2. Wrap Your Warmth around Me, so this Day Lasts.

Captain Basil Redgrave and Ms. Parsley had a devil of a time getting past the third story door. He pounded on it with the bottom of the fist trying to get some one’s attention and sighed. Whoever the mad bomber they were pursuing was he’d obviously used stolen keys to lock everyone down, at least on this floor.

“What is behind here?” Growling in frustration Basil gave the iron door one kick, then another.

“Private rooms for the recovering and well off.” Ms. Parsley curled fingers around his bicep and tugged to get him to back up. Too bad the thing was not padlocked or she would just blow it open. Crouching in a manner that a woman never would she peered at the keyhole then handle itself. Maybe with a few well place shots she could get it open? That however would cause the panic they were looking to now avoid. The last thing either man or clockwork wished to see was a wild stampede to get the wounded out. Too many would be off’ed in the panic and not to mention it would tip their foe off. Who knew what sort of mad dog they were dealing with.

The door handle turned and an orderly pulled the door open blinking at them both. “Yes? Hrm how did this get locked? Bugger, pardon Miss, sir.”

“No need. We are just glad you have it open young man.” To cover putting the revolver away Ms. Parsley dazzled him with a smile as white and pure as mid-winter snow. The ruse worked quite well until Basil tapped the orderly’s shoulder and gestured for him to move aside.

“We’re just glad that you got it open, lad.” The officer grinned lopsided. “Do you mind if I borrow your keys though?”

The young fellow looked down at Basil’s outstretched hand and then to Ms. Parsley for confirmation. The Thistle Sisters were as respected as they were recognizable in Scarborough. After the blonde nodded the dropped his key ring in Basil’s palm. “Here you are sir. Is something amiss?”

“Quite amiss, lad.” Basil winked and patted him on the shoulder again before leaning in. “But its Order of Thistle business so hush hush now. With any luck we’ll be in and out before you know it eh? So no going off and setting others to worry eh?”

“Of course not sir.” The orderly bobbed his head but looked rather unconvinced. Still he slid to the side and let them pass.

Ms. Parsley walked deft fingers across the young man’s sternum. “Tell me, has anyone odd been about on this floor today?”

“Odd?” The fellow’s checks speckled with red. “Not that I know of, miss. No one out of the ordinary.”

“Drat.” Basil snorted and continued down the hall at a swift pace. His gaze swept over doors as quick as he could, down to their bases as well incase their saboteur had left behind more corpses. The captain assured himself that the mechanical lass would notice if the man they just got keys from was even the slightest bit suspicious. Somewhere at the back of his senses Basil noted the lack of violin. “Is there a storage room in this hall, abandoned office, anything like that?”

“About five or six doors down, sir.” The orderly frantically gestured before excusing himself. Evidently it was time to take a stroll. As the simple man fled Basil took off at an anxious jog and scanned over the front of each door as it passed. With swift steps the constructed maid did her best to catch up.

“How many do you think there are, Captain?” She asked.

Basil shrugged and skidded to a halt before a plain door. It had no number. Tilting his ear to the door he made a motion to guide her the rest of the steps to him. By now he could feel blood rushing hard through the avenues of his body, because of hidden explosives and her proximity. This was certainly a thrill he’d never forget. Basil only hoped he lived long enough to give forgetting a try. Rattling the handle only confirmed it was licked. “Key’s if you would. My guess would be that there is one on each floor and possibly the sublevel. So mm, with any luck only four more.”

“Four? With any luck there shall not be any.” With a huff she tossed him the key ring.

The officer caught it and twirled the ring around index finger before searching for the right key. “I will just be thankful to find all of them and have them be all as simple as the first. Ah, there we… are.”

After a click Basil cut a boyish grin back at his willowy companion only to have her roll her eyes in amusement and gesture to the door. He bobbed his head and turned the handle again, opening the closet up. There were no corpses inside this time but the bomb encircled three quarters of a support beam that dominated the side of the linen closet. If it wasn’t for the ticking Basil might not have spotted it at first because towels and sheets had been stacked over its petrol cans and kegs. Throat flexed and he kept his outer grin while removing the all of the linens. While the alarm clock was of a different make it still had the same trio of wires coming out of it and ran into a pony keg of gunpowder instead of crate. He didn’t bother to see if the manner of accelerants were the same.

“Pardon me? Just what is going on here?” One of the doctors cut is what through sparsely populated halls over to Ms. Parsley. Along the way he adjusted his glasses and disapproving frown. The latter would have no effect on a woman of coiled copper and crystal heart. He slowed as he noted the woman had a drawn gun.

She used it to gesture the medicine man back gingerly. “Not a thing for you to worry about, Doctor. We have a bit of sordid business in your linen closet so please if you would hurry on?”

The doctor was not deterred by her smile either and folded his arms. Fingers rapped against clip board and his gaze slipped to Basil’s backside as the soldier hymned and hawed on how best to go about getting to the rerequisite wire. Basil wasn’t going to waste time with this fool. The doctor turned back to Ms. Parsley and pursed his lips before taking two strong steps forward and reaching out for the door.

All the clockwork did was sigh and let her feminine form deflate with the creak of leather corset.

“Bloody hell!” The professional stumbled back, clipboard bouncing off of the ground. It was all that the doctor could do but not shriek like a little girl. Shaking to his core the man turned to the construct and for a moment gapped. “Is that… is that…?”

“Yes. However the dashing fellow in there is one of the army’s finest experts in this field so rest assured everything would be fine.” Ms. Parsley’s expression turned cheeky and she tapped thin pale brow with barrel in salute. “So please, doctor, no causing a panic if you would?”

“Is that.” The man just stammered.

“Bullocks, just give the fellow a good lump so he will stay hushed eh?” Basil popped out of the door with wire in hand and a bright look of accomplishment. He wiggled the filament at his date for the evening and she just smirked. “Right. Should we sweep the rest of this floor or? Look out he’s starting to make a run for it.”

Rotating as easily as a well-practiced dancer on opening night Ms. Parsley easily beat the doctor when it came both to reach and strength. Her free hand caught him around the wrist and the practitioner was pulled back as if the whole exchange had been choreographed down to perfection, even the dip she gave him at the end. “Now, now Doctor we cannot have you ambling off and causing a stir. I assure you we have everything well in hand.”

By now onlookers started to swarm in. The scene was just too odd not to attract any notice. Sighing deeply the Captain tried to ward them off with a glare and failed. He just laughed and threw his hands up. “It’s all yours, Ms. Parsley. Once you are done wooing the doctor there.”

“Silence you.” The faux female shot back without venom. She pressed the doctor to rest against an empty gurney. “Likewise sir I am going to need you to be quiet and just lay here for a moment. Is there any other main structures that are inside or close to rooms in here? Come on man.”

Blinking the doctor was too stunned to struggle and gestured along one of the side halls. “Down there is the one that the morgue ventilation shaft runs along. You can’t miss the smell.”

“Thanks, Doctor. Basil-“ She let go and turned, waving the other gawkers off with her revolver. “We have everything under control.”

On the other hand Basil went off at a dead run and tried to weave through the crowd now clogging the halls. He ended up having to elbow a man with a bandaged eye and head out of the way with a bare excuse and note do to make a formal one later. He signaled with a wave that he’d heard the Thistle Sister’s words and just continued on. Shoulder cracked off sharp corner as Basil hung a left into the next hall but he didn’t pay any mind. For her part the gunslinger just raked front tooth over lower lip and followed giddy. She realized as well that she shouldn’t be so relaxed in such situations as there were lives at stake. However it was hard not to feel as if she was on a summer picnic with this man.

“Refreshing.” The clockwork murmured as she rounded the corner too.

The sniper was already moving along to a shadowed door. Several of the lamps above were extinguished and that set both of them ill at ease. The smell of death was there, faint, but there, as Basil neared. Again he was faced with a lock and had to race along those on the ring to try and find it. With calm speed he soon found he’d been around almost twice with no avail. “The custodian must have the key to this instead of our friend.”

By then people were screaming and running through the halls. Ms. Parsley snorted. Well there was no reason to fret after gunshots now. She didn’t even ask Basil to step aside but merely lifted her heavy pistol and angled it away so passing shots would go into the room beside this one instead of down into any volatile chemicals.

“Bloody-.” Keys dropped Basil turned away as her revolver roared and curled his body up. Hands slapped over ears. He’d lived through trench warfare and the constant fall of shells associated with it. That wasn’t to say he wanted to hear the heavy report of Ms. Parsley’s guns up close, just the soft harmony of her voice.

It took three shots to get the door to lose enough integrity for a good kick from the steel shod dame to kick in; which she did before gun smoke even cleared. Her coat hem swirled around leg as she stamped it back down and peered inside. Besides a grease smeared grate against the wall there was no bomb. Her brow rose and doe brown eyes traced sideways to look at the captain’s handsome profile.

“Well lucky break there, down to the second floor then eh? Hrm think we can get down the stairs without getting a limb snapped?” He closed the door gingerly, shrugged and smirked.

The trigger-woman turned and watched a rush of people, sick and healthy, which mired the main hall now and just sighed. They were simply running out of time. Sucking in both her lips formulated a plan then looked down at the floor below her. It was given a testing kick of shined boot.

Basil in turn blinked and looked over her amazing legs up to hips as second gun was taken into hand. His admiring gaze skipped up to her amused face. He groaned and covered his ears again. “Bloody hell, you’re crazy.”

“I prefer the term adventurous.” Her retort was lost under the spray of gun fire she put into cheap carpet and wood beneath. Like a hero from a penny dreadful she turned in a circle and allowed the difference engine deep within to calculate each structure destroying shot.
Seconds later she hopped up with a flare of coat and drove both feet and steel aided weight down as hard as she could. As desired the hole gave way and down the blonde fell amid gently falling sawdust flakes. Ms. Parsley only bent her legs as she hit the second floor. Delicate lashes fluttered away debris and she tracked what was going on down her sights. There were too many fleeing people for her vision to sort through but one was fighting against the flow. She tracked his unkempt head of hair as the anti-social orderly struggled to push a cart along. However before the gun ace could line up her shot the man was out of view.

“If by adventurous you mean you deserve to be in Bedlam.” Basil peered over the edge before shrugging with that gap-toothed smirk and swinging his legs off into empty space.

“I think I might have gotten a glimpse of our saboteur.” As she surged forward Ms. Parsley motioned for people to get out of her way with harsh swipes of her arms. “Stop tarrying.”

“Women!” Working up the will to let go Basil landed with nowhere near as much grace as his date. The Captain’s boots almost slid out from under him and he stumbled off of the chunk of ceiling before he regained his footing. Gritting teeth he ran after the blonde and wished to high heaven he had a gun. Both of them rounded the corner within a breath of one another. Silently the gunslinger caught his gaze and pointed ahead at their target.

Basil scowled as he noted it was the orderly, who had an ugly face full of panic. His gaze followed the movements of the terrorist’s body as he reached under the sheet of his rolling cart and was fumbling for something. “Shoot him!”

“I am trying to get a clear shot.” In protest Ms. Parsley stomped her foot before stopping entirely! One pistol was raised up sending people parting around her like the Red Sea in their panic. Her frame arched with a slow breath before trigger was squeezed. The heavy bullet sculpted to take apart metallic fairies shredded the man’s arm. For now she didn’t want to do the man in, there were questions to be answered. Both she and the captain however caught the click of a lever being pulled before the arm was fully separated from person. Basil elbowed people out of the way and rushed past the android. When he threw the sheet to the ground the crowd screamed and cowered. To the traitor’s credit even down one arm he tried to crawl away. The soldier figured that Ms. Parsley would deal with the unkempt man, and she did.

Tall military boot was mired in red as she crouched and rolled the man over. There was no wince as the turncoat sunk a scalpel deep into her swan throat, nor was the expected arterial spray, just a gush of searing oil. The orderly screamed and she forced his hand away with wrist before setting still hot barrel between his eyes. “You stop this nonsense right now. Captain?”

“On it.” Basil rubbed at the scruff of his chin and took another uneasy breath observing what lay beneath. This bomb, or rather trio of bombs, was as messy as the man who built them. Wires haphazardly crossed one another and it was hard to tell exactly where any began or ended with eyes alone. Kneeling he frowned and tried to find which of the timers was ticking. None of the alarm clocks remaining had hands. Gingery the sniper moved a few wires to try and get a better look. His blunted nails tapped against three boxes of gunpowder and perhaps sixteen canisters of petrol. “For fuck’s sake.”

“I take it the situation is dire?” Ms. Parsley didn’t tear her attention away from the still conscious madman beneath her. His eyes were not full of shock but utterly lacking in sanity as he continued to squirm and struggle for enough freedom to kill. Now and again something guttural was spat out in Gaelic perhaps but the gun-bunny wasn’t as skilled in languages as Ms. Sage.

“Our second outing might just be my funeral, Ms. Parsley.” Somehow Basil’s voice still remained cheeky. Licking at the roof of his mouth he cautiously moved one clock, then another. Ah there was the one that was running. Its gears were spinning a bit too fast and he snorted. “See if the mad bugger is going to give us anything to help eh?”

Despite misgivings the blonde pulled hammer back with a deep toned click. Engraved cylinder spun and was ready to kill. “If you would please explain to my gentleman companion what you have built there and how to stop it I would be ever so grateful. We would like to have some time to take a moonlit stroll this evening.”

“You will all burn for her glory!” The orderly screamed and turned to bite at Ms. Parsley’s arm. His teeth didn’t sink deeply and he continued to mumble his insane threats. She shot a glance over to Basil who caught it through the tangles of wire between, then shook her head.

“Bullocks.” He hissed and turned the timer in his hands quietly figuring all of the connectors were the same. They didn’t seem to be and that made him scowl. “Cheap Oriental shite. See what else you can get out of him while I figure this out.”

“Sure thing, darling.” The quip made them both laugh, albeit tense. Her eyes traced back down to the madman and she pried his mouth away. It was displeasing how much spittle and blood was left behind. Her rump settled on his stomach to control air intake. “Well then my good fellow, if you are not going to tell us how to disarm this contraption of yours then at if you would be ever so kind to tell who we are going to be flash fried for?”

“My love.” The orderly’s eyes took on a new twist of madness that was lofty and wistful. They also glanced away to heaven, or maybe just up. “Like the phoenix of old she will rise from our ashes and be the beacon to bring our gods back to us.”

Ms. Parsley’s lips twitched. “Basil, please tell me you are close to figuring your small matter out?”

“I damn well better soon.” He muttered under breath as it became clear that the bomb was going to go off at any second. Taking in a deep breath Basil prayed before preparing to tug out the copper coil he thought was the right one.

It was then that the crowd chose to explode in a fury of terror and rush about like scared rabbits. Someone screamed as they smashed off the side of the cart and down to the ground. Another panicked soul stumbled over the fallen person and right into the already rolling bomb. Basil bit down a curse and closed his eyes. Off of the wall the cart bounced hard and he slipped all but free, arms wrapping around one tire to try and slow it down. A boot planted into his back before one of the runners fell mouth first into the steel side of the roller. Basil’s fingers jerked from pain as skin was torn away but he didn’t have any breath with which to bellow. The cart got away from him. The captain didn’t lay there as seconds continued to bleed away. Boots squeaked against the floor but Basil was able to scramble forward and up to all fours. The cart kept getting knocked around by the stampede and Ms. Parsley found herself tackled back down to the ground by the terrorist as she tried to rise and assist.

The madman kept babbling romantic nonsense about the woman he adored, how he met her working here at the hospital. How piece by piece the shadows had made her ready to ascend and how now was the time. Doe brown eyes went wide as the cogwork girl watched Basil get smashed down by another tangle of falling people. His head of dirty blonde hair ricocheted off of the wall. Blinking hard the officer tried to focus through double vision as the roller continued to bounce, petrol jostle and bombs sway. Reaching out a hand he realized saving the day was out of reach.

Ms. Parsley put a bullet through the orderly’s head to silence him but had that sinking feeling she’d not rid her of the dead weight quick enough.

Up ahead someone lost their head with a swipe of silver wire and a low buzzing. As their body fell the cart collided firmly with it and lost speed. From his place on the floor Basil watched as a jackboot firmly braced the front of the cart to fully stop it. Another decapitated head bounced along the floor. He caught sight of the edge of the gentleman’s winter cloak and black leather glove appearing from underneath it as their amoral savior crouched. A hellstone cufflink sparked for a moment before whomever this was reached in and pulled a different wire free. There was no explosion and the person seemed satisfied that there would not be.

Even as Basil gripped at the wall to pull himself up and caught a knee in his side for the trouble this mysterious person had already turned, hem of cloak snapped before it faded out of sight. It wasn’t like the sea of fearful people obscured the anti-hero; he was suddenly no longer there.
The sniper whistled through his teeth and pushed off the wall. Through the torrent of bodies Basil pushed and jostled his way to Ms. Parsley.

“Did you get a gander as to who that was?” One of his steely blues blinked as blood from a gash in his forehead as it dribbled down. Basil reached out and helped her up. Both of them gasped light as her soft lines met his firm ones.

The gunslinger though knew this was no time to linger in accidental embrace. She gave a whisper of thanks before shaking her head. More than a few pale tresses were loose now and lashed at her English pale skin. Her gaze sliced hard through the still fleeing people who jammed the exit and then back down along those trampled behind. Most were in better shape than Basil but she knew that the man at her side was not going to falter until the job was done. “No. I am afraid I did not get a good look at our aid amid the chaos. I take it the bomb has been defused.”

“Aye, it seems that way.” Reluctant to take his hands off of her Basil nevertheless did and set both on his knees. He doubled over and drew in deep breaths to ward off the pain. “I have a feeling we caught him before he could plant even more.”

“There is now just the matter of his ‘love’. We can worry after what darkly clad stranger saved us at the expense of a few lives later, no?” Ms. Parsley gestured back to the stairs with her pistol before taking time to reload it. “From his mad ramblings it seemed to imply that she was up, perhaps on the roof where you were going to escort me. Apparently it is someone he met working here.”

“Well he wouldn’t be the first man to go bonkers for want of a woman, eh?” Basil angled away from a lighthearted smack and for the stairs. “Before you ask, I’m fine.”

“I know.” Reassuring him Ms. Parsley followed once her revolved was locked back down. They had a rather smooth run of it back up to the silent fourth floor. Basil only had to stop twice to catch his breath. The second time he allowed her to take the scarf from her hair and press it to the head wound.

“Do not fret on returning it.” Her fingers ghosted over his forearm before drawing her second pistol. Basil just smirked crooked to reassure her that he would not. They picked carefully but quickly down the central hall and back to chained gate. This time Basil had the right key and pulled chain free before padlocking it again. He would it up and gave it a small swing. The makeshift flail would do in a pinch.

“Ladies first.” He lifted his chin.

She giggled in response and finished wiping oil from the front of her neck. Some had dribbled down all the way to outline the top of cleavage. Whatever drew his strong gaze down to her chest, Ms. Parsley decided was well worth it. “You are too kind.”

“That’s me!” Not that either of them would have sent Basil up first. Ms. Parsley was a weapon of war and could withstand whatever waited them on the roof far better than he, hopefully. She took the stairs slow and steady. Her body tilted to give anyone lurking in the shadows along less to aim out. Both arrived unmolested at the wooden door up top. The gunslinger didn’t hesitate but blitzed forward putting fragile looking shoulder into it. Of course the door gave way with a shower of chunks. She sailed along for a short distance before landing on the same shoulder and rolling. Her acrobatics carried her past all but the far edge of a fusillade of gunfire that couldn’t possibly come from one person, but it did.

Running and gunning as soon as she got her feet under her Ms. Parsley scanned over their opposition and found it very odd indeed. They were facing off against of all things a svelte candy striper at first glance. Her pink uniform with white stripes was cut too short for decency sake, especially since both of her legs had been replaced with tarnished clockwork constructions, as had her arms which were almost apishly long. All four limbs were of the sort of quality that came from London’s infamous street butchers. Every exterior panel though was laced with silver runes. One could feel as well as see dark arcane energy pulsing with each beat of piston and cog.

Classless heeled shoe slid back and the candy striper cooed as she continued to try and cover Ms. Parsley with a hail of lead. In disproportioned arms she held what could only be described as a bolt action pepper box. After each scatter shot the bad medicine girl gave a lever on the side a hard pump to eject a multipart bullet casing and slam another one into place. She did little more than perforate the roof behind every one of the Thistle Sister’s steps and the end of crimson coat. One of Ms. Parsley’s bullets stuck true in her center of mass. While the candy striper stumbled back there was no crumpling on her part. In fact it was obvious that the bullet had been stopped by metal plates. Just how much had this atrocity had replaced of herself?

Basil peeped out around the corner next and was glad for the blonde’s distraction. He was caught in the moment watching Ms. Parsley’s symmetry of motion while her hair now free flowed like a banner in the wind. There was no woman in all the world more perfect he decided then and there, save his Ma, Lord rest her soul. When the bionic woman bounded behind a few crates that had been used as a table for cover he shifted his eyes to take in her adversary. The poor captain was momentarily confused by the absurdity of what they were facing.

If the outfit, the sub-grade replacement limbs and queer gun were not enough the woman had shock red hair running down past her bum in a heavy braid. That striking bit of hair had a round glass bauble at the end in which floated swirling flakes of hellstone. The man woman’s features were hidden underneath a wooden mask. It didn’t have any proper features save eyes holds covered with thin gauze and a lipstick drawn smile across flat wood. He decided the woman’s outfit wasn’t strange but downright disturbing. While the maniac was occupied though Basil slipped around the side of the door and started to circle.

Ms. Parsley frowned as bullets punched through empty crates and shredded flimsy chairs on either side of her. Spent circle was flicked out of one gun and she reloaded with her other palm. A running total of bullets left was kept in her mind. “I am afraid to inform you that I put a bullet through your lover’s head and none of the bombs are going to be going off.”

“Harpy! Foul thing! How dare you interfere with his plan, with my ascension.” Even if her rage was muffled the candy striper clearly felt no remorse of the loss of her unkempt devotee. She moved forward slow and steady, pumping bullet sprays into Ms. Parsley’s cover. “I will give them your bones as gifts!”

“The hell you shall!” Darting out around the side of the crates Ms. Parsley felt one pellet tear through the meat of her cheek and another two graze her ear and throat. Her bullet in turn hit the arm joint she aimed for dead on. Despite a shower of white-hot sparks and the way their adversary stumbled back there wasn’t much damage done and Ms. Parsley ducked back behind the less than perfect cover. Basil crept behind more chairs and an old end table with very few scraps of stain left. From his angled point of view it was plain to the captain that the candy striper’s sigils were the key. Magical force absorbed most of each bullet’s kinetic energy so she was only scratched and dented instead of being blown apart. The real question was how to deal with it? He licked at the back of his teeth. Straining he watched the way the woman moved to gauge if there was any vulnerable human flesh behind. Even with the risqué cut of the outfit he didn’t spot any.

Ms. Parsley pushed away to the far side of the crates as the part she was behind finally collapsed from the gunfire and she wondered if the woman was going to run out of ammo any time soon. Popping out over the top she brought both revolvers to bear and aimed at the weapon itself instead. Her hammers thrummed as shot after shot bored through the air. The weapon shattered as it was struck and the masked woman flailed back colliding with the fence around the hospital’s Tesla-coil. It kept the whole building in twilight even in the dimness of night as well as providing ambient power. Blood trickled from the candy striper’s hairline and down the forehead of the white mask. She howled and tossed what remained of the rifle away before stalking forward. The aggressive motion was only met with timed fire from Ms. Parsley to wear her down. The lithe blonde fired with one gun now to keep the pressure on the woman’s midsection and once that one was depleted the other raised up while she reloaded the first. She was slowing their enemy down but not stopping her. More metal was reveled when the woman’s skimpy outfit was torn by incoming fire and burned like flash paper by sputtering sparks. One bullet was placed out of rhythm into the mask in hope of finding flesh. While the stark woman’s neck snapped back it righted itself with small hisses of steam down her back.

As he dribbled blood Basil doubted if the woman was even close to human any more. He licked his lips and looked around while jostling the chain. Eyes moved back to the Tesla coil and the lopsided grin surfaced once more. He struck out from his hiding now that the candy stripper was far enough away and spun the chain as he moved. Its padlocked end was brought down once, then again, before actually breaking the lock on the coil’s gate. He glanced back just in time to see the candy-stripper crouch in a way that would make burlesque dancers blush before catapulting into the air. He wasn’t the only one to track her movement. Ms. Parsley’s brow furrowed as she backed up. This simple cyborg nearly got as much height as Ms. Thyme. The silver runes provided obscene amount of power. The gunslinger crossed her arms and smoking guns and ducked her head when the candy striper crashed knees first through the crates and debris flew.

The diabolical woman didn’t rest for long but snatched up the biggest piece of wood that she could get her hands on and jumped at the Thistle Sister. The willowy blonde whipped one of her weapons hard to deflect lumber away from staking her heart and then stuck the other’s barrel right up against painted mouth. The trigger was pulled once. Ms. Parsley was rewarded only with wood rammed into the leather of her corset. While the candy stripper was fast and weighty she didn’t have the sufficient strength to get through even simple armor.

Unfortunately the revolver’s heavy caliber didn’t have enough power to do more than add another crack to the mask. There had to be some magic involved. Over the hydraulic harlot’s shoulder however Ms. Parsley caught Basil gesturing to the open avenue to crackling tower and smiled. If that didn’t stop this machine nothing would. She slipped the pistol down from mask and fire against the right side of the candy stripers’ armored bosom before taking a shot at the left knee blindly. As usual the rudimentary computer within her chassis did all the work of angles for her. Struck off balance on sub-par mechanics it was easy for the madwoman to be lifted from her feet as trigger-woman struggled forward. Ms. Parsley dropped her pistols and curled her arms under the candy striper’s arms once she had the fiend off of her feet. It was easy to ignore the repeated blows that fell on her back. No matter how hard the candy striper pounded she did little more than bruise and mar perfect skin easily regrown.

Basil moved as quickly as his meager human form could. The chain was lashed in one place and dragged across the open gate and he flopped down to pull it tight. Working in silent tandem Ms. Parsley loosened fingers and pushed the already fleeing strumpet away. The masked killer topped over chain which bit at the soldier’s fingers but he didn’t let go. The candy striper shrieked when she hit live transformers.

White sparks rapidly gave way to full jumping arcs of harnessed lightning and her shrieking to electronic whining. The sigils were of real silver that rather rapidly liquefied as metal overheated and flesh that was left within flash fried. Human grease oozed out of a few joints and then the candy striper’s hair went up like a Roman candle right into the flawed grey matter. Desperately she clawed at the mask as its paint and some components melted directly into once lovely face behind. Her body writhed too violently for her to even have the control to do that though. Bolts shot out with the force of gunshots and hydraulic pumps burst. It really was a messy way to die but finally the vile volunteer’s brain addled and her body went lump. Cheep cogworks blackened and meat continued to cook but the threat was over.

Likewise the hospital staff would be miffed at the disruption in power but it was better than having the place burned down. Outside across the grounds people cried out in amazement of seeing such a light show after a cacophony of gunshots. Ms. Parsley flicked the last of wood chunk from her side.

Turning she offered Basil a hand up and a bright smile. “We work well together, Captain.”

“That we do, Ms. Parsley.”His torn hand curled around hers without any worry as to the sting. Gears groaned as she helped him up and back close to her body. Even as the gunslinger’s hand lifted his cheek bent down to meet hit and the wound on his head was ready to receive her sweet peck. Today had turned out wonderfully. “Would you still like to dance?”

“There is no music.” Her ruby lips moved in slow whispers but hips swayed when his did too. “So how ever shall we dance?”

“I can hum a few bars?” The blue in his eyes shinned.

“You can’t sing can you?” Ms. Parsley laughed so tender and soft.

“Not one whit.” He brushed nose against hers and lips drifted dangerously close. “Hold me Sunshine?”

“Sappy.” Still she cooed and nodded. They would only have a few short moments to enjoy this before help arrived. Oh she had not wished for the cavalry to be late before in her current life. “However it is acceptable. Just one sung line so I can hear your voice, please?”

“Hold me close, until the shadows pass.” Relenting Basil placed his cheek against hers and enjoyed the tease of blonde wisps. “Wrap your warmth around me, so this day lasts.”

Pliant fingers stilled his lips. “You really are terrible.”

“I really am.” He mumbled around them.

heart

Verse Four

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