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Selpharia last won the day on October 12 2017

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  1. I’m glad! And yes, that is very likely what is going to happen next. There’ll certainly be more Tenkai as well
  2. <<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.>>
  3. <<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.,
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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?
  7. 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!
  8. 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*
  9. What, an update? Those don't happen, there must be some mistake. Oh wait, you mean this? Chapter 5- Hunter and Hunted Any Voidwalker, facing a frontal assault by a creature as massive as Mi'cha, would have called on her prodigious powers to alter her course or to hold her in place. But in this moment of primal fear, Bridget didn't think like a Voidwalker. Her very human brain went straight for the quickest means of escape from this terrifying alien predator. This was the only reason that she did not die in the very next instant, impaled on Mi'cha's enormous stinger tail. She had instinctively jumped backward, amplifying the distance and speed of her leap with gravitic manipulation. The scream of metal blended with Mi'cha's furious roar as her claws struck the metal floor where Bridget had been standing merely a blink earlier. The bestial sound made Bridget's teeth rattle, and she stumbled backward. The gigantic monstrosity seized the opening and whipped her tail toward the soft, vulnerable flesh of her prey. <<I won't let you harm my little one, creature,>> Val snarled Bridget felt the reservoir of power, brimming and eager. She frantically extended an arm to ward off the monster's strike, eyes closed instinctively in fear of the scything blow to come, even as she unleashed a desperate burst of energy in Mi'cha's direction. <<I suspect that Forzare's simple-minded minion will find a close inspection of the laboratory's steel wall more suited to her capabilities, even if her first introduction to it might be more kinetic than she'd prefer. The unique sound that such a mass of chitin will make upon impact is->> But that sound never came. Bridget had thought her attack would bowl over even something as massive as Micha. The only thing her attack managed to do, however, was knock the beast's strike slightly off course. Mi'cha's stinger clanged against the metallic floor again, giving Bridget the space to let out a pant of exertion. Unfortunately for her, Mi'cha, had expected this counter, and quickly swiped her tail laterally, striking Bridget full in the stomach with the armored cord of muscle. A second massive outpouring of gravitic energy prevented her from crumpling and let her keep her balance despite the crushing impact. It took all of Bridget and Val's combined effort to counter enough of the force that Bridget was only knocked straight backwards toward the outer laboratory door. They avoided being smashed against it by inches, barely averting the fate that mere seconds ago Val had been sure Mi'cha would suffer. <<Forzare is...full of surprises, it seems. I underestimated him; I...have no idea how he's done this.>> Val's psychic voice betrayed the same fatigue that Bridget felt in every fiber of her body. “...How?” Bridget panted, repeating Val's question aloud in between large gulps of air. She barely contained her terror as Mi'cha skittered toward her with the meticulous inexorability of a wolf advancing on a wounded fawn. Seeing his creation triumphant, Forzare began to gloat. “Well, intruder, despite your earlier rudeness, I suppose I should thank you for the chance to demonstrate the pinnacle of my craft with a brief, simple exegesis of the brilliance that has laid low your ill-conceived sabotage.” Forzare began to float lazily upward, his black lab coat billowing out behind him like a cape. “You have no doubt observed that I have fully surmounted the square-cube law.” He swept his arm outward grandiosely, looking, Bridget thought, less like a horrifying alien mastermind and more like a member of the drama club warming up a well-practiced soliloquy. Awesome. Bridget took the opportunity to lean up against the door for a few precious seconds. If Forzare liked to hear himself talk as much as Val did, she might just have enough time to do something... “This so-called law, like so many things in the physical universe, bends and twists around beings like ourselves, while its iron grip holds fast lesser creatures. The path to subverting it, therefore, lies in elevating those creatures to new and glorious heights! Behold!” Suddenly, the purple light in the laboratory was extinguished, plunging the room into darkness. Bridget automatically reached for the energy sight that Val had taught her to use. When she did, she saw Forzare as she expected, glowing with the inner power of an attuned Voidwalker. But a similar glow also radiated from Mi'cha's massive form. Well, that complicated things, Bridget thought to herself. She pressed her hands up against the door behind her, drawing out just enough Voidwalker energy that Forzare's own senses wouldn't detect what she was doing. Hopefully. <<So he attuned someone to a war-thrall. How...pedestrian.>> Val sounded disappointed more than anything. <<Wait...no, that's not it, the pattern's not right!>> Once Val pointed it out, Bridget saw it too. Where Forzare's human vessel was entirely suffused with Voidwalker energy, a darker shade of Bridget's own power, Mi'cha looked different. She glowed with green life energy, but a constellation of purple orbs floated within her outline, so that she looked oddly like a 3-D connect-the-dots puzzle. There were spheres supporting her bulkier parts that it took a moment for Bridget's eyes to separate them. On top of that, individual spheres were fixed like bolts at every one of her insectile articulation points. “This mere physical vessel has TRANSCENDED its former frailty, and become a truly SUPERIOR creation!” Forzare continued, unbothered by his own dramatic darkness. “It operates at far beyond the expected peak parameters, and renders futile any feeble attempts to use that same power to alter its motion!” [[Be glad, assassin,]] Mi'cha added, in the same melodramatic cadence as her master, attempting and failing to conceal her eagerness. [[You will be slain by the great Stygian Forzare's true masterpiece!]] But instead of the sound of groveling or the final, futile attack that Mi'cha expected, her mighty challenge was answered only by the clang of the laboratory door falling closed, just in time for a small human girl to perform a gravitically-enhanced leap through it. Bridget ran as fast as she could past the laboratory entrance and into the darkness of the labyrinthine hallways beyond. She hurtled blindly onward looking desperately for an exit, guided only by the ghostly light of Voidwalker energy radiating from where the corridor walls and ceiling met. The screech of metal echoed and rebounded in the silence. The thuds of Mi'cha ramming herself against the barrier were the chimes of a nightmare clock, each one signifying that her hunt for Bridget was that much closer to bloody completion. It took less than a minute for Bridget to lose sight of the laboratory, and of the window outside it which was the only place natural light could flow into the alien lair. After one more burst of speed she leaned up against a wall, taking a moment to catch her breath. She'd expected hard tile, the same corporate design that the Voidwalkers had used in every other floor of the Vector building. As a result, she almost drew back her hand in surprise when it touched the wall and felt something like carpeting. But it was neither soft nor yielding, and offered no comfort. Like everything else here, she realized, it had been placed with calculated purpose. It made a fine insulator, allowing hundreds of normal human employees to proceed about their tasks, feet from a sprawling network of secret rooms and passageways, and remain blissfully oblivious. It also made escaping upwards or downwards a dicey proposition at best. <<Our chances of locating the elevator are vanishingly small, especially given how little time we have,>> Val observed. << We might consider attempting to catch the creature in one of these shorter passages; it seems unlikely that she would be able to leverage her physical superiority in such confined spaces.>> Val was clearly shaken, but had recovered her analytic faculties far faster than Bridget thought she herself would ever be able to. It took a few moments of deep breathing before she could form her thoughts into a coherent response. But Forzare will come after us too, and he's normal-sized! The xenobiologist wasn't as scary as his chimeric creation, but Bridget had definitely gotten the worst of their previous exchange. He was, after all, a full-powered Voidwalker. She was maybe half of one, and a child on top of that. <<Unlikely. Like me, he's a thinker, not a fighter. A display of power in his sanctuary is one thing, risking his own safety looking for a possible assassin is quite another. He'd suspect a trap.>> Yeah, except I bet he has minions. Like, a bunch of attuned research assistants or something, who'd really love to impress their boss by catching us. <<Indeed. Even if he's decided to give that creature the role of second in his demonstrations, he surely has other more conventional research staff. The Warmistress would tolerate much in search of results, but not an entire lab's worth of war-thralls wasted on research.>> But fighting anything else is better than trying to fight that thing head-on. <<That isn't strictly true. If Forzare were a disgrace like Empyrean Rondo, he'd go straight to the Warmistress. Thankfully, despite his questionable choice of discipline, he at least has a scientist's dignity.>> Right. Bridget supposed that if Val still felt secure enough to go on about ”a scientist's dignity,” things might not be as desperate as they seemed. Let's see if we can dodge the blue beastie, then maybe we can overpower one of them and get them to lead us out or something. The screeching and banging stopped. For a moment, Bridget thought she heard the sound of a claw scraping across the carpet and nearly jumped out of her skin, but realized it was only the scuff of her own sneaker. Collecting herself, she continued walking for a little while, slower and more carefully than before, while Val counted and tracked their turns. As time passed without encountering any further monsters, Bridget even began to feel a bit more at ease. Soon enough, she heard the muffled sound of shouts and several pairs of feet, no doubt those of the emerging search party. Val gave a smug, self-satisfied chuckle, and even Bridget cracked a small smile. When you got right down to it, this wasn't a whole lot different than evading Hellblood patrols; Sami and the rest of the Stalwart Six must have done that for weeks prior to their last mission, and none of them could turn invisible. Well, she wasn't sure that Isis couldn't, but she'd never bother anyway. <<Little one, why don't you try floating us just a little bit off the ground? We don't want to go galumphing about as blatantly as these second-rate beaker fillers, do we?>> Oh, right. Bridget realized belatedly that in her headlong flight from Mi'cha, she hadn't done anything to conceal the noise of her passage, or her footprints. But, then again, maybe that didn't matter; if it did, Val surely would have scolded her much more forcefully. Unfortunately, her new stealth tactic came a little too late. The sound of feet drew closer, along with the voices of her pursuers. “Curse these miserable human eyes! I know she's barely meters away, but they can't even penetrate a simple solid wall! How in the void does any creature live like this?” The voices were seconds from rounding the last corner that stood between them and Bridget. <<Little one, perhaps we should->> Bridget barely listened. She knew there was only one way she was going to defeat two Voidwalkers in a contest of power. She turned on her heel and ran toward her pursuers. Their eyes widened in surprise to see their quarry so abruptly appear in front of them. And in that moment, Val understood what Bridget wanted to do. With a sickening crunch, their power rammed the two researchers headlong into one another. One of them let out a moan of pain and confusion as his comrade's elbow impacted his face. The two suddenly-hunted hunters raised gravitic shields, trying to ward off the blows. Bridget watched purple spheres of power begin to form around them as they struggled to their feet. One fumbled at a bulge in the pocket of his black lab coat. <<Well done sweetie, don't let up now!>> Bridget obeyed and gritted her teeth as she focused everything she had into her outstretched hand. Pain burned every nerve in her body. She glowed so brightly with her own power that for a moment she was blinded by the lash of violet light that erupted from her palm and ensnared her targets. It squeezed them, and their shields shattered like glass. The next crash of bodies on walls was softened, the sound of impact muffled by the soundproofing. And so was the next, and the next after that; Bridget waved her hand back and forth, making enormous brushstrokes through the air. The two entrapped Voidwalkers careened from wall to wall, a pinball of confused and tangled limbs, before they finally collapsed in a heap, unmoving “Did...did I kill them?” Bridget panted, suddenly worried as the adrenal lightning faded from her veins. She was bent almost double, barely managing to keep her feet, as though she'd run a marathon in a moment. <<There's no need to worry, princess. Their nocturne hasn't yet begun.>> “Good.” She didn't want to think about it would mean if she had. One of the researchers had a pass like the one that Empy had dangling from a lanyard on his neck; Bridget quickly took possession of it. Just in case, right? <<Indeed.>> But as she looked down at her defeated foes, her eyes fell on the bulge in the other's coat. "What's this?” She said softly to herself, pulling the thing from the pocket where it lay. It was hard to see in the dark hallway, but if she strained, Bridget could just make out the outline of a small pistol. But where the chamber would be, a deep blue crystal had been set, a tiny white light gleaming at its center like a miniature star in the surrounding darkness. Bridget tightened her grip on the pistol, and as she did she heard a gross squishing sound, and felt the cold creep of strange slime oozing up her arm. It gripped her shoulder tightly, so that even though she screamed in disgust and did her best to shake it free, the weapon remained stuck. “Eugh! What the hell is this thing? Get it off!” The utter grossness of the strange device overrode any attempt at stealth. <<It's a prism pistol, an old Star Warden weapon that Voidwalkers still use. If you clench and unclench your hand three times, the grip will release.>> But why is it so slimy? <<It's ideal for those attuned to weaker forms without natural weapons. The slime accommodates whatever appendage the vessel possesses.>> Bridget did as she was told, and sure enough, the slime slurped its way back into the handle. Bridget held it gingerly between two fingers as though it might bite her, and carefully placed it in her own coat pocket. Sweet! With this, we might just be able to beat them all and find our way out of here! <<Be careful, princess. It's a useful tool, but you're not trained in its use. You can keep it for now, but I don't want you using it unless we absolutely must. I suspect that if you did, you'd be more of a danger to yourself than to our enemies.>> Bridget started out again, buoyed the feeling of things finally starting to go right for her and Val. She could see the light of the laboratory window ahead. If she could get the drop on Forzare as she had his assistants, and if she could make her one shot count... But as passed a particularly broad hallway, that little balloon of optimism was immediately punctured by the appearance of a familiar scorpion tail. [[You make very easy prey, Assassin.]] Shit. ------- More updates as a reward for sticking with this for so long? That seems incredibly unlikely
  10. I'm glad to hear that. I find that's an underrated virtue of superhero stories. I also very much enjoy puzzling over the whys of people and what they do.
  11. Wow! That’s so much reading! I’m glad you liked it so much, Hoppy!
  12. This is such a great question, thank you so much for asking it! I think you’re very correct that it’s “all of the above.” I don’t know if Val herself could figure out how much of each it is, and it’s definitely changed as she and Bridget spend more time together. I’d just add one more: Val likes being in charge, being important, and being needed. I dare say she has grown to enjoy the experience of being space mommy for its own sake. It’s a little funny, really. Val originally wanted to manipulate Bridget into being submissive, because she’s used to the Voidwalker interpretation of submission: pure obedience. But when she started doing that, she opened herself up to a dominant role that went further and was more fulfilling than the mere command she expected. She became, and continues to become, a caretaker. Kudos also for picking up on the importance of Echo in opening Val up to the role of space-mommy. Regarding the last part of your question: we see Bridget’s dream version of this scene, so it’s very possible that Bridget was by this point starting to see the commanding, dominant, self-confident Val as a bit of a mommy figure, and her subconscious was just trying to explain it to her. Val definitely did have some mommy traits before she was intentional about it! Thank you again for reading so closely and carefully!
  13. Thanks so much for all the comments, they mean a lot to me I know updates have been slow, but they are moving, and will be coming along soon, faerie promise!
  14. That was one of my favorite scenes to write as well Bridget imitating Val is so precious.
  15. Fixed, thanks for pointing that out. I’ll do what I can, but part of the difficulty in *writing* something like this is that it takes time, especially when life gets hectic.