She will live.
Brennus staggered back from the bed, his whole body shaking from fatigue and pain from his own wounds.
“She will live,” he whispered, but that took too much effort and he stumbled as he was taking a step back, falling…
Someone caught him. Hard arms, and a strange voice: “Ba-“
He whirled around, drawing a knife from his belt.
In one fluid motion, he put one leg behind the stranger’s knee, threw them – her – onto the floor and put the knife to her throat, holding it so it would slip into the gap between her helmet and her armor.
“Who are you? How do you know me!?“
I hope Gloom Glimmer did not catch that.
The stranger was a young woman in brilliant gilded armour so ornate, so skintight it had to be unnatural. It looked like something an angel or a heroine out of a videogame would wear, and the helmet, which seemed to leave no openings for her eyes sported wing-like decorations and a sunburst motif.
“B- Brennus, calm down! It’s me!” she said in a ringing, rather throaty voice. The helmet melted and disintegrated, revealing…
She smiled at him, her full red lips coloured like wine – like her hair. And somehow he did not think it was lipstick.
Then his brain finally caught up with what was happening.
He rose from his position, straddling her hips as he looked onto the bed. Gloom Glimmer had just finished removing the new scars on Prisca’s chest from the emergency operation he performed. She looked… asleep. Peacefully.
Looking back at the girl beneath him, he concluded: “A projection?”
“Quite so. And one of the rare kinds,” commented Gloom Glimmer as she staggered around the bed, sliding down to lean against it and sit next to them. “It feels more like she’s there,” She pointed at the armoured girl, “Than in there.” She pointed over her shoulder at the body on the bed.
“You mean, this is my real body!?” Prisca asked, looking confused. “But I can still feel that one!”
“Oh, it’s still your real body, Prisca. It’s just that, right now, it’s in standby mode, so to speak. Your mind is in that projection. Or maybe that projection is your mind, or something like that. But I definitely get the feeling that you are now… inbetween your boyfriend’s legs.” She cocked an eyebrow at them.
“Agh!” Brennus jumped off Prisca and scrambled over to lean against the wall, opposite of Gloom Glimmer. “Sorry!” The knife slid out of his fingers and fell to the floor.
Prisca blushed, hard (which looked all kinds of interesting in combination with her hair and lips and why was he paying so much attention to that all of a sudden?), and rose up to sit on her butt, her armor moving with her like a second skin, sliding over the linoleum of the floor. “N-n-not a problem. Wow. I feel…” She threw a glance at Brennus, blushing even more. It made her green eyes stand out even more from h- Cut it out, there is an S-Class threat running around out there! Focus on that, not on how impossibly tight that armor is around her-
He shook his head, weakly, to cut off that particular train of thought. “Alright. Alright. We need to… to get back to base. Get your real body safe, too. Hastur might c-come b-“
Suddenly, he had the sights from earlier in front of his eyes. Her eyes, bleeding, her whole body convusling as her heartbeat went out of control. Him, cutting into her chest, operating on her h-
He scrambled over to the trashcan next to her bed. Pulling the mask up beneath his nose, he emptied what little there was in his stomach into it.
“Ba- Brennus?” Prisca let go of her spear and crawled over to him, holding him by his shoulders. “Are you alright!? What can I do?”
“I… I…” His chest hurt so much… and his arms… and his legs… everything, really. “Tired…” The memories…
* * *
“B-Brennus! Hey, can you hear me!?” She shook his limp form. He was so light.
“Prisca, calm down!” Irene said, sliding over to them. Putting a hand to Basil’s chest, she closed her eyes for a moment. “He’s just asleep! Just exhausted! Calm down.”
She did, but only after a few seconds of getting her breathing back under control. “Oh God, I thought… I thought…”
Irene shook her head. “Just tired. He almost died today, fighting Hastur. I healed him, but it exhausted him a great deal, and then we raced over here.”
He’s hurt. He should be in bed, but he came for me, she thought, looking at him. She took a tissue from a box on her nightstand and wiped his mouth clean. He’s got such pretty lips… like a girl, almost. Like his sister’s.
But she didn’t want to have their first kiss with this body be like this. He had to be awake, for once. Instead, she turned to look at Irene, taking the other girl’s appearance – and presence – in for the first time.
If she hadn’t just literally gotten her dream body, she’d be crying due to physical envy. Irene was perfect, in a way that was just unnatural. She could be fourteen, she could be twenty-four.
“Oh, uh…” Why was her whole body – the new one, not the useless old one – heating up? She wasn’t interested in girls, she…
“Sorry! Sorry, wait!” Irene took a canister full of blue-and-white pills and swallowed a handful. The inexplicable attraction vanished almost immediately.
“What was that?”
Irene blushed, averting her eyes. Suddenly, she looked far younger than fourteen. “Uhm, nothing, sorry… uh, we should probably get going…”
As if on cue, there was a scream from somewhere outside. She could hear it, and she could even tell that it was from at least two foors above them. Her ears were so much better now.
“What do we do?” She pulled Basil closer to her, hugging him. He could die. I can still die.
Irene seemed to think it over for a moment. “I’m wiped. No way I’m teleporting us out of here or anything… you’ll have to cut us a way out of the hospital. I hope that spear is not just for show.”
They both looked at the spear. It looked very sharp.
“Uh, I’ve never fought before. Ever. Unless you want to count snowball fights with family and friends. And even that’s been years ago,” Prisca commented.
“Don’t worry too much. Your power seems to be geared towards combat, so you should be able to at least fight a way out,” Irene replied.
“What about my real body? We don’t know how far I can move away from it – and we can’t leave it here, either!” It’s still holding me back, even now. “And what about Brennus?” She hugged him a little harder. “And what about all the other people in the hospital?”
Irene’s eyes turned from thoughtful to soft. “Relax. I have something of a plan. We put Brennus onto the bed with your real body. I still have enough juice to turn us invisible. You cut every monster down on the way, we get out to the rescue services – even if the heroes are spread too thin, they’ll still have emergency services outside at least.”
Prisca could feel her new face twist in worry. It felt so familiar, and yet still a little strange, too. Focus, Prisca. Focus. “What about the other people in the hospital?”
Irene closed her eyes for a moment, concentrating. Then she opened them again. “Most of them are in the emergency shelters already, or getting evacuated by the rescue services. But we’re pretty much at the center of the building, so we have the longest way to go.”
Damn, mom, why did you put me into this damn room?
“Ok. Ok. I’ll put Brennus up on the bed. Gather the machines. Help me?”
* * *
They left the room, Prisca taking the lead (helmet back up), while Irene pushed the bed that they’d loaded both with the two bodies (it felt strange knowing that Basil was lying with her, but she wasn’t really lying with him) and her life support. Her body’s life support. Wait, no. Still her own. If her broken body died, so would this one.
This one feels more real than the other one ever did since… since Hawaii.
Remembering her levitation from earlier, Prisca focused on that and flew over the floor in front of the invisible bed, levitating a few inches over the floor, her spear held ready.
Right around the next corner a… a person stepped around it. A thing, really. She saw crooked, insect-like legs, growing from a bulge of twisted, gnarled flesh studded with very, very human eyes.
The eyes were crying, filled with terror as it walked towards them, bumping into her armored waist before she managed to pull herself back together from the shock of the sight.
It bounced off, falling onto its… well, falling back down. Shivering.
She looked down at the impotent monster. That could have been me. That’s what Hastur wanted to do to me.
A great heat rose in her chest. Her body trembled, the spear vibrating, her new eyes overflowing with tears.
She wanted to do that to me. She did that to this person. She’s still doing this to people.
Before she even knew what she was doing, she realized she was screaming, striking out with the spear.
The long blade on the tip of the golden staff cut through the bulge of flesh as if it was warm butter, cutting the wretched creature in half.
Another strike, quartering it before it even hit the floor. Another. And another.
She was screaming, cutting it to pieces, until something barrelled into her, slamming her into the wall.
Ow. I can still feel pain in this body.
Trying to move, she found herself stuck in the wall, half-embedded into it, as she saw a twisted mass of over-muscled arms – skinless, bile-dripping arms – growing out of the back of a naked woman who was bent over by the weight of the appendages growing out of her back.
I’ve seen you before. She’d been a nurse. She’d seen her walk by her room sometimes when the door was open.
I never knew your name.
The arms reached out, ripping her out of the wall and drawing her into a bearhug.
Well, she tried to, at least.
It all came so easy. As if she’d always had this body, had always been fighting with the spear and in full, skintight armor.
Angling her arm up, she drove the spear into the nurse’s head, cutting through brain and heart using her forced posture and the pull of the monstrous arms.
The woman sighed and collapsed, her whole body going limp.
Rest in peace.
As if in a trance, Prisca kicked the corpses – and the pieces – aside so Irene could pass through, noting idly that the bile and blood did not stick to her armor. It was pristine again, quickly enough.
“Alright. Alright. Let’s go, go, go…”
She flew on down the hall, until she heard a massive scream outside.
“What in the name of God was that?” she asked, coming to a dead stop.
Suddenly, she felt like earlier when she’d been dying, Irene’s voice speaking up in her head. Calm down and advance. We need to get out of here. You’re doing great, sweetheart, just keep on going.
“I hope there’s not another shit-monster outside,” she whispered and advanced.
On the way out, twelve more people, including five children, joined them, with Irene extending her invisibility over them.
She had to cut down one more monster, a kind of snake made of intestines and p… and primary male characteristics.
Great. My first day as a super-something – well, I’m not gonna be a villain, so superhero I guess – and I fight a monster made of… of those things. Can my day get any worse?
Finding a double door, she kicked it open, barging outside – hopefully, no one would open fire on her, even if she was pretty sure she could take normal guns. The… male reproductive organ monster had been firing steel bolts from its… well, its openings.
Taking a look around, she wished she’d have gotten shot at. Or fought another phallus-monster.
“Oh, come on! Is this my first boss fight!?”
It was big. It was massive. And it was made of shit.
Oh God, another one of those? What t- oh fuck, it’s the same one. It must have regenerated somehow. BigShit is back.
“Who named that thing BigShit? If I ever find them, I’ll shove this spear all the way up their-“
The dung kaiju turned to her, moving slowly towards her, apparently intent on crushing her – and the still invisible people behind her – to a bloody (and shitty) pulp.
My day just keeps getting better and better.
Tell me about it, Prisca. By the way, what’s your cape gonna be?
Uh, no idea. Gonna get back to you about that once I finish cleaning the toilet.
Please try and come up with better one-liners.
I’m getting the civilians – as well as you and Brennus – out of here. Can you distract it until help arrives?
She could hear them go away, just as BigShit reached her and swung a massive arm at her.
Fuck my life.