By spurged

Reposting here because I'm retared and lost my passfile.

You sighed heavily, eyes boring into hers as you peered over your coffee. It was always the same routine, and though part of you was annoyed with it, you were starting to crave it a little. Just a touch anyways.

"Well?" The rather petite Kobold asked in rebuttal to your brushing off and all you could do was roll your eyes and give an annoyed huff. The routine and incessant needling ruffled you, made you want to launch into the tried and true grumpy old man bit; but it also touched on something you inherently knew in regards to it, that all of this was only because she actually cared. Today was the weekly check-in on the old man at the end of the road. You weren't particularly geriatric but as you slowly rolled past your mid fifties you had hoped the checking in was more of a platonic thing rather than what Mamono were usually about. It wouldn't be so bad but Lyra was barely twenty and most of the Mamono who'd even be interested were not your type at all or would demand that you were baby-faced; you weren’t going to shave your beard, no matter how pretty or sweet the girl. Lady. Monster-lady.

"It's just not for me." You answered more fully, still trying to avoid the subject. It wasn't exactly a lie per se.

"C'mon, that's not a real answer." Lyra whined, leaning on your patio table. Her ears and thick curtain fluffy hair threatening to hide most of her face. "There has to be a real reason there isn't a Mrs. Incog."

"Why, are you hoping to throw in an application if the reason is satisfactory?" You jabbed as a grin broke out across your face. You weren't as young or good looking as you had used to be, but you still managed to cause her to sputter as her face burned a dark red.

"I-it's not like that." She shifted, turning away to at least not look into your eyes anymore. "It's just… kind of weird for an old g-"

"It's because of the war, okay?" You offered, hoping the dog-girl would take the excuse. To a certain degree it was true, but to the fullest of it it was a poor lie. The contact war had changed you, ruined you. Not in the way that veterans in past were ruined by sudden bouts of irrational fear or being taken back to the warzone in their minds, yours was the realization that you had tried to stop everything around you from currently happening. The reality of it all was that you hated yourself completely.

The amnesty that had been granted once the dust settled had felt kind of bitter, but the real salt in the wound was everything that followed. Society flourished and the world fell into a mostly lazy peace, and you couldn't help but hate yourself for trying to protect what looking back on it seemed like hell incarnate. Then came the veteran memorials, parades, and speaking events which had piece by piece eaten at your soul. Each one with you and your 'enemy' side by side all while the knowledge that you had harmed, maimed, and even killed some of them seeping into you and making you ache. It didn't matter that those who had died came back as some various undead variant, you couldn't escape the condemnation of your own conscience. Mamono were 'monsters', but you were the only one who really was a monster and it had taken years to feel barely comfortable in the presence of one as you fought against the hatred for yourself deep inside.

No one held the war or what you did against you, something that hurt more and more as time went on. Festering in you till you had run off and grabbed up a piece of undeveloped land in the middle of nowhere to try and escape it all. Eventually though, the Mamono found you as a neighborhood built up around you. There were a few close calls, but you had managed to avoid being 'claimed' as they called it and eventually the attempts dried up. The last being some full of herself lizard who had broken in and called you a hero for serving in the war, whether it was her somehow being able to smell how your emotions played or how the fight ended, but it had been the last you had ever seen of her. Being an unyielding curmudgeon definitely helped too. It wasn’t as if you didn’t ever feel lonely, or wouldn’t have been welcoming to have someone at your side, but you couldn’t escape the pain of what you had done.

"That happened forever ago though," she rebutted, frowning at you and coaxing a smirk out of you.

“You sure youre not trying to throw in an a-”

“No.” She spat out quickly, turning an even darker shade of red. Was it a lie or not? You couldn’t tell. Mamono were odd, though you wouldn’t put it past her to be playing matchmaker. How many older Mamono did Lyra happen to know? “I-it’s not like that.”

“Look, as much fun as these dates are,” you smirked, as she recoiled while turning an even somehow darker shade of red. Her paw like hands balling up in frustration as she began to glare at you. “Can I just enjoy my coffee? Being a grumpy old man is a hobby of mine, I’d like to get back to it. Okay?”

“F-fine. But I’ll be back.” she pouted, folding her arms across her chest as her glare deepened. “I’ll get you even- th-that is uh…,” she trailed off, as her ears began to flop about.

“It sounds romantic,” you grumbled, pulling a groan from her as she began to stomp off. Apparently done with the conversation. You couldn’t help but like Lyra. She was demanding, insistent, and cute in a way that only younger women could be.

You were drenched in sweat, sitting in a cleared out section of your house’s crawlspace, a void between a set of walls you had taken for storing things you wanted hidden. It was at least three in morning and you were in a section of what was now a makeshift closet, staring at your old gear as blood rushed through your ears and your own heartbeat was the only sound you could hear. Black and dark blue military riot gear stared back down at you, the empty bucket like helmet seeming to be a leering face in the dark.

“Aren’t we done yet?” you asked no one in particular, eyes drifting to the breaching ‘tool’, sidearm, and even the odd Mamono sword you had absconded with as a war trophy; each of them seeming to call out to you. Each demanding to be touched, held, and used. “Why can’t I just be done?”

You had woken suddenly, violently and found yourself confusing memories, a dream, and a deep seated impression that someone had broken in, so of course clearing the house room by room made sense. An old double action revolver in hand as you moved through the dark in nothing but boxers while the jumbled nonsense inside your head bit at you. Was there one of those furry black armored monsters in your kitchen yelling about raping while bullets and bombs went off? You could have sworn you heard someone scream, or was that just the dream? Doors were thrown open into walls as you waved the gun about futilely looking for nothing until only your secret ‘room’ was left, and now you were here kneeling in the dark before something you had tried to hide. Tried to forget.

You sighed, shifting as you sat up in the cramped room before touching at the chest of the old flak vest. A scent of gunpowder and dust drifted up from the cloth and made you wrinkle your nose, nostalgia and loathing blooming inside you. You missed your draftee friends and stupid shit the lot of you had gotten up to and you couldn’t help but hate yourself for ever putting on the damned uniform all at the same time.

“Is there something we need to do still?” you found yourself asking in a cold yet sarcastic tone. There wasn’t a response, only the odd feeling that the recess of the helmet somehow held a face you couldn’t see in the dark. Your own face. You grunted before making your way out of the small space, revolver in hand, as you headed back to bed. Absently you touched at your face and recoiled from yourself instantly, as an alien sensation made itself known. Immediately you slapped your hand to your face, fingers sliding against your bare skin as confusion bloomed through you. It wouldn’t be the first time you had done something while sleepwalking, likely wouldn’t be the last either, but shaving was a new trick.

All you could do was shake your head before sighing heavily, your feet mechanically carrying you back to your bed. As you flopped down and wrapped yourself in your quilt, sleep took you quickly.

The rest of your week was typical for you. Wake, local television, check on your tiny farm and chickens, process your produce and eggs, a minor workout, and then screwing around for the rest of the day. Being ‘retired’ was great.

The rest of it was spent in the company of one of your favorite pre-neighborhood companions; your reclaimed, hardwood, tube television set. It was old, clunky, and every input had to be done manually by knob. You hated the inconvenience of it, hated that it was black and white, and hated how the slightest hint of weather would scatter the picture; to say in the least, you absolutely loved the old piece of shit.

It hummed at you in the dark as an image ballooned up on the old glass screen, the soft light filling the room slowly. No longer in a pitch darkness, you now found yourself basking in the low glow of the set. It squawked loudly before sensible sounds poured from the speakers and the image on it stabilized. Late night, local news. Mamono had brought back a large set of older tech as part of integration, analog stations were definitely one of your favorite things that had been revived. Some succubus anchor began going on about the evils of streaming while talking about some incident that happened recently.

You groaned as you threw yourself down on your couch in the low light, your glass of whiskey sloshing messily in your hand. You sighed heavily, took a sip and tried to imagine where you’d be without any of what had happened having happened. Probably stuck in a much larger, more worn down house than you were now with the first batch of grandkids showing up and a wife nearly a foot taller than yourself who’d be demanding in all the right ways. It sounded great, but could you have really done that? Just given in and dropped the loathing you felt for yourself? You groaned, not liking the background noise of the news itself and moved to get back up and turn one of the knobs.

“It’s believed these attacks are increasing in occurrence,” you froze, your unfocused eyes glaring at the screen with your hand out reached to grab at one of the knobs as they played footage of what looked like a Hellhound being loaded into the back of an ambulance. She looked rough, bloodied and judging by the expression on her face likely concussed. “It’s assumed that the human isolationist group known as the Order is responsible for these violent acts an-” the rest of it muffled out in your ears as you sat back down, staring at the screen as your mind rolls about jumping from one idea to another.

She had no chance, something that immediately occured to you. Just like in the war, even now the same old rules were more or less the same. Despite their greater physical abilities, skills, and even magic; Mamono often didn’t stand a chance against an armed and determined human. At least so long as various criteria were met, the first of which being that the attacker was male and single. You could personally attest to it, even the toughest and biggest of Mamono could be reckoned with if you were reasonably clever and properly dedicated. So long as you didn’t freeze up, anyone could take down a dragon or more. It was part of why you had lasted so long during the war. And beyond.

“If you or anyone you know may have any information or believe you do, please don’t hesitate to contact law enforcement immediately.” the anchor stated, nodding towards the camera. “Remember, we can only keep society safe if everyone does their part.”

“That’s right Katy,” answered a nearby Ratatoskr, “And now, it is currentl-” you sucked on your teeth as you stopped paying attention.

You could only grumble as you took another sip of the whiskey, the various shades of gray light playing over your face as you ruminated on the story and what it really meant. Out there, somewhere in your quiet and cozy town there were some shitheads who intended to cause trouble for the sake of it. You could understand things getting out of control in regards to Mamono, you had witnessed such first hand years back at a bar; it had ended in an impromptu wedding as the Ogress was taken away by police, but outside of the property damage there had been no bad blood. Assholes.

You downed your drink, laying back on your couch and relaxing as you sighed heavily. Your eyes shutting on their own as you felt the slow rhythm of your own breathing and eventually the turn of the earth beneath you. It was one thing to do what you had, you and everyone else didn’t know better; there were fucking aliens stepping out of portals and taking over huge swathes of land while destroying everything in their path, any sane person would have fought back in the chaos. But these people, this Order, they knew the truth and apparently just didn’t care.

You had your own issues with Mamono, most of it being a problem with yourself. But to imagine people who actually hated Mamono simply because they weren’t human? It was worse than simply not knowing better, there was no way they couldn’t. Even with the sudden course correction that society had experienced after the contact war, the worst aspects of humanity still bled through; in particular in human only colonies or groups. Infidelity, broken homes, abuse, and more still prevailed in such places; why would anyone want to defend that? Let alone live in such places. And all of these things Mamono didn’t have, something about their inherent nature that they had gained from their dark-queen, their Maou. Maybe you should just give in and let some Mamono sweep you off your feet. You sighed heavily, relaxing further as you slowly began to be overtaken by sleep.

“Are you sure?” Lyra demanded, eyeing you with her paws on her hips as you sat in your yard; your usual coffee in hand. The older woman at her side more or less confirming your suspicions of her motivations, especially the woman’s ringless hand. You weren’t entirely sure what kind of Mamono she was, you had seen various insect-girls before, but Lyra’s ‘friend’ was certainly different.

Instead of the typical green or muted brown tones, her chitin was a plethora of bright colors almost mimicking the bloom of some form of exotic flower. Multiple sets of arms and what looked like nearly vestigial insect like claws while thick antenna sprouted from her head which was crowned with black hair with a few streaks of white here and there, something that didn’t give her a refined look so much as something oddly erotic; an odd feeling that she was somehow well aged and ‘ready’ boiled up inside you as old feelings you tried to bury rose up to the surface. Your eyes lingered, tracing the shape and form of her face and more. Damn kid wanting to play matchmaker.

“Yes, I’m sure.” you spat back at Lyra, before worrying that you may have sounded too grumpy, something you tried to rectify with a sheepish grin. Tentatively you brought your coffee to your lips, draining it at a good pace as you tried to shift gears. What even was this? You were never like this.

“That’s uh… w-well, I’m glad to meet you.” Ava stated as her face lit up, chitinous hands touching at themselves in what you immediately realized was a nervous habit. Deep purple eyes regarded you with a light behind them as her face began to burn, goosebumps breaking out across your skin as something inside you realized that she was likely thinking the same of you that you had of her. Well aged, ready. While it certainly was true to a degree that Mamono were of a one track mind, you knew inherently if she was thinking such things she likely already had a list of names picked out for the inevitable. “Is there anywhere in particular we should go?” she asked earnestly, eyes boring into yours as they shined.

“Anything is fine,” you answer, forgetting the prior conversation and the original plan that you were needed to help carry some animal feed. Something that was a blatant and bold faced lie, anyone with sense knew that Mamono tended to be stronger than the average man. Not that you minded at all. Instead your mind defaulted, almost automatically to restaurants. And why not? A pretty woman wanting to go somewhere, it only made sense. “Personally I think the small mom & pop place arou-”

“Oh! I’ve been there, they’re great!” her entire face lit up, “We should make sure to get extra hot oil though… do you uh.. Do you need to put anything away first?” She motioned towards your coffee cup with one of her smaller insectoid arms and you simply shook your head, setting it down without a care. You probably should put it away in the house, but it wasn’t as if anyone was going to come by and steal an old coffee cup. Hell, most people didn’t even bother locking their doors anymore.

“It should be fine,” you answered back warmly and quickly as you stood up and made your way over to her. A hand and set of insect-like claws on one side grasped at you as you neared, before wrapping and hooking in your arm; the two of you regarding each other before blushing heavily in unison. Lyra simply huffed, rolling her eyes in mock annoyance as if she hadnt orchestrated it.

“Let’s go lovebirds,” Lyra muttered, though the hint of amusement in her voice was quite apparent.

Zipangu cuisine was admittedly something unique and something you never really got used to. It was an odd amalgamation of everything that was admittedly good from what you expected from most ‘eastern’ food, that and the usual crazy Mamono twist. Mutated fruits, vegetables, and assorted meats from animals you had never even heard off and all of it was fantastic.

The three of you ate in forced silence, the meal itself dominating everything with its irresistible pull; even still, you and Ava traded glances as well as gentle passing touches. Lyra holding a smug look, likely over her success in playing matchmaker. Fingers brushing against the others every now and again, light prods to a wrist here and there, and even outright almost grasping at one another’s hands. Her chitin was smooth, cool, and a mixture of something tough but also oddly ‘soft’.

Fingers interlaced with yours suddenly and squeezed causing you to choke as you shot a look at Ava. Smoldering purple eyes met yours as a smirk played out on her face. You quickly glanced to the side and found that the two of you were alone; when Lyra had taken off was a mystery.

“She took off a while ago,” the sound of satisfaction boiled through Ava’s voice, “We can be…,” She looked around, surveying the area before staring into your eyes, almost predatorially and fully squeezing your hand in her own. “A little indecent if we want to.” A grin split your face as you suddenly recalled the odd behavioral standards Mamono had.

“If this is indecent, what do you call everything else that usually happens after?” you asked, fighting not to laugh as you drew your index finger up across hers which caused her to shiver. The smoldering look came back to her eyes as she stared you down, a slight ghost of a smile starting to form on her lips.

“Well if you’re really up for it, maybe we could go an-" everything was shut out by a shriek followed by yelling and you found yourself standing free of the table, butter knife brandished in one hand as you began to look around for the source. As soon as your mind snapped to the idea that it come from outside and around the corner of the restaurant, your legs mechanically set you in motion. You had no thoughts, no responses to any of the world around you, as near ancient military training suddenly burned to life from ashes you often tried to throw out and spurned you into action.

As soon as you were past the glass door your eyes snapped to the cause and as your mind began assigning meaning to everything it saw you felt the blood drain out of you. You barely registered Lyra on the ground while gripping her wrist which was at an odd angle, your eyes failed to trace the face of the officer who was currently wrestling with a young man in odd clothes, what your mind did burn into your prefrontal cortex as your lizardbrain kicked on was him. His clothes were wrong, displaced by time and reasonable conventions, and seemed as if he was supposed to be attending a renaissance fair. Everything about him was anachronistic as he fought against the cop, yelling and spitting something that you couldn't hear as the muscles in your arm turned into overtightened cables of metal that caused your knuckles to ache on the butter knife. He was clearly one of those Order weirdos, or a copycat. For some bizzaire reason they loved to dress as if it was still the middle ages. Your vision began to run red, the old familiar sensation from the war welling up inside you. And you began to lash out.

Instantly concrete bit into your face and other exposed skin as your arms were folded forceable behind you by something strong and covered in fur, a heavy weight resting on your back pinned you down. A litany of sounds suddenly flooding back to you as it all crashed into you in complete cacophony. Someone was wailing loudly nearby, something that took you back to when one of your squadmates shot off his own kneecap and nearly died two other voices were yelling rapidly; somewhere in the distance you could hear sirens approaching.

You were chained to the table, though it wasn't necessarily uncomfortable. Angry red eyes regarded you, though they did poorly to hide the other emotion that boiled beneath the gruff exterior; she was scared of you. Or maybe of what you had apparently done. Black, thick furry ears swivelled and flicked as she frowned at you from across the table with her large paws crossed over her in mock annoyance. With her imposing size, musculature, and piercing flaming eyes she might have been rather intimidating if you hadn’t faced worse in the war and weren’t easily twenty years her senior. Hell, she had started the interrogation being over concerned with your wellbeing as if you might shatter. You were far more than brittle glass.

“After the war,” She started suddenly, leaning back in the chair while trying to maintain the facade of control. “You didn’t bother to get help did you?”

“I’m not legally obligated to answer that detective,” you answered flatly, doing your best not to move or react in any way. You wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of a reaction, something that had clearly begun to fully unnerve her the longer you failed to react. Something you had learned in the war without trying; Hellhounds 'required' input to function properly, without they were a rudderless boat. Three hours in and despite things, you were clearly throwing her for a loop. Discipline, you had learned it before the war; back in the ‘real’ military, the one where they trained people to kill. They couldn’t break you before, they couldn’t now.

“I need you to help me underst-”

“I’m not legally obligated to answer that detective.” you responded again as you cut her off, tone flat and placid. Her eyes flared hotly, a low growl rolling up through her diaphragm.

“You put a knife in a kids eye!”

“I put a butter knife,” you corrected, lifting one chained hand up as you pointed calmly at her. “Into an adult man’s eye.” The clarification clearly only pulling disgust and more fear out of her, she practically recoiled slightly at the confession. It wasn’t a big deal, not with the wonders of healing magic, at worst you’d be remanded to probation and maybe having to apologize or have said probation doubled. Not to mention as a ‘troubled’ veteran they’d probably just order you to see a shrink. You had had to deal with worse.

“How would that be better?” She asked incredulously, voice cracking as she gripped at her chair nervously. “He was seventeen, he’s a min-”

“He committed a man’s crime for a man’s reason, so a man held him accountable for it.” you replied in a matter of fact tone. He’d be as accountable as healing magic could make him anyways. He’d likely have to wear an eye patch for a week and afterwards it’d be as if it hadn't happened, but the pain he been made to endure was good enough. For now anyways. "He's lucky that thats all that happened to him today."

“Are you serious?!” She yelled, suddenly standing as large gouts of flame erupted out of her eyes. Interestingly though, you noticed that she had moved a good three feet back from the table for the display. Who knew if it was performative or not, you could never tell with cops. But you clearly worried her.

“I don’t expect any of your kind to understand. You don’t know what it was like ‘before’,” you answered back as a wry grin drew itself involuntarily over your face. You couldn’t help it, you did derive a certain kind of satisfaction from the culture shock that Mamono went through when exposed to proper human civilization; something that was rarer and rarer to see. You missed seeing medieval peasants lose their minds over minor things. “I’m only here because the lot of you are scared of what I did.”

“You assual-”

“A criminal who deserved worse.” you cut her off, annoyance beginning to tinge your voice. “Hell, if you actually disagreed you would have charged me already. But instead I’m just being ‘held’,” she grumbled in response, eyeing you suspiciously as her flames receded down to nearly nothing as she refolded her arms across herself. “Are you even able to charge me or what?” you spat out venomously, tried with the game of waiting and being prodded by the hellhound and her questions. “Cuz as far as I care for this, I’m done being even this compliant.”

You groaned, cracking your neck as you began to walk through the twilight hours of the night. The only sound being your shoes thunking against concrete pathway in the dark and the occasional gust of wind. It was sometime around one in the morning and you had finally been released after it became apparent that charges couldn’t be filled, not that that was a good thing. Lyra had apparently not bothered to press charges for whatever reason, stupid kid. Maybe she thought if she did you'd get in trouble somehow?

Deep down you felt a pain in your chest, an ache that spread through you as you thought about both Lyra and Ava. Lyra’s wrist obviously broken, the fact that you had effectively been completely useless, and the way she had looked at you as you were thrown into the back of the squad car. It wasnt your fault, or even your responsibility, but the kid looked up to you and you were more than capable; you still felt as if there was something you could have done to stop it, even though you knew better. Ava was worse though, she wouldn’t even look in your direction the entire time. And now, as you set out into the dark as you walked home that pain set in even more.

No one was waiting for you in the lobby of the police station. No one was there to pick you up and take you home. The only thing waiting for you was some whiskey, your old tube set, and your past that you kept locked up in the crawlspace. It wasn't much, hell it wasn't even anything really, but it was yours and it was never done with you. All you could do was bury it deep down and blame the person responsible for it all; yourself.

No one could fuck you like you did. You had ruined a perfectly good date, wasted your entire day with the police, and likely irreparably damaged whatever weird relationship you had with Lyra. Pretty impressive all things considered. You sighed again, louder this time and stopped and simply staring up at the starry sky. Why were you like this? You knew you wanted to be happy, knew how to go about to get that to happen, but everytime you'd manage to fuck it all up in the last few seconds before it could really matter or finalize.

"Oi!" A voice called out at you and your eyes snapped immediately to the source. It was dark and while her features werent clear in the low light, you knew exactly what was staring you down. Tawny skin, easily six feet tall, and large fluff covered ears that twitched while a rather long porcine tail swayed back and forth. Just what you needed, a gang of Orcs. Sure there was just the one, but they never traveled alone. "Wutz ya doin' out 'ere old timer?" As you continued to stare her down, you began to fill in more details on her. She was practically dressed like a biker in all leather though her leather vest was a rather poor shirt, she looked young enough to be Lyra's age or there about, and had tattoos tracing and snaking up her rather muscular and toned arms; you wanted to laugh, it was the same terrible kind you had seen as a kid that were often passed off as 'tribal'. Had they made a come back? "Lookin' for someting 'ot to getz yer motor goin'?"

" 'Es got that look!" You heard a voice call out from behind you, but you dared not react or look. "Ah betz 'is coom tastes exxta salty!"

You breathed in slowly, held it, and began counting down slowly before releasing it. You had heard of mamono 'rape-gangs' before, but part of you doubted that they were actually real. Rough, semi-violent exhibitionist orgy and a shotgun wedding rolled into one, what wasn't there to love? Definitely wasnt your style, and even if things were shot with Ava, could you really just give in to this without a fight?

"Oi! Tink 'es packin enough batter fer allz of us?" A third voice called out from in the dark. Out of the corner of your eye you could see her, similar in build and dress as the first though a little shorter. This one's shirt being little more than a leather bikini top.

You clenched your fists as you grit your teeth, the same tight metal sensation of your muscles binding up into thick cables of strength returned. Your eyes locked with the lead Orc, the primary one who started the confrontation. And you took a step forward, glaring at her head on.

"Bring it on punk," you spat out, refusing to look away as stared her down. Your own voice slick with venom and some of the anger you felt from the days events. If it had to be this way, at least you'd get a good bit of time with an Orc shaped punching bag.

"H-hey Alice, I dont know about this." Gone is the accent from the one behind you and in the dull silence of the night you can hear her taking a few steps back, moving away from you.

"Shut up stupid, we can take h-"

"I said fucking bring it!" you growled out, louder than intended while still refusing to break eye contact with the first Orc. Slowly she began to shirk away, almost as if worried you might attack.

“Y-yeah, this one isn’t right. Lets… go.” She mumbled out before shrinking away, walking backwards away from you until there was a sizeable amount of distance. In an instant she’s running, as are her lackeys, each of them going off in different directions. Smart, if it was intentional. You sighed, your breath coming out in ragged and nervous in the cool air as every muscle in your body relaxed. Part of you was pissed that they had taken off, you could have used a good fight and fuck. Damnit, you needed a drink.

You kicked in your front door, stumbling in as you immediately made your way to the kitchen and didn’t even bother with shutting the door. Anger and nerves cooking in you and driving you on at this point despite how tired you felt. You didn't stop when you were tired, you stopped when you were done; just like how you had been trained. There wasnt any literal wasn’t any point was there? You were a bachelor after all. Liqueur sloshed into a glass as you messily pour yourself a drink, and after a quick check of the time, you decided that maybe you should check in with the only person who was waiting for you.

As you finished pouring the drink you stared at the bottle momentarily before shrugging to yourself and grabbing up the bottle. You took a heavy swig, the liquid burning as you marched through your house while your free hand worked on pulling off and removing your current set of clothes. Clothes that you absently noted, seemed to have blood on them. You snorted, feeling disgusted by it and odd kind of amusement over it.

Ordinarily your clothes would have been confiscated for evidence, regardless if charges had been pressed; but magic changed the rules on that too. Gone was the need for overwhelming evidence since scrying and more were considered admissible, you chuckled to yourself as you threw your shirt against a wall and took another hard draw on the bottle. Your throat screamed in protest, unhappy with the sudden assault. As you stumbled about, your hands found the paneling and ripped it open.

Your knees cracked loudly as you piled in, bottle in hand as knelt before the odd 'shrine'. Immediately the smell of smoke and spent gunpowder assaulted you, stronger than ever. Or was it because you were drinking? The facelike darkness beneath your helmet leering down at you almost angrily. You could almost see it.

Instinctively you could almost see the 'face' and its features. It was young, unwrinkled, with piercing eyes and a scowl you could recognize anywhere. You knew that man's face. It used to stare back at you from the mirror so long ago, nowadays he only existed in your dreams or out the corner of your eye. A chuckle ripped through you and you took another long and hard draw on the bottle as you glared back.

"Yeah I know," you muttered, pulling your eyes away and inspecting the bottle. "Undisciplined, weak!” you let a laugh rip through you, “But I know what we need to do, I know what you want from me.” The dark vaccum beneath the helmet seemed to intensify and you could almost see Sergeant Anon glaring down at you; your vision swam, whether it was the drink or the heat of the moment you’d never know. The hardass, but the war would fix that, he’d mellow out eventually but he’d never really get over it. You took another swig of the bottle before dropping it, your hands going for the uniform. “I know what we’ve been waiting for.”

Your sense of direction was completely shot, but it’s not like it mattered. You had stopped driving and was now standing next to your old motorcycle, old uniform fitting you like a glove; your breaching tool was slung around your back, your sidearm on your hip, and the old trophy sword on your other. The warehouse loomed in front of you, something you had found rather quickly after some minor lurking near human-only bars and interrogating the first weirdly dressed idiot you found.

His fingers could always be reset and healed with magic, as could the bullet hole in his knee; though for a human isolationist group that would be costly and hard to find. Human wizards didn’t grow on trees, not at all like Mamono mages did anyways; in a manner of speaking. Though, Dyrads grew on trees… didn’t they?

You grasped at the old breaching tool, starting to laugh at how absurd some of this was. You were one, semi-drunk now, idiot and you had tentatively found an Order hideout with minimal effort. Were the Mamono cops even trying? Well maybe, your interrogation and methods to get here weren’t exactly legal or moral. But nothing about that bothered you at all, everything considered. You were at war, there’s no ‘real’ rules in war.

The fact that they had hurt so many people already, in particular someone you cared about was icing on the proverbial cake. That, and the anger and booze in you. Someone had to teach them a lesson, it was just bad luck on their part that it would happen to be you.

Gravel crunched under your boots with each step you took, all the while during your approach you began to mechanically check over the weapon. The chamber was clear, the drum was fully seated and ready, and with a slap the breaching tool loaded a round; the sound of which made you grin. Once you closed the distance with the warehouse, you found yourself in front of a door which immediately on simple impulse, you banged your fist against in rapid fire. The sound was deep, echoing, and nothing but the rattling metal that was cheaply slapped together.

“Hey, who’s there?!” came a muffled voice from inside the structure, “You got a password!?” your grin split your face as you reached up and adjusted your helmet, tightening it down against your skull. You thanked your lucky stars, you definitely had the right place which was something you had begun to doubt yourself on. That said, who needed passwords for legitimate business being conducted in a warehouse at two or so in the morning? You clearly found the place, despite that weirdos directions. “Hello?!” The voice yelled out again as you nestled the end of the shotgun against the doorknob and pulled the trigger.

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