“Hey, Blue.” Dragomir raised his hand in return. “You’ve looked better. Why the hell did you let that little nutball attach himself to your tummy?”
“Orders,” Blue grumbled. She launched another, precautionary kick at the zombies near her legs. “Always orders.”
“I’ll show you orders, you fucking wretch,” Doc hissed from Blue’s belly. “GET US OUT OF THIS. FREAK? FREAK! JULY! DAMNABLE WITCH! YOU USELESS SACKS, YOU, YOU, YOU! ARGH!”
Dragomir cocked his head at the name ‘July’, but he waved it away. He’d spent the last week penned up in a massive settlement of zombies, his every move scrutinized and drooled over by the walking dead, and becoming absent-minded over unrelated matters in their presence was not a good idea. Even with a rat hiding under his hat, ready to display itself and its unearthly credentials at a moment’s notice.
“He was here, Dragomir,” Evangelina said, seething. She stepped off of her column raised earth as it slowly sank into the ground. Three tightly-wadded dirt clods floated behind her, and a squadron of sparrows seemed to follow her every move. “He was here. I don’t know where he is now, but he was.”
“Who?” Dragomir took a stab in the dark. “Your brother?”
Evangelina nodded. She pointed to Doc’s writhing head, then ran a finger across her neck. The sentiment was clear enough.
Dragomir sighed. Turning, he addressed his ‘aide’, a shambling horror of an attendant who’d been assigned to him by one of the clan leaders upon arrival. The zombie - he had no name - regarded Dragomir happily with one dangling eye, the pronounced hunch of his boney back giving Dragomir a case of the shudders.
“Get some zombies searchin’ for a three-headed… thing, I guess.” Dragomir scratched his chin. “One head’s really gruff, ‘nother’s kinda suave ’n has a goatee, the third is kinda mousey - “
“Actually, I think I… blew up the third one,” Evangelina added, her terrible tone dipping into mild regret for just a moment. “I got a bit pissed.”
“Oh.” Dragomir winced. So long, Bernard. You were always an asshole. “Uh, make that two heads. You can do that?”
The attendant nodded and began to shuffle away, but Evangelina, one eye still on Blue, waved him back. “Wait, wait. He’s… not the only one. I got really pissed, because, uh, I saw…”
“PAY ATTENTION TO US!” Doc howled. “IF YOU’RE GOING TO FUCKING, AH, UM, CATCH US, THEN WE DEMAND THE FULL EXTENT OF YOUR FUCKING ATTENTION!”
Dragomir whirled back, angry. “SHUT THE FUCK UP! You’re not in a position… to… to…”
The world muted.
She stepped through the crowd of zombies with the predatory grace of a panther, the ridiculous top hat on her head and the parcel tucked under her arm not detracting from her aura of deadly competence one bit. The sea of zombies surrounding Blue parted instantly in her presence, a school of helpless fish fleeing from a shark, and her brilliant green eyes latched onto Dragomir’s with the force of two super magnets, forever attracted, forever bonded, no matter the distance.
Her mouth twitched. Otherwise, she was the same, the eternal, the silent, Eve.
Dragomir trembled. The tremor started at his toes, worked up through his calves and thighs, flooded into his belly, catapulted and split into his arms, and wormed up his neck and into his face. His brain shuddered with thoughts and possibilities, and a million stored-up images of a happy family life, conjured in moments of idleness and despair, blew away his plans, schemes, and deceptions. He was, for a moment, the same guard who would screw around on his shift, piss himself liberally, fear his wife, and yearn for his daughter.
Then the world fell back into place. The green eyes did it. They reminded him of who she really was. More, they reminded him of who he was, and Dragomir fought to keep his skin a pale pink. If he turned an oily black in this moment, everything he’d built would fall apart.
“Go find the three-headed thing,” Dragomir mumbled, taking a step away from his nameless attendant.
“But the lovely woman said - “ the zombie rasped, arms creaking.
“GO FIND THE FUCKING THING, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT!”
The attendant shied away instantly, scuttling off into the growing crowd of zombies at the fringe of the ruined marketplace.
The remaining zombie warriors moved away. Evangelina, at first stepping in Dragomir’s path, weaved aside when she saw the focus in his face. A clear path between father and daughter appeared, a line Dragomir had long hoped to draw himself, one so clear and so ridiculously easy that Dragomir wondered how he’d missed it for the last three years. He walked towards Eve, and Eve walked towards him, and Dragomir wondered, half-laughing, if she would stab him in the stomach when they met.
This is all I wanted, Dragomir realized, arms opening to embrace his daughter. This is all.
The moment nearly went to hell. Nearly.
Somewhere far in the rear of Dragomir’s consciousness, Titan Blue roared. Her arms spasmed and contorted, a thick web of purple veins abruptly spiderwebbing across her skin and forcing her joints into motion. She bellowed a protest, but Doc’s leering face made it obvious, too obvious, that she had no choice in the matter. Blue’s massive hands darted forward -
- and grabbed Eve. Blue’s fingers wrapped around Eve, yanking her off of the ground and holding her secure, five feet off the ground. Eve did not look one bit surprised, and her legs dangled uselessly in Blue’s iron grip.
“THAT’S… THAT’S THE FUCKING TICKET!” Doc yelled, triumphant. His voice sounded strained, and purple-and-green power seemed to ooze from the edges of his face. “You… you… let us… let us go… and if you… don’t… I will… will… crush… your bitch… of a daughter… fucking hybrids, always getting in my way…”
Had Blue grabbed any other son or daughter in the world, Dragomir might have panicked. He knew even Fynn might have some trouble with Titan Blue. In this case, though, his focus on his daughter broken, he simply shook his head. “Sorry, Blue. You’re in for a rough time.”
Doc frowned. It was the last Dragomir would ever see of the little demon.
Seeming to tire of dangling, Eve flexed. Her thin, well-muscled arms parted Blue’s fingers as easily as a knife parts butter, and Doc began to wail as Eve dropped into a crouch in front of him. Blue’s arms flew at Eve, trying to reclaim her, but she battered them aside with casual flicks of her hands. The purple veins on Blue’s skin ebbed in power, and Doc soon gave up, his puppet Non body slumped uselessly in front of a half-human a fraction of her size.
“You,” Eve began, wrapping an arm around Blue’s left leg, “bore me.”
Titan Blue, the largest Non Dragomir had ever seen, soared comically high into the sky and disappeared into a cluster of tents half a kilometre away. The epic shudder of her impact with the ground nearly put Dragomir on his butt, and he fought to remain standing.
“That’s my girl,” he whispered, sniffing.