Following the events of the day, the graveyard lay still. Hours had gone by - though the day remained the same, what had been a battleground had become the grounds of an investigation. The destruction that had been inflicted on the place lingered, marring the land of the dead with scars, craters, and debris. The place was in a sorry state, as was to be expected after so many forces clashed in a single area, but the actual severity surprised Christine to a small degree. Many a location she walked past seemed worse than the aftermath of the Stadium, though she hadn't thought it possible at first.
Christine took into her hammerspace handbag - a small thing, a purse sized backpack, lined with useless pockets and equally useless accessories. She withdrew a phone, and immediately the vibrations struck at her. A near constant stream, the moment the device picked back up the signal, from near every source at the Independent’s disposal. Surveyor Teams Alpha and Beta had been assigned to combing the graveyard from on high, searching for The Boss’s mysterious ‘interesting corpses’. The hum of drones overhead drew Christine’s gaze, making passage along the skies, spying for only the Gods knew what.
Around a corner, she came to the mausoleum, large and nearly untouched. The space around it was crater-ridden, but the structure itself had remained untouched throughout the events of the battle. Across the way were body bags, and over the top, scouting for further corpses, were two officers. Since the battle had ended, the police had descended upon the place like flies to roadkill - The Boss had complained one too many times than normal, and false identities only got a teenage girl so far through the line. Sasha had little trouble herself, as a thickset, heavily muscled woman with an equally heavy personality, but Christine was another matter.
Out from her bag came a stun gun. Little did Christine have need for it on most occasions, but transformation would take too long. Instead she ducked up behind the two of them, along the wall and behind a grave. With the first officers back turned, she brought it to his neck, and as he fell, she grabbed the taser at his belt. The dull ring of electricity brought the attention of the second man, but any words he attempted to make gurgled out in sudden tension of his muscles. The moment he fell, Christine brought the stun gun to his neck as well, ensuring both stayed down cold.”Sorry,”
she muttered, and took to the bags. Two large, black pieces of equipment, obviously filled, stretched across the dirt just a way off the crater and mausoleum each. The first she unzipped was a girl she didn’t recognise, decapitated at the base of the neck, with a single, clean cut. The second, Christine reasoned, was the ‘interesting corpse’ The Boss was in search of - and blonde, green eyed dragon girl, scaled along the arms. She wore a white dress, reminiscent in part of a Chinese dress, windowed at the breast, and soaked in blood from the neck downwards. And much like the other girl, the second body beheld a severe neck wound.
Phone in hand, Christine dialled a familiar number. "005: Katelyn Everance located. She's heavily wounded, probably dead."
~The Boss ~
Accompanied with her right hand, The Boss near found herself enjoying the walk. It was something of a distance, from the police checkpoint at the edge of the graveyard to Christine’s beacon at the mausoleum, but with Sasha on her arm, the rare pleasure of walking outside became something greatly more so. It was a quiet trip, with little conversation to share between them, but at times The Boss some semblance of peace. The two talked regularly, and The Boss enjoyed Sasha’s company, as she had done in so many ways for so many years. Even the quiet was a conversation in its own respect.
From around the corner of the Mausoleum, the first to emerge was The Boss
, fixing her patchwork cap as she strolled towards Christine. A little ways behind came Sasha
, transformed into her Magical Girl attire, presumably to keep her identity secret from any prying eyes. The Boss, on the other hand, kept herself sealed - uncaring of who could have been watching.”So?”
The Boss queried. She had closed the distance from the edge of the mausoleum to Christine in a second, elongating her gait some ways to speed up the process, despite the short distance. Just off to the side, by one of the graves, was Christine, sat idly watching the two approach. And to her right, propped up out of their bags, were the corpses.
Christine pulled herself from the ground, cleared her throat, and took a step forward. She had been preparing what to say here, The Boss reckoned. "Uh, well, that. Looks like the same person got them both - dagger wounds to the throat, I'm guessing?"
Christine took a step up towards the bodies, and titled Katelyn's head, showing off the wound. "Whoever it was took this one's head clean off. Though, she was touching her,"
she gestured from the body to Katelyn, "So I'm guessing they got killed at the same time. Facing each other, too. Assassination'd be my guess."
As the girl spoke, The Boss reached into her coat. A large thing, almost comically so, which covered up the small frame that wore it. Though brown and seemingly never washed, it remained in nigh pristine condition, save the patches, where damage after damage had been sewn and hidden, until nearly nothing of the original coat remained visible. Even its size, though, didn’t explain the things The Boss could pull out of it. An onlooker might have considered it like a hammerspace in and of itself, as she withdrew a laurel wreath, gold and green, embellished with berries, bespoke of a magical artifact. The Boss took a step forward, and placed it onto Katelyn’s head."Rebecca completed her mission, yeah?"
The Boss asked to no one in particular, without turning away from the body."From what she had said, contact has been made with Alicia."
The Boss nodded, and quickly raised a finger.”Wha-?
a startled Christine began, cut off from beginning to speak. From the corner of her eye, The Boss could see her confusion, but paid it no mind, as the surrounding area was filled with the sound of desperate choking. Katelyn doubled over into her own hands, coughing up blood as she struggled for breath against the vicious wound across her throat, which slowly sealed up with the power of the healing artifact on her head, and her own Regeneration."Try not to die a second time, Katie,"
The Boss said, as she removed the wreath from Katelyn's head and passed it onto Sasha. "Give this back to Charlotte when we're done here, 'kay?"
Once the chef had taken it, The Boss knelt down onto the stone, where Katelyn continued coughing, "Mind telling me what happened here?"
Question in the air, The Boss watched as Katelyn attempted to bring her breathing under control. The coughs subsided, and she shifted uncomfortably against the stone of the pillar, and the bag beneath her. "Silhouette, that... that fucking Mint Agent... She's got a Time Specialisation,"
Katelyn started, her normal, apathetic tone of voice falling away into anger as she spoke, "That stupid knight decided to turn on me, and I guess she, she, slowed time, or something?""'That knight'?""Shona, the, one of those Beacon girls the Bates kidnapped."
The Boss again nodded slowly, both to Katelyn, and behind, to Sasha. "A Mint girl who can slow time enough to get a hit on you, huh... man, that's gonna be a pain in the ass."
she said, as she stood up, and took a step towards Shona's corpse, "Sasha, get a message to the Beckoners, will you? Tell them 'The Penrose Independent has recovered the body of a girl we believe to be named Shona - one of the missing girls abducted by The Bates. As a sign of good faith we would like to return the body, for either storage until reincarnation, or proper burial and funeral rites.'"
As Sasha nodded, The Boss tilted her head to the left. "Christine... may I have a word with Katie in private?""Sure, I'll go, uh... check in on the Surveyor Team's.""You're not built for multiple engagements,"
The Boss commented, back turned to the girl, as Christine vanished from sight."Mint, then Beacon, then Mint again, then Beacon again, then Mint again, I'm going to find her and kill her."
Katelyn spat. What was once merely a devolved form of her usual speech had derived completely. Every word she spoke was accented with venom, with an anger that far surpassed a grudge against Silhouette or being oppressed as a Monster Girl. A rage burned within her, in the depths of her soul. The Boss had no need to look at her face to see it contorted in desperate, deep seated hatred. And she didn't make any comments. "You know what I mean, don't pretend like you can't see it. Everything I've ever known you know, I swear on my life and hers - The Ebon Mint will be annihilated when I'm through. Understand?! Some fucking God you are! 'Remember the terms of our contract', those terms were mine to begin with."
The Boss made no moves or sounds to stop the rise of anger within Katelyn, until finally it released - a deafeningly loud explosion filled the air of the mausoleum as Katelyn fired off a railgun, completely decimating two of the pillars, and an entire wall of the structure. The air crackled with residual energy as the girl fell to her knees, her weapon skittering along the ground beside her, and she began to cry. The Boss looked back, lacking expression, skin and muscle stretched across bone, and looked upon the dragon girl with smoke in her eyes. She closed the distance between the two of them, knelt down, and hugged her."They're not listening, huh? I know the feeling. When your ideal won't listen to what you have to say. It's hard, isn't it?"
The Boss leant in, wrapping the sobbing dragon girl tightly in an embrace, whispering into her ear. "But you're not wrong. You've been hurt in so many ways, haven't you? The Ebon Mint is evil, and your mission to destroy it is pure. They hurt people, like you, all the time. Remember what you told me? We made a deal, because I want to help you. Because you can help make the world a better place."
The wreck of a Magical Girl in the Boss's arms seized up for a moment. Every muscle in her body seemed to tense, as the words pervaded her mind. They felt heavy, even as whispers, and backed with tremendous volumes of wisdom and experience, despite their simplicity. But it wasn't the work of a Psychic Specialisation - Katelyn had felt that first hand. It was different, softer almost. Inviting. "Y'know, I made this organisation to help reach the truth. In the end, all things boil down to it. I like to think - that truth is the same thing as what others call justice. When Beacon removes a corrupt member of their organisation, or kills a violent Monster Girl, they are just spreading the truth that is their ideal, right? I think my ideal would adore you, Katie. Because you’re honest and true. Keep up your end of the deal, okay? Find and kill Silhouette."
The Boss pulled away as Katelyn’s sobbing subsided. She held out a hand, to pull the girl off the floor."You okay, Ma'am?"
the voice of Christine called out, cresting one of the entrances to the mausoleum as she looked in on the scene."Perfect timing, Christine, let's have, hmmm... Scarlet and Caleb, come and help you transport Shona's body. Put it on ice until the Beacon operatives come and collect it."
The Boss placed a hand of Katelyn's shoulder. "And you, go and get some rest, alright? You're gonna be low on mana after regenerating - near death experiences are hard the first few times around. My Trackers will add Silhouette to the list, and I'll contact you myself when we find her.""Alright... sure..."
Katelyn responded, wiping some tears from her face. She picked up her weapon, banished it, and then took off towards the city, quickly leaving the sights of both The Boss and Christine."Have someone keep an eye on her apartment. Make sure she doesn't kill herself,"
The Boss said, presumably to Christine, though with her back turned it could have been to anyone. She reached into her coat, on the right side, and from within drew a phone, leaving little room for Christine to respond - a touch screen device, with a shatter proof case and wide screen, more indicative of a personal item than standard issue. She brought up her contacts list, and dialled out a specific number of a rather important man. When the dial up ceased, The Boss raised the thing to her ear."Hi there, Lee. Boy do we have a lot to talk about, don't we?"
"Ah, 'Cynthia,'" came his voice from the other end. "Good to hear from you.""The one and only,"
The Boss replied. On the other side of the call, the sound of gravel crushed underfoot followed her movements, until she came to lean against one of the mausoleum's walls. "How's the fear treating you? Well, I hope?"
"Pleasant as always.""Good, good. Right, listen, one of my associates has just made contact with a Beacon agent. They'll be hearing about you guys soon enough, and the story about it's being kept vague - no 'potentially deal breaking information' getting into the mix, y'know? I'm thinking, that's my side of the deal done. Beacon knows, my Taskers are out and about and all's cushty. So how're we looking?"
Lee sipped something, presumably from his mug. "Like the beginning of a beautiful friendship," he said, pleasantly.
Across the call The Boss chuckled to herself quietly. "A beautiful friendship, that it does,"
she echoed in kind. "I suppose you'll want to start giving me the rundown soon enough. Before that, though, I have to say, I've been hearing some rumours about you, Lee. Ignoring you and your biker pals showing up to the graveyard, there've been some interesting things floating about The Web. Where'd you like to meet up, eh? I'm sure we'd both like to get that out the way first."
Lee took a contemplative sounding sip. "Are you familiar with the Beth Lamnnid Memorial Library, on the west side of town?" He paused again. "There's a restaurant not far from there. It doesn't get very busy, but it's got pleasant food. It's called the Nerine Vista."
The Boss smiled, something coy and understanding. She pushed herself up from the wall of the mausoleum, and began to walk, onwards to the skyline of Penrose City. "I think I've passed by there a few times, actually. Seems nice enough. When are you free? - I'll call up for a reservation."
Within the sound of footsteps, The Boss sighed of pleasure. A moment where true happiness bled into her words. "Tonight has been going great, don't you think? It's been a long while since I ate out socially. I expect you to keep up the bargain to the letter, I should add. Can't do with spoiling the mood."
"Don't worry, I wouldn't dream of spoiling the mood." The Boss could hear the smile in Lee's voice. "How about Friday night, around seven o'clock?""Yeah. Yeah, that sounds good. I'll see you then."
"I'm looking forward to it. Enjoy the rest of your night."
A smile worked its way onto The Boss’s lips. A scarce and distorted expression, backed with emotion and yet lacking it equally. Just skin pulled taut over her jaw. She began to walk, onwards to the Penrose skyline, as smoke billowing into the night.