Trism eyed the tied up prisoner on the bed and smiled while he placed a small pouch on the table. He unrolled the leather pouch with a flourish like a performer doing a performance for the audience.

He hummed to himself and removed a syringe and a tiny glass bottle with a printed "XP - 117" on the labeling. He placed them side by side and even took the time to slip on a pair of surgical gloves before he poked the syringe into the bottle of clear liquid and pulled the plunger back slowly.

Trism stood over the tied up prisoner who was staring with anger at him and he flicked the syringe a couple of times, tapped the air bubbles up and pushing them out by squeezing the plunger. "Now we don't want to have air bubbles in your veins do we?"

Mills and Tyrier stood at the doorway and eyed Trism's work. "What's that?" Mills asked curiously.

"Truth serum," Trism replied as he patted the left arm of struggling prisoner, finding the vein.

"Huh?" Mills was surprised. "Does it work?"

"You asking me when it's you hoomans who made it," Trism replied without turning his head. "Ahh... hold still, you don't want this needle to break inside your arm do you?"

"Take a deep breath, it only going to hurt like a tiny ant bite!" Trism slowly stabbed the needle into the vein of the wide eyed prisoner who stared in fright at the needle going into his flesh. "There... and we are done!"

He removed the syringe after injecting the prisoner with its chemical contents and packed his stuff carefully back into the pouch.

"Hmm..." Mills frowned. "I don't think truth serums work all the time..."

"Ah... yes, that is true, hence I will also cast charm and confusion on him," Trism said. "With the combination of the drug and spells, he will tell else everything we need to know!"

Mills turned to Tyrier and raised an eyebrow to which Tyrier just gave a helpless shrug. "You can do that?"

"Yes," Trism stood over the prisoner started to act intoxicated. "We tested and even had it done on ourselves during training."

"Damn..." Mills whispered. "I so do not want to know how the hell Naval Intel trains their people..."

Trism placed his hand before the face of the prisoner and a couple of glowy magic circles appeared and chanted the magic verses, "Lesser Confusion!"

"Lesser Charm!" He cast another spell after the prisoner was hit with a confusion spell which left the prisoner moaning behind his gag.

Trism lifted the eyelids of the prisoner and checked the pupils, finding them dilated. He removed the gag of the prisoner and the prisoner gave a lopsided smile at Trism. "He's ready for questions."

Both Mills and Tyrier walked over and joined Trism at the bedside. Trism gently patted the head of the prisoner and smiled, "Tell me your name."

"M- my na- name is, Sa... Sam Holt..." The prisoner smiled back. "Y... you are nic- nice...!"

"Good, good!" Trism praised the prisoner. "Now, tell me, what do you do here?"

"I- I am... the... Stalker... Branch... Master... of Norshelm..." The prisoner muttered. "I... am in charge of all the... Guild affairs... here..."

"Who is the masked man?" Trism asked next.

"He is... an Adjuncator..." He replied with a silly smile. "Hehe... pretty colors!"

"What does he do?" Trism leaned closer and whispered into the prisoner's ear. "And how do I find him?"

"He... judges... which... contracts to take..." The prisoner said. "You... can find... him... here!"

"Here?" Trism asked. "Where is here?"

The prisoner giggled and wiggled his hands in an effort to point a direction before he gave up, unable to understand why he can't move his hands. "He... is downstairs..."

"How do I go downstairs to find him?" Trism slowly and carefully said each word.

"In the... salon..." The prisoner turned and looked at Trism with glassy eyes. "Push... the switch under... the second window frame... It will... open the way... hehe!"

"Any surprises?" Trism asked again. "Traps? Locked doors?"

"Ye- yes... much... traps! Hehe!" The prisoner giggled again. "Key... will... stop... traps!"

"Is there another way in?" Trism asked again. "Into the underground where the Adjudicator is at?"

"Many ways... in and out!" The delirious prisoner said. "Many ways!"

"Is there a map of the underground?" Trism patted the man's head.

"No.. maps!" The prisoner smiled. "All in... head!"

Trism turned around and Tyrier gave a nod before he left the room and gathered his men with him. "Let's go, we found our way in."

"Tavel, is the spell totally disarmed?" Tyrier gestured to the door frame.

"Yup, while you guys are having fun inside," Tavel grinned and removed the necklace off the frame. "I messed up spell's structure since we have the key."

"Good, bring it," Tyrier said. "We are going down to the salon!"

They made their way down past the Marines stationed at the stairs and entered the high windowed salon. "There should be a hidden switch under the second window frame, but which..." Tyrier said.

The seven of them fanned out and started searching, running their fingers under the window frames and Atiled suddenly called out, "Found it!"

His fingers found depression and he pushed with his finger. A click sounded followed by a soft grinding sound that came from the other side of the room. A section of the floor had moved away, revealing a hole with a flight of stairs that led into the darkness.

A pitch black corridor greeted them as they made their way down but with their night vision, they easily made their way forward. Tyrier checked the tracker signal and found it less than fifty meters away.

Tavel taking point was reporting traps here and there and he spent time to disarm the magical traps, making the going slow. Finally, they came upon a door at the end of the corridor and discovering no responses from the MU detector, they carefully entered.

They found themselves in a large anteroom supported by six pillars where several doors could be seen. Four large tables and benches were set in the middle of the room with globes of glow lamps on the walls lighting up the area.

Plates and bowls were stacked on one side of the tables while one of the benches sat a couple of people who were speaking in low tones and drinking from goblets. Tyrier halt the team and gestured his men to spread out and cover the area with hand signals.

The two unsuspecting Stalkers continued their conversations without noticing the Claymore One soldiers entering the room. "One, Two. Take them out!" Tyrier ordered after everyone was in position.

Instantly, suppressed puffs of air replied to him. The two bodies slumped down on the table with holes in their heads. "Which way?" Hitsu whispered as he took in the doors around them.

"Check the doors," Tyrier said. "See where they lead to."

They slowly checked each and every door and found them to lead off to other rooms or exits. Tyrier looked at the time, seeing that they had spent more than an hour just clearing the entire underground complex and had yet even approached their target.

Along the way, anyone they bumped into was put down swiftly and silently. Even those sleeping in the chambers were neutralized without any hesitation.

"Alright, stop the clearing of the tunnels," He decided to change tactics. "We grab the HVT first than we return to clear the place out!"

Following the tracker, they finally reached the place where the signal was the strongest. After the usual checks for traps and surprises, Hitsu used the handheld inspection tool and slipped the optiwand under the door crack and saw a large bedchamber.

After the locked door was picked, the team stacked up and entered stealthily, with their tasers at the ready, learning from their previous lesson. Once they stepped into the room, without any hesitation, the first man fired his taser at the body on the bed, followed by the next man.

The assault was almost anti climax as the body on the bed spasmed and kicked madly as the electricity coursed through his body without him putting up any struggle. "Tag and bag him!" Tyrier whispered. "Grab everything that seemed to be useful for Intel!"

The men spread out in the large bedchamber that was decorated richly compared to the others they had cleared. Clearly, the decor was done to be on par with the status of the person living here. Books and scrolls were quickly collected without checking their contents and placed inside Hitsu's bag of holding to be sorted out later.

Suddenly, a bell jingled in the room, causing the soldiers to freeze as they looked around in confusion for the source of the sound. "Shit!" Tyrier hissed. "I think we been made!"

"Three! Contacted!" The squad channel buzzed as Team Three holding point outside the room reported. "Four tangoes down!"

"One, roger!" Tyrier replied before turning to the rest in the room. "Five mikes! Grab everyone and let's go!"

They quickly left the place and stepped over the bodies of the dead littering the tunnel as they headed towards the exit. The urgent jingling bells and echos of running feet followed them as they entered the antechamber again.

A small crowd of hooded figures was milling around inside when Claymore One suddenly appeared in the room and a hush fell in the room. For a minute, both sides just stared at each other in confusion before someone yelled out. "Intruders!"

"Engage!" Tyrier yelled at the same time and pops of suppressed gunfire erupted around him. The Stalkers drew their swords out and dropped on the spot as rifle rounds punched through their light armor.

The Stalkers charged over the tables and around pillars as the men of Claymore One held their ground, firing single shots of aimed fire at any threat. The sudden mad engagement barely took a minute to be over. The smell of burnt gunpowder lingered thickly in the room mixing with the iron smell of blood and voided bowels.

"Clear right!" Hitsu called out as he swept his rifle over his covered sector.

"Left clear!" Young reported from the other side.

"Go!" Tyrier said and they hurriedly stepped over the blood and gore, their spent rifle cartridges rattling in the brass catcher attachment to their rifles. As they ran, another ground suddenly appeared from a door. "Contact left!"

Another flurry of shots brought down the newcomers and soon they were back in the long corridor that led back to the mansion. As they exited the tunnel, they found Sergeant Mills and a couple of Marines waiting for them. "What happened?" Mills asked.

"We got made," Tyrier said as he caught his breath. "But we got the HVT."

"Contact!" Someone still at the bottom yelled. Several muzzle flashes lit up the dark tunnel as the last man fired at the enemy. "Clear!"

"Blow the explosives!" Tyrier ordered.

Mills blinked widely. "What?"

A rumble could be heard and the ground shook slightly while the dust rained down from the ceiling. Alited grinned as he kept away the detonator, "Done!"

"We only manage to mine some of the exits that we found," Tyrier grinned. "That should trap some of them while we go back and root them out!"

"Seriously have you thought of the collateral damage?" Mills frowned. "Innocents could be killed!"

Tyrier gave a shrug, "It's either them or us. Besides, there are no innocents in war."

"We..." Mills wanted to argue but Tyrier put a hand up forestalling Mills's words.

"We are in the old district of the city," Tyrier said. "There are not many people living in these parts."

"But still!" Mills felt Tyrier's actions were overkill. "You could still injure innocents!"

"These exit places are all controlled by the Stalkers," Tyrier finally snapped. "There are only their people there guarding the exits!"

"Now, if you excuse me! I got more people to go kill!"

A note from neo Koh

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