B1 — 19. Prep-Game

Rachel shifted her pants a little to better position her tail.  “Alright, Scarlet, do you remember what Mateo asked us to do?” We need to get things back under control; I need to do better at getting the information we need, but Terrell’s gang just talk about crude things.  They’re not giving up any important information.

“Umm, yeah?”  Her eyes widened.  “Oh, right, we’re being watched.”  Her eyes turned Vampiric as she looked around the area.  “You know how my eyes work … do you have any clues?”

Maria leaned back against the pillar as Rachel continued to scan for information.  “We going to do that before transporting all the people above us? I guess they’re in no big danger at this moment, but that could change.”

Fiona floated over to the bag of sugar, disappearing inside.  “Oh, people are hiding above us? So, what’s up with you guys?  You just going around saving everyone?” She began eating more sugar as she listened to the conversation continue.

“Give me a second,” Rachel sighed.  “Maria, could you explain it to her—I’m a little distracted.”

Maria shrugged.  “What more do you want to know?  We were here to save my little hermano and found this mess.  I’m not about bullies or terrorists; if someone’s being a dick in front of me, then I’ll call it out.  Is what it is.”

Fiona shifted a little in the bag.  “I get that—these guys are like, murderers and rapists; most people would run the opposite way.  Does that have something to do with your change?”

“I’d say so,” Rachel muttered.  “Things here were a lot worse than we thought—after seeing what Marcus and his gang did to Coral, that Bunny-girl—none of this sits right with me.”

“Hey, that’s not the full truth,” Maria frowned.

Scarlet grimaced.  “Your parents?”

Maria’s brow creased as she turned to Scarlet.  “What’s her parents got to do with anything?”

“That lie detection is a bit annoying,” Rachel grumbled.  “Could we not discuss our personal lives with eyes on us? We have more important things to focus on.”

Maria shrugged.  “Sure, whatever. So, what’s the…” she scowled as she looked around the area.  “Being watched is pissing me off! Makes me feel like I have to watch my tongue … maldito odio eso.”

Rachel hummed thoughtfully.  Wait, now that all the Beastkin and kids are gone … we might as well test it.  “Scarlet, there might be a way to shake the fly in the room—what about releasing your aura?”

A smile lit Maria’s features.  “Oh, right, I get you—I’d like to see Terrell’s face if he was hit by that.”

Fiona swallowed another mouthful of sugar.  “Aura?”

Scarlet hummed uncertainly.  “Eh, I don’t know … what about Fiona?”

“She’s a Mythickin,” Rachel pursed her lips for a moment.  “Maybe she’ll have some kind of resistance.”

Fiona’s head poked out of the bag, small grains of sugar powdering her white hair and face.  “Wait, what’s going on? I need resistance to something? Oh … okay, I think I know what you mean.  That feeling I had earlier, right?”

“Worth a shot,” Maria folded her arms.  “If it’s too much, I can shield her against it, but just a heads up, I’ve been healing a lot lately.”

“Got it,” Rachel nodded at Scarlet.

Scarlet breathed out a big puff of air before her eyes turned crimson.  “Okay…” Rachel’s ears stiffened; a slight shiver ran down her spine as a grin split her lips; she heard every detail of Terrell’s experience.

Terrell gasped, tumbling to the ground.  “What the—was—was that?” Marcus and Daran stiffened in shock.

 Marcus leaped to his feet, dropping his radio.  “Dad?”

“You’re covered in sweat?  What’s going on?”

“That—what the—what is that black-haired demon?  She turned into—I don’t know how to … she just—a monster—the devil!”

“What are you talking about?”  Marcus moved in, but his dad slapped him.

“Don’t touch me!”  Puffing out several breaths, he swore.  “What did you piss off?”

Daran’s voice had calmed.  “Dad? You’re talking about the black-haired girl with the pointed ears?  She turned into a devil?”

“I don’t know…”  Terrell gasped. “That’s the closest thing I can…”  He seemed to be pressing his hands against his face, voice slightly muffled as he breathed.  “Daran! Where’s Conner and Relica?”

“They’re just about here with the group of hostages…”  Daran cut off as Terrell shouted, swearing vehemently.

“This is wrong!  What are we dealing with?  Marcus, what are we dealing with?  What did you piss off?”

“Hey,” Marcus shrank back.  “Dad, what—we just went over to the hospital, like you said—to get Maria…”

“I don’t care about Maria!  What about that—that black-haired thing…”  He cursed.

“We didn’t see her at the hospital with them.”  Daran cut in. “This was the first time we saw her.”

“That thing … that’s not her…”  Terrell coughed and spat before taking a deep breath.  “What the—it wasn’t the Fairy that messed-up Harris and his men … it was that—that thing!”  He swallowed, cursing. “Okay—think—think…”

“Dad, what did…”

“Shut-up—I need to figure out how we’re gonna get out of this … the rabbit said it was an aura—they’re resistant—she must be one of those Mythickin … how many Mythickin are there?  The Fairy even has a ton of power now … why’d she change—she was a powerless insect?” The chair sweaked as he shifted in his chair. “Okay, they can’t use that aura or whatever it is around hostages, but now I can’t spy on them.”  He cursed.

He took another deep breath.  “We can work with this … she couldn’t do anything with your shield around us and if we have hostages with Conner and Relica around … it’ll be fine.”  He swore. “We need to deal with them though—we’ve been pushed back to a single location, and they somehow know if I’m spying on them…”

Maria’s grin rose as the watchful presence faded.  “Look at that.”

Fiona shivered a little but looked at Scarlet with a hint of confusion.  “Okay, you certainly feel a little creepy, but it’s not that bad.”

A thought struck Rachel as she continued to listen to Terrell’s reaction.  “Oh, I think I understand how your Fear Aura works, Scarlet. I think I know why Mythickin aren’t affected that much by it too.”

“Oh?”  Scarlet sat in a chair with a short puff of air as she deactivated her aura, eyes returning to blue.  “Do tell.”

“Terrell’s freaking out right now about you turning into some kind of unspeakable devil that he can’t even explain; it’s almost like an illusion—but it’s also targeting the mind, so there has to be more to it, but I believe our True Sight counters it.”

“So he is freaking out!  That made my day,” Maria chuckled.  “Nice one, Scarlet.”

“Yeah,” Fiona said with a vindictive chuckle.  “He’s got a lot more to answer for though.” Her personality seems to have changed since eating sugar.  Is that her Fairy nature coming out, similar to Scarlet’s Vampire nature?  The way Scarlet talked after she became uncorrupted … after she’d tasted live human blood, and now the Fairy that’s eaten sugar or her equivalent.  Was it the same for me with the moon? Did I really start to change the moment moonlight touched me? Perhaps there are stages to this change.

Rachel’s ears twitched as she found the SEALs.  “Got them; they’re being escorted by a few gang members along the street,” she paused as the sharp sound of an engine starting made her wince.  “I think the tank is near them … they just started it.” She pointed in the direction, a few buildings to the right of Terrell.

“Got it,” Scarlet looked in that direction as her blood discharged from her body.

Her skin started to prickle as the urge for action shot down her spine; the tank was moving to position in front of Marcus’ building.  Can I rip into a tank?  What about picking it up?  Her heart rate elevated.  I’m actually getting excited about this.  She licked her lips with anticipation.  “So, I think we’ve actually waited enough,” she trailed off for a moment as she watching Fiona duck back into the bag.  Is she an addict now?  I guess I can’t talk; I feel high just standing under the moon.

“Go on…”  Maria pressed.

She took a deep breath as Scarlet’s blood pooled into a portal a few feet above the ground; it had thinned to a very thin disk as it expanded.  “Let’s grab the SEALs and have them escort the people in the buildings across the bridge. We’ll draw attention by just walking down the street right for Terrell.”

Maria’s grin widened.  “Oh? Getting itchy to throw some punches?”

Scarlet hummed as the men dropped out of the portal with sharp gasps of air; they had purple and blue bruises and more than one nasty cut.  However, the moment they dropped out of the blood, their eyes were alert, ready for action.

“What the…”  A man muttered as he appraised the four Mythickin.  There were fifteen men, eyes quick to scan their surroundings.

Scarlet’s blood returned to her as she held up her hands.  “Hey, hey, it’s okay! We’re friends with … crap, I forgot his name…”

Rachel finished her statement.  “Cameron; he’s a Green Beret … he asked if we could help rescue you.”

The men were silent as they studied them for a moment.  “Huh,” a big Latino man muttered. “Know Cameron, do ya?”

An even bigger African American man rose to his feet, vision shifting to Scarlet for a moment, he cracked his neck and flexed his back.  “Chief, you know what they’re talking about.”

The Chief popped his tongue.  “Yeah, they’re saying a buddy of mine in the Green Berets sent them.  I haven’t heard from him in a week though.”

“Okay,” Rachel took a deep breath as she rolled her neck; their gazes shifted to her.  “My name’s Rachel, and the four of us are Mythickin.” She heard the men’s muscles tighten.  They’re Military, of course they’d assume the worst … I’d probably do the same thing in their shoes.  “We’re not like the Seattle Vampire … I can smell the unease and hear your tense muscles.”

“Well…” One of the men muttered a curse.

The African American seemed to take control as he straightened, holding up his hands.  “Okay, mind freeing us then? You said four, but I only see three of you.” They’re going to just accept it?  Well, I guess they’re highly trained men; adapt to the situation.

“Oh!  That’s me.”  Fiona poked her head out from the bag.  “Sorry, just—this stuff’s really addicting … my head’s feeling a little fuzzy…”

“Yeah,” Maria scratched the back of her head.  “Hey, pequeña hada, you might want to hang off on that sugar rush…”

“Well then,” one of the men muttered.

Another nodded.  “Yeah, Jolo, I think I’ve seen it all now … Captain?”  He turned to the African American man. 

Fiona hummed as she massaged her forehead.  “Maybe you’re right … but … just a little more?”

“Listen to yourself,” Maria muttered.  “Repeat what you just said…”

“I just said … oh, okay, maybe I am a little … but I have to eat it to live!  Man … I really do sound like an addict … but like, it’s like an addiction to air!”

Rachel chuckled a little with a few of the men, tension easing.  “I think the statement here is moderation, Fiona.”

She puffed out her cheeks before sighing.  “Alright … I get it.” She began to glow white as her wings appeared and she rose out of the bag, sugar coating her body.  She looked down with a conflicted expression, but after a moment’s thought radiated green as a gust of wind blew off the sugar grains.  “Fine, I’m ready.”

“Ready for?”  The Captain asked.

“We’re going to free the other hostages; Scarlet, could you cut the zip-ties off them?”

They shrank back as Scarlet’s blood snaked out of her body.  “No, it’s totally fine … I know it doesn’t look fine though…”

They froze as the blood moved to their restraints and slid through them like butter; forming around their hands, but not touching; the zip-ties were cut into tiny slivers before her blood returned.  A few men muttered curses.

“We don’t have time to argue,” Rachel stated.  “The gang’s pissed and scared; they’re bunkering down since we showed up and took out their forward base at the supermarket.”  Why am I talking like a soldier now?  It just seems natural to speak to them in this manner right now … odd?  “There are a lot of people scared, hiding above us and in the surrounding buildings.  We’ll draw their attention and give you the opportunity to guide the people to your base across the bridge.  I’ve heard several law enforcement officers around the area trying to keep groups calm, you can use them to help organize a retreat.  They were scared about going out in public, but if you show up and tell them it’s clear and the gang is being held up, they’ll leave.”

The Captain, looked up for a moment, popping his tongue before swallowing.  “I want to object and take out that gang ourselves—it is our mission, but you’ve shown some strange powers.”  His eyes lowered to appraise Rachel. “How do I know you can do what needs to be done? This isn’t a normal catch and jail scenario, this is Martial Law; there are prison riots happening across the nation with powered people killing hundreds of people.  Lethal force has to be used right now to keep order—you’re not soldiers. How can you do what needs to be done and not lock up under pressure?”

Maria huffed, drawing their eyes.  “There’s two bodies in the next room, drained of blood as proof; how about several men in the supermarket that are basically insane now?”

Scarlet stiffened as she glared at Maria.  “Hey—I didn’t,” she cut off, looking down as her shoulders sagged with defeat.  “Yeah, I did it. I’m a Vampire,” she hesitated for a moment with their sudden spike of fear.  “Not the crazy evil kind … well,” she rubbed her left shoulder as they studied her warily. “I’m working on my urges … I can channel—I don’t kill just everyone I come across.”  She sighed, folding down her ears. “Crap—now I sound like a monster…”

Rachel walked over and patted her on the back comfortingly.  “Hey, no, you’re fine, Scarlet.” She looked back at the stiff men, scratching her left ear as it twitched.  They’re planning on using the tank to try and flush us out, attacking at random.  Guess Terrell’s concluded we care about people; it’s not a hard stretch, but they’re scared of Scarlet’s blood teleportation.  They’ve become surprisingly quiet. “They’re planning on using the tank they stole from the Army to attack the surrounding area.”

“A tank … when, and how do you know?”  It’s getting a little old having to tell everyone I have really good hearing.

“My ears … look, we’re going to go deal with the tank, and then save the people that are held hostage.  If you can finish escorting all these people out of the area before we deal with Terrell and his gang, then you’re more than welcome to join us, but you don’t even have any weapons right now.”

The captain worked around his jaw as one of his men came up to whisper in his ear.  “Cap, I should be able to make contact with HQ from the phone back there.”

“Great,” Rachel moved toward the exit doors.  It’ll be best to be direct and firm.  “You contact HQ and get some back-up.  Captain Mateo, a Green Beret, and the Lieutenant General overseeing the area know what we’re doing; tell your commander that they’re concentrating their men around the resort with the tank.  Maria, before we go, would it take that much energy to heal them?”

Maria hummed as she studied the men.  “No, they’re just bruised—a few fractures.”  Her horn appeared as she healed them.

The men looked down at their wounds, a few muttering a light curse as the cuts faded in blazing light.

The Captain shook his head with reserve as he looked between the four of them.  “Crazy world we’ve entered…”

Rachel grabbed the door and opened it partially before turning back, Fiona, Scarlet, and Maria joining her; the moon in sight again.  Her skin began to tingle as her worries faded and a confident smile spread across her face. “To get the point across,” her fingers pressed into the rolled steel frame, making it screech before tugging, breaking it off the hinges.

Several of the men muttered curses.

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Grasping both sides of the door, she began to crush it, glass shattering around her.  “We’re a lot stronger than you think.” She tossed the door aside as her three companions followed.

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“Dang,” Fiona giggled.  “That was pretty awesome, but it’s also destruction of private property.  I would hate it if my door was crushed…”

Maria chuckled.  “Sets the tone though, doubt they’ll try to stop us now.”

“I don’t know,” Scarlet moaned, glancing back as they descended the stairs.  “Was that a wise idea, Rachel? What if they tell the Military we’re dangerous and volatile?”  It’s kind of ironic that Scarlet would be the one voicing her concerns the most, but I guess she’s fairly self-conscious about her image.  It’s no wonder … everyone sees her as an absolute monster.

Rachel shook her head.  “Doesn’t matter. They already had a negative image of us; they know that we are powerful and if they understand we’re not afraid to use it then they’ll be more cautious about how they treat us.  All they know right now is that we’re determined to save the hostages and we have credible feats to back it up. We also have people that voice their support, such as Mateo and his troop.” She listened to the soldiers securing the area as their communications expert tried dialing into headquarters.  “We did what we could,” a smile lit her lips, “now for the tank.”

“Right,” Maria frowned.  “How do you wanna play this?  I checked my shoes earlier—the grip is in bad shape … what’s left of the rubber.”

Rachel nodded with a short sigh.  “Yeah, I was hoping it would last longer; they’re quality products, but they weren’t designed for the speeds we’re running at—it was only a matter of time before they broke.”  And I can go much faster if I can get some decent gripping shoes … that will last.  I can feel it in my muscles … faster, but for shorter times. She stopped at the edge of the corner.  “So, this street will take us straight to the tank and their hotel.  Terrell seems super keen on two people in particular that he believes can handle us.”

“Seriously?”  Fiona hovered to the edge of the building, peering around the corner.  “He thinks just two people can handle all four of us? He has to know I stayed behind.”

Rachel folded her arms.  “Well, he’s now writing down information, so I’m pretty sure he’s figured out I can hear them.  I’ve heard a bit about the two; they’re contractors that he’s used in the past, and everyone’s pretty scared of them, but won’t talk about them too much.  We don’t have that much time before Terrell tries to draw us out too.”

Scarlet’s eyes turned Vampiric as she looked down the road.  “Alright … I’m with Maria though; how do you want to deal with the tank?  Should we just teleport in and take it out?”

“That would be the most effective method,” Rachel muttered.  We could sabotage the tank and do everything in secret, but I don’t want to do it that way and there are other obstacles … for some reason I want to be open about it.  Who’s to say we can’t do both then? It’s probable that it has something to do with being a Lunar Hare, but I don’t want to hide … odd since—well, I guess it’s not that odd; my power comes from how bright the moon is, not how well I can hide, but being in open moonlight.

“But?”  Fiona hummed curiously, waiting for her response.

Rachel scratched her nose.  “Right, well, they have snipers posted on the roofs and in buildings; I doubt they’re great shots, but who knows.  If I draw their attention, Fiona, Scarlet, can you take the men out? Subdue or kill them; doesn’t matter to me.” Huh, it’s not that it’s right … I just don’t care about them.  Has Nam changed as much as me? “Don’t worry about the tank, I’ll handle it.  They have hostages with the snipers, mostly children.”

“Figures,” Fiona huffed darkly as she began to glow green.  “I can use wind to protect them, though I might stand out, so I’ll have to fly really high and come down from above.”  Her eyes lit up. “I could be like air support!”

They chuckled a little and Rachel shook her head.  “Maybe another time, but we just need to save the kids and neutralize the snipers first.  Scarlet can spot them pretty easily with her eyes; you can teleport with Fiona and rescue the kids.”

Fiona pursed her lips as she twisted a few times in the air, floating ahead of the group a tad, smile beaming.  “Okay, that seems fun too.” Fun?  I don’t know what she was like before but from Erica’s behavior, Fiona has changed a lot.  It’s really something I should take into consideration; how much more will we change?

Rachel continued to debrief them on the knowledge she’d gained.  “The two contractors names are Conner and Relica; they’re not exactly friends, but more like associates.  Relica seems to be beautiful, but the gangsters are terrified of her; they mention something about her having monsters and being a monster herself.  Conner’s more straight-forward and someone said he’s invincible.”

“Well then,” Scarlet sighed.  “Someone that’s invincible and someone that has monsters under her control and is a monster herself … doesn’t sound too bad, right?”

“I wonder if he can survive without air?”  Fiona hummed mischievously. “I can think of some creative ways to test that invincibility.”

Maria hurried to block them off, forcing everyone to stop.  “Wait, hold up, chicas … what about me?” She folded her arms with a deep scowl.

“Eh,” Rachel rubbed her neck, examining Maria’s determined glare.  “You’re—kind of a healer or doctor … I don’t think it would be good for you to—be out in the open.”

“Huh?”  Maria’s penetrating silver eyes narrowed.  “You saying I’m on standby? Ain’t happenin’!  I’ll just walk up with you; I don’t hide.” Well, maybe it’s her street personality or Unicorn nature … who knows.  It could be both for all I know; plus, she still wants revenge for her brother.  It’s not like I have an obligation to keep her safe or tell her want to do either; if they choose to follow what I say, then great, but I can’t expect them to follow me without question.  Why did I even take command? Whatever…

“Fine,” Rachel shrugged.  “You can’t react as fast as me though … what if you get shot?”

Maria huffed.  “Look, I ain’t scared of nobody.  I get shot, I’ll just heal myself, sencillo.”

“Does it work like that?”  Fiona asked with interest, hovering down to examine Maria’s faint glow; it had decreased significantly since the previous night.  Fiona’s right, we barely know anything about our abilities; her powers enhance and are recharged by the Sun, according to the information The Reaper of Blood fed Scarlet, anyways.  That may even be wrong. How can I be so calm, but so reckless? I’m way more detached than before my change too.

She cracked her neck with a slight groan.  “Well, I guess we’ll handle it when it comes.  Maria’s healing has been pretty powerful already.”  That makes me wonder how she’ll change once she’s in sunlight?  Will her personality shift again, like with Fiona, Scarlet, and me?  Scarlet stiffened as information fed back into Rachel’s ears.

“They’re tying children to the tank!”  Scarlet seethed.

“I’ll really need you guys to hustle with getting those snipers taken care of.”  Rachel frowned. They are such cowards.  She felt the heat rise in her chest.  It’s good that we didn’t just rush in because they have way too many men and hostages; we’d have caused a massacre, but we’re also taking too long to plan a rescue.  Although, I guess we’re doing pretty good since we’ve never been trained for this kind of thing. Wait, Relica’s starting to talk…

Relica’s voice was lush.  “Honestly, Marcus, this writing game is rather dull.  If you’re offering this much for their heads then I’m interested though; are you listening, little Rabbit?  I’d love to see what you have to offer.”

“Relica…”  Terrell growled.

Conner chuckled, sitting in a chair next to Relica.  “Hey, hey, Terrell, dude, don’t sweat it. If you would have offered these prices from the start then you wouldn’t be in this spot.  From what you’ve told us, this rabbit has me interested; if she’s really as strong as you say then I’d love to make her an exclusive.”

“Hey now,” Relica hummed.  “If you get an exclusive then I’d like to mark one myself.  This black-haired demon caught my attention.”

“Whatever,” Terrell muttered.  “I don’t care who does what, but I want them gone.”

Rachel took a deep breath.  “Okay, they have realized my hearing and both of them are deciding who gets to kill us.”

“How arrogant,” Fiona huffed.  “Are they even taking us seriously?”

“No, and I’m a bit annoyed about that too,” Rachel stated, noticing everyone’s frown.  “Maria and I will run over there—not as fast as last time.” She added, catching Maria’s grimace as she glanced down at her shoes.  “Scarlet and Fiona, you two start taking them out. They can’t radio in; they’re on a two-minute radio check, so you’ll have to be quick.  Do you see all of them?” Scarlet took a few more seconds to scan through the surrounding buildings before nodding. “Alright, the next radio check ends in twenty-three, twenty-two…”

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