“Bitch booby-trapped the place.”

As the cabin door swings open, Mage raises her eyes from the topographic map spread out on the desk in front of her, one eyebrow arched quizzically. The man in the doorway appears much the worse for wear, his usually pale hair dark and matted with ash and the skin on the back of his hands burned to a raw pink.

“Excuse me?”

Daren produces a cigarette from the pocket of his coat (which had not been quite so singed and tattered upon his departure from the ship a few hours before, Mage notes) and strikes a match on the table. He takes a moment to light the cigarette and slowly inhale, exhale the poisonous smoke before he speaks again.

“Tanim’s dead.”

Mage sighs and rubs her temples in a futile attempt to prevent an inevitable headache.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Daren rummages in his other pocket and throws a silver dollar sized scrap of burned material onto the table. On closer inspection it appears to be a piece of charred flesh, recognizable only from a half-blistered black Sun tattoo.

“That’s all I could find.”

Mage stares at the piece of skin, idly wondering how the flesh of one’s wrist could survive an accident the rest of the body could not, then shakes her head and scoops up the fragment of Tanim.

“You know,” she grumbles, “I waste a lot of time resurrecting you two.”

Grinding out the cigarette, Daren offers only a casual shrug as if to shake off any responsibility.

“Hey, I told him to be careful.”

“What happened?”

“Triggered an explosion at the south entrance while we were trying to get past the culvert.”

A noise of extreme displeasure bordering on rage rumbles in Mage’s throat as she eyes the map with a scowl that could light the parchment on fire.

“So that ‘fireworks boy’ of hers is lending a hand, eh?” She slams her fist down and turns away in a huff. “Dammit. I need a bigger crew.”

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