Ch. 14.3 – Molly

Molly walked briskly through the Swiss castle’s halls, forcing herself to ignore another muffled explosion. Typical of the Complex, to casually mutilate beauty that has survived centuries. She risked focusing her Anima sense behind her, and was relieved at the unity she felt there. Wenezoui and Alex followed a step behind her, while Schnyder and Sara Wove from the rear. I’m just glad Professor Nehru agreed to help from the safe room. Liang can get her out in a hurry if they need an exit, but neither of them are really trained for Majestic combat. Her mind flickered to Schnyder’s thin saber, resting on his hip like a third arm. I’d rather Sara stayed back, but the chances of that… Molly suppressed a smile as she noted the Weaver carefully working destiny in her Bastion’s favor. Spare a little for yourself, woman.

A gray, static hum reached her aura. It made her teeth hurt almost as much as an actual sound might. “That,” she noted, flowing into Wave Dragon stance, “is evil.”

“They’re working for fanatic alien dream-vampires,” Alex rumbled, teeth gritted. The Bastion held his blade up defensively. “Evil’s in the job description.”

Schnyder scanned the hallway, looking west after a few seconds. “They’re moving towards the old arsenal.” His eyes narrowed. “Why? It hasn’t been used as such for centuries. Even they must know that.”

“Does that make tactical sense?” Alex asked.

Molly clenched a fist. “They’re headed for our guest room. Max and Alice – they want to take them out first.” Brisk walk became bounding jog, consuming distance quickly.

“Why aren’t we running?” Alex asked, flying to keep pace.

“That’s a good way to eat a face full of bullets,” Molly explained, “and those two can take care of themselves.” She tapped her forehead, and Sara nodded, Weaves drilling through the deadening fog-like drone of Quadrum interference.

*I was wondering where you were,* Alice quipped, her mood jovial as she distorted beams of un-Weaving with Life Blossom. *Max and I saw the party coming to us, and decided to take the initiative.*

Molly bit back several unflattering comments. *Well, that’s a fret,* she sent instead, slowing as they approached the intersection that would bring her team to the intruders’ hallway.

*A what?* Alex asked.

*Unexpected, a surprise,* Sara filled in. *It’s Irish.*

Molly cast her senses around the corner, surveying the ongoing fight. The eight agents were divided into two rough lines of four, a forward fire team and a rear guard. Alice laughed, diving around a corner and away from incoming fire. Max lashed out from a shadow, but the intruders had clearly adapted to his talent. Two of them fired at the genderless Max the moment the Reanimate appeared. One shot grazed Max, forcing a retreat. Alice’s humor vanished. *Uh-oh. Time to do the cavalry thing, right?*

Molly smiled. Ms. Wenezoui and Alex both took a step back. *Oh, yes.* With that, the Ghost Dragon went Silent, drawing the complex Conduction of elements around her that would prevent Molly’s enemies from noticing her, then leapt to the ceiling and ran along it. Once she was above the Complex squad, she dropped into the middle of them and spun, leg whipping out and around.

The four central agents went flying. The outer four barely deflected the wave of force she lashed out with, holding up their rifles as shields. That’s new, she mused, leaping for the frontmost agent. He slid back and sideways, already bringing his weapon to bear again. Crap. Gray Company. Professionals. Why are they doing this? It’s stupid. She used her Wave Dragon art to flow away from the Grayboy’s counterattack and into close quarters. Molly felt the dullness weighing on his mind the moment she grabbed the blocky rifle. *They’re Vision-dulled. Not conditioned, but definitely rinsed. Alex.*

*Right.* Alex slashed at the rifles, slicing through the barrels of the two fallen rear agents. Nice. Schnyder whistled appreciatively as Wenezoui grappled with an upright agent, the two struggling briefly before the Councilor got her palm on his forehead. A sudden mix of Weave and Vision roared through the dulling, but instead of clearing the man’s mind, a Quadrum backup effect knocked him unconscious. The fourth member of the rear team aimed at Alex, but Schnyder performed that familiar little snicker-snack with the flick of his wrist even Molly couldn’t follow, and suddenly the legendary Majestic was holding the rifle in his free hand. “Children shouldn’t play with guns,” he quipped, slapping the top of the agent’s head with the flat of his blade. The agent sat on the floor with a dull thump, staring into space with confusion.

The forward team maintained as good order as could be expected, the two fallen agents leaping to their feet to turn on Molly and her group, while the remaining two kept their focus on Alice and Max. It doesn’t matter. They’re not on their game, let alone the top of it. Molly’s assessment quickly proved correct. Sara lashed out with Weaving and Blaze, one rifle’s damage causing it to backfire and knock out its wielder. Alice fired a stream of Adapted Vision into another’s memory, forcing recall of Quadrum alteration. As that one dropped, Maxine leaped from around a corner, grabbing one of the two remaining agents and draining him unconscious. Molly snorted and dashed into the last agent, her speed greater than his perception, and gave him a good old-fashioned sock to the jaw. With just a hint of Anima playing around her knuckles, it was enough to lay him out over his fellows. The only functional agents were the two still staring mutely at the weapons Alex had ruined with a single stroke. And ‘functional’ is debatable, there.

Schnyder strode towards Molly, chanting in Latin and drawing curved sigils in the air as he approached. The three conscious agents joined their comrades. Then all eight vanished. Council Tribune and Ghost Dragon alike looked at the now-empty space, frowning. “Well. That extraction was the only part of this that wasn’t astoundingly foolish,” the old wizard noted, sliding the beautiful saber back into its scabbard.

*Was it?* Nehru sent, her dark mood leaking through the new Vision bond. *If they needed to know how the negotiations went, our coordination was quite the indicator, at the cost of three weapons.*

Councilor Schnyder shrugged. “Perhaps, but such an assault might have united us in the face of a common enemy, even had we been divided.” He closed his eyes. “Neither were they a distraction. I sense no other teams nearby.”

*That gray droning was more than just Majestic hindrance,* Nehru clarified, and Molly realized the Oracle was fighting a migraine. Ouch. Poor woman, the Ghost Dragon sympathized, as the professor continued. *Had we been at odds, it would have exacerbated our differences. It should have interfered with your coordination more than it did, for that matter.*

Wenezoui laughed. “Perhaps, but they didn’t count on our prodigies of – how did you put it, Captain?” She clapped the slowly blushing Alex on one shoulder. “Art, joy, love, and wonder?” She glanced at Alice, who was helping Maxine steady herself. “You’ve found quite the talents in these four, Ms. Dunn.”

The Ghost Dragon smiled. “Call me Molly.”

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Written by Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan was born in the Bronx, New York, giving him the right to root for the Yankees while making less than six figures. After a long, largely pleasant interregnum in suburban Connecticut, he moved to the Inland Empire, California to be with his wonderful wife and muse, a stepson, and a crazed feline. An occasionally too-avid player of and writer for tabletop roleplaying games, his other passion is metaphysics, which informs most of his fiction.

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