Our Sister, The Idiot.
A Ranma, Sailor Moon, Dresden Files fic thingy.
By Sunshine Temple
Naturally, I own neither Sailor Moon nor Ranma nor the Dresden Files. So here's the disclaimer:
Ranma 1/2 and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. And the Dresden Files is owned by Jim Butcher.
Previous chapters and other works can be found at my fanfiction website.
Temporary Backup Site.
Other website Temple of Ranma's Senshi Seifuku
C&C as always is wanted.
Our Sister, The Idiot.
Chapter 2: Roughly Foreplay
Entering the alley, I had to control my frustration. It helped that I had experience in, for lack of a better term, "Harry wrangling."
Compared to my brother, who was functionally a Gandalf on cocaine and Monster Energy Drink, the redhead was more manageable. Which... was good?
Though, I hardly had time to grab my gear and weapons. I glanced down the alleyway; there did not seem to be any obvious cameras.
The warehouse wasn't on fire. So if Harry were here, then the fighting had not gotten started in earnest. Though now that I was in the building's deep shadow, that did not seem like a bad idea. Up close, the feeling of bad-mojo was as thick as the cloying spice-like smell of old blood and flesh that had dried out mid-rot.
What a wonderful place to visit after sunset. Though my brother had given me something that could help, maybe.
Nobody in their right mind wanted to be here.
So, of course, the redhead was standing on the second story landing of a fire-escape. The demon leaned against the railing and, given the wall itself was between her and the few streetlights, she was quite well-obscured in shadows. Even her crimson tresses were blending in.
Pulling out Mother's pentacle, I glanced around. Yeah, it was still being pulled to the building. I looked up at her. The retractable ladder was rusted up, the walls were aged but smooth concrete, and even the dumpster was too far to use as a jumping point. I could get up, but not without leaning on my Hunger.
"You smelling anything?" I quietly asked, counting on her hearing to pick up my voice.
"There's definitely a succubus in there, smells familiar but there's... other magic futzing up the smell. Bad stuff," she replied in the same whisper. She had that much professionalism.
I nodded. The dumpster was a dark blue rusted heap that had leaked all sorts of treacly black goo. I was actually relieved that the pentacle was pointing away from it. I gestured to the dumpster inquiringly.
She spread her hands as if to say: be my guest. At least this angle gave me a good view of her legs. Though something seemed different about her skirt.
I sighed. And opened the dumpster. My night vision was good enough that I could see in the meager light offered by the lampposts. It was full of slashed boxes, shredded paper, and dismembered body parts and bones. The predatory part of me gave it a clinical eye, and I saw it for what it was: almost all bovine and porcine.
But not all. Oh, there was nothing so obvious as a human skull or an intact hand or part of a rib cage. But someone experienced with anatomy, be it from the polka doctor's side of the street or my side, would see it for what it was.
So, they only wanted to fool casual garbage collectors. They probably greased a few palms to have the dumpster's contents not looked at too closely. Chicago was both a corrupt and entrepreneurial place, so the various service providers in the "cleaning" business were as cutthroat as they were creative.
Meatpackers in this city had been dicing up bodies for generations. Sure, almost all of them worked on ones that walked on four legs and hooves, but that didn't mean they didn't have generations of experience with bribes and making problems go away.
I took in the age of the various bits. And counted up the number of bodies it would take to fill this dumpster's... sampler pack. Counting all the species, it was quite the feast.
"Yeah, whoever's in the warehouse is catering for quite the group," I stated.
Unsurprised, the demon just nodded.
The question was what had eaten all that meat. Ghouls were always hungry and did not care how fresh their flesh was. And practically every supernatural critter could feed on humans in some way or another.
Coming out of full shadow, she leaned forward on the railing. I could see that she was wearing some sort of grey and olive-drab armored vest laden with pouches and gear, a heavy, stiff pleated skirt, and some type long-antennae-like ribbons sprouting from a dull red gem on her chest.
"Are we still sneaking or is it time to get loud?" she asked as her spade-tipped tail flicked about.
I eyed her getup and sighed. At least my guns and blades were bigger than hers. Though, I was glad I had slung my sawed-off shotgun over a shoulder strap so it hung just inside my coat. Without that, she would have outclassed me given that monstrous pistol strapped to her side was bigger than my Desert Eagle.
I had seen Dresden's armor trick, had spent some time around the fae, and fought the Denarians, thus it was not too shocking to see a demoness shift form and clothes. Though, I was taken aback that a magical girl's outfit could look so... functional.
"Need help getting up?" she asked with a sly smile, pulling a slim phone out of her vest.
"Really?" I exhaled.
Typing in a few things, the demon stepped back and gestured.
Dipping into my own demon, I pulled power and jumped. I might not be as tall as my brother, but I had him beat when it came to a vertical leap. Shooting up, I cleared the fire escape's railing and softly landed on the metal grating.
Eyeing the display, the redhead gave a shrug.
Right. Succubus. Dresden had also gone through some upgrades herself. Empty Night, if that fight with that naughty nurse ninja was half as crazy as Andi said it was, then she had gotten a major upgrade. At least I was still stronger than my little brother.
"Good, I was worried I'd have to carry you up." Ranma smirked, pocketing her device.
"We can't all be extra agile demons."
Giving a contemptuous flick of her tail, the redhead rolled her eyes. "Please, I could have gotten three stories up as a human." She then bounded up to the next flight in utter silence.
Following her up was not an unpleasant experience. She still looked more or less human.
I did have to try to not be the loud and clumsy one as we went from the fire escape to the roof.
Crouching down, nearly invisible in the lee of the parapet that ran around the edge of the flat roof, the demoness scanned the various rooftop machinery, pipes, doors, and murky skylights.
The rank greasy feeling of dark magic increased, sending prickling coldness down my back.
She lifted a hand hold and sniffed the air, gestured towards an access door, and then made the cover-me hand signal. At least I thought it was, hopefully hand gestures matched up as well as our English did.
Following behind a few paces, I watched her inspect the door, run her hand over the frame, and then wait and listen. After a few seconds, she eyed the lock, extended a glowing talon, and inserted it into the keyhole. There was a quiet hiss as metal sheared and she eased the door open a quarter inch.
There was a slight click and some rustle of metal parts, but the hinge didn't squeal. She motioned back for me, and opened the door just enough for her diminutive frame to slip through.
The demoness might be arrogant, but at least she could be professional.
I heard the vampire's footsteps thud behind me. At least he was trying and he was better than BlackStone... not counting when she used magic.
It probably wouldn't take too much training to sharpen his skills. But there wasn't time for that.
The rooftop door went to a set of stairs that went down to a long open space that overlooked the warehouse floor.
Decaying grey cubicle walls were piled to my left, a bunch of battered metal desks were in front of a couple gutted offices on the right, and there was a pile of old chairs by the metal stairs that presumably went down to the ground floor.
The cubicle walls were precariously leaning against a half-wall that acted as the mezzanine's guardrail. Even in the dark, there would have been a commanding view of the warehouse.
Doubtless, that was useful when this place was an active business. Managers could keep an eye on the workers and inventory.
Or maybe the office space was installed up here to free up more floor space on the ground floor.
Either way, I did not simply amble up and check out the view. Despite there being no lights up here, and only dim lights below, going to the edge was a sure way to silhouette oneself and make an obvious target.
My nose wrinkled; the incubus and I were not the only supernatural predators in here.
He had stilled behind me. That is gone utterly still. Handy, that was quiet enough.
I centered myself and took in the scents. The stink of blood and dark magic rose up. It was a mix of types and ages. There were human, not so human, and utterly inhuman scents down there.
However, there was no scent, no feeling of my sister. The closest I got was the smell of succubus blood and a slight... pull.
Voices came up from below. Like the scents there was human, not so human, and utterly inhuman.
"We are not ready," a female, reedy, but human-sounding, voice said.
"You mean, you are not," the flat, not quite human, voice replied. A bit deeper, her tones were stitched together, like a sentence made out of audio clips.
"I am not the only one challenged. This blood is complicated to simulate," the first woman said.
"But delicious," the third voice buzzed. It was female in only the loosest definition, more of a raspy, dry buzz.
"We all have better ways to sate our hungers," the second voice sighed.
"Like the Stygian knows of true Thirst," the third voice laughed.
I could feel Thomas' emotions turn flat. His heartbeat was not racing yet, but his focus was raised, and a bit of fear wafted from him.
Well, there were more people in the room than those three. They were silent, some unnaturally silent.
"My servants need feeding, much as yours," the Stygian sniffed.
"My children," the third clarified.
"Silence. You are both meat for the True Magic," the first voice, smugly stated.
I tensed. This was the challenge: continue to gather intel or go active. The longer we waited, the more we learned. But that came with risks: we could get discovered. And surprise was crucial when dealing with magic folks.
There was also that the longer we waited, the worse things could be for our sister, but since neither of us could hear her mouthing off, she was either not here, or unconscious, or...
I concentrated and drew in focus. My father's legacy was not perfect; it was not quite the stealth spells my little sister could do, but it was impressive in its own right.
"Meat? It has been a long time since I, or one of my line, have been called meat, Macellaia," the third voice buzzed.
"Doubtful, that corpse is what two decades old?" Macellaia, the first voice, laughed. "Please vampire, I know bodies, and yours has just started to age. You lean too heavily on your sire."
"Mavra has done more with your master's legacy than you ever will," the buzzing voice hissed.
"Do not speak of Kemmler that way!"
"Stop! We are getting distracted; do not fight the Macellaia," the Stygian stated. "Today's test was a failure."
"Not entirely. The Stygian Sisterhood does teach plodding but reasonable spell-casting. And we got some connection on the apparatus," Macellaia stated.
"And that is why it is a failure. My minions have earned their meat today, they confirmed that our target is not in the city," the Stygian's voice was calm, if uneven. There might have been a grumble of a moan from her minions, or perhaps one of the other woman's goons.
The vampire gave a raspy chuckle. "Thus our little toy could not have worked."
"Unless our target has found books other than the Word." the Macellaia murmured.
"We have no conformation," the vampire stated.
"That was before the wizard became one of them."
"Regardless. We have no evidence she is using any of the True Art to baffle our methods." the Stygian said.
"Yes, and in that case any connections would be anomalous. By the Night," Macellaia swore.
I frowned. If our sister were the target of their little magic-whatever, then that meant she was no longer in the city. Which meant someone else had gotten her out of Chicago.
That also meant that this little cabal was aware of Thomas' bout of thaumaturgy. Something that could simulate as our sister's pentacle, and required simulating her blood. That was a reasonable supposition, her winter fae nature gave her blue, and delicious, blood.
The trio was a danger. Pattern V's had a range of capabilities depending on type. The Stygian, well... the title alone was ominous, and there was something wrong with her. Both she and the vampire had minions, hungry minions. And the Macellaia. A human in this snakepit?
One who had skills on crafting a magical item, and the ability to analyze thaumaturic connections, who was an expert with blood and corpses? The whole "True Magic" was also a bit of a clue.
"Still, we can figure out what we were connecting to, and refine our model. Mindful that our blood supplies are finite," Macellaia's tone sharpened.
"Of that type of blood," the vampire allowed.
"There is something, familiar... ah, still we have plenty of work," the Stygian said. "Macellaia, can you pinpoint the problem?"
I did not like that pause. I glanced back to Thomas, then, looking forward, made a couple hand motions.
"Yes, perhaps with some help," Macellaia said.
But I was sure that was just cover. They were suspicious. Something had set them off.
There was no reason to lose the element of surprise.
Drawing, I bounded over the railing. I had a bare moment to get eyes on the trio: the Stygian, the Vampire, the Macellaia. I also had another moment to study their retinues.
The Stygian was a dark-haired tall woman of surprising beauty in a green suit. The Vampire was a desiccated corpse, it wore a rotted dress that seemed to have once had sequins and broad shoulders and had faded to a grey no-color.
The Macellaia was a pixyish, almost cute, woman with a ash-blonde pageboy and bright sweater and a set of tights. They stood around a large magic circle that bore a set of blue crystals and little vials of red blood and other fluids.
I lined up the glowing sights on my target.
I fired three shots and then followed up with a sustained burst of purple light from my eyes. I already was lined up.
I had a moment of satisfaction seeing the Macellaia's chest blow apart just before her head was sliced by burning beams.
When in doubt: kill the lead spellslinger first.
The others reacted and everything went to hell.
At least the crazy redhead had the courtesy of giving me notice before she decided to go all kung fu movie.
I'm an incubus and no slouch when it comes to a fight. Clearing the wall and managing the fall were trivial. I caught a brief bit of recognition in the Stygian's face as I gave her both barrels of my shotgun.
The presence of one of her kind made this an Oblivion matter, and made my job a lot more of a challenge. The operative word in the phrase "Secret War" is secret.
Alas, things were not quite so much of a kung fu movie and the impact did not fling Stygian the backwards. Two loads of 12 gauge buckshot is a lot force, but not enough to propel a body. There was a reddish splash and flare around her that might have been blood or might have been magic of some kind.
I was a bit distracted when the Black Court Vampire's minions and the Stygian's ghouls charged in. The common muscle for hire in the supernatural world, ghouls were stronger than humans and far more ravenous.
There was a bitter laugh as I gave the demon a quick glance. "You wanted 'real' vampires?" I asked holding my empty shotgun in one hand and the handle to my cavalry saber in the other.
Making a vaguely apologetic grunt, the redhead called down some kind of fire magic as a group of obsidian and purple spheres blew apart the magic circle of blood containing giant silver pentacle inscribed in the center. Between that and the necromancer she dropped, her instincts weren't bad.
"Tourists," I snorted, stepping a bit further from her. I had seen some of the additions to Harry's fighting style, or maybe my brother was taking Murphy's lessons to heart.
Giving the redhead some space seemed... prudent. I checked my jacket pocket, if we needed some light, I had us covered.
The redhead tilted her head. "I should have asked for something interesting..."
The corpse in the rotted, tattered 80's dress gave a dry rasp. "I don't care who you are little girl! I'm going to-"
"Suck my blood?" Ranma's grin grew as her lips parted. Teeth gleamed in the dank warehouse as her stance shifted slightly. Her eyes took on the motley crew of swaying corpses and thralls.
Pulling herself up, the Stygian held up a hand and stared at me as her ghouls pulled her bleeding form back to her feet. Yeah... we had met. Great... I had killed a few of her sisters, that made this personal. I managed to reload.
"A baby frog still with its tail, says 'I'm lucky' in the face of the serpent," the demon growled, as her eyes flashed. Horns slid out and her wings and tail appeared..
"Harry said you didn't quip much," I muttered, which caused her to chuckle. It was a deep unnerving noise that shouldn't come from such a tiny woman.
The Black Court vampire blinked clouded, glassy eyes. "What? You're-" he hissed.
"You done goofed." And that's when the crazy redhead laughed as she charged a Scourge of Black Court vampires. I'd like to think the brazen insanity of it caught them off guard and slowed their reaction, but I barely had enough time to raise my shotgun before the vampire goons shot into motion.
The Stygian's ghouls came in right behind leaving the vampire's human fodder, her Renfields, charging just behind.
I'm going to state it clearly for the record. Do not get into close quarter combat with Black Court Pattern V's. If you can avoid it. Avoid it.
They have weaknesses. Like, the classic vampire ones.
Take advantage of them.
However, I was frustrated and wanted to take it out on these magical clods. The primary spellslinger was down, but the other two had some ability.
The vampire's minions were fast. They were still fresh, mostly wet, with only a bit of bloat and decay. The smell was rank, but could have been worse. A trio tried to box me in. My tail lashed out slicing a hand apart before lancing through a dirty jumpsuit and spilling out entrails and viscera.
Filmy eyes looked in confusion but it didn't react with any pain. I twisted away and flensed its face off with my tail. With flashing speed, its remaining hand snapped forward and managed to grab my tail a few centimeters from the tip
It was like being squeezed by a hydraulic press. I extended my filaments and, twisting the end of my tail, the other arm came apart. Though some fingers from the shredded hand were still trying to hold on.
Despite the horrific damage, the creature was still ambulatory. But its sense of sight and smell had to have been damaged.
Giving guttural growls the two other "fresh" vampires bounded forward like a freight train. One wore another drab jumpsuit, the other was in a brown security guard's uniform.
The former guard looked at his bloodied and flensed, but mobile companion, and leered with yellowed, malformed teeth. "You'll have to do more than-"
I spun over and slammed a boot into his knee. Supercharged though they may be, these vampires were still using human joint structure. His leg buckled as the whole force of my body hit the side of his knee.
The vampire was stronger than me, but that one joint was not stronger than my entire body.
There was a wet pop and that leg gave way.
There was a blur and I dropped out of his gnashing teeth. My arm went up but blocking was impossible, he had too much strength, instead I pushed my forearm against his neck.
The action did less to move him and more to force me away.
He wobbled, but I had enough distance. Hissing, he glanced back down at his wrecked leg.
I exploited the pause shouting, "DarkStar Burst!" and blew apart his other knee.
The vampire howled as he flopped to the ground. The fresh one in the other jumpsuit just bounded over him.
My vampire shouted something, and then got of a few more shots from his scattergun. Wow, the scent of ghoul guts was actually more disgusting than that of a fresh Black Court vampire.
The lead vampire and her Stygian friend were up to something.
"Thomas back!" I yelled as he did some fairly competent blade work. Clutching my hands, I summoned a brace of DarkStar Bursts, full power ones this time.
After the orbs flew off, flames flew around me. The fresh vampire goon attacked once more. Motion blurred and I went with the blow just enough to be knocked back. It hurt like being bounced off a car, but was better than being crushed between a car and a brick wall.
Screaming as blood poured out from my lips, I angled my arm down, focused, and shot out a lance of fire. Wet bloated meat sizzled and peeled back. After a moment bone broke and charred out and the creature's withered heart exploded as the purple jet blasted out its back.
Face going slack, the vampire slumped down. The purple flames chewed through more of his chest before I cut them out.
Back and to my left, Thomas' sword swung down and took the head from the one I had rendered legless.
The ravening, slavering human minions and the remaining ghouls advanced. The latter had pulled out some cheap Eastern European sub gun. Behind them was the master vampire and her Stygian friend.
My eyes darted down and I swore. I wanted to hit those two, but I knew which targets were the immediate priority. A rain of black orbs slammed into the gunmen and their ghouls. Silver flames and black and purple napalm struck home and they died messily. At least I got a bit of energy from them.
And that's when the Stygian and her friend made their move.
Bands of compressed air fell around my torso and legs squeezing them; it felt like being squeezed by a giant hand. I flashed out with my eyes and scoured over those two.
The spell released but not before the flayed vampire grabbed me. And I felt what it was like to truly be crushed. My armor distorted, ribs shattered, and limbs broke. One arm went down and I yowled as my femurs snapped. He tried to bite down, but I had sort of removed his jaw and most of his face.
Fortunately, he was much taller than me. And was distracted. Thomas came in and with his saber removed the vampire's head. The undead thing was still treating me like a toothpaste tube as my vision started to go spotty and tunnel.
My tail flicked up and went into the gaping stomach wound and shredded upward and flicked about until it found the heart.
The vampire's arms went loose and my tail flicked out in a rain of rotted gore. I also fell to my knees in a boneless heap. Thomas grabbed the handle on the back of my armor and started dragging me away.
"Empty Night," I swore pulling the groggy demon lady and trying to reload my shotgun one-handed.
Okay groggy was being generous. She looked like she had been hit by a bus and then run over by it. And the blood trail she was leaving was very obvious. Still, I had pulled us to a back room of the warehouse by the loading dock.
Upside, she had managed to clear out most of the goons. And the Stygian and her Black Court friend were not happy. Downside, I could hear more goons coming inside. They smelled human at least. Mostly.
Renfields were psychotic nightmares. Enthralled humans with utterly broken minds and nothing left but homicidal violence. But... well it could be worse.
Meanwhile, I had a bloody mess on my hands.
Who was now starting to chuckle.
"Give me that," she demanded, snatching my shotgun away she fished a few shells out of my jacket pocket and snapped them into the breach before passing the scattergun back up.
Her earrings flashed and her breathing got a bit less ragged.
After I pulled her a few more steps her feet started to scrabble and her boots gained purchase.
"Thanks," she glanced up at me, purple eyes luminous. She gave a few deep breaths that had an ominous rattle to them. Then she coughed and horked up a bloody mass of gristle and chunks of bone.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"I'm hungry, you doof," she growled. Her face was grey and her cheeks were hollowed as if she were half starved. Which... she probably was.
"Right," I checked my shotgun and my Desert Eagle. I glanced at the giant pistol strapped to her thigh. It figures it was these girls who got my dorky brother more ammo for her giant revolver.
"No Dresden," I added.
She gave me a flat gaze.
"No, I don't mean we can apologize and they'll let us go."
The demoness rolled a shoulder and ruffled a wing. There were a lot of clicking pops from her joints. Giving me a dirty look, she reached into her vest.
"And no, I don't think we should sneak out and forget about these folks. They're bad news. There was a reason my spell connected to this place. They've got some sort of nasty bit of thaumaturgy planned for our sister."
"And you know the Stygian," the redhead pulled out a slip of paper with a smirk.
Empty Night. Why did she have to be observant? "Yeah, I've tangled with them. Nasty group, they cut out bits of their personalities and replace them with psyches from monsters. They might have a beef with Harry too. He sort of bumbled into one of their schemes, not that he knew it at the time."
I was not going to go into any more detail. The Oblivion War was not something you mentioned to well... anyone. I was twitchy sharing information with other Venators, and that was not just because my sister Lara was the only one I really had any contact with.
The whole nature of the Oblivion War centered around locking down certain information. That was the point. I'll just point out that while that immortals, gods, are nigh invulnerable to physical damage, they grow in power the more mortals know of them and worship them.
Draw your own conclusions about how a group fighting a war of secrets and information denial could hurt such beings. And now consider why a demon from another dimension seemed like one of the worst people to talk to about said war.
I then noticed the intricately folded slip of paper in the redhead's hand. Flowing Japanese characters were written on it and the pure white paper seemed to glow in the gloom. At the top of the paper streamer was a silver nail.
I blinked at her. "Really?"
She gave me a quizzical look, then sniffing the air gave a toothy grin.
My response was cutoff when a blurred figure trailing dull sequins like a drab comet bust out into the room.
The other vampires were fast and terminator strong. But they were fresh, still wet. Recent turns. The leader of this scourge had been around for two or three decades.
I had seen older Black Court Vampires, but I was not reckless enough to directly fight them. Still, there was an edge I could give in this fight.
The redhead was slower than the vampire, but she had a grace and economy of motion to slip past the vampire's attacks. Between the Ginsu demonstration using claws and tail, the laser eye and fireball death show and even favoring one hand, the succubus managed to keep the vampire from landing a blow.
Though in return, the vampire also largely avoided the demon's attacks and seemed to be far tougher with a body as hard as jerky, or old lumber.
I was a bit distracted by another group of Renfields, a few were smart enough to have grabbed the bloody guns the ghouls had tried to use. Their focus was on the flickeringly-fast fight that was not-so-slowly setting the room aflame.
The redhead twisted and put the vampire between herself and the subguns. One ghoul blazed away and dumped his mag off, with most of the rounds hitting the ceiling. The other used controlled bursts but still seemed to land more rounds in the vampire than the demon.
Not that either seemed to care. Must have been some kind of small pistol round. That or the demon's armor had some sort of advanced impact plates. Still, when they changed mags, that was the one I aimed my shotgun at, using both rounds to blow away everything above the collarbones.
The other I raced up to and ran through with my saber. I reached into my pocket and my hand felt soft, slightly warm silk. I was about to throw it.
And that's when the Stygian stepped out of the shadows I was hit by a web of greasy dark energy.
I hit the ground and thrashed. Great... she wanted me alive.
The vampire laughed and slowing down to speak turned to Ranma her withered face lit up. "Little phage do you not know the bounty of blood you dropped-"
There was a slap as the demoness had used the base of her palm to hammer the nail and the prayer strip right into the vampire's forehead.
The creature's eyes seemed to turn cross-eyed and it made a move to tear the strip away. "Fool, you need faith to-"
And that's when the strip blew into blinding silver-light. The vampire screamed as her face started to sizzle and she locked up.
The demoness bounded up and with the vampire yowling and thrashing in place, kicked her in the chest. There was a cracking noise like twigs and sticks and several bones in the dried corpse snapped.
On the follow through of the strike, she leveraged a claw down and raked it, slicing apart the gown and the shattered ribs. The silver light began to dim and the vampire surged forward.
Right onto the demon's outreached hand. A pair of black orbs shot out. One hitting the vampire exploding in flaming shards. The pierced black heart burst into flames and the vampire flopped to the ground as the other orb flew off towards the ceiling.
Older Black Court vampires were rather dry and could go up quickly. This one gave the scent of old rawhide, and the chemical rank of pressure treated wood.
The demoness stepped over the charring corpse and pointed at the Stygian.
Flat-eyed, the woman twisted and put up a sickly yellow energy shield about the size of a buckler as if to block anything coming from demon's finger.
Three more of the jump suited vampires shuffled out of the shadows and stood a few steps behind the Stygian. Dirt hung to them in clumps. They must have slept in a bit past sunset. Their dead eyes looked at the burning form of its sire with seemingly no emotion.
The Black Court had an even more messed up "family" dynamic than the White Court.
That... somber moment was interrupted by that black orb with its purple flames returning in a downward stroke.
The vampires hissed, their eyes turning yellow, and with a jerky movement the ragged figures threw themselves between the demonic orb and their new mistress.
The orb twisted its trajectory but it was too late to avoid all of them and it blew a large chunk out of the one vampire's shoulder, cut off the top of another's head, and left the last one's arm hanging by a strip of ropey muscle. They snarled and charged at the demoness while the Stygian pulled back to the flames.
Flicking her fingers, the Stygian smirked before she vanished from view. "And the Macellaia thought I wasn't intelligent enough to lean some of her tricks."
My breathing got better as the spell binding me began to fade. My hand was still in my coat pocket, but now I could draw out my brother's gift. She had been very eager to show it off last week. And while Dresden did not say anything specific, she's a wizard; they can't not be cryptic when it comes to giving magical items.
I grabbed and threw the white silk handkerchief. It fluttered in the air. And for a split second both the demon and the black court vampires seemed to freeze in mid-air.
Then it bloomed into warm golden light. It wasn't the silvery light of faith. That was not my cup of tea. No, it was actual sunlight. Dresden had a way of capturing and storing the stuff.
The three vampires screamed and their skin started to sizzle. Their attention split between me, the hanky, and the demoness.
It was all the opportunity she needed. Whipping out another prayer strip, she jumped over the mini-scourge and nailed it to the head of the vampire in the back, who was the most shaded from the sunlight.
His scream grew, but I was already up with my saber and went right after the one closest to me. That unfortunate former security guard took the full brunt of the sunlight and was clawing at its face. Both the clawed fingers were smoking, and its eye sockets were smoking holes. My saber took off both its head and hands.
That left the one in the middle, which the redhead hit with another prayer strip while burning through the chest cavity of the first one.
I readied my sword for another strike on the middle vampire. But found that the combination of sunlight and faith magic had caused it to crumble. I still took its head. And stomped the ashen remains of its chest.
"Damn Red, we've still gotta get the Stygian but..." I trailed off when I saw that the demon had crouched over one of the Renfields. At first I thought she was trying to relieve the corpse of its gun.
But then I saw the blood on her face and heard the familiar sounds of flesh being sliced apart and chewing. Her tail flicked about and she lowered head in and took a few bites as she economically ripped out some organs.
"Tastes a bit funny," she noted then casually ripped a chunk of flesh of the other Renfield and ate that.
"Maybe it's from hanging around with ghouls and other nasty creatures that'll happily eat us," I stated.
"Maybe," she ate a few more organs and stood up, wiping her mouth. "Oh sorry, you want any?" she asked waving a chunk of liver.
"Uh, not exactly my taste," I sighed.
"Right, because he's already dead," she noted, chowing down. I did wonder how someone so small could pack it all in. Though a bit of her color did seem to return, and she looked less... gaunt.
"Sure, let's go with that," I picked up the handkerchief; its glow had started to fade.
"Come on let's finish off the Stygian, then! You get first dibs," the redhead slapped me on the back.
You would think a vampire wouldn't be so squeamish. Especially, one who helped my little sister on so many missions.
Still, he was capable, despite the hunger I could readily feel eliminating from him. It was... well it did not help that I was hungry too.
I paused to spit. Even by the bland standards of human meat, they were a bit off. Maybe it was as Thomas said.
Maybe, it was due to their bosses doing something to them.
Either way, we were down to one of them left and we ran to catch up to her.
The smoke got thicker as we ran back towards the main room of the warehouse. I crouched down, both for cover and because the air was better.
The taller vampire had a bit harder of a time.
Maybe that helped sooth his pride when I pulled ahead of him. Longer legs and vampire super-strength are all well and good, but practice is what makes the difference.
There's no innate physicality or skill level that cannot be sharpened by proper training. I'm sure my proper and pedantic sister could cite beings of such power or complete knowledge that there'd be no realistic enhancement from training.
But a pretty-boy vampire in too-tight pants ain't one of them. Still, I knew he was squared-away enough to not accidentally shoot me in the back when things went sideways. That said despite being crushed my armor was still in good shape, thanks Mom. And I did have a plate in back between my wings that would block his weapons.
I sent off a pair of DarkStar Bursts to scout ahead. There was a reception area on the ground floor underneath and past the mezzanine. There was less fire there. Mostly due to the work of a couple ghouls with a handful of fire extinguishers.
But it was what the Stygian was doing that made me smirk and give a couple hand-signals to Thomas. Ambushes were fun.
My little sister has some very good advice on Primes, on spellslingers. Granted, most of it is advice for spellslingers. But to become proficient in a technique requires learning its counters.
And for most all magic users the primary issue is time. The longer they have to prepare the more devastating they can be. This is even true for extemporaneous casters.
And by that I, and not any nosy sisters editing this, mean is people like Pattern Silvers, Pattern D's, or any other group with a magical ability that is functionally innate.
Honestly, giving someone without any magical ability time to prepare makes them more dangerous. The difference is that a Prime, a Practitioner can summon, literally, all sorts of hazards.
Which is why when my orbs flittering among the flames detected our target stopping and taking a stand, instead of doing the sensible thing and exiting the building...
I exited the building.
Unable to keep a grin off my face, I slipped out a fire door. It was appropriate. Though from the drag marks, it looked like the warehouses residents were using it as a way to dispose of their leftovers. The door dropped us into the same alley this mess had started in.
Thomas gave me a confused look and I wagged a finger and shook my head. Of course I wasn't running.
The main entrance was around the side of the building. There were a few sirens and blaring alarms, but not much else. Which seemed about right for this part of this city. Smoke was streaming out of the roof in several places, and the scent of various building materials starting to burn filled the air.
The road was open in front of the building. No sound of running cars. No one outside. Empty street.
My vampire had followed behind me. Good.
My DarkStar Bursts had floated a bit higher and further away, just enough to see that the Stygian had her spell ready, and that even ghouls got a bit twitchy when standing in a burning building.
But they were in the reception area, and the exit was right behind them. They were almost out, escape was at hand.
Realization dawning, Thomas gave a wolfish smile. And I motioned for him to take a position behind a car a dozen meters away from the front doors.
I held up a hand then began to count down. When it hit zero I lowered all but one of my DarkStar Bursts to about chest height and sent them on a straight horizontal at the Stygian.
Her shield flashed as the orbs were disturbed and there was a booming retort as she loosed her spell down that fatal funnel.
Impressively, she turned back, grabbed a backpack and motioned to her ghouls. The two remaining goons opened the doors.
I held a hand to Thomas in a waiting motion, and I could feel the vampire's irritation.
Then there was the sound of a revving vehicle racing down the road. It was out of sight but someone was approaching hot.
Thomas' quiet expletive-laden muttering all but confirmed he had prior experience with the Stygian Sisterhood. Fine.
Motioning to him, I pointed to the entrance then I pointed to the road.
His shotgun roared and he pounced.
With a jump I was in midair. And with a flap of my wings I gained more altitude. And got onto the side of the warehouse before grabbing the edge of the roof.
And then spotting the speeding truck come in, I immediately pushed off and took to the air again.
An advantage of an industrial area after dark was that the roads were pretty empty.
A drab truck, marginally luxury vehicle, was being driven at reckless speed. I sniffed the air, maybe there was something inhuman in there, but between the smoke and everything else I could not be sure.
They did speed up when they saw that a gunfight had started on the stairs of the warehouse.
I adjusted my trajectory before I pulled my wings back, extended my claws, and hit the roof. Without a solid target identification, launching a ranged attack seemed unwise. The vehicle immediately swerved and slammed on the brakes.
If this was an unmarked police car that happened to be responding to a building on fire, then things would get awkward.
I scrambled over and was rewarded by a snarling ghoulish face in the driver's seat where the passenger had the window rolled down and was trying to lean another of those little Eastern-bloc subguns out the window.
Instead of waiting for him to get a sensible angle and a half-way decent aim, I smashed the side window and landed in the lap of the ghoul at the wheel. These two stunk like carrion and he immediately snapped at me.
I blocked with my left elbow into his jaw just to the side of the joint, breaking it, while my tail whipped around and sliced through his torso.
Screaming, he flailed and tried to grab at me, I twisted and moved my elbow from his jaw and raked my claws through the passenger's neck. His head came off in a messy gush, adding more of the stench of their reeking blood.
The driver's arms still reached for me. My left hand grabbed his left hand twisted his wrist past the point of rotation and broke his elbow while I stomped on his crotch and sheared through his upper arm with the return stroke of the claws on my right hand.
Despite basically straddling his battered stinking body, the ghoul tried to attack. I was not sure if he wanted to head butt me or try to bite, despite having a broken jaw, but my patience was at an end.
Twisting to face the windshield and taking the wheel, I flicked my tail and ran it through his neck straight from trachea to spine. The energy from their deaths was as greasy and filthy as the rest of them. My gorge rose a bit.
It was crammed sharing the driver's seat with a corpse. I suppose that was an advantage of being short. Looking out, I smiled. In the second or two it took to take over the car, it had only wobbled a bit.
Adjusting our direction and pumping the deadman's foot on the gas reversed the deceleration. I wanted more speed.
Thomas was in trouble. That smirking Stygian stood over her last two minions. One was defiantly down by the vampire's hand the other... well judging by the yellow tendrils going from it to the Stygian.
And then my introspection was cut short by over a ton of truck slamming into what was a mostly human body. Kinetic energy is kinetic energy. And unless your shields are truly impressive, you are going to notice that.
I caught a instant of the Stygian being rammed as the hood of the truck was dented a bit by her before it crushed the woman against the wall. And then the airbag went off and blasted me back into the dead ghoul in a bloody heap.
I blinked. Reloading the shotgun, my hands shook a bit. I blew apart the head of the still living ghoul, finishing him off. And for good measure did the same to the desiccated one the Stygian had been using as a battery.
I turned and saw the wrecked truck which had missed me by mere feet. It was crumpled up against the wall with the Stygian reduced to a chunky smear splattered over the hood.
The four doors of the truck were warped, and the remaining windows were crazed, but I could see it was full of blood in various shades, mostly ghoul brown.
The windows to the front doors were down, or gone. And I saw a charnel house. The powder and residue from the air bags made the thing look worse. Then one of the bodies extricated herself and tumbled out of the window hole in a tight roll.
The succubus coughed, her face looking nauseous as the interior of the truck started to burn.
"You okay?" I knelt down.
She gave me another look. There was a popping noise as she rotated her joints. She seemed to suffer mostly from blunt trauma. Whatever her armor was made out of there were no punctures from it due to the crash. If anything the bear hug from a Black Court vamp hurt her more.
She looked past and nodded at the two ghouls I had killed "Make sure the Stygian's down."
I eyed her but stood up and looked over the body. She was dead, but I still took care of her head and her backpack.
After checking the bag and sighing at the slim volume within, I went back to the redhead. Honestly, if the Stygian Sisterhood wanted to release the Lexicon Malos there were better ways. Then again, my brother was more than a Warden. What if her demonic side of the family got a hold of this book? And they learned about the entities described within?
Shaking my head, I returned to the redhead. She was busy vomiting on the sidewalk. It was a chunky mess that stank almost as much as all the ghouls.
Ah, the glamour and allure of succubae. She could really pack it away.
At first I wondered how such a little thing could eat so much. Now I knew, and I utterly regret ever thinking the question.
She pulled out a canteen and snarled at its crushed and ruptured container. Slipping it back into her harness she leaned back on the side of the truck. "So, what next?" she asked, wiping at her mouth.
"We should probably get away from the burning building and avoid being around when the police show up," I said.
"Right." She shook her head. "No contract with local authorities."
I raised an eyebrow at that. Harry said the redhead was some sort of contractor for a bunch of mercenaries, in addition to a magical demon girl, and her outfit did bear that out but...
"Come on, you can rummage through the stuff you grabbed in there," she nodded to the backpack I held and started walking down the street in the vague direction of my truck.
She pulled out a phone, tried to power it on, tapped it for a bit, sighed, and slipped it back into a pouch. "Stupid magic," she sighed and took a small cylinder out of a pouch and tossed it onto the hood of the car in front of the Stygian's body. There was a pop and a hiss and a termite charge went off which soon caught the body and engine aflame.
Well, someone was being thorough.
"I take it your magic doesn't do that?" I asked, keeping an eye out as we went down the street. As we had just shown, ambushing when trying to flee the scene was a classic move.
The redhead shook her head and started checking over her body.
I smiled a bit, mostly because I kept a spare phone in my truck, for just such occasions.
I watched as the demoness continued her self pat-down, until it dawned on me that she was checking for wounds. Well, serious wounds I suppose. Given the car accident had battered her about quite a bit, not to mention the injuries before that.
"Well, that was a bust," she growled, kicking a chunk of brick.
"And we should really get going," I said.
She eyed the burning building and truck for a few moments then shrugged and started walking to where I had parked, like in full demonic magical mercenary regalia right on the street.
I sighed and followed her. If the police ran into us, she probably wouldn't cause much of a scene...
Her tail lazily swished as her wings fluttered.
Right, she'd just fly off and leave me to get captured and interrogated. Course, my sister would hear word of it, as would Karin Murphy's cronies in Special Investigations, and I wouldn't be in too much trouble.
"Can you be a bit more low-key?" I hissed in her ear when we got to my truck.
The demon rolled her luminous purple eyes and there was a shimmer of violet light and shadows and she was back in her leather coat and pants. She looked a bit gaunt but had been freshened up. Even her hair had regained its body and bounce.
My Hunger made itself more known. That she was lethal did make her more sexy. However to my dismay, I realized that my own clothes were still a mess. Stains from ghouls and undead ruined fabric.
Worse, the redhead wrinkled her nose a bit.
"Laugh it up."
She shook her head. "Not that, I'm used to the smell of sweaty guys after a fight." The redhead chuckled to herself with another head-shake. "No, it's that fire."
I turned back to the building. The smoke was getting rather thick, and I could hear more sirens. "This is your fault."
Without any guilt or shame, she simply shrugged. At least Harry would be embarrassed or make excuses.
Sighing, I unlocked my truck and dug into the box I kept spare phones in. I was going to have to call my older sister about this and not just the fire.
"Though there's one thing we should check," the redhead added.
End Chapter 2
Dresden has a knack for collecting enemies, often without being aware of them. But this gave Thomas and Ranma a chance to bond. And each to see how much the other has in common with their erstwhile sibling.
I'd like to thank the prereaders for their help in this project: J St C Patrick, DCG, Kevin Hammel, and Ellf. Special thanks to J St C Patrick for going through this so it can be a Halloween treat. The other 2 parts are written and are just being edited right now.
And from Patrick we have Dresden's second choice of gift to Thomas
Well given FFnet's limits I can't actually put a link on it but the Fukufics forum or my DA account could have links to it.
Bonus it'll clean his clothes after getting icky ghoul blood on them.
It takes the ick out of magic!
And that long form essay that documents the structure and organization of the Imperial Legions and Household Fleet of House BlackSky? It's at 44,000 words and 27 sections. So there is a lot about BlackSky's legionaries and airships. Complimenting that are a fair number of diagrams and charts of the various units, vehicles, and airship classes.