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.”

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