Interlude: Meanwhile, Elsewhere
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Violence and death.

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They appeared on the platform, a burst of green light flashing through the darkness.

Ipsum collapsed to one knee and gasped a few times, trying to recover from the beating he’d received. “Damn it!” he exclaimed, and slammed a fist into the ground, to no effect. Then he looked up, with a frown: he didn’t recognise his surroundings. “Where are we, Lorem?” he asked, glancing around the darkened room and standing up, letting his gaze sweep across the room.

“We’re about halfway between our home base and the front lines,” she answered. “This was an advance base at the beginning of the war, but it’s been disused for years now.”

She paused, and, unnoticed by Ipsum, she drew her sword from its scabbard.

“I come here when I want to think and be alone,” she continued.

“I see,” he replied, turning towards her. “And why have you brought me here?”

He saw the strike coming at the last moment, but it was too late for him to avoid it. Her sword slashed him across the chest, cutting deep and throwing him to the ground. A mortal wound.

“Wh…” he began to say, but then coughed up some blood: the blade had struck one of his lungs. “Why…?” he managed to force out.

“For Mark,” she replied, gazing down at him. “For Defender Red.”

Surprise dawned on his face. “Defender… Defender Red? B-but… He was our… Enemy…”

She raised her sword high above her head.

“Not mine.”

The sword descended.

She sheathed her blade and, stooping over, she picked up Ipsum’s morpher; then she flicked the lever on her own device.

De-energise.”

She stretched her tail, ears, and paws – her armour always felt too cramped and stuffy, but at the same time it gave her confidence, and masked her facial expressions: she never let anyone see her out of it. She never let anyone see her being vulnerable.

Except for him.

She walked over to another room and turned the lights on. She sat on a couch, curled up under a blanket, and pushed a button on a remote: a big screen flickered to life, and the movie resumed playing from where she’d last shut it off.

I fear I will never see you again.”

Of course you will.”

But what if something happens to you?”

Hear this now: I will always come for you.”

But how can you be so sure?”

This is true love. You think this happens every day?”

As the characters on the screen kissed, she put her face in her hands and started crying.

 

 

There was a knock at the door.

“At least you knocked this time.”

“There was another attack. At Dayton. And she was there, even before the Repulsoids.”

“I know. I’ve seen the news.”

“Do you think they’re targeting her?”

A sigh. “Probably. That’s the only way it would make sense.”

“Then we have to hurry. Step up the timetable.”

“I agree. How are you feeling?”

“Fine. I’ve recovered completely.”

“Good. I’m done, too.”

“You’re done? Already?”

“Yes.”

“So…”

A pause, then a chuckle. “Do you want to give it a test drive?”

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