The last several hours had given Glimmerglass a new definition for ‘being of two minds’ about something. She hadn’t expected to find that she missed it though.
“So you’re three people in one?” Melissa asked, speaking on a new chat channel Starchild had setup for them. “That’s neat, I’ve only run into people who were sharing a body with their character so far.”
“At the moment it seems like I’m split between two bodies,” Glimmerglass said. “Or maybe more?”
“Three’s not enough?” Starchild asked.
“Tessa played other characters too,” Glimmerglass said. “If she and I are the same person, then the others might be too?”
“Have you tried reaching out to them?” Melissa asked.
Glimmerglass couldn’t hear any of the background noise swirling around Melissa, but the slight pauses in her mental voice spoke volumes. As Feral Fang, Melissa was standing guard over one of the groups of people whose town hadn’t been defensible at all. Unfortunately their secure stronghold was also in the path one of the Consortium’s advancing forces. They were safe for the moment but since that moment wouldn’t last long, the townsfolk were packing up their supplies for another trek deeper into the forest and even more remote location.
“I haven’t had any luck, but I don’t know if that means they don’t exist, or if they’re just in some warded area. Or just not accepting random communication prompts from someone they’ve never met,” Glimmerglass said. “I wish I could reach one of them though. I could send them your way.”
“We would not turn down the helping hands,” Melissa said. “[High Command] sent six of us to watch over an entire town’s worth of people.”
“Do you need reinforcements?” Glimmerglass, wheels starting to turn in her head.
“Hopefully not,” Melissa said. “We’re moving out now to stay well ahead of the Consortium’s troops. As long as that works and we don’t have to tangle with them, things should be fine.”
“And if they catch up to you?” Glimmerglass asked. “Is there a contingency plan to cover that?”
“Yeah, we fight,” Melissa said.
“It’s not a big one,” Melissa said.
“What’s your gear level like?” Glimmerglass asked. “Is your guild raiding the [Chronomantic Vault]?”
“Not even close,” she said. “My best stuff is [Astral Purple] loot I got off the auction house.”
“Off the…? You decked yourself out in the second highest tier raid gear by buying it?”
“Yeah, people have been buying [Sunken Titans] for some nice prices lately,” Melissa said.
“[Sunken Titans]? I thought only three people could catch those things?” Glimmerglass asked.
“There’s five of us actually, but the two you don’t hear about have been focusing on their [Cooking] skills for the last year or so,” Melissa said.
“I told you she was rich,” Pete said.
“I’m valuable,” Melissa said. “Rich means you’re hoarding your wealth. I spend mine as fast as I pull it out of the ocean.”
“What she means is that she gives away most of it,” Pete said. “Her whole guild has gear like hers.”
“That’s seriously impressive. I’ll have to introduce you to a scroll maker I know. She can do ridiculous things with the inks from the really deep sea critters,” Glimmerglass said. “Even with that though I’m not sure how well you’d do with six versus an entire Consortium army.”
“Oh, we’ll get demolished I’m sure,” Melissa said. “All we need to do is buy the towns people time to get out of the Consortium’s scouting range and we can rejoin them when we respawn.”
“Unless they capture you,” Pete said.
“Do you think the Consortium is capable of that?” Starchild asked. “Your sister’s a lot more powerful than we are, and we know people here who have fought them and survived.”
“Their troops seem to vary a lot in power,” Glimmerglass said. “The ones we fought in [Doom Crag] were more than a match for several full teams of raid geared adventurers.”
“Were any of your caught?” Melissa asked.
“No. That was part of the initial assault. The Consortium only seemed to switch to capturing us after the counter attack on their battle ships. My team came very close to being captured there though.”
“Any tips for staying free?” Melissa asked.
“Don’t fight them if you don’t have to,” Glimmerglass said. “If you do though, try to hit them with things they won’t expect. They seem to follow some pretty solid plans and they have fantastic discipline, but they’re not all that quick to respond to new situations.”
“So I should hit them with a [Sunken Titan] then? Got it,”: Melissa said.
“Aren’t those things like three hundred feet long? How would you even lift it?” Pete asked.
“I can reel it in, you know lift it up several thousand feet from the crushing depths of the ocean , why would lifting it on land be hard?” Melissa said.
“Wait, how strong are you now?” Pete asked.
“As strong as I’ve ever been,” Melissa said. “Well, as strong as I’ve been as Feral Fang, or did you miss the part when I can punch through solid stone?”
“I believe I mentioned that she’s a lot more powerful than we are,” Starchild said. “Or were you not thinking about the ramifications of the stories you used to describe her?”
“Yeah, but there’s ‘stronger’ and then there’s ‘puts Thor to shame by casually hucking around world serpents’. I mean this is my little sister!” Pete’s objections were voiced with a note of humor coloring each word, but that drained away when he continued. “I supposed to worry about her, you know.”
“I mean, technically, I’m the older one now,” Melissa said in a gently teasing tone. “Feral Fang’s been around a whole lot longer than any of your alts after all. No offense Starchild.”
“None taken,” Starchild said.
“I might be able to do something to alleviate your worries too,” Glimmerglass said.
“What’s that?” Pete asked.
“Melissa allow me to introduce a friend of mine,” Glimmerglass said as she added a new name to the chat channel. “Cambrell, Melissa’s part of a team who might need some rapid backup depending on where the Consortium’s forces in the region advance next. They’re currently hidden in the [Shadow Creep Woods].”
“Nice to meet you Melissa,” Cambrell said. “I’m guessing the [Assassin’s Guild] hasn’t stopped by to say hi yet?”
“There’s an [Assassin’s Guild] here?” Melissa asked.
“Yep. Goblin only. I don’t know where [High Command] is sending you but I can guarantee my people can get you to a better one.”
Seeing an enemy descend into chaos sounded like a wonderful thing to Grace but her memories as Kamie Anne Do assured her that the more chaos on the battlefield the more dangerous it was.
“What happened to those guys?” Grail Force asked, retreating up to the ledge of overlooking the boss room which had turned from a furious battle between Kamie’s team and a squad fo Consortium soldiers to an even bloodier ball of carnage where the Consortium soldier’s turned on each other.
“They glitched or something,” Kamie said, ducking an errant plasma bolt.
“That’s good right?” Battler X asked.
“Do you think a glitch is really going to work out in favor?” Grail asked.
“Fair point,” Battler X said with a shrug. “So do we wait for them to finish each other off and mop up the survivors or do we jump in and kill stealth the xps from all of them?”
Kamie watched the skirmish play out for another moment. The two side were locked in body to body combat. No cover. No tactics. Just a bunch of fighters trying to put each other down on the floor and then kick their opponents to death.
Unfortunately, the wrong side seemed to be winning.
“You guys are going to hate this idea,” Kamie said, hating it herself, but knowing that it was the right one.
At least for certain boneheaded values of ‘right’.
“We’re going to save the ones that didn’t get [Disjoined], aren’t we?” Battler X asked the question as though the answer were inevitable, which, in a sense, it kind of was since Kamie was already picking out her target.
“Yep,” she said. “Just remember, they’ll still be enemies after this.”
“Why save them then?” Grail Force asked.
“Cause maybe they’ll be enemies we can talk to,” Kamie said and used [Seven Step Stride] to flash into the middle of the melee.
In tactical terms, it was the perfect fight for her. A nice crowded area with plenty of targets and her primary foe were berserkers who had strength and speed but precious little intelligence in how they used them.
Kamie was more than happy to demonstrate to the [Disjoined Consortium Soldiers] what a bad idea that combination of traits was.
Their speed was a liability when it meant they punched and grabbed into traps Kamie had setup while she was watching them.
One struck out and found his arm spun three hundred and sixty degrees in its socket, shredding every bit of connective tissue which allowed it to work.
Another had a knife it tried to bury in her. A simple redirect put through the head of the [Disjoined] beside it.
Battler X joined her and the two began to make some space for the remaining, non-corrupted Consortium soldiers to breath.
So, of course, one of them tried to shoot Kamie in the head.
They weren’t friends, Kamie knew that, and because she knew that she was ready for the attempt the Consortium soldier made, disarming him before he could bring the plasma rifle to bear and adding a simple “No, we’re not fighting,” which was probably terribly confusing to the soldier.
Kamie didn’t let herself lose track of the soldier she disarmed but she did focus on defending against the three [Disjoined] who were trying to tear her to pieces.
Three on one wasn’t great odds for a [Monk], at least not three foes roughly as strong as she was. Grace wasn’t worried though. Kamie knew the odds were bad, but Grace knew she had friends she could count on, even if they’d only known each other for a day or so.
Dying together a lot forged a pretty strong bond it turned out.
“Pick on someone my size,” Buzz Fightyear said as he blocked a taloned strike from a [Disjoined] [Clothwork soldier] who hadn’t had claws a moment earlier.
“They’re morphing!” Kamie shouted out the warning loud enough for everyone to hear, though she wasn’t certain the Consortium soldiers would understand her.
“It’s [Devolution]!” one of them shouted back. “Don’t let them touch you!”
Kamie couldn’t be sure the Consortium soldier was talking to her, but she took their advice nonetheless.
Something moved inside the [Clothwork soldier] in front of her and she had to check her next punch as spikes of angry static ripped through the thing’s skin.
“These things don’t want to die,” Battle X said.
Kamie turned to see two of the [Disjoined] rise from the floor, moving as though the ties between their body and limbs were severed and external strings were compelling their motions.
“Don’t want to,” Kamie said and vaulted onto one of the creature’s shoulders. Changing her grip she grabbed either side of its head and spun, landing with the the stuffed noggin no longer attached its doll like body, which in turn collapsed to the floor. “Still can though.”
“Troop, [Command Decision],” one of the Consortium soldiers called out. “Cease hostilities with the natives. They are now designated [Allied Units].”
That had an effect on both the [Disjoined] and regular Consortium forces, the former of which began screaming something incomprehensible at Kamie and her crew while the latter had the decency to turn the weapons to face the [Disjoined] rather than her.
“They’re trying to convert the natives!” the soldier Kamie had saved called out.
“Yeah, but it’s not working!” the leader shouted back over the din of the screaming. “They must be immune somehow.”
Kamie throat punched one of the [Disjoined] to shut it up, which had the effect of startling the rest into silence too.
Apparently people being able to resist, or just ignore, it’s mental control wasn’t something the [Formless Hunger] was used to dealing with.
Kamie was happy that it’s day was getting worse for it.
That it was going to react poorly to its setbacks was a given, but it was still nice to know that even indestructible, reality eating beasts couldn’t catch a break sometimes.