I woke up in Laithe’s arms as a groggy mess. My hair was wild and very much everywhere, and the hair on my tail stuck off in random directions like I’d been electrocuted in the night. I mumbled something incoherent to an already wide awake girlfriend who was looking down at me with a mixture of overwhelming affection and amusement.
“Looks like I did my job last night,” she giggled.
“You always do,” I said, the light of lust firing up in my eyes and partially banishing the fog of sleep.
She giggled again and shook her head, “Hey easy there little vixen, you have places to be.”
“Fuckin’ lame,” I grumbled, flopping into her arms again.
“You’re the one who arranged it, not me,” she said wryly, stroking her fingers through my hair in a vain attempt to tame it.
“Come with me?” I mumbled.
“You know that’s not a good idea lovely, this is your show... for now,” she said, her breath warming my ears.
“For now?” I asked.
“When the time comes to crack some heads, I’m there,” she said, an edge of anger in her voice.
I leaned back, biting my lip and looking into her fired up violet eyes. She was so hot when she got like this. I almost missed our adversarial relationship because having her stalk me down like prey had been the most wildly sexual thing of my life.
“You’re so fucking hot,” I blurted.
The anger left her eyes as she blinked at me in surprise, “I’m… what?”
“Hot… uhhh, shh. It’s, well I mean,” I tried to speak, stumbling over my words before giving up and pressing an adoring kiss to her lips.
She deepened the kiss, weaving her fingers into my hair and scratching with one finger behind my ear. Ooooohhhh that felt so fucking good. More, moooore. I felt weak. We kept the kiss tongue free, because my god did it taste awful to kiss someone who had just woken up.
When she finally released me, I was a puddle of happy fox, and she chuckled, “Time for you to get ready.”
“Oh that’s so not fair,” I pouted.
“You kissed me,” she said with a grin.
She got incoherent grumbling fox noises in response as I fell out of bed and wobbled my way to the bathroom.
I’d agreed to meet Robin and the hot rifter out the back of the Sherwood mall, and I was waiting for them to arrive, leaning against the wall next to a dumpster. You know, mall dumpsters were always interesting. The weird shit they always threw out was fascinating. There was a broken clothing rack, an old computer and a plastic bag full of shredded paper. God I was bored... and still very turned on after this morning.
I looked up when I heard a scuffling of feet, and pushed myself off the wall, finding the rifter and Robin standing there staring at me. I looked down and saw I’d gotten dust on myself somehow. Damn it! I brushed it all off as best as I could and straightened my dress. It was weird wearing a dress casually like this. I was glad it wasn’t too cold today, but even then Laithe had pretty much forced me to wear stockings, which was a good idea in hindsight.
I looked up again and smiled at Robin. She was such a cutie, and I idly thought that she would be a great match for Kelly when we busted her out. Two goth girls, one a bubbly nervous mess, the other a quiet and thoughtful nervous mess. I grinned and hopped forward to greet them, and Robin reached out and latched onto my hand with her own. She had a sort of halting adorable look in her eyes.
“Hey there Robin. Uh, I guess my hugs were just that good huh?” I smiled. Fuck she was so unintentionally cute. I wanted to bundle her up in a big hug again.
A little blush appeared on her pale face and she mumbled, “What! No… I just, I- I thought we should get to our destination before you get too cold.”
Ohhh she’d set off my cheeky fox instincts now.
“Damn, I thought my hug was pretty good,” I said quietly, faking being upset, my ears drooping in a vulpine display of sadness. I couldn’t help myself though, I glanced up at her and lost control of my expression when I saw she’d taken the bait, her eyes turning panicked and worried.
“Gosh you kids, can you leave the adorable antics for when we are somewhere warmer?” The hot rifter joked, shivering and miming being cold.
“Ah yes! Nel, lets go!” Robin blurted.
Ah right, to business! I couldn’t help being a bit cheeky again though, and winked at Nel when Robin wasn’t watching.
“Aye aye Capn’,” I teased.
The hot rifter, I think her name was Nel, rolled her eyes and got to opening a rift.
I stared warily at the edges of the rift with my peripheral vision. Tricksy riftses.
“After you two and mind your step, it could be slippery,” Nel told us, making shooing motions, then added sternly, “And no funny business this time!”
Yeah no shit hot ginger lady. That shit was whack. I’ll pass on the wild extra-planar journey this time. Hopping through the portal, I was very careful not to touch the edges.
I found myself staring at a door, almost nose to nose with the damn thing. Tight parking Nel, god damn. I felt Robin hop through behind me and get a face full of my tail.
“Really? You could open the door and let us out. Are you both waiting for the rifter to open it for you? You can open your own doors,” Nel told me with an exasperated grumble.
“Oh! Sorry!” I said, quickly opening the door and allowing us to tumble out into a swanky looking hospital. There was like, living plants and artwork everywhere. Alright, what did Al have us doing here?
Nel said something quietly to Robin with a sly grin in my direction, and I narrowed my eyes. Cheeky woman. She straightened and indicated the direction we were meant to go, and I wandered off ahead of the two conspirators behind me.
We entered a private room that was set up to care for someone, with medical paraphernalia all over the place and some accoutrements to lighten it all up. The place looked nice, I guess money paid for comfort huh? I heard Nel shuffle discreetly back into the hallway, leaving me with Robin.
I looked over at the bed when I heard a groan of pain, and my breath hitched. It was Ms Clark, the woman who’s set this all in motion. Wow, she looked in bad shape. Her chest was wrapped in bandages and the number of tubes attached to her made me vaguely uneasy.
“Little Robin… Sorry you have to... see me like this,” Ms Clark said softly, her voice sounded pained.
Damn… she was alive after all. That explained some things. I was sure she hadn’t been close to death, it had been strange when she “died”. Fuckin’ typical of milk dad though.
I looked over to see how Robin was taking this, only to see her legs begin to wobble, threatening to buckle. I reached out without really thinking, steadying her with a hand on her arm.
“Hey easy there, I got you,” I said soothingly. Poor girl, she’d been through hell. I knew what it felt like to suddenly find out that someone you cared about was actually alive, not dead as you’d thought.
“How?.. He said… You were reported dead online… They had an obituary!” Robin said, the words tumbling forth as confusion clouded her face.
I rubbed her shoulder comfortingly and looked up at Ms Clark, “Yeah, I heard you died too. It was weird, because I swear I did an okay job keeping you alive until the ambulance got there.”
“They switched ambulances… I was told… I woke up here later… They had me in a coma at first… I’m here under the name Alice Foster... like that fake Aussie lager,” she explained haltingly, stopping often to catch her breath.
Ms Clark reached out with a shaking arm towards Robin.
“You got out… I’m so relieved... I thought I’d failed you, I have... All your papers… I can get them for you, when… I’m better,” she croaked, then flopped back into the many pillows behind her.
Robin didn’t say anything, instead getting up to pour the infirm woman a drink of water, then helping her drink it. I watched Robin as she did this. She had a good heart. Meanwhile… I’d hired someone to essentially break into Ms Clark’s house and steal her things.
I lowered my gaze, watching my tail swish agitatedly back and forth. Little shit was betraying me again.
“Uh, actually… She has your papers now. I kinda hired someone to… investigate your disappearance. She broke into your house and yeah, long story short, Robin has her papers now,” I said nervously.
Ms Clark sucked in a breath and I looked up to see her eyes widen, “You’re going after Kelly aren’t… You… Good Luck, trust your… Friends, take care of yourself and… Robin don’t let yourself… become the monster they... paint you as…”
“I- I won’t I promise. I will get Kelly,” Robin said heatedly, her eyes glowing with determination.
Damn straight Robin. Let’s get her out and get some fucking payback for the both of you!
I nodded in chorus with her words and added my own, “Definitely! We’re supposed to be planning something today. We’ll free her!”
Ms Clark smiled for a moment, but then she closed her eyes and just breathed for a moment, clearly exhausted from the conversation already.
It seemed we were done with our little reunion, and I was fine with that. The woman recovering before us was a legend, and due to my old ethnicity, I felt like I had a special bond with her. The fact she had done everything she had in a world where a Māori woman would get ignored at every turn by the types she did battle against was incredible.
Robin seemed to be dozing off along with Ms Clark, the way her eyelids were fluttering open and closed every so often. I watched her force herself into a more alert state and head for the remote, right as the broadcast swapped to a news report.
A male anchor who was the pillar of what a successful white male should look like stared at the screen with excitement. In the corner of the screen was a photograph of a building I vaguely recognised. It was one that was still in construction downtown, and it looked amazing. The thing was huge, a single tapering cylindrical tower was flanked by two helix structures that wrapped around it like escorts on the arm of a wealthy businessman.
The anchor spoke with an excited vigor that to me seemed like he was bordering on climax. Calm down dude it’s just a building.
“Breaking News! We’ve been given an exclusive in depth look at a truly incredible new engineering marvel, right here in Penrith. For the past year, our viewers in the city of Penrith would have been watching the construction of Yelmorn Industries’ new relocated headquarters in our central business district. Thanks an advanced multi staged construction plan, the building has seen record breaking construction times.
Today Yelmorn has issued a press release, declaring that their new building’s official grand opening will be in two weeks time! Now some of our viewers might have heard rumors that the skyscraper is already in use and you would be right! While the building has not yet been officially opened, much of the building is already complete and a number of the building’s finished lower floors are already furnished and staffed.
Now while that is big news for our city, as we are no city of New York and very few companies have their headquarters here. It is not the most exciting part of this announcement.
In their release to the press, Yelmorn has announced that they will be not only sponsoring an Emerged hero team, but that they will be donating the top three floors of their new building to serve as a base for them. What is more incredible? This stunning act of generosity, or corporate America’s reaction to these new times we live in? More at 6pm!”
I bit my lip as the news report sunk in. Hot damn, were they really doing this shit in plain sight of the city? If I was going to keep a bunch of powerful Emerged locked up for experiments, I’d definitely do it in a place where I could build containment cells for them without awkward questions being asked. It felt odd though, just being handed a potential answer like this.
I shook myself and looked over at Robin, had she realised the same things I had?
When she looked up at me, I could see she had, and after a gesture from her I followed her out into the hallway.
“You also thinking that, that’s where they are are keeping Kelly?” she asked almost disbelievingly, like she couldn’t quite believe the audacity of the whole thing.
“Yeah, maybe. I think? It’s bloody brazen if they are and they have a lot of facilities around the area as options, but… the best place to hide people might be in a state of the art building like that? One where they can hide their awful crimes behind the construction?” I murmured, thinking through things again.
Robin looked anxiously at the orderlies that were wandering down the hallway we partially blocked, then down at her phone and beginning a message to someone, “Two weeks… We have two weeks to break in, see if Kelly is there and if so break her out. Maybe grab other evidence too. Any later and we might have a bunch of self righteous Superpatsies standing in our way.”
“Yeah and their defences will be fully in place. That’s a deadline and a shitload of stress I didn’t need in my life, but it’s for Kelly… so let’s do this,” I agreed, my lips firming into a thin line. We’d get those motherfuckers.
Back at my apartment, I walked in on Laithe and Caser in heated debate. Laithe was upside down on the couch, her legs hanging over the back and her arms flopped down onto the floor. Caser was sat in their computer chair with legs crossed. Strangely, Laithe was blushing furiously.
“No, you are sooo wrong! I don’t look like her! My hair is way different, and I can put my wings away and stuff. Her body is all weird too!” Laithe exclaimed as I closed the door.
“Not in the splash art it isn’t,” Caser said with a laugh, “You can’t deny it! She even uses chains just like you! I bet if you went to a con with her outfit on people would see her rather than you.”
“I totally have more brand recognition than a single league character. Look, I admit I thought she was totally goals before the emergence, but we’re not exactly the same!” she said, blushing further and covering her face with an arm.
“Uhhh, what are you two on about?” I asked, my ears swivelling warily.
“She thinks I look like Morgana from League,” Laithe pouted.
“I mean…” I said, my face breaking out in a teasing grin.
“No! Not you too!” she whined.
I walked over to her and knelt on the ground, leaning forward to give my upside down girlfriend a slow kiss.
“You can’t quell my anger with ki-” she started, but I cut her off with another one.
I felt her do a kind of pleased growling sound, and I felt her lips curve into a smile.
“You were saying?” I giggled.
She grumbled and poked her tongue out at me.
“You two are disgustingly adorable,” Caser laughed, “I think I need to go for a run just to burn off the calories I get from sitting near you.”
“Shush you!” I grinned back.
“Yeah! Quiet over there in the cheap seats,” Laithe added.
“Speak of cheap… I think we should visit Tinker Tailor and get some real outfits made up. Your Mass Effect cosplay is looking a bit worse for wear,” I said to Laithe, who was still upside down.
“Wow rude, I’ll have you know that I worked really hard on that thing when I made it,” she joked.
“Unbowed recommended we go there,” I told her.
“Oh, Unbowed recommended it did he?” she asked with a raised eyebrow. I kissed it.
“Oi!” she exclaimed.
“What?” I asked cheekily.
She didn’t say anything, instead, faster than I could blink, she had flipped over and was pinning me to the ground with both her body and her gaze. A gaze that was decidedly steamy. Oh. Oh dear.
“La-laithe… Caser’s here!” I squeaked.
“I know, it makes it more fun,” she growled.
Caser made gagging sounds and got up with a laugh, “I’m going to go and have a shower because I feel dirty just watching you dominate Kalia so easily.”
“No!” I squealed as Laithe started to tickle me with a chain, “Save meeee.”
“I’m trying to decide if I’m going to drag you back to bed or not,” Laithe said, wetting her lips with a hungry look.
“Not? We should go get new outfits ordered!” I pleaded somewhat halfheartedly. Bed sounded fun.
“Alright, but I get to have my way with you when we get back,” she laughed, her voice husky as she got up off me.
“You’ll do that regardless,” I said, and from my vantage on the floor I trailed a toe up her leg, getting a little shudder as a reward.
“Damn right,” she nodded.
We made our way discreetly into the Custom Fine Tailor’s shop and looked around, blinking at the change in light. Nightbinder and I had flown most of the way with her carrying me, then walked in. I triple checked I had my necklace on, then looked around at all the boring clothing on the walls.
“This is the place?” I asked quietly in disbelief, then squeaked when I saw a small woman watching us.
“It depends what you are after,” she said in a thin voice that was more breeze than anything else.
“Right, uhhh, we’re here to see the lanky person out back,” Nightbinder said casually.
“The.. the… You…” the older woman stammered, “Right, I’ll go inform them you’re here.”
She rushed off into a back door, leaving us alone with a bunch of boring suits,ties and other stuff I no longer had to give two shits about.
“The lanky person?” I asked.
“You’ll see, I’ve heard some things,” she said with a smile down at me.
“They are free to see you now,” the old woman, indicating the door she had gone through.
“Sick, thanks,” Nightbinder smiled at the woman, striding towards the door.
My Laithe was great, but she was also a bit of a wrecking ball. I guess that’s why I loved her. She was so confident and always knew what she wanted. It was also endearing when she let that side of her slip away to- Wait. Love her? Oh wow. That was a thought I needed to examine later.
Inside the door we found a white room that was annoyingly bright. My fox eyes protested and I felt my ears flick back in irritation with a growl.
“Ah, hello. I was wondering when you would show up Vulptrix, though I did not expect Nightbinder to come together with you so brazenly,” I heard a voice that sounded like it was passing through a flute.
“Yeah well, fuck the rest of them,” Nightbinder remarked with a dismissive wave of her hand.
“Indeed. So you have come for an… upgrade to your outfits I assume?” Tinker asked airily.
Finally my eyes had adjusted to the bright light, and I got a good look at them. They were puzzling to look at, definitely a person, but I couldn’t tell much more than that. They wore a slim white suit that didn’t lend any more information. They were watching us with a faintly amused expression from what appeared to be a white folding chair of the type that a director of a movie might sit in.
“Yeah… I have a special request for myself, but Nightbinder will probably only need the… standard?” I told them.
“I see, then I’ll start with you then, if that’s okay young lady?” they asked Nightbinder, getting right to business.
“Sure,” she said with a shrug.
“If you would, please stand still and be patient, this may seem strange so I ask you not to react or I’ll have to start over,” the spindly person in the chair told her, standing up and taking off his stark black gloves.
Reaching out with his hands extended, strange white threads flowed from his fingers like streamers at a party. Before my eyes, a web of these threads formed rapidly, strange white lights dancing between the threads.
They used the threads to measure Nightbinder, and then began a discussion with her about what she was after in her new suit. She ended up asking for a suit that was figure hugging like her old one, but had a few thin armour plates in strategic places. These plates would be accented with the same green as my hoodie.
When it came time for my turn, things got interesting once I told Tinker what I had in mind. Their eyes lit up in interest, and suddenly I had a shopping list and a very intrigued master tailor on my hands. I was going to be a busy fox over the next few days.