Magic vs. Metal II
Wolf and Dragonfly
A forest in a city can be a hard thing to find. Not a park, but a proper, wild, unkept forest. The best place to start is usually around the edges.
"You're sure this is it?"
The little wolf pup looked at her and shook out its light violet fur, "As sure as I can be. The smell is right. It hurts my nose you knows."
Totally not laughing at her familiar's silly wordplay, she looked into the small forest, trying to discern something through the dark. It didn't work.
"I can't see anything; can't hear anything either."
"I can," the pup said. "Buzzing, like a lot of bugs. Goes on and off."
Bugs? Or just one bug? Either way there was no sense in dawdling.
"Best get to it," she was already out way past curfew. If her mother found out she wouldn't have a cow, she'd have the whole herd.
Pulling a short star tipped rod from her pocket, she held the device over her head and prayed there was no one around to see what came next, "Make, Mine, MAGIC!"
She often wondered what it looked like from the outside when she transformed. From the inside the world exploded into purple stars, her body danced to the music in her head as things vanished, like her cloths, other things appeared, frillier clothes, and her cute little mascot wolf turned into a purple energy ball that caused her to sprout wolf ears and a tail.
It was an absolute rush every time, a dramatic shift in perspective. Humans couldn't smell in color, that had taken her by surprise the first time. The rancid green that wafted from the forest now made her gag.
"Ugh! I see what she meant." It was a caustic smell, acidic, like bleach but without the subtlety. "Shouldn't be too hard to find at least."
Taking another sniff, she proceeded into the wood. It was not a tended sort of wood; old branches lay rotting under bushes, soggy and full of maggots while twigs and leaves crunched under her feet.
It was a wild place, or as close to one as she was likely to find. Either way it started getting to her. She found herself trotting, then jogging, then full out running. The smell continued to guide her direction, but it was nothing short of pure adulation that motivated her pace.
This was her familiar's influence, she knew. They were as one in this state, and the plushy puppy's instincts were very strong. The need to run, to romp and frolic, and yes, even to hunt. She'd not know this would be a price she would pay for making 'the deal', but if she had, it would not have stopped her.
The sight of the clearing stopped her though. Adulation dying away under the weight of caution, she slowed to a walk before reaching the last tree where she halted, half hidden, observing.
The smell was strongest here, so strong her eyes began to water. So close, the odor was no longer mere smell but an overpowering stench, the stench of decay amplified by ten; decay and death.
"So—many bones," she coughed, trying not to gag.
From where she stood it was possible to make out the edges of a crude nest, an indent in the ground surrounded by a small hill covered in the remains of dozens, maybe hundreds of animals. Other bones lay all about the ground, haphazardly tossed, skulls of deer, rabbits, and others she couldn't identify.
"Whatever it is, it sure does eat a lot," and judging by the size of its food, it was no shrinking violet.
Her ears perked when the buzzing returned, her only warning before the deer came crashing down into the nest. What followed it could kindly be described as ugly. Which is to say that was the first word that popped into her head, followed by others that were much less polite.
It set down on six thick jointed legs, the massive fly like wings coming to a slow, sporadic stop, all four of them. It's body, thick and grub like, scrunched as it lowered its head to the now shattered deer.
And the head, ye gods, the head, had something of the bulldog in its look, that being downward pointing. Unlike the bulldog however who's face merely sagged downward, this one was all hard carapace pointing downward like fangs on either side of an upward moving jaw lined in tiny serrations it used to scissor the deer into bite sized pieces.
The odd crunch displayed the power of that jaw, though did call into question why there were so many bones lying around, since it seemed able to bite right through them.
"Kay, now what?"
With her target located all that was left was to take it out, which seemed much easier said than done now that she was looking at it. And while looking at it, she noticed something odd. A small metal box was belted around the deer's neck and a small red light was blinking frantically.
The bug didn't appear to notice till the box went click.
It squealed in surprise when the box exploded in a rancid cloud of yellow gas. Its wings buzzed but never enough to generate lift. The bug scrambled about the nest, legs thudding in the ground, disoriented and confused, and somehow unable to escape the gas cloud.
Its maggot body heaved and convulsed; legs going rigid it toppled onto its back, crushing its wings. Convulsions slowing, its legs curled in close, then all was still.
Well away from the gas she could still smell it, even over the permeating odor of decay. She wouldn't be getting any closer till it dissipated, but the form that approached from the other side suffered no such handicap.
"Dragonfly! Should have known."
The armored man walked casually into the clearing, his odd sidearm, the one that gave him his name, held loosely in his left hand. The large red eye spots on his helmet which reinforced the flying insect motif glowed gently as he looked over the dead bug, looking briefly in her direction.
"Evening puppy, out for walkies?"
She scowled at his manner of address, doubtless the reaction he was hoping for. Her relationship with this armored man was not as competitive as her friends was with her own, but that's not to say they got along. They were just more subdued about it.
"Planning to hide behind the trees all night?"
"Your gas stinks!" she told him.
"Must be all them beans," he shot back.
She groaned audibly, holding her nose as she moved past the trees, "You and your jokes," she grumbled. "How did you get the box on the deer?"
"Deer was already dead," he said. "I've been tracking this thing for several days. This was just the final part of the hunt. That tallies one for me."
The magical girl pouted at his point.
It was a competition of sorts, a race to see who could get to it first. Neither side knew the ultimate goals of the other, they only knew, and this had taken considerable teeth pulling, that they were both after roughly the same thing, an end to the creatures more commonly called the Vorg.
At least that's what her side called them.
"It's a bit smaller than I was expecting?"
"Huh?" she said, having been lost momentarily in her own thoughts.
"It stole some cattle the other day," he said. "A full-grown bull. Just picked it up and carried it off. This one doesn't look big enough to have done that. It was struggling just to stay airborne with that little deer."
"Maybe it was something else?"
Such a statement, posed as a question, demanded an answer, and answered it was. The cow made contact like a fleshy meteor, exploding into great meaty gore. The pair were knocked back, stunned, but even so they still heard it; the sound of wings, a near deafening buzz and the wind under those wings that cleared the air as the creature descended.
"Oh shit!" he cursed, while she could do no more than moan.
It was a near perfect replica of the one that lay dead, but with a few minor differences. The head that on the dead one was a brownish black, on this new one was bright yellow which set of the crimson of its eyes. The maggoty body was harder, segmented and armor like. And it was bigger, four or five times bigger, the size of a small helicopter and just as loud as it hovered in the air, staring down at them with malicious intelligence.
"I think it sees us," Dragonfly yelled over the 'buzz' of wings.
A squealing shriek suggested he was probably right, and the odd gurgling sound suggested they needed to move.
The acid ball exploded against the ground, dissolving earth, meat, and bone, none of which belonged to either human. In her magical form she was enviably fast, and Dragonfly's suit put him on a similar level.
He had a gun though, which she did not, and he used it to fire off a short barrage that bounced harmlessly off the creatures armored head. This drew its attention and it gurgled again.
Seizing the advantage, she let the power surge through her, feeling the magical wind at her rear before rushing forward and executing a, "FLYING WOLF KICK!"
The impact of her attack threw off the gurgling and the aborted acid ball fell to the ground with a sizzling splash. To her chagrin, the attack had little other effect and she was forced to push off the creature as it turned to face her.
A barrage to the rear drew its attention away momentarily, but it could not ignore her presence either and kept turning back and forth between the two of them. They tried to use its indecision to their advantage and kept circling it, forcing the flying creature to keep moving.
Showing surprising intelligence, it stopped this quickly, rising straight up into the air as though meaning to escape.
"No! We have to catch it," she shouted.
"I don't think that's gonna be a problem," said Dragonfly, his eyespots glowing, clearly seeing more than she was. "GET BACK!"
Intelligent, and durable, the hovering tank dropped like a bomb, decimating the nest and scattering debris in every direction. Lifting and thrown like so much debris, she landed hard between the trees. Head ringing, she could still make out the buzz, or thought she could.
The report of gunfire told her, yes, she could still hear, and the fight was still on. Goody.
Rushing back to the clearing, a bit slower than before, she found Dragonfly playing duck, duck, fire with the hovering behemoth and not doing any better than before. It had forgone the big acid balls and was now spitting smaller acid pellets, trading shots with the armored man whose armor sparked with every hit.
Not daring to risk another frontal attack, she grabbed a bit of broken bone, pulled back, and hurled it with all the magically enhanced force she could. It bounced harmlessly off its armored hide, but it did get its attention.
"Puppy! Cover your eyes," he shouted, the wings on his gun beginning to glow.
A brilliant flash lit the night, so bright she was sure she could see the bones of her fingers that shielded her face. The stars were still flashing even after the light had gone but she didn't need to see to know she hadn't gotten the worst of it.
The earth shook when the creature fell; unable to protect its eyes the flash had momentarily paralyzed it, dropping it from the air at a tilt so when it made contact, it did so on top of its wings. It thrashed and squealed furiously trying to right itself, managing it but too late to save the massive yet fragile looking flight propellers.
It buzzed the broken appendages which only caused them to further crack. It would not be flying again.
"Now you're on our turf," said Dragonfly, making adjustments to his weapon as the bug turned to face him.
Both man and girl were shocked when the bug charged, six feet thundering like a whole herd of cattle at a speed that could best be described as absurd. Barely fast enough to react, the armored man was sideswiped hard, knocking him into the nearest tree.
The bug turned, though not very well, and took out several trees in the process before it had reoriented on its target who fired a few token shots to no obvious effect.
The bug surged forward, but this time he was ready and made a power jump over the stampeding hexapod, landing near to where she stood watching.
"Feel like jumping in any time," he said.
"And do what exactly?"
The bug was a tank, all armor and stupidly fast. Even without its wings she could see no way to stop it.
"Go for its legs," he said. "The joints aren't armored; they can't be for it to move. Nothing I've got is strong enough to get through and I'm not a good enough shot to hit that small a target on the move, so it's got to be you."
"That means you're going to play bait," she said, a little more eager than she needed to be.
"Just do it fast," he said. "I can't keep this up and if he hits me again, I don't know if my armor will hold up."
With a quick round of fire to draw its attention he ran, and the bug quickly followed.
She waited till its back was to her before charging up her attack, not wanting to draw its attention before she was done.
As magic went this was the big one for her, a haze of violet energy surrounded her, taking on a massive canine shape, "FENRIS, PHANTOM, BLITZ!"
The giant magic wolf charged forward, catching the bug just as the bug caught the Dragonfly. Jaws powered with magical might snapped two of the three left legs in a single crunch. The bug squealed in protest at the sudden limb removal and fumbled with two of its legs now missing.
The fumble turned into a tumble turned into a battering roll through the trees. Wood splintered under the weight of rolling bug till enough kinetic force had bled off that one particularly old, stout oak managed to stop it, though not without a solid crunch and an ominous creak.
On its back, the bug flailed its four legs, stunned and disoriented.
"Time to wrap this up." Pulling out her purple rod, she playfully kissed the star, "WOLF RIBBON CAPTURE!"
A great burst of ribbons wrapped the weakly struggling bug. A few moments magic, she collected the rather ugly little statue, then went in search of the other one.
She found him at the end of a deep gully, one that appeared to have been dug quite recently… quite, recently. A shattered tree lay over top of him and the remnants of its foliage had taken the opportunity to cover the rest.
"Still alive?" she asked.
"For now," he groaned.
Smiling, she held up her statue, "I win."
"Good for you," he said, attempting to shift the obstructing wood off, and when that failed, "a little help here."
"Hmm," bending over, she flicked a single leaf off his helmet, "help," before prancing away.
"Oh yeah, that was so funny. You're a real comedian puppy. You hear me. Ha, ha, ha. You hear me?"
She could hear him. And he was right, she was funny.