Oh god I can't into roman numerals
Today, we have one wedding and a funeral. Except one of those things is a lie.
“You'd be surprised how much of your culture borrows some pointers from ours. We've been here for a long time, you see.”
“You've mentioned that,” Tilda nodded. “So just tell me already.”
“Alright.” Arma stood up and cleared her throat. “Tilda, we work well together, and I want to keep working with you. We're good partners. And so I want to offer you this.” She reached behind her back and produced a small box.
“What's that?” Tilda asked. Arma opened the box. Inside was a golden ring, shaped like a snake biting its own tail. Something glittered in its eyes, tiny chips of some gemstone. Tilda's jaw dropped. “W-what-”
“I want you to be my partner forever. We're a great team.” Arma smiled widely. Tilda blushed, now absolutely certain that she had no idea how to deal with the alien.
“T-this is way too sudden!” Tilda said, waving her hands defensively. “We've only known each other a few days! You shouldn't marry someone that suddenly! And we're both women! I don't even like women that way!”
“Oh really?” Arma asked, giggling. “Because you might protest, but I can tell that you were having some very interesting feelings when you woke up this morn-”
“I don't want to talk about that!” Tilda yelled.
“Besides, you're taking this whole thing too seriously,” Arma sighed. “It's not exactly the same as it is for your kind. This is just how we signify formal contracts and partnerships. It's like signing your name or...” Arma smirked. “...saying some vows.”
“Stop that,” Tilda said, still blushing. “Look, you said doing this will keep the other Anunnaki from attacking here, right?” Arma nodded.
“That's right. And it will mean I can keep helping you as much as possible. If they find out I've been helping you without a contract it could be bad for both of us.” Tilda stared at the ring, thinking. It was a big step. Bigger than she had expected. It would almost have been easier if the reptilian had asked her to sacrifice a chicken or something.
“I...” Tilda hesitated. “Okay.”
“You have to say 'I do.' It's kind of a thing.”
“Fine. I do.” Tilda blushed more as she said it. Arma took her left hand and slipped the ring onto Tilda's ring finger. It felt strange there. Tilda looked at it on her hand, a band of gold, impossibly ornate. Tiny scales carved into the gold made it look almost like a living thing.
“There,” Arma said, satisfied. “Now we're real partners.”
“S-so is there anything else I should know? Does this mean I'm going to wake up some morning and you'll have turned me into a wolfroid or bear-gun or something?”
“Not unless you really want to,” Arma said. “You have Krieg, and I promise I wouldn't do anything like that without your permission. “
“That's good to know,” Tilda muttered. “But just so we're clear, this is just a business arrangement. I-It's nothing else.”
“Of course not,” Arma nodded. “Just business.”
Charles was forced back by another barrage. He knelt down behind the remains of a tree, taking cover while he regained his breath. He could feel Pax growing stronger as it converted the deadly orgone radiation from the monster he was fighting, but at the same time it was barely able to keep up with the sheer punishment the enemy was putting out.
He wished he had been able to get a little more information on Pax from the Professor. Up till now, he hadn't had to really fight, and he had just been relying on things he had found by chance. Somewhere in Gable's notes there had to be notes on what the weapon could do.
Right now, what he had was the sword. Maybe not the best weapon against an aircraft carrier, and possibly worse against a shark, but it was at least better than punching it in the nose and trying to scare it off. He was pretty sure that even if it worked on a Great White it wouldn't against a ship.
The tree suddenly crunched. Charles rolled away just as the Verbesserte bit through it, shattering the wood and swallowing the remains with a few huge chomps. Charles felt real fear as he realized that this thing was aiming to do the same to him next, though with more screaming and bleeding than the oak had managed.
“You're just being used by the reptilians,” Charles said, circling and keeping his distance. “Look, I don't know what he's promising you or what you think you'll get out of it, but we don't need to fight. Whatever they've done to you, I can help you. I can save you from this.” The monster circled with him, still chewing on a loose bit of timber.
“You're a human being, not a pawn for them to use,” Charles continued, ready to jump at a single move. “All you have to do is want this to end. No one else has to get hurt.” Pax started to glow with a steady but calming light. He could sense what it was doing, saturating the area with calm, cool flows of fresh orgone. The monster hesitated, stopping, looking around. It seemed confused.
“That's it,” Charles encouraged. “Just think about it. Everything will be okay. I know you don't want to hurt me.” The monster lowered its arms, looking down. It moaned, somewhere between a cry of anguish and a whale song. Charles cautiously approached it, not making any sudden movements. He reached out to put a reassuring hand on its shoulder.
As he did, there was a flickering light like a dying lightbulb. The shape of the monster seemed to collapse in on itself, fading away. A dirty, pale, thin woman replaced it, shaking and bloodied. She was crying, obviously cold and weak. Charles let out a breath that he hadn't known he had been holding. He had been able to end it without violence, without having to kill anyone.
“I'm sorry...” The woman whispered, hugging him. He held onto her, lightly.
Yates watched, shocked, as Charles managed to talk the monster down. She didn't think that would be possible. She kept pressure on his mother's head wound from where they had taken cover. The woman hadn't woken up yet, but she was breathing.
“Detective, are you okay?” Mohan ran up to her and knelt down. Yates nodded.
“Yeah, I'm fine. Stay with her. EMS is on the way. She has a head wound and they'll need to get a look at it.” Mohan replaced Yates in putting pressure on the woman's injury. “I'm going to go have a talk with our Mister Masterson.”
“Okay,” Mohan said. “Maybe he'll be more willing to give us some real answers now.”
“I hope so,” Yates muttered. She put her gun away and slowly approached the armored figure, still holding onto the weeping woman. She didn't want to look like a threat. Yates wasn't sure yet that this was really over. “Mister Masterson? You've been keeping some secrets from us.”
“Sorry, Detective,” Charles said. The helmet altered his voice, making it sound deeper and more authoritative. “I'll try to explain what I know later. I didn't think you'd believe me if I said everything all at once.”
“I'm willing to listen, Mister Masterson,” Yates said. “Do you need any help... dealing with this?” She nodded at the woman who had only a few moments ago been a monster trying to eat him.
“No,” Charles said. “But I think she could use somewhere warm to sleep and a decent meal.” He looked at Yates. Even through the helmet, she could tell what he was thinking. She nodded.
“I think we can help with that,” Yates said. “Do you want me to arrange a ride for her?” Yates had just the right cell to throw the woman in. Carefully. Gently. Where she'd be safe and people would be safe from her.
“That would be a good idea,” Charles agreed. “I'll stay with her to make sure the thing that did this do her doesn't come back.” Yates nodded. She stepped away over to the side of the house, well out of hearing range, and got on her radio.
“This is Detective Yates to dispatch, over.” She glanced back to keep an eye on Charles.
“Dispatch here. What's the situation, Detective Yates, over?”
“We've got a handle on things, for the moment. The perp has been talked down, but we need to handle this carefully. Get the unmarked car down here. No one in uniforms. When we arrive at the station, I want everyone to just keep their distance. You get that?”
“Yes, Detective. I'm dispatching some plainclothes officers to your location, over.”
“Good. Prepare an interrogation room and a hot meal. Make sure it's all very friendly and happy. We can get some answers out of this one, but only – only – if we can keep this from blowing up in our faces, over.”
“Understood. Anything else, over?”
“Just one thing. When EMS gets here, have them keep the sirens off.”
Tilda sat on her couch and looked at the ring on her finger. She definitely had some mixed feelings about all of this. It felt like a really awful decision, but on the other hand, it was supposed to protect her. At least it was just a business arrangement. She'd just keep telling herself that.
“Something's wrong...” Arma said. She was looking out the window. “I can sense a flow of energized orgone.”
“Another Verbesserte?” Tilda asked. She stood up. “Is it coming here? We can-”
“No,” Arma said. She looked confused. “There's something... very strange going on with it. I don't know what's going on. But we need to see what it is. This must be something important.” Tilda nodded, grabbing Krieg.
“Where are we going?” She strapped Krieg around her waist. She was getting used to wearing the thing. She barely noticed the device's bulk and weight.
“That way.” Arma pointed downtown. “It's coming closer, but not directly towards us.”
“Guess I'll just meet it halfway.”
Charles had deactivated Pax to get into the unmarked car. The woman held onto him like he was a lifeline keeping her held down onto the earth. Maybe that wasn't so far from the truth. The way Pax was acting, she was still producing a large amount of deadly orgone radiation. It wouldn't be too dangerous for him for a limited time, but he couldn't imagine what kind of horrible things had been done to her that would change her biology so badly.
Detective Yates was sitting up front along with the detective who had driven the car out. She kept glancing back at the two.
“We're almost there,” she assured them. Charles nodded.
“Thank you for the ride, Ma'am,” he said.
“It's no problem, Mister Masterson. I appreciate the help. I've made arrangements so things will be safe and calm when we get where we're going.”
“That's good,” Charles smiled. “I think I've had enough excitement today.”
“Your mother is on the way to the hospital, but the EMS team said she looked like she'd be okay,” Yates assured him. “She has a concussion, and they'll want to keep her for a day or two, but there's no permanent damage and-”
“Do you hear that?” The other officer said. There was a sound cutting through the air. A roaring sound, getting louder. Charles blinked and looked up.
“Oh no,” he said. A red figure flashed through the air, dropping out of the sky to land in the street in front of the car. The detective driving slammed on the brakes, too late. The figure braced itself and caught the car with one hand, with obvious effort but even more obvious effect. The car slammed to a stop like hitting a brick wall.