The Sisterhood of Selective Justice IV
“What next?” asked Ariane. She was examining her automatic rifle with careful hands, a look of glee on her face. “I would like to shoot someone. I would like that very much.”
“I’m sure if we talk to Maximillian, we can make friends,” said Broccoli. “We won’t need to shoot him! He probably doesn’t like being the Champion of Evil. We don’t have to shoot anyone!”
“I don’t trust the black powder,” said Candle.
Ariane grinned at her again, and Candle slunk off to hide behind Ilea.
"So, what now?" asked Elaine, looking around at the remains of the ammunition warehouse.
"We save the world?" suggested Eve. "Easy as sliced bread. And then everyone can go back to Lesbos, or wherever it was they came from.”
"Who are we rooting for, again?" asked Ariane, nonchalantly.
"Larry," everyone else chorused.
“So…” she said, “we are the goodies?”
The vampire swayed a little on her feet, then squinted at Larry.
“Do you have Bingle blood?” she asked him, seriously.
“Excuse me?” he said.
“If they have to fight,” said Elaine, “the champions, I mean, they need to be together. How do we get to this Maximillian?”
“Flying is easiest,” said Ilea.
“Flying,” said Larry. “Um, that might be a problem. It’s a really long way to the nearest airport and … um –”
Ilea sprouted ashen wings from her shoulder blades. Larry stared at her, open mouthed.
“Are you… are you all magical girls?” he asked in a hushed whisper.
“I suppose you could say that,” said Ilea, with a smile.
“I can jump quite well,” said Broccoli, her rabbit ears twitching. She bounced to show them. She was indeed an excellent jumper. “But I can’t fly.”
“I’m sure our dragon friend could oblige,” said Ilea, nodding at Candle.
“Oh no,” said Candle, backing away. She bumped into a bucket of revolvers.
“Please, Miss Dragon,” said Broccoli, “it would be very nice of you to give us a lift. I’ve ridden on a dragon before. And in one, technically. It’s a ton of fun!”
Everyone smiled at Candle.
“Fine,” she muttered. “As long as no one bites me.”
A short while later they were flying high and fast over a galaxy of cities. Larry dangled between Candle’s forearms. The poor lad was looking distinctly queasy and had his eyes tight shut. Ilea flew next to Candle on wings of ash, while the rest of the oddly assorted group clung to her scaly back. Broccoli was giggling with enjoyment. Elaine looked distinctly uncomfortable with the travel arrangements and Ariane was singing under her breath, an offkey warble that set everyone’s teeth on edge.
The moon rose in the east as they flew. The night was warm and starry, with clouds gathered on the horizon like a silver shoal. With the spiral of the galaxy curling above and the city laid out below it was like they were flying through a glittering sea of lights. Hours passed. Candle flew as fast as she could, with Ilea easily keeping pace.
It was a long way to the home of the Champion of Evil. But eventually they arrived at the large, heavily wooded island with impressive fortifications. Candle and Ilea glided in to land on a silver strip of beach. Ilea landed with the grace and poise of an apex predator at the peak of her power. Candle landed with a thump, sending a great wave of sand flying. She dropped Larry into the water.
“Thank goodness,” he said, sinking to his knees on the edge of the surf. A wave slapped him in the face.
Everyone climbed off Candle’s back and the dragon once more transformed into a small, anxious-looking girl.
“What an unusual fortress,” said Eve, looking up at the house on the top of the hill. It was surrounded by walls and fortifications before them, although the house itself had wide windows and open balconies.
Before anyone had time to comment a large contingent of armed soldiers trotted out across the sands to meet them. A floodlight clicked on. Ariane hissed. Everyone held up their hands to shield their eyes from the light.
“No immediate bloodshed,” said Ilea, quietly. “At least until we assess the situation.”
“Lower your weapons and state your business!” one of the men bellowed. He must have been important because he had a lot of jangly decorations and a nice hat.
“We seek Maximillian, Champion of Evil!” Elaine called.
The armed men exchanged looks. There was a whispered conference. The soldiers straightened.
“He’s busy,” the man shouted. “Leave or we will be forced to shoot!”
A tense silence followed, for maybe a heartbeat. There was a brief flutter of wind and the tortured scream of metal. Ariane moved with inhuman speed. Before any of the men could blink the vampire was back in her spot, smiling innocently. She was now wearing a beret. The bright light extinguished with a pop as the bulb popped out of the floodlight and shattered harmlessly on the ground. The pole sparked.
The soldiers all stared, open-mouthed at their bent and twisted fire-arms, dangling uselessly from their hands.
One of them let out a little tootling fart of terror.
“We really just want to be friends,” said Broccoli, stepping forward, her palms out.
Behind her Ariane smiled, lips peeling back to reveal all eight fangs.
“Yes,” said the soldier, weakly. He poked experimentally at the loose end of his gun. Part of it dropped off and fell in the sand with a splat. He stared at it in fascination. “Friends,” he said looking up with a strained smile. “Yes, let’s all be friends!”
“Excellent!” beamed Broccoli. “Can you please show us to Maximillian! I’m sure he would like to know we are here!”
The extremely polite platoon of soldiers ushered the group across the beach, up a rather majestic flight of stairs decorated with stone pineapples and into the grand house.
“What a strange place,” said Eve.
“The garden is nice,” said Broccoli, casting a critical eye over the orchids blooming near the windows.
A tall, handsome young man was standing in the kitchen making a smoothie. He looked up as they all trooped into the room.
“Captain?” he said, questioningly, “what’s all this about?”
He flashed a dazzling white-toothed grin at the group, and winked, tossing his hair. “Ladies.”
"Ew," said Elaine.
The soldier leaned down and whispered in his ear.
“Oh,” said Maximillian to Larry. “You must be the Champion of Good then.”
"GET ON WITH IT" a voice boomed from the heavens. Everyone froze. "I'M NOT COMING BACK INTO THAT MEAT SACK ANYTIME SOON. THE FATE OF THE WORLD HANGS IN THE BALANCE AND ALL THAT! GO ON, I SAY, FIGHT!! CHOP CHOP!"
The soldiers ran away whimpering. The two champions stared at each other awkwardly.
“Um–” said Larry.
“I assume some sort of contest is in order?” said Ilea. “A fight?” She summoned an ashen chair, and sat down, pulling a meal out of the air. Maximillian and Larry blinked at her. “Hmm?” she asked.
(“They are all magic,” muttered Larry, out of the corner of his mouth. “Magic wimmin. I’m fairly sure I’m dreaming right now.”)
“Does it have to be to the death, though?” said Eve. They all looked at Larry and Maximillian. “To the metaphorical death, then.”
“Boo,” said Ariane. She was inspecting a gun rack on the living room wall with a critical eye.
“What kind of contest?” asked Broccoli.
"Er…Yoyos?" asked Larry. "Pokemon? Chess? Tinder?" He cast an eye over Maximillian's muscles. "Scratch that. Um. Minecraft. Hardcore survival. Marbles. Darts?"
Eve glanced around the well-stocked kitchen.
“Baking,” she said. Her eyes brightened. “That’s it! A baking contest! The best loaf of bread wins!”
“Oh yes,” said Elaine. “Mango tarts!”
“Chocolate cake,” said Candle.
“Poisonous cake!” said Ilea, licking her lips.
"You can do it!" said Broccoli. "You can bake something amazing! Goooooo Larry!"