Unacceptable Losses

Lee stared down at the caster’s lifeless face before shrugging.  He didn’t recognize him, some scrawny kid who’d been invisible right before his shifters had ripped his throat out.  The white minion-variety shifters were walking in slow circles, scanning around for more enemies.  His new arm itched, and Lee scratched it without thinking.  Scent-tracking, or something, had paid off.  He wished he could remember adding that.

“Assholes… so which way should I go…”  He gathered the cape around him and led his small force further towards the campus, little twinges of awareness feeding back to him from other minions.  Monsters and werebeasts were ripping through the campus, chaos reigned at night.  The whole thing made him want to… join them, really.  Tear apart some of the mindless animals.  He’d loosed a swarm of his best blue and greens towards the outer defenses then strolled in.

Easy, really.  Why hadn’t he thought of it before?

***

Sandra pulled a pill canister from one pocket, hurling it at the werewolf trying to rush her.  Vines sprouted from the seeds rattling inside, binding its arms and legs and spitting pollen in its face.  The beast howled in pain as it rocked on its side, blind and stuffed-up.  The medic-mage replaced the barrier around the infirmary and checked on the few patients left.

Three of the people under her care had gone wild during tonight’s fight, and she’d had to sedate them heavily before locking them outside.  Those who remained likely had little time left, except the few who were still unwounded.  In the back room, Tom was still unconscious and giving off strange mana readings.  She reached into a different pocket, pulling out a Star Trek tricorder and tapped at it.

“If anyone is hearing this, the monsters are people on campus; they’ve turned somehow.  Avoid lethal action, repeat, avoid lethal action until we can find a cure.”  She shut the device, sighing.  There was little hope that the message had gone out, but she had to keep trying.

What else could she do?  She’d tried every spell known to get Tom back on his feet, and had since devoted her time to trying to fix whatever disease was causing this bloodbath every night.  It defied analysis.  Every cure or stopgap she tried wouldn’t last until morning before being overpowered.

Another beast at the gate.  Sandra gathered a few more bottles and went to discourage it.

***

Lee tsked.  The monsters had shredded his shifters too easily.  He focused his energy and pumped it into their remains, his arm clenching and flexing in the process.  The fragmented bodies melted together, transforming into a patchwork monstrosity that likely would tear itself apart by morning.  Ah well.  He set it to attack something and looked around.  Three baloths, and four of the wolf/rat beasts had gone down.  One of them was still alive, flailing with an arm broken off at the elbow and flapping by an inch of muscle and skin.  Lee pointed down at it with his new hand, fingers in the shape of a gun, and a spear of bone skewered it in the forehead.

A few yards away, Richard’s body was surrounded by feasting monsters.  He’d taken quite a few down, but must have been overpowered.  A pity, Lee supposed, since Richard was one of the few he’d at least remembered from before he’d become a real player.  He left the beasts to their meal and sought better entertainment.

***

Mana counts skyrocketed.  Sandra fiddled with a couple devices and looked around the clinic.  Her survivors were moaning and wailing in pain, and she noticed the first traces of change overtaking them.  There was no sign of infectious wounds or curse marks, nothing.  She tossed more of the pill bottles over them, thick vines restraining them to the beds.  A thin cactus needle buried into them, pumping sedative-sap into their bodies.  It wasn’t enough, not by a mile, but it was all she had.  Her prescription spells were running low and the barriers were failing one by one.

A loud bang came from Tom’s room, and she heard a voice mutter to itself.  Sandra ran in and found the ‘walker angrily yanking an IV from his arm.

“Tom, you woke up, what the-” Sandra started, and Tom glared at her.

“What’s going on?” he asked, right as one of the patients howled and broke free of the bindings.  Sandra’s hand went to her lab coat pocket, but Tom plucked a scalpel from the other side and clenched it in one fist.  His hand stretched out, becoming razor-sharp, and sliced the monster into large chunks.

“No, Tom!  Wait!” Sandra started to protest, and the ‘walker flickered out of the room, two more sickening gurgles coming from the other room.  He stepped back in, shaking blood off his returned-to-normal hand, looking at his friend silently.

“They’re… they were people.  Transformed somehow.”  Tom blinked, grabbing a medical chart off a bed.  One of the massacred had been Aaron, the scrawny caster who’d worked with Chasity.  He tossed it away, setting his jaw.

“Not anymore, they aren’t.  Get to safety.  It’s time I woke up, otherwise I’d be late for school.”  Tom closed his eyes and extended a hand, twisting a hole open in the barriers and physical walls alike.  He ran through the gap before letting it close behind him, barriers renewed.  Sandra just shook her head, sadly, and started cleaning up the bodies.

***

“Goddamn, who would do such a thing?” Lee wondered aloud, standing amidst a massacre of some sort.  Humans, shifters, monsters, and those green-mana beasts that had been swarming earlier, all lying in a mound near the crater where the gravemarker cube once stood.  He resolved to himself that clearly his shifters had done far better than expected if they could pull off this sort of body count, totally ignoring their corpses in front of him.  “I wish I had something of, you know, decent strength to test them against.”

A blast of fire and steam hit the sidewalk near his feet as an enraged ‘walker in a bloody trenchcoat and hospital scrubs appeared behind him.  He’d added a navy tie hanging loose over the scrub top.  Tom popped his neck, smiling coldly.  He tossed the mangled body of one of Lee’s prized creations at the caped man’s feet.

“As you wish, you Eldrazi-riding bastard.” Tom said, quietly, before blasting Lee with twin pillars of liquid fire and rolling steam.

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