Chapter 2 : Early Evening
“You two stay right here. I’m going to go get Mica and Tessa.” said Anton as he stepped around the dark elves “When I get back we’ll all make our way to the dungeon to repair the ward.”
“What, no! We’ll come with you!” cried Fiona “We need to stick together!”
“What if there’s enemies! You’ll need us to help you fight!” exclaimed Kianna.
“Listen! I don’t like splitting up either. But it’ll be easier for me to fight if I don’t have you two standing right next to me.” said Anton “We’re blind right now. We have no idea what we’re dealing with, and I don’t want to risk either of you getting caught in the crossfire if I have to go all out. And besides, chances are, I’m the only target right now, so you two should be safe here under your shields. And that means I can let you stay here and guard this area.”
Anton looked from one dark elf to the other as he spoke.
“If I need to fall back, then I’ll need a safe place to fall back to. And that’s where you’ll come in.” he said softly “Now, if I’m not back in 20 minutes then make your way to my room and enter the portal I have set up there. Earlivi knows who you are so he won’t kill you. Tell him what’s happened and send him after me. Okay? Do you guys understand the plan?”
“No! You can’t leave us!” whimpered Kianna.
“Listen! I’ll be right back.” said Anton as he took hold of her shoulders “But I have to go now, Tessa and Mica could be in danger! There’s no more time to argue.”
“He’s right. We’re wasting time!” said Fiona as she pointed her ears straight back and began to look around behind them “Just go, Boss. We’ll hold the fort here.”
Anton nodded and gave Kianna a reassuring look before turning away from them and darting off towards the back of the house.
The two dark elves wore solemn expressions as they formed their reinforced shield around themselves and set in to wait.
Mica found nothing unusual as she walked into the kitchen and looked around for any sign of Tessa. Finding the room empty and seeing that the backdoor was still closed, she turned to leave back out the way she came in but stopped short as she found herself staring at a broadly smiling unfamiliar face.
Mica blinked and took a step back as she quickly registered that the face she was looking at was actually a smiling opera mask. Colored white with solid black eyes and mouth, the mask’s uncanny appearance immediately left one with a sense of unease.
“Well, well… What do we have here?” said the stranger who was holding a completely at ease looking Molly in its arms and lightly stroking the little dog’s head “Looks to me like it’s a living superiority complex, that’s trying to beat us to our target… Can’t have that now, can we…”
Taking a step forward, the stranger tilted its head back and forth in a creepy, almost robotic-like manner.
“Can’t have that at all…” it said in an eerily melodic yet menacing voice.
“Don’t kill her, Pin! Remember! Only the target is-!” said a voice that was quickly cut off as the stranger tapped at a communicator in its ear with the tip of a spaded tail.
“Don’t you just hate backseat drivers?” asked the stranger as it took another step forward “Always so unhelpful…”
Caught off guard, and with her instincts telling her to be wary, Mica said nothing as she took another step back and raised her tail up over her head.
“Oooo, that’s a nifty looking blade you got there…” drawled the stranger as it watched Mica’s barbs flex themselves out wide “Very sharp looking… Scary…”
“Put the dog down.” ordered Mica as she poised her tail to strike “Now.”
Staying completely still for a moment, the stranger tilted its head to an unnatural angle before speaking again.
“…Or, what?” it said in obvious challenge.
Wholly unnerved by the strange being, Mica immediately struck at its face without hesitation and blinked in surprise when her spade actually became embedded into its mask.
“Congratulations… You missed…” said the being from just behind the now cracked mask that hung in the air at the end of Mica’s tail “Also, that was very rude of you…”
Whipping her tail back behind herself, and tossing the mask off to the side in the process, Mica’s chest tightened a bit as she finally got a look at her foe. Though she had no idea who this person was, the kiochi was immediately certain that she was looking at another female cubi. And as such, she couldn’t help but to get immediately annoyed at this creatures arrogant attitude.
Standing half a head shorter than Mica herself, the strange cubi was clearly not another shinoccubi, but was so similar to, and yet still different from one, that the kiochi couldn’t help but to feel a sense of uncanniness about her.
She had a typical cubi shape, with a thin, curvaceous frame, large inhuman eyes, pointed ears, horns, bat-like wings and a long, sinuous tail with a spade at the end. Any similarities with a shinoccubi ended here however.
This cubi’s spade was not sharpened but was fleshy and soft. Her skin was a pale orange in color, with darker, bluish stripes crisscrossing down the length of her tail. Her horns were much larger than Mica’s, and unlike her own, were covered in a thin layer of flesh. They started out the same orange color as the rest of her body, but quickly darkened along their lengths until they became a vivid, crimson red at their tips.
Like a kiochi, thin lines of color ran down from her horns to her eyes where they broadened into an eyeliner-like mask. Unlike a kiochi though, this coloration was bright and multi-hued, being almost iridescent looking. These lines or stripes didn’t stop there either, but continued down over the edges of the strange cubi’s cheeks before running down her neck and pooling into a heart-shaped marking that started at the base of her throat and trailed down in between her shapely breasts. Additional freckle-like markings adorned each of her cheeks, right below her eyes, and this gave her face an even broader splash of seemingly unnatural coloration.
Her hair was a bright turquoise in color, and cascaded back over her shoulders in looping curls. And her wings, rather than resting in place behind her back, were instead folded downwards and wrapped tightly around her thighs and legs. And this gave the impression that she was wearing leather chaps.
Her broad smiling face, bright coloration and flamboyant hair all worked together to give this creature a distinctive clown-like feeling to her nature, albeit a rather unnerving clown at best.
Although she, herself had never actually met one before, and knew that it was hard to tell when you were really looking at one, as they were well known for constantly changing their colors and appearances… At this point though, Mica was fairly certain that she was facing a parodi, or a female junoccubus.
As a race, the junoccubi, or motli’s and parodi’s as they called themselves, were in many ways on the complete opposite side of the mental spectrum from the shinoccubi. Where shinoccubi were serious minded creatures who were ordered and strict in their behavior, junoccubi were instead chaotic, free spirited and fun loving beings.
This division in their demeanors was due to the specific roles that the two races were each bred to play, as where shinoccubi were bred for following commands and killing targets with speed and precision, junoccubi were actually created to stop them.
The clown-like appearance, whimsical nature and playful attitudes were all a ruse to hide just how capable, bloodthirsty and exceptionally dangerous a junoccubus really was. And this was no accident, as by design the junoccubi were specifically bred for a set of very important purposes. They existed to amuse, care for and ultimately protect, children.
Once bonded with a child, regardless of what species that child may be, a junoccubus, or more often than not a pair of them, would become feverishly attentive to that child’s needs and happiness. And would provide them with a readily available caretaker, playmate, entertainer, advisor and especially, a guardian.
Essentially, these creatures were a blend of a baby sitter, an imaginary friend, a jester and a fiercely loyal guard dog who would, without hesitation, fly to the defense of their charges.
And with a plethora of magical abilities at their disposal, these unpredictable cubi would not only fearlessly take a stand against any would be threats that may appear, they are also, despite their disarming appearances, fully capable of winning any fight that may take place.
Even against their seemingly better equipped cousins.
“Sorry to disappoint you, sugarlips…” said the parodi as she continued to absently rub Molly’s head while now sneering at Mica “But I’m afraid that this just isn’t your day…”
Her instincts kicking in as she felt the threat in the parodi’s voice, Mica pulled her daggers from their sheathes and fell into a readied stance with her blades pointed at the smiling woman.
“Who are you!?” she demanded as she positioned her tail to strike again.
Rather than say anything, the parodi merely continued to stare into Mica’s eyes as she began to loudly and arrogantly chew on some gum.
Staring back at her, Mica watched as the strange woman’s eyes each began to rapidly shift from one color to another. Mesmerized by the sight, the kiochi couldn’t help but to blink and jump back a bit as the parodi made a loud popping sound by suddenly blowing a bubble with her gum.
Laughing now, which caused a wave of colors to wash over her body, the parodi continued to sneer.
“Jumpy little bitch, aren’t you?” she snickered before blowing another bubble which popped just as loudly as the first.
Angry and even more unnerved now, Mica reacted without thinking and drove her spade down directly at the parodi’s face.
The parodi barely tilted her head upwards as she blew another bubble and let the kiochi’s strike land.
The moment the tip of Mica’s spade touched the bubble it popped outwards, blowing the spade away and covering its tip with a huge glob of gum. Gum which rapidly began to expand and spread backwards as it made to engulf the entire spade.
“The fuck!” cried Mica as she pulled her spade back to herself and frantically tried to scrape the gum off with her dagger.
Preoccupied with this, she didn’t notice right away as the parodi began to quickly blow a stream of tiny pink, floating bubbles out of her mouth. And by the time Mica finally looked back at her, there was a thin cloud of bouncing bubbles floating between them.
“What a loser!” laughed the parodi as she spread her wings out wide.
Mica could only blink in response as the parodi flapped her wings and sent the swarm of bubbles straight at her.
The hapless kiochi cried out as the bubbles exploded against her and she was thrown back against the wall. Covered in sticky gum, and now stuck to the wall itself, Mica tried to cry out though her gum covered mouth as she immediately began to struggle.
The parodi cackled gleefully as she stepped up to the trapped and raging kiochi.
“You know, you’re so lucky that you’re not the target…” she said as she smiled wide and ominously “Otherwise this would have gotten a lot uglier for you!”
Furious, Mica glared back as she redoubled her struggles.
Still laughing, the parodi turned and went to walk away but after only a few steps she came to a stop.
“…Then again.” she said as she glanced back over her shoulder “It would be a waste, to go without a taste…”
Mica blinked and went still as the parodi turned to face her with a contemplating expression on her face.
“You always hear how good kiochi’s are…” mused the parodi as her tail looped about behind her “Never had a chance to try one though…”
Mica creased her brow in confusion as she stared at the pondering parodi.
“Oh? Have you never heard?” asked the parodi as her smile returned “Kiochi’s like you are supposed to have very lean, and tender meat. And you’re supposed to have a most wonderfully sweet, flavorful taste… Though, I can’t say if that’s true or not. Since I haven’t had a chance to try one of you out… yet… Always wanted to though…”
Mica was still for a moment before her eyes went wide.
“And like I said, walking away right now…” said the parodi as she gleefully narrowed her eyes and smiled broadly enough to show off her sharpened teeth “Would be a waste…”
“Humph! Hm mm! Hm mm!” cried Mica as she frantically tried to shake her head.
Staring into Mica’s eyes, the parodi licked her lips as she took a step forward.
The kiochi screamed through her gag as she tried with all her might to pry herself away from the wall.
Both of the cubi stopped short and blinked in surprise as a transparent wall of orange-colored light suddenly winked into existence between them.
“Hello, Pinnacle.” said Anton from behind the parodi “Fancy meeting you here, of all places.”
Whirling around, the parodi blinked in surprise as she looked up at a stern faced Anton.
“…Uh? …Anton?” she questioned as she leaned away from him “Is that you?”
“Yes.” answered Anton as he crossed his arms over his chest “And if you don’t mind, I’d really like to know what you think you’re doing with my dog, and my kiochi.”
“…Your, kiochi? …Oh! …Uh! …I was just, uh, playing with her! A little bit!” chuckled Pinnacle as she smiled sheepishly and playfully hugged Molly to herself “Same with the doggie! Yeah! That’s it! We were all just playing around! That’s all we were doing, just playing! Right!? Little kiochi!?”
“Hmph! Humph, hmph, hmph!” exclaimed Mica as she glared at the parodi.
“See!? We’re just having a good time!” laughed Pinnacle as she let Molly down and clasped her hands together behind her back “That’s why I didn’t hurt either of them! Cause we were just playing!”
Anton said nothing as he stared down at the parodi.
“…Uh? …So? …Um, what’s up, man?” said Pinnacle “…When did you decide to get a kiochi?”
“Not very long ago.” said Anton as Molly sat down next to his leg “So where is Brea?”
“…Uh, Brea? Oh, yeah, uh? …She’s at home.” said Pinnacle as she shrugged her shoulders “She’s sitting this one out. She wasn’t feeling good. So she stayed in bed today. You know how that goes, right?”
“Oh I know exactly how it goes. I know you wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t also around.” said Anton as he narrowed his eyes “I know that if she was sick, you would be sitting right next to her bedside. Like the good little babysitter you are… No, if your here, she’s here. So I’ll ask you again, where is she? And please, don’t lie to me this time…”
“…Okay. Now hold on just a second! What the Hell are you even doing here!?” questioned Pinnacle as she tried to change the subject “I didn’t know you took blacklist jobs? Is that why you got a kiochi? Cause if so then I hate to be the one to tell you, but the one you got sucks. Might want to try getting your money back.”
“Is that why you’re here? For a blacklist job?” asked Anton.
“…Uh, maybe?” muttered Pinnacle as she mimicked him by folding her arms over her chest “Is that not why you’re here?”
“No.” said Anton.
“…Okay? Then what are you doing here?” asked Pinnacle.
“I live here.” said Anton.
“…What? No you don’t.” said Pinnacle.
“Yes, I do.” said Anton.
The parodi stared at him for a moment before twisting around at the waist and looking back at Mica. The kiochi’s expression was smug as she smiled with her eyes and nodded her head.
Slowly turning back to Anton, Pinnacle blinked up at him as her expression went blank.
“…Huh. …Uh, hey? …You wouldn’t happen to be the only man who lives here, would you?” she asked.
“I am.” said Anton.
“…Really. …So then, you’re the one and only guy, that lives here?” questioned the parodi.
“That’s right.” said Anton.
“…Do you and the kiochi live here alone?” asked Pinnacle.
“No.” said Anton.
“…Huh. …Uh, say? You wouldn’t happen to maybe live here with a pair of twin sisters, would you?” mumbled Pinnacle as a bit of worry began to form in her eyes “Please say that you don’t.”
Anton said nothing as he let a knowing grin spread across his face.
“…Oh, crap.” muttered the parodi as she slowly shook her head “Dammit, this isn’t good…”
“No, it isn’t.” said Anton as he let the smile fade from his face “And now I think it’s time to drop these theatrics and get right to the point. So, please tell me what you’re doing here. And who it was that sent you.”
The parodi said nothing as she merely stared back at him.
“…I’m trying to be polite here, Pinnacle.” said Anton “And I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge that.”
“…C’mon, man.” said the parodi after another moment of silence “You know I won’t say.”
“I see… Well in that case, I’m going to ask you one more time, Pinnacle.” said Anton as he narrowed his eyes “Where is Brea?”
“…That isn’t anything you need to know.” said the parodi as the colors of her body darkened in an aggressive manner “This has nothing to do with her. This is just between you and me now.”
“…Come now, Pinnacle. There’s no reason for things to get violent.” said Anton as he watched the waves of color spread themselves out across the parodi’s body “I know you were there in Port Lampo. And that you saw what happened. You know this is not a fight you can win.”
“And you know I can kill your kiochi right now, right!?” countered Pinnacle as she spoke through her clenched teeth “One wrong move on your part and I’ll blow her to smithereens!”
Anton stopped short before his face hardened in anger.
“You do that and I promise you won’t be the one to suffer for it.” he warned as he let a thin wisp of malice spread throughout his aura “Don’t tell me you think this is really worth risking Brea over?”
“…You bastard! You go anywhere near her and I’ll-!” growled the parodi.
“Enough. Stop pretending to be tougher than you are, Pinnacle.” interrupted Anton before his voice dropped down to a threatening whisper “We both know you wouldn’t be able to stop me.”
“…Alright! Alright, just chill!” exclaimed Pinnacle as she spread her wings out as much as she could within the confines of Anton’s bubble “This is getting out of hand really quick right now!”
“…Agreed. Things are going too far too fast.” nodded Anton “This is exactly why I want to know where Brea is. So I can talk to her instead.”
“…You just want to talk?” asked Pinnacle.
“Yes.” said Anton.
“…Alright. Fine. Give me a sec.” mumbled Pinnacle as she went to tap at her earpiece with the tip of her tail.
The parodi winced and scrunched up her face in annoyance as a static filled hiss could be heard coming from the earpiece.
“Pin! …Pin! Can you! …Hear!? …Are you there!?” cried a voice from the earpiece.
“Yeah! I’m here, I’m fine.” said Pinnacle.
“You’re hurt!? You’re fighting!?” exclaimed the voice before seemingly turning away from the mic “I think she’s fighting already!”
“What? No! I said I’m fine, fine! Not fighting! Fine!” cried Pinnacle not realizing that Anton’s aura field was disrupting her communicator “Look, you need to get in here. Anton’s here and he want to talk to you.”
“He’s attacking you!? Who’s attacking you!? Is the target there already!?” questioned the voice.
“…What? No! Not attack! A talk! A talk! He just wants to talk!” exclaimed Pinnacle.
“She’s said attack! Let’s go! Now!” commanded the voice.
“What, no! Dammit! No, no, no, no, no, no!” cried Pinnacle.
“You heard her! Go, go, go, go, go, go!” yelled the voice before suddenly cutting off.
Pinnacle went still for a moment before absently tapping the earpiece off again.
Anton sighed through his nose as he slowly shook his head.
“Okay. I know you just heard that whole thing!” said Pinnacle as she pointed her finger up at him “So you know this is not my fault!”
“Why did you turn off the earpiece?” asked Anton.
“Eh, it’s barely working. And beside, Brea will be here any minute anyway so it doesn’t matter.” said Pinnacle.
Anton had a tired look on his face as he shook his head again.
The room became awkwardly quiet for a bit as the three people all waited for Brea to arrive.
“…So, uh? …This is a pretty nice place you got here.” said Pinnacle as she looked around the kitchen.
“Thank you.” said Anton.
“…You know, I don’t know why, but I really didn’t expect you to be living in such a normal looking kind of-! Oh, thank goodness! Brea’s here!” exclaimed Pinnacle as she smiled at a woman standing in the entryway.
“Pinnacle? …Wait, Anton!? Is that you?” said a very tall redheaded woman who was wearing a suit of white and golden colored plated armor and carrying a broadsword at the ready.
Although she looked to be human in appearance, Anton had always had the sneaking suspicion that Brea was not exactly what she seemed to be. Nonetheless, he still found her to be an easy going and likable person and was essentially on friendly terms with her.
“Hello, Brea. Yes, it’s me.” said Anton with a smile.
“What are you doing here? You’re not after the same target we are, are you?” asked Brea.
“No, unfortunately it seems that I am the target you’re looking for.” said Anton as he kept the smile on his face and shrugged “Imagine that.”
“…Seriously? You really are?” asked Brea.
“From what it sounds like I am.” said Anton.
“…Oh. Well that’s not going work.” mumbled Brea as she hefted her sword upwards and slung it over her shoulder “Looks like this night was a waste. Sorry about this, Anton. We didn’t know it was you we were going after.”
“It’s no problem, these things happen sometimes.” said Anton “And I actually need to apologize myself. You see, Pinnacle threatened to kill my kiochi over there. And in order to stop her, I threatened to hurt you if she did, which I am sorry about.”
“Did she really!? Pin, you are just terrible!” chastised Brea as she gave the parodi a disapproving look and turned back to Anton “Sorry about that, she should have known better. I’ll definitely have a talk with her about it.”
“What! Are you serious!? How am I the one getting in trouble for this!?” cried Pinnacle “That’s not even fair!”
“I appreciate it. And again, I am sorry for threatening you like that.” said Anton.
“It happens.” said Brea with a shrug as she looked over at Mica “Pin’s an Infernal after all… And we both know how you gotta be extreme with them sometimes… So when did you get a kiochi?”
“Just recently.” said Anton as he followed her gaze “Her name is Mica, by the way.”
“Mica, eh. Well isn’t she a cutie.” said Brea as she waved at the still trapped kiochi “Hi, Mica. It’s nice to meet you.”
Mica had a tired looking expression in her eyes as she moved her barely free fingers and waved back.
“So I have to say.” said Anton as he dropped his aura and let his bubble disappear “I’m surprised to see you here of all people. I didn’t know you took blacklist missions?”
“I don’t normally, but the bills got to get paid somehow.” said Brea as her sword and armor all burst into a cloud of sparkles as they vanished and left her wearing a pair of jeans and a tank top “And I gotta say myself, I’m surprised to see you here of all people. The only reason I even took this job was because I was told the guy here who is the target kidnapped a pair of sisters and turned them into his slaves. And we’re supposed to help them. Now is that true, Anton? Did you really do that!?”
“It’s partially true, though it’s nowhere near as bad as it sounds.” said Anton “First piece of inaccuracy there is that I’m the one who was actually kidnapped.”
“…Oh, really!? They kidnapped you? …Why did you let them?” asked Brea.
“I was in a playful mood.” chuckled Anton “And I thought I’d let them take me on a little adventure.”
Brea smiled and went to say something else but stopped short as she noticed a tiny red dot just over Anton’s eye. Her face went blank as her sword suddenly reappeared in her hand.
Anton remained completely still as the sword was instantly thrust into the open space right next to his head, where it froze just in time to stop a bullet from hitting him.
“Hey! What are you doing!?” exclaimed Brea as she turned to the entryway “Can you not see I’m talking here!?”
There was a moment of silence before a voice came from a bit further outside the room.
“Is this not a distraction?” it asked in a no nonsense manner.
“No! It’s a code Lotus! We’re dealing with a friendly here!” cried Brea as she pointed her sword in the direction of the unseen voice “Weapons down, man! The job is off!”
“…Alright then.” said the voice.
A few moments later a short being stepped into the room and lifted a pair of what looked like night vision specs up off his deep set, dark eyes.
“Apologies. I seemed to have misread the situation.” he said as he made a point of flipping on the safety of his weapon, which was a silenced rifle that was a little longer than he was tall.
“Clearly.” muttered Brea before turning back to Anton “Sorry about that. I should have signaled them earlier, that’s my fault.”
“Don’t worry about it. No harm no foul.” said Anton with a shrug and a grin “So is this a new partner?”
“Yeah. I was told the last person who was sent here never came back. So I figured I should cover my bases and bring in some help. You know, just in case.” explained Brea as her sword vanished from her hand “I’m guessing you ended up having some fun with the last poor schmuck?”
“You could say that.” smiled Anton as Mica rolled her eyes in the background “Anyways, nice to meet you. I’m Anton.”
“Duke.” said the small being with a nod “It’s a pleasure.”
Dressed in a black bodysuit and tactical gear that left very little of his features visible, it was just barely possible for Anton to observe that this being appeared to be a pombero.
Standing at just under a meter tall, the pombero was a short, bipedal ape-man type of creature that was in essence a halfling sized version of a sasquatch-like being.
Small, sociable yet secretive and quiet in their habits, and covered in a coat of short, dark colored hair that was even spread out over the tops of their feet, the comparison between the pombero and halflings was an easy one to make. Despite this though, the two species, as both hominids, were only distantly related to one another and their similarities were the result of a comparable lifestyle and mere coincidence.
Anton went to say something else but stopped short mid speech as a sudden, angry sounding rattle of gunfire could be heard going off upstairs. This was quickly followed by a series of loud shouts, a stumbling commotion and finally, the sound of a window shattering right above them.
In the next instant a dark form passed in front of the kitchen window as it made its speedy way to the ground. Landing with a heavy thud, an arm-less human-sized being dressed all in black came back into view as it frantically scrambled up to its feet and began to race across the lawn. Still just visible in the dim evening light as it ran away, the stunned group all stood still as they watched the running figure crash through the back gate and disappear from sight into the forested acreage beyond. A moment after the being vanished, a broken looking sub-machine gun came flying into view as it had apparently been thrown out of the upstairs window at the fleeing being.
“…Another friend of yours I take it?” asked Anton as he turned back to Brea.
Before Brea could answer with anything more than a nod, Kianna’s terrified voice rang out from the front of the house.
“Master! Master!” she cried in alarm “Answer me please! Are you okay!?”
“I’m fine, Kianna! It’s alright!” called Anton before turning back to Brea “Was that the last of your men? Or is there any more in the house?”
“No. That was the only other one.” said Brea as she looked back out the window “What happened to him anyway?”
“Considering the look of his condition? I’m guessing he probably ran into Tessa.” said Anton as he looked towards the front of the house “Girls! Everything is alright now! You can come on back! We’re all in the kitchen!”
“You’re all!?” questioned Fiona “Who’s you’re all!?”
“Come back and see!” said Anton “And don’t worry! Turns out we’re dealing with friendlies here!”
“Who are you talking to, Anton?” asked Brea “Are these the poor girls you enslaved?”
“Yes, and there’s a bit of a long story behind that.” said Anton as he grinned at the sight of the dual pair of faintly glowing eyes that were quickly, but cautiously approaching the doorway “Which it’ll be easier for me to explain things after you’ve met them and seen what they are.”
“And why’s that? What are they… Oh, okay yeah, I see what you mean…” said Brea as the glaring dark elves stepped into the room and instantly flooded the space with the effects of their auras “…Oh my.”
Pinnacle’s tail was visually quivering as she subtly put herself between Brea and the dark elves.
Glancing at and then dismissing the still struggling Mica, the dark elves quickly turned their attention to the strangers in the room.
“…Friendlies, huh?” said Fiona as she crossed her arms and sized up the three invaders “Lucky them…”
Making a beeline for Anton, Kianna stood right next to him as she blatantly eyed the gun wielding Duke with an unfriendly stare.
“Do you really know these people, Master?” she questioned quietly as she pointed her ears straight back behind her head “Can we really trust them!?”
“We can.” grinned Anton as he wrapped a reassuring arm around the unhappy dark elf and held her against him “Brea and Pinnacle are actually some long time acquaintances. And Duke here seems to be friendly enough, all things considered.”
“Yeah, he looks super friendly looking…” muttered Fiona as she ran her eyes down the length of the pombero’s gun.
Brea offered a stilted grin as the two dark elves both shifted their probing eyes to her.
“Uh, Hello…” she started before stopping short as her eyes suddenly darted to something behind Fiona.
Their ears pointing themselves straight upwards in alert, the dark elves quickly followed her gaze and looked at the entryway just as Tessa stepped into the room.
The mantis had her traditional blank, uncaring expression in her eyes as she casually made her way over to Anton.
In one of her middle hands she carried a severed human-like arm which appeared to have been sliced off at the shoulder, while dangling out from her absently chewing mouth hung the limply hanging fingers of another clearly human looking hand. The last bit of these fingers disappeared into her maw just as she stepped up to Anton. The sounds of crunching bones filled the stillness for a moment before Tessa’s machine of a mouth finally destroyed the hand enough for it to be swallowed down with a gulp.
Without ceremony, the mantis reached in between her now stilled jaws and pulled out a heavily chewed up, stainless steel wrist watch that was dripping with both blood and saliva. She then absently handed this watch to Anton.
“…Thank you, Tessa. I appreciate you taking care of the intruder.” grinned Anton as he used only two fingers to tentatively pick up the battered accessory “Also, I’m glad to see that you avoided getting shot in the process.”
The mantis flicked her antennae in a dismissive manner as she set to work on peeling the black leather glove and ripped up sleeve off of the severed arm she had yet to eat.
Though she was focused on her task, the large eyes on her head still shifted back and forth as they calmly assessed the strangers in the room.
“So would any of you like to return this to your friend?” asked Anton as he held out the watch.
“Sure, I’ll take it.” said Duke “Since things seem to be wrapped up here, I might as well step out anyway.”
“Tell your buddy he’s lucky she didn’t go for his head.” said Fiona “Next time she probably will.”
“…Yeah. I’ll do that.” muttered Duke as he watched Tessa begin to devour the severed arm, stump first.
Clearly preferring to keep some measure of distance between himself and the mantis, the pombero glanced up at Anton and beckoned with his hand for the watch.
“It was nice meeting you, Duke.” grinned Anton as he tossed the watch over to him.
“Likewise.” said the pombero as he caught the watch and turned to Brea “You two going to be okay here?”
“Yeah, we’ll catch up with you later.” said Brea “And tell Harvey I said I’m sorry, we were grossly misinformed about this whole mission.”
“I’ll say…” said Duke as he gave Tessa another glance before making his way to the door.
“Hey, are we really letting him go!?” whispered Fiona as she leaned in close to Anton.
“Yes, we’re letting them all go.” said Anton as he grinned at Brea “This was all just a mistake after all. And they all stopped as soon as they realized that.”
“It was.” nodded Brea “I never would have taken this job if I knew it was you.”
“And we shouldn’t have any problems with them, right?” said Anton as he nodded to the door the pombero had just disappeared through.
“No. They were hired under me and they’ve already been paid.” said Brea “Harvey might have some ill will, but considering he just ran out on a job I doubt he’ll want to make anything more out of it. And I’ll deal with him if he does.”
“Alright then, I guess we’re good.” said Anton as he smiled at the disappointed looking dark elves “Everything worked out for everybody. And no one has any reason to hold a grudge.”
“Humph! Hmph, hmph!” cried Mica as she glared at Pinnacle.
“No reason to hold a grudge at all…” repeated Anton as he blatantly ignored the raging kiochi.
“Right… So, do you mind explaining what’s going on here?” asked Brea as she looked back and forth between Mica, the dark elves and Tessa “Because none of these girls look like the helpless victims we were told about?”
After gathering some refreshments, and forcing Pinnacle to reluctantly release Mica, the group relocated outside and everyone situated themselves on the patio furniture while Anton told a very condensed story of how he and the others had all met.
“…Huh.” nodded Brea after she had a moment to digest it all “Well, sounds like you’ve had a busy couple of weeks.”
“You can say that again…” mumbled Anton as he grinned at Kianna who had positioned herself right next to him “Just one thing after another lately. And on that note, you wouldn’t happen to know if anybody else is likely to show up here, would you?”
“Probably. Wouldn’t know who for sure though.” said Brea as she set her emptied glass down on a small table “I can spread the word about who exactly is involved with this job though. If you want.”
“Hm… That might not be a bad idea… If you can be subtle about it.” said Anton “The less people I have to deal with the better.”
“Consider it done.” she said as she stood up to leave “By the way, if you want any advice on this whole thing you’ve got going on here. You should really think about beefing up your security. Literally all we had to do was knock out a single ward. And that’s just ridiculous.”
“Yeah… I do need to get on that, I guess…” mumbled Anton “You about to head out?”
“Yeah, I think we’ve disrupted your night for long enough now…” said Brea as she stretched her arms upwards “We’ll keep in touch though. Let you know if we hear about anybody heading this way.”
“I’d appreciate that.” nodded Anton.
“…You know. It was really nice seeing you again, Anton. …It’s been a long time.” said Brea as she gave him a lopsided smile “And you look good. …You look, kinda, happier, more so than you used to. …It’s nice. Really nice.”
Taken aback, Anton merely blinked as Brea laughed softly and turned away from him.
“You should try not to disappear for so long next time.” she said as she opened a portal “People miss having you around, more than you know.”
“…Uh, yeah. I’ll try harder to keep in touch, myself.” said Anton “And, uh… It was good to see you guys too… It really was.”
Brea laughed again as Pinnacle came up beside her and gave Anton her own smile.
“Good to hear! Have a goodnight, everybody!” said Brea “Hopefully we’ll see you all again soon!”
Once the duo had disappeared, Anton sat and stared at where their portal had been for a second before turning to give everyone a quick glance.
“So?” he said as he looked from one face to another “What did you guys think?”
“I think it’s time for dinner…” muttered Fiona.
“I think I’d like to kick that skinny little clown bitch’s ass!” growled Mica.
“…I think, they were nice.” said Kianna “…I like that they like you.”
Anton chuckled as he got to his feet.
“I agree, liking me is always a good quality for people to have. And I also agree that it’s about time for dinner.” he said as he turned and made his way to the door “So let’s go fix the ward real quick and then figure out what we want to eat.”
“Tessa doesn’t get a vote for dinner.” declared Fiona as she stepped through the door that Anton was holding open “We all know she won’t vote for real food, and she’s already eaten anyway.”
“Shut up, Fiona.” grumbled Mica as she led Tessa inside “Stop talking shit.”
Anton chuckled again and shook his head as they passed by.
“Master…” said Kianna as she came up beside him “Do you really think everything will be okay? With Brea and Pinnacle, I mean?”
“I do, honestly.” said Anton “I’ve known those two for a good while now, many years actually, and they’re good people. We shouldn’t have to worry about them.”
“…Well, okay. If you’re sure.” said Kianna.
“I am.” said Anton with a sigh “I just hope the next assassination attempt goes as smoothly as this one did… Which that really isn’t something you ever expect to hear yourself say… My life has seriously gone off the rails lately… But at least it’s in a fun way, and I wouldn’t change anything.”
As Anton slipped his arm around her waist, Kianna giggled and eagerly hugged him back as they both stepped inside together.193 Views