3. Nightshade

Ms. Parsley wasn’t shocked at all when one girl from the other quartet jumped down and took a bullet for the cackling coachman. There was no spray of blood and guts from the woman’s svelte frame either, not even oil. So the gunslinger thought it wise to empty the rest of her revolver as fast as she was able. Maybe she’d get a lucky shot and stop this fight before it even began. Instead the man in the beaked mask ran for the side of the railing while still laughing with a mechanical tinge. His inhuman shield shifted and her poisonous green eyes glowed bright. As the bullets streaked in only the next two struck her body. The three after that were deflected by chrome saw blades as they unfolded out from her forearms and started to spin up. More green light spilled from the buzz saws’ housing giving them an eerie glow.

“Oh here we go now.” Ms. Rosemary ‘cracked’ her knuckles and then exposed brass vertebrae. “Wonder what other strange weapons the other three are carrying.”

Behind the Thistle Sisters the battlewagon’s gunner opened up with the chain guns. The hail of bullets shredded the balcony that the two villains had been on but not much else. The woman with cutters hoped down three stories and through the front porch’s roof with a crash. The coachman dove off of the far edge and hurled a stick-bomb for the offending turret. The grenade spun along with inhuman accuracy and strength. Ms. Parsley, for one, was quiet sick and tired of their all-to-human associates being changed into paste; namely for Basil’s sake. Her other revolver lifted and she shot the grenade from the air. An already ramshackle gazebo off to the side exploded. She worked on reloading her other big-gun as she turned to look back to the advancing enemies.

Enemies, not enemy, because as the green-eyed monster strode away from the porch’s debris her three teammates hopped down tier by tier. They followed after her. The battlewagon slid its lights forward and the soldiers focused their barrels on them too.

At a distance, at night and clothed as they were it was easy to mistake the ‘daughters’ for actual women. Once they were illuminated, though, that falsehood was quickly erased. The ‘lady’ in the lead had lost her widow’s veil and did not have a face in the traditional sense. Oh, the mask of shined brass in which her robotic eyes were set had been modeled of some classical beauty that was for sure, perhaps a Grecian statue. A bundle of thick cables connected the mask to the back of her skull which was covered with a short bob of blonde hair. The clockwork’s neck had more slits from which the same emerald incandescence dripped. She wore a black combat corset similar to the Thistle Sisters with exposed boning and dark skirts gave mechanical legs modesty. Her crafted-metal cleavage and arms were fully exposed though. Instead of having shoulders of delicate slope there were large plates with spiraled electrical coils sunk into the top and heavy rivets to keep them in place. Her arms ended in the whirring saws of course and were actuated with painstaking precision. The coils on her shoulders hummed and vibrated violently as she drew closer, viridian energy building up.

“I believe I have found my foe.” Perhaps it was the fact that the lead robot shared her colors that offended her so much, or the spinning disks reminded her too much of her swords. Either way, Ms. Thyme knew who she wanted to fight. She lifted one arm and let the explosion of steam and the telescoping sword that follow do the pointing. The goddess-faced robot responded with a slow accepting nod. The gravel of the drive exploded as Ms. Thyme sprang forward with grace and unnatural speed. The green-eyed woman wasn’t impaled on the opening trust though. Malachite energy exploded out of the machine’s shoulders and down vents on her back; it formed two crackling wings. Up into the air she soared. The wings beat once and sent Ms. Thyme’s foe flying back toward the gables. The swordswoman merely narrowed her eyes as green motes drifted around her. She took three steps before her the pistons in her boots fired. Off she hurtled through the air after her prey.

The Thistle Girls were left to find their own adversaries for the night.

Ms. Parsley aimed both of her revolvers forward with a dauntless cock of her hips to the side. Her coat flared wide in the breeze away from her svelte form caught within the confines of her corset. She grinned in a jagged manner as she skimmed her aim over the other three automatons. She didn’t wear a blouse either, but at least she had skin to expose. In the end she focused on one on the left. That cog-cast ‘lady’ didn’t flinch when the revolvers were focused on her. She merely kept her timed stride within soft-purple skirts that had white trim. Like Ms. Parsley she didn’t wear a shirt either so the stark silver metal of her body was exposed from cleavage and up. Sky blue electricity spilled out of this robot’s eye sockets and down cheek grooves before gathering behind false lips. Like the others she had what amounted to a bust for her face but it had been so heavily modified it was hard to see it as anything female in all but the most rudimentary ways. The same sapphire energy coiled in thick shoulder plates before it drifted down her well-sculpted arms. Ms. Parsley would say that the grooves reminded her of the fuller of swords – or what spider webs would look like if their pattern was all right angles instead of circular. The machine’s forearms were bulbous and didn’t match the dainty hands at the end. It was within the glass housings just above wrists that the blue power collected with a poisonous glow.

The two brawlers quickly identified one another as well. Whereas Ms. Rosemary crushed her titanic gauntlets together as she moved in a stiff line to the right the feminine machine she’d chose folded her hands together and stretched her arms backwards. It was as if she was trying to crack her expertly articulated spine. The foe was not built with the same shapely stoutness as the Irishwoman, in fact she was at least six-and-half-foot tall and almost willowy. While Ms. Rosemary was built for power she was plainly built for speed – and made from what looked like gold. That was likely not the case given her chassis’ conductive properties. Like the other three, really all four, she exuded a strange galvanic force. In this case the energy that pulsed within every one of seams was gentle purple. The automaton’s eyes blazed with that color as well, though it oscillated between the darkest shades and a faded violet. Unlike the first two she wore a sleeveless shirt underneath black corset – both it and matching dress were plum. This particular mechanical monster had a slit along the side of her skirt all the way up to thigh and a hint of white stockings were easily seen. Ms. Rosemary and the risqué woman raised their chins to one another. Only then did the Irishwoman realize her opponent’s mask was featureless save for a bump where nose would be. That didn’t stop Ms. Rosemary from surging forward and trying to rearrange the robot’s face.

That left Ms. Sage, who’s coiled copper and crystal heart nearly froze with dread. The last of the plague doctor’s ‘children’ had moved directly for her from the beginning. She was dressed in a flaring black dress with crimson rose-print trim, combat corset of course, and a ruffled long-sleeve shirt that was black and cardinal. From underneath a veil of Spanish lace twin lights seeped, their color not unlike that given off by hell-stones. In her shined steel hands was the sort of halberd that Espana’s conquistadors once carried. The captivating champion took a step back and barely got her umbrella open with shaking hands. Her legs felt like they were going to give out from under her. There was no logical way Ms. Sage could know who was starting at her with artificial eyes, but she did. The feeling sliced deep into her caged soul. “Olivia?”

The black-and-red-clad woman leveled the pointed tip of her weapon at Ms. Sage. There was the smooth sound of metal joints sliding against one another as she flexed her legs. While the veiled-one’s voice crackled artificial it was still spiced with a Spanish accent. “Ms. Belladonna.”

The correction was barely out before Ms. Belladonna charged with a rage filled scream. Cherry tears streamed through the air as she moved. The vile-machine’s first thrust was deflected by a bat of Ms. Sage’s umbrella, then second instinctively side-stepped but the gorgeous guardian found that she was unwilling to stroke back. Her hesitation was rewarded with the heavy impact of steel haft in her side. Ms. Sage skipped back gingerly, one eye twitching but Ms. Belladonna didn’t let up. In a fluid motion her elbows rotated too far for simple human mechanics and she brought down the axe of her halberd hard. The somber woman blocked with her shade and then squeaked as Ms. Belladonna ran the axe head along black fabric, shredding it away to expose metal. Ms. Sage had just commented yesterday to Roland about how silly it was to reupholster the umbrella after ever fight; the cloth just got ruined again. She wasn’t thinking of that conversation though as her fallen friend pressed closer. Once the axe head skipped off of the parasol’s edge Ms. Belladonna shifted it down less than an inch and pulled back with a barbaric cry. The fancy curve of the bottom of the axe caught the umbrella’s lip and the wondrous weapon was nearly pulled from Ms. Sage’s fingers. In truth the field leader should have let go. As Ms. Sage stumbled forward and tried to keep a hold of the umbrella the veiled woman stabbed savagely instead of continuing to pull. Ms. Sage’s sternum split as the spearhead punctured deep. She screamed as she was lifted from her feet.

Ms. Belladonna paused and growled up at the prize on her pike. “If you don’t kill me, senorita I shall kill you.”

Ms. Sage choked back agony, grief had stripped away all of her ability to effectively fight. All she could manage was to stare down at hate-filled eyes as precious fluids oozed down the halberd’s shaft. No mercy was shown by her opponent who whipped the halberd around as she spun before flinging her at the lead battlewagon. Ms. Sage struck with a ringing thud and laid there, stunned. The gunner proceeded to light Ms. Belladonna up with a stream of bullets. She didn’t dodge but ran head long into the storm of lead. Her clothing was tattered but for the most part the bullets ricocheted off of the villainess’ metal skin. She took a running leap and drove her spear straight through the glass of the turret, into the man’s shoulder and the chair behind. With a cruel twist she ruined his career if not his life. Ms. Belladonna pulled the pole-weapon free with a splash of vibrant blood in the night. When the arc of her weapon completed she used it to smashed Ms. Sage’s umbrella away. Ms. Sage moaned and tried to roll away, only to be snatched by the throat. Ms. Belladonna squeezed without mercy and hauled her prey up off of her feet.

“Damnit.” Harper moved out of the driver seat and thumbed for the man next to him to take charge. He was supposed to stay inside. In fact once the fighting between the eight gynoid’s started most of the soldiers either fled back into their respective carriers or took up cover around the outer edges of the estate. They didn’t want to be cannon-fodder. It was better to let the ladies to their cat-fight until it was time to mop up. Harper wasn’t the sort to sit back and wait though. He shoved past the men coming in and took up a satchel of grenades from one of the sappers. Once he was out of the back his revolver was drawn. He stumbled as a stick bomb winged past him into the back of the carriage he was just in. The big man tried to scream a warning but was blown off of his feet as the explosive went off. It took a moment for Harper’s hearing and sight to un-fuzz and when it did he tracked the plague-doctor as he paced closer. The villain had pulled pistol as well and took an occasional shot back at the other steam-coach, which had received much the same treatment.

“Oh-ho-ho, one of you is still alive?” The masked bastard crouched down to get a better look; jaundiced goggles glinted as he looked down his beak at Harper too. “A big fellow at that. Tell me, aren’t my daughters the most magnificent things you’ve ever seen?”

Harper sputtered out a breath and barely moved his arms. As far as he could tell every part of him was intact and still working. He glowered. “If you compared them to lawn ornaments, sure.”

“Now that is hardly polite, at all.” Steam hissed out of the beak’s vents as the ‘doctor’ started to stand. In the same motion he aimed the gun down at Harper but he didn’t get a chance to fire. While the man was moving Harper scrambled forward and planted his wide shoulders onto the man’s knees. Once the sadistic son of a bitch was down on the ground too Harper clawed up on top of him. A struggle for the pistol began with a few errant shots taken as the men tussled. Once the weapon clicked empty it was discarded and they started punching and kicking one another.

Ms. Rosemary found that she didn’t like how fast her opponent was. In the night it was almost too hard to see the gold woman actually move. The tracers of purple electricity created a haze of dazing patterns to draw and confuse the eye. It seemed like every time the pretty pugilist threw a punch it was a second too late. Then the other woman would whip a scantily clad leg or elbow in before dancing out of reach once more. Not that the tall robot, Ms. Nightshade, did much damage all at once. Her fighting style was designed to take an opponent apart, piece by piece, with quick strikes. The redhead was sure all she’d have to do is hit the fast moving lady once, maybe twice to break her – she hoped anyway. This was almost as frustrating as fighting Ms. Thyme. A stocking covered leg caught Ms. Rosemary in the nose and sent stars through her vision. Nope! This was actually worse. She grimaced and swung both of her heavy fists in a wide, and in truth, desperate curve. Her success was surprising but it quickly turned to a grumble as Ms. Nightshade cart wheeled with the force of the blow. Ms. Rosemary didn’t let herself be cowed though, she took aim and fired off one of harpoons after the retreating clockwork woman. Ms. Nightshade’s limbs bent backwards and she fell to the ground so it shot past her. Worse yet as the limber woman snapped back to her feet she caught the chain in hand. Cascades of purple lighting crackled all the way back up into Ms. Rosemary’s arm – she shrieked as it played havoc with her internal systems. While the ginger-woman managed to cut off the chain with a slap of hand unto the bracer Ms. Nightshade was already upon her, using the thick links as an electrified whip now.

The steel boning of the Irishwoman’s corset tore open after the second lash but at least the vat-grown flesh helped insulate some of the galvanic discharges. Another stroke of the glow chain caught her across the face and sent Ms. Rosemary staggering into a tree trunk. She wasn’t getting her clothing flayed off for all the lads to have a gander, again. The beautiful brawler rolled around the trunk and used it for cover when the next lash came. She chopped the word hard once, than again until it broke while the chain was still tangled. Then it was just a matter of snatching the falling hunk of dead wood and running at Ms. Nightshade like it was rugby. That was exactly what Ms. Rosemary did, while spinning the trunk braced against her side so branches would tie up the chain even more. “I’m gonna knock yer teeth straight out, ya two-bit whore!”

Ms. Parsley was cursing but did so under her breath. She was far enough away from the main conflict she’d only barely heard Rosie’s outburst. She and the blue-lined bionic woman had moved around the side of the house in a running gunfight. Though, gunfight wasn’t exactly the most accurate of terms. The delicate duelist was crouched behind what remained of a garden shed, which shook against her back as her adversary, Ms. Hemlock, continued to pelt away at it. The wind-up wretch wasn’t using a gun but instead flechette packs that were housed within her bulbous forearms. Ms. Parsley darted her head around the corner and gauged how much crackling azure energy was still in either reservoir. Just like she had to reload Ms. Hemlock could only eject so many shots of the high velocity darts before she had to wait for the blue electricity in her bracers to charge back up. The gunwoman jerked her face away as a fresh volley peppered the corner she looked around. One of the darts struck in her cheek and she tried to frantically bat it away before the acid within its tip could do any damage to her steel skull. Her left side was riddled with burns that went skeleton deep because she’d unwisely allowed herself to take a shot earlier. After all how much damage could a punch of tiny steel bits do to a clockwork woman? It turned out to be quite a bit.

She squeezed off a blind discharge around the corner before scratched at the spreading wound on her cheek with a thumb. Thankfully she’d been able to puncture Ms. Hemlock’s abdomen with a well placed shot too. So now they were wary of one another and both moving a bit slower. The leggy bombshell hoped up onto an overturned barrel and then onto it’s still aright twin. She smoothly slid both revolvers back home and then jumped up. The edge of the shack’s roof was grabbed and Ms. Parsley pulled herself up. She was sure that the tin roof creaked under her weight but with all the sounds of violence mixing together she doubted her foe would catch it. Ms. Parsley crept across the flimsy metal and the structure beneath her still rattled from being perforated. From the angles of impact her difference engine quickly calculated where the blue and silver woman was. Just before Ms. Parsley neared that edge the firing stopped, she pulled her pistols. There was a perhaps a moment where her pert nose caught a tingle of ozone before the gardener’s shed blew out from underneath her. Its flimsy wall were reduced to splinters, rusted out tools flew everywhere and Ms. Parsley fell with a started scream. The denotation had been almost unitarily horizontal. The tin sheet struck the ground only a moment before her, she fell onto her back with a whoosh of air out of soft lips. Ms. Hemlock’s laugh spilled out, even though her sculpted face didn’t actually have a mouth.

Unused to falling in such an uncontrolled manner Ms. Thyme didn’t have the moments needed to change here trajectory. Instead she hit one of the turrets of the eerie house shoulders first. The always-placid woman didn’t stop plummeting when she hit but continued all the way down, shearing away glass, rotten wood and surprised termites as she went. As she finally smashed against unforgiving ground Ms. Thyme stared up into the slow-motion beauty of glass shards, splinters and paint flakes as they rained down on her. The way the near-weightless bits fluttered on air currents and danced with one another had its charm. Alas, as usual, the rare sight was lost on the hard-hearted woman – she was unmoved. Her eyes did widen but the rest of her expression did not. A cascade of emerald light filtered down the fragments from above, causing it all to shimmer. Her lips pressed down. The lovely glow only meant her foe was getting closer. Ms. Thyme rolled away into a withered flowerbed moments before Ms. Wormwood’s boot smashed down where her head had once been. Black hair brushed against the monstrous machine’s foot. The swordswoman was forced to scramble away so she could deflect the winged woman’s next kick. Her even-more stoic adversary had as precise a timing as she did, if not more so.

Ms. Wormwood pressed her advantage even as Ms. Thyme got her feet beneath her once more. Somewhere in the fall the Thistle Sister had lost one of her swords and now had to use one of the vibrating weapons to fend both of the bronze woman’s buzz saws. That didn’t work out very well at all and her stomach was opened up about an inch deep after one of the passes. Ms. Thyme’s face didn’t change though. Her piston-boots reverberated and up she sailed to the house’s decrepit roof. As expected the green fairy followed with a harsh pulse of her galvanic wings. Some alien and arcane science had to propel her so perfectly along. Thankfully for Ms. Thyme the woman didn’t have any sort of ranged attack. After somersaulting in mid-air the stoic sibling didn’t bother trying to control her decent. Instead she went right through the roof with an explosion of pitted tile and dust. It didn’t really matter where Ms. Thyme landed within the structure; she needed to reduce Ms. Wormwood’s superior mobility. The expressionless machine fell for the trap and zipped inside leaving a trail of viridian sparkles.

“Get off of me you oaf!” The sinister doctor head butted Harper with the side of his metal mask, the beak dug into the large man’s shoulder. Both of them had landed their fair share of punched and were equally matched in strength despite the variation in their body sizes.

While Harper howled in pain he didn’t let up. The sturdy fellow wrapped his burned hand around the side of the madman’s mask and smashed his head against the ground. He then managed to get a grip with his other hand and repeated the process twice more, trying to get the plague mask loose. Hell it would be nice if he managed to cave the man’s skull in. That didn’t seem likely though. “No.”

“That is the best you can come up with? Lout!” There was a sudden hiss of steam out of the nozzles on the side of the doctor’s beak. Harper screamed and recoiled as it seared right through the fabric of his jacket. The blackheart cackled and punched for the hero’s throat, only to catch Harper in the jaw. “Hah!”

As the psychopath’s gloves were studded with leather they did the trick though, giving off a static discharge too. Light cascaded behind Mr. Carson’s eyes and he recoiled back. The doctor was given just the sort of distance he needed and was able to wedge a foot between them. Out of reflex Harper did grab at the bastard’s leg to before being kicked away. He landed with an oof and didn’t stay down for long. As the thick-shouldered gent pulled himself to his feet he noted that he’d come up with one of the stick grenades that had been on the coachman’s leg. He peered at it then looked behind him at the chaos. While Harper was turned the masked monster pulled and oversized scalpel from the lining of his coat.

“Time for some preventative medicine.” The cheesy line poured out of the raver with a mechanical hiss.

“Save that for scaring children.” Harper didn’t turn back to face the doctor. It wasn’t fear that sent him sprinting around the side of burning battle-wagon. A few of the lads had gotten out, but they were pretty mangled. He didn’t pay them any heed either as he gave the stick-bomb a twist. His good arm cocked back and he whipped the explosive forward with all of his might.

Two of Ms. Sage’s bronze vertebrae were dangerously close to pulling fully away from one another and Ms. Belladonna didn’t let up. The veiled villainess squeezed with all her might, pressing one thumb with the grind of cogs at just the right point under the stunned heroine’s jaw connected to artificial skull. Precious and rare alchemical fluid started to ooze out of the back of Ms. Sage’s neck, she squinted one eye while the other felt like it was about to burst from her head. Try all she might the heroine couldn’t bring herself to life her hands in defense.

Ms. Sage just hung there limp like a broken doll. “Please… Olivia… we can help…”

“Stop calling me that.” Even if her face was covered by Spanish lace once could feel the heat of Ms. Belladonna’s venom. She drew into a killing pose with the halberd arched back in one hand, the tip inches from Ms. Sage’s bulging eye. Her ragged skirts danced in the winds of war. “You have no right to call me that. The Doctor says that if my brain is pierced I will cease to function. Let’s test if that rings true for you, si?”

A tear escaped Ms. Sage’s luxurious lashes. “I am sorry.”

“Shut up!” Ms. Belladonna wasn’t going to wait a moment, crimson flakes of light flying from her rage filled eyes.

The grenade Harper threw was already in flight though. It struck the front of the steam-carriage and would do little to the armored transport other than scuff some paint. The insane gynoid caught the brunt of the blast as shrapnel tore through her ethnic dress and punctured steel frame. Thus Ms. Belladonna as blown off of her feet and went tumbling to the ground. Ms. Sage was flung a short distance away and landed atop the blood smeared gunner’s port. She groaned and gripped feebly at the glass.

“Bloody hell!” Harper was half ducked as he ran for the vehicle with the beaked bastard chasing. “Snap out of it Ms. Sage! Use your bloody brain! She’s just a machine now, not human like you four. Come on, get back in the ga-oof.”

The strong-backed gent stumbled and then collapsed to the ground when the madman tackled him. A man with his bulk shouldn’t have fallen so easily but either way Harper hit the dirt face first. He snorted some of the loose and fetid dust away and twisted has hard as he could to try and get on his back. His right shoulder was slicked open by the doctor’s ludicrously sized scalpel. It wasn’t even fair to assign that name to the weapon. Harper wasn’t going to quibble. He did manage to keep the plague-masked maniac from staying on top of him and hacking away. As Harper got onto his side he ignored the pain raging across his back and slugged the doctor in the throat, just under the mask. A normal man would have gone down like a sack of bricks.

Then again, punching a normal man in the windpipe didn’t feel like you were hitting armor. Harper’s knuckles tore and bruised but he didn’t stop. He knew if he did he would be sliced to ribbons. He snatched the doctor’s wrist and a wrestle for the bladed weapon began.

“Why won’t you die?!” The black-swathed mastermind screamed.

Harper smirked. “The good Lord don’t want me yet. Too many bastards like you left to put in the ground.”

Ms. Parsley held up a feeble bit of sheet metal as she rolled on her back and tried to scramble out of the rubble. The ‘shield’ did little to stop the pelting of flechettes that were raining in now. Her forearm and side tore open as the projections pushed their way through. Quickly the acid started to do its sinister work. One could only imagine what such weapons would do to human flesh. The blonde didn’t even have time to scoop up her guns as Ms. Hemlock strode forward blazing with lifeless azure light. She could do little more at the moment than try to get away before she was picked apart. “Sage! We need a plan!”

Ms. Rosemary shrieked as she was whipped away from a length of her own chain. The gambit with the tree trunk had failed. The Irishwoman wasn’t sure if this was worse than nearly being melted like a tin solider or not. Every one of her muscles spasmed uncontrolled due to the purple electricity coursing through them. She’d been so undone that Ms. Nightshade had managed to wrap the links around her and then send her flying with a harsh snap. The redhead went right through a dead tree with a squeak and ended up in an undignified heap. It felt like she’d been punched by a full fomorian battalion worth of storm-lances. Her arm twitched as she tried to pull herself up on a rotted bench only to have it collapse beneath her. Ms. Nightshade was already racing after her. “I could use a feck load o’ help o’r here, lasses!”

Ms. Thyme didn’t call out like her sisters. She was too busy playing cat and mouse with the green clockwork fairy. She did not fancy at all the fact that she was the rodent. Her sword was no longer vibrating as that would make noise. Her internal clock carefully kept time with Ms. Wormwood’s steps so she could move with them. At the moment her shoulders slid along the dusty glass of a china cabinet full of spider webs and cracked plates. She kept her gaze glued on the closed sliding doors that lead into the dining room she was hiding in. Once she reached the edge of the furniture Ms Thyme curled behind it and crouched low. Her best shot at the moment was to take the other faux-woman by surprise. Alas it was the swordswoman who was shocked even with her planning. Not more than a few inches above her head the wall split apart as one saw cut left and the other right. She tumbled away from the thick wood as it came crashing down – under the heavy dining room table covered in a dust-ridden sheet. Her sword sliced her a way underneath. Wordless and wingless, Ms. Wormwood ducked through the hole she made and strode inside. Her eyes pulsed bright and green light bathed the room and highlighted Ms. Thyme’s form under the table. Some terrible science allowed the light to pierce through objects it seemed. The silent automation strode forward and brought down both arms hard right above the demure dueler. With little fanfare the table collapsed in two at the cutting point. The raven-haired sister was already moving though.

Ms. Thyme barely escaped being crushed and soon leaped through the nearest window. This plan of her hadn’t worked at all so it was time to get some distance, try and come up with a new tactic. Of course Ms. Wormwood followed.

From where she lay, drained of the will to fight, Ms. Sage watched the quickest of them come flying out of a window in a hail of glass only to be pursued by an emerald blur. There was a faint shower of metal sparks as Ms. Thyme’s forearm came off and sword hand went spiraling away. Ms. Sage barely moved with a small groan atop the turret on which she lay. Ms. Rosemary screamed as her next punch was caught and in turn the purple high-lighted robot kneed her twice in the stomach. Hazel and spiced eyes shifted and the tactician watched as Ms. Parsley flung the last of her shield at the blue woman who knocked it away with one oversized wrist – while aiming the other one up for kill shots. Everything had spiraled out of control.

The somber-clad woman’s arms shook as she pushed herself to her knees and fought back threatening tears of frustration. She couldn’t afford to break, not now. Ms. Belladonna… no… Olivia was pulling herself to her feet with the halberd and no doubt would be coming after her full force once more. Harper was holding his own against the psycho-physician who started all this but as soon as one of the Thistle Sisters fell he’d be done for too. They couldn’t lose… not like this. She couldn’t save poor Olivia but Ms. Sage could do something about her now, couldn’t she? No… she knew she couldn’t strike out at her former friend. It just wasn’t in the Spanish Rose.

“Get hold of yourself, Isadora.” Ms. Sage found herself saying in all together alien manner. The name came out of her lips in a detached manner – as if she’d never said them. Why was it that memories of Roland saying that name in such a tender way trickled through her grey matter? Roland… Mr. Thistle… she couldn’t let him down. If she couldn’t fight Ms. Belladonna then one of the others would have to. In fact, that was a grand idea.

Ms. Sage stiffened her upper lift and reached out into the air with her fingers spread wide. There was a chu-chunk as the magnets in her arm aligned and then the hum she expected. The umbrella came skipping along from where it had ended up and was snatched up. An instant later she took to the air with the snap of black skirts.

“Come back here!” Ms. Belladonna was strangled with rage as she cried after her prey.

To be concluded

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *