“I said kill her.”
The two henchmen strode into action. The Riley one strode forward, reaching for Alice’s neck.
Alice closed her eyes for a moment. Deep down, she had been hoping for this. She very much wanted to hunt. It had been an urge for a very long time, but Finch’s father, she knew, had not been a good target. These people were bad. She had clearly been marked for death by the leader.
Alice grabbed the man’s hand and bent all of his fingers backward.
The Solune, realizing that this was no longer a joke, threw out a fist. It moved with uncanny speed, and Alice was hit. She felt no pain, as if she had been hit by a strong gust of wind as opposed to a fist.
She had never punched, and had never even seen a punch. She copied him, and punched back. The Solune man flew back three cubits.
Alice smiled, and Diesel stepped back. This must have been some sort of signal, because the other six members of her band rushed forward and fell upon Alice. Alice, feeling rather excited at the prospect of combat, rushed towards them.
Most of them drew swords. Alice didn’t know what they were, but she was smart enough to recognize that these extended knives would be dangerous. She opened her fists and bared her claws.
“Watch out Alice!” She heard a voice, her father’s voice.
She didn’t have time to look for him, but she saw the second Solune drain his eyes down his cheeks. He fired twin beams of plasma from his eyes, a dull yellow. They hit Alice, searing her flesh like a brand. Her face tensed further, and the tension moved down her neck, to her shoulders and then to her arms and abdominals. Her eyes blazed bright red.
She felt her muscles shift positions. She did not realize this, but they had shifted into positions appropriate for hunting.
The burning stopped, the laszors disappearing. Alice saw more metal bolts rain into her enemies.
And then, they clashed. Five Riley, men and women, attacked her. This was a mistake, as they got in each other’s way. Like the rest of her body, Alice’s skin had become very tense. Swords cut into the skin, but not many could get deep enough to draw blood.
She bared her teeth and clawed at the woman in front of her, sticking four fingers into the abdomen, and throwing the Riley back.
Behind her, one of the bandits got the clever idea to thrust. All of his force pushed towards her, concentrated on a point, and he pierced deep into her back. Alice turned, and the sword turned with her. She had accidentally disarmed the man. She swiped, gouging into his chest, and the punched him away. There were only three now.
Alice realized that there were other men fighting alongside her. Drake was stationed on a rooftop, firing bolts. Her father was pummelling the Solune she had punched earlier. In fact, it seemed that there was a whole allied army around her, keeping those that she had beaten down previously out of the fight.
Alice instinctively let out a piercing shriek, a battle cry. She stared up at her enemies, looking exactly like the kind of monster everyone in Murdock had thought she was.
Two of the men, following their comrade’s example, thrust into Alice’s flesh. One hit her chest, the other her right arm. Alice pulled the sword from her chest and smacked the pommel into its owner’s face with her left arm. Her right was now injured. She could use it, but it would hurt. The third Riley must have realized it was still usable, so she thrust into it as well. They pulled their blades from her arm and Alice began bleeding freely.
One of them got piked in the neck by Drake, and in a wild fury Alice grabbed the other one by the shirt and lifted her up. She launched the poor soul into Diesel Dirge.
Dirge sidestepped, and then strode into the fight, her face a mask. She drew an axe with a small head, the appropriate size for battle. She swung expertly at Alice’s bleeding arm and hacked into it. Alice thrust her left arm, claws jutting forward.
Dirge swung towards the arm with ease. She had training, skill. Alice was nothing more than a scary looking monster, a brute.
“Come on you degenerate. Can’t you do any better than that?” Diesel laughed as her axehead cut into muscle.
Alice shrieked again, her long canines jutting out of her mouth. She reacted with speed, using the scream as a ruse and cutting forward with her injured arm.
It was the most painful thing Alice had ever done, but she forced her right ahead with all of her effort. Her nails cut towards Diesel’s neck, and she pulled up, lifting the Riley up by the jaw.
Diesel swung, teeth clenched, her axe hitting Alice’s neck. It shuddered as if she had tried to harm a mountain, and Dirge lost her grip. The axe clanged onto the ground.
Alice wasn’t really in the mood to speak, so she just said, “Exit the town.”
Everyone else had finished a while ago, and were caught dumbstuck. Jithin came to his senses and stepped forward.
“This town is now protected by Alice’s Militia. Feel free to tell your friends.” He said.
Alice thrust her arm up suddenly, and then lowered Dirge to the ground. She clutched at her throat and stared at the creature before her.
As Alice’s breathing slowed, her muscles shifted back in their normal positions. Her form became less brutish, her skin less tense. Her eyes faded back to maroon, and she put her teeth away.