“I’ll have his head for this.”
“Yeah, yeah. Move along your highness, you’re not special in the Icebox. Nobody is.”
Roughly, the guards shoved them further along the ice-crusted gangway – giving Kye their last glimpses of the world beyond iron walls.
Hyelon was a prison moon of the Compact – a relic of cycles past, marred by ancient ash and frigid skies. It was where the worst of the worst from across Compact space were kept, and… due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, political prisoners as well. The prison was constructed into the side of a crevasse, sheltered from the bone-stripping frigid winds that blew across most of the exposed surface above. Temperatures outside of the climate controlled complex hovered just around -90C – a perfect barrier to escapes.
The rabbit was hustled through the depths of the prison, regal demeanour replaced with something more closely approaching a coiled viper. Every guard they saw, complicit in the schemes of the Compact, was as good as dead – but all that was forgotten when a familiar face glared back at the them from the bars of their new home.
“Well, well. It seems my aim faltered.”
“As did mine, you misbegotten bastard. I should have killed you when I had the chance.”
“That’s certainly no way to speak to your cellmate,” Maddie purred as the guards slid away, watching them go.
“I do not intent to stay for very long.”
“Perhaps this is one matter we can agree on.” Maddie frowned. “I trust you’ve not become a legendary raider of the Spur in the year we’ve been apart, Lord Celan? Surely you’re here for a visit.”
“I am not sharing my business with a traitor.”
“We have naught but time, as I’m sure you’re well aware. While not an olive branch, I simply wish to ensure I’m not pondering escaping a prison with a criminal.”
The glare the Prince gave could have frozen stars.
“I shall take that as a “perhaps”, then.”
“An assassin helping their quarry escape sounds rather far fetched, does it not?”
Maddie sighed. “You are no longer my quarry. My failure to produce you led to… complications. And if you would listen for a moment, I would be happy to explain?”
While still visibly furious, the rabbit took a seat – what little of one there was in the bare monocrete cell.
“While I personally would have enjoyed seeing the light bleed from your eyes, I no longer have… incentive, to do so. At least, for the moment. I’m to understand you’ve escaped prisons in the past?”
Kye frowned. “Perhaps, but not with assassins. Where are you going with this?”
“I’ve been here for nearly six months, and the schedule is regular. Shipments come in every two weeks, and depart on the third. Mostly supplies for the guards – foodstuffs, rations, stims. The freighters are automated. No crew.”
The white-furred rabbit flashed a grin. “No witnesses.”
“And the hundreds of guards in the Icebox? On Hyelon?”
Maddie simply grinned.
“…Alright, fine. What are my assurances this plan won’t get us killed, though? How are we supposed to get to the freighter in the first place?”
Maddie pointed out of the small cell at the hallway. “Assassins memorize routes. I know the way, and… let’s just say a few guards gave their lives for the information, hm?”
Kye glared. As much as they wished to the end life of the assassin – as much as they wished to kill them with their bare hands for what they’d done, they… needed their help.
Begrudgingly, Kye nodded. “Fine. Most of my magic is dampened by this damn device, but I should be able to help… some. When does the freighter arrive?”
Maddie shrugged. “Three days.”
To the surprise of Kye (and Maddie, but they weren’t telling), the plan’s first stages were executed without a hitch. The first guard had been dispatched as silently as could reasonably be, his keys and biopass lifted. The hallways were byzantine but navigable with the aid of the card and Maddie’s memory – and what few items needed to be grabbed off of guards or out of offices were easily obtained with Kye’s limited gravitic attraction.
The problems arose when the freighter landed not on the internal pad, where the others before had – but above, exposed to the wind.
Hyelon required hazcon suits to even think about going outside during a storm – and the racks were empty.
“Well what now?” Kye exclaimed in frustration, staring at the other rabbit with barely hidden fury. “All this for nothing?”
“I… I can’t believe–”
The airlock warning sounded, alerting them of a cycle.
Both dove out of the way, just in time for a pair of guards in the suits they needed to enter carrying crates of rations and medical supplies.
“Phew. Why do we always get the shitty courier duty?” The first guard, a deer, grumbled – his partner trying to shake feeling back into his paws even through the gloves, walking slightly out into the hallway. “I mean, aren’t there nearly two hundred of us here? Why us? Is everyone else just busy?”
The deer trailed off as there was no reply, and turned to see the hallway empty.
On cue, they felt a heavy object hit them from behind – and their world went dark just in time to catch a glimpse of glowing white flowers and furious purple eyes.
“Little more bloody than I prefer, but good hit.” Maddie was grinning, tugging their stolen suit on – shaking the gloves to slip their fingers in.
Kye, disrobing the concussed deer, dragged him into the hallway and left him there. Once the suits were on and securely checked, it was time for the last hurdle.
The door opened. Bitter wind howled inside, ripping at anything unprotected – and the two escapees braved the storm, the landing lights of the interstellar craft shining through the storm.
It was, unfortunately, not unmanned – a guard detail of around ten stood around the landing site overseeing a pair of loaders hefting crates – and Maddie’s plan of sneaking failed almost immediately, proximity sensors tripping when their biosignatures didn’t match authorized personnel.
Maddie leapt into action, blade singing through the blizzard – but Kye, trying to yank a blade over with their suppressed magic, took a round to the neck and spun away.
By sheer chance, the metal round had not found the flesh it sought. The shards of the dampener swirled away in slow motion, caught in the wind – and the might of the Darksea poured through their veins, howling for blood and justice.
Black fire erupted across the pad as the Prince voiced their displeasure, erasing the few guards remaining after Maddie’s spinning assault. Already, the whine of the ship’s engines was rising – clearly someone had made it aboard and was trying to make a getaway.
“No time to waste!” Maddie shouted, pointing. “On the ship, now!”
Wordlessly, Kye followed – their palms wreathed in notlight, ready to leap away at a moment’s notice.
Four more guards died in the trip to the freighter’s bridge, and the Captain’s gurgles marked the end of his final voyage.
Soon enough, the freighter had lifted off with new cargo aboard, and the prince and the assassin once again found themselves at odds.
Gone was the scared, unsure swordsman, though – Kye was powerful.
Besides. Maddie didn’t have a contract.
“Course is set for Holmen,” Maddie said after a few moments, the dark blue giving way to stars beyond the freighter’s windows. “We part ways there.”
“A shame,” Kye muttered sarcastically. “We make such a team.”
“Don’t tell me you’re finally tired of prison breaks?” Maddie grinned, crossing their arms. “But yes, I agree. When next we meet it will be as foes, yet I must admit… it was enjoyable, Lord Celan. You fight well.”
Kye rolled their eyes.
“Mention this to no one. It remains between us, until the other falls.”
“A fair deal.” Maddie grinned wider, offering a paw – and with a shake, the two parted to find their own areas of the ship until the autopilot made port, the soft whoosh of a transition into the Tides washing over them.