Monday, August 31, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Six: Special Delivery

Traveller grabbed Dragomir by the cheek. His grip was strong, forceful, and somehow gentle. “It was always meant to be this way.”

Before the sky could turn blood red, before their hands could stick together and hold fast, before Dragomir could be dragged, kicking and screaming into the widening hole in Traveller’s chest, Dragomir forced himself awake. He’d done it enough times that he was, now, more or less an expert in escaping dreams.

Sheets sticky with sweat, Dragomir sat abruptly upright in his bed. His breaths came in pitched, laboured gasps, as though he’d just run a marathon. He clutched his head, trembling, and reached for the tankard of water beside his bed. His fumbling fingers knocked the half-filled vessel the ground, however, and Dragomir was forced to lick his own skin to clear his head. The salty taste of his oil-black hide did very little to alleviate the dryness of his mouth, and it did absolutely nothing to halt the pounding pain in his head.

Pulling back the curtains, his head slowly changing to a more human huge, Dragomir pulled back the blinds and looked out the window. The sight of Pubton that greeted him was one of a still-sleepy city, the buildings bathed in darkness. Only the light of a distant sentry patrolling the city’s walls provided any illumination. For a moment Dragomir remembered his own, long-gone days as a guard, though he dismissed them rather quickly - his experiences as a night guard were few and far between. He usually slept through the night shifts, curled up in a water barrel.

Dragomir stepped out of bed, snugging his feet into a pair of slippers, and walked to the bathroom. He filled a chamber pot, and, still watching the city, he casually dumped it through the window and into the alley beside his house. This was against city ordinances - all chamber pots were supposed to be dumped in the burgeoning sewer system on the outskirts of town - but Dragomir loathed the idea of carrying a filled chamber pot through the streets. Most people did. It was a terrible process.

At least I don’t piss myself anymore, Dragomir thought. It was one of the few advantages of his current situation. Haven’t done that in quite a while. Wonder why. 

Still standing in the bathroom, Dragomir lit a candle. It was too dark to see his reflection in the mirror, but he felt a sudden urge to look at himself. The candle flared to life with the flick of a match, and as Dragomir raised the flame to the room’s cracked mirror he caught sight of a cobweb of green-red blood streaming down his face. Without much thought he wiped the blood away from his cheeks and nose. He woke up most mornings with a bloody nose, now. He’d ruined many pillow cases.

The man who stared back at Dragomir in the reflection looked gaunt, his eye sockets hollow, his cheeks sallow and sagging. His pupils still bore the strong green flavouring of a Non, and it took some mental coaxing to turn the irises back to his original brown. He’d played with his eye colour often - as a Non he could look pretty much however he liked - but the people under his command would no doubt react badly if he showed up for work with eyes of a different colour. Especially if they were Non-green.

Traveller’s irises are brown, Dragomir thought. Or, uh, his iris. Guess… guess I’m staring at the other one. I wonder why it can change shape like everything else? Far as I know it’s the only human part of me. Weird, that. Guess it became Non when Bora… y’know… shaped me. Or whatever you wanna call it. Funny, the things you think of -

The rapid tap-tap-tap of knocking at the front door interrupted Dragomir’s train of thought, and he dropped the candle from surprise. It managed to burn his hand as it tumbled to the ground. Cursing, Dragomir grabbed the waxy stick, licked his fingers, and snuffed the flame. The knocking continued, almost unabated, and Dragomir was pretty sure who’d come to his door. Few people in Pubton were quite so panicky as that guy. He grabbed for a robe.

“Harold, what the hell? I’m tryin’ to sleep,” Dragomir grunted, brushing imaginary sleep out of his eyes as he stood at his front door. He was, after all, already wide awake, and had no intention of returning to his dreams.

Harold, too, was dressed in his night clothes, though to his credit he was at least wearing a pair of knee-high boots over his jammies. He’d also grabbed his silly mayor’s hat, and was wringing the floppy cap in his hands. “Dr… Drag… Dragomir… we’ve… you’ve… your wife…”

Dragomir’s eyes widened, and he grabbed Harold by the arms. Libby was off on a test flight in Non territory, something Dragomir had not condoned but about which he’d been given very little choice. “Libby? What? What about her? What happened? Was there an accident? Tell me!

Shaken, his words emerging in a babbled torrent, Harold did his best to point towards the centre of town - towards the Sky Bitch’s official landing pad. They’d built it in the same spot as Gok’s old tower, which, to the goblin king’s chagrin, they’d dismantled and used to reinforce Pubton’s outer defences. Dragomir didn’t wait for an explanation, and putting on a burst of Non-born speed he tore out into the streets, dimly aware that he’d left his front door open. He didn’t much care, either. Harold would probably lock up for him.

Libby, Dragomir thought. The hell trouble have you gotten into now?

Libby was no stranger to peril. She’d gotten into more fights than Dragomir could count, and she’d been kidnapped as many times as Dragomir himself. Perhaps more. She could often extricate herself from the trouble, granted, but… not always… not always

I can’t lose someone else. Not again. Not her.

Nose again flowing freely, streaks of blood decorating his face like uneven war paint, Dragomir wished he’d bothered to ask what was up. It would have taken two seconds.

The Sky Bitch was sitting on the landing pad, its rotors slowly spinning to a halt, and the first person Dragomir spotted, to his eternal relief, was Libby. She was standing beside Evangelina, the two women apparently absorbed in discussion. Evangelina had a large, white medical patch on her head, but they appeared to be otherwise uninjured. Evangelina pointed at a massive, indistinct, black lump beside the ship, but Dragomir didn’t bother to look at the thing. He was too busy rushing towards his wife, arms outstretched, heart full of love for the burly woman.

Libby smacked his affection away with an off-handed shove. She did, however, offer him a smile - but it only lasted for a second. It was enough.

“Libby,” Dragomir breathed, doubled over, only now aware that he’d run full-speed across the city to find her. “I… ah… ah… hey… I… Harold… he…”

“Gee, thanks, I’m glad to see you too,” Evangelina said, rolling her eyes. She rubbed the medical patch, scowling. “I’m fine and everything.”

“Wipe your damned nose. Did you run into a flagpole or somethin’? You’re a mess.” Libby shook her head. “No time for hugs. We’ve got a problem. Look.”

Wiping the blood off on his sleeve - Huh, I look good in red - Dragomir followed Libby’s outstretched hand. She was pointing at the giant, black mass they’d been discussing earlier. It was wrapped in netting, apparently attached to the bottom of the Sky Bitch, and covered in the same white medical bandages as Evangelina… though these were almost universally stained a dark green. It was also, Dragomir realized with some shock, moving, probably breathing. And the darkness beneath the netting… that black, unmistakable hide…

“You… you caught one?” Dragomir breathed, lungs still half bogged down with fatigue. “You… what the hell…”

“Not quite,” Evangelina corrected. “We saved one. And she wants to talk to you.”

Friday, August 28, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Five: Hey, I know you

The squadron of sky dwarves, or at least most of it, disintegrated. The surviving members buzzed in place for a few seconds, looking dumb-founded and confused, before retreating the way they came.

Evangelina lowered her finger. Interrupting Libby with a quick, commanding squawk, she’d ordered the gunners to fire on the sky dwarves rather than the bulky Non below. Libby was already trying to countermand the order, simultaneously unleashing a torrent of swear words at Evangelina, but the witch cut her off again with a quick chop of her hand. Libby, after all, didn’t have all the facts.

“No,” Evangelina insisted, shifting some of her attention to the swaying stalk of grass outside the Sky Bitch. “Save the Non. Get them firing at the werewolves. Aim for any the Non pitches off her back.”

Libby spared herself half a second to gawk at Evangelina, fingers tightening into her customary fists. “The… the fuck? Fire at the werewolves? Missy, they’re our buddies - “

Evangelina shook her head. She’d extended her consciousness into the grass beyond the stalk, peeking out of it through tiny, invisible periscopes, and she’d noticed at once that something was wrong with the werewolves. Their eyes simply weren’t right, and judging by stories she’d heard and things she’d seen, she had a good idea what exactly was wrong with them. “They aren’t ours. They’re bogies. Hurry up and give orders or that Non’s going to die in a hurry.”

“Like I give a fuck - “

The cannons roared again, this time at open air. The sky dwarves had already all but retreated, and today’s gunners - a crew-in-training, hardly field-tested - were launching cannonballs uselessly into the ether. It was a waste of valuable time and ammo.

Evangelina hissed. Stepping forward abruptly, she swept her arm up and planted it onto Libby’s forehead. Before the bigger woman could push her aside Evangelina was plunging into Libby’s mind, trying to give her a mental picture of what Evangelina was seeing. She’d heard Fynn could perform a similar trick, albeit with greater power, and if Evangelina could tap into that boy’s magical potential even the slightest bit -

It worked. Libby’s arms slackened as an image of the Non, frozen in place, resolved in her mind’s eye. Three werewolves were leaping onto the Non’s back while a fourth clawed at the Non’s bulky, outstretched arm. Locked in time for a few brutal seconds, the werewolves were all as plain as day - and the looks on their faces, the ghastly, amused, familiar look said it all. Libby recognized the expression immediately, even if came from a completely different species. Even more damning when it was also painted across the features of a dozen squirrels, two bears, four chickens, and what appeared to be a wolverine.

Breaking out of her reverie, Libby grabbed at a comm tube. “AIM FOR THE FUCKING WEREWOLVES! GET ‘EM OFF THAT NON!”

The gunners shouted back a chorus of uncertain confirmations, and the Sky Bitch clicked almost inaudibly as its turrets began to shift towards the ground, far too slowly. Far too slowly.

“Not gonna make it,” Evangelina said, frowning deeply. She had to save that fucking Non down there, because by the gods, it was so bloody familiar. “Not gonna make it.

Libby shouted orders for the Sky Bitch to descend. Perhaps she considered taking the fight to the creatures on the ground. Perhaps she wanted to make it a bit easier for the gunners to open fire. Perhaps she’d lost her mind. Evangelina had no idea, and judging by the events on the ground, it didn’t really matter. The Non’s hand was falling, its brilliant green eyes were closing, and its wounds were running fiercely and deeply.

Evangelina only had one choice, really. Though it made her stomach churn to think of it. “Port. Now.

Libby and the tech at the wheel of the Sky Bitch didn’t have enough time to so much as look her way before the vine wiggling outside the ship began its rapid, whipping descent, broadsiding the Sky Bitch as it went. Evangelina grabbed for a support as she gritted her teeth, her world whirling as the ship flew almost upside-down in a tight, violent arc. She concentrated on the vine, on its trajectory, on parting the thing into dozens of smaller vines, each aimed towards a different target, moving at so lethal a speed that Evangelina could easily have killed the Non had her aim been off.

In only one case did Evangelina miss her target, and the Non’s left leg twitched upward as it broke. The rest of the vines launched themselves at the jaunty beasts with murderous accuracy, crack the air dozens of times as they snapped animal after animal off of the Non’s back. The beasts were thrown to the ground in a heap of oozing fur, their assault abruptly halted, and the only survivor - a squirrel - bounced off of the Non’s back and fled. Evangelina considered striking at the squirrel with a second volley, but by now the Sky Bitch was swinging back the way it had came, and Evangelina was knocked off of her feet and into the bulkhead on the other side of the ship.

As unconsciousness came, as well as a berating inner voice telling her that she’d done something stupid again - a voice, no surprise, which sounded a lot like her mother’s - Evangelina decided that, hell, she’d just done something very good. She couldn’t wait to find out what it was.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Four: Help

The squirrels found Titan Blue first. Though she never knew it. She thought it was the sky dwarves.

Driscol’s fast track had not spirited Blue as far away from the Non army as she might have liked, and when she reappeared she recognized both the terrain and the heavy tread of her former compatriots, indenting the grasslands. She’d been tossed maybe an hour’s trip away from the Non rear guard, and that, she feared, was not nearly far enough.

She couldn’t return to the Non. She was wounded, and couldn’t move at their pace. Emmett’s creatures would almost certainly find her before she found any of her friends. She had to flee - and a Non of her size would not find flight at all easy.

Trudging across the Imperium as part of an army was bad enough. Long hours over rough terrain tore into the body, especially a body as large as Blue’s. Now, on her own, she had no access to even the meagre supplies provided by Kierkegaard. Blue tired easily - or easily for a Non, which, compared to any other species, was not easily at all - and her pace as she meandered east got slower and slower with each passing hour. She reduced her size to cut down on the strain, but that only accomplished so much.

And it was hot. So hot. Even frequent rests beneath trees, or as frequently as Blue could spare, were not enough to drive away fatigue. Blue knew she couldn’t stay in one place for too long. By now she was no doubt branded a traitor, and hunters would be coming for her. She had to keep moving, to create a gap between herself and the Non that was so large that the chances of her being found were slim to nil. And then…

And then…

And then.

Well. There was only one option for Blue, wasn’t there? Only one. And she knew she had to pursue it, at long last, the course she should have taken ages ago. At least now she had some proof that her decision was correct, even if it meant actually becoming a traitor. She could deal with that, if it meant getting that house she’d always wanted, the house so big that it made everyone else’s house look teeny-tiny by comparison. She wanted that house so badly right now.

The first attack came three days after Blue’s escape.

Blue was resting in a small canyon, feet submerged in a cool brook, when she spotted the sky dwarf zipping overhead. It was alone, a rarity among their kind, and it appeared to be scanning the area with its buggy red eyes, moving slowly. It spotted Blue before she spotted it, and the moment their eyes locked all of the fatigue and pain that’d been slowly washing out of Blue’s body flared back into action.

The sky dwarf tried to flee. Blue immediately grabbed a large rock, aimed carefully, and pegged the bastard before it could get too far. Unfortunately, its crashing descent into the trees below, as well as its piercing screech, caused a lot of noise… and brought the rest of the sky dwarves to bear on Blue. She managed to kill six of the seven, taking only flesh wounds in the process, but one got away. So much for rest.

Attacks came each day from then on, often two or three times a day. Usually they consisted of squads of sky dwarves carrying Emmett’s hybrid monstrosities, the latter dropped onto Blue’s shoulders. None of them were bigger than a, say, a fox - the sky dwarves weren’t terribly strong - but each little nibble took its toll, and each battle ate away at Blue’s energy reserves. After the first week of constant flight and fighting she was on her last legs, unable to rest for more than a few hours a day, always wondering when the bigger troops would catch up with her.

Blue’s ‘last legs’ endured for another half a week. By the time she spotted the airship she was on death’s door, practically begging to be let in. At least then she wouldn’t have to walk anymore.

Despite the haze lingering over her vision from a lack of sleep, food, and water, as well as an over-abundance of paranoia, Blue recognized the airship at once. She’d only ever seen one airship in her life, after all, and this one more or less exactly matched the craft from the gathering of the zombies, some heavier armour aside. Normally she might have given her greetings some thought, perhaps even second guessed herself, perhaps even wondered why there was a giant vine wavering alongside the ship, but her mind was far too exhausted to do any such thing. She simply raised a hand to the airship, hoping to grab someone’s attention before -

The first werewolf leaped up from beneath and bit Blue’s exposed armpit, dangling from her flesh. She bellowed and brought her arm back down, crushing the werewolf’s head. Its body pulped and fell away, but its head remained, embedded, and Blue ignored it.

More werewolves came in short order, snarling, snapping, and chittering inane laughter. One leaped onto Blue’s back, clambering up her spine to get at her neck. She tried to trigger her body-tremoring power, but she was too tired and too sickly, and it didn’t work. She tried, feebly, to swat the beast away, and succeeded - only to have two more werewolves take its place. They bit into her back, tearing at her skin with their claws. 

Blue fell to one leg. She swayed her body from one side to the other, trying to toss the werewolves off, but they were relentless - and more came for her, an entire pack, surrounding her and ripping into her. They were joined in short order by more sky dwarves, at least a contingent, an army, the entire species, their buzzing wings eclipsing any other noise Blue could possibly have heard - though given that the only other choice was the gnashing of werewolf teeth, she accepted the buzzing willingly enough.

Blood dripping from hundreds of wounds, both fresh and reopened, Blue raised her hand to the ship again. She closed her eyes.

The cannons went off.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Three: Testing, Testing, One, Two, Tree

“C’mon, hit us with something.”

“I really don’t want to.”

“Doesn’t matter if you want to. I’m telling you to hit us with something.

“You have to forgive me for not wishing to potentially commit suicide.”

“Do not. Now hit us with something.

Evangelina sighed heavily. She’d been upset with the idea from the start. She wasn’t much of one for participating in experiments. All the worse that she’d been in a bad mood for almost an entire month, owing primarily to news of the death of Pagan and the eternal disappearance of her mother. Attacking an airship she was currently in did not improve that mood even the slightest bit.

“Stop bein’ a pansy,” the Sky Bitch’s captain demanded.

Gritting her teeth, Evangelina poured magical orange into her eyes. “Fine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.”

Stretching invisible fingers into the air around her, Evangelina plunged a tiny piece of her thoughts into the ground some two hundred feet beneath the Sky Bitch’s hull. The tiny, primitive minds of the grass - if you could call them minds - reached out to touch Evangelina’s magical inquiry, and she grasped at their collective plant consciousness, feeding them with her bewitching energies. The grass, mustering as much surprise as any plant could muster (which is to say, very little), responded with surprising ferocity -

- and, moments later, curled upward at a sickening pace, forming into an enormous, flailing vine. The planet fed Evangelina’s magic to a degree that had always astonished her, and less than a minute after she’d cast her spell Evangelina was staring at the tip of the whip-like column of grass through the Sky Bitch’s newly-repaired viewport. It seemed to wave at her, and she quashed the impulse to wave back, because that would be rather ridiculous. No more ridiculous than her current situation, mind, but… ridiculous.

The vine lingered in place for a few tense seconds. The crew watched, most of them tensing. Then, responding to Evangelina’s tug, the vine lashed forward and struck the side of the Sky Bitch.

The airship reeled backward. Rotors groaned. Crewers, strapped into their chairs, nevertheless yelped and clung to their consoles. The viewport spun slightly, rocking back and forth as the Sky Bitch struggled to right itself. Before it could reassert its balance Evangelina ordered another strike, and another, and another, the vine lashing against the ship relentlessly. Reports began to pour in through the airship’s comm systems of damage to various parts of the hull, though none of them, as far as Evangelina could hear, were lethal to the Sky Bitch’s structural integrity.

Safely lashed into her own chair but still subject to a roiling stomach, Evangelina ceased her attacks. She wanted to puke from watching the viewport, and forced her eyes closed. “This… this is what you wanted… ugh…”

“Yep,” a calm voice responded. Libby, resplendent in her captain’s uniform, stepped up to Evangelina’s chair and braced herself on a console. She was the only crewer on the bridge not sitting, and the attacks hadn’t seemed to phase her a bit. “Give our ass a smack. I wanna see how well the rear rotors work under strain.”

Evangelina burped away her nausea. Not very ladylike, but she’d given up on manners a while ago. “To hell with that. I don’t want to knock us out of the sky. We’re liable - “

“We’re here to see if you can knock us out of the sky,” Libby reminded her, rolling her eyes. “I didn’t spend a month workin’ on this fucker’s armour and stability systems not to test it properly. We’ll stay afloat.”

“Says you,” Evangelina shot back, rubbing her belly. Her head was spinning more than she’d anticipated, from a combination of the rocking ship and her split consciousness. From her mind’s eye she could see the rocking Sky Bitch through the vantage point of the vine, and the overlap of viewpoints wasn’t agreeing with her at all.

“Yep, says me,” Libby agreed. “You said you’d come help. Hurry up ’n help.”

“I didn’t think I’d have to be in the ship when we did this,” Evangelina countered. “You could at least have let me out first.”

“Could not. We’re in enemy territory. This is also a scouting mission, don’t forget.”

“Well then maybe it shouldn’t have been a scouting mission, we should’ve done this outside Pubton - “

“What, you wanna crash into the city? Besides, we’re short on scouts - “

“Last I saw we have plenty of goblins - “

“Yeah, well, tell that to No-Legs the Wonder Boy - “

“I bet I will - “


The call of the tech from the front of the ship caught their attention. The two women pulled away from one another. There was no real heat in their argument, but Evangelina was nevertheless glad to get away from Libby. With all the hours of work put into restoring and upgrading the Sky Bitch, the captain smelled thickly of sweat.

“What? Somethin’ going wrong?” Libby tapped the deck with her foot. “We feel stable enough.”

The tech pointed through the viewport. “Enemy sighted! Uh, I think, anyway.”

The crew tensed. Libby immediately rushed to the wheel of the Sky Bitch, glaring through the viewport at the ground. They were close enough to land that it was easy to see just about everything for more than a kilometre to the west…

… and it didn’t take anyone, not even Evangelina, with her split attention, to see the lumbering black form in the distance. It was large, and it was staggering, and it was apparently coming their way.

Libby shook her head. She grabbed for the nearest comms tube. “Prep the guns! We’ve got an easy target headed our way!”

Friday, August 21, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Two: It had to happen eventually

“I’m sick of these fucks grumbling behind my back. They keep doin’ shit I tell ‘em not to and thinking I haven’t noticed. Come up with some way to stop that.”

“I have an idea along those lines. But I want to test it first.”

“Always with the tests. Your tests take too goddamned long. Gimme results or I’ll sew your head onto someone’s butt next time.”

“Ah, I think you’ll like this one. Just wait.”

The pill’s effects were more dramatic than Kierkegaard had hoped. But he did like the results on some level, he had to confess.

Anders twitched violently the second the pill disappeared down his throat, and Kierkegaard swore that he saw the capsule break open at the last second. The colonel’s body spasmed harshly against Kierkegaard’s enormous palm, and Anders began to gyrate rhythmically as whatever was inside the pill went to work. Watching Anders’ face expectantly, Kierkegaard waited for the transformation that he’d seen manifested so many times in Emmett’s animal test subjects.

For a moment, the expected happened. Ochre colouring seeped into Anders’ glowing green eyes, and a serpentine black pupil appeared in the middle of what was normally a clear emerald field. Anders’ mouth worked into a sly grin as purple veins blossomed around the corners and stretched up to the top of his bald head.

Kierkegaard loosened his grip enough for Anders to speak. He managed two words: “Kara lives.”

That’s when it all went wrong. As soon as Anders said ‘lives’ a thick black liquid spurted out of his mouth, fountaining upwards at a dramatic rate. Kierkegaard pulled his hand away as the liquid burned his skin, and he wiped it off on the dirt and yanked his full arm back into codespace. Anders squealed weakly, and his body collapsed in on itself, almost parchment-thin in his final, revolting moments of life. The mass that was a proud military leader only seconds before dissolved into the ground, leaving an oily stain behind.

Pushing his way through the stunned Non, Emmett loomed over the stain, frowning deeply. “Well that didn’t work.”

Kierkegaard rolled his eyes. “No, no it didn’t. Way to fuckin’ go. Back to the drawing board.”

“Yes… hrm.” Emmett scratched his head. “I wonder if the effects on Blue would’ve been different. She’s much larger… could you spare another titan-class?”

“Yeah, sure, go nuts.” Kierkegaard waved a hand. “Don’t give a fuck. Just get me results.”

As Emmett pulled a tube from his body to collect dirt from the ground, Kierkegaard turned to his retinue. All of them had risen to their feet, and he was certain that a few of them had fled. That was fine. The Nothing on the edge of town was no doubt already tracking them, its magic incapable of not searching for targets - even if they were normally branded friendlies.

“My comrades!” Kierkegaard raised his hands above his head, licking his lips. “You’ve all done very well these last few months! Always givin’ me whatever my selfish heart commands without argument! That’s a commendable thing. Don’t get me wrong, I know you did it ‘cause you’d sooner shit your pants in public than cross me, but I still appreciate it. ’n I further appreciate the brave Colonel Anders for what he said to me just now, ‘cause it lets me guess how the rest of you regard this war of mine.”

Almost as one, the Non officers and soldiers began to crouch, legs tensing. 

Kierkegaard smiled. “Anders was close to an important question, but he never asked it: ‘What’s your goal?’ ’n by your I mean mine. Everyone’s been wonderin’ for a while, now, and I figure I should be honest. Truth is, I just wanna kill as many people as’n I can. I ain’t racist about it, either - I’d like to see everyone and everything fuckin’ dead. Prejudice is bad, you know. You guys have been pretty good at helpin’ me with that… but, well, you’re startin’ to get kinda antsy, soooo… I need you to go back to not questioning me - ”

The first Non officer made his move. Springing into the air, he flew towards the smouldering remains of a nearby house, doubtless hoping to use it as cover for his second leap. Kierkegaard knew that he would take word of Kierkegaard’s intentions back to the army, waiting a mile outside town, if he were allowed to escape. All of them would take word back to the army, no doubt.

The officer didn’t get far. A pair of badgers and a werewolf, all hiding in an adjacent house, leaped upon him as he landed. With satisfied cackles they tore the Non apart. 

That was the signal for the rest. The Non officers tore off in all directions, bounding away from Kierkegaard at insane speeds. Emmett’s animals were always ready, though, always prepared to intercept, and their enhanced muscles brought down Non after Non, killing some, wounding others. Those who survived were dragged away, kicking and screaming, to Emmett’s tent on the edge of town. The few that made it beyond the town’s boundaries became easy pickings for the Nothing, commanded mentally by Kierkegaard to skewer anything that tried to run for the army. None of them got away.

Enjoying the scream of the Nothing’s harpoons in the distance, Kierkegaard wandered over to Emmett. The doctor was still collecting samples in tubes. “Seriously, though, that did not work.”

“I know it didn’t work,” Emmett snapped offhandedly. “I need time to tweak Kara. Non physiology is different from anything else on this planet. We’re good at resisting viral intrusions. S’why we don’t get sick very often.”

“Well, hurry up,” Kierkegaard growled, staring at the oil slick that was once one of his best commanders. “I’m gonna lose my whole fuckin’ army if they find out what you’re gonna do to ‘em. Can’t believe you didn’t even test this shit on Non before now… what a goddamned mess.”

“A few more days is all I need. I’m sure of it.” Capping one of his test tubes, Emmett cocked his head so far to the left that it almost swivelled upside-down. “You seemed prepared for this. How did, ah, how did you know he would question you today?”

“I didn’t. Been ready to murder that lot for a while, now. Was hoping they’d give me a few more weeks, but, shit, what’re ya gonna do.” Kierkegaard shrugged. “Nice touch with your freaky animals. How’d you know to have ‘em in place? Was kinda hoping I’d get to hunt those fuckers down m’self.”

“Best to always take precautions,” Emmett replied. He turned back to the oil stains. “Ah, yes, precautions. Best you go make sure there are no others lurking about this ghost town, still, yes? Best leave me to my work?”

Kierkegaard watched the scientist for a moment longer, then grunted and padded away. Yes, he would have a look around. He would tear any would-be tattle-tales apart with his bare hands, even though he suspected they were all already dead. So disappointing, as he’d already held back on his troops thousands of times over the course of the campaign. It had been so difficult.

So difficult.

And in the meantime, he would keep an eye on Emmett’s quirky pets. They would no doubt unquestioningly assist in Kierkegaard’s campaign, just as he’d hoped…

… but there was a great deal of potential for betrayal, too, because ultimately, Emmett gave them orders. And a person willing to stab his fellow commanders in the back would, no doubt, be just as happy to plant the knife between the shoulder blades of his boss.

Kierkegaard would find a way to deal with that. Oh yes. It was all a part of the fun, happy-go-lucky game of life. Hell, he was already drooling.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-One: Test subjects

That was uncalled for,” Colonel Anders gasped, dropping his impassive military facade. “Sir, that was -

Kierkegaard responded, abruptly, by darting over to the courier he’d just killed. The corpse was still twitching. Raising one of his clawed feet, Kierkegaard stomped on the dead Non’s head. He left his full strength out of the blows as he raised and lowered his feet again and again, caving in the Non’s fragile skull be degrees. Kierkegaard cackled merrily with each crushing stomp, his toes soon covered in green. He didn’t stop until the dirt was thoroughly decorated in gore.

Kierkegaard’s Non retinue said nothing. Even Anders was shocked into silence. At least one of Kierkegaard’s officers was puking.

Breathing hard, Kierkegaard allowed himself a few moments of composure. Bloodlust had filled his heart, bloodlust was always filling his heart, and he knew he wouldn’t be speaking logically until he settled down. He took time to straighten his jacket and fidget his hat back into proper order. Then, feeling more himself, he rose onto his toes and smiled broadly.

“I think,” he said, “that I’ve been quelling your concerns a tad. Haven’t I? ’n that’s a fuckin’ shame. So let’s take a moment to air some grievances. If any of you have a problem with how I’m doin’ things, you’d best be speaking up. Oh, and before we start, somebody go get Commander Emmett for me. Any takers?”

A dozen Non raised their hands. Kierkegaard pointed at one randomly. None of them liked Emmett, he knew, but he suspected that they all wanted to be as far from this particular spot as possible right now. The selected Non leaped to her feet and ran for her life.

Watching the Non run for a second, Kierkegaard snickered, then turned to Anders. He motioned for his colonel to step forward. “I think you have some things on your mind. Why don’t you start, eh?”

Anders bit his lip, clearly hesitant, yet he did not hesitate. He boldly strode into the middle of the Non officers, facing off against Kierkegaard, apparently unwilling to turn his back to his lord. Not that it would have mattered - the death of the courier, if nothing else, proved just how versatile a killing machine Kierkegaard could be - but the penguin appreciated Anders’ decision nonetheless. Anyone else in this situation probably would have tried to preach to the crowd.

“With all due respect - “ Anders began.

Kierkegaard shook his head, snarling. “Forget that ‘respect’ shit. You don’t respect me. None of these assholes respect me. I’m not stupid. Be honest or I’ll eat your fuckin’ tongue.”

Anders’ composure broke by another degree, and that was good. He probably needed the jolt. 

“Fine,” the colonel muttered. He clenched his fists. “This… campaign, started out fine. We managed to break into the Imperium without much trouble, and our casualties were few. Ever since we’ve breached their lines, however, you’ve led us on a constant, meandering, meaningless march. The troops are exhausted, our supplies are extremely low, and we’ve accomplished incredibly little militarily.”

“We’ve destroyed dozens of towns,” Kierkegaard pointed out. “Most of them agricultural. We’ve crippled the Imperium more ’n they’ve crippled us.”

“The bulk of the Imperium’s agricultural base is further west,” Anders argued. “We will be exhausted long before we get there. Besides that, we could have used many of the towns we conquered. Rather than taking territory, though, you’ve been content to raze everything. How are we supposed to resupply if you order materiel burned? If we’d spent time consolidating - “

Kierkegaard shook his head. “I wanna ravage the fuckin’ Imperium army. That means driving in hard. You know that.”

They are ravaged,” Anders insisted. “We’ve defeated them so many times. But because of the directions you drive us, we never deliver a killing blow. They’re always allowed to pull back and reform. In the meantime we almost never do the same, leaving our flanks exposed to attack from Dragomir’s army. Why will you never let us deal decisively with his forces?”

Kierkegaard waved a hand. “Pfft. Werewolves and zombies. His bunch are pussies. They never do much. Keep plowin’ ahead, I say.”

“I disagree,” Anders said, his voice raised to a yell. His internal struggles and debates were flowing freely out of him, now, all directed towards Kierkegaard. “Every time they attack they take a substantial toll on our rear guard, and they’re attacking more and more often. Soon they will break through and drive a wedge in our forces. And if they work in concert with the Imperium - “

Kierkegaard interrupted Anders as dramatically as he could, by again stomping on the courier’s corpse. This time, however, he shunted his full-sized foot out of his personal corner of codespace, and his massive toes turned the remainder of the body into paste. The impact sent a shudder through the ground, as though the planet itself feared him, and every one of the Non in attendance jumped. Kierkegaard held Anders’ eyes throughout, his smile growing as he felt the remains of the courier peel away from his foot and squish back to the ground.

“Revolting,” Anders muttered, putting a hand to his mouth. “Revolting.

“I’d say you’ve aired grievances ‘nough for one day,” Kierkegaard said. He pulled his foot back into a portal, wriggling the tiny toes of his penguin body. They were nice and clean again. “What do you propose we do ‘bout all these problems, eh? What’s your conclusion?”

Anders hesitated. Kierkegaard could see him bundling up his courage, preparing for a single sentence that was surely to enrage the Non commander-in-chief. As Anders readied himself for his pronouncement Kierkegaard noticed the wriggling, bizarre body of Emmett as it clattered up behind the other officers, and he noticed at once that his smile was mirrored on the mad doctor’s face. Kierkegaard cocked an eyebrow, and Emmett raised his hand to reveal a dark, yellow pill. Kierkegaard nodded.

“I believe that we need a new commander,” Anders said, voice thick with tension. He was now looking at Emmett, too, his oily skin paling a little. “Your leadership brought us into the Imperium, but we need someone who can properly - “

The pill disappeared from Emmett’s fingers. Kierkegaard reached into codespace and brought his full, clawed hand out into the real world, pushing Anders to the ground. The lithe Non colonel tried to wriggle away, but Kierkegaard sank his claws deep into the dirt, preventing escape. He strode towards Anders’ exposed face, one arm plunged elbow-deep into a portal, the other raised into the air for all to see, as though he were performing a magic trick. Kierkegaard had no doubt that the effects of Emmett’s handiwork would be magical, as well as deeply monstrous.

“My fellow Non,” Kierkegaard cried, wishing he had his top hat for the occasion, “it has been made clear that some among you are ill at ease with my leadership. Shit, I bet all of you are just as unhappy as Anders, here. Well, maybe not as unhappy, but pretty close. Those among you who’d like to see me get the ol’ heave-ho, please raise your hands!”

None of the Non raised their hands. Emmett cackled, and Kierkegaard joined him. 

“I bet that’s a lie,” Kierkegaard said, “’n it doesn’t much matter anyway. I’m not givin’ up leadership to any of your dumb asses. ‘specially not this shithead. And I have Commander Emmett to thank for that, ‘cause soon your opinions won’t matter even the slightest bit. You tested this thing yet, Emmett?”

Emmett shook his head, the gesture a slow, lolling thing on his giraffe neck. “I tried. My specimen got away. This’ll be a, eheh, first, for all of us.”

“Well, that’ll make it more dramatic, then.” 

Kierkegaard stooped beside Anders. The palm of his hand was pressing so hard into the colonel that the man couldn’t speak, and was gasping for breath. Kierkegaard ran the pill in his fingers along Anders’ mouth, and as he did he swore he felt the pill wriggle a little, as though its contents were eager to escape. He had little doubt they wanted nothing more than to get loose and wreak havoc.

“You all want to know my plans for the future of this campaign? Yep, I bet you do.” Kierkegaard sneered. He dropped the pill into Anders’ mouth. “Here ya go. Here’s the future, you fuckers. Get ready.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

Day Nine Hundred: Delicious

Kierkegaard was not a refined eater.

He’d considered tempering his eating habits when he became the leader of the Non. It was, after all, the duty of most kings, queens, generals, dictators, and so forth, to exhibit a dignified self-image, to display themselves as above the common rabble. He could, therefore, prove his superiority by adopting their ways, and such ways always came with dainty table manners attached. 

But Kierkegaard knew he was not your everyday leader. Normal kings did not ride forth with their armies into battle. Normal queens did not fight a battle alone. Normal generals did not remain in the heat of combat for the entire melee, regardless of wounds, inflicting more damage upon the other side than anyone else in the friendly army. Normal dictators did not hunch over their defeated prey like buzzards, drooling liberally over the thought of an impending meal. And normal so-forths, well, they didn’t then dig in.

Kierkegaard dug in. He always dug in. He thought it was a form of respect to an enemy to give them the opportunity to fill such an important stomach as his. Kierkegaard believed this so thoroughly that his stomach always seemed to be empty, a stark contrast to that of the average Non, who ate so little.

The same was true now. As Kierkegaard tore the flesh from the arm of a dead, nameless human, the rest of his Non entourage seemed quite unwilling to join in the feast, standing on the sidelines and either watching restlessly or averting their eyes. Kierkegaard respected the Non who refused to watch a little more than the rest, because at least they were honest in their disgust. 

Kierkegaard’s group, consisting of some thirty Non guards and ranking officials, sat in the midst of the bones of a smoking town. It was the sixth such settlement they’d sacked this week, and every time it had been the same: token resistance, few casualties, total victory. The remains of the Imperium’s army was never fast enough to stop them. Kierkegaard knew his army would be running low on towns, soon, and that the maps they’d stolen along the way would not be accurate for much longer. Doubtless the Imperium would be establishing new towns for those citizens who managed to flee in places more easily defended than these open-air plains dealies in the coming days.

Kierkegaard didn’t mind that. He was fine with hunting. The anticipation of a feast was almost as good as the feast itself. Hell, it was better

“Your… your worship?”

Ripped away from his silent, grinning contemplation, Kierkegaard glanced at the Non addressing him. The man was smaller and slimmer than most Non, his skin drawn against his ribs in ill fashion, and he kept his eyes on the ground at all times.

Taking another bite from the arm and wiping his bloody beak off on its ragged sleeve, Kierkegaard waited a full minute before responding. He revelled in the Non’s growing discomfort, watching the little creature shuffle its feet in the dirt. Eventually, once the Non had dared to raise its eyes to his, he growled “What?”

The Non quaked. Kierkegaard liked that. “Y… your worship, the… there are reports from your strike groups… in the rear of the column…”

Kierkegaard rolled his eyes. “Oh. Reports. How fun. Colonel Anders? Get up here, fucktard.”

One of Kierkegaard’s retinue, a crouching, plain-faced Non with a squared jaw, stood to attention. Colonel Anders often handled army logistics, and commanded Kierkegaard’s men whenever Kierkegaard himself couldn’t be bothered. Unlike the courier he straightened to proper attention, not fearful - or at least disciplined enough to hide his anxieties. “Sir?”

Kierkegaard waved to the colonel. “Talk to ‘im. I’m busy.”

The courier turned, skittering towards the colonel with obvious relief as Kierkegaard began picking through the corpse at his feet for more delectables. Anders, however, surprised them both.

“Sir,” Anders said, voice now tinged with the tiniest bit of unease, “perhaps you should hear this report.”

Kierkegaard stopped short, one of his claws half-sunken into his meal’s back, and blinked. The Non surrounding him froze. He could practically feel their hearts skipping several beats. He suspected, too, that each man and woman there wished those same hearts had simply stopped, because that would free them from having to deal with what was to come.

Kierkegaard peered at his colonel from beneath the brim of his general’s hat, the tips of his moustache twitching. “Should I, now? Should I fuckin’ now?

Anders swallowed, but his chest remained puffed and proud. He obviously knew that he’d come too far to back down now. “Sir, we will follow you to death, but I believe it is prudent that you understand the state of the army. For the past few weeks you have refused any status updates on the war, and as a commander I find that worrisome - “

Kierkegaard clicked his fingers. Anders fell silent. Kierkegaard rose from his slouch and paced into the middle of his encircled entourage, looking first to the enormous Nothing that loomed on the periphery of the town, then to his officers, then to Anders, and, then, to the courier. He allowed them all to stew in fearful silence for several long minutes as he paced around the legs of the courier, half as tall as the man yet larger by leagues and leagues. 

“So,” Kierkegaard eventually said, settling his gaze on Anders, “report.”

It took the courier a few seconds to collect himself, and even when he did the words emerged from his mouth in a torrent. His no-doubt carefully rehearsed report changed into a jumble of half-remembered items of import, most of them detailing a rather sad state of affairs for the army. Despite win after win - including two more successful defences of the Non lines at the rear of the column - attrition was, apparently, taking its toll on Kierkegaard’s army. The statistics the courier managed to recall sounded grim.

“G… general Lo… Lovenzo… suggests that we set up… a base… camp… perhaps… maybe… a kingdom… and give the troops… the… time… time to - “

Kierkegaard snapped his fingers again. The courier shut his mouth. A nervous fart squeaked out of the Non, and Kierkegaard had to stifle giggles.

“Do you agree with this assessment, Colonel Anders?” Kierkegaard asked, tucking his hands behind his back. “Should we hunker down for a while, ’n let the troops rest?”

Anders swallowed. His posture slackened the tiniest bit. “Sir, I think that would be wise. I’ve spoken to my troops a great deal over the past week, and they all agree that we would do well by setting up a more defensible position somewhere in the Imperium - “

A chorus of gasps from the Non behind Kierkegaard interrupted Anders, though he only furrowed his brow, puzzled. The courier stiffened abruptly, rising onto his toes, eyes twitching. Something crunched. A portal directly behind his head snapped shut… and as the courier collapsed, Kierkegaard stepped forward to present Anders a gift: a chunk of the courier’s dripping brain. When Anders jumped away, Kierkegaard threw the fleshy organ at the colonel, and it bounced off of his left leg and hit the dirt.

Licking the dark green gore from his claws, Kierkegaard grinned. “Think it’s time we had a little chat, fellas. What say ya?”

Friday, August 14, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Nine: Over land and sea

It took four punches, and over a hundred bites of varying sizes, for Titan Blue to break free of her former commander’s tent.

Emmett’s disgusting animals tried their best. With strength above and beyond their tiny frames they leap at the Non, gnashing twisted teeth into her rubbery hide and slashing at her with jagged claws. It was Blue’s lack of bodily definition that ultimately saved her, as the animals, despite possessing the intelligence of a young girl, nevertheless relied on common animal wisdom to choose targets - and Blue, a massive slab of rounded, blobby black, offered up no easy weak points besides her eyes. These she pinched shut as she wailed at the walls with one arm, using the other to blindly sweep the tide of hybrids off her back.

GET HER!” Emmett cried shrilly over the din of chittering laughter. “BRING HER DOWN, YOU USELESS THINGS! GET OUT OF THE WAY SO THE WEREWOLVES CAN ADVANCE!

Before the werewolves could do any such thing, however, being penned at the rear of the pack, Blue burst through the side of the tent, spattering purple-orange gore in every direction. The tent spasmed and moaned lowly as it began to collapse, its brittle, mismatched bones incapable of supporting its flappy, membranous skin. Emmett howled his rage behind her as Blue staggered onto the grass, blinking and looking around, ready to shout for support.

There was no support to be had. Or, at least, they were nowhere nearby. Somehow the tent had sped Emmett well away from the army, leaving the foul doctor to deal with Blue privately. And what could she expect anyway? He was a commanding officer. She was just a grunt. Her friends would be forced to listen to him.

Staggering forward, bleeding liberally from dozens of wounds - her hide was only so tough, enough to block out enhanced squirrels, not enough to ward away enhanced lions or bears - Blue swivelled ponderously towards the tent, trying to keep her eyes on the pulsating entrance she’d torn in its side. Dozens of the smaller creatures poured out of the hole, their ochre gazes falling immediately on her as they chittered war cries and scurried across the grass in her direction.

Blue continued to shuffle backward, thinking quickly. She wanted to head towards the army - they were wandering along in the far distance, far enough that she wondered if Emmett had used a fast track to get so far away - but Emmett’s creatures would be on her long before then. Her only option was out, away, in a direction that was somehow opposite to the collapsing tent. Perhaps if she moved quickly enough - 

The first squirrels and foxes were on her as the thought ran through her head. They leaped at her legs, nipping viciously. Blue swept one slow arm down to brush the first wave away, but the second dove beneath her fingers, dangling from her flesh like ornaments on a tree. She stomped, hard, to dislodge them, but they were replaced by more… and more… and more…

I still want a house, Blue thought. Hold on to that. I want that fuckin’ big house. And I’m gonna get it.

Drawing on Non powers she’d long ignored - they were hardly Hero level powers, but they would do the trick here, where they’d been useless elsewhere - Blue sent a tiny tremor through her skin. At once her hide became almost gelatinous, rolling in a shockwave of currents that knocked every living thing clinging to her away from her body. The waves roiling up and down her skin nauseated anything that was on the verge of reaching her, as well, just long enough that Blue managed to stagger another twenty feet away.

Twenty feet. That was not enough.

She did it again. And again. And again. Every time the creatures caught up, every time a little bigger, a little faster, a little stronger, Blue triggered the shockwave. Beasts fell away in great waves, knocked for a temporary loop, long enough for Blue to gain a bit of ground on the pack. But with each resonance she, too, became rather sickly, her stomach churning as her body chemistry forcibly altered itself to push away antagonists. It wouldn’t be long before she’d be puking… and by then, she wouldn’t be able to do anything at all. Then Emmett would have her.

I should’ve stepped on him, she thought, head spinning as she reverberated again. I should’ve… ugh…

Near a small forest, minutes after her flight, Blue fell to one knee. Her last defence had been particularly violent, stopping over three-dozen small-to-medium pursuers with a legion of shockwaves that had given Blue herself a sickening headache. She wanted to empty her stomach, but there was nothing to empty, because she’d gone so long without food, and now, with so many wounds and so little energy and the sounds of Kara bounding towards her, Blue resigned herself to her fate.

That’s when a hand patted her on the arm.

Blue’s instincts told her to spin around, to slap the intruder aside and pummel him or her to the ground. Blue was in no fit state to do any such thing, however, and so she simply turned to look at the shadowy figure beside her. It was holding a familiar green orb, something so rare and precious that Blue had only seen three in her entire life.

“D… Driscol…?” Blue grunted, so pained that she could barely whimper out his name. 

The gaunt man smiled a little. He’d been ‘gifted’ with a pair of baboon arms since his recapture, one longer than the other, and he awkwardly held out one, the green orb now floating an inch off of his palm. “Hi. I have no idea where this goes, so you’d better brace yourself.”

Blue wanted to protest, for some reason, but her pains - or perhaps her brain - wouldn’t let her. She’d always liked Driscol the best of the CeDrisArd beast, as he’d always been the quietest, the most courteous. She’d not spoken to him often - Emmett held a no-talking policy towards his creations most of the time - but she’d known he was not a bad man. Not as bad as some, anyway. She tried to communicate her desire for him to at least come with her, because she knew, however he’d procured the thing, Driscol would be in for a harsh punishment for ‘wasting’ a fast track. No doubt Emmett would grant him some fate even worse than his current un-death.

Driscol shook his head. “Too late for me. He controls me. He’ll fuck you over if I go with you. Go tell Dragomir what that lunatic’s doing. He’s even more dangerous than Kierkegaard. See ya.”

Probably not sure what he was doing, Driscol awkwardly jabbed the fast track towards Blue. That in and of itself would have done nothing - but Blue, fortunately, knew what needed to be done. Only a Non could use a fast track. Drawing on her almost infintesimal magical powers, the same powers she’d used to gyrate her bulk, Blue touched the fast track with her mind, picturing the action it would spur -

- and, with a mighty woosh, the fast track hurled her into the air, carried on a wave of flowing emerald energy. Carried to safety.

Bereft of their prize, Emmett’s legion of monsters angrily set upon Driscol instead, and as his master discovered through them what had happened he wrought a very painful lesson indeed upon his captive subordinate. Driscol smiled the whole time anyway.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Eight: For king and country

Blue hadn’t seen Emmett since he’d issued his previous orders to her. That had been a long enough time for him to redecorate, apparently, and Blue was not at all impressed by his accommodations. They were, by point of fact, revolting.

Emmett continued to work inside the same sweeping circus tent creature as before, but she could tell from a distance that he’d renovated the thing quite a bit in the last month. Originally somewhat nondescript on the outside, as much as a walking tent could pass for nondescript, Emmett’s lab was now a patchwork horror of animal bones, oozing orange flesh, pulsating protrusions, and shuddering hiccups. For all its speed the thing looked sick, scuttling along on thousands of ill-proportioned legs, and Blue almost felt bad for it. Whatever it was. 

The badger who’d summoned her was standing on the edge of the thing, lingering by a flap in the tent’s skin. When she pounded towards the tent the badger bit into the flesh, and the tent came to a halt at once. The badger leered at her, smiling with red-stained teeth.

“Gee, thanks,” she muttered. “I suppose he’s in?”

The badger leaned low, as low as its lumpen body could take it, and bowed. “The master is in. Kara bids you enter. Now.”

Biting her lip, Blue shrank to half her full size, the smallest she could get, and bullied her way into the tent. She didn’t want to touch the thing’s juddering flaps, let alone step into the soft horror of its innards, and so she knew entering quickly was the only way to get over her squeamishness. She’d created enough corpses with her fists during the course of the war to know a thing or two about steeling her soul against disgust.

The tent was much larger inside than previously, and now housed a greater array of organic medical equipment, most of them tubes filled with translucent yellow liquid. The thin membranes of the tent’s squishy roof permitted plenty of light to pass through and see, though Blue was quite certain she didn’t want to look in any of the tubes, remembering as she did what she’d seen during her previous visit. 

Why did I come back? Blue thought, pausing to flick a lump of goo when it plopped onto her shoulder. Why in the hell would I come back to this? It’s like I forgot how bad he is. Maybe I should just - 

“Ahh, there you are. Mmm. Good.”

Blue’s skin crawled as the familiar voice floated out of the tent’s confines at her. Emmett, she now realized, was clinging to the roof of his laboratory, scuttling along on his insectile legs towards her. He seemed to have swapped some of his body parts out since their last meeting, making his frame more lithe and insectile, though it was still as greyish-purple as ever. He revolted Blue more than anyone in the world, far more so than the tent, and she had to restrain a shudder when he drooped down onto the rolling mat of flesh at her feet. The tent quivered, either with pleasure or fear, when the first of Emmett’s legs touched the ground.

Cocking his head to one side on his ridiculous giraffe’s neck, Emmett apparently decided not to waste any time. “You didn’t bring any specimens.”

Blue blinked. She made the blink as sardonic as she could. “Nope.”

“I suppose, then, that you did not secure the hybrid’s wife.” Emmett laced the fingers of his eight arms together across his broad, leathery chest. “I, ah, really wanted to see her. I had a tube prepared for her.”

Blue shrugged. She didn’t have anything else to say, really. She’d failed. That was that. It was time for Emmett to commence with his usual hissy fit.

Emmett, however, surprised her with a grin. He looked relaxed, and his scorpion tail wagged back and forth behind him, as though he were a grotesque puppy. “Ah well. Perhaps next time. No, ah, no sense in handing out reprimands when clearly there’s nothing to be done, correct?”

Blue cocked her head to one side. This was not at all like her commander. Emmett liked results. When he didn’t get results, which was more often his own fault than the fault of someone else, he engaged in childish temper tantrums. That was his way. For him to ignore the fact that she’d failed with such blithe disregard… hell, for him to not even ask about her assignment - 

“Come this way,” Emmett said, waving Blue into the depths of the tent. “I have something I’d, ah, I’d love to show you.”

Blue hesitated. The tent loomed over her head, and she realized for the first time just how big it was, now. For anything to loom over her head, or to intimidate her with its size, that anything would have to be pretty damned large. But there was darkness in this tent, and secrets, and she didn’t particularly want to go anywhere with this slippery tyrant. She suddenly wanted to be anywhere else, and though that was a given before, anywhere else now carried an urgency that filled Blue’s heart with fear.

A hand pushed at Blue’s leg. She whipped around and found herself staring down at the badger. It grinned up at her… and beside it was another badger, as well as two squirrels. All four had the same misshapen bodies, the same purple veins running across their skin, the same ghoulish smile. The smile was so perfectly replicated on each tiny face that, despite the species differences, they could have been twins.

“Go,” the badger whispered. “Kara wants you to seeee.”

“Fuck me,” Blue whispered back. “Oh, fuck me. No, I think I’ll be going. S’cuse me.”

Emmett tittered behind her. “I don’t think you’ll be going anywhere, my dear.”

Pushing past the woodland creatures from hell, Blue dove at the flap in the tent. It whipped shut as she approached, the seam in the flesh sealing itself with a sickly slurp, and try as she might she couldn’t dig her fingers out to freedom. The tent seemed to resist her probes, its surface too flat, too undefined, and too damned loose for her to rip through.

“Let me out,” Blue demanded, temper rising past her fear. She grew four feet to emphasize her point, and soon her head was brushing against the sloping roof of the tent. “Let me out.

The animals gathered around Blue, only now there were far more of them, all skittering out of niches in the floor to greet her. There were mongooses, and ferrets, and iguanas, and a buffalo, and a massive centipede, and a lion, and plenty else besides, and all of them had the same gleeful yellow expression on their face, at least as far as their wide ranges of faces would permit. They closed in on her, and as she raised her fists to fight Blue caught sight of a werewolf at the back of the pack, no, more than one, maybe a dozen, and she wondered just what in the hell Emmett had done.

“You wonder why I’m not mad,” the commander hissed, waving his multitude of hands to the pack of freakish specimens crowding around his mangled body. “It’s because you succeeded, after a fashion. You brought me a specimen. Just the specimen I needed to take my research to the next level.” 

“You’re fucking insane,” Blue growled, fists clenched. “Fucking insane.

“Don’t blame me,” Emmett chuckled. He twisted his head so far around on his craning neck that it flipped upside-down. One of the stitches at the base of his head popped free, but he didn’t seem to mind. “Orders of the general, and all that, you know? We all have, ah, we all have our duties.”

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Seven: Come hither

Blue was feeling unhappy with her lot in life. And she figured that she had every right to the emotion, given her current circumstances.

“Hey,” a voice said to Blue’s left. A small hand - compared to hers, anyway - tugged on her arm. “Hey. Do you have anything to eat?”

Blue turned, eyes blinking heavily from a lack of sleep. A skinny Non soldier was standing beside her, more or less eclipsed by her bulk. She could’ve crushed him with a single stomp, and, as always, she briefly considered doing so. Something in her always strayed to morbidity when she considered just how tiny everyone else was compared to her. But, no, she wouldn’t be doing anything of the sort, if for no other reason that she’d have to clean the gook off of her foot afterward.

“No,” she replied, a little tersely. “Go try the quartermaster.”

“I tried the damned quartermaster,” the Non grumbled. He swayed from one side to the other, looking very much to Blue like a zombie. “He’s got nuthin’. Everybody’s got nuthin’.”

Blue shook her head. “I think we’re attacking another city soon. Maybe they’ll have more food. Suck it up.”

The Non sneered, but he didn’t say anything else. Moments later he was shambling away, off to tug on the arms of other Non. Blue knew none of them would have the food he wanted, and she knew they were all just as hungry. Hunger was not something that happened to Non very often, and so the entire column tromping along around Blue was especially ornery.

Despite her fervent desire to quit the Non army and do something else, anything else, Blue was still moving with her oil-slick comrades through a barren hellhole of a land. When the time had come to properly flee, in the midst of the last big battle against the Imperium, Blue had nevertheless returned to her people, forsaking a perfectly good opportunity to get the hell out of the war - and away from her old boss. She couldn’t quite remember why she’d failed to flee, or even what she’d done during the fight. It was, like hunger, a failure of memory that seemed to be rather common among the Non, though most of them refused to talk about it.

Blue sighed. What did it matter? Each battle was more or less the same as the last. The terror and thrill of fighting was just as mundane as the constant walking tours to the next battlefield. Kierkegaard’s campaign had become a meandering, pointless orgy of destruction, and no one - not even the great general / admiral / emperor / whatever himself - seemed to know what they were doing. Blue wondered how long it would take before Non started deserting… and she further wondered if any had already fled, taking on different forms and opting for a more comfortable, peaceful life somewhere else.

Surely they had.

So why hadn’t she?

The army - or Blue’s section of it, anyway - crested a series of rocky hills, and soon Blue was staring at a wide lake surrounded by trees. The Non near her began to chatter excitedly to one another, apparently anticipating a chance to jump in the water and relax in the shade for a while. The heat of the summer sun was merciless enough to forge a deep desire to splash about for half an hour. Blue could tell by their angle of approach that the army would not be going anywhere near the lake, however, and as her fellow Non slowly came to the same conclusion the moody silence of the column reaffirmed itself. Blue forced herself to look at anything but the lake, and she eventually settled for the horizon. The bland, flat, unending horizon.

I would like, Blue thought, ignoring the pain in her weary feet, a house. A big house, where I can put my feet up on a chair and rest for a while. With a chimney. And a fence out front. And a well out back for drawing water. Maybe I could have a few neighbours. They’d probably have smaller houses, so I could feel especially proud of mine whenever I looked out the window. I would live in a small community, because I don’t like cities that much, ’n I’d be… I dunno… maybe a writer. Writers make decent money, don’t they? Maybe I could get into theatre - 

Blue’s musings ended abruptly when someone tugged on her arm. Flinched out of her walking trance, she glared down to one side, ready to snap at whomever was bothering her. The image of a home of her own was compelling enough to crush her already foul mood when it disappeared. She opened her mouth -

- and snapped it shut when she got a good look at the creature staring up at her. It was, or probably had been, some kind of badger, though it was swollen to at least three times its normal height. Standing on two bloated legs, its uneven limbs rippling with muscles and 
pulsing veins, the badger regarded her with bright yellow eyes, its pupils reduced to tiny black pinpricks. It grinned at her with a muzzle that was not made for grinning.

“The master would like to see you,” the badger hissed, its voice an oozy, unnatural rattle. “His tent is one the edge of the main column. Go now.”

Blue grimaced, pulling away from the badger’s touch. More and more of these weird aberrations had been sneaking into the army of late, serving largely as couriers and scouts. Blue knew where they’d come from - she’d seen some of the first of their number, almost two months prior, as well as their source - and she was surprised one hadn’t come for her ’til now. She’d expected a messenger almost a week ago.

“I’m busy,” Blue grunted, looking back to the horizon. “I’ll see him in a bit.”

“You’re walking,” the badger pointed out. “Kara thinks you can also walk towards the master’s tent. And you can walk faster.”

“I bet I can.” Blue waved a hand. “I’m coming, I’m coming. Tell Emmett - “

But the badger was already gone, disappearing back into the crowds of Non soldiers. Blue couldn’t see the creature… but she could see the Non parting to let it pass as it skittered along the ground on all fours. Whether it was pushing its way through or the soldiers were disgusted enough by its presence to want to get the hell out of its way of their own accord, Blue couldn’t tell.

Blue swallowed. Emmett had tasked her with fetching Dragomir’s wife as a test subject, a goal she hadn’t even come close to completing. She’d spent the last little while doing her best to avoid him, hoping his pet project would have been enough to distract him from her existence. He was single-minded enough that forgetting her was a possibility. She had not lucked out this time, though, and she knew that would be to her eternal detriment.

Maybe, Blue thought, picking up the pace a little, I can ‘trip’ and fall on him. Maybe.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Six: Orc no more





Zat iz a razer grim mantra, no?









I vunder iv ziz thing coming after uz vuld shut you up for five minutez. Zat vuld be lovely.









You know zey have been targeting uz for a vile now. Iv you vuld juzt let me talk for five minutez - 






Zigh. Vine. I zuppoze if they catch you I von’t have to carry on vith ziz tedium any longer. You really have been a pain in my patootzkiez, you know ziz?


Yah, yah, vat elze iz new.

The Non were on Antonia before she had a chance to wrap up her internal struggle.

They came from above, descending from a pair of buildings as Antonia stalked down the alley in-between. The first Non landed in front of her, a skinny, trembling creature that looked up at her hulking form with emerald fear. Antonia stared the Non down, lips slathered in foam, the blood of another, less-fortunate Non staining her claws. She raised her paw, preparing to take the Non’s head off. Then she would feed. She didn’t particularly like the taste of Non, but she would feed anyway.

The Non said something. Antonia didn’t understand the words. She seldom understood much of anything anymore, beyond the commands of her distant pack leader. He made perfect sense. He gave her orders, and she followed them, because everything he said was just a suggestion, even if it was a command, and she liked that. She respected that. It gave her freedom to do as she pleased, and what she pleased was generally within the purview of his orders. It was all a nice, perfect circle.

Vat are you babbling about? Juzt hit ze poor baztard and be done vith it.

survi -

The second Non landed behind Antonia, slipping so quietly to the ground that she caught only the barest hint of noise. Her ear twitched, but not enough, and she dove towards the first Non with a killing thirst that could only be quenched by the splash of viscera. The Non yelped in its weird, alien language, and it slid aside… leaving Antonia open to attack from behind.

Antonia was big. She was bigger than most opponents she faced, these days, and the only ones to outsize her - the titanic siege Non - were too slow to catch her. She was one of the most efficient killers on the battlefield. It was not, therefore, much of a surprise that the Non only barely managed to restrain her, its arms wrapped around her midsection, and even less of a surprise that he only kept her from moving forward by shocking her into temporary submission. It had been so long since something had actually crept up behind Antonia that -



The Non’s arm whipped around Antonia’s muzzle.

Ach, too late. Vell, it vaz a nize life vile it lazted, I guezz.

The Non’s fingers extended grotesquely, wrapping around the upper half of Antonia’s jaws, but they were already open, her throat exposed to open air, and with a tiny flick the Non dropped something into her mouth.


Antonia crunched down, teeth severing the Non’s fingers. It screamed and ripped itself away, cradling its mangled hand as it leaped away from Antonia. The werewolf swept its arm to the side, trying to crush the Non, but it was already gone, and Antonia’s original target with it, leaping up the walls of the adjacent buildings to safety. Grunting, Antonia turned to pursue -

- but then the contents of the pill the Non had planted in her teeth spilled forward, broken by the gnashing of her fury, and a sickly goop poured down her throat. She spasmed, body going stock-still, as Kara flooded into her body, seizing control of her nervous system and wrapping parasitic tendrils around her vital organs. Antonia tried to howl, and was denied; tried to run, and was paralyzed; tried to vomit, and was kept under wraps.

For the third time in her life, in a much more violent fashion than ever before, Antonia transformed. Her muscles, already swollen by lycanthropy, bulged to grotesque heights. The hump on her back grew into a distended, lumpy mound, covered in yellowish warts and oozing pustules. Her mouth snapped open, exposing doubled rows of teeth growing rapidly in uneven intervals, and her tongue lashed the air with the strength of a whip. She fell to all fours yet was still almost eight feet tall, and she continued to grow, swelling into an absolute monstrosity.

The Non had finally located the alpha. And once they did, Fynn lost control of the werewolves forever.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Five: Snips and snails and werewolf tails

Fynn quickly discovered just how much he’d fucked up. He tried to rationalize his failure - I’m just a kid! - but his mental protests rang very hollow indeed.

After Logan’s vomiting episode, an event so wretched that it forced the prince into a medical cot, Fynn descended from the Imperium’s battle platform for a closer look at the battle below. It was still raging away, with werewolves doggedly trying to root out Non fighters, and Fynn tugged them a little closer to his mind with the protectiveness of a pet owner. He knew that was an unhealthy response to creatures which amounted to disease victims, but he couldn’t help himself.

Don’t dive in, Logan had warned him. That was the worst feeling I’ve ever had.

Projecting a shield around himself - Fynn was, as ever, surprised by the extent of his powers, and the ease of multitasking spells that would’ve originally taxed his abilities - Fynn waded into the battlefield, down one of the abandoned town’s combat-ravaged streets. Though the place was intact - It’s called Doonbury, Fynn reminded himself, Don’t forget its name - it was quickly falling apart under the strain of werewolves competing with Non. From his landing point Fynn could see five werewolves trying to catch a single Non, the blackened creature evading their attacks with a slippery grace as it darted from alleyway to alleyway. He knew similar sorties were raging throughout the Doonbury.

He knew this because he could feel it. He’d long projected his control of the werewolves through Antonia, their progenitor and alpha. But he couldn’t see what they were doing up close. And that, he sensed, was part of the problem.

Fynn didn’t like the werewolves. He assumed they were good people, as Foregone had not seemed like a particularly malevolent city, but their lycanthrope forms scared him all the same. He didn’t enjoy the constant mental contact with Antonia, a touch he was forced to maintain even in his sleep, and he didn’t like orchestrating their moves. At some point he’d decided, subconsciously or otherwise, to remove himself from the creatures as much as he could, retreating to whatever airship was available at any given time. From above the werewolves were vicious brown specks, more like troublesome mites than sickened, crazed humans.

He realized, walking down Doonbury and looking at the werewolves, that he’d not been among them in over two months. All that time he’d kept them restrained from a distance, shepherding them about on a long leash. In that time he’d not once given thought to their wellbeing, or if he had, he’d shunted such concerns behind the overwhelming presence of his fear. He suspected the rest of his father’s army had acted the same way, avoiding the werewolves whenever possible. They were not pleasant creatures.

These werewolves were not healthy. They were beaten, mangey creatures.

The first werewolf Fynn spotted took his breath away. Almost six feet tall even hunched over, the werewolf nevertheless looked a pitiable thing. Much of its fur bore a mangey, patched look, and hints of sickly pink skin peeked through gaps in its coat. Its eyes were painted a vague white-grey, and yellowed snot encrusted its nose. Its muscles were thin and rangy, and ribs poked out of its underbelly. It looked starved, which confused Fynn, as he knew the werewolves fed regularly on animal migrations encountered in the field. The next werewolf looked much the same, though smaller.

Oh my god, Fynn thought. What… what’s wrong with them?

They’ve been on the march for months without rest, Julius said, his tone grim. It’s no wonder. I suppose only the Non would have noticed their state of degradation. No one else ever wants to get close.

But… Fynn wrung his hands. But they fight… I mean, they fight as well as ever…

Driven by a sickness, Julius pointed out. He shook his tiny tarantula head. I’m sure they’ll fight at full capacity until they fall apart. Is this why Logan lost it?

Fynn concentrated for a moment, diving into the nearest werewolf in a mild capacity. He caught a vague glimpse of the street from another vantage point as the werewolf bounded towards a building, a Non in its crosshairs, and the doubling of perspectives gave Fynn a vague sense of nausea. Still…

No, he decided, shaking his head. That’s not it. Can’t be. Come on.

Careful to avoid the fighting - he was accustomed to battle, though he nevertheless preferred to avoid duking it out with his shadowy kin - Fynn picked his way gingerly down the main street, diverting onto a quieter side path when he found an alley devoid of brawling. The werewolves and the Non seemed to ignore him entirely, fighting around his shield with an apparent knowledge of the futility of attacking him. Fynn imagined the occasional, resentful green eye was cast his way, however, and he wondered if he was some kind of race traitor for not helping the Non in their struggle.

The werewolf he’d tagged before, the werewolf Logan had attempted to dive into, was lurking inside the remains of a pastry shop. The wolf had apparently ripped the shop apart, leaving a trail of confections in its wake as it headed into the store rooms to continue the destruction. Fynn approached the creature rather reluctantly, listening to its snorts and half-howls as it rooted about in the back room for something it apparently thought was important.

Fynn had control over the werewolves. He knew this, because he could feel Antonia somewhere nearby, fighting as fervently as any of them. He had control over her. Even without the control, he knew he could easily handle a single werewolf with his strength and magic. Yet… yet

Pushing the door into the rear room open, Fynn took a deep breath and drew on some of the courage offered by Julius. The spider often shared his emotions with Fynn, putting up a brave front despite his size. It was not quite enough to quell the horror of what he saw, but it kept Fynn from running. That, he decided, was important.

The werewolf was not an ordinary werewolf. It was, Fynn quickly discovered, almost twice the size of the standard werewolf fare, not far off from Antonia’s enhanced alpha bulk. It was as mangey as its kin, but this werewolf’s exposed skin was black rather than pink, and thick yellow-and-purple veins protruded liberally from its fur. It turned to leer at Fynn, jaws coated in powdery white sugar, and the look in its eyes was not the glowing orange-and-green he knew should be there. There was instead a liquid ochre flowing around its pinprick pupils, and delight framed its features as its mouth dropped open in a sallow mockery of a grin.

“Play… with… Kara…” the werewolf hissed, its voice a growling mockery of humanity.

You aren’t controlling it, Julius said. This wasn’t a question.

No, Fynn confirmed. 

The werewolf leaped at Fynn, claws extended. Fynn flinched back, yelping, but the werewolf bounced off of the faint shield covering the boy and slid to the ground. Without giving it another thought Fynn extended the shield, knocking the werewolf into the wall. Fynn extended the shield again, and again, and again, driving the monster’s head against a hard wooden beam until it slumped. Its muzzle twitched as it slipped into unconsciousness.

But something was there. Something was awake inside it, crawling beneath its skin, pumping ungodly vitality into its failing muscles. Something saw Fynn, peering at him from the werewolf’s pores, and he could feel the thing’s morbid gaze even as its host snoozed. It would never sleep.

“Kara,” Fynn whispered, mind straining against the horror of the sight. “Who’s… who’s Kara…?”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Four: Very wrong

Fynn felt uneasy, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint why.

Standing upon the Imperium’s floating battle platform - it was, he thought distantly, a wobbly, slow, poor substitute for his mother’s brand of airship - Fynn watched the battlefield below, as he so often did these days. A contingent of over three hundred Non were clashing with Fynn’s legion of werewolves over the remains of an Imperium town, fighting in the evacuated streets with vicious zeal. The werewolves, though superior in number, seemed to be having trouble rooting the Non out of their hiding places, as the slippery bastards kept using their surroundings to avoid their furry antagonists.

And yet, for all that, it wasn’t the worst battle in the world. The werewolves were stymied, not defeated, and with Fynn’s mental control they fought with a degree of actual intelligence. Still…

Is something the matter?

Fynn flinched out of his ruminations. He turned to look at Julius, who, as ever, was perched upon his shoulder. The two of them often shared a mind - something that didn’t bother Fynn at all, as Julius was a pleasant, amiable little familiar - but Fynn always kept a small part of himself detached, separate. If this fact offended Julius, he didn’t let it show, and Fynn assumed the spider similarly held back a little.

I’m not sure, Fynn replied. He stroked his chin. I dunno. Something’s just… different, down there. Can you feel it?

Julius’s many eyes turned to the buildings below. A single titan-sized Non rose up along the line of buildings, bringing a massive fist down on three werewolves that were poised to leap onto the Non’s chest. Two avoided the collision, but a third winked out of Fynn’s mind. He felt a small ping of sadness echo out of his soul, the same ping he felt whenever a werewolf died under his command.

I don’t feel anything different, Julius eventually admitted. Perhaps the toll of fighting for so long is getting to you?

Fynn rolled his eyes. That could certainly be the problem. He’d been on the warpath with Logan for almost two months, now, picking at the fringes of the Non army with dogged determination. There was seldom a day without a battle to be fought. The fact that they didn’t seem to be making much of a dent in the Non - Logan kept holding back the full fury of their forces - only added to the sense of hopelessness in their situation. Life was an unending process of attacking, defending, licking wounds, and recouping losses.

But that wasn’t it, either. Fynn could tell. This feeling… it was almost sickly -

Logan is here, Julius cut in, before Fynn could respond.

Fynn turned, allowing his control over the werewolves to slacken enough that he could speak. His eyes dimmed enough that the opaque green sheath of colour receded to his pupils only. He nodded, and Logan nodded back as he clanked onto the observation deck.

Logan was looking… different. Fynn had noticed substantial changes in the older man over the last month, and age was one of those changes. Logan’s beard was longer, his hair shorter, his body more thickly-muscled. Fynn knew he was working out more, to compensate for his loss in mobility. He was also wearing nicer clothes, shedding the half-guard half-thief garb he’d adored for so long. But it was his eyes that carried the most significant change: they’d become harder, almost perpetually narrowed, with a steel that both betrayed and eliminated the carefree fire that Fynn had known since he was a child. When Logan smiled the expression seldom carried into his eyes.

“You’re loud,” Fynn said, by way of greeting.

“As ever,” Logan admitted, glaring down at his legs. His stumps were sheathed in a pair of heavy iron calves, ending in stumpy blocks that looked more like anvils than feet. “I can’t wait ’til Libby works me up some proper legs. These ones suck. So heavy and awkward.”

“So you keep sayin’,” Fynn commented dryly, smirking. “What’s up?”

“That’s my question for you.” Logan stepped up beside his protege and stared down at the battle. “How are we doing?”

Fynn shook his head. “The usual. They’re dug in. I’m betting another hour before they give up and run. We probably won’t manage to take down more than a dozen of ‘em. More stall tactics.”

Logan sighed. He gripped the railing in front of the glass, his frown intense. “I still don’t get why they’re doing this. Take a town, leave it intact, drive everyone out, wait, then run once we show up. What’s the point? Keeps us off Kierkegaard’s butt, I guess, but it would make more sense to just turn his army around ’n try to take us down.”

“Except we could run if he did,” Fynn pointed out. “And we’re better at runnin’ than he is.”

“Yeah…” Logan shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe we should dive in again. I’d like a closer look.”

Fynn grimaced. ‘Diving in’ was something Logan had cooked up the previous week. Fynn had discovered himself capable of, at least temporarily, peeking directly into the minds of the werewolves he controlled, and in doing so looking through their eyes at the enemy. He didn’t find it that useful - he could just go down and fight personally if he wanted to see what the Non were doing - but since he could also relay the experience to someone else, such as someone who could no longer flit about battlefields thanks to his prosthetic legs, Fynn found himself ‘diving in’ more often than he preferred.

“Geez, it’s not that bad,” Logan said, probably catching Fynn’s sour expression. “You said yourself it’s not very hard to do.”

“It’s not, but the last time we did it…”

“I was only a little dizzy,” Logan protested.

“You puked on me!” Fynn countered. It had taken the better part of a day to scrub the vomit smell out of his clothes.

Logan shrugged. He took two steps away from Fynn and faced the glass. “There. Can we get on with it, please? C’mon, I want a look.”

Fynn rolled his eyes, but he gave in. Allowing the werewolves yet more slack - he knew there wasn’t much danger in doing so - he shifted some of his concentration to Logan, probing outward with his powers to grab at Logan’s essence. Logan shuddered slightly as Fynn gripped his code, and with a sharp tug Fynn brought it in ethereal contact with one of the werewolves tethered to his consciousness, one he knew was currently fighting a Non. The link was made -

- and it broke, almost immediately, as Logan began to retch. He left his lunch all over the window.

Fynn broke the connection at once. Stumbling forward, his head suddenly hazy, he put a hand on Logan’s shoulder as the prince shuddered, slumped over the handrail. Logan’s raspy breaths frightened Fynn, yet he was instantly reluctant to try and use his magic to alleviate Logan’s discomfort, because he thought they might have been the cause in the first place. Surely the werewolf itself was not the full cause - 

“There’s something… something… ugh… wrong… ugh…” Logan spat up more of his lunch. “Very… very… wrong… with that… that… wolf…”