The flaring red thread, spun by the power of the Incarnate, continues to work its way throughout the flat, sealing it completely against The Voice's influence. Right on cue, the artificial core sputters out and I feel my strength and senses degrade back to the level of a mundane human. The trusty revolver's weight grows and my wrist feels the strain thanks to the weapon's poor balance. I hurriedly holster the baton and shift back into a two handed grip for the gun as I hear the sound of shuffling feet from outside. Multiple shuffling feet, in fact.
"New friend is not so friendly after all!" Bob Cut's sing song chirp comes from down the corridor accompanied by the crack of something that sounds like a whip.
I hear Spectacles' rejoinder, "A very naughty lad! Needs to be taught a lesson!"
Shit, the sex club retards are coming for me, no doubt sent by the servant to finish me off while I am vulnerable. A sudden thought comes to me, are the servant's parents going to jump me as part of the softening up process? I dash over to the playpen with the revolver in hand, just in time to see both Mr and Mrs Chanellor mounted on the go cart, puttering away deeper into the flat, making engine noises all the while from their mouths.
I breathe a sigh of relief as the disheveled pair disappear into the rancid darkness surrounding them. That's two less retards to deal with at least. And I had locked the flat's door behind me when I broke in. That should buy me some time against the rapidly approaching sex club regiment. I begin retracing my steps back to where the toy castle is, looking to grab the doll representing Fate before any more interruptions occur. I cut through the living area, the cold winter chill drifting through the open front door, as I head towards the center of the Incarnate's flat.
The open front door?
Sweat begins to bead my brow. I know I had locked the door. The sex club retards are still down the corridor given the noise they are making. All this can only mean one thing.
There's someone else in the flat with me. Right now.
The tide of crimson continues to grow, washing over the entire flat. How am I going to detect the stalker without my powers? I make a full three hundred and sixty degrees turn, my eyes frantically scanning the surroundings. But there's nothing. Other than the ever growing red, there's absolutely nothing out of place. My ears strain for the slightest clue, but the only thing I can hear are the animalistic noises coming from the retards outside.
My palms are slick with sweat as I turn back to the toy castle. Whatever, grabbing the doll and making a run for it seems to be the best course of action right now. The atmosphere becomes suffocating, the mystic weight of the red thread pressing down against my shoulders. Gasping for breath, I manage to snatch a look at the ever expanding crimson spiderweb. Red, red all over the place. It just keeps coming without end.
It keeps coming from somewhere behind me.
My mind clicks as the pieces fall into place and I whirl about in alarm. And now that I know what to look for, I see it. A single invisible point, suspended in midair, constantly firing off fresh lengths of thread all over the flat. I recall what The Voice had told me about the servant. It could not see her, despite the fact that the Incarnate was standing around in plain sight. Celeste must have played the same trick on me, but unlike The Voice, I can see her cast her magic even though I cannot actually see the Incarnate herself.
My arms swing the revolver into fire position, but my reflexes are painfully slow and not up to the task. A stabbing pain wrenches through my left shoulder and a grisly wound opens up at that location. Time slows as my eyes track the blood staining my coat and the revolver slips through my fingers. An invisible hard push sends me tottering backwards, before my legs completely lose their fight with balance and I fall, landing on my back.
Damp warmth drains into the fabric of my coat, as the bloody stain spreads greedily. A sinking feeling hits me straight in the gut. I'm bleeding out. Celeste must have stabbed me somewhere important. The floating spot gradually draws closer, taking its time. Someone's feeling confident, the Incarnate probably still believes that I don't have a means of tracking her location. I mere chance to turn the tables, but I must seize it.
As I struggle to get back to my feet, my right hand discreetly closes in on the legs of a nearby stool. Only one chance before I lose the element of surprise, I need to time this right. Let her get close. Closer. Closer. A little bit more.
I lash out with the stool in a wide arc and am rewarded with the satisfying feedback of the piece of furniture hitting something, despite my eyes telling me otherwise. As the invisible point plummets to floor level, a bloody knife appears in midair as if it had been conjured by a magician's trick and clatters to the ground. Wobbling on my feet for a bit, I bring the stool down hard on where I suspect the Incarnate had fallen and this time the response is a meaty thump.
As I wind my right arm back for yet another swing, I feel dainty fingers closing around my throat in a frankly insulting attempt at strangling me. Dropping the stool, I turn about and retaliate with a hard shove of my own, sending the Incarnate flying into her precious toy castle. The plastic structure caves in as if it had been hit by an unseen battering ram, scattering the toy furniture and dolls all over the floor.
Good thing Celeste has no actual magic of her own. Gallant may not have a killer physique, but he is an adult man. And in a physical confrontation between a high school girl and an adult, the smart money is on the adult. Wincing in pain, I take a moment to stuff the Queen doll securely inside my coat. That done, I retrieve the revolver from the ground and level it at my best guess of the Incarnate's location. Take her out and I can reactivate the artificial core.
"New friend!" Bob Cut shouts in my ear as my face is slapped to the side, leaving it raw and bleeding. I stagger backwards and see Bob Cut, dressed in the leather bondage gear of a dominatrix, swinging a length of electrical cable straight towards me. The cable lashes my forehead, snapping my head back, a steady stream of blood running down the slope of my nose. My eyes go out of focus for a split second, but I quickly register the crowd of gimps and freaks right behind Bob Cut.
Outfitted in whips, chains, slave collars, zip up masks and the occasional ball gag, the crowd reeks of sweat and sex, their fetish wear slick with unidentifiable fluids. Caught completely off guard by the monstrous sight, I blindly fire off a shot with the revolver without bothering to aim. The recoil snaps my arm upwards as the gun's angry boom echoes deafeningly around the flat. There's a barely discernible groan as one of the gimps slides to the floor trying to hold his guts in.
While the sex club backs up, probably taken by surprise by my unexpected resistance, I retreat towards the kitchen where I saw the Chanellors eating just now. Fighting now would be hopeless. Without the core, I have no way of defeating the entire crowd, and that's not mentioning me bleeding out thanks to the servant's ambush.
The kitchen is just as I remember it. Rank, dirty and disgusting. And most crucially, there's a filthy window built into the kitchen's wall that faces the rear of the estate. I quickly undo the latch and open the window, surveying the building's exterior. The red thread has stopped growing, most likely due to the servant being out of commission. The flat and its surroundings have been completely caught in the Incarnate's web, but ground level still appears to be outside of the servant's anti Voice field.
No idea how long that's going to last, and I need to move quickly. Already the Commander of the retard guard and his fellow retards are gathering at the rear of the estate to cut off my escape. Squeezing my bulk through the window, I gather my strength and perform a clumsy dive that carries me out of the crimson web's reach.
A burst of raw power surges through my veins as the core reactivates. The pain of the injuries immediately fade and my senses expand to their augmented level. As I sail through the air, I perform a flip and draw the baton, dual wielding it and the revolver together at once.
"Good to see you again Transmigrator." The Voice rasps as my feet land on the ground, the retard guard closing in.
"Yeah." I agree, "Good to hear from you too."
"Its time to get serious."