Speak 24-V

Nobody Get Choked.

The rubble had collapsed a hole in the floor beneath us as well, and formed large pile on the floor below that. There was no sign of anyone at the bottom of course; just rubble and broken furniture.

With the suicidal lack of fucks that was her M.O. these days, Edith landed directly on top of the pile. I, already having been beaten seven ways to Sunday tonight, slowly lowered myself over the edge of the hole and hung until I could drop down safely to the next floor down.

Edith stood on top of the mound of rubble, staring into it. “Might want to stand somewhere else,” I suggested as I approached. “He's probably hiding in the-”

Sure enough, before I could finish, the pile exploded with motion, as the meat cloud reappeared, shooting up out of the gaps in the wreckage at Edith. They surrounded her in a second, but she was just as quick, practically teleporting back up next to me as they tore apart the space she'd occupied.

A second later, he stood there, almost exactly where she’d been. He actually looked worse for wear from the fall, which was honestly really satisfying. He was bleeding in a few places, and his skin was had lost some of its ruddiness.

He also wasn’t holding the datapad.

Edith and I locked eyes for a moment, and then sprang into action. She shot towards him, while I jumped down onto the pile. It shifted under me, but I kept my balance, and immediately began digging, tossing pieces to the side. She’d keep him busy-

I had to drop the chunk I was carrying and duck as he swept over me. Or maybe she wouldn’t. He reformed in the air above me, fist raised, and I just managed to catch his fist on both arms. It made me lose my footing on the rubble, creating a mini landslide that carried me to the bottom. He didn’t have to deal with that, of course; he just shifted again, right before a spear of salt would’ve pierced his head.

I hauled myself to my feet as they resumed their clash, a strange mix of wet, meaty noises and quiet scrapes that frankly made me want to tear my own ears off. I did my best to ignore them as I began digging at the pile again. It wasn’t very large, about as tall as I was and twice as wide, but digging with my hands was still going to take way too much time.

I grabbed a large chunk with both hands, but didn’t pick it up. However this new trick worked, breaking the lock hadn’t hurt, but breaking the roof had. A lot. The lock had been small, the roof had been big. I’d been holding the lock, the roof had been a metre or two away. As far as I could tell, those were the only differentiating factors. This chunk was large, but I was holding it.

I gritted my teeth, and sent a burst of unfocused power down my arms and into the concrete, like I’d done before. Doing it on purpose was harder than I’d been expecting; it was like trying to intentionally fall on your face.

The good news was that the rubble shattered, sending dust and fragments flying. The bad news was that it still hurt, a lot. Not as badly as the roof had, my vision didn’t white out, but still way too much for it to be a viable strategy.

I clutched my head, trying to will the pain away. “Edith!” I yelled. “Switch!” The two of them were on the other side of the room, their respective forms intermingled and tearing at one another. The salt disengaged itself, shooting back towards me. Her body reformed in midair, and she spun and landed in front of me.

“There’s too much,” I said hurriedly, gesturing at the pile. “Can you dig through?”

She nodded grimly.

“Good.” I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to fight him off while she did, but… “Wait. Can you make me a weapon?”

For the first time that night, she actually seemed surprised. Only for a second, though. Then, she actually laughed, and fuck me was it painful, seeing the flicker of joy on her now-gaunt face. “You really haven’t changed, have you?”

She dissolved, and something came flying at me out of the cloud. A short sword, made entirely of salt, with an impossibly-sharp edge. I caught it by the handle, nodded at her, then spun around just in time to catch Meat Machine mid-rush. I swung it through his torso as it reformed, and he roared in pain. It only got about a third of the way through his torso before he shifted away, but I’d hurt him. I. Had. Fucking hurt him.

Booyah.

I flicked the blood off the blade, then brought it back up to point at him. He held one hand to his side; it didn’t seem damaged anymore, but he held it like it hurt.

Good.

As the sound of crunching concrete came from behind us, he charged me again, staying human. He still wanted to keep me in one piece for his fucked up experiment or whatever, apparently. When he got close, he blurred with sudden speed, but I’d been expecting it, and managed to get the sword between us, forcing him to back off. I moved in, trying to gut him again, but he blurred away before I could connect.

“Ooh, not so tough now, are you?” I taunted. Probably not the best idea I’d ever had, but old habits, yada yada.

“Fine,” he growled, sounding frustrated for the first time. I could see his ribs poking out against his skin. “I was doing you a favor. You could have been glorious. But fine. We’ll do this your way.”

Suddenly, he was standing in front of me. I snarled, burying the sword in his guts, but it didn’t seem to faze him at all. I let it go, still embedded in him, and threw a punch at his face, but he caught it in his.

And then he squeezed.

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