Family Affairs I: Caretaker
“Morrith, get me those godsdamn power-cores! Griswold’s puppets can’t have them, you know they’ll—” An explosion cut her off, but she shouted into the comm all the louder. “Get the blue ones, not the green ones!” Glasha’s voice was harsh and bitter on the other end of the line.
“I can’t see a thing in here, Captain! We need reinforcements, this isn’t a two man job, not even a two-hybrid job. There’s too many of them.”
“Did I give you my shotgun?” Glasha’s own voice scared her. A whip-crack of anger and lack of patience.
A pause crackled white noise on the other end. “Yes, Captain… but I’m running out of ammo.”
Glasha slumped back against the wall of what was once a warehouse of computer parts and energetic cores. The display racks and wooden pallets were stacked against the doors to barricade the entrance. She dropped the comm to let it dangle down her wrist while snapping off a few shots over the half-broken wall in front of her. “How many slugs do you still have?”
Glasha’s hand moved to the pouch on her belt. She counted six slugs for herself and cursed quietly. “Still on ground floor?”
“Can you get near the doorway?”
The comm echoed the blast of gunshots before Morrith answered. “I can give it a try, but I can’t get the cores and reach the door. I think it’s best you come down and cover me.”
“Fuck! I’m stuck like a hare in a snare here, Morrith. We need those cores.” Glasha reloaded her gun and swung the weapon around the corner again, firing blind before she ran towards the barricade and hid underneath the metal shelves. “Datchery must have ratted us out.” In a flash of rage, she emptied the shotgun at whatever moved until the click of the hammer hitting an empty barrel told her to reload.
It wasn’t more than two minutes before Glasha heard the familiar sound of sniper rifles cock from the other side of the street. It was one of those rare moments when she finally appreciated her Splice origin, but, not knowing if the rifles were friendly or yet another Hunter’s, she ducked down and shoved two more shells into her iron.
The answer came quickly. Two cracks snapped through the shattered window and leveled the advancing Hunters.
Glasha looked up, peering through the cracks just in time to see two young women jump out from the window of the building across the street and run into the warehouse as they pulled out their sidearms. These were professionals, trained by or working for one of the local Houses, no doubt. They were efficient and deadly as they cleared the floor in a matter of minutes, emptying their mags and reloading like it wasn’t more than popping the cap from an old soda bottle.
This was the opening she was looking for. Glasha shoved herself through the barricaded doors and coughed when she found herself disoriented by the cloud of dust that reached around. “Morrith!” she screamed.
“Over here!” Morrith’s deep voice came close to a snarl as he reached out and snatched Glasha by her arm. “I’m out.”
“I have some left. There’s two girls on the other side of the door. They came from nowhere, but they just leveled the place. This is our chance.” Glasha dug deep in the pouch on her belt and handed a handful of slugs over to her companion. She looked him deep in the eyes and shook her head. “Don’t shift… if you do, we’ll have to kill them all.”
“Isn’t that exactly the point?” Morrith grumbled. His eyes had turned black, his teeth had lengthened considerably, and his beard started to look an awful lot like fur.
“You wanna kill those girls, too? They just saved our necks!”
“We’ll help.” A voice sounding like the chitter of birds sounded softly from the doorway. Two girls, twins, made their way through the rubble and patted the dust from their shoulders. One leaned on the long end of her rifle, the other replaced a magazine in her sidearm.
“Thank you for saving my ass back there,” Glasha started, somewhat baffled by the jovial entrance, “but I don’t even know you.”
“But we know you,” one of the girls answered, “you are the curatoria, the owner of the farm, right? Captain Griswold?”
Glasha’s mouth fell open as a quiet snort escaped her lips. “Don’t ever let my father know you said that,” she mumbled. “What do you know about the farm?”
“Excuse me, did you say you want the cores, or would you rather catch up with the ladies?” Morrith huffed from behind his captain.
Glasha’s eyes darted from the man behind her to the girls in front of her hesitantly. Questions filled her head but she knew there was no time to interrogate the strangers.
“We know enough,” one of the twins continued, “we are Wrayburn’s… but we no longer work for her. That should tell you enough.”
Glasha nodded her head. “Indeed, it does.” She clicked her comm device to her belt and pressed new shells into the barrel of her gun. “The cores are on the second floor. I’ve heard at least two more goons in the stairway, and eight more near the vault… way too much for the amount of ammo we carry.”
“So feel free to go full Splice,” Morrith added while he rested his rifle on his shoulder.
“Ready?” Glasha’s eyes lit up in a reflective gold while her pupils slit and her teeth became fangs.
The twins nodded their heads, calm and composed as if they looked upon the most normal thing in life.
“Good. Let’s make this quick work—” Another explosion snapped Glasha away from her words. She tried to move quickly but her foot got caught between two chunks of debris that were swung through the room like grains of salt.
The sound of gunfire echoed against the walls, bursting against her eardrums. Voices became mixed with the sound of cracking rifles, slitting knives and fists breaking bones. A roar, deep and dark. It was Morrith, shifting, bending, and breaking until he had taken on the shape of where a man and a bear met in the middle of a shared body. He raged through the stairway, crushing the Hunters as he rushed to the second floor.
One of the twins followed him up. The other darted to Glasha to help her break free from the rubble caused by the explosion. Her eyes were a bright yellow, a singular color without impurities… the eyes of a hawk. From her fingers had grown small talons, barely long enough to notice they weren’t human, but sharp enough to leave a mean cut if used as weapons.
“Thanks,” Glasha groaned when she was freed. The claws sprouting from her fingers were less subtle, curved like daggers and a lot more lethal. Like a coiled snake leaping towards its prey, she shot off into the stairway and to where Morrith was dealing with the Hunters.
Watching the bear-like man rage through the crowd, Glasha was confident enough to plunder the vault of the power-cores. Using her claws to slash herself a way through the people guarding the doorway of the steel construct, she was quick to snatch the blue, glowing tubes from the racks. “Morrith! Finish this and get out!” She shouted.
The big brute looked around, eyes black and filled with primal fury. Finishing what he started, he broke the last of the Hunters with a roar and followed Glasha on her way out of the building. The twins followed them, too.
Outside, Glasha plunged the cores into the saddlebags and mounted her horse. At the sight of the questioning looks in the eyes of the twins, she smiled and said: “You have my thanks, ladies. If you can keep up, you are welcome to join us at the farm.”