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The Alternate Path

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The patrols were more plentiful on the upper levels, which told Thancred that he was in the right place. Yugiri had checked in already, reporting that the charges were set and inquiring about the whereabouts of their comrade. Thancred had informed her of his idea of the adventurer's location, getting a grim confirmation that he may be correct in that Zenos would be keeping their friend in such a place. The grim tone of her voice told him that she feared the same thing that he did, and it further fueled the concern for what he might find when he did eventually locate their missing ally. Thancred was not just seeing things then, there had been something unnerving in the Garlean prince's fascination with the Warrior of Light. Something feral and famished, like a starving wolf locking onto a defenseless buck. But the adventurer was anything but defenseless, which concerned Thancred greatly. What manner of strange abilities and monsterous strength did Zenos have that would enable him to best the Warrior not only once, but twice? It called into focus that the adventurer was indeed as mortal as so many others, that he wasn't quite as invincible as so many seemed to believe he was.


With that rather sobering thought in mind, Thancred pulled his hood up over his head a little more. While he would have shed the cloak some time ago for more ease of movement, he didn't want to risk leaving evidence of his or Yugiri's presence aboard the ship for someone to find. Let them chase ghosts, by the time they realize that they had actually been invaded, it would be too late to do anything about it. Letting another group of soldier's pass by unaware, Thancred continued down yet another bleak hall, the lights dim and red from the emergency lights. The siren had finally been cut, probably due to someone losing their patience with the grating sound. While it was a blessing on his ears, it was also a curse because that meant that Thancred had to be extra careful when moving around the ship to avoid his footsteps echoing off the metal around him and alerting someone to his presence. While his step was far lighter than someone else aboard the ship, like Zenos himself, it was still audible enough to broadcast his location to anyone listening for anything ever so slightly out of the ordinary.


Thancred was beginning to second guess his conclusion of the Warrior's whereabouts when he nearly stumbled upon a small group of soldier's guarding a single door. Odd, considering that until now all the others had been patrolling. So why were they stationary? What were they guarding? Well, given that there were only two things of importance to the current raiders of the airship, Thancred wasted no time in theorycrafting what else could be behind that door aside from who they had come here for.


The soldier's were talking amongst themselves, probably about the current attack on the airship, or the possibility of what they could be guarding within the chambers beyond. Whatever their topic was, it kept them distracted from their imminent departure from this world. While Thancred hated killing, it was sometimes a necessary evil. Their lives, or his and his comrade's should they be left alive to alert someone else of his presence. Dashing forward from his hiding place, the grey cloak swirled around him like a veil of mist, hiding the flash of his daggers until it was too late. The first never stood a chance, and never even saw it coming as Thancred came up from behind and drove his dagger up under his ribs through his back, aiming for vital organs that would ensure he bled out swiftly. Twisting his body with his second dagger flicking out, he opened up the second man's throat, slashing at the fabric where the helmet he wore joined to the thick leather of his uniform. A vital point, not needing nearly as much force to puncture as the first. Blood sprayed from the wound, barely missing Thancred as the body collapsed. Thancred clicked his tongue at his own sloppiness, for he had no doubt hit the artery that resulted in the violent shower of red that now coated the walls opposite the door.


Just as he turned to deal with the final soldier, Thancred turned to see the man running down the hall as fast as he could move. The rogue flipped the blood stained knife in his hand and took careful aim before he let the blade fly. With a heavy thud, the sharp tip embedded itself within the back of the retreating man, burying deep to the hilt. He watched grimly as the body collapsed onto the metal catwalk like a puppet who's strings had been cut. Approaching the downed man swiftly, Thancred grip the hilt of the knife and gave it a vicious twist, ensuring internalized bleeding before he wrenched the blade out and cleaned it off against the fabric of the dead man's uniform. Sheathing his dagger, he returned to the other two bodies to retrieve the second before he cleaned and sheathed that one as well.


As much as he wanted to hide the bodies and conceal the evidence of his presence, he knew he had very little time, and there was too much blood to clean up in such a short window. It was too much of a risk now, he needed to keep moving before another patrol came along and discovered the dead bodies. Without giving his own thoughts or actions time to really sink in, he turned his attention to the door that had been previously guarded. Although he did wonder what the others would think if they could see him now. A lot has happened in the time since their escape from Ul'dah, and the time he had spent alone in the wild. He had become colder, harder. While he still retained the playful charm the others had come to expect of him, sometimes he felt as though it were merely a mask he wore to protect them from the reality that he was no longer the same man.


The door itself was made of heavy metal, without any kind of latch or handle. Not that he was expecting one, this was a Garlean ship after all. The pad on the side of the door caught his attention, a flat blue square large enough to fit his entire hand. But it was unlike the other locks on the ship. No matter, he had Urianger's contraption that allowed them to open the cargo bay doors from the outside. Surely it would work on this door as well. At least he had been hoping so, but when the device gave him what he could have sworn was an angry beep, and the door remained stubbornly shut, he found himself lacking the patience to fiddle with the accursed thing. Drawing his knife, he pried the cover of the locking mechanism off with no small effort and took one look at the wiring inside. While he had some knowledge of the workings of Garlean tech given the latent memories of his time being possessed by that damned Ascian, Thancred could honestly say he had no idea what he was looking at.


   "Well, I know what a power source looks like at least." He mused to himself softly, flipping his knife in his hand and driving the blade into the connector between the power source and the main circuit. Turning away as the panel spat out sparks and plumes of smoke welled up, Thancred heard the emergency override to the door kick in and slide open. A precaution during an emergency system failure to ensure crew members and people of stature were not trapped within a room with no escape should the airship be at risk. Yanking his knife out of the sputtering, sparking panel, he tucked it away before taking a moment to compose himself for whatever it was that he might find on the other side of the door.


Stepping in, Thancred's eyes quickly scanned the room. Discarded clothing strewn about the room made the room feel lived in, but it only served to make the rogue feel sick. A dog cage was shoved into the far corner of the room, empty, which made him question whether or not there were dogs on board that they would need to be concerned about. He hadn't heard any, but the presence of the cage was worrying. It wasn't until his gaze reached the bed that Thancred felt his stomach wrench and twist. As he had feared, his friend and comrade was shackled to the headboard. Skin bared, barely covered by shredded silken sheets, and stained with things that the rogue knew better than to ever contemplate longer than necessary.


Thancred pushed the hood from his head as he watched the figure on the bed turn his head slowly towards the now open door. A hard glare turned to widened surprise when the adventurer realized just who it was coming into the room, only for that surprised stare to cast downward in shame when realization of the situation he had been discovered in dawned. Thancred wasted no time crossing the room, slowing his stride when he saw the minute flinch from the adventurer. Damn that man, that monster. Thancred never would have thought he would live to see the day that the Warrior of Light himself would flinch away from someone, let alone a friend and ally. Holding up both hands in a placating motion, Thancred approached the bed and turned his gaze to the shackles holding the adventurer captive.


   "You have nothing to be ashamed of my friend." He said solemnly. He would not allow his dear comrade to feel alienated because of an event he had no control over. Just like when he had been under the control of Lahabrea, the Warrior had helped him reclaim his place among the Scions, to feel at home again.


A split moment was all it took for the air to feel like it had been sucked from the room. A pressure weighed down on the rogue just as the warrior on the bed let out a cry of warning. Too slow, just a moment too long to move, and suddenly Thancred's chest began to burn through to his back. Or was it his back through to his chest? Slowly his gaze turned downward, his vision blurring at the slightest movement as he tried to focus on the glint of steel in front of him, stained with red. A presence moved behind him, a hand coming up to wrap around his neck as Zenos Yae Galvus leaned down beside his ear. Thin lips parted and smiled slowly, blue eyes immediately flicking to the yelling figure shackled to his bed as he pressed his sword further through the intruder's body. "Weak...." He purred tauntingly, twisting the blade and reveling in the trickle of crimson that welled up from between lips parted in surprise.


When the body began to slump, Zenos let it go and let it hit the floor, taking a brief moment to wipe the blood away on the slate grey cloak the stranger was wearing before sliding his weapon back into its sheathe. His Beastie came to life on the bed, snarling like an animal and yanking at the shackles around his wrists, those eyes focused entirely on the prone body currently seeping blood into his carpet. Zenos clicked his tongue at his own sloppiness, he should have just killed the little insect when he had first felt his presence and saved himself the trouble of having to replace the carpet and fix the door. But then he wouldn't be witness to this glorious reaction.


Zenos approached the bed, his gaze hot and wild from the thrill of a fresh kill as his Beastie screamed at him. Threatened him. Yes. Yes. This is the creature he had seen that day. Violent, eager to tear him apart. He wanted him all the more now. But it did call into question just who that little insect had been to his Beastie. A dear friend perhaps? Or a lover? Zenos growled at the mere idea of someone touching what was his, even if it was just a hypothetical possibility. The Garlean reached for his Warrior, catching the leg that kicked out at him by the ankle and squeezing down on it until the male gasped in pain and tried to pull away. Kneeling on the bed between his Beastie's thighs, Zenos ran a gauntlet-clad hand over soft skin, watching the way it trembled against the cold metal of his touch. But when he looked up, those eyes weren't focused on him. They were cast off to the left, towards the door. Towards the body of the man Zenos had just murdered.


Narrowing his eyes, Zenos reached up and gripped his Beastie's jaw and forced the male to look up at him, cool metal biting into warm skin as the Warrior struggled to look away again, back to the body. Tears welled in the corners of those vibrant eyes, and Zenos released his grip. No, that's not what he wanted! He didn't want tears, he wanted fire! A thirst for blood! He wanted his Beastie to hate him, and yet crave him. With a snarl, Zenos pulled away from his Warrior, his body immediately missing the warmth of being between the male's legs even through his armor. Stalking over to the still figure on his floor, Zenos paused for a brief moment before he kicked the body, watching it roll limply from the force of the blow. The answering cry of fury had him pausing, once again turning his gaze towards his bed.


"Interesting... Your comrade is dead, and yet you are still affected by whatever happens to his body..." Zenos said, looking down towards the hyur. Even speckled with blood, the hyur's face was handsome. Again the question of the man's identity rose, of whether he was lover or friend. Reaching down, Zenos grabbed Thancred by the back of his cloak, dead lifting his weight off the floor. The moment he did so, the Warrior once again came to life with venomous threats and curses against his name. Zenos licked his lips as he watched the marvel that was his Beastie tear and snarl at the shackles, determined to free himself and lunge at the Garlean prince. Beautiful, that violent fire burning him to his core while tears betrayed the anguish he felt as they slowly spilled down his cheeks. Zenos felt a pleased smile slip across his lips as he casually let the body go once again, hearing it hit the floor with a heavy thud, coupled by the soft squelch of the blood soaked carpet. The ship was still under siege, and Zenos was not so naive to think that this insect had managed to sneak in on his own. There had to be another aboard his ship, but where?


Stepping over the body at his feet, Zenos moved towards the door with purpose. He looked back over his shoulder at the confused but violent stare that followed him. The prince only purred, enjoying the way those eyes zeroed in on him once again, as if he were the only thing that mattered. From this point on, he was. "What is that saying, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?" He asked, detaching his helm from his belt where it was tied to keep it out of his way. "Well now, I have one little bird. I've killed another... So would that mean to say that there is yet one still in the bush?" He asked, slipping his helm on over his head and securing it in place. He always did enjoy the hunt, but there was also something quite enjoyable about laying a trap and waiting for it to be sprung.