Gold Fox tossed the entirety of both her crossbows into Away with a grimace. It was clear they would not be able to help her. Lady Thundercaster jumped gracefully off of the catwalk near Fox and ran out with her into the street. Iteration D followed soon after with heavy footfalls and a well regulated pace.
It was Iteration D who asked, “What now?”
Gold Fox paused and tilted her head. She had a skill known in the ancient tongue as ‘Therdylwhyt’, which basically means ‘full awareness of the surroundings’. Paying a bit extra attention to her surroundings and she could gain information normal people would ignore. One skilled in it could sense people in the area, upcoming weather, animals nearby, the magical ambiance of the surroundings. They could also detect enchantments in their vicinity and sense invisible beings. In a social setting, a practitioner could pick up another person’s basic character, honor, and intentions. While some people are more skilled in certain aspects of it than others, everyone who has the gift of this skill shares one thing in common: they all know what’s happening in their home no matter where they are.
Thus, Gold Fox knew that, at home, her pet dog was having a nap and missing her. That the weather will turn to rain six hours from now. And that of the three gunships in the harbor, two are on skeletal crew and the last has barely anyone in it. It seems due to repairs being made to it.
She also detected a group of humans coming up from the side street, and No-Face staying behind in the warehouse.
Gold Fox pointed in the direction of the humans and gave a hand signal to Iteration D warning about their approach. The Steam Elf looked around quickly before running off around the other corner of the warehouse, but watched the two half-elf ladies to see what her teammates were going to do so she could back them up.
Rather rudely, one of the men in the lead blurted out, “My my, if it ain’t a bunch of Empties!”
Another then said, “They may be Refuse, but they’re pretty. ‘Ow about we ‘ave some fun with these things?”
Empties. Refuse. Before the war, when Humanity and Elfkind were friends and allies, half-elf children were seen as a sign of cooperation and commitment to each other. That two distinct people could come together to make children that are the best parts of each parent species. Now, after the war, half-elfs were seen as disgusting aberrations, reminding each side of the hated enemy’s existence.
Empties was a derogatory name both sides used for half-elfs. Thinking that a half-elf had no soul, for they can’t have a human’s soul and can’t half an elf’s soul, the two people though a half-elf’s spirit was empty. This neglects the fact a half-elf can have a half-elf soul, a mingling of the two parent species. Of course, racism has no logic, and that term stuck.
Refuse was human exclusive racist slang against a half-elf. In olden times, there was a caste system, and the bottom rung of such was for people who buried the dead, cleaned the trash, took care of excrement, and other unpleasant tasks. A half-elf was, in the view of most humans, below that now long gone cast, for even a bottom rung sometimes has a bottom rung. Further, many a time was a half-elf hired for a job such as working on a trash barge or incinerator, of laying in sewer lines, and then the humans who hired them killed off their half-elf employees and made them a part of the job, literally. They became refuse to people that used to be their parents. In some cases, those words were very much true, and many tragic tales of children once loved by their parents were slain or thrown onto the street just because of their half-elf blood and the viccissitudes of political thinking.
A pretty half-elf, like Gold Fox and Lady Thundercaster, could often, in human lands, find ‘kind hearts’ to take care of them, for a price. Fox and Lady Thundercaster never allowed such to happen, however, the price to their dignity was always too high. It’s partly how they learned to fight.
Out of the two, Gold Fox could restraint herself, some. She did twitch her fingers and consider summoning her Fangs from Away, but thought differently. Her Fangs were powerful twin long knives, and the feel of sinking them into the flesh of the ignorant was always something that lay dormant in her mind.
Lady Thundercaster, however, often gave in to her feelings. Further, she still held her pistols. Her response was laughter.
Laughter, and the percussive blasts of said pistols as she fired into the crowd of human men.
While that was happening, Gold Fox stepped aside and kept studying the surroundings, formulating a plan. Iteration D, for her part, looked away. She was not fond of bloodshed, even if the blood is from human racists. Gold Fox always thought her companion an odd Steam Elf due to that, as most Elfs, much less a Steam Elf, who are chosen and remade because of their dedication and fanaticism, would have no compunction in slaying a human.
No-Face, meanwhile, remained in the factory, concentrating. The Silver Reaper was regaining its feet slowly, and she stayed to concentrate and watch it. Then, she stretched a bit and began to shift herself again.
Once the gunfire died down, Lady Thundercaster asked, “Well?”
“No, but I’m not unhappy. And I shot to wound, not kill. They’ll live.”
Gold Fox turned her head slowly to look across the harbor again, her hair up in its fox tail blowing softly in the gentle breeze, “Hmmm. For today, maybe. But wounded and unable to work, their medical bills piling up, they’ll go deep in debt and starve to death. You did them no favors.”
“Eh, they deserve it. Besides, I didn’t kill them today. Now, come on, plan?”
Gold Fox pointed to the almost empty ship, “Ever want to fire a ship cannon?”
Lady Thundercaster gave a grin, but before she could react verbally, she felt a strong hand grabbing the back of her tank top. She saw Iteration D’s other hand grab the back of Gold Fox’s top, and lift the two up. Then the Steam Elf’s powerful legs hissed in pneumatic joy as she jumped high into the air, spanning the distance across the harbor to the ship in one bound, landing with another hiss and as much grace as an armored elf could. The trio then began to run around the ship to find the munitions and firing center and if the ship was still able to launch an attack.
Two Original Silver Reapers launched out of the factory in a violent crashing sound, their impact into the walls destabilizing the building. It crashed down upon itself in a heap and a loud grating of metal on metal, collapsing on top of two straggling and wounded humans that were trying to crawl away from where they just been shot.
Both Silver Reapers stared at one another and appraised the other. Then they ran at full speed towards one another, swinging their right arms in mighty right crosses against one another. The brunt of the impact was so tremendous that each flew back a city block from one another and the shockwave destroyed the windows of four other factories.
Gold Fox found a single shell to fire, and asked Iteration D to help her carry it towards the cannons to fire it. As the Steam Elf was doing that, a group of five human marines came upon the group. The entire armed guard of the ship, the other four people Fox sensed just here for repairs, began to fire upon the duo.
Iteration D was unfazed by this small arms fire, her armor too great for this to even bother her. As for Gold Fox…
Before they could even blink, Gold Fox was leaping acrobatically in the air and arcing gracefully to the marines, her body spinning as she moved. She wrapped her legs around the head of one marine and used her momentum to twist him in a way she desired. His back snapped and his neck twisted, the human dying quickly. As she used him to arrest her speed, she flung her arms out and pinwheeled them about, slicing her Fangs across the necks of two others.
The two still living humans backed away slowly, pointing their own thundercaster rifles at Gold Fox, who held the dead corpse of the marine she landed upon as a shield. They cursed at her and called her an ’empty bitch’, and found their rewards for such temerity. Gold Fox pointed her Fangs at them and fired the blades at the pair, each long blade biting deep into the chest of each marine. As they fell dead, she sent her Fangs back into Away, blades and all. When she’d summon them again, they’d be whole once more, as normal.
Iteration D had finished loading the shell and tapped on the hull of the ship to communicate so to Lady Thundercaster.
“Can I fire now?” said Lady Thundercaster into the communication ring.
“What of No-Face?”
“She’s in a standstill with the Reaper. She’s holding her own, but she hasn’t had time to attenuate to this form, so even half dead, it’s a pretty even fight.”
Gold Fox looked out of a porthole and tossed an illusion towards No-Face to signal her to retreat, then said, “How’s the city?”
“If those two kept at it, it would be wrecked!”
No-Face gave one last heavy punch to the Original Silver Reaper, then jumped away and shifted into her flying reptile form. Lady Thundercaster fired the ship’s cannon, the powerful and enchanted shell flying right into the Original Silver Reaper that masqueraded, until recently, as Baron Heinzglauf.
Two days passed…
Gold Fox, as team leader, was the one to meet with their handler. It was she who would take the missions and accept the blame. She sat in the office of said handler, who had been reading the mission report with a deep sigh. He looked up at her again, sighing once more.
“Sir,” she began, “I’d like to point out that we had no idea that such a magically enhanced shell existed. No information on it…”
“I’m aware,” said the man. He was and older gentleman, in his late sixties. His head was nearly bald, but where he was devoid of hair there, he was enriched in it across his arms and chest, and he unfortunately never wore enough of a shirt to cover that up. He crossed his arms over his chest and asked, “However, did getting information on this weapon really require taking out twenty three city blocks?”
“It was an Original Silver Reaper, sir.”
Their handler was a human, one of the few kind ones left around. He was old enough to remember the days when Elfkind and Humanity were not mere allies, but actual friends, and wished for those days again. He sighed once more, “I’m aware. I also note that such a thing did not exist in this world, how did you…?”
Gold Fox gave a shrug and a soft smile, “We all have our secrets, sir.” And while she did, and each member of her team did, she knew that her handler did as well. And she knew only one person in DRAGON knew her handler’s secrets.
Meanwhile, in another office, in another espionage agency, another pair are holding another meeting.
“Pardon, Number One,” said the underling in this meaning.
Number One was a human of middle height and advanced age, approximately the same amount of years graced his brow as did Gold Fox’s handler. He, however, was completely bald, and dressed in a smart grey suit. He had a fluffy white feline in his lap, wearing a golden collar, which he stroked obsessively. He asked, tersely, “Report?”
“It is our operation with Baron Heinzglauf and his replacement.”
“The Original Silver Reaper, yes, a triumph that was to obtain.”
The underling gave a soft sigh, “I’m sorry to report, sir, but he has been destroyed.”
“Yes, sir,” said the underling, “Further, a DRAGON team seems to have used our new sunfire enchanted naval shell to do so.”
The underling looked a bit nervous, “What shall we do, sir?”
“We have the double agents in DRAGON still, yes? Our PSEUDODRAGONS?”
“Of course!” said the underling happily.
“Very well. Activate PSEUDEODRAGON Agent 17, tell her to kill whomsoever had the gall to thwart this plan.”
-GOLD FOX WILL RETURN IN: THUNDERWAVE-