Ch15: Ulterior Motives

Copyright © 2013 by P.A. Lackey
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Chapter Fifteen: Ulterior Motives

“Why are you doing this, Dueson?” asked Arius. “Why would you jeopardize the mission?”
“What mission,” Dueson scoffed. “We’re hunting a hundred year old legend that doesn’t concern us anymore. My mission is to the highest payer, and right now you have a large sum on your head.”
“You’re making a mistake,” Brockumus said, feeling Ruekrow’s pistol at his head.
“If it’s Waid you’re working for, then you can’t trust him,” Arius added.
Dueson barked out a laugh.
“Why, because he’s put a bounty on you? I’m not trying to marry his daughter Arius, I’m just expanding my business.”
“And you would sabotage the ship for that! We’re stranded here with no way off this planet.”
“I have faith that things will work out, and for the record, we didn’t sabotage the ship. But I’m sure I know who.”
Their senses perked as something moved outside the warehouse, and the thudding sound of a flying machine could be heard nearby. It was likely the leather clad soldiers heard the gunshot when Dueson shot Brockumus, and they were probably on their way now.
“We have to get out of here,” Brockumus hissed.
“Quiet,” Dueson’s brother barked.
“You tried to kill me Brock, why?” asked Dueson
Arius’ eyes narrowed.
“You’re the one that shot me Dueson,” returned Brockumus.
“After you came from behind me with a knife.”
“What are you talking about?” demanded Arius.
Had Brockumus really tried to kill Dueson?
“Arius, don’t listen to him.”
“Shut up!” ordered Ruekrow, pressing the pistol closer to his head.
“Your friend tried to kill me Arius,” replied Dueson. “It seems he has an ulterior motive.”
Arius looked Brockumus in the eyes whose grimace told too much. Dueson wasn’t lying, and Brockumus had tried to kill him, but why?
“They’re here to kill you Arius,” Brockumus said, realizing his exposure. “He set you up to turn the others against you.”
“But that’s not why you tried to kill me,” Dueson interrupted. “You’re the one that sabotaged the ship, which tells me you have another interest besides protecting Arius.”
“You’re stretching.”
“Am I? I read your background before arriving here, and I know a forged history when I see one. It’s prestigious enough to guarantee your acceptance on this mission, but subtle enough to avoid unnecessary attention.”
“You don’t have a clue what you’re coming against. I was sent on this mission to ensure success, and thus far you’ve done nothing but impede that success for nothing but money.”
“I guess there’s enough guilt to go around then.”    
The sound of the flying machine grew closer, and Arius knew their position would be compromised shortly.
“I’m sorry, but it’s time to end this,” said Dueson. “I’ll tell the others that you were killed by those leather wearing monsters.”
Arius grew tense and he spotted the handgun hidden behind Brockumus’ unzipped jacket. The flying machine outside passed overhead; its lights flashed through the far windows casting their shadows against the surrounding junk.
Brockumus passed through Ruekrow’s hold, grabbing his handgun from behind his jacket, and spun around to shove the muzzle into Ruekrow’s side where he fired a round into his chest. Dueson shouted as he watched his brother fall, and fired at Brockumus who fired a second shot past Arius.
Dueson cried as the round ripped past his right arm while Brockumus remained unscathed. Arius stepped to the side with his rifle passing between the two men. Dueson had dropped his weapon, and cradled his arm as he looked to his dying brother behind Brockumus. Ruekrow was still alive, but coughing up blood which flooded his lungs.
“Kill him Arius!” Brockumus demanded, keeping his gun toward Dueson.
The flying machine could still be heard outside, and Arius thought he could feel dozens of hostiles bearing toward the warehouse.
“Who are you working for?” Arius demanded, finding the muzzle of his rifle aimed toward the man alone.
“I’m not the bad guy Arius,” he returned. “Dueson and his brother were hired to kill you, and they set you up.”
“But you sabotaged the ship.”
“I don’t have time to explain my actions.”
“Ruekrow!” Dueson cried, watching his brother suffocate on the ground. “You’re going to pay for this Brockumus.”
“Arius, kill him now or I will!” demanded Brockumus.
Arius was hesitant to lower his rifle. Dueson was there to kill him, but Brockumus had sabotaged the mission. As far as he was concerned they were both dangerous.
Arius’ eyes glanced toward Ruekrow who reached for his handgun lying next to him. He grabbed the gun, finding a final source of strength, and raised it toward Brockumus who felt it. Both Dueson and Arius shouted as Brockumus stepped back and fired another round into Ruekrow’s chest finishing him for good, but several more shots fired as Dueson had retrieved his weapon.
Brockumus stumbled back, and blood spilled from the three holes in his chest. He nearly collapsed to the floor, but caught himself on a beam before disappearing around the corner where archaic looking machinery rusted away. 
Dueson hurried to his brother as more hostiles began to storm into the warehouse. They were hidden among the vast amount of junk, but soon the leather soldiers would come upon them. Arius grabbed the fallen gas tank, and looked toward Dueson who knelt by his dead brother. The man wept, and Arius felt guilt as he slipped away into the darkness.  

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