"Get away from her, you bitch!"

- Sigourney Weaver, Aliens

"Join us soon, Toru-san!"

- Mami Izumi, Ga-Rei Zero

"That was some of the best flying I've seen yet, right up to the part where you got killed."

- Jester, Top Gun


Sophia was here to crunch buggleboo skulls and look cute, and she had plenty of both to go around. The blasted things scurried all over the baseboards and support beams like little eight-legged hounds with pale gray shells and slightly demonic appearances. They had a habit of setting up their nests anywhere there were human settlers around and causing nothing but hell and tarnation, but a single bullet to the brain was enough to take each one out. In an uncharted frontier filled with every variety of desert lizards, sand worms, cattle rustlers, man-eating cacti, and turtle-sized insectoids, Sophia was thusly deputized as a Master Troubles Prospector of the Vineyard Investigation Agency. She was the middle of an assignment to clear out the hive that had taken over the wine cellar of the old Peterny Smithery & Saloon.

The multi-talented markswoman / bar wench twirled in her petticoats and her bodice as she let the buggleboos come charging at her and gave them all the 1-2-3 roundup from her dual revolvers. The cloth rope that kept her spiked truncheon tied to her back swished up behind her like a rambunctious cat's tail while she moved. She used her quick acrobatics to lead the scrambling critters around each other into herds and wiped them out like shooting fish in a barrel.

She shot one off the ceiling, five off the beams, and a dozen that were getting dangerously close to her leather slippers without breaking a sweat. When they'd get too riled up, she'd reach behind her billowing skirt and swing her truncheon across the floor a few times to keep a path clear for herself. If management had a piano set up down here, she'd be kicking across the keys and smashing these little vermin under the lid. She yanked a canister grenade from her skirt sash and nibbled off the fuse before she tossed it down a storage hatch in the floor. The explosion killed at least a hundred of the things flooding up from the bottom of their nest.

One of Sophia's shots sailed straight through a buggleboo crawling along on the counter and put a hole in one of the wood kegs. Seeing as she was the kind of gal who never wanted a fine malt to go to waste, she hopped on the counter and put down one of her guns down so she could grab a pewter mug she saw sitting nearby. Reclining back with her legs stretched out and her stockings crossed one over the other, she filled the mug with the drink pouring out of the damaged keg and twitched her tiny nose as she took a sniff. She rolled back her head and happily gulped the entire mug down, all while still shooting with her one gun hand. She killed a buggleboo with every shot when she wasn't even looking. When she was done, she tossed the empty mug away, wiped her mouth with her slender forearm, and sighed "Ahhh."

The cellar's baseboards started to rattle, and Sophia almost rolled off the table from the commotion. A humongous queen buggleboo erupted through the floor hatch after she'd been drawn out of her beauty sleep by the grenade's explosion.

Bugglebelle may have been a better name for this one. Her head and torso were a human mimicry of a soft face and a smooth bust molded out of icy pale chitin. She could have passed for quite the pretty (if not a little ghostly) lady if it weren't for her Medusa antenna hair and the eight pairs of limbs growing out of her narrow sides.

From the waist down, she was ten feet of pulsating shapeless chubby business. Compared to her relatively dainty upper body, it gave the impression she was wearing a colossal hoop skirt made of living quivering caterpillar skin. The queen was responsible for birthing all of the eggs that ensured the colony's survival, and her ovipositor was quite suited for the job today.

Sophia had found her primary target and the boss of the insect gang. She hopped back to her feet and unloaded her revolvers from a distance. The queen howled her unqueenly displeasure as bullets lobbed off a few of her smallest limbs while bouncing off the vital parts of her chitin hide.

Sophia slipped her guns into her apron sashes and pulled the menacing pole arm off of her tail belt. She ran toward the queen, stomping out about twenty of the smaller critters under her feet along the way. She used the queen's massive lower body as a ramp and swung her spikes straight for the torso ten feet up. The queen lurched backward while throwing her claws up to block her attacker. Sophia lost her club as it flew backwards out of her hands. She plucked her revolvers back out of her skirt in a nasty fury, instantly firing away at point blank range.

The queen deflected most of the rounds and caught Sophia's waist in four of her limbs. Sophia lost her grip on the revolvers and stumbled sideways, crashing the side of her face against the queen's hardened exoskeleton chest.

The queen chuckled in an eerily human way as she hugged her struggling captive close to her torso. Her clicking limbs then turned Sophia like a corkscrew and pulled her downward. Sophia was facing away, but she could feel warm insect hide pressing on the back of her hair bun. She got one more gasp of fresh air before the queen's limbs hoisted her through the curtains halfway down the hoop skirt and her entire head sunk into the humble confines of a termite ovipositor.

Sophia's complaints were ferocious but muffled. She tried to get the hell out of Dodge, but the queen was determined to make her stay for a visit. Her legs kicked and thrashed while her shoulders were bound to her sides by segmented arms. In Sophia's world, she felt nothing but humid insect flesh suffocating and creeping into every pore on her face. She heard nothing but the muffled throbbing of a million developing heartbeats. She smelled nothing but sour embryonic chemicals being brewed. She saw nothing but darkness.

The queen kept wrenching Sophia's body deeper into her own, struggling to get the fleshy gun rack hanging out the front of Sophia's bodice to fit. But finally Sophia got all the way in until her arms and the whole top half of her body were buried. Only the lower stitches of her apron and her squirming skirted legs were left out, so it looked like the queen's whelping plains ended and became Sophia's.

The queen smiled proudly and quivered her massive lower parts like she was getting ready to lay another four thousand eggs. Her icy angelic face winced at something, and Sophia's waist twitched while it dangled under the queen's queenliness. A harsh muffled noise could be heard from inside.

As it turned out, buggleboos weren't the only things with crunchable skulls.

The top of Sophia's body slipped out from the writhing throne. She dropped back down to the floor kneeling in her stockings, revealing the queen had imparted her subject with a nice new bonnet to replace her old one. A buggleboo larva was stretched over Sophia's eyes and clinging to the whole top of her head as it dug its tiny claws through her scalp and into her brain stuff. She hollered and hooted and scratched wildly at the pestilence haunting between her ears, but it stayed clamped tight as its wiggling feelers mined further into her delicate nerve clusters.

There was another harsh crunch as the buggleboo broke all the way through her cortex wiring, and Sophia's screaming tarnation came to an instant stop. Her mouth smirked as the critter covering her eyes exercised its dominion over all of her fine motor skills. Her hands reached to the floor at her sides and quietly retrieved the two revolvers she had dropped in the scuffle.

Still sitting up on her knees with her back to the queen, Sophia crossed her forearms in an X and curled her wrists toward her ears, pressing the barrels of the guns firmly against her buggleboo-encased temples. She childishly stuck out her tongue and pulled both of the twin triggers. Poor Sophia's quest was over, but at least the buggleboos scored a Style Kill on her.

Intriguing swirls of pale green bug guts and reddish-pink catnip splotched across both sides of the cellar walls in spongy globs. Sophia's wrists flopped lifelessly to her kneeling sides before her body slumped over on her hips. The legions of buggleboos infesting the cellar blanketed her entire motionless figure in a couple of seconds and swiftly went to work shredding apart her skirt laces and unstitching her bodice.

The buggleboo queen watched mighty cheerfully as her children feasted on the fresh cow beef she left out for them. They left nothing but a skeleton, some evidence of a barmaid dress, and a pair of fancy iron revolvers when they scurried away.


Author's note: Gundam Virtue = Heavy weapons support mech armed with glittery green energy-based weapons and protective force fields.

Author's note 2: Virtue Physical = Experimental alternate equipment loadout for Gundam Virtue that replaces all of its glittery weapons with live firearms.

Author's note 3: Sophia Esteed = Nuker black mage healer magical girl who uses glittery elemental-based spells.

Author's note 4: Sophia Physical = Experimental alternate equipment loadout for Sophia Esteed that replaces all of her glittery magic with live firearms. And a huge-ass morning star she carries around on her butt. So she has close range options.

Author's note 5: The experiment failed spectacularly and Sophia wound up becoming the cover art for Borderlands 2.