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by Arbon
Rated: 13+ · Serial · Action/Adventure · #2118902
Intense battle between alien monsters and terrified soldiers. Shame they're tiny and cute.
My name is Freya Savitri, and I am a hero to mice.

No hesitation!

NONE! I sat up in a bolt that appeared to alarm the rather vocal rodent worming its way into my helmet. One arm scooped around the fluttercat to hold it close to my chest as one might discipline a child or pin down an unruly pet. The feline didn’t appreciate this any more than the Gesshru, but at least the cat was quiet about it.

My other arm reached over a shoulder and pinched around the little guy’s legs. No way in hell was this amateur getting to press all my buttons, and there was no way on earth I’d give up this chance at escape.

“W-whnooononono Nooooo! Rusted core you idiot, let me in!” I heard the squeaks, the tiny thing dangled between rough gauntlets. Smooth plastic held tight around his waist and leaving the head and ears to fall down. I could see his tail lashing left and right. The horns, the hips, the fluff, it was obviously a male even if his voice wasn’t a dead giveaway.

“Phrrraah?” The cat thing writhed in my grip, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Claws useless against the armor and wouldn’t have hurt my skin much either. It appeared alarmed, and probably confused. I tightened my grip to keep it stable.

A glance around the compound as I staggered to my feet. Tents were knocked over with a small blue fluttercat knocking aside the leaves and pawing at any Gesshru it saw hiding within. One of the building compounds was in shambles, seed spilling into a pile and broken crates snapped into splinters. Four of the otter-cat-things were flying away with a catch either in paw or elsewhere, and all of the ones without injury seemed to remain. Six in total, or five if one deigned to discount the one in my grip.

One in the air, hovering at about my head level with an awkward and ungainly flight but eyes clearly focused on the darting prey either shooting back or running for cover.

Two were in the supply pile batting aside boxes and smashing all of the weapons. Wait, the needle throwers? Yes, they were deliberately destroying plastic and rubber weapons, the only things the Gesshru had which seemed to harm them. Paws crunching down, or teeth chomping into the frame before spitting the shards out to try again.

Which left two who were at ground level and menacing massed hoards of armed troops. One by the tent looking for those who’ve hidden away, and one in the middle of the walkway that kept pawing at a wall of spear toting Gesshru, swiping them off-balance and knocking them to the ground, stomping on those who’ve tried to reload a thrower and then dodging back from the ones who rushed forward to stab.

“Let me down, gaah! Rusted Core you max, I’m supposed to pilot you. The head, idiot! The head, put me on your head!” little guy in my hand just wouldn’t stop shouting, and with a glance over to the fluttercat in my arms I momentarily wondered if I should feed him to the thing. It was more adorable, and as much as I might find Gesshru as a species cute the military of the Gashn empire didn’t deserve to be representatives of the race.

If this were Tasgal I wouldn’t have any hesitation, but the fact he was just a soldier made me think to set him down instead. Hand twisting, a smooth motion, and he was on the ground while this yowling and purring mess of fluff and claws was trying to escape my hold.

A look around the battlefield. Mostly trying to spot where Doth ended up, and if I could see her at all.

The Kittycat otter thing fighting a small army that was rapidly becoming smaller?

Five with spears ready, six more trying to load and cock a thrower, another four who weren’t armed at all. Splat! The creature simply places a paw above one of the spearmen gesshru and smushes down, forcefully but with deliberate care. Suddenly there were four on their feet and with weapons ready.

They charged forward, one jabbing blindly at the air without much success, another rushing between the legs only to get batted aside. Two more who stabbed at the exposed arm and struck true. Only to despair, or maybe rage, when their tiny slivers of plastic didn’t pierce the skin.

It’s head came down, jaws opened, and both Gesshru were mashed together with a teeth on either side, hip to hip with their heads and arms sucked in like noodles. A fairly tight fit, but once lifted off the ground there wasn’t much they could do beyond kick wildly.

The same spearman who missed before wasn’t faring any better now, and the one who’d been batted to the side now saw how little he mattered in this fight when the fluttercat just lifted its foot up to avoid a stab. And promptly stomped back down, forcing the dexterous little thing to dive out of the way.

Two moments of that fight left it easy to predict the outcome. The ones smashing crates all seemed to … wait, no, they did have Gesshru with them. One had a soldier under its foot, the other was basically sitting on a soldier. Neither had Doth’s uniform. And even through the plastic of my visor I could see their stomach’s bulging, rippling with movement from within as kicks or shoves stretched the fur. These ‘souleaters’ didn’t appear to mind overmuch.

And then their lips. Yes, the cheeks and lips were bulging too, there were the shapes of fists or faces, what might have been a thigh trying to force past the cat monster’s jaws. In the two moments I looked they weren’t having much success.

One Gesshru managed to poke it’s arm out and grasp at the air, while the otter cat simply adjusted its mouth, dipped a tongue out, and casually brought the soldier back inside. Much to the panicked screaming of the poor rodent getting a single glimpse of outside before the mouth closes back up.

There were a number of charred Gesshru on the ground, two … no, three. I think there’s a fourth one? But I could spot at least fifteen blackened scorch marks where either a soldier was hit and then cleared away, or where one of the souleaters missed its target and hit only dirt.

“Psshrmraaa!” the one in my arms got antsy after the handful of seconds I held it, clawing and struggling. It couldn’t move my arms at all, its clawing scrapes were just leaving marks on the armor all down my chest and forearm. But still I saw an oddity in that it wasn’t random flailing, it was maneuvering it’s legs to push, it was trying to work it’s arms between mine for leverage. Shoving it’s head toward the armpit and hoping it could squeeze past my guard.

These things were either natural born grapplers or they had some level of close combat training.

“Maaax!” a voice shouted near my feet, but I ignored it. “You Starflung man-eater get down here and let me in your head!”

Taking a step toward the tent, my free arm pulled to the back of my skull and quietly snapped the panel back into place. It closes with a click, and suddenly no stray rodent with grabby paws could take control away from me.

Freedom?

The one by the tents was playing a rather literal game of cat and mouse, save rather than allow the things a proper hiding spot it was tearing open tents, lifting them off the ground or sideswiping them. The moment a Gesshru was revealed it would dart over to the next tent and try to lose it’s pursuer, while the ottercat lunged forward to snatch it up.

Amusingly the Gesshru seemed to be winning this one, despite their lack of any keen senses they were very small and very quiet when they had to be. I saw flickering movements of things darting about, saw the cat paw and swipe to reveal nothing. I know I saw the flash of a Gashn uniform standing full in the open and torn between where to hide.

But thankfully for him he’d chosen to dive beneath a clawed up bedroll just before the cat turned its head, passing him by.

Stomp. Boom. And then the expected jolting start, this feline thing wasn’t at all expecting something larger to pop behind it. A turn to face me, it’s eyes wide and sparkling, I stared down and ignored the howling puurs.

“Phrraah?! Prhmap Psrrhh.” The one in my arms scrambled to break free.

“Aamrphhs? Prrruuush pshssss” Came back the hissed mewling, a cat and escaping gas all mixed with purring squeaks.

I knelt down to look closer and saw that the tent kitty had a very active stomach, but nothing in its paws or mouth. If Doth was eaten I don’t think there’s much I could do, no way in hell was I going to chase down every single one of these aliens and pump their stomach until they all barf. If it was anything other than a Gashn soldier I’d consider it, but if I don’t run away then I might never get a chance to do so again!

Something flew overhead.

“MANEATER! Hellmpph!” and of course that’s the moment I heard her.

The flying one? It zipped by, wings buffeting around my helmet and dust spraying over the plastic with little tinks and tack noises. I saw the markings of her bright grey uniform, Doth’s hand and part of her face struggling to pull free from the fluttercat’s jaws while it was doing its best to keep her restrained. Truth be told it didn’t have to try very hard.

“Yeah, yeah, I see the problem miss Doth.” I squeaked back as politely as I dared, spinning in place to watch the circling cat-thing. It floated near my head, then within arm’s reach. First looking to my face and the visor, then looking down to the one I held pinned.

“Phsrraaah!”

“Prruushh?”

Or so their conversation went, leaving me wondering if the sounds were exact enough for me to distinguish with practice. Free arm out, I reached up to grab the over-curious souleater.

A flutter of alarm, a miss as my arm swipes overhead, and then enraged hissing. It’s lips curled back to show teeth, and behind those rows of pearly white predator fangs was a very wet, very upset rodent. Two of them actually. They put both paws to their ears and curled up in response to the loud noises thundering around them, one looked to be either crying or wiping drool from its nose while Doth turned to stare at me with hope.

Eyes narrowed, I hissed back. Every fluttery otterbat thing flinched away. The one in my arms … ohshit. Started to glow?

PzzzAAAP!

A surge of lighting, the smell of ozone, it’s paws shone with a vibrant blue and the burst of plasma washed over my chest. I threw my hands back and lobbed the thing more out of shock than injury, the attack didn’t get through my armor. Melting part of the plastic smooth and smearing out the rough angles, I now had the shape of a paw just under my rib-cage burned in.

“Prrshaa! Phrruu, phasssruuu!” the one on the ground shouted out through a mouth full of Gesshru. Three pairs of legs sticking out now and two more that were pinned by the weight of it just stepping down. The one at my own feet took off, leaping backward and deciding that fighting me wasn’t worth looking for a catch, and the one in the air …

Shit.

It was flying away.

“No. You get back here. I’m not leaving without that pilot.” I squeaked plainly and strode forward, stepping over tents and getting closer to the bat. It’s mouth closed, and it was some ten feet off the ground.

“MAaaaax! It’s my destiny to pilot you, get back heeere!” that lone gesshru who pressed my buttons was now standing on the side of a mud wall, waving it’s arms around and shouting. I didn’t care for the parallels between him and me, for one because I was actually a fair bit more dangerous.

The two crunching weapons kept at their job, glancing over at the three now skyward and the one focused on me.

I casually tapped into the mud wall with my foot, the Gesshru wanna be pilot stumbling over his feet but not falling down. Cracks formed, tiny pebbles of broken mud and brick tumbled over the side. Scoop, scoop, collecting up ammo while sidestepping out of the little fort itself.

The flying things weren’t going very far, just circling and keeping out of arms reach.

And then by the time I’d turned my head up to look … oh. I couldn’t tell them apart. Three of them were yellow, one was blue, and one was orange. But then the one fighting on the ground was also orange, and the two stomping supplies and crushing food were yellow. Which one had Doth again?

“H-hhel – p-pleass!” her voice, along with part of her face. Still fighting to break free and only making it part of the way, the flying souleater extended its tongue out and curled up around her face as a means to drag her back inside. Casual and effortless, treading this as much like playing with one’s food as anything else.

I wasn’t quite as casual in throwing a small rock. A smack, a squeak from the flying toothy otter, and it flinched back from a bruising pain. I … I rather expected it to fall from the sky, or stop flying, or be almost dead or something, rubber bands and plastic toothpicks could hurt the things after all. Why was it still moving?

My own eyes suddenly went wide as all four of them opened up a counter-attack and suddenly I was playing a game of plasma dodgeball. The one from the ground lifted a paw and blasted me from the side, it’s own burst tearing open a hole in my armor and burning into the skin at my flank. A hiss in shock, melted plastic dripping down the outside of my thighs as the blast made everything splash outward. Superficial scarring on the skin itself.

Doth’s captor was a small bit disoriented itself, but not enough to throw off its aim. I ducked, and ended up taking the blast directly on the shoulder, all but leaning into the shot. A sizzle, cracking pops as plastic boils away, but while it clearly left a mark the armor still held.

Snugggles circling around leased a burst dead-center toward my face as if trying to get revenge for my rather forceful hugs, but I brought my arm up to block. Sizzling, bubbles bursting away, the armor held but was visibly deformed. Drops of plastic fall to the ground to cool on desert rocks.

And the tent stalker took it’s shot last, aiming at the other leg with a burst of lightning. It’s really hard to dodge when it’s so many attacks coming from so many different angles alright? I saw plastic not just melt, but splash away. Feeling the burns at my thigh as electricity jolts through, feeling the heat and the sparks. It was like being shot by a firework, it usually won’t kill you but it’s not pleasant either.

My armor wasn’t making me as immune as I’d hoped, and I wasn’t going to last if they could keep this up. Rocks still in hand I turned back to the battlefield with those Gesshru soldiers now watching the proceedings. I’d distracted all of the combatants, if they wanted to chase off the weapon smashers then let them be my guest. A leap back over the mud wall. Well, hop more than a leap. Boots crunch into the dirt, snapping still intact tents. I practically dove by the storage building eyes wide and scanning to keep all of my assailants in clear view.

Another zap! The one from the ground fluttered up skyward and shot off a bolt in passing, the glowing blue plasma washing over my shoulder and splashing out an opening, once more a painful sizzle, the burns stinging against the skin.

Poor Doth seemed more than helpless in that ottercat’s maw, it too swooped past and delivered a shot directly to my face. The plastic visor splashed away, the jolt tingled my nose and left my hair smelling of tar. Everything was numb now, and it was a little hard to see.

The third one by the tent jumped up and unleashed a blast. No! I dove for cover behind the building, dollhouse sized through it was, and saw the beam sailing past like the shot from a tazer. Fuuuuck.

Mister snuggles just swooped overhead, following my movements and trying to get behind. Doublefuck.

I grabbed the roof of the building. In a single move I tore it up from the foundations, wood splintering away and mud brick crumbling as it’s pushed against the edge. A feverish grip as somehow I had almost as much reason to be panicked by these things as the Gesshru did.

The hugging one fired a beam at me, and probably would have gotten into one of the holes in my armor if I didn’t leap away and throw this makeshift shield in front of it. A weak zap, a splash of energy, and the alarmed squeakity screams of numerous Gashn soldiers who all had new reason to fear the possibility I might crush them in hopping about. It’s not as if these buildings, their only cover, would be a safe hiding spot.

The tent stalker made another flyby and zapped the ground behind me, my footwork fast enough to avoid at least one. The actual fighter now having to loop back around, seemed to be struggling with its mouth filled with three Gesshru. Having to take time to level it’s flight off and wincing at some of the kicks and shoves bulging it’s cheeks, both paws entirely pre-occupied holding the meals inside.

Doth’s captor was flying away …

“Oh fucking no you don’t, you can have all the others but that one’s mine!” I threw a rock. The creature attempted to swerve aside, and the rock hits it’s chest with a hard lump. The thing was knocked about somewhat but didn’t break its flight, content to keep putting distance between itself and me. Ohfuckno it was fast.

The poor hugged cat-thing decided to try and pounce rather than zap, rushing up to meet me in face to face combat. I was startled enough by the flying lunge that it almost got to my neck and tried to close jaws over my armor. Instead I turned my plank of wood around and swatted it out of the air. A crunch, a whimpering purr noise, and it leveled off to resume flight somewhere around waist level.

As much as I’d like to assume a weak hit, really it was just light wood.

The soldier carrying ottercat decided the best way to hold all three would be to pluck one out and hold it between two paws, it’s flight smooth and gaining height.

The two smashers appeared to have finished their work and now left off the ground, gaining altitude and taking off back toward the forest. I didn’t care about them.

The tent stalker loosed another beam that I failed to avoid, slipping past my guard and hitting near the ribs. Plastic looked deformed, but the armor remained and I didn’t feel a thing.

Hugging souleater outright turned and fled, up and up and far away, tail all but between its legs. The soldier grabber wasn’t able to fight well, hands too full, and took off to the forest. Tent stalker tried another shot and almost got me, a head sized glob of plasma hurling at alarming speed. I leapt away from it and shoved the wooden plank in its path, only to watch the roof I’d been hiding behind burst apart in splinters and charcoal. I could smell the burning wood, I could feel the pulped shards splashing against my open face. Visor half melted, the helmet mis-shapen.

It didn’t exactly hurt, but fuuuuck I did not want to take that hit to the face.

Another thrown rock as it’s all I had, this time aimed at the tent stalker. I was catching on that they leave when they had to, either not wanting injuries to pile up or because they acquired their quota. But sneaky little ottercat twisted in the air, dodging my rock. Everyone else was running away, just the two of us.

It flew close overhead and fired another blast strait down, but it’s movement threw off its aim and I didn’t have to dodge. The bright shiny beam washing over this fort like a laser as I stood next to its path. The Gashn soldiers screamed, but to my surprise I heard a coherent shout.

“FIRE!” the general who’d greeted us was still in this fight. “Protect the max, she’s fighting for all of us! Don’t let her get hit!”

As much as I wanted to say ‘too late buddy’ a hail of needle thin plastic darts were hurled past. None hitting my armor, and all aimed at the dangerous little catmonster. And to my surprise, despite it folding it’s wings up and twisting away to throw them off, every single dart struck home. Even ones fired after it was falling, a shattered force of only seven men managed to down the creature. And I saw it bleeding from multiple stabbing wounds after it crumpled to the dirt.

There was no cheering from the Gesshru. And a quick look to my left, toward the northern forests, all of the rest were escaping.

I leapt over the ruined smoldering of a building I helped destroy, easily clearing the entire compound. Being only the size of a child’s sandbox this wasn’t much of a feat. Still dripping armor as melted slag leaves puddles in my wake, I ran just to close distance, but they were all so much faster than me.

A throw, a desperate throw, but the first rock missed. And so I kept throwing, kept running. Too far away, too high, they were moving too fast! But no, I threw again. And again. My heart burned and my lungs pounded, the burn marks along my legs and shoulder were starting to bleed. It wasn’t serious, was it? I didn’t care. Like my ancient ancestors using the most economy efficient weapons, I threw another rock.

I didn’t see where it landed.

I just saw the ottercat fall from the sky, landing in the dirt with a fwump.

“I’m coming Doth.” I shouted to no one, looking back to see the base was almost forty yards behind me and the cat things were about fifty yards ahead. I ran, I didn’t care how much it stung I just ran. I didn’t care about the heat or the lack of water, for better or worse I could actually feel wind on my face this time. So glorious to have even a part of that visor removed.

Why was I even bothering right now, this was someone I haven’t been with for more than an hour and right here, right now, was the best chance I’ve had to simply run away in months now. Was I really going to pass this up?

Doth. Another name on the long list of corpses. People I cared about, people I remembered, and people I would never see again. Could I live with myself if she died screaming. If there was a chance for me to help her and I refused to take it? Was I selfish enough to assume that my escaping meant more to me than her life. Or if her religion was to be believed, her very soul?

Another rush of steps, forty yards away. Soon to be a bit over thirty yards, almost there. The otterbats noticed one of their own was down, swooping back around, some stalling and others just taking a wide banking turn. I ran, and we were at twenty yards. I threw another rock, not even at any of the cat things just in their general direction. Watching it smash against the dirt and send most of them in a panic. The huggy one with a bruise on its head kept flying, I guess well aware that if it took another hit it might not be able to fly home. Which left four, swooping down to try and grab their fallen ally.

I threw another rock, they startled and were distracted but it wasn’t enough to deter them. They each grabbed at its shoulders and strained to lift, wings flapping furiously to pull him into the air.

Ten yards away, I saw flashes of grey and brown and tan spilling from its mouth, getting halfway out while surrounded by a gaggle of their worst nightmare. I heard Doth, her voice a shout.

“Come on, push! You can make it, we’re almost free!”

“I can’t … I c-ca…” the other voice I could barely hear, but both were cut off by one of the yellow cat-things. Placing a paw to their friend’s lips and stuffing the mice back inside. They were about chest height two me, but I was on them. Five yards away, they were head height.

One yard and closing, I gave a burst of energy, a feverish leap. I grabbed at the downed fluttercat. Arms closed around it’s waist, rocks dropped in my haste. Plastic gauntlets tried to hold tight only to feel the awkwardness of slipping against a silky fur. The four bat things each held the other end and pulled as hard as they could.

For a moment I thought they’d actually tear him free, it felt as if I had to strain. They were certainly putting in serious effort, wide eyed and purr-squeaking, those who’s mouths weren’t too full to say anything. After a second or two of watching them try it became obviously apparent they each had as much strength as a kitten. Well, maybe a trained attack kitten.

I tugged my target close to my chest and waved a hand at all the other ones, not so much striking at them as shoving them away. Curling into a crouch to bear my whole weight around this one captor. My arms, the plastic armor, my body providing a shield so he’d be harder to grab.

“HSsss!” I made a sound that I thought they’d recognize, but the creatures were just confused. Well, alarmed and confused. I shoved my fingers into the cat things jaws, felt it resisting, and then pinched at its neck until the mouth opened.

“M-maneateramph Get us out, please!” Doth was about as terrified as Soto back at Ontal compound, and for exactly the same reason. This wasn’t just death in her eyes after all.

The look on her face as I chose her over simply escaping right now. This was worth it to see her relief. I could escape later, once she’s out of their mouths I can simply set the girl down and walk away without her able to do a thing to stop me. Rewards for kindness perhaps. Or just the vein hope that leaving observant people alive would instill some change in the Gashn. Either way my decision was made.

The fluttercat being held on its back wasn’t helping the two Gashn soldiers out, the throat was open and their legs were already halfway swallowed. The ottercat seemed to be keeping them free for some reason?”

I felt it’s stomach kick. Ah, that was the reason.

Too full already.

Well, sucks to be those guys, I’m not going to try and get them out. Doth winced back as my fingers forced their way between teeth, enamel scraping against plastic and my thumb shoving it’s tongue down. I’ve given a dog a pill before, but this was more like trying to reach inside and pull the pill back out while the dog was trying to swallow. Not exactly cat sized, these things had wide and deep throated maws.

A grip onto Doth’s shoulder, hard to get the position just right but she was hugging by finger for dear life.

“We’ll get you out Kepa, I swear. Just hold on!” Doth shouted, but the other soldier’s grip faltered. He fell down up to his chest.

A pluck and a pull, Doth was free, if screaming, and the jaws of the otterbat closed behind her. Doth, for all her worth, was placed right inside that gaping hole to my helmet and budged over to one side. Hah! The look on her face, coated in slobber, sick and tired, looking like she’s just crawled out of hell itself. And the look on her face said everything, for that short moment she feared I was going to eat her too.

Now to rescue the other one …

I felt claws digging into the armor of my arms, batcat things were trying to pull my grip away. A third one shoved it’s arms through the crack in my shoulder, doing its best to reach past and grab at my new snuggle prisoner with much too short a range. I know there was a fourth one around, but a quick glance told me I was still trying to hold onto its extra Gesshru, paws too full to really help.

My fingers went back to work with the gauntlets feeling more like a thick latex in this context. The teeth tried to stay closed. My finger slides against the pearly enamel, poking into its lips. I’m forced to take two hands, a thumb each on its upper and lower jaw, all five of these batcat things watching as I try to reach inside the mouth.

“Y-you c-came … c-came back?” Whoever this Gesshru was, he seemed surprised and suddenly hopeful. I guess he’s been through a rough day.

Gluck.

The ottercat made a purring noise, and with its mouth still open and my fingers reaching inside, swallowed. I saw the soldier slide down up past his shoulders. Up to his neck, only the head and horn ears poking past. I could see the lump of its feet jerking wildly within the fuzzy throat, we both could tell just how useless his screaming was.

I pinched my fingers around his head. There was a gacking noise, the cat alien must have been choking. I pulled, sliding this soldier out of the maw like some slick puddle of slime. Drool spilled past and the miserable creature was crying in my hands.

“Job done.” Is all I had to say before letting the now spluttering cat leave, coughing into the ground and all of the others backing away from me.

“These two?” I point to the one in my helmet and the one in my hand. “These are mine. You can have the rest.”

None of them really understood a word I said, and I was too angry and too injured to really care.

“Okay, maneater attack now! Save that one!” Doth gets in front of my face and points. That one Gesshru still held in a yellow ottercat’s paws. It started to fly up, the Gashn soldier still screaming.

Yeah, no …

I turned and walked away, Doth now screaming louder. It might have just been the fact she was so close to my ear.

“N-no, back! We can still save him, there’s more! NO! Don’t let those souleaters live, attack them! Kill them!”

The ottercats, as usual, weren’t the only things that failed to understand me. I kept walking.

“If they don’t die then all of those Gashn will be consumed, p-please! They won’t ever make it to the core, you can’t let those monsters eat them!”

“You don’t seem to care at all about Soto, why should I care about you’re soldiers?” My voice in squeaks. The ottercats were out of range now, and I was exhausted. Exhausted and walking. .. nowhere. I honestly didn’t have anywhere I wanted to go, just lots of places I don’t want to end up.

“Cute, yes. I talk and then you make silly noises. But this is serious! Maneater I am ordering you, go back and kill those things! DO IT NOW!”

My eyes narrowed, head turning to look at a miserable, but still fierce looking rodent just next to my cheeks. I could feel her warmth, feel the oily slickness of wet fur and uniform against my skin. She was looking directly into my eyes through ruined armor, and I was staring right back at her when I spoke. I didn’t lower my voice this time. And I didn’t squeak in their native tongue.

“And who the fuck are you to give me orders? I just risked my life to save you, and you’re little friend here is damned lucky I’m a sucker for cute faces. You think you own me? You think I’m one of your soldier boys who will just kill whatever you want? I don’t run fast enough to chase them down, I have neither the tools nor the expertise to safely remove a Gesshru that’s already been swallowed in a timely fashion, I have more than enough evidence suggesting these things are a sentient race with a society of their own and very likely some legitimate grievances with how your people treat them. More importantly if they all decide that running away won’t work then they might take to an all-out stand. I’m not going to survive too many of those blasts, do you hear me? That stuff is like getting hit by ball lightning. You know those things you call godbolts? Those will kill me. I’ll fight a little bit to save your life, I’m not committing suicide to vanquish your enemies.”

She held her ground. Her ears folded back at my explosive tirade, but she actually held her ground.

“I know you man-eater, I know you’re hurt and you’re scared and you’ve never fought one of those things before, but we can do it! You’re armor is strong enough, you are strong enough. Please! If you don’t go and fight them then I’ll have to do it without you.”

“Hah!” I actually laughed at that. Sweat pooled down my sides, blood dripped past my legs. I could feel the melted plastic now cooled in place, forming neat drip marks in the misshapen lumps. “I just saw a force of eighty strong be casually ripped apart, you want to hop out and go fight them yourself? Be my guest, because I’m taking this chance and I am running away and if all goes well the next time you see me it will be when I’m tearing all my friends out of that little hellhole you worship.”

Doth’s eyes were in tears, I could see the drops welling where spit hadn’t covered. She was dripping clean into my helmet, her paws so close to my nose. I heard a sniffle, and I saw the resolute determination in her eyes.

“I’ll do this myself then, you just relax and let me handle the controls.”

Shit.

She didn’t mean using her body to fight.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I pulled up my free hand to try and grab her, snaking it in through the open part of my visor. Feeling like a cat pawing into a mouse-hole, I could see my fingers juuuuust almost reach. Almost. Meanwhile she slinks off to one side and swivels behind my head. She was going to the back of my skull. Avoiding the fingers? No, I could feel it. Pawing through my hair, grabbing onto something near the back of my head.

She had access to that control panel from the inside of the helmet?

Shitshitshitshitshitshit.

I crouched down to floor level, casually dropping the sopping wet Gesshru to free both hands, and began vigorously slamming my skull into the dirt. Armor protected me, the helmet bounced and then cracked. I could feel it shaking Doth around, her legs smacking against my neck and the harsh movements tossing her about.

My head hit the ground and stopped moving. I heard a click. I heard Doth sigh with relief, a panel snapping open and the all too familiar, all too annoying sensation of having a mouse snuggle up into my cockpit.

“Phew, I’m sorry it has to be like this, but for a Max working on your own you did amazingly well. I’m sure any other Max would have just sat there doing nothing, but you actually got up and chased them down!” She sounded pleased. Ohgodno she sounded so fucking pleased. “So let’s see, back on your feet and then we’re going to run them down. You’re fast enough, I know you’re fast.”

My arms moved of their own accord. My hips straitened, jerky and robotic movements lifting me back onto my feet. I’d lost control. I couldn’t run away now … the forest, it was so close, and I can’t …

Shiiiiiiiiiit.

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