They made first contact on the plains of Rodentia, twelve miles from the edges of the ruined capital.
The Non were making a strong push against the forces of the Imperium. Backed up against the rubble of their once-mighty throne of power, the Imperium’s soldiers had formed a long line of their remaining tanks, sky platforms, mobile carriers, and soldiers, creating what they obviously hoped was enough of a defence to hold the Non back. Cannons roared, spears rose into the air, and footmen swallowed, fearing this battle might be their last.
The Nothings came at them first. The Imperium’s cannons, for all their might and sparkle, could do no discernible to the massive orbs of liquid and malice. Their screaming harpoons tore the defensive lines apart, ripping an enormous gash in the Imperium’s defences. Then, thrust forward as a massive spearhead, Kierkegaard’s Non, werewolves, and hybridized animals rushed in, dividing the Imperium in twain. From that point on it was just a matter of time before the Imperium split - and crumbled.
The first of the Sky Bitch’s cannons rumbled to life shortly after the division of the Imperium’s forces. Had Dragomir taken any longer to get his army into place, they might have been too late.
The Sky Bitch, now equipped with a full, experienced crew again, chose its targets carefully. It demolished hybrid animal after hybrid animal, targeting rhinos, lions, elephants, and plenty else, all tainted by Doc’s foul handiwork. Creatures exploded everywhere, forcing the Non at the rear to reverse course - and find themselves staring at an army full of rotting zombies. The zombies rushed forward, and the Non did the same, both sides moving at a somewhat bedraggled pace.
Plenty of zombies were torn apart. Plenty more moved into their place. The Non were, steadily, forced backward, and their once-cohesive line was split in half, despite still standing side-by-side, one confidently staring down the Imperium, the other surprised from the rear. Yet not a single Non was killed by Dragomir’s forces - injured, yes, and often incapacitated - but none of them died. Death was not on the agenda for the Non.
Not all of them, anyway.
Doc’s tent bobbed precariously in the midst of the carnage, and its sharp-toothed occupant watched from the shadows, safely tucked away in the fleshy confines of his laboratory. He knew his was perhaps the largest target in Kierkegaard’s army, but it was also the safest place to be, as the flesh could repel just about any cannonball at this range - and besides, it wasn’t doing anything.
Doc was fine with that. He was perfectly fine with that. Especially since he was given ample opportunities to join in the fun via his pets. He could feel them, thousands of little dots battling away in his mind, each controlled by a whim to please him. And, oh, yes, little ones, little pets, little Karas, Doc was very pleased indeed.
Turning away from the battle for a moment, Doc steepled his fingers and retreated into the darkened confines of the tent. The sounds of combat were suddenly muffled, drowned out by Doc’s will that they should be drowned out, because he had something else to attend to at the moment, something more important than watching two sides pound endlessly away at one another. Something that was scientific, and, therefore, much more interesting in the long run.
That something was a body. An unconscious, limp, oil black, skinny, trapped body, clamped into a fleshy operating table in the middle of Doc’s tent. Doc wasn’t sure of the Non’s name - perhaps it started with an S? - and he supposed it didn’t really matter. The Non was soon going to be another Kara, if Doc had anything to say about it. Oh yes.
Skittering over to the table on hundreds of tiny legs, Doc leered over the Non, hands reaching into folds at his sides for surgical implements. Scissors. Scalpel. Tongs. Hatchet. Hammer. Test tube. All the necessary stuff to rip into flesh, pry past bone, and take samples. He needed samples, he wanted samples, because his precious Kara just couldn’t infect the Non, and he needed to know why. He needed to know soon, because unrest was growing, and if he wanted his own army, his own compliant mass of murderous, happy fiends, he had to act quickly.
He wanted to infect Kierkegaard. He was eager to infect Kierkegaard. The puny penguin had underestimated Doc for far too long, and Doc would make him pay for that. They would all pay for that.
Giggling, Doc laid the blade of his scalpel against the Non’s skin. A thin trickle of blood slid out of the shallow wound like a teardrop. Warmth blossomed in Doc’s heart as he watched it meander down the Non’s chest. Yes, this part was always the best part.
The flap of the tent opened.
Doc paused. His scalpel drooped. The flap of the tent had been so slight as to be almost imperceptible - but Doc felt everything that was necessary to be felt by the tent. It was a part of him, in all ways but pain, and so he never missed an entry. Someone was in the tent, and it was someone who was not meant to be there, because anyone else would not have been stupid enough to come in.
Staring briefly at the line of Non piled at the side of the room - they were all failures, all dead and all failures - Doc turned to look at his guest.
She was a short woman, but Doc’s standards, short and pale and pink, but with thick forearms and a stout build. Her nose wrinkled in disgust - yes, the tent was smelly - and her dark ponytail swished in the breeze from the outside world. There were gloves on her hands, familiar gloves, and her eyes were narrowed, and humourously humourless, and the expression on her face was one of utter contempt, as though she’d just caught sight of a bug, a mere bug, and, of course, she was watching Doc, which, combined with that damnable expression, was enough to drive Doc to an instant, uncontrollable, insatiable RAGE.
“Hi,” the woman said, waving briefly. “Thought I killed you. I’ll have to do better this time.”
Roaring, Doc ordered the tent to slap shut behind the woman. He was too late, however, and she’d already stepped back through the flap and out of the tent, disappearing into the battle. And Doc, all other priorities forgotten, all past indignities remembered, called out for his enforcers with his mind.
“YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, LIBERTINE,” Doc promised aloud, his shrill voice screechy and breaking. “YOU’LL FUCKING WISH I’D STUFFED YOU INTO A CANNON WHEN I’M DONE WITH YOU!”