The once bustling town of Dur Ammu was now quiet, its gates closed and vigilant guardsmen patrolling on the high stone walls of the town, for a hostile army had encamped a mere kio away. The camp was inhabited by Matoran militia, servants and slaves, Lesterin warriors, Skakdi and Vortixx mercenaries and even a few Dangi. It was midday, and the camp was bustling with activity, for an assault on the walls of the town had been planned for the next day. One Vortixx was making his way through the busy labyrinth of tents, trying to find the leader of the army. His name was Dartakh.
The Vortixx had dark blue and black skin, broad shoulders and strong muscles. He wore a shining cuirass made out of bronze scales and a protosteel helmet on his head. A round, wooden shield was strapped on his back. The shield reinforced with a band of iron, and had a round iron dome in the middle. A spiked, exotic mace was hanging from his belt. He seemed tired, for bitter, cold hatred of life had been burning in his heart for almost a decade now, ever since Miira, Gagarian and others had died in the brutal ambush. Only one reason for him to live remained, one motivation to keep him going. Without it, he would've ended his life many years ago.
As he made his way through the camp, hatred burned in his eyes, as if other people were nothing but mere obstacles for him. Many moved wisely out of his way. Those who did not, Dartakh pushed violently out of the way. One drunk (an impressive feat, especially if one considers that she was a Ga-Lesterin) Lesterin grabbed him when he shoved her away, and threatened him with a knife. The Vortixx turned and suddenly punched her on the jaw. The woman fell into the mud, and when she struggled to get up, Dartakh simply left. Others insulted him or spouted curses, but he couldn't have cared less.
After a while, he finally found the large tent of the leader, situated near the middle of the camp. It was much larger and more colorful than any other tent, and had two Po-Lesterin guarding the entrance. They had long bronze halberds and polished copper shields. When Dartakh approached, they blocked his path. "Get out of the way," Dartakh ordered, but the guards simply stood there. The Vortixx sighed, and said "Your leader wanted to meet me. My name is Dartakh. Ask her, if you don't believe me". The guard on the left turned around, raised the flaps that covered the passage and walked inside. The other guard stood there and stared at the visitor, who stared back, unblinking. After a moment, the guardsman returned, and said "You may enter".
Inside, a makeshift office had been set up, with a wooden chair covered with red velvet, a table covered with piles of paper, several cabinets and a chest. A Le-Lesterin was sitting on the chair behind the table, drinking something out of a beautifully decorated protosteel cup, that was studded with gems and had golden inlays. She wore a Pakari, and thirteen medals, made out of gold, silver and protosteel, hung from her chest. She put the cup on the table, and savored the drink in her mouth before finally swallowing it. Only then did she pay any attention to the visitor. She smiled warmly and said "Ah, good to see you again, Dartakh. You've come just in the right time, for we are preparing for an assault on the walls of the city. We've been sitting on our arses long enough, I think". She chuckled, and examined the Vortixx. "You haven't changed over the last two years, haven't you? Except for that nice new helmet, is it made out of protosteel? Must've been expensive." She drank from her cup again. Dartakh seemed to be very uncomfortable being anywhere near this woman.
"I received your letter", he finally said. "You wanted to hire me.. again." The Lesterin put the cup in the table, and replied "Indeed. You were quite impressive last time, and when I say impressive, I mean impressive. Those poor bastards got their arses beaten into a bloody pulp, hehe. I think you can be very helpful again. So, I offer 40 silver dalets." Dartakh immediately responded "Not enough. At least eighty, this is a bloody siege" "How does 45 sound?" "Fuck off, Halis, eighty or I'll leave." "50?" "No." "How about 55?"
Dartakh spat on the wooden, makeshift floor and turned around, ready to leave. Halis laughed. "You haven't changed at all, dear. Fine, 75 silver dalets. Plenty of women and booze you can buy with that" Dartakh turned around. "Fine." He never spent his money on women, and only a little on booze. He saved most of it for later use. Almost all of his armor, weapons and equipment was either stolen or looted. Halis stood up, and grabbed a piece of blank paper from one of the piles of paper on the table. She then picked up her quill and spend a while writing a contract. when she was finished, she said "There. Sign on that spot," and offered the scroll to Dartakh. He grabbed the quill, but didn't write anything. "What does the contract say?" "You'll fight on my side in the next siege, and if you survive, you'll receive 75 silver dalets."
"I swear, if you think that you don't need to pay me, or that I'll work in the salt mines or become a slave just because some splattered ink on a piece of paper says so, you're an idiot." "Don't worry, I remember what you did to me last time", she said and removed her mask, revealing a face that might have been beautiful once but was now riddled with scars and claw marks. "I see that you haven't shortened your finger talons either. You really haven't changed at all," she said and smiled. She put her mask back, while Dartakh said "Alright," signed the paper with a crude cross, and handed it back over to her.
"Who will be my officer?" Dartakh then asked. Halis pondered for a moment, before deciding "Ighu. He's a mercenary as well, and has a small group of skilled warriors under his command. I'm sure he'll be happy to have a new warrior in his group." She then drank from her cup again. Dartakh asked "Where can I find him? This camp is a fucking maze. Why can't it be organized like the camps of Eramos?" Halis put the cup on the table and replied, ignoring the latter question. "I'll give you a gift, who will guide you there. She will also help you, and do anything you want her to do. Take it as proof of my reliability and my gratitude for your service last time." She then called out "Slave! Come over here!"
A De-Matoran appeared from a small passage on the side of the tent that lead to a smaller tent, where the Matoran probably lived. She was very skinny and tired, and seemed malnourished. Chunks of her masks had been cut off, and what once had been a Hau was now just a small piece of protosteel covering her mouth and nose. A spiked iron band was strapped around her neck, and the word 'Attu' was painted with red paint (or blood) on her forehead. Dartakh couldn't read, but the word meant 'slave' in the local language.
When Dartakh realized that Halis was offering him a slave, he seemed disgusted. "No. I can't accept this gift" "Why not? Sure, she's not in the best condition, but she is very loyal, and is always quiet! Like I said, she will obey you fully, and will never escape. She never has even attempted to do that. She's a good slave-" "I don't want a fucking slave" "Why not? are you one of those fools who think slaves deserve something better than this? You don't seem like that kind of person, to be honest." "None of your business. I'm not taking her." "It's my gift, and you don't want to accept it? I might be insulted, maybe I even have you imprisoned or beaten. And dammit, I didn't pay you enough last time, you saved my life. I'm in debt, and money can't repay you. A slave can serve you much more than a bag of dalets"
Dartakh looked very frustrated and angry, and said "No." Halis shook her head, and responded "Very well then". She raised the contract, and suddenly started to rip it. At first, Dartakh was about to say and do something, but decided to give in. He clenched his fists, and replied "Fine. I'll take her" Halis smirked, and put the contract inside a chest. "Good. Go on then, slave. Show your new master where Ighu the captain is." The slave obeyed, and headed to the entrance. "She knows her way around the camp. I always teach her where all the officers are, so I don't have to worry about remembering where the fuck everyone is." Dartakh said nothing, and simply followed the slave outside.