that can make you real enemies.

“Yes, I intend to have some words with her about that when she regains consciousness. But I’m more concerned with why they thought it worth acting up. If you hadn’t arrived, there’s a good chance they could have knocked out Stinger and fled the room. Even if they had to drag Anchor along, they’d have been able to get out.”

“But eventually, they’d be found out. So either they wanted a boost to their reputation from taking you down, or they were planning on sneaking off somewhere unsupervised.”

“Right. Which is why we’ll need to question them later. After Doc has a look at them, they’ll be confined to quarters.”

Which means you’ll be talking to Doc sooner than you’d like. Fantastic.

“I think we’ll want some more muscle while we’re dragging everyone to Doc’s,” you say. “But I’ve also got to talk with you about Rider’s animals – it’s the reason I came down here in the first place…”

“Rivers, Starling. There should be another meeting eight doors down in that direction. Go tell the guard outside there’s been a discipline problem, and drag whoever’s in the meeting over here.”

“Yes ma’am!” Starling says, rushing out. Rivers follows her, reluctantly.

“So what’s this about?” Mudviper asks, glancing down at the unconscious Marshguards. You shouldn’t have to worry too much about anyone getting up and being eager to fight, at least.

“Well…” You stop and think. Maybe you should tell her about Starling’s cousin? She might be willing to help you arrange that meeting.

Then again, you’re not really alone here. You wouldn’t want someone overhearing you as they regain consciousness. Maybe you should just stick with the cover story for now; it’s something you plan to ask about anyway.

Or is there something else you should tell her about while you have the chance?

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Suggestions:

explain the whole mess, but take her aside somewhere first. miscommunication kills.