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Selpharia last won the day on November 26 2018

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  1. I’m sure Bridget shares your frustration! If Val weren’t there, I’m sure she would have considered doing just that! This one was a little short, but I plan to give you plenty of long chapters in future
  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it kerry, it's something I've wanted to check in on for a long time. one_screaming_kitten, I suppose both of these are possible, though I feel like Bridget's got too strong of a moral compass to ever steal selfishly, and too weak of a sense of fashion to mke theivery of that kind worthwhile. As for Sami, I can see where she's coming from. As someone who has little sisters, they somehow know how to push all your buttons. But I don't think she'd want to become a villain, it would make her so unhappy. She'd lose out on everyone being proud of her, and everyone wants to feel appreciated and valuable. She does, I think, honestly want to do good. Even if it's reasonable to think Sami's being a bit self-centered here, she is trying very hard.
  3. Chapter 9: The Home Front Bridget’s room was dark, the shadows of the walls just beginning to lengthen with the setting sun. When she turned the light on they retreated, but that only revealed another problem. Her powers of recovery and her recent effective-but-disastrous feeding had left her with no injuries immediately visible, but the same couldn’t be said for the sweater she’d worn. It bore the scars of Mi’cha’s insectoid assault: huge rents where claws had barely missed her, and the scent of Tenkai's smoke bomb caught in its fibers. She shuddered to think of what her mom would say if she saw her, and resolved that would never happen. Bridget stuffed the shredded grey remains of her outerwear into a corner of her closet and wore just the old pink tee shirt underneath that bore a mortifyingly cutesy heart design outlined in silver sparkles. Her clock had to be lying. There was just no way that it was only 4:30. If it wasn’t, that would mean that the entire Vector ordeal had lasted about four hours. It seemed she’d even beaten her mother home, judging by the absence of audible bustle downstairs. Bridget’s body strenuously disagreed though; her bone-deep exhaustion was the kind that she imagined would come from running a marathon. She wanted nothing more than to just lie on her bed and sink blissfully into slumber. But even as drowsiness began to fog her mind, the clock remained insistent, declaring with its usual mechanical tyranny just how little time she had before she was due to meet up with Margot. Aw, crap. Her stomach rumbled a familiar, human hunger, and so she started downstairs. A quick snack and a shower, and she’d be ready, or as ready as she’d ever be anyway. She considered dressing up a bit, showing off for her former best friend, but that seemed a little much, trying too hard. <<Why not, little one? Buttressing vulnerabilities with social armor is simply tactically sound. Consider how effective it was for those early humans who encased themselves in metal to avoid being pierced or bludgeoned to death.>> Bridget went down the stairs and into the foyer, imagining herself in full Joan of Arc helm and chain mail, extending a gauntleted hand to Margot in greeting. But, rather than flee, the imaginary Margot bowed and put her lips to the cold metal and breathed a gallant kiss onto it. Bridget shook her head, dismissing the nonsensical ramblings of her exhausted subconscious, and willing her cheeks to stop burning. “Hello there, Bridget. How are you?” Bridget looked toward the source of the question, and found Sami sat at the kitchen table, laptop open in front of her. The young heroine's golden eyes glared straight into her sister’s face. There was suspicion in that stare, although Bridget couldn’t be entirely sure it wasn’t just a reflection of her own guilt. “Oh, um, I'm fine just kinda been on my computer, y’know. Getting ready to hang out with Margot later and all.” Bridget wouldn't call herself a good improviser at the best of times, and Sami's arched brow suggested that her hasty improvisation hadn't exactly been a smashing success. “I see. It’s good to hear that you’re recovering so well from your...episode last week.” A seared-in memory of burning lungs and the expressionless flesh-mask of an alien warlord bubbled to the surface of Bridget’s mind for an instant, before the reality of Sami came back into focus, lips thinned into a grimace that barely hid an unspoken rebuke. “Y-yeah. I’ve been feeling a lot better,” she fumbled awkwardly. “How about you? I figured you’d be busy with heroine stuff or something.” “Yes. So did I,” Sami replied coldly, “but somehow, my calendar just cleared right up in the last few days.” “Oh.” Bridget had the distinct impression that Sami was talking about losing her opportunity at Vector. She hadn’t had the nerve to ask what had happened after the party, but Sami’s stony expression answered the question clearly enough. “Well, that’s just more time for patrol stuff, right? Bringing the shining light of justice to evildoers, and all that.” Bridget tried to force a smile. “Oh, I'd love to be out doing something useful. But everyone else is off doing something else: job interviews, award-winning experiments, and incomprehensible magical rituals or whatever. So now it’s just me, sitting in an empty house. Going nowhere.” Bridget stood silent, unsure of what to say. “Speaking of, where were you today?” “Huh? I told you, I wasn’t anywhere, I-“ Sami stood up suddenly and stepped toward Bridget. “Don’t lie. You’ve always been a terrible liar. Mom may be too busy organizing things to notice, but I’m not. I’m sure you were absolutely nowhere important. Just like you made exactly no noise and were completely invisible when I called and went to look for you. And just like you just happened to have a freak-out just in time to ruin my shot at making it big,” she spat bitterly. <<Credulous fool. She should be on her knees thanking you.>> Bridget just gritted her teeth. Wonderful, another clueless Sami lecture once again proving that her sister’s strongest superpower was missing the point. She tamped down her frustration and annoyance. Hopefully it would be over soon. “So I’m going to ask you again. What stupid, shortsighted, selfish thing were you doing that you’re hiding from me? Even after I saved your life!” This was too much for Bridget. She’d just returned from fighting a horrifying monster and nearly dying who knew how many times, only to have to listen to Miss Perfect lecture her about selfishness? Her hands balled into shaking fists at her sides as fury roiled beneath her face. <<Exactly, little one, you should->> But Bridget was way ahead of her. “You saved my life? The only reason I ever got kidnapped was because they wanted to get at you! But I’m soooo glad that my kidnapping gave you a chance to show off.” “It’s not showing off!” Sami rose up in the air a head above Bridget, and seethed down at her. “A heroine sacrifices to keep others safe and keep them from suffering. Not that you’d know a damn thing about suffering or sacrifice, since all you do is play video games, unless Mom gets on your case enough to make you do homework, you lazy ingrate.” “I am not! I’m good enough at physics that Leanne wanted me to go for the St. Rose’s summer program.” “Yes. Summer camp. How very mature.” Sami rolled her eyes, but Bridget pressed on. “At least I’m more than a tank-brain who just lasers everything in front of her. Don’t think I don’t remember what a whiny attention-seeker you were before you won the power lottery, either.” “I care because I remember how it felt to be less than everyone! Don’t you belittle that. I shudder to think what you would do with powers. You know, aside from your power to be insufferable.” “Oh, I’m insufferable? I’m not the one whose friends all ditched her 'cause she’s a self-important wannabe corporate tool!” “You have no idea how the real world works! A job at Vector would have supported our family!” Bridget just scoffed.“Supported our family, or supported your precious ego? Just because Mom and you are on the same bullshit doesn’t mean that people with more than two brain cells can't see straight through your preening.” “Why you-” Sami’s eyes brimmed with searing golden light, and Bridget stepped back in instinctive fear as her sister lunged forward. But Sami caught herself, her glow fading with the lowering of her hand. She turned away sharply with a growl of irritation, and returned to staring at her laptop. Bridget stormed back up the stairs, fury eclipsing the hunger she’d come down to satiate and burning away the fog of fatigue like the noonday sun. That stupid, miserable, stuck-up- <<Put her out of your mind, little one. You’re quite correct to be angry, but we don’t want you grumpy when you meet your friend.>> Nnnnnngh, fine, Bridget admitted grudgingly. <<And, speaking of, you should shower as well. While I see nothing wrong with smelling of battle during a social engagement, I do believe other humans might frown upon it.>> Bridget said nothing, but grabbed a towel and made a beeline for the shower. Once there, however, she made a horrifying discovery. “Ugh, we really still only have Mom’s stupid old lady shampoo? Fantastic. Could this get any more embarrassing?” <<I highly doubt she would be intimately familiar with your mother’s scent profile, considering both the lack of specific information that the human sense of smell provides, and that it has been years since the two of them have interacted.>> Yes, thank you, Professor. Bridget continued grumbling all the way through getting ready. The only brief interruption came when Margot’s text arrived saying she’d be there in a maddeningly vague “few minutes.” This, of course, only led Bridget to prepare and worry at a more frenetic pace. She was still kicking herself for not picking a better outfit, not that same sparkle-heart pink top with a plain white skirt, by the time she headed out the door. She chanced a look back at Sami as she went, but her sister just narrowed her golden eyes and said nothing. The autumn air outside was crisp, and just cool enough to make Bridget shiver and wish she hadn’t lost her favorite sweater as a casualty of battle. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before a lone black car crested the nearby hill. Its headlights shone like stars in the suburban sunset as it glided toward her. Bridget didn’t immediately recognize the car, but it could only be Margot’s, it was driven just slightly faster than any of their stodgy neighbors would have countenanced. It rolled to a stop in front of her, and the passenger window slid down with a creak. “Hey,” Margot said, beckoning her inside Bridget almost leapt in, eager to escape the cold and the penetrating gaze of the golden-eyed sentinel she could feel even through the front door. -- Thanks again to everyone reading and commenting
  4. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm not sure I'd call barely surviving much of a win, though it's certainly better than the alternative
  5. You can, though she's feeling a little sulky because she didn't get to kill those awful assassins and drag them before Forzare. Be careful of her chitin!
  6. Don’t worry. Quantum Sonata seems like the forgiving type, right? Also here’s Mi’cha’s response: [[It is I! I am a good girl! For I do Master Forzare’s bidding, and I slaughter his enemies and I keep him safe, and tell the world of his glory!]]
  7. Chapter 8: Showing Cracks Bridget found herself in agreement, and she sped as fast as she could away from the airborne predator. After a few well timed leaps from building to building, she heard again the deafening thud of Mi’cha landing behind her, shattering shingles and cracking the rooves beneath. Seeing that Bridget’s bunny hopping had outmaneuvered her, Mi’cha adopted a more feline tack. She ran and pounced, so quickly that Bridget didn’t dare glance back even for a moment. The speed that kept her away from Mi’cha’s claws was, unfortunately, insufficient to outrun her guilt. As fast as she ran and jumped along rooftops, her thoughts raced more swiftly back to Tenkai. Bridget thought about the clever, kinda cute trickster who she’d nearly reduced to a shriveled husk. She felt a lump like a cannonball form in her throat. What if she got captured by Vector security, because she was too weakened to fight them off? What if she really was poisoned? What if Mi’cha went back to ki- to hunt the girl down later? All these thoughts raced each other round and round in her head, and very soon she had no sense of where she was going. She’d closed her eyes to shut out their stampede. <<Slow down, sweetie.>> And of course she’d disappointed Val so terribly. It was no wonder she wanted her to slow down and be mauled by the monster whose hot breath came in gales behind her. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! she wailed silently, I’ll let it catch me instead! I know I deserve it, and you’re right to be angry, I-I- <<Bridget.>> The softness where she’d expected the hard edge of an executioner’s axe startled Bridget into silence, cutting off her frantic torrent of self-excoriation. She almost missed the next rooftop in surprise. <<I don’t want you to do any of that.>> <<Tenkai has demonstrated a prodigious skill at stealth,>> Val explained, with that familiar air of authority that turned everything she said into ironclad axiom. <<Sonata’s pawns will spend much more time dealing with a gargantuan escaped war-thrall than they will devote to hunting down someone who is barely older than you, and who poses no imminent threat.>> The lump in Bridget’s throat diminished ever so slightly. She juked right, made another leap and was rewarded by Mi’cha's hiss of frustration. <<And if you really want to make sure Mi’cha keeps focusing on you, well, I’m sure you can figure out which buttons to push.>> Bridget landed on a metal roof with a clatter. But I-, Bridget began <<That is, if the amount of sass I get is a representative indicator.>> Yeah! I can do that. “Hey Mi’cha,” Bridget shouted over her shoulder, “Forzare is so stupid,I bet he can’t even figure out which end of a beaker to pour from!” Bridget’s taunt was immediately and catastrophically successful. The next claw swipe sliced the back of Bridget’s sweater, and missed her spine by millimeters. The autumn afternoon chilled the small of her back, and an icy thrill of fear ran up her spine. [[You will not insult Master Forzare! He is brilliant and kind, and gives good pets and delicious snacks! And when I bring him your corpses, he will once again inform me how good I am, even though we both know!]] Mi’cha leapt after Bridget, but this time, she floated in the air just enough to extend the distance of her jump. She slammed down directly in front of Bridget, the roof of the maroon van she landed on screaming and buckled under her weight. Bridget panted from the exertion of the chase. Her warm sweater was cold with sweat. Her opponent’s body glistened with perspiration too, but all that did in her case was highlight the immense bulging magnitude of her muscles. [[You’re tired, aren’t you, assassin? Good.]] The next strike that came was as quick and sudden as a snakebite. Bridget just barely managed to dodge a blur of a claw strike, only to be sideswept by two of Mi’cha’s armored legs. The sharp edges of the organic armor tore a pair of rents in Bridget’s sweater. Bridget barely had time to register the blunt impact on herchest as she was knocked over the side of the building by the sheer force of the blow. Bridget clenched her teeth to stop the scream that welled up in her throat from escaping. She kept her composure enough to reach for the reservoir of power within her, and slowed her descent skillfully. A proud smile flashed across her face. <<Good work, sweetie.>> But when Bridget was about halfway between the roof and the parking lot pavement below, she saw a familiar shadow fall on her. Her pursuer had expected this very maneuver, and had jumped from the building as well. The leap perfectly timed to slam and crush her as she floated down. <<Drop!>> Val barked. Bridget obeyed at the speed of thought, and that alone saved her from a splattering demise. She managed to blunt the impact enough not to suffer any drastic injuries. Still, the fall rattled every single bone in her body, and knocked her to her knees, slightly stunned, flesh stinging as the jagged asphalt dug in. Mi’cha landed a few feet ahead of her, nearly shearing off the top of a tall light that bent over the parking lot. Her torso dipped as her six legs absorbed the impact. A small group of uniformed Vector security officers stood waiting where Tenkai had collapsed. They wore light, silvery body armor over their legs and chests, and even from a distance Bridget could see the prism pistols slung at their sides. At the sound of the pair of impacts, they ran toward the combatants. Seeing them advance, Bridget felt a sense of impending doom pierce the haze of her all-over soreness. Mi’cha straightened, her feline eyes bulging, still rimmed with the red dust from Tenkai’s spray attack. Bridget looked up at the horrifying chimera bearing down on her, desperately searching for even the remotest hint of a weakness. [[My venom burns, you know.]] Mi’cha growled, psychic voice seething. [[A fitting punishment for your attempts to hurt my Forzare]] She reared her tail back to strike, aimed directly at Bridget’s heart. But focused as she was on her prey, Mi’cha did not see the jade blur behind her. Her tail began to descend for the killing blow, but stopped short with a resounding metallic clink. Clink clink clink clink clink. Mi’cha growled in confusion, and Bridget saw the reason. Her tail was at its thinnest point right at the base of her bulbous stinger, and Tenkai had used a pair of bright blue handcuffs to attach her tail to the thin parking lot lamp. The chimera wriggled and writhed, but couldn’t bring any of her claws to bear to free herself. “Smile, Bluebell, you’re on video! Let’s see Vector try to cover this up!” Tenkai stood behind Bridget, a cell phone in her hand, hat restored to its jaunty position atop her head, and a grin of triumph on her face. Mi’cha roared in impotent protest. Bridget rose to her feet as quickly as she could and ducked out of camera view. <<Our energy sheath should protect us, there’s no need to worry. At best, the device will record a slight disturbance in the air.>> Okay. Just want to be sure. Bridget focused her dwindling energy, reinforcing her gravitic veil, which had begun to slip during the struggle. “Stop right there!” A chorus of male voices commanded. The Vector security goons had finally come into range of Tenkai and Bridget, and menaced both with their prism pistols. Tenkai froze for a moment, and lowered her camera. “Hey, Ghost Girl? Any chance you can make laser shields or anything?” Tenkai whispered out of the corner of her mouth. Bridget shook her head, before belatedly realizing that it was very unlikely Tenkai could see the gsture. “Guess that’s a no. Well, original plan it is then.” <<I suspect we can still help regardless, little one.>> Tenkai dropped a small black sphere from inside her sleeve. As she did, the Vector security forces opened fire. They were unprepared, however, for the gravitic pulse Bridget unloaded at the same time. The oozy grip sheaths kept the guns in their hands, and they were too many for a tired Bridget to incapacitate them all quickly. But she was at least able to disrupt their aim; Tenkai’s agility and her smoke bomb did the rest. Bridget knew it was time to go; she wouldn’t get another chance, and there were so many bright lines of energy lancing through the air. She leapt away, hopping from one rooftop to another back the way she came. There was no froggy-jumping this time, just the wind on her face, and time for Val to strategize. <<That young human is clearly interested in harming Vector, and does not appear to have any institutional backing. She could make an excellent ally.>> Yeah, except I almost ate her! << She had no way of knowing that was you.>> But I know! And she must too, or she wouldn’t have left! What if it happens again? <<It won’t, sweetie.>> How can you be sure? <<Because I’ll train you.>> That’s your answer to everything, isn’t it? She whined. <<Yes.>> Well, points for honesty. But why is it always that? <<Because that’s all we can do. We were very fortunate today, but there is every chance that we will simply fail and die. <<I had hoped my knowledge would be enough. But, I did not know about Forzare’s beast, or his laboratory. Likewise, we won’t know what other deadly weapons Sonata can bring to bear.>> She paused for a long moment. <<Sweetie, I...I may not be able to protect you. I nearly wasted both of our lives on a brash reconnaissance mission that yielded nothing. This is precisely like the situation with Sonata herself. I’m sorry.>> Bridget was stunned. An apology. But more than that, Val’s abrupt vulnerability diminished the burning flame of her anxiety. It took her a few more blocks to figure out what to say. Val, there’s nothing to apologize for. I agreed to everything. We did at least get that that ID card and the space gun. Maybe we could use it. And we did manage to get good intel too, so mission accomplished there. It’s just the intel said that Sonata has a new chief scientist with a giant scorpion-tiger-centaur for a pet. It’s not like he’s anywhere near as good as the old one though. Bridget might have been mistaken, but she could have sworn she felt the Voidwalker blush. <<Indeed,>> Val said. <<Thank you, little one.>> Anytime. They finally landed, outside the familiar light blue split-level Winston house. I love you, space-mommy. <<I love you too, princess.>> The two of them channeled their power, rose up to Bridget’s bedroom window, opened it, and slipped inside. -- Well, dear readers, we've done it, we've finally reached the end of the battle with Mi'cha! Thanks, everyone for reading, and as always, likes and comments are greatly appreciated. I'll also keep the fourth-wall mailbox open, just in case anyone has questions they want to direct that way.
  8. I’m glad! And yes, that is very likely what is going to happen next. There’ll certainly be more Tenkai as well
  9. <<That’s hardly a punishment; what you’ve described is standard practicing procedure. I’d initially considered the results of her mistake consequence enough, but I have been rather lenient recently. >> Nonono, your first idea was fine, space-mommy! Practice is great! I sure do love practice! <<I believe a standard human punishment would involve my little one spending an allotment of time considering the error of her ways, while located near one of the vertices of the room to prevent distraction?>> Yes, that will do nicely. You want me to sit in the corner? Really? <<Oh no, princess. There’s no sense wasting a good opportunity for exercising your powers. Floating in that corner of the ceiling for about fifteen minutes should suffice.>> But I...This is only going to get worse for me, isn’t it? <<Indeed.>>
  10. <<An intriguing question! It might theoretically be possible to do that, though it would be a formidable challenge. The problem is that a Voidwalker and her vessel convert life energy into gravitic energy for sustenance almost immediately. And in this case, the change is complete and fundamental - reversing it would be like trying to unburn the wood used as fuel for your primitive cooking fires>> <<My little one and I are form a unique specimen, however. and further testing is certainly warranted. I’ll inform Bridget that we have some more tests to run on in the morning.>> Bridget’s addendum: Please, please don’t give her any more ideas.,
  11. Thank you! I’m sure Bridget and Tenkai would agree with you that Mi’cha is totally unfair. I mean, somebody could ask them, but the fourth wall inbox is empty so far.
  12. Thank you so much for the comments and likes! I'm very glad the flow of this fight is interesting and entertaining Chapter 7: Dinner and a Show Huh? Bridget asked, nonplussed. <<Oh, how clever!>> Val exclaimed delightedly. <<A charmingly simple ruse. Even so, its effectiveness speaks for itself. They’re looking exactly where they shouldn’t.>> A ru- Oh. Bridget smacked her palm against her forehead, and turned back to where the caped figure had been moments ago. Sure enough, there it was, this time dangling like a garish spider from a grappling line. The dapper teal figure swung like a pendulum, building up momentum, getting closer and closer to the entry Bridget had made. <<Hm, pendular motion is interesting means of approximating true three dimensional freedom of movement. Not something a Voidwalker would deign to use, though. Far too imprecise.>> Well then, be precise, and help me get them out of there! <<Oh, very well,>> Val huffed. <<You’re lucky that you’re so cute, little one. Otherwise I’d never permit such reckless expenditure of our depleted resources.>> Bridget swore that the burning in her cheeks was just because she was tired, and reached out with her power once more. The walls of the laboratory high above faded from her sight, revealing Forzare and his minions clustered around Mi’cha’s gigantic form. Her energy glowed steadily, but dimmer than before. One diminutive figure, however, was free of any trace of gravitic energy. It kept close to the wall, avoiding the flurry of assistants tending to their master’s pet. Bridget worked as subtly as she could, wrapping the first traces of her power around her target as finely as the threads of a spider’s web. She added more, one by one, until, after a few moments that felt like an hour, her painstaking work was complete. Once she was finally satisfied, she yanked hard on the gravitic cord she’d woven. “Wha-, Hey! A young woman’s voice yelped in surprise and dismay as she was pulled abruptly from the building and back downonto the street. That’s cheating, I stealthed my way in there fair and square!” For a moment, Bridget was impressed at the girl’s tenacity. If had been her, she probably would have just screamed and lost her lunch. She certainly wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to complain, let alone the alacrity to tuck herself into a roll on landing. With a roar of pain and fury, Mi’cha erupted out into the sunlight, leaping with the grace of a gazelle, and landing with the force of a meteor. It seemed that Val had been correct; Forzare had not been able to wholly mend Mi’cha’s myriad injuries. Her upper torso was still mottled the rusty hue of dried blood. A few small shards of glass remained in her right side and in her bulging right forearm, but the largest rents in her skin were greatly diminished. Muscles strained beneath blue skin, and her massive chest heaved with exertion. The predatory fury that shone in her yellow, slitted eyes, however, was undimmed. [[Another one? I will end you both, and Master Forzare will finally be safe!]] “Aw, jeez. So much for hoping you weren’t real, huh?” [[I am very real! And so are my claws!]] Mi’cha lashed out with sweeping swipes of her foreclaws, seeking the interloper’s vulnerable flesh. Her motion was a blur that Bridget could barely follow; she couldn’t possibly pull the girl away in time. But Mi’cha’s blow struck empty air, as her target ducked under her strikeand inside her guard. “Yeah, more like real clumsy, bug-brain!” The jade-clad girl stuck out a hand right next to Mi’cha’s face, so close that Bridget was sure that the girl was going to get her arm bitten off. The monster opened her jaws wide, exposing the red depths of her tiger-like maw, and the jagged yellows of the enormous fangs within. Before she could devour the dapper girl, however, a puff of red vapor shot into Mi’cha’s face from the girl’s palm, in which a small spray bottle had suddenly appeared. Mi’cha screeched and spluttered, tossing her head violently from side to side. “Hah!” The girl gloated, leaping backwards out of claw range. “Looks like The Magnificent Tenkai was a bit too spicy for you, huh?”’ Bridget saw the next attack coming before Tenkai did. She watched the muscles beneath Mi’cha’s chitinous hindquarters tense and shift, and the tiny twitch of the enormous stinger readying for a swift and deadly strike. There was no time for precision. With a groan of effort, Bridget unleashed everything she could in one single blast. Two tihngs happened at once: Mi’cha’s blow went wide, jolted off course by the sudden gravitic pulse. She almost lost her footing, but her sheer number of her limbs let her stabilize easily. Tenkai, in contrast, remained distressingly bipedal. Depite her agility, the sudden gravitational shift knocked her off her feet and sent her tumbling across the grass. With a thud and a rustle, she finally rolled to a stop about ten yards away. For a brief moment, Bridget felt a flash of satisfaction that Tenkai was beyond Mi’cha’s many-clawed reach. When the furious chimera rounded on her, however, she noticed a flaw in her plan. [[Fine. I will simply kill you first, assassin.]] Bridget did her best to scramble away, but she was running on empty. Mi’cha skittered forward, wounded but still lethal. Her prey, on the other hand, had reached her limit. She’d used much more Coidwalker power in the last few hours than she'd ever used before, and her body was ready to give out. The only thing left was her energy sight, through which she saw Mi’cha as a towering colossus of purple-flecked green. <<Little one, you must do as I instructed,>> Val admonished. Mi’cha stood mere feet away, fangs bared in a monstrous grin, eager for her impending victory. I can’t. I’m just too tired. <<Yes, which is why you must feed!>> But I’m tired, not- <<You’re not just a flesh-thing anymore, little one! Bring tired and hungry aren’t discrete phenomena for us.>.> Mi’cha reached down and grabbed Bridget by the throat. The smell of iron from the dried blood that caked the beast's enormous arm assailed her nostrils. [[No more hopping away for you.]] Mi’cha’s grip tightened. She was neither as patient nor as sadistic as the Warmistress, waiting for suffocation to do its slow, agonizing work. She was a predator; a snapped neck, a clean kill, that would be enough. But the chimera’s roar of triumph suddenly became a cry of pain as a throwing knife pierced the back of her clawed hand. Bridget thudded to the earth, clutching her neck and choking back tears. “Let Ghost Girl go, Bluebell, or next time I won’t ask knifely. Just kidding, I totally will,” she said, twirling another knife between her fingers as he spoke. <<Interesting. If this Tenkai is already working against Vector, she might make a useful ally.>> Sunlight glinted off the weapons Tenkai held between her gloved knuckles. Bridget fought through the pain, and took advantage of her freedom to launch herself away from Mi’cha. She found, however, that instead the gravitic ally enhanced leap she’d intended, she barely lifted off the ground long enough to get a foot away from her launch point. <<Little one. You. Have. To. Feed. Don’t make me tell you again, missy. >> Bridget instinctively quailed at Val’s unusual sternness. Logically, Val couldn’t really punish her without punishing herself, and there weren’t many punishments worse that being ripped apart by an angry alien warbeast. Still, Val’s tone suggested that, if one existed, she might just apply her considerable intellect, and the last few seconds of their existence, to finding it. Bridget hurriedly scanned the area in front of her for sources of sustenance. Mi’cha was closest, but a terrible choice. Trying to feed on her life energy and avoid the inedible Voidwalker energy had been like trying to suck tiny bits of meat out of the unyielding shell of a crustacean. The other option was the fleeing crowd of civilians, or the human security officers unknowingly about to get in over their heads as they converged on the battling metahumans. Looking at them, she suddenly realized that Val was right, she was famished. Each member of the crowd looked like a bite-size snack; it would be so easy to devour them all and feel the same incredible rush of power she did after feeding on the Hellbloods. But the part of Bridget that wasn’t entirely consumed with alien hunger rebelled at the thought. After all, there was no way to know if a normal human would survive being fed on the way the augmented Hellblood toughs had. That left only Tenkai, brimming emerald-bright with life energy, standing between Mi’cha and the scattered civilians. Surely, Bridget thought, she could stand a tiny nibble. Quick as she could, Bridget reached out with her power and grabbed at Tenkai’s essence. In an instant she was refreshed, and felt the nearly-empty well of her power refilling with a surge of new strength. Bridget tried her leap again, and this time she went soaring stories high, right to the roof of a nearby parking garage. [[No!]] <<See, there you go, princess. Doesn’t that feel better?>> It’s amazing! Now if we could just... But consuming the tiny morsel of Tenkai’s energy only showed Bridget how desperately hungry she was. And with more energy like that, she was sure that defeating Mi’cha would be easy. Just a little more... It was like eating the most delicious dessert, but as hearty and filling as a stew. Bridget raised a hand again, gathered energy from her newly-filled reservoir, and sent Mi’cha hurtling away from Tenkai and into the crisp white Vector walls with a resounding crash. Mi’cha mewled in pain and surprise, as her already raw flesh felt the impact. << Good, that should do for now. We should get out of here while Forzare’s beast is recovering.>> Bridget ignored her. Couldn’t Val see how close they were to victory? With one more reversal of gravity, and she hurledthe cobalt chimera into the sky, and readied the strike that would send her crashing to the earth for the final time, crushed under her own augmented weight. But midway through this final maneuver, a sudden cry of pain broke Bridget’s concentration. Tenkai fell to her knees, cape pooled around her, doubled over in obvious agony. Her jaunty jade hat slipped from her head and rolled away, coming to rest a few feet away. Bridget gasped, terrified that Mi’cha had somehow landed a venomous parting shot. Bridget reached again for the reservoir of power, but it was abruptly gone. <<I think you’re done feeding, little one.>> But I just need- she protested. <<So, you've decided to kill your new friend already? Cold.>> Val finished with savage flatness. N-no! I don’t, I didn’t, I’m sorry, I just-, Bridget protested feebly. As her feeding frenzy faded, it was replaced in a flash by the leaden realization of what she’d almost done. << We’re leaving, little one. But we’ll talk about this later.>> Hot tears of shame burned in Bridget's eyes.“This is exactly why I didn’t want to feed!” <<Indeed. You’re still a child; it’s not surprising that you can’t control our appetite. It appears that I made an error expecting you to be able to do so.>> Bridget looked down at the hard grey concrete, wishing she could fall straight through it. <<However, if you’re going to fight Voidwalkers, you’re going to need to learn..>> I...I know Bridget replied, choking back a sob. <<Fortunately, even from the height you managed, the drop should keep Forzare’s beastie down long enough that we can leave.>> Bridget turned to go, but even as she did, a vast shadow fell over her. [[A worthy attempt. But you once again underestimate my master’s genius.]] When Bridget looked over her shoulder, her heart plummeted. Mi’cha was there, awash in Voidwalker energy. The gravitic bolts that held her form together shone like stars, visible even to the naked human eye. Most incredibly, her massive bulk hovered weightless in the air, bulging yellow eyes level with Bridget’s green ones. “That,” Tenkai gaped from below, “is bullshit.”
  13. Well, given the amount of shady stuff Vector does, it certainly seems like the kind of place other heroes should investigate. I wonder why the Stalwart Six and other official hero teams haven't done that?
  14. Yeah, I mean, who knows how long you'll have to wait for another update, given how slowly I write. oh wait, what's this right here? Chapter 6: The Belly of the Beast Bridget put her hands up in a fighting stance, readying herself for combat. Mi'cha skittered slowly forward with a low, rumbling growl. Muscles bulged beneath her skin as she tensed for a final pounce. The vastness of her eclipsed the tiny pinprick of sunlight from the laboratory ahead, so that for a moment, the whole world was chitin and rippling muscle bathed in pale purple light. Mi'cha leaped, and Bridget feinted left then dove right. She floated herself a mere inch from the floor, ducking under one of Mi'cha's ripping claws. But there were just too many sharp, chitinous edges for her to dodge them all. Bridget felt a burning in her side as one slicing leg ripped at her shirt, tearing open a gash in her clothes and the flesh beneath. She pushed through the pain, and fell onto her hands and knees on the other side of her opponent. A hand placed on her wound came away hot and slick with blood. The pain hit her a second later and she screamed. No! nonononono! We're gonna die! <<We will prevail, princess, I promise.>> Val didn't sound entirely sure herself, but Bridget wasn't in a state to argue. <<We'll feed on some of Forzare's minions and be good as new. Remember how I showed you last time?>> Y-yeah. A great ripping sound from behind her told Bridget that at least one part of their plan had worked: They'd found a hallway narrow enough that Mi'cha was having difficulty turning around to finish the job. But the clacking of claws and legs didn't sound like the noises a monster makes when it's given up the chase. <<Focus, little one. Find those two we defeated earlier. They don't have much energy, but it will be enough.>> Bridget could almost feel Mi'cha's breath on her neck, and it shook her concentration. She tried to reach out to find life energy she could sap. But the only thing her mind could see was the overflowing vitality of the monster behind her. Bridget reached out a tendril of her power, attempting to draw Mi'cha's life energy toward her. But it was like trying to suck water through the tiniest, narrowest straw. She pulled with all her might, but instead of the surge of power she'd felt after feeding off the Hellbloods, a mere trickle flowed around the wound in her side. And even as she got to her feet, Bridget heard the thud of four enormous forelegs hitting the ground. But by the time Mi'cha had righted herself and was ready to pounce again, Bridget had sped all the way down the final hallway right up to the sealed entrance of Forzare's laboratory. She fished in her pocket for the prism pistol and felt it ooze up her arm again. Steel or not, she was pretty sure that the laser pistol could blow a hole in Forzare's front door. Bridget had never shot a gun before, let alone a prism pistol before. She'd expected some recoil, but hadn't been prepared for the sheer brightness of it. The searing light stabbed at the darkness, and was answered an instant later by a violet shield thatthrummed to life around the entryway. It devoured the beam from her pistol, until all that remained of it was the imprint that floated in her vision. [[I am grateful, assassin. Master Forzare will be able to see me defeat you on camera, and how good a servant I am, and I shall receive all of the ear-scratches I could ever want! I would thank you, but you will be dead!]] “Yeah, okay, sure. I bet he'll love you get stuck when you try to stab me again.” Bridget took a step forward, making herself look as threatening as possible and trying to hide the pain still throbbing in her side. Mi'cha let out a growl that sounded like a laugh. [[No.]] She brought her stinger down low in front of her, like a chitinous saber. But instead of lunging at Bridget, she tensed the muscles in her tail, sending the venomous tip hurtling toward her target like a spear. Mi'cha's attack was too fast for Bridget to intercept with gravitic power, and she was only saved from the venom by a frantic tumble to the floor. This, however, was exactly what Mi'cha had been waiting for. She scuttled forward, eager to impale the prone Bridget with the sharp claws at the tips of her legs. <<A shift of priorities is in order, little one. I don't think his battle can be won.>> Geez, you think? Bridget rolled out from under a pair of Mi'cha's forelimbs that nearly sliced straight through her head. <<If we create a vacuum around that window and then shatter it, it could be an avenue of escape.>> Or we could be cut to ribbons by broken glass! <<It can't be that dangerous, surely, given our size and density->> Hell no, that much glass at high speeds would cut through unprotected flesh instantly! We'd be dead even quicker than if Mi'cha- And in that instant, contemplating the many and varied directions from which their doom could come, an idea blazed through Bridget's mind. She descended one more time into the purple void, and wrapped herself in gravitic power. There was no point trying to shield herself from Mi'cha's blows or turn them aside, the creature simply had too much mass. So instead, Bridget floated herself just off the ground, and slid her way directly under Mi'cha's abdomen. [[Wha-?]] Mi'cha's legs scrambled wildly, suddenly unable to find their target. The respite wasn't long, however. In a moment, Mi'cha looked down, and raised her arachnoid abdomen with a snarl, preparing to crush the impudent assassin beneath her with sheer bulk. Bridget closed her eyes. She didn't want to see the final moment when the heavy shell smeared her across the floor What the victorious Mi'cha had failed to notice, though, was the gravitic field wrapping itself around the great window Forzare had installed to overawe visitors with the grandeur of his demesne. Small cracks began to form and multiply in its surface. It creaked and groaned under the suddenly multiplied weight of the outside air pressed against it by an invisible, alien hand. It shattered all at once into uncountable pieces,exploding into a slicing storm of shards, thousands of tiny missiles, the entire cloud aimed at the unsuspecting Mi'cha. Bridget hadn't had time to be precise; many of the splinters bounced harmlessly off the organic armor covering Mi'cha's lower half. But even so, many more found their mark in the soft, unprotected flesh of her humanoid torso. The creature roared in agony, reeling from the pain of a thousand tiny cuts. She staggered a few crablike steps, and Bridget could see the sun, its rays stabbing into the sullen darkness, illuminating a path for her escape. [[H-help me...Master Forzare, please,]] she mewled, [[I-I- Everywhere...it hurts so much!]] The telepathic sound of Mi'cha's cries vibrated through Bridget's entire being. It took all her willpower not to stop or look behind. She moved as quickly and carefully as she could, clearing a path through the debris with a swipe of her hand and dodging Mi'cha's flailing claws. She ran to the base of the ruined window and,sailed thorough it into the daylight world outside. Only then, as she began her floating descent did she dare turn to look back at her wounded pursuer. It was a gruesome sight. Thin lines of violent crimson covered her face and chest, tracing from gaping wound to gaping wound. Her hands were folded together, in an almost meditative pose. Dark rivulets of blood ran across her claws, and when the sunlight hit her, Bridget barely kept from vomiting. The slicing crisscross was the least of it. Torn muscle showed its raw pink meat through gaping rents in Mi’cha’s skin. Blood flowed from them, painting the wall scarlet as she crumpled against it. The glass gleamed in the pale light, broken but eerily placid amidst the carnage that it made. Bridget hovered in the air for a moment, transfixed at the gargantuan ruin of her would-be killer. Her eyes refused to focus on any one part of the monster, rejecting the disgusting enormity of what she’d done. Mi’cha’s blue skin was rapidly being stained red, a red that darkened to the hue of rust as she lay there, mewling and twitching feebly. The image stretched into a strangling eternity, as though the world itself had stopped with their battle. The silence was finally sundered by the mechanical grinding of the laboratory entrance. Time seemed to start again. A gaggle of Vector employees had heard the commotion. Most were wise enough to stay back, but a few were curious or foolish enough to approach. Bridget drifted down toward the green plaza below. The landing was less gentle than she would have liked, but she kept firmly on her feet. She made herself invisible again, but it was obvious that the concealing cloak was more frayed and tattered than usual, weakened by her mounting fatigue. <<Magnificently done, princess. That was truly ingenious.>> Thanks, space mommy, she thought back, smiling weakly, but I...I don’t feel so good. A searing flame still burned in her side, and the rest of her felt like dough that had just been squashed flat by a rolling pin. Her stomach continued to perform horrific gymnastics.Even so, she pushed the civilians away as gently as she could. To her surprise, the next voice she heard did not come from the bewildered crowd, but instead faint and muffled from the shattered window above. “Mi’cha! Oh, my poor, poor Mi’cha. What in the void happened to you? Don’t worry, we’ll have you in fighting shape in no time, I promise!” Forzare’s frantic terror turned the rumbling baritone Bridget had heard before into a falsetto woodwind. Oh, fantastic. <<Don’t worry, little one. The Star Wardens might be able to heal such injuries quick enough that we'd need to worry. But the best Forzare is likely to do is let his pet hobble away>> Well, we should probably do the same. My everything hurts. Bridget turned, ready to make her escape. However, just as she did, she caught a flash of blue in the corner of her eye. She jumped, dreading to find that Forzare had been so enamored of Mi’cha that he made another. But instead, when she turned her head to follow the movement, what she saw was entirely unexpected. A small, blue-clad humanoid figure ran along the roof of the Vector building, their teal top hat askew, matching cape fluttering in the breeze. Their destination was as obvious as it was ill-chosen; they halted their sprint above the smashed window that had drawn everyone’s attention. Suddenly, an enormous bang exploded from the building entrance. The onlookers, already spooked, went into a full-blown panic. A few screamed, all of them scattered like ants. Bridget, for her part, jumped what she thought must have been about a foot in the air, cursing under her breath. “Dammit! What now?” She instinctively turned to Val, hoping that she at least might have some idea what was going on. But instead of sage advice from decades spent voyaging the stars, what Bridget got from Val was a peal of uproarious psychic laughter. --- Incidentally, this also marks th opening of a new feature- The Fourth Wall Mailbox! You've asked questions of me for a while now, and I've so often answered cryptically. But now, you have the opportunity to ask your questions directly to the characters themselves! Some of them might even be less cagey than I am. Simply ask your question, specifying who it should be routed to, and you'll get an answer. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
  15. Monologuing is a proud Voidwalker institution. You’ve heard of performance art, but what Val and Forzare do? That’s performance science. For Voidwalkers, even anodyne things like white papers would be treated almost like beat poetry. A little in the weeds, too intimate for true spectacle, but still, a *performance*