”There’s only 12, how hard could it be?””Wait, 12?” —Trixy & Eliza
“Alright, that’s the last of ‘em.”
“Mate, you doing alright there? Didn’t catch a cold, didja?”
“Eyy, the bois and I are going out after this. Ya down?”
“Hrm, looks like gas prices spiked again…”
Within an abandoned warehouse on the western end of Penrose, ten men in well-tailored suits stood, a stack of very large binders before them. A foot or a hand stuck out from a couple of the binders, and on the concrete floor, a complex magical script was drawn. Say what one may about the advances in human rights during the modern era, people were always a commodity with a high demand, and the Red Nest was one of the many supernatural gangs capitalizing on it. Sketchy Puchuu needs new girls, fast? Horror’s got some exceptional interests? Gods prowling about again? Red Nest’s got ya covered. Delivery in two days, incognito, or your money back.
Large freighter crates created a labyrinth within, corrugated steel and shadow minimizing the chances of some hobo or vagrant stumbling upon the place, while the lights above were turned off; the weretigers operated in almost total darkness as they did their task and chatted about meaningless, innocent things. It was a comfortable routine, after all. The Ascendancy, powerful as they were, were still just a bunch of children, accustomed to fighting mindless monsters. With a little creativity, a little intelligence, there were a myriad of ways to slip under their radar.
Anyways, the Red Nest enjoyed the challenge.
Trixy and Eliza arrived outside the warehouse. ”We’ve arrived!”
Trixy sent a transmission to their Patron.“Good. I trust you all remember what your mission is?””The elimination of the weretigers, and the retrieval of the civilians!”
Trixy smiled.“Sources say there are at least ten weretigers, but there may be more. You never know with weretigers.”
Veronica had previously briefed them on their ability to shift between the overcity and back. “I don’t want them escaping. You may begin the operation.””Right!”
Trixy was a little nervous. This should have been Tetrad’s mission, but she was completing a more important operation at the moment. That left Trixy and Eliza to deal with the weretiger situation.”Looks a little dark in there, but my scope should be able to see just fine.”
Trixy looked at Eliza. ”Hey! You know illusion magic right? I don’t suppose you can turn us invisible can you? Maybe make us look like weretigers? If we don’t spook them too bad, we can do this 007 style.”“Well, I can try camouflage. Hold on.”
Eliza focused her illusion magic to make herself and Trixy appear like weretigers, down to the voices. ”How’s this?
Trixy examined herself. She was wearing a fine red suit and her rifle had more or less vanished. ”It’s perfect!”
She removed her scope from her gun, and it turned into a monocle in her hand. This was just an illusion though. She tried to hold the scope in a way that made the illusion look natural. She had coiled a finger around the center of the scope to do this. But this meant she had to hold the “monocle” a few inches away from her face. Trixy looked at Eliza. ”We’ll be fine so long as they can’t detect illusions. They might not fall for it if they’re a tight knit group though, so be ready for that. But let’s see if we can remain hidden, find the humans, and maybe turn on the lights.You might have difficulty navigating in the darkness, so just follow my voice and stay by my side.”
She holstered her gun across her back and hummed as she walked into the warehouse.
She examined her surroundings carefully. Her scope was a mystic artifact, but at present she was just using it to navigate the darkness. Trixy needed to find out where everyone was.
Though the labyrinth of freight containers was pitch black, Trixy’s mystic artifact enabled them to navigate without any mishaps. As far as the two magical girls could tell, there were no particular magical effects present in the area, and the closer they got to the center of the warehouse, the louder the conversation sounded.
Soon enough, the duo made it, sidling up against the side of a freighter as they scanned the area. Through her artifact, Trixy could spot ten humans in sharp suits, their firearms hanging off from their bodies. So far, neither of them were detected yet…
Then one of the humans sniffed loudly, audibly, and began to turn.
Trixy approached the group, still holding up her monocle and acting like there was nothing out of the ordinary about her or Eliza being there. ”I think they’re all here.”
Trixy relayed telepathically. ”Ten men, all in dapper suits. Seem to have guns too!”
Though the man sniffing the air didn’t go unnoticed by Trixy. She quickly assessed the situation and chose what she felt was the best course of action. ”I do say!”
Trixy added a bit of British charm to her character. ”If I didn’t know any better, I’d say one of you custards smells like a human!”
She reached behind her back to pull out her rifle. Though it looked like an old sawed off with Eliza’s illusion magic. ”It’s not you, is it?”
She said while looking directly at the man glaring at her.”Do you think I botched that?””Just roll with it.”"Of course dey smell like human. They've been handlin' em fo’ god know how long da’ smells bound ‘ta rub off on ya’.”
Eliza faked an unamused look to Trixy, with a clear boston accent. Or at least some accent of her own. “Unless ‘ya mean the actual humans, than dayum, one of em’s needs a shower…”
“Yer late,” one said, flicking the smouldering butt of a cigarette off into the corner. It bounced against corrugated steel, then smoked still. He gestured towards the circle, his ponytail swishing like an actual tail. “We’re already done.”
The sniffer sniffed again, eyes narrowed. “And you two...soth, you’ve been rolling with prepubscents? Have some class, will ya?”
The remaining eight similarly looked displeased, but beyond a couple of grunts, simply stood at attention more.
Ponytail-man sighed, “Whatever. Sensed any magicals ‘round the area while you two were out? Should be a couple of darks, going by the tip.”
Trixy holstered her gun. ”Well my good chap, there are always magicals about. Though we appear to be safe for the time being.” She
he adjusted their tie. ”Which is all the more reason why we should conclude our business here as soon as possible.””That worked? But then where are the captives?””Beats me, we’ll get to find them soon enough, I hope.”“Hah, apologies for ‘dat. Most of em’s busy dealin’ with the brighter bastards ta’ even spare a glance! We should be fine, but best ta’ watch for any lurkin’ at da’ Ova’city, ‘ight?”
Eliza grinned, resting what appeared to be a flintlock rifle on her shoulders.
“Sure, sure,” Ponytail-man sighed. “Get into formation; we’ll transfer the goods out and then shift back.” With those orders, the rest of the weretigers-in-suits moved, forming a circle around their leader, all of them facing outwards. The reorganization of bodies allowed Eliza and Trixy now to see the binders that were atop a magical circle.
“Well, what’re you two waiting for? Get to position.”
Trixy had been momentarily distracted by the binders. ”O-Of course my good man.”
Trixy jogged towards the circle with the other weretigers. She slipped the monocle into her pocket, which was an illusion she competed by sending the scope into her hammer space handbag. ”We aren’t letting them leave.”
The temptation was to allow herself to be shifted to the other side. But then they would need a way back, with half a dozen binders filled with people. But crippling the red nest as a whole wasn’t part of the mission. ”Say ol’ chap, your hair is mighty distracting.”
Once Trixy got to the magic circle, she lunged for the pony tail man’s jugular.
Eliza just silently followed Trixy, up until she froze up when the other girl made grabs for the leader(?)’s ponytail. ”Fight now??”
she asked through their magicoms with urgency.
“And your plan hinged on us not being able to count,” Ponytail-man replied, almost flippantly.
As Trixy lunged for him, she heard the ripping, the shredding of fabric beside her, moments before a transformed weretiger, in his full, bestial glory, smashed into the magical girl. The two tumbled into the ground, rolling, before Trixy found herself pinned by the tiger’s paws, as its jaws opened up inches away from her face to reveal a set of ferocious fangs.
Around Eliza too, were the metallic rick-rackings of automatic weaponry, the firearms all pointed at her, but not firing yet.
Ponytail-man’s ponytail swished back and forth with delight, and with villainous delight, he continued, “Honestly, I heard corrupted girls were supposed to be smarter than the regular kind, but I suppose you can’t do much with underdeveloped brains, no matter how much magic ya jam into them. What were you thinking, really, trying to sneak into a group of ten as the eleventh and twelfth?”
Behind him, the magic circle was humming now, glowing as it prepared to transport the goods to the Overcity.
“Now, let’s keep this nice n simple. Who do you two work for?””Was I too subtle, Eliza?”
Trixy had expected something to go wrong. The possibility that they were being led on had crossed her mind, but poor communication between her companion and herself ended up tripping things more in the weretiger’s favor than she would have liked. Just as much her fault as it was Eliza’s really. Underestimating the leader’s intelligence and overthinking the situation was a small oversight, but at least it confirmed that this was all of them. They didn’t have any backup, they were all right here. It was just a shame that Trixy’s arms were splayed out and pinned by a weretiger. The fangs were a turn off, but not as much as his breath.”We’re not in trouble yet, alright? I’m going to create a distraction and some cover. You need to be ready to attack them and get down!”
Trixy chuckled, and her guise dissipated. ”You seriously don’t know who we are?”
An acorn appeared in both of her outstretched, pinned hands. ”Haven’t you read my blog?”
Trixy couldn’t throw the acorns very far, arms being pinned and all, but it was fortunate she was close to the circle. One acorn rolled between Eliza and all of the weretigers pointing guns at her. It sprouted into a stumpy tree that could be used as cover. It had no branches, but it was slightly wider than Eliza and came up to her waist. It was all Trixy could do to offer Eliza cover.
“Aw man, and I thought we could be good friends.” Eliza’s illusion disappeared, with subtle sarcasm. As soon as the second acorn was in the circle, she quickly ducked behind the tree given as cover and fired a volley of light daggers at the weretigers.
The second acorn rolled into the circle and simultaneously exploded outwards in a mass of branches. It shoved everything out of the circle, including the binders and the weretigers. Trixy’s magic was never really designed to handle massive spells like that, and her mana was taking a hit because of it. It was fortunate that there was a fuel source breathing over her. With a quick snap, her vice-like maw popped up and crushed the jaw of the weretiger.
With the binders scattered by the sudden emergence of a tree, the magic circle’s glow dimmed, whatever catalyst required for the transportation gone. The weretigers scattered as Eliza’s light daggers shot out; though human in appearance, their instincts were sharper than any man. Her magic disappeared into the darkness once more, before bursts of gunfire smashed into the tree she took cover behind. It had been wide enough to hide her, but that only worked until the gunmen began to fan out. The shattering of wood chips told her that she had moments to find new cover, lest the magical girl be turned into swiss cheese by the all-American arsenal.
Trixy’s maw, though, was certainly capable of chewing through fur and fang, flesh and bone. The monstrous girl could only delight in the flavor of rare tiger meat for a couple seconds, however. With a distinct shnnnk
, the four-inch-long claws of the weretiger unsheathed, razor sharp and coated in silver. It roared, enraged at her retaliation, before slashing at the prone magical girl with its claws, ripping and tearing chunks of flesh at a time, the hot blood that splattered from its face half-blinding Trixy.
The upside to this was that Trixy’s arms were no longer pinned down by the weretiger. While the beast tore its way into Trixy’s entrails, she took hold of its chest hair and pulled her torso upright. The weretiger prepared to drive its claws into her exposed back, but she thrust her free hand into the monster’s throat. She flick an acorn down his throat, which grew violently enough to sever the beast’s spinal column from their skull. The beast went limp, and Trixy finished devouring its head with a single bite.
One down, nine to go.
She was in a lot of pain. Even regeneration as potent as Trixy’s didn’t instantly heal wounds, and these were pretty severe. But she couldn’t stop now. Eliza was under fire, and she’d be eating lead if she didn’t do something. Now wasn’t the time to rest, now was the time to toughen up.
For the time being, it seemed like all the other weretigers were focused on gunning down Eliza. Trixy rolled out from under the weretiger’s carcass and set her Barrett on top of it. Because it had transformed, the weretiger’s body had the same functionality as a pile of sandbags. Trixy snapped the scope back on her gun and wiped the blood out of her eyes. Her duplicate, Dusty, rolled out from Trixy’s side and placed her gun directly on the floor. They didn’t need to communicate their intent. They racked their rifles. They opened fire together.
The Barrett M82 has a reputation for being used as a sniper rifle in many video games. While it could certainly be used as one, its primary function is as an anti-materiel rifle (AMR). It’s used to penetrate light armored vehicles, as well as concrete barricades, buildings, or anything else that could provide cover. In addition to this, they were semi-automatic and could empty their 10 round magazines rather quickly. They were also very
loud, and would probably draw the attention of the weretigers soon. Trixy and Dusty didn’t want to waste any of their bullets. They aimed for center mass and hoped for the best. Each shot caused Trixy to wince in pain, but since she was laying on the ground, she was confident her guts wouldn’t fall out due to the recoil.
Taking the opportunity, Eliza quickly made illusion clones of herself; Two appearing to be fleeing, and the third taking her place behind the tree, and made herself turn invisible. The witch hurried over to Trixy, and used her healing artefact to help speed up the sniper’s regeneration.
“Damnit, they got Mercer!”
“Break up, break up!”
“Those are fakes, half-shift now!”
The first shots from Trixy and Dusty struck, but the sheer penetrative power of the M82 meant that the bullets pierced through much too cleanly; it took more shots than they’d have liked to down a single target, and by then, the others burst off as well. She could see now that they had partially shifted, fangs jutting out from their lips as orange fur burst over their skin, the suits they wore tearing at the seams as their musculature increased. Two down, eight to go.
“Use the humans as shields.” From the darkness, Ponytail-man’s voice sounded, followed by a motley chorus of affirmatives. Immediately, the human-sized binders were lifted up, forming almost worthless cover versus the penetrative ability of the M82, if not for the fact that the two magical girls had been sent there specifically to prevent the loss of human lives.
Soon, the gunfire continued anew, firearms bursting at sprodiac cycles as they meticulously pinned the magical girls down behind their distingrating cover. They may have been low-tier supernatural criminals, incapable of offensive magic, but the Red Nest hadn’t survived this long just to get done in by a couple of children!
Staccato beats sounded on, bullets whizzing closer and closer to Eliza, Trixy, and Dusty.
They got two of them at least, and her stomach felt like it was holding together now. This was considerably better than a moment ago when they had Eliza at gunpoint. But Trixy was still pissed. Those cowards were hiding behind hostages. It didn’t matter if they were hiding behind cute girls or not, filth like that didn’t deserve to live. That was something they would fix though.”We need to spread out, and we need to get offensive!”
Trixy rolled an acorn under Eliza, and the angel girls could feel a stump form under her body. ”Spread your wings, take the fight to them! Rain death upon thee foes!”
The stump grew with such speed that it popped Eliza into the air.
Trixy took aim and fired over the binders, Each shot would split apart over the weretiger goons and drop seeds into the air. These seeds would turn into poison ivy vines, which would grow and ensnare the head and arms of any nearby weretigers. It would also give them one hell of a rash if they didn’t wash afterwards. If the vines were allowed to crawl to the weretigers’ hands, they would attempt to jam their weapons and push the binders from their grasp.
Dusty did not have the ability to use magic like that. So she took cover behind the newly created tree and waited for an opportunity to fire.
Trixy’s poison ivy wrapped around limbs, but with bestial grunts, they were torn off as quickly as they could spawn, the thick fur of the weretigers shielding them from much of the ivy’s effects. Still, it did its job; though not all of the weretigers were occupied with removing the vegetation away from their bodies, the rate of fire blasting against Trixy’s obstacles decreased swiftly, enabling Eliza to ascend without instant retaliation.
Eliza quickly took flight when she was boosted into the air. She used her focused assault to rapid fire light bullets and beams at the Weretigers, making it to where her attack avoided the binders. If the binders were separated from their adversaries, the witch would use her ribbons to pick them up.
From her vantage point now, the winged magical girl unleashed her concentrated barrage of light. One weretiger, too occupied with the ivy, was torn apart instantly. Two more had to shift fully into their tiger forms in order to sustain what injuries they received from the lasers; as such, Eliza was able to pick up two of the human-sized binders. It looked good, for a moment there.
But just for a moment.
Weighed down by what was essentially two human bodies and no longer behind any sort of cover, Eliza wasn’t able to react in time when a single shot sounded from the far end of the clearing. The bullet drove into her right shoulder, piercing flesh and breaking bone, rendering her dominant arm useless.”Eliza!”
Trixy too, found herself in greater trouble now. Making the best out of an awkward situation, two unshifted weretigers rode on the backs of the shifted tigers, holding up the binders still as a rudimentary shield. With a roar, they charged right for Trixy and Dusty’s barricade, intending on crashing through and tearing her apart in melee once again.”Shooting a cherub? You guys have no class!”
Dusty had abandoned cover to join Trixy behind the bullet ridden weretiger corpse. While still holding their guns, the twins picked up the corpse and charged forward, screaming in unison.
The carcass did serve to absorb incoming bullets, but it also hid the muzzle of their guns. Once they got close, they fired through the corpse and into the transformed weretigers. Their Barretts proved to have too much penetrating power when used against an untransformed weretiger. But the two charging them were fully transformed and horizontal to the ground. There would be plenty of time for the bullet’s kinetic energy to dissipate inside their massive bodies.”Get to cover Eliza, but don’t stop your assault!”
Eliza hissed in pain when her arm was shot through. She fired a beam at the direction the sniper fired from, then rushed to get to cover, holding onto her wound. But she didn’t let her rain of projectiles let up, even if it took a toll on her mana.
As both sides got closer, the tigers leapt, their claws outstretched as they lunged for Trixy and Dusty. In retaliation, the dark magical girl unloaded as well, Barret M82s eviscerating the beasts in a burst of gunfire. The creatures let out an agonized howl, but were still able to hook their claws onto Dusty, knocking her prone before she could get onto the rider’s binder. As her maw opened to devour the still-warm corpse that laid upon her, there was the clicking of a trigger. The rider, having remained atop his steed this entire time, jammed the barrel of his gun against the clone’s face.
Seven bullets later, and her skull was paste, the clone’s body dissipating moments later.
Trixy was more fortunate; the other tiger didn’t manage to snag her dress. Instead, however, all three individuals, rider, magical girl, and tiger, collided mid-air, before tumbling into the ground, their respective firearms scattering away from them. The rider crashed into the concrete first and only just managed to pull his human shield up to interpose it between himself and the ravenous magical girl. Planting his feet against it, he kicked up, launching both binder and Trixy away from him before springing up to his feet. Unsheathing his claws, he took a stance, ready to engage the eyepatch kid in a one versus one, hand to hand fight.
Eliza’s beam crossed through the darkness of the room, splashing beside the sniper. It briefly illuminated his features; he was the ponytail-man who looked to be the leader of the Red Nest. Such discovery wasn’t anything that she was able to capitalize on, however. In such an open space, there was little cover that she could take advantage of. All Eliza could do was take evasive aerial measures, flitting up and down, somersaulting and diving to avoid the bullets that trailed her. One of her beams hit their mark, another of her blades sliced off a couple of fingers. But the binders that the weretigers used as protection were large and wide, without ground support from Trixy, she could no longer get an easy bead on her target.
Another explosive blast resounded through the warehouse, whistling right above Eliza. Sparks burst above, and with the popping of screws, the tearing of wire, a large, suspended light the size of a kitchen table swept down, right in Eliza’s path.
Trixy slid a ways before she pushed the binder off to the side and ran back towards the weretiger. It wasn’t that Trixy wanted an honorable duel, that was just the easiest looking target at the moment. Her outfit had been dyed crimson with tiger blood
, which had also started to dry around her eyes and mouth. Trixy was determined not to lose herself to her urges, but she was on the verge of a frenzy. Dusty might have just been a duplication, but she would be avenged.
Eliza rushed to heal her arm with her artefact, then promptly yelped when she saw the suspended light fixture begin to fall above her. She quickly flew out of the way, then creating a large sledgehammer out of her magic, she knocked the fixture at the weretigers sniping her, and aimed her rain of light on them instead.
Instead of engaging Trixy, however, the weretiger brawler held his ground, legs bent as if to receive her charge. He didn’t though. A fanged sneer emerged and he leapt off to the side, right as a burst of gunfire sounded behind Trixy. Six bullets slammed into the bloody maid’s back before the distinct ‘click click’ of an empty magazine sounded. The fake-brawler was diving for his gun again, his bait complete; his partner was in the process of reloading, popping in a new clip in hopes of firing more before she could recover.
Eliza’s hammer technique seemed to have worked as well. With a sharp ‘snap’, the last chains holding the fixture up broke apart, hurtling down towards the weretigers below. They snarled in retaliation and disbelief, but abandoned their binders immediately as the fixture crushed
those hostages flat. There was a crash, but there was a splat as well, blood bursting out the two binders like crushed ketchup packets.
But two down below were no longer under cover either. Under the barrage of light, they were forced to shift immediately for the added durability, dropping their guns and turning into massive beasts. Another crack from the far end sounded; in that moment of mixed horror and accomplishment, Eliza felt another dull thud in her gut, almost losing control of her flight as the pain began to spread.
Trixy had taken quite a beating. From having her guts nearly pulled out of her stomach to having her back riddled with bullets. But nothing hurt as much as watching the light fixture fall and crush defenseless hostages. “I’m not paying you lot for dead humans.”
Veronica’s words didn’t stir anything inside Trixy. She was too fixated on what had just transpired. Her body trembled. To anyone looking on they might mistake it for death spasms. But they most certainly weren’t. Inside, Trixy’s heart was racing. She would never throw up anything, but at this moment, she felt like she could.
“We’re leaving! They’re killing the merch now!””No you’re not!”
Trixy forced herself to her feet. There were so many seeds in her hand, they were spilling out of her palms. ”I haven’t devoured enough of you cowards yet.”
The seeds started to grow around her body, quickly forming a flora based exo-suit. Her limbs were caged in branches and briars, giving her long wooden talons. She looked at the “fake brawler” out of the corner of her eye.”Not nearly enough!”
He got a few shots off, but Trixy’s arm grew a thick wooden shield that blocked most of the bullets. Some penetrated her arm, and one even grazed her cheek, but she was undeterred. When she got close, 4-inch thorns stuck out of the shield moments before she made contact. If the brawler even thought about diving out of the way again, Trixy was ready to spear him with her other hand. Even as she charged, several branches twisted together over her hand in preparation for this.
Regardless of which attack landed (provided one landed) she’d devour the tiger man’s head, maybe his shoulders too. This was one of the strongest utilities of her magic, but it was draining to use. She needed to keep feeding just to keep it together. ”The buffet isn’t over!”
She’d then take his machine gun and empty the rest of the magazine into the closest weretiger. Only if she could do so without hitting the binder he was standing on. She was a professional, after all.
Eliza would’ve fell from the air out of sheer terror if she didn’t catch herself, yet it was obvious from her expression. Not only was she in pain, she was traumatized, as with her first accidental murder. Murder, murderer, for a moment, that was all that was running through her head. The witch lowered her head. She never wanted to be a monster. She never wanted to be a murderer.
...But what’s a bit of bloodshed to kickstart a massacre?”You are going nowhere.”
When Eliza looked over to the weretigers, she appeared deranged, having more or less snapped and allowed the chaos engine within to cause havok for the first time. The witch used more ribbons to grab whatever debri she could to block the entrance, even going as far as using her magic, and made the light rain disappear. Then she landed back onto the ground, and grabbed her rifle, letting it shift into her scythe. ”I’ll kill you, I swear to God, I’LL KILL YOU ALL!”
While Trixy dealt with two of the weretigers, Eliza went after the other two, knocking their binders aside before slashing the weretigers. At this rate, she might as well be straining herself, but she felt like she deserved it.
Madness and rage, yet they forgot.
Weretigers could Overcity Shift. Could they?
In letting up her barrage of piercing light in order to go close the entrance, Eliza had neglected to continuously pressure the three weretigers that had been targeting previously. She dropped to the ground, grasped her scythe, and charged at them, but as she swung, they dissolved, shifting dimensions into another plane.
Her scythe shed no blood.
Trixy too, found no satisfaction, nothing sating her ravenous hunger. Even as her jaws clamped over the fake-brawler, even as his limbs twitched sporadically from terror and agony, the one she targeted with the firearm she stole puffed into the aether, bullets zipping through and scattering against the freight boxes behind.
In an instant, the Red Nest had exfiltrated, leaving nothing but the stench of blood and gunpowder.
Blood, of both beasts and men.
As her rage came to a screeching halt, Eliza collapsed onto her knees when the weretigers managed to flee either way. The witch felt like she failed. Even if she wanted to cry, she refused to, hiding her face in her hat. She wasn’t weak. She wasn’t…
Trixy’s makeshift exo-suit crumbled away as she shoved what remained of the weretiger into her mouth. Once she was done, she ran over to the next corpse, and the next one. The air was filled with the sounds of breaking bones and tearing flesh. It didn’t matter how big the body was or how many bullets were inside it. She ate every scrap of flesh and every severed finger. Trixy was so thorough she even licked up the blood that fell on the floor. But it wouldn’t sate her. The maid sunk to her knees and covered her face with her hand. She refused to look in Eliza’s direction.“You didn’t kill all of them, you didn’t save all of them.”
The impartial voice of Veronica rang out in their minds. “Though it appears most of the binders are safe, and you annihilated most of the red nest.”
Around each of the binders, a black shadow loomed that expanded under all of the binders simultaneity. The black claw of the cradle reached out of the bubbling darkness and pulled the binders inside. “This was not a stunning performance, but I am willing to call this operation successful. Most of the girls will be returned, but I’m counting on a few of them joining your ranks.”
Once the Binders had been pulled into the inky portals, the shadows blended into the darkness. “I expect a better performance in the future. That was one of the sloppiest attempts at stealth I’ve ever seen.””Right.”
Trixy growled. ”I’ll do better next time.”
She walked towards the barricaded exit. With a snap of her fingers, her “eternal style” magic activated and shed all the blood and dirt off of her uniform. Though it didn’t make her feel any better. Once she was in front of the barricaded exit, she started pulling away the rubble, eating through what she couldn’t move.
Eliza stayed silent, only using her ribbons to help move the barricade without turning around herself. ”Go ahead and go, I’ll catch up later. I...just need to think...”
Trixy looked over her shoulder at Eliza. There was no doubt that she was upset with how things had turned out. The angel’s actions managed to get a few civilians killed. It wasn’t something she did intentionally, and it certainly wasn’t her idea to use people as human shields to begin with. Perhaps that was what made this so upsetting. The only people worth being angry at got away. Her enemy here wasn’t Eliza, but the weretigers.”Eliza.”
Trixy approached the angel with her arms spread. She did her best to force a smile and wrapped her arms around her. ”You don’t want to be alone with your thoughts right now.”
She tipped up Eliza’s hat so that she could look into her eyes. ”Come on, you don’t have to punish yourself.”
the corner of her lip twitched. ”I know a place that serves waffles at this hour, but I don’t want to eat alone. Did you wanna come with me?”
It was obvious Eliza was holding back the urge to cry, as a few tears had managed to escape. She was surprised Trixy wasn’t mad at her. Then again, she was mad at herself. ”Really…? O-Okay!”
she managed to crack a smile, accepting the offer.
Trixy took Eliza by the hand before leading the way. ”Yup! Nobody should go to the Waffle Palace alone!”
Trixy would be lying if she said she didn’t partially blame Eliza for what happened, But it was an outcome born from their inexperience rather than malice intent. Under the right circumstances, it could have even been Trixy who ended up killing innocent people. It was hard to be mad at Eliza when it was clear she was already punishing herself. If Trixy was really going to manage the Cradle in Veronica’s absence, she needed to take care of everyone’s problems. Sometimes that means tending to their gear, other times that meant disciplining them.
But today, she could buy them waffles.
An instant later, and the surviving members of the Red Nest emerged in the Overcity, the smell of blood and gunpowder still clinging to them. Their leader, the unshifted man with the ponytail, flicked out a cigarette and lit it.
He took a drag, his eyes closed, before letting the smoke hiss out between his teeth.
“Sorry fuckin’ lot, aren’t cha?”
The weretigers grunted, shuffling about and licking their wounds.
“No problem though; they got the jump this time.” Another drag, before he grimaced, flicking the smouldering stub out into the ethereal fog. “We’ll have our satisfaction next time.”
Trixy and Eliza, of the Crimson Cradle.
He knew of a couple of patrons who would be interested in seeing that
Like beasts in the jungle, the Red Nest dissolved once more into the lights of the Overcity.