I died. I died and went to hell. Why else would my first real enemy be a giant monster made of shit?
Prisca flew to the side, evading the… dripping strike. Unfortunately, she was not fast enough to evade the splash of fecal matter that splattered her all over.
Running on a strange kind of instinct, Prisca rose up into the air and above the towering enemy (he – she, it? – was at least sixty feet tall) and then higher still, out of reach of its disproportionally long arms – they were each longer than it was tall.
I can fly, she thought with a start, feeling her heart speed up in excitement. For a moment, she forgot even the monster beneath as an unrestrained laugh bubbled out of her throat.
I can fly!
She spun on the spot, like a ballerina, her scarlet half-skirt whirling up around her.
I can’t wait to show this to mom! And Rosalind! Their eyes will drop out of their sockets!
Just then, a huge glob of fecal matter slammed into her.
She was knocked out of the air, but caught herself quickly, as the brown stuff just slid off her armor without leaving so much as a stain.
Perma-Clean armor. Awesome.
Catching herself – it was incredible how easily she could control this body and its power, like it had always been there, just waiting to be used – she looked down at her quarry, evading another lobbed mass of fecal matter.
How do I fight that thing?
She wasn’t sure what to do – it was bigger than her, it was most probably stronger than her and she didn’t know how much punishment she could take. Or how it could backlash into her real body – any trauma, no matter how small, was quite likely to kill her.
Drifting to her right, she evaded another shot. The monster seemed to mostly focus on her now, hopefully allowing Gloom Glimmer to get the survivors to safety.
Should I attack it? Or just keep distracting it? Just float up here, evading its shots…
There was something… something Basil had said, once.
When you don’t know how to proceed, choose the option that involves doing something.
She aimed her spear at where she believed the center of the beast to be. Stretching her body out to aim directly at it like a missile, she flew towards it, the silver edge of her golden spear gleaming in the sun.
It looks more like a sword on a spear than a real spear, really.
BigShit threw another glob of shit at her, but she flew through without losing a beat and plunged into its chest.
Her spear pierced through the shit, of course, then bit into flesh and bone and tendons, parting them as she pushed inside. Only when her armored body hit its actual flesh did she slow down, but she swung the spear, parting flesh and bone and sinew, cutting a way through BigShit’s body until she emerged on the other side.
She wasn’t even tired, and her spear had cut through it like through warm butter.
This body is freaking awesome. This power is freaking awesome!
She was so lost in revering her own power that she didn’t evade BigShit’s elbow strike, and he smacked her into the ground several hundred feet away.
Landing with a crash, she tore a fissure into the ground and broke through a tree before coming to a stop.
Ow. That hurt. A lot.
But she was, as far as she could tell, unharmed. Weird. Felt like I broke something, only I… didn’t.
“Are you alright?”
“Eeep!” She jumped up from the ground as a soft voice spoke to her from outside her field of vision.
Whirling around, she levelled her spear at… a young woman in a black cowl and robe, with a blood-red right hand.
“Who’re you!?” she asked the newcomer.
The woman giggled, and Prisca adjusted her estimate of her age down to teenager – maybe around her own age.
“I’m Phasma, and I’m here to help. Who’re you?” she said, her voice throaty and soft. She talked like she was just taking a stroll on a sunny day, and not standing just a hundred feet away from the giant monster that was coming closer with every moment.
“Uhh, I’m…” She didn’t have a cape yet. She so needed a name for her… well, herself really. “Call me… Gilgul. Yes, that fits.”
The other girl nodded. “Nice to meet you, Gilgul.” She turned to look towards the enemy, her face still hidden by her cowl. “You can cut that thing apart?”
“Uh, yes. But it doesn’t seem to really hurt it.” BigShit had shown now sign of being bothered by having been pierced through.
“We’ve fought a few others who seemed to be able to just absorb damage to no end. Most of them had some manner of core which, once destroyed, caused their death – or at least caused their regeneration to stop working, allowing for them to be taken down,” said Phasma. “I can blast away the shit and the outer layer of its body. If you’re fast enough, you should be able to locate and destroy the core.”
She looked at the beast with a doubtful expression on her face (not that Phasma could see that behind the helmet). “What if it doesn’t have a core?”
Phasma shrugged carelessly. “Then we do it the hard way. You keep cutting it to pieces, I get rid of the pieces. Until there’s nothing left.”
“What’s your power, anyway?”
The other girl turned to look at her, and somehow Prisca got the feeling that she was smirking. “Let me demonstrate. Stand ready.”
And with that, her robe dropped to the ground, suddenly empty.
Prisca saw a distortion in the air, roughly the size of a person, fly towards the fecal monster. As it did so, it grew and grew, until it was an amorphous shape of distorted air the size of a truck. And then it touched their enemy.
Wherever it came into contact with it, the fecal matter exploded, going up in flames and sound and force. Phasma pushed on, drawing her ‘body’ over the outer layer of the beast, literally blowing the shit and other bits off of it.
Holy Sh- Holy Hell’s Freakin’ Bells.
Within seconds, Phasma had literally blown the shit out (or rather, off) the monster, revealing it in all its twisted glory – it looked like a gaunt human, only it was all crooked bones, oozing and infected muscles, sinews and incomprehensible organs.
But nothing that looked like a core of some sort.
“Phasma! Can you blow more off?” she shouted, readying her spear and ready to fly away – BigShit was staggered, but it was still advancing with single-minded determination.
Until Phasma wrapped around its right knee, her ghost-body blowing muscle, sinew and ‘fresh’ shit off the bones with dozens upon dozens of explosions, until the lower leg came free and BigShit dropped to land on its left knee and right stump.
I hope I never have to fight her. Wouldn’t know how, for one.
Phasma went back to blowing the outer layers off of its body, as well as the fecal matter it kept oozing out of countless orifices (as well as any wounds she created), searching for the theoretical core.
Should I join in and cut it up, or wait for her to reveal the core?
She thought about it for all of maybe three seconds, before she heeded Basil’s advice and charged in, aiming her spear at the twisted, oozing mass that was probably its head.
* * *
*Smack* *Smack* *Smack*
She danced through the lines, her staff swinging left and right, shattering bones and bursting flesh.
A three-fer, downing three of the strange spawns they were fighting, each looking like some kind of greasy pig-man. They could see their spawner, an incredibly obese woman with no hair on her body and blue-black veins running visibly under her swollen, greasy skin. She was literally pushing out another three or four or five of these every few seconds and her ‘children’ went immediately to work, attacking everything that was not one of them or their mother.
Tyche ducked underneath their swiping claws and swung her staff left and right, shattering two knees. They fell into their siblings, getting entangled in their feet, tripping the next two waves of foes.
Finally, it’s working as it should!
The big meatshield was standing behind her, firing his heavy machine guns akimbo into the mass of enemies, trying to shoot through to their ‘mother’. Unfortunately, the kids were defending her with their own bodies, while some others were moving cars and the bodies of their fallen siblings to shield her off.
Just when we’d need Outie, he’s off hunting that weird hedgehog thing.
She flipped over the next wave of pig-men just in time for them to stumble over the bodies of those who had already fallen.
Time to see how far I can take this.
Fortunately, B-Six had given her a belt full of grenades to play with (old-school, really secure triggers, nothing electronic). Pulling one off, she checked the colour – red, so incendiary fun.
She pulled the trigger and threw the grenade up and towards the ‘mother’ without even aiming. Then she watched, while spinning around and letting the enemies all hit each other instead of her.
The grenade bounced off a nearby window sill, off a car hood and dropped right into the gullet of the ‘mother’.
“I hope you like roasted meat for dinner, little piggies!” she shouted. How’s that for a one-liner.
The mother died almost instantly, as the grenade burned her up in seconds.
And the pig-men all dissolved into goo.
She turned to look at the Big Guy, who was walking slowly towards her.
“How’s that for a one-liner, big guy?” she asked with a grin.
Tartsche replied: “That was needlessly risky – you had no idea the grenade would hit your target.”
Tyche just grinned mysteriously. “Oh, I do have my means, big guy.”
Just then, Outstep appeared out of nowhere. “FreakoSpeedsterhasbeendispatchedbosswhatsnext?” he asked before even completely dropping out of super-speed completely.
“We just got reports of three new of Hastur’s victims rampaging around the harbor. Outstep, take us onto your bike,” Tartsche answered.
“Okie-dokie!” they both replied in tune.
* * *
“Why. Won’t. You. DIE!?”
Screaming at the top of her lungs, Prisca kept cutting off pieces from the giant monster, trying to get deeper into its body to find some kind of core. But it only flailed and wriggled and thrashed around, throwing her off again and again.
At the same time, Phasma had contracted her ghost-form back into a human-sized and human-like shape and was gliding all over its body wherever Prisca wasn’t currently cutting into it. The explosions she caused were bigger and more violent now, tearing more and more off the beast.
Prisca ducked to evade a swipe of its one remaining arm, then struck out with her spear-blade to cut into it, nearly severing the appendage from the body (but only nearly). Its other wounds were already closing again, shit oozing over them as they knit themselves.
“Phasma! This ain’t working, its regenerating faster than we’re cutting it down!” she shouted, flying up over the prone enemy to cut into its shoulder. “We gotta focus on one spot and try to dig into it! Don’t worry about me, just blast away!”
She dove into the center of its chest and started cutting, her golden armor repelling a weak strike of its still regenerating arm even as her blade cut into it. Once more, she was glad that her armor seemed to repel dirt.
The ghost girl seemed to have heard her – How the hack can she sense anything, anyway? ESP? – because her nigh-invisible form, still focused into the shape of a nude, featureless woman, slammed into BigShit right where she had already cut into it.
What resulted was a series of explosions that almost threw her off of it, but she used her flight to push on with her spear, cutting deeper into its body where the explosions did not suffice.
Ow. Ow. Ouch.
She got hurt, over and over, but she never seemed to actually take any damage. It hurt just as much as she’d imagine being blown around and burned by explosions would, but there was no actual damage she could make out.
Nor did it impede her from cutting deeper into BigShit, until Phasma focused her entire form into a needle-thin form and stabbed into it.
What resulted was an explosion that hurt like hell and threw Prisca off BigShit, slamming her into the wall of the hospital.
The wall cracked, but held (hospitals were built very sturdy) even as her head rang for just a second, before her senses were clear again as if nothing happened. And for just a moment, she felt like her body had been shattered, but she was fine again.
Huh. Maybe I just recover really damn fast?
But no time for that – Phasma had blown BigShit’s chest wide open, and now, finally, she could see a glowing, crystalline heart, glowing a dark, stained red.
Well, if that ain’t a core, then I’m not wearing knight armor, either.
She flew towards her quarry even as he started to regenerate while rising up on his regenerated legs… which only served to give her an easy target. Plowing into the open wound, she stabbed her spear at the he-
* * *
Perhaps she should have tried throwing her spear, instead of doing the deed in person. Because BigShit exploded, big-time.
It took the entire front of the Petal Memorial Hospital down.
Prisca found herself half-buried by rubble, everything but her stained with fecal matter.
And she was completely, utterly fine.
Still hurts like hell, though.
Hearing steps, she soon saw Phasma, back in her robe and cowl, enter her field of vision and stand over her.
“Need a hand?” she asked, offering her right hand.
“Gladly, thank you,” Prisca replied and grabbed it, letting her help pull her up to her feet. Dust and debries fell off of her still spotless armor. “Good work out there.”
“You too. I hope we can work together again sometime,” replied the ghost-girl. Prisca couldn’t see her face, but she got the feeling that she was smiling.
“Really great work, both of you,” said Irene, appearing right next to them.
“Eeeek!” they both shouted in unison, jumping up. In Prisca’s case, she flew up nearly through the half-collapsed ceiling before she stopped herself.
“Don’t do that!” she said as she floated back down. And then she saw Basil – Brennus – stand behind Gloom Glimmer, supporting himself on a wooden staff.
She fought down the urge to go and hug him (and do other things) in front of Phasma (and Gloom Glimmer, for that matter). Instead, she asked: “Are you alright, Brennus?”
He nodded. “Just a little winded, but nothing too bad. Congratulations on the battle, both of you. That was one hell of a finisher,” he replied.
Blushing beneath her helmet, Prisca nodded happily, while Phasma made a shallow little bow.
“So, what are we going to do now?” the newly manifested girl asked. And where’s my body?
“We need to find a way to deal with Hastur for good,” replied Brennus. “And for that, we need to figure out how to get past her regeneration.”
“Agreed. And we need to get the survivors somewhere safe, too,” Gloom Glimmer included, taking a step back and to the side, so they were all standing in a rough circle. “I’ve already called for backup, but we need to cover them until it arrives.”
The other three all nodded, and then Brennus spoke up again: “Good, let us use the time to plan. Phasma, are you willing to work with us for the time being?”
“I wouldn’t be here otherwise. The Morning’s Children are more than willing to cooperate against this enemy,” she replied in her soft voice.
“Very good. May I ask what your power actually does? I saw most of what you did out there, but I would like to hear it from you.”
She shrugged. “I can turn into an incorporeal form, then apply various effects – though only one at a time – to any physical object that I come into contact with. The more I focus my form, the stronger the effect, while it becomes weaker as I spread myself. I can detonate, incinerate, petrify, melt, shatter and do some other things which are not relevant to the situation at hand. I am completely immune to all mental and most physical powers while doing so and can recover even if my incorporeal form is somehow torn apart,” she explained in two breaths.
Wow. That’s one hell of a power, Prisca thought. I wonder what her trigger was.
Brennus just nodded, showing no reaction. Then again, his face was still hidden by his mask. “That’s very useful, and it might prove instrumental in de- Do you all hear that?” He looked up at the hole in the ceiling.
Now that he mentioned it, Prisca could pick up an odd, mechanical chirping approaching them.
“Oh. I know that one,” said Gloom Glimmer, looking up herself.
“What is i-” Prisca began but didn’t finish as a vaguely draconic robot flew into the blasted room, landing in the middle of the circle.
It was about the size of a medium-sized dog and painted a gleaming black. Its head looked more avian than draconic and it had wings, a tail and four clawed legs.
Even Prisca could tell that it was one hell of a finely crafted machine.
“What in Tesla’s name is that?” asked Brennus, staring at the new arrival.
“That’s one of Wyrm’s drones. She’s dad’s personal gadgeteer and communications officer (also, his spymaster),” replied Gloom Glimmer as she squatted down in front of the drone. “Hey Wyrm, what’s possessed you to take a hand in this?”
Wyrm’s drone turned to look towards the only clean, still standing wall of the room. Its eyes lit up, and it started projecting onto it, like a home cinema.
They watched in silence.
Then Gloom Glimmer said: “Holy shit. That’s it.”
Brennus said: “Amen.”
Yeah, this took a little while. For those who didn’t read it in the comments earlier, my laptop died out on me – and did so right before my daily backup. Meaning, no chapter.
Fortunately, a friend of mine is a master necromancer and she zombified my laptop, so it’ll keep working (hopefully) until I can buy a new one (no money right now). I’ve been back online since Wednesday late evening.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t restore the data I hadn’t yet backed up, so the chapter was gone. And I had to rewrite it.
For the record, I HATE writing something twice. Which leads to this feeling far inferior to the original version, but I just want to finish it and get on with it. Two more chapters left in the Hastur arc, can’t wait to write them.
Sorry again for the delay. I hope my laptop will hold out for a month or two.
If you are still using the zombified machine, you might be well served to actually write your posts in the built-in WordPress editor. I think it saves every minute or so.
I’ve been writing in yWriter, which helps me manage scenes, characters and locations. I’d need to rework my entire writing process in order to use a different writing program
Hrm, there are tools for that sort of thing? Will need to look into that.
ywriter 5 is a free and really great software for the task.
if you’re willing/able to shell out some money, you can buy Scrivener, too. It’s basically a professional version of the same, with more functionality than a sonic screwdriver
Dunno what I’d do with such a thing. I typically don’t plan any farther ahead than a loose idea of how I want the next chapter to start and end.
It’s also great for backtracking – you can always track down any scenes in which any char showed up, or sort them by location and such. Also keeps track of wordcount and everything
Good job on finally getting it done!
Cliffhanger. God damn it. I really want to read on now.
That said, love the chapter. Good luck with the laptop.
Welcome back and the fight against the golgothan, cookie if you get the reference, went well.
They even did it without using an aerosol!
Mmm, good stuff. Except the Fecalbeast. Eww.
I like Prisca’s choice in name; Gilgul. In Hebrew, the word gilgul means “cycle”, souls are seen to “cycle” through “lives” or “incarnations”, being attached to different human bodies over time. This is rather fitting for what we know of Prisca’s powers right now, and may provide for future twists.
Ha. Gilgul. You clever bastard, you. Rather, Prisca’s no slouch. Not everyone knows Kabbalah.
I’ve got a bad feeling about what’s happening to Prisca’s real body when her projection takes damage, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
And I noticed the reference to Dragon, right there at the end. I actually started reading Worm, too, though I don’t know if I’ll finish it.
It’s possible that she’s just getting her projection destroyed, then forming it again immediately.
But does she strike you as that lucky?
Many, many, many, MANY thanks to Steven Elliot and Steven Owen for their generous donations!
A total of 15€, which means three bonus chapters. First one will be right after this arc, before the Jaag arc
Too bad about your laptop. The name Gilgul is very clever, memorable but not giving away any powers.
Hmm, I wonder what Wyrm’s gadgeteer rating is. And for that matter, how would one even classify Phasma’s ability? I’m also REALLY wondering about how Prisca will be rated due to the uniqueness of her spawner ability. For instance, how does it compare to The Dark? Is her spawned self strong enough to win against one of The Dark’s shadow constructs (I forgot their name)? As a side note, It would be great if either Gloomy or Amy could set up a meeting between Brennus and Wyrm. The interactions between gadgeteers are so interesting. I’m also still hoping for a field trip to Canada equipped with a gadgeteered tourist camera to analyze their technology.
GREAT chapter, and I’m glad that you are back with us. This has recently become my new favourite web serial, and I am very much looking forward to where this story leads.
If there is one scene which I really want to see and will never happen, it’s Brennus, Polymnia, and Wyrm taking a vacation in Canada.
A three way heterodyne weekend?
I wonder if she is simply simply re-spawning her body upon taking damage?
That was my thought also – she is either fast-respawning or fast-healing the projection whenever it gets badly hurt. Who knows if she is immune/resistant to mental powers when projecting. If so, her only real weakness is her primary body. I don’t know at the moment whether secrecy or armoring will be the best defense. Right now, only people who care about her know who Gilgul is, so secrecy is a big part of her defense. Later, that might get blown and Brennus will probably develop a tank for her to move around in.
alas being able to mimic the dark’s convenient dark-wraith cloaking/enveloping ability is probably unlikely =(
So I know that your computer troubles understandably threw you off track, I was just wondering when the next update was planned for?
today. Already working on it
i have a question
(also, his spymaster)
is she still saying that, only implying it or is it info only for us readers (RL)?
everything she says is stuff she says to the others – she’s not breaking the fourth wall (only Journeyman does that, and he’s noticably absent from this chapter)
…Hedgehog speedster. I actually had to deflect some questions because I made too much noise facepalming.
I’m trying to connect Phasma’s name… my initial searches have mostly come up with stick bugs. Is it just a modification of ‘phantasm’ or the like?
it’s latin for “Ghost” and the root for “Phantasm”
“Outstep, take us onto your bike”
I’m not quite sure, but I think you might have meant ‘on your bike’, or maybe ‘to your bike’.