Kenneth C. Eng, Weredragons and Other New Monsters
Weredragons and Other New Monsters
Publisher: Kenneth C. Eng
Reseller: Barnes & Noble
Date: April 30, 2017
Size: 258 kb
Section 1: Crescent Jupiter
Diane screamed into the night.
She was a girl descended from Genghis himself. She wore dark green tights made of a synthetic rubber that clung to her butt and legs without a single wrinkle. Her sleek 16-year-old body looked prepubescent, though with her constricting latex corset, it was easy to see the shape of her small breasts. Combat boots went almost up to her knees, and her motorcycle punk gloves looked like they had their fingers shredded off.
The cry was reptilian in the gothic European city that had no name. The sun was almost down, and time was running out. Her slit reptilian eyes, however, were ill-adjusted to the dusk sun, and perceived it to be as morning. In grief, she could not control some parts of her transformation.
In her arms was a masked warrior in a shredded black trench coat. A sword made of pure gold was stabbed through his heart. His body had not decayed to a skeleton yet, but it was only a matter of time. Speaking of which...
“Twilight is here. We need to strike,” said Arke, a large fellow who looked like her.
Several other members of her species, the weredragons, tried to pull her away. Her delicate arms would not release their hold.
“That sword is Au,” warned Arke. “Your father’s body is contaminated. If you do not let go of him, you will be poisoned.”
Arke waited a second and then forcibly pulled her away. When she came to her senses, she would probably thank him.
“Where is he?!” she screamed. “Where is Ivabard?!”
“I’ve lost his taste, but I can taste other unicras within a two-block radius. We still have a chance.”
They charged out of the alley. Pedestrians returning home for the evening assumed they were young folk in trench coats and leather who were enjoying their adolescence.
Diane’s yellow eyes darted back and forth. She spotted two blonde-haired blue-eyed men in the crowd.
She lunged. Her snakelike fangs sunk into the forearm of one of the men, letting the other man run for his life. It was fine. The other guy was a normal human.
The unicra she had in her claws screamed in terror. His little gambit of blending in didn’t always work.
“Where is Ivabard?!”
“Please do not send me from this world, young maiden! Have mercy!”
She ripped off his entire arm with her fangs and swallowed the limb whole. By now, pedestrians were too terrified to snap photos with their modern-day cameraphones.
Unicras came out from the thinning crowd with fancy, stylized guns. They fired gold bullets.
The weredragons returned fire with ordinary bullets. The fair creatures were hit multiple times, but did not fall. They were, however, in such pain that after about three shots, most of them just fell to their knees.
Diane was about to continue her interrogation, but Arke touched her shoulder.
“Wait. Do you taste that?”
She flicked her tongue. Like a compass needle, it pointed to a nearby apartment building.
* * *
Diane and her weredragons spread out to search the entire complex. This would normally have been easy, but the enemy they sought was no mere unicra knight. They all had two guns drawn.
She walked up two flights of stairs. She could hear the whimpering of the people behind their doors. It was a nice neighborhood that belonged to artists. Too bad she had to bring this to their doorsteps.
She stopped at one door. She flicked her tongue, which looked human, except it was much more advanced.
She kicked the door down. Charging in, she fired both her guns at what looked like her target.
Her pupils dilated. She had just hit a coatrack with a motorcycle helmet hung on top of it.
Behind her was a light silhouette. A figure in white metal armor gently closed the door. His alabaster helmet resembled a medieval cylinder with two eyeslots. Tubes filled with luminous white fluid were attached to the back of the helmet down to the spinal cord region. His eyeslots glowed, as did the separations of his armor components. He was a walking suntan chamber.
“What’s the matter, weredragon?” said Ivabard. “Afraid to see the light?”
Diane pointed her guns, but he rammed her, slamming her back into a wall. She dropped one of her firearms, but managed to point the second one at his helmet. He lifted his arm up, deflecting it, and crashed his fist into her stomach. Grabbing her by the waist, he wheeled her around and slammed her through another wall into the adjacent apartment.
Diane fired a few shots. The bullets bounced off his white metal. He marched in, delivering several more punches. She parried the attacks, fangs clenched in furious rage.
She was about to send a fist into his abs, but he rammed her again. She stumbled back, and he rammed her a third time.
They both crashed out the window and back onto the streets.
Diane crushed a car, creating a massive bruise to her back. Ivabard landed without a sound somewhere she couldn’t even see.
She sprung to her boots. Ivabard flanked her and knocked her gun away. She pulled out a spare firearm from her back and leveled it at his head, but just as quick, he snatched that from her as well.
He shot her in the stomach with her own firearm. Ignoring it, she threw a series of punches at him, but Jupiter was not with her tonight. He simply parried with basic Kung Fu techniques. His laughter was silent and faceless, yet louder and more visible than that of any human serial killer.
The last technique broke her arm and the opposing kneecap at the same time. She reeled back and hissed. He uppercut her face.
He took out a gold knife. It was only half the size of the sword, but just as refined.
“Fitting that the longsword would vanquish he with the centuries-old lifespan, and the shortsword would slay she with but a few seconds remaining.”
He was about to finish her when an armored silver sports car drove up. Inside were several unicra knights.
“Grandmaster, the sun will not wait for us!” shouted one of them with all due respect.
Ivabard grinned underneath his helmet. He could have finished her, but why? Normally, it was not wise to underestimate an enemy, but he felt an insult would be more infuriating than death.
He turned around and got into the car. He checked his pocket watch before his servant closed the door on him.
As they drove off, Diane’s warriors returned to her. They managed to finish off the stragglers that had been distracting them.
Arke helped her up. Diane punched a stone wall with her injured fist, creating an impact crater.
The sun finally went down.
A green-blue shade seemed to cover everything in the city. The people who lived here were always wearing spectacles that prevented them from seeing the world as it truly was. On the other hand, everyone was delusional, whether they were men, women, children, elderly - or something beyond.
A weredragon den was made from the corpse of an abandoned factory. It was now a military base with weapons stockpiles, a storage of diamonds, and dozens of weredragon men and women practicing martial arts. The glass ceiling had been painted black.
The battle party burst through the doors. At once, they could tell something was wrong. Diane stormed straight to her room, her normal blue eyes still puffy.
“What happened? Where is the general?” asked a number of the soldiers.
Arke bared his fangs at them. His eyes were enough to ward them off.
* * *
Diane’s room was standard for a teenage girl, sans romance. Books, video games and posters of ballerinas decorated the rusty metal walls. Over the posters were more recent diagrams of sharks, large hyenas and Yin-Yang symbols.
She had been here only hours ago, but these memories were an eternity old now.
“Starving won’t help,” said Arke. “You might have eaten just last month, but you need to maintain strength if you are to lead us to victory.”
He prepared a steak for her. She sat on her bed with her legs dangling. After some thought, she decided he was right.
“The first thing we need to figure out is how they managed to acquire that much ore,” said Arke of the strange gold sword.
“It was probably an ancient artifact,” replied Diane, who had already finished the entire steak. “Either they recently excavated it, or they’ve had it as a surprise weapon for decades.”
“No, this one was new. Trust my tongue, as it has sampled the air of many wars. A brand new gold sword forged after we destroyed two of their mines. Forged after we tricked them into expending most of their precious ammo in useless fights. No wonder your father was caught off guard.”
“He lived for three centuries, and saw technologies rise and fall. He was killed by the oldest weapon. The mightiest of all weredragons, and the general over us all.”
“His fight was not in vain. We now have you — general. My lord. My queen.”
Arke knelt to her, saluting with his arm held out and his fingers parted in the middle. He had almost forgotten standard etiquette.
“Thank you, noble Arke. You may rise.”
He stood and continued contemplating.
“Unicras may be geniuses,” he pointed out, “but most of their finances come from medical technology. Perhaps the yellow metal has new medicinal applications for the humans under their care.”
“Who cares where they get their supply from? Why don’t we just use the direct approach and attack them directly?! Straight to Omnitech Labs!”
“Your father would have done so years ago if it were that easy. Ivabard keeps his territory heavily-guarded. Furthermore, we don’t know how many ingots they now have. For all we know, that sword was just their prototype.”
He embraced her. Diane was past tears, but still within the confines of grief.
“Do not fret. We will have our revenge.”
Her eyes batted drowsily. Before dozing off, she looked past his muscular shoulder and saw the night sky out her window. Joverise was too long to wait for.
Kaytlyn Wong stared dumbfounded.
She was a 21-year-old who appeared nerdish even though she did not wear glasses. She might have qualified as a model for some scholarly journal, but even runway walkers would have coveted her salary. Her long dark hair flowed down to mid-back, and her eyes betrayed little of the emotion she felt now.
The furniture of her room was undisturbed and immaculate to the point of compulsion. Yet she knew that she had been burglarized many times over the past few months. Unfortunately, the police in her home office did not understand what could not be seen.
“So, what you’re telling me is...” the detective flipped through his pages, “...someone hacked your computer a while ago and downloaded several files for this thing you’re working on.”
“Yes. I filed a report back then and the police did nothing,” Kaytlyn said in a British accent.
“According to this, we did. Our tech specialist said there was no evidence of hacking. He also forwarded it to the Federal Agency.”
“That’s because this hacker was using a type of code that no one has ever seen before. I tried to explain it to him, but he said he would call me back, and never did. Neither did the feds.”
“And now you say that someone broke into your house while you were at work and accessed your computer?”
“Yes, they somehow deactivated my home security system and my surveillance, and then downloaded several files, leaving behind the same kind of code. He also left behind something else.”
She showed him photographs of someone’s DNA. It had 48 chromosomes.
“These are DNA samples I analyzed from traces I found on my keyboard, and a blonde hair I found on the floor. I am the only person who has ever lived here, and I am the only person who has ever been inside these walls.”
“How do you know you didn’t pick up someone’s hair from your place of employment?”
“Because this hair has 48 chromosomes. Homo sapiens only have 46.”
The detective touched his nose. Memories of late-night TV filled his mind. Kaytlyn’s face never showed much, but her yellow skin was becoming red. Not because of embarrassment.
“Have you been seeing a doctor?”
“With all due respect,” she said, “do not insult me.”
“You can’t waste the police department’s time and expect not to be insulted. You call us again and there will be consequences.”
The detective motioned to his buddies. They departed for the donut shop.
Kaytlyn sat down in her chair. She wanted to take another look at the chromosome plate, but that might have resulted in its destruction.
She turned on her computer. Her superiors at the lab told her the data would be safer in their facility, but with her ability to multiply ten-digit numbers in her head, their software was more like a fizzlewall.
She opened up a file labeled “Alchemist.”. Behind the thousands of equations and chemical formulas and molecular structures, she found a picture of a cylindrical machine. It was not much of a looker, but great things could be found in the most mundane of appearances.
She closed the files. What was the point of upgrading the software now? Whoever did this already had her research.
She shut down her computer. The signoff screen had a picture of her sitting next to a plain older man. He was not particularly handsome, but she preferred to think about him right as she finished her daily work.
It was times like this she wished she had never been involved in science. That way, he might have been sharing this small world of hers.
The screen turned off. She brushed her teeth and went to sleep.
* * *
Omnitech Laboratories kept its lights on well into the evening. Even at the stroke of midnight, it glowed in the middle of the metropolitan area. This led to widespread urban legends about what exactly the folks there were doing. Was it a secret government base? Far from it.
The executive office was opulent. Cream-colored furniture was well-lit by metal lamps shaped like horses.
Unicras dressed in fancy suits sat around gossiping. They were almost all blonde with green or blue eyes - the ideal image of cartoon princesses and princes. Their attire was just as immaculate. Swastikas were tattooed onto their fair skin, to honor the leader they all worshipped. They used to have toothbrush moustaches, which by now had gone out of fashion.
“By the way,” one of them managed to squeeze into the deluge of banter, “did your men retrieve the bodies of our colleagues from the authorities?”
“Of course. The medical examiner under my supervision did this hours ago. Do you doubt my competence?”
“Nay, I just thought it was my turn. We shall have a proper cremation for them later tonight.”
They kept on sipping copious amounts of wine. Their bodies were immune to the effects of alcohol - and cyanide, and ricin, and the blue-ringed octopus.
But the party ended when Ivabard entered. All the unicras raised their glasses to their fair white knight in glowing armor.
“To the sun at night!” they saluted.
“Indeed. This day shall be marked in our chronicles for all time,” said the grandmaster Ivabard in his lyrical metallic voice. “When we finally struck down the mighty weredragon general.”
“Ah, but it was you who delivered the final blow,” said one of the unicra executives. “Your name shall ring in many songs for ages to come.”
“Kenneth died in agonizing pain,” Ivabard bragged melodically. “The rest of his species shall soon follow.”
He checked his armor. The inside was bathed entirely in white light. Never had a unicra walked so freely at night without fear of a shadow devouring them. The luminous fluid that flowed in his tubes was extremely radioactive, but like all poisons, it was useless against his immune system. He smiled with wide green eyes under his double-slot visor helmet. He must have looked like a thing from both the future and past to those humans who actually saw him - and no one did.
“How was the light armor?” asked an executive who happened to be a knight. “Was it a crucial factor in our success tonight?”
Ivabard looked at him.
“What do you mean?”
“The light armor was my best design thus far,” the knight said with a zealous Aryan smile. “Complete with an ultraviolet core that can run for weeks. Did you finally see the starry sky? Did you feel the strength of the sun in the veins of your arms?”
Ivabard grabbed him by the throat. The others dropped their wineglasses.
“That I have walked this cursed Earth for over a century makes me smarter than any technology you can plate me with.”
“I-I did not mean to break etiquette!”
“You are not the only one who can break things.”
The move was delicate yet brutal. Ivabard released him, and his body fell lifeless in a heap. His neck was intact, but his arteries had erupted from a slight touch.
“Tell me now,” spoke the grandmaster, “do unicras really see the stars after death?”
The unicras were terrified, but their fear quickly turned to indifference. Some of them continued drinking their eighth glass of wine for that night.
“The armor is prohibitively expensive to mass-produce,” said another executive. “It is also inconsequential to our new discovery.”
“It is only a discovery if you came up with the idea yourself,” said Ivabard.
“Regardless, our knights have stolen the last of this human’s research, and we now have several gold-manufacturing machines in production. The process is still too slow, though.”
“The weredragons will wreak havoc. In the coming war, there will be a need for a constant supply of aurum. For centuries, we have turned the wheel of innovation in all sciences, but the human who originally created this technology is of value to us. She is not to be harmed. Is that understood, my loyal knights?”
The knights raised their hands with their fingers pressed together as if to nonverbally signal a stop. The standard unicra salute made their human arms look like hooves treading across dirt. It was a variation of the Nazi hail. The Fuhrer himself approved of it.
Ivabard went to his office and picked up his second gold sword. It was identical to the first, making him feel a pang of guilt for not being able to retrieve the one that killed his nemesis.
He swung the precious weapon around. The blade hardly touched even the dust particles in the air. He started singing to himself as he always did when he was happy or for that matter, when he was not.
The war room of Diane’s den was located in what was once a storage area of the factory. There was a crude 1990s computer that showed visuals to her forces, who eagerly stood listening.
“According to information we gathered from the prisoners we took in the last fight, the unicras are building a new laboratory in the bluelight district of the city. Based on my father’s notes, this is probably just a backup laboratory in case their primary facilities fail. Attacking might draw Ivabard out.”
“What are the chances he would show up himself? He could send bribed law enforcement or his knights.”
“He would probably want another chance to test that fancy new armor of his. We shall attack during the next nightfall. Any questions?”
The weredragon soldiers did not voice protest. Nor did they have the same morale they did when Kenneth was in charge.
“That will be all.”
They saluted and returned to their rooms to catch some shuteye. The morning daylight was starting to peek in, but this was not the reason weredragons slept. They had no aversion to either day or night. Nor were they creatures who kept a routine. They worked whenever they happened to be awake.
Arke came to Diane.
“I just missed it, didn’t I?” he said, scratching the back of his head.
Avoiding an awkward silence, he showed her his laptop. It had a picture of a cylindrical machine. It was labeled “The Alchemist.”
Diane read the blurb. It was a hypothetical machine that could create artificial gold from thin air. That is, air particles were actually used for transmutation.
“Who invented it?”
Arke loaded another page. The machine was proposed several years ago by a scientist, Dr. Kaytlyn Wong. She earned her PhD at age 15, and specialized in materials technology.
“She’s not a unicra,” said Arke. “I found her medical records and birth certificate. She is a human genius.”
“How very rare...” Diane came to a realization. “The unicras probably have her under duress. We must find her. She might be able to tell us how to destroy whatever alchemy machines the enemy possesses.”
“I shall wake the others at once.”
“Hold on.” He looked at her. There was a resolve in her eyes. “I shall do this alone,” she said.
“With all due respect, general, that is a terrible risk. What happens if you come across Ivabard again?”
“Then the risk is on him.”
She headed out. Ordinarily, threats were of no use, but even an idle threat was better than complacency. And Arke knew Diane well enough. She might not have been the strongest of weredragons, but when she wanted something done, it was done even if she failed the first hundred times.
The government research facility was a fenced building with armed guards. Kaytlyn never quite got used to it even though this was her third year working here.
Early in the morning, she sat in her supervisor’s office.
“Don’t apologize, Kaytlyn,” the kind black doctor said after she gave only the basic details of the situation. “It wasn’t your fault. Like I told you before, we got hit by the same hacker, and your computer fared better than all of ours. With a discovery this groundbreaking, we were expecting to get hacked sooner or later.”
She knew it wasn’t entirely her fault. The lab had published their intentions to create The Alchemist years ago when they were trying to generate funds to continue the project. In the interest of being polite, she just bowed to him and smiled.
“On another note,” she continued, “I do not feel very safe. Neither should any of us.”
“Don’t worry,” the science director said with a chuckle, brushing the dreadlocks out of his face. “This is a government building, and we’re government employees. Even if they kill us, they’ll be caught eventually.”
She got back to work.
* * *
Kaytlyn was in the storage room in order to find that centrifuge she really liked ever since she started toying with biochemistry and botany. She was about to settle for the one she sort-of-liked when a security guard approached her.
“Excuse me, ma’am. You need to come with me.”
“Is there a problem?”
“Come with me now.”
He grabbed her arm.
* * *
The guard pulled her through the back halls where there were no other employees except the janitor. Kaytlyn was shocked. She had never been in conflict with the law.
“Look, I am a Senior Physicist. I come here every day. You see me clock in at the lobby. Are you even listening?”
Her fear was beginning to turn to anger when he shoved her into the memory storage room.
Diane was waiting there behind the racks of hard drives.
“No,” the weredragon said. “He’s not. In fact, he won’t even remember this.”
The guard’s face was blank, as though hypnotized. Kaytlyn now noticed the two bite marks on his neck. Diane punched him out.
“Look, whoever you are, you have taken all of the research I was able to develop. I do not have any-”
“I need to know everything about destroying your Alchemist device.”
“Is there any way to destroy them all, or to counter the technology? Is there any way to become immune to gold?”
“I-I don’t understand.”
Diane realized that this would take a long time to explain. Fortunately, she had her own form of “psychic power.”
She bared her fangs, and her eyes became yellow and reptilian. Claws grew from her fingers.
“Don’t make me poison you.”
Guards could be heard outside. Diane reverted her transformation.
* * *
The guards spotted Kaytlyn leading Diane through the halls. They were about to ignore it, but it was hard not to notice a girl in a shiny green latex outfit that was so tight it may as well have been a second skin.
“Excuse me, where is your ID?”
Kaytlyn showed it.
“She’s with me. My niece wanted so desperately to see this place.”
“Right, but we have someone who needs to see you right now.”
The guard had a toothy grin.
Diane bit him in the neck. The other one tried to take out his nightstick, but she backhanded, splattering his brains.
The one she bit reached for his gun, but choked up on his own blood.
“They’ve been poisoned,” said Kaytlyn.
“They’ve been bribed,” replied Diane. “We’re both in a lot more danger than you realize.”
Diane grabbed her by the wrist and ran. Kaytlyn found herself pulled by a force she could stop about as easily as she could stop a comet.
* * *
Diane took her to the parking lot that was located in the basement underneath the building. Knocking out the guards in her way was simple. The problem was remembering where she parked her car.
“A green sports car,” she said. “Do you see a green sports car?”
“I-I see a-”
Kaytlyn was actually searching for that vehicle when her eyes locked on the alabaster crusader approaching them. Her eyes widened at this surreal image from another place and time.
“We meet a second time,” said Ivabard. “Do not expect it to happen again.”
Ivabard pulled out his gold sword. The hilt was made of marble stylized to look like a hoof.
Diane took out a pair of silver metal nunchuks. The handles had spikes on their tops, and there were blinking lights on their circumferences. There was also a blinking light on the middle of the chain.
They charged at each other. Kaytlyn took cover behind a car.
Diane swung at his face, but he blocked with his sword. He cross-slashed, and she stepped into the attack, letting the blade slip by her as she landed a fist to his face. Normally, that would have been enough to level him, but his armor absorbed most of the damage.
She followed through with a series of punches and kicks. A roundhouse to his rib area, a hammer punch to his plexus, a chop to his attacking arm, a crane-claw slice to his other arm, an uppercut to his chin, a roundhouse kick to his waist. She spun a tornado kick, which missed the first round, but got him with a heel as she rotated. Before she could land, she thrust that same boot into his face again. She wasn’t on the ground long, springing into him with a knee to the throat. She topped it off with a nunchuk blow to the flat of his helmet.
Ivabard stumbled. He wasn’t injured. He just wasn’t used to being jolted around like that. The armor was serving him well.
Diane tried to initiate another combination, but he seized her throat and slammed her into a wall. He tried to impale her, but she kicked him in the face and wrenched herself out of his grip. The gold blade stabbed into the stone wall instead.
She hit him again in the neck with her weapon, but he quickly extricated his sword and delivered a series of slashes. She back-flipped to avoid the first few. He stormed in, making her do a diagonal sideways somersault.
He slashed at her repeatedly. She clashed, sparks sheering off her nunchuks. He towered over the girl, forcing her back. Diane knew well that walls were to be avoided in sparring. She dodged a cross-slash, slipping under his armpit to reach his back.
She buffeted him with a serial punching combination, going from kiu sao to bow stance. The fists slammed him in rapid fire, forcing him face first into the concrete wall of the parking lot. She barraged him with quick straight punches, roaring in homicidal rage. However, whatever metal his suit was made of would not dent.
He pushed himself off, taking away her attack space. She tried to grab one of his tubes, but he back kicked her. She went flying back, destroying a car.
He charged at her. She jumped over him, letting him plow down the car she totaled and the one behind it. She hit him a few times from behind with the nunchuks, but not even that proved effective. He just about-faced and continued swinging back.
She jumped on top of a car to gain elevation, but he was tall, and sliced at her still. She whirled her weapon across her entire front side, careful not to let him cut her legs; her training with the nunchuks was advanced. However, all she could do was wallop him a few ineffective times over the helmet. Most of the time was spent blocking his redundant yet surprisingly effective onslaught.
She crouched and kicked him in the face. Ivabard laughed under his helm in a melodic fashion. To come up with a symphony’s seed in the midst of combat was arrogance indeed, but arrogance was all too often well-deserved.
He rampaged in. Diane jumped onto the next car, allowing him to smash the other one. He ripped a door out and lobbed it at her face, forcing her to jump to the next car. He gave chase, lashing his sword like some mad devil swashbuckler with a penchant for medieval crusaders.
Diane jumped from car to car. Glass and metal shattered in her wake, courtesy of her assailant. She was surprised at how fast he could move with all that extra weight. The armor actually had a motorized system to augment his natural physical capabilities, which were unimpressive as any unicra’s.
She came to a stone column. He thrust his sword at her backside, but she grabbed onto the pillar, swung around, and slammed both her knees into his side. The force sent him tumbling over a car, and rolling on the ground. Somehow, the clumsiness turned into grace, and in one smooth motion, he was on his feet again. Barely a sound was heard.
Diane leapt over the car and hissed. She twirled her nunchuks, cracking him twice in the head. Wrapping herself around his back, she bit his neck, but as she expected, the armor was not vulnerable to her fangs.
He twisted his body to throw her using a Judo technique, but she had already released him. She suddenly appeared at an angle to his backside, lambasting him with a jump kick. Again, he took a backroll that was totally silent. His Aikido was amazing if he could do this wearing heavy armor (usually pentagras had such balance).
She assailed him with nunchuk strikes to the chest and neck. She slid forward, tripping him, but he did a somersault, landing like a feather. Her eyes widened in shock; but there was no time to be impressed or fearful. Her father nearly killed this creature. She was all that was left of him.
Ivabard rested his blade on his shoulder, one arm bent akimbo on his hip. His faceless slot visor seemed to mock her, the helmet tilted in sarcastic gesture.
“My dear lady,” he said. “If we keep this up, the secrecy of werefolk will escape its ancient cage. What say you kneel to me, and we can end this centuries-long war in a peaceful manner?”
Diane charged. Ivabard was probably still smiling, but his body was not comedic. He blocked a raging series of nunchuk maneuvers with pinpoint accuracy. He front-kicked her in the chest, pushing her away. It only broke a rib, which healed in seconds.
Diane came again. This time, Ivabard put his sword behind his back and blocked using one arm. She swung for his face, but he chopped. She turned it to his waist, but he flipped his arm down. She tried to wrap the chain around his wrist, but he twirled in fanciful fingerwork, taking a hold of one end of the rod. He let her go, allowing for a swing to his leg. He parried with a ballet twirl and jeted to her side. She continued attacking, but he did a pirouette, his alternating hands defending against her assaults.
A graceful slap pushed her back again. Diane was too bloodlustful to be insulted. She came in again.
Ivabard was through with games. He slashed down hard, knocking her nunchuks flat out of her grasp to the concrete at her boots. He slashed up, nearly taking off her head had she not reeled her body back. She tried to grab him in a Jujitsu throw, but he parried her arm down and put the blade to her throat.
A pedestrian vehicle crashed into them from behind. They rolled over the top and separated, landing in perfect combat pose.
They crossed a few more times before another car sped in between them. Civilians had been alerted to the danger, and were desperate to do anything to flee. Retreat through fire seemed logical in panic.
Two cars came their way. Diane and her enemy spun between them, clashing weapons as they passed. She jumped over another passing car and tried to jump kick his helmet. He let her boot land on his forearm, and he pushed her off. He stepped out of the way of an old lady who was about to run him over.
Diane tried to take his sword by clutching his fist. He pushed her back using that same fist and tried to step on her. She rolled out of the way.
A pedestrian vehicle was about to drive into Ivabard. He sidestepped it and crashed his glove through the front window, killing the driver.
Diane wrapped her nunchuks around his neck and attempted to swing down with all her body weight. Unfortunately, the helmet had extra reinforcements to prevent that from happening. He jerked his neck back, flinging her off.
A car drove by and clipped her head. Ivabard chuckled.
“It is hard to look both ways when your life has been enveloped in shadows eternal.”
A car slammed into him from the side. This time, he went under instead of over. Fortunately for him, the wheels didn’t get him, but then, he didn’t exactly get that guy’s license plate.
He pushed himself up groggily. The armor was fine as usual, but his brain had just been rocked.
He was just about to lift his head when Diane came down with a drop kick. Her boots crashed into his helmet with all her weight. He saw stars.
He also dropped his sword. She tried to retrieve it, but as soon as she grabbed the hilt, her fingers burned. She released the weapon only to see that there were gold studs lining the marble. Her fingerless gloves did little to protect her digits.
The unicra grandmaster grabbed her from behind and threw her with one hand. She rolled across several parked cars and slammed into the side of a pedestrian vehicle that was trying to flee the area.
She got up to see him stomping towards her with the yellow blade again. He thrust down.
She rolled, letting the sword pierce the concrete floor. She scissored her legs around his and cranked.
It took him off balance despite not bringing him completely down. She swung a leg at his head, forcing him to take a roll. She sprung into the air and stomped on his back, disrupting his balance. Kicking herself off a wall, she then tackled him to the ground.
She tried to put him in a grappling choke with her tights-encased legs, but his armor was too strong for that sort of thing to be effective.
He punched her in the stomach and threw her off. She tried to rise, but could only get up to one knee.
Security guards who had not been bribed arrived on the scene. They had their guns drawn.
“What the hell is this?! Drop your weapons!”
Ivabard picked up his sword. The Au blade was severely marred, but that only added jagged edges to its already sharp contours.
The guards fired. Bullets hit his armor plates, one of them striking a tube containing the glowing white fluid that kept him alive. There was no damage to the tubes or the armor.
He cut them down. The serrated gold ripped through their human flesh.
He looked around for his target. Of course she was gone by now. Another day, then.
Headlights shined on him as though he was on a stage. A green sports car sped forward.
He tried to charge back at it, but the automobile’s acceleration caught him off-guard. It rammed into his knees, making him roll over the top diagonally. He fumbled onto the ground in a cloud of diesel.
* * *
Diane didn’t even bother paying the toll. She sped out of the government facility, killing a guard who tried to stop her.
Kaytlyn sat in the passenger seat on the verge of a heart attack. She had witnessed the entire fight, and had to question the nature of reality as her pulse thudded thunderously. She could have run, which would have been the rational thing to do. However, it was not every day when one had the chance to see a girl in oily rubber fighting a white knight without the use of wire tricks.
“You look like you are about to have cardiac arrest,” said Diane, not really attuned to the workings of the human heart. “My venom can slow your rate, but I am not skilled in the use of my poison bite yet.”
She would have warned her that it only had a small chance of succeeding when she suddenly remembered that she was talking to a human who had never heard of weredragons before.
“Impossible...” said the doctor. “You have a bullet in your arm.”
Diane looked to see a rip in the arm of her catsuit. Now that she thought about it, she did feel a bullet inside of her; probably from the crossfire. There was no need for amputation, though. Such an inconvenience was only necessary for serious injuries or gold bullets.
She checked to see that it was still 11 AM. Unicras may have been on their tail. There was very little traffic in this city, especially at this hour, so they should have been easy to spot.
She heard loud steps. In her rearview mirror, she saw Ivabard charging at them from behind.
She hit the gas. Unicras were known for their speed, but they still could not outrun an automobile.
Unless they had Ivabard’s light armor.
He accelerated. She swerved to make a tight corner at high speed, but this only served to slow her down during the turn.
He nearly rammed the side of her sports car before she managed to stabilize and burst forward.
She drove at 100 mph, dodging a pedestrian. She kept checking her rearview, and saw that he was still going after her, but at a distance.
There was a cliff up ahead. This one had no barriers to keep cars from driving off. It would have been a shame to lose such a fine vehicle after all the upgrades she and Arke made on it.
She accelerated to 110 mph.
Ivabard was not sure he could catch up. However, he saw her suddenly spin out of control.
He galloped faster. Tilting his head down, he got into the posture to ram her down.
However, at the last moment, her car spun sideways, veering away from the cliff and staying alongside it on the road. Ivabard tried to skid to a halt, but it was too late. Newtonian physics sent him plunging off the edge. Seconds later, his splash could be heard.
Diane flung the steering wheel from side to side. The sports car nearly blew a tire and went off, but straightened out. She and Arke had done this before, a technique they discovered by accident. Sometimes the best way to control a car was by letting it freak out. Luckily, only weredragons had the reflexes to turn a car into a dreidel and bring it back in one piece.
She continued driving alongside the cliff until she found another road leading away from the danger.
“Now,” she said, “about your Alchemist machine. What can you tell me about its weaknesses?”
“Do you know of a substance that can absorb light?”
“Looks like I have no choice.”
Diane bent over to bite her in the neck, but Kaytlyn noticed the knife that was slotted into a compartment next to the gear shift. She pulled it out and stabbed her.
Diane screamed. Kaytlyn unlocked the door and rolled out. This was one incident where not wearing a seatbelt was much safer.
Diane slowed the car before she could hit a tree. She pulled the knife out of her side and slotted it back into its compartment.
She stopped the vehicle. Looking back, she could not see her target, but she noticed that she was close to the financial district approaching lunch hour. With that many humans in public, it was probably not a good idea to go after her. Not a good idea when Ivabard might still be near.
She continued driving. She accidentally clipped a tree trunk with her left headlight and cringed.
Familiar Planet: Jupiter
Metamorphosis: Capable of transforming into anthropomorphic reptiles and into human form. Power increases when the Great Red Spot is facing the Earth.
Venomous Fangs — The venom can cause degrees of mind control depending on the weredragon’s power and the subject’s resistance. It can also be used to heal creatures (including weredragons), and kill creatures (except weredragons). It requires years of training to master the art of venom.
Regeneration - They can heal rapidly from injury. To do this, they need to devour large quantities of meat.
Behavior: Weredragons are extremely hateful, violent and enraged. They horde gold to prevent it from being used against them. Gold is nearly indestructible, otherwise they would have been rid of it centuries ago (they use bubonic plague to contaminate the gold, as their healing factor makes them immune). They are capable of eating half their own bodyweight in one sitting, and typically can go weeks without feeding. Weredragons tend to be sexualized, and can control their fertility. Oftentimes, more than two mates are involved in their mating balls (orgy). It is said that a weredragon would look like a skeleton in the mirror, but this is a myth. In actuality, they can detect their own physiology extremely well, thereby being able to “see” their own skeletons. Some of them can extrude their bones out from their skin for combat. Weredragons cluster in dens that comprise several dozen members. Their character is military in nature, but they can relate to humans enough to breed with them.
Soldier - This type of weredragon is a direct-assault unit with no special talents.
Flamelord - These are weredragons that specialize in flamethrowers and explosives. They have the highest healing capacity, for good reason.
Berserker - These are the most ferocious of all weredragons, and the largest. They have mastered the art of beast transformation, and can remain in beast form for long periods of time.
Spy - A spy weredragon has weak combative abilities but superior eyesight and hearing.
Skellord - A weredragon who knows how to use his skeleton as a weapon.
Venomlord - A venomlord has expertise in poisons and can use them to control minds, kill, heal or cause strange effects like hallucinations, sleep, insomnia or psychosis. They can also shoot their fangs at their enemies, and can regrow 3 fangs immediately. Their glands can manufacture the most complex molecules.
General - The lord over all weredragons.
Familiar Planet: Neptune
Metamorphosis: Weresharks are in beast form permanently (anthropomorphic sharks or rays). The Great Dark Spot on Neptune increases their power when it faces the Earth.
Shredding Skin — Their skin is capable of ripping through metal. Normal bullets cannot penetrate them. The strongest of the species can shred diamond.
Biting - Their fangs can rip through diamond. The strongest weresharks can bite through carbon nanotubes and graphene.
Resistance to Heat - They can consume lava.
Behavior: Weresharks cannot transform into humans and must exist in hiding. They are tribal and extremely brutal in combat, but otherwise, they prefer to avoid confrontation; most of the times, they are depressed and sick of life in general. They are unable to speak human languages, but have almost average human intelligence. They do not possess advanced technology, but are aware that metal can deflect magnetic swords or bullets. They can breathe underwater for days at a time. Every 10 months, they devour lava from the ocean floor in order to heal their bodies of magnetic fragments in their skin, and to replenish their armor. This species tends towards tropical weather, and dies if exposed to long-term cold. They periodically hibernate in solidified lava.
Lifespan: 80 Years
Guardian - This is a basic unit who is meant for direct assault.
Silverripper - This type of wereshark has an exceptional ability to rip through metals and most crystals.
Diamondripper - A beast that can tear through diamonds, graphene and nanotubes.
Magmaplayer - A wereshark that is particularly invulnerable to lava and heat. These units oversee the yearly lava hibernations.
Bludgeoner - This type of wereshark lacks endurance, but can deal massive damage in a short burst of violence.
Leviathan Bludgeoner - This is an advanced bludgeoner with stronger fangs.
Charherder - A wereshark who can tame sharks. Most sharks ignore weresharks (they sometimes even fight), so charherders are more intelligent than most of their species.
Rayherder - A wereshark who can tame rays.
Squidherder - A wereshark who can command squids. This is dangerous business, and typically results in the death of the squidherder himself.
Reefherder - A wereshark who watches over the corals. She is typically the least violent of a normally violent species, and exhibits behaviors that would allow her to fit in human society (these units are their greatest hope for one day entering human society).
Chieftain - The king of the weresharks is usually the oldest member of the tribe.
Familiar Planet: Mars
Metamorphosis: Pentagras are always in beast form (anthropomorphic minotaurs, goats, reindeer and other equines). However, they emit pheromones that prevent humans from seeing them for their true form. Humans see them as ordinary redheaded people with enhanced sexual appeal. When Mars is fully lit, their power increases. Crescent Mars will also increase their power, but not as much. If Mars is closer to the planet, their power rises. When Mars moves in a retrograde fashion, however, pentagras become confused and may stop producing pheromones.
Pheromones - These molecules are more powerful than weredragon venom when it comes to mind control. No human can resist a pentagra. Male humans can be killed by the pheromones of a female pentagra, in the same way that female humans can be killed by male pentagra scent. Some werefolk can be influenced by pentagra allure.
Balance - Pentagras can climb vertical surfaces and traverse extremely rough terrain. They can sleep while clinging onto a cliff face, giving them an advantage in stealth.
Sex - Pentagras are masters of seduction and are geniuses in psychology/reading people’s faces and gestures.
Behavior: Pentagras are as sexy as weredragons, and their entire species is founded on copulation and orgasm. Their diet consists of extremely salty foods. They control the pornography and cosmetics industry, and many famous models were of pentagra descent (Marilyn Monroe, Helen of Troy). Their society is based on breeding, and they are very close. When a stranger dies, it is the same as losing a son. They live in congregations that are have excessive decadence, but they are hardly defenseless. Every month, they pay tribute to their god of sex.
Lifespan: 30 Years
Militant - The militant is used for direct assault. They are regarded as unattractive brutes. These units volunteer themselves to be at the front lines to be slaughtered. They specialize in firearms.
Slave - Slaves are a rank above militants, and have more muscular strength than skill with pheromones. They are able to handle common close-range weapons (knives, hammers) with advanced martial arts talent.
Whipmaster - A pentagra who specializes in whips.
Canemaster - A pentagra who is skilled in the staff and other “stick” weapons.
Shacklemaster - A pentagra who is skilled at bondage and other types of imprisonment.
Perfumist - A pentagra who has expert knowledge of pheromones. These are usually assigned to research and development, but they also know combat. They can mind control most werefolk.
Sleeper Agent - A pentagra who is an expert at seduction. They are sent to have sex with their enemies in order to infiltrate or conduct espionage/theft. They are highly skilled at sleight of hand.
Weaver - A blacksmith that makes armor and weapons.
Dominatrix - The leader of the orgy.
Familiar Planet: Pluto
Vulnerabilities: Fox Bones
Metamorphosis: Werehyenas transform into anthropomorphic hyenas when tickled or incited by humor. Werehyena spores can infect human subjects and turn them into beasts.
Sleeplessness - Werehyenas do not require sleep, but are capable of sleeping and waking when they choose.
Eidetic Memory - They have a clonal colony mind, and are capable of communicating through brainwave transmissions. This means that their memory capacity is unlimited.
Diseased Bite - Their saliva has deadly bacteria.
Bone-Crushing Fangs - Being that their society is founded on bonematter, they can break bones in their jaws.
Indestructible Skeleton - Their own skeletons are virtually invincible to any known attack. Only weredragon skeletons can compare.
Fungal Affinity - They are resistant to fungal attacks or gangrene. In fact, their phlegm contains spores that can take out specific senses (eyesight, touch, taste) depending on the subject.
Pain Tolerance - Werehyenas cannot feel pain. A slight healing factor repairs any damage incurred from bumps and scrapes.
Behavior: Werehyenas are born to torture and play with their victims in games of gore. Their minds function like a fungal organism, with each spore or unit knowing what all the others do. This makes them in between individuality and a hive mind, though there is no central leadership or “queen.” Most werehyenas first manifest when they are tickled as children, which automatically triggers beast mode throughout their lives. Once transformed, they can read the minds of their colony and know everything there is to know about their chronology and abilities. Fox bones that have fresh red vessels are the only weapons that can kill werehyenas, aside from very savage physical damage to the throat or brain. Their worldview is centralized on humor. They primarily feed on bones, and make weapons from skeletal material. Werehyenas tend to have bad balance and aim compared to other werefolk.
Lifespan: 60 Years
Scavenger - A standard werehyena with basic combat skills.
Bonesmasher - A bulkier combat unit, overwhelmingly male.
Bonecrafter - An intelligent werehyena who can carve bones into weapons.
Foxslayer - A stealth unit. Their saliva is the most diseased.
Painmonger - A werehyena whose power increases as his pain increases. Damage is not required. For example, a device that can simulate pain in the werehyena’s brain will still increase his strength and ferocity. These units can transform into colossi.
Funguswayer - A priest who communes with mold growths in order to determine how best to generate phlegm. Different colors of phlegm do different things.
Bonecardinal - A high priest who specializes in bacterial weapons. Usually female, she can produce spit of varying effects; a spit artist. No werehyena can perform mind-control, but the saliva can target the decay of specific organs, limbs, or rapid growth in certain targeted parts of people’s bodies.
Copyright © 2017 by Kenneth C. Eng