Magical Scribe Eleanor Slam and Magical Sawbones Tanis Nagi versus Magical Hanzer “Milly” Schulz

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…I wasn’t kidding when I said I didn’t think I was going to win this. Fuckerfly’s an actual Eversor, and presumably she got the full training package. She’s already proven that she is now stronger and faster than I am; if she’s not lying, then ink poisoning won’t work on her again. This is a relief, since it was pretty horrific, but it would have made stopping her a lot easier. I also can’t do what Checkers told me and aim for the legs and joints, because Fuckerfly’s part robot now, apparently. Fuck.

I take a couple steps back before charging right at Fuckerfly, gripping the pen spear as tightly as I can. Fuckerfly rushes away from Tanis to meet me head on, letting out a war cry that drowns out the clanking sounds of her movements. She doesn’t even try to avoid the attack, and it runs her right through the chest, emerging through the other side with a wet, meaty noise. She cringes before her expression shifts into a sneer. “Are you scared yet?” she taunts.

I nod earnestly and let go and bring up my arms to block. I’m just in time to let my robot arm take the full brunt of her mace strikes, and stagger back. Fuckerfly tosses her maces up, then breaks the spear running her through before she catches them again. Fucking showoff.

I bring my arms up to defend against another attack, which knocks my fist into my jaw. The coppery taste of blood fills my mouth, and I spit at Fuckerfly’s face. This just pisses her off –more- and she presses her attack, my joints protesting as each block threatens to rip them out. My legs are trembling in fear as I get forced back, and my ears starting to ring from the loud clanging. Even my robot arm’s starting to feel numb, and that shouldn’t happen! She’s like a boss that can kill you in one or two hits!

…I can’t let terror stop me, though. Gotta suck it up and fight back.

There’s a meaty, crunching noise from behind Fuckerfly – while we were distracted, Tanis snuck up behind her and axed her in the back. This proves enough distraction for me to run back and charge Fuckerfly again, punching her in the stomach. It’s semi-ineffectual, as that area is plated with armor. However, she gets blown back by the force of the attack and crashes into the bed that I was hiding behind before, which buys us some time.

“Let’s make a break for it,” I suggest to Tanis, getting her attention. Clutching her bloodstained axe like a security blanket, she nods as we both return to the headache-inducing hallway. “Uh, can you lead?” I ask her. “I don’t know which way is out.”

Uh oh, the clanking sound is starting up again, which means Fuckerfly’s back on her feet. With some reluctance, Tanis grabs me by the arm and pulls me along, slithering as fast as she can. Which is fast, but not as fast as I can run, and definitely not as fast as Fuckerfly can chase us. Risking a glance back, I see her emerge, sliding on the floor from poor traction as she rounds the corner. Something black is poking out of her stomach.

“EAT THIS, YOU LITTLE SHITS!” she roars, and the sound of gunfire that I heard earlier returns. It turns out that black thing is a machine gun, and it’s shooting at us, bullets whizzing by and thunking against the walls. Who the fuck installs a machine gun in their stomach?

My left leg is suddenly filled with an intense, burning and familiar pain as a bullet lodges itself in my thigh, and my right leg shortly follows after. I’m almost knocked to my knees bow how agonizing it is, but Tanis pulls me around a corner before I can fall over. I end up with my back against the wall, my breaths coming out erratically from my body telling me to pass out.

“Hold on, I-I can treat that,” Tanis frets. Milly doesn’t give her the chance, though, appearing around the corner before Tanis can do anything about it.

Marina said that you can either tough out a bullet wound, or dull the pain with intense emotion. Toughing it out didn’t work during the exercises, and I –need- to do something while Milly’s drawing out her attack to scare us.

So I get mad.

I think back to what I said earlier about trying, about not being good enough, and I let indignation be my anesthesia. The white-hot agony is reduced to a dull, stinging feeling, still painful, but something I can actually work around. Fuckerfly’s threat of violence is ruined by me springing back to my feet and connecting my fist with her face; I knock her into a nearby wall.

“Can you flank her?” I whisper to Tanis through clenched teeth, not wanting to risk running away while Fuckerfly can still catch us. The snake girl makes a small affirmative noise as I make another spear, and we charge down Fuckerfly again. The pain spikes with each step, but I gotta back up Tanis.

Milly growls, picking herself up off the ground and running up to meet the both of us head on. “You destroyed my memorial garden for my family, Eleanor! You ruined everything!” she asserts, “You –deserve- this! Now just give-!”

“SHUT UP!” I interrupt her, letting her deflect my spear attack. “Yes, I did something awful!” I jump back a ways to lure Fuckerfly towards me, and she takes that bait. “But that doesn’t excuse you at all!” I yell at her.

“I feel horrible and very sorry for what I did!” I insist, my spear snapped by a combined attack from her maces. “But I don’t feel bad for protecting people caught up in your hissy fit!”

”I –want- to make it up to you somehow!” I shout emphatically, Tanis delivering a sickening blow to Fuckerfly’s back. I follow up with punches to her face, words punctuating each hit. “BUT NOT! LIKE! THIS! I! DON’T! DESERVE! THIS! CRAP!” Finally, I hit Fuckerfly in the chest, cracking her ribs with a disgusting sound. “-NOBODY- DOES!”

Somehow this isn’t enough to make her stop, and she shoots me point blank. Pain comes back to me as my gut is shredded apart by bullets, and I stagger backwards in shock. I make a new spear at the last second, propping myself up with it like a cane as I try not to watch my insides gush out. Fuckerfly takes another one from behind, and whirls around to deal with Tanis, knocking the axe out of her hands and… well, her wings obscure what she’s doing, but I recognize the sound of somebody being literally beaten to a pulp. I’d throw up if I still had a stomach.

The inviting embrace of unconsciousness is there waiting for me, but I can’t. I can’t just leave Tanis to die for getting involved in my shit. So I find more things to get angry about, more things to focus on besides being disemboweled with bullets lodged in my legs.

I’m sick of people getting hurt for being around me. I’m sick of being outdone every time I try to compete in something. I’m sick of being scared by everything that happens around here. I’m sick of almost being killed every time I get in a fight.

The almost certainly fatal condition feels like a minor discomfort. Nausea, maybe, which is good enough for me. Wrapping myself around the spear as its tip embeds itself in the ground, I open my metal fist. Another pen spear forms, and I cock my arm back.

Please work this time, I silently pray as I hurl the spear at Fuckerfly, nearly stumbling over from the exertion.

Before the spear runs Fuckerfly through her chest and pins her to the wall, before she lets out her screams of pain and rage, I make another one. Once Fuckerfly starts struggling, I throw another spear at her chest. A third one follows immediately as her cries turn to gurgles. That should hold her for a bit. I don’t have any delusion that it’s enough to keep her down, but I have to keep Tanis from dying here, even though I’m probably screwed.

My rage and adrenaline are spent, so the pain returns in full force, like white hot metal and the unique sensation of having no stomach. I fall to my knees and start to retch, forcing myself to check the condition of the snake girl-

Wait, where’d she go?

Someone grabs me by the shoulders and pulls me behind a corner. There’s a sudden, sharp pain in my neck, and the tickle of something else. I can’t turn around to see what’s going on, but the pain from the injuries is… fading is the best I can describe it as. I can even see the skin around my stomach reforming, though the costume that covered it stays torn in that area.

Finally I’m released, everything looking good as new, if a little pink. I spin around to find Tanis vomiting up blood and her insides spilling out, among other signs of things being broken. Fuck, even her posture’s lopsided. Don’t you smile at me, dammit! This isn’t funny!

Now there’s something moving around beneath her skin. Like it’s scratching at the surface, trying to claw its way out. I… I don’t know what to make of it, but it’s not as distracting as the thunking of Fuckface’s feet advancing on us again. I have to try and hold her off until help arrives or something. Fuck, I don’t know, but I’m not just going to leave her here.

Fuckerfly rounds the corner in time for me to make another spear and lunge at her. She catches it with her hands, and I let her keep it. I make a new one and go on the offensive, forcing Fuckerfly to fall back. The fighting has managed to take its toll on her, Eversor regeneration or not. I can see that the freshest wounds aren’t closing yet, leaving holes that show off her ink-covered heart and lungs. She’s breathing pretty heavily, and even her robotic parts are dripping with sweat. I can’t believe it, but she’s wearing down.

I’m in better shape, at least, but that could change very quickly if Fuckerfly decides to start shooting again. She suddenly starts grinning, and I back the fuck off. This turns out to be the right choice, as she starts cackling while the machine gun thing keeps shooting. Diving behind the corner, I only get shot twice in the right shoulder thanks to my foresight.

What else is there to get mad about… I’m sick of being unable to read things without triggering a trance. I’m sick of only surviving due to dumb luck. And I’m really sick of Fuckerfly antagonizing me. The anger once again eases the pain of the gunshot wound, making it bearable for the time being.

Alright… alright… I can’t go after her head on again. Without Tanis supporting me, I need to get behind her somehow and finish this. I spend way too long thinking about it before I run down the hallway and turn left, sliding a little thanks to the lack of friction. I scramble forward, rush to the end of the hall, and turn left again, Fuckerfly’s heavy footsteps moving towards where I was before. I keep going and turn left a third time and find she has her back to me.

I make one more spear, and dash toward her as fast as I can, for what I hope is the last attack. Fuckerfly hears me coming, but she’s not quick enough enough; as soon as I get close, I change my stance: feet open, shoulders back, body crouched low, spear forward. And then I spring at her, spearing her in the chest yet again, and keep going. Yelling the entire time as I tackle Fuckerfly into a wall with a loud crash, and pin her there yet again. I feel her ribs and spine crunch under my shoulder, and she coughs blood and ink onto my face in response.

Her normally prim and proper brown hair is wild and matted with viscera and ink. Her white costume is stained red and black. The gun barrel is bent at a weird angle. And she’s… she’s actually starting to cry a bit.

…She looks really pitiful right now.

Once again I’m aware of the wound in my shoulder, burning like molten metal under my skin. I can’t stay mad like this. I just can’t. For fuck’s sake even she doesn’t deserve this shit.

…It’s not going to work. What I’m going to do isn’t going to work. It’s just going to earn me derision from Miss Schulz. She’s just going to scream curses at me, or try and attack again, or something. But even so, it doesn’t feel right to leave it at this.

“…I’m really sorry about all this, Miss Schulz,” I murmur, staring at my boots in shame. “I, I don’t want to die after all, but if, um…” I wipe at my eyes with my sleeve – a part that isn’t covered in something - before I continue, “if we run into each other again later, and you’re still mad…” Sucking it up, I stare her straight in the eyes, meeting her hateful glare with no such animosity left in me. “if there’s anything I can do to make you feel better, or make things up to you somehow, then I’ll do it if I can. I mean it. Just… just stop involving other people to get to me. Please.”

Miss Schulz lets her face relax and looks at me with incredulity. Like she’s actually considering what I told her just now. However, it turns into a scowl right after, and she starts struggling against the spear. Darn.

I think I’ve done enough, so I leave her there, walking back to where I think I saw Tanis earlier. Hope she’s alright.

Tanis is standing by another bloody pile of brown stuff, apparently dusting herself off or something. “Eleanor!” she says, looking completely unharmed again. “Did, did you get her?”

I nod, relieved to see her okay. “Yeah,” I tell her, “I don’t think-“

And I’m interrupted by the erratic clanking of a certain someone coming towards us at speed.

“Oh, come on!” I groan at Miss Schulz as she comes into view, maces ready. “Do we –have- to keep fighting?”

“That won’t be necessary,” a stern voice informs me.

A wisp of smoke appears out of thin air in the direction of the mysterious voice, causing Miss Schulz to slow to a stop in curiosity. Swiftly, it expands into the shape of a tall woman in a vest and skirt, with her back to me and one hand on her hip. Her half-cape and shoulder length black hair billow out behind her as if blown by a gust of wind. Her other arm rests at her side, both arms covered in black tattoos that give a distinctly snake-like feel.

I don’t know why I’m scrutinizing her like this. I know who this is.

Miss Madge clears her throat, seemingly ignoring me for now. “Lady Muck,” she taunted, Miss Schulz going red in the face, “your performance was embarrassing. Have the dignity to bow out.”

“Fuck off, Madge!” Miss Schulz snarls, stomping forward with loud clanking sounds. “This doesn’t concern you!”

“But all of this –does- concern me,” Miss Madge insists, her silvery voice clear in spite of the cacophony Miss Schulz’s walking created. “See, the only reason you even made it this far is that I wanted to test Miss Slam, the Warmaster allowed it, and Miss Berry is indisposed at the moment.” She glances over her shoulder at me, a small grin on her face. “I really didn’t believe you would do as well as you did. Congrats, kid.”

I probably shouldn’t have blurted out the first thing that came to mind: “…You let other people get hurt for some stupid test about me?” I grumbled, then covered my mouth in embarrassment.

“I believed the risks were acceptable,” Miss Madge responds, drumming her fingers against her thigh. She glances over at Tanis and asks her, “do you have any objections, Miss Nagi?”

“Oh, no. I mean, I don’t,” Tanis stammers, clutching her axe to her chest. “I don’t have any objections.”

This seems to satisfy Miss Madge, who turns back to Miss Schulz. The berserker pounces at Miss Madge, but the Callidus Rank Leader turns to smoke the instant Miss Schulz reaches her, flowing around her assailant and reforming directly behind her.

Miss Schulz has a faraway look in her eyes for an instant, then looks at her arms and starts screaming hysterically. Miss Madge calmly strides right past her as Miss Schulz begins clawing at her arms and legs, skin flaking off and metal screeching against metal. The girl falls over, grabbing her right wing and ripping it out with an agonized scream. After much groaning from the artificial enhancements, she even manages to tear her right arm and leg off, tossing them away and thrashing on the ground as she attempts to remove all her limbs.

The horror of the situation finally sinks in fully, and I yell imploringly at Miss Madge, “Stop that!” She quirks her eyebrow at me, but doesn’t stop smiling or drumming her fingers on her thigh. “Please, don’t torture her any more,” I plead, balling my hands into fists. “I know what it’s like to have a bad day that drags on for a long time, and I want to make it up to her somehow!”

Miss Madge doesn’t really do anything for an agonizingly long amount of time. Miss Schulz’s spastic motions seem to increase in intensity, and I wonder if she’s doing the opposite of what I asked out of pure spite. Gradually, though, he screams turn to whimpering and she seems to tire out, taking big, heaving breaths. “Out of the goodness of my heart,” Miss Madge informs me, still looking smugly confident, “I’ll ignore the fact that you told me what to do.” Turning her head back to face Miss Schulz, she asks her, “well? Do you have anything to say in response, Miss Muck?”

Miss Schulz tries to pull herself up to a sitting position, but the struggle proves pointless with just one arm and leg. Finally, she gives up and asks me, in a very small voice, “Why?”

I smile slightly at her. “Because it’s horrible to kick someone when they’re down,” I answer. “Even if you don’t like them, even if you hate them, even if they’ve done awful things to you…” I have to pause to wipe at my eyes a bit before I finish, “that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help them when they really need it.”

Miss Schulz looks incredulous. “You don’t really think that, do you?” she asks.

“Yeah. I… I haven’t been following that as well as I should,” I say with no small measure of shame - a bunch of really bad days isn’t a good enough excuse for me to be mean to people. I got a lot to make up for. “But it’s what I’m gonna try to do from now on.” That makes her go silent.

“If that’s all, then,” Miss Madge says, “Miss Schulz will be confined to the Silent Room until Monday.” She looks back to me, looking very pleased with herself. “I’ll give you your performance evaluation tomorrow. Think of whatever questions you might have for me. For now, go get some rest.” She starts to turn to Tanis, but stops, her half-cape swishing around. “Oh, and a word of advice,” she adds, “tell your boss about this. I believe she’d like to hear it.”

I nod along, still trying to process the fact that I’m getting a performance evaluation for not getting killed. Miss Madge orders, “Miss Nagi, please tend to Miss Slam’s injury before you escort her to her quarters. You are both dismissed.”

Tanis moves up and signals for me to follow her. I’m more than a little relieved to be out of here.

…I’m not sure why, but I’m cautiously optimistic about things. Maybe they’ll turn around for real this time. I hope so.

No, things are going to get better this time. I’m going to make sure of it.