Kejora kicked his desk onto its side and ducked behind it. "Get down!"
The roar of two gauss pistols filled the room, and the desk shuddered as bullet hits stippled across its surface. Technicians screamed and died as the smell of copper and cordite clogged the air.
Kejora drew his sidearm—only a small semi-automatic pistol, but it wasn't nothing—and waited until the din subsided. Lingering moans told him some of the techs were still alive, but they would have to fend for themselves for the moment. He had a pretty good idea who was outside the door.
The recruit laughed, his voice manic from the adrenaline and the chemical rush. "Yes, sir, Warden, sir, reporting for duty, sir."
"Decent ambush, Feltz. Small deduction for giving away your position. The chemical delivery system is loud, even in combat. High marks overall." The effects of stimpacks lasted only a few seconds. If Kejora could stall him for just a little longer—
"That means a lot, coming from you." Another deafening volley of gunfire shook the Hub.
Enemies must be confronted and destroyed with efficiency. Method matters not. Use the knife, or the gun, or the bomb, or the fist. Never hesitate.—Icehouse Precept #8
Kejora rode it out calmly. Through the chaos, he heard heavy footsteps; Feltz was moving to flank him. The warden blindly fired his pistol around the desk, not willing to stick his head out for a better shot.
The footsteps stopped next to a row of computers against the far wall. Empty magazines clattered on the floor.
"You missed, Warden."
"Guess so." Kejora reloaded his pistol. "Unhappy about something, Feltz?"
"Unhappy about my brother, sir."
The warden recalled their chat in the medical ward. "The one who went missing. What about him?"
"I didn't exactly tell you the truth, Warden," Feltz said. "My brother isn't missing. I know where he is. Or rather, where he was."
"Really?" Kejora needed to string out the conversation as long as possible. The gunshots in the Hub had automatically triggered a dozen different silent alerts. Security teams would soon converge from all corners of the Icehouse.
But they would be delayed, he realized. The ongoing final exam meant they would have no clear route to the Hub. They'd have to fight their way through the same enemies the recruits were facing.
Kejora doubted he could keep Feltz from killing him until they arrived.
"My brother was here, Warden. At the Icehouse, under your tender care." Twin clicks echoed through the room as Feltz chambered a round in each of his guns. "It took a lot of time and a lot of money to get that information. A lot. You wouldn't believe."
"Can you get a refund? You're the first Feltz we've had in here."
The reaper's words cut through the distant thunder of combat. "Don't see the family resemblance? Not worth it to remember the ones who die in training? I'm not surprised."
"I remember every inmate."
"Even the washouts? The ones who failed to be useful?"
Feltz's voice turned to ice. "My brother's name was Dennis Staton."
Dennis Staton? He had died barely a week into training; batch seven hadn't agreed with him, and a few of his vital organs had become slush. It wasn't much of a loss. Dennis Staton had been an unremarkable, useless recruit.
Kejora decided to gloss over the details. "I gave your brother a chance. The same one you had. It simply didn't work out."