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Squishy?

Yep, that was what came to mind when it came to normal humans.

Squishy bags of flesh. Easy to pop like zits.

The only other time I had hit normal humans as super-strengthened Erind was right after I escaped the explosion in the Eve underground arena, when I ran into a couple of 2M goons in the tunnels. I couldn’t recall much of it because I was reeling from the explosion and severely injured, other than I desperately punched those two until they died…and continued some more even after they were dead.

Oh! I also elbowed the jerk who dared put his hand around my waist at the club. That made it two previous times. While I knew how squishy normal humans were, I never realized they were also so crunchy. A satisfying crunch too, like cracking knuckles.

“I-I’m so…I’m sorry,” I cried out, coupled with the standard hands-covering-the-mouth in abject horror.

“Is…is that bloo—?”

“He…he was going to attack me! You saw it!” I scampered to the back wall, pressing myself against it while hugging myself. Damsel-in-distress face was on auto-pilot; no need for higher brain functions because the correct ‘normal’ reaction was obvious. I was preoccupied with wondering why I overestimated my force by a mile. It reminded of the times I picked up a bottle of water thinking it was full but was actually empty, ending up with nearly throwing it because I used way too much strength. Was I getting stronger?

“Ha-Harper?” Radi whispered, his voice wavering in disbelief. “The hell, man? Is he dead?”

“I don’t know…I’m really sorry. It was his fault!” Crunchy Harper, the sounds of his body breaking replaying in my head like an ad of a fastfood place exaggerating the crispiness of the skin of their fried chicken.

Radi knelt beside the probably dead guy. “Harper?” he repeated, shaking him, which might not be advisable. The fleshy heap that was his friend—I don’t actually know if they were friends—just slumped down some more. “Shit, shit, shit, what do I do?”

Calling an ambulance was a good idea, but with the state of this area, I wasn’t sure if any would come here. He could also try bringing Harper to the hospital since we were near one. I was hoping to learn something for when I’d be confronted with a similar scenario someday and had to modify my face to care about someone dying.

He checked Harper’s pulse. Probably finding nothing, he lowered himself down to Harper’s head, putting his ear next to the mouth that was leaking blood, checking for breathing.

I was just sobbing at the side, pretending to be paralyzed by fear.

My original plan was to practice knocking down the perverted twig Harper down and then run away. Radi wouldn’t block me; I was positive of that based on how he acted. With me gone, Radi would drag Harper along and rejoin their PCM group hunting the SVS, then I’d just follow them. Clean. No torturing involved. And they’d forget about me.

But now, what do I do?

I couldn’t beat this Radi guy up for information even if he was a PCM member and technically the enemy of my Blanchette face. After all, he did try to stop Harper from assaulting me. It was another matter if he became a threat.

Radi tried to arrange Harper’s horribly entangled body into a better position, pulling his legs out and straightening it. It became easier to see Harper's neck was crooked like a bendy straw. Nasty. No need for a doctor to declare this guy dead.

Maybe I should just get going and find someone else. I slowly inched around them.

“Hold it,” Radi whispered.

“What?”

He reached for Harper’s gun. I tensed up, ready to kick his head off. But he didn’t point it at me. “Harper…he’s dead.” He slowly stood up and faced me with a deranged look.

I figured as much. Indignant mode on. “Are you going to blame me for that? You saw it! He was—”

“Our leader told us there are many Adumbrae lurking in this city.”

“What has that got to do—wait, are you accusing me of being one?” These PCM nutjobs, seriously. “Wha—I can’t believe it. You guys try to assault me, and now you say I’m the Adumbrae? You assholes are the one who are monsters!” I yelled, pointing a finger at him. I’m having too much fun with this.

“His legs,” Radi said. “They are broken.”

“He fell, that’s why—”

“Smashed, the bones of his legs are smashed. Ankles bent the wrong way. It’s like a sledgehammer hit his legs.”

Hmmm, he didn’t fall for my bait accusing him along with Harper. “I don’t know anything about that. I’m just trying to go home when you guys attacked me.”

“This is…this is all wrong…” His hand holding the gun was shaking by his hip. I was going to hit him if he raised it higher than that; I wasn’t sure if I was fast enough to evade a gun aimed right at me. He said, “I’m already going to say sorry if I’m wrong, but can I shoot you?”

“What? No! Why are you going to do that?”

“I need to check if you’re an Adumbrae—”

“You’re insane,” I gasped, edging closer to the sidewalk. He seriously was.

“Don’t move! I’ll do it, okay?” He was speaking rapidly, his breathing becoming agitated. “I’ll shoot you. Just your leg. If you regenerate, that means you’re an Adumbrae. Then I’m going to blow your head off.”

“I’m not an Adumbrae!”

“If you do-don’t heal, I’ll call an ambulance! Yeah, that’s right. Don’t worry, miss. I can also get my car and bring you and Harper to the hospital.” His shivering hand was slowly raising. “That’s…that’s right. This is the right thing to do,” he said, more to convince himself. “Just let me shoot you.”

What’s wrong with this guy? I could just run—A lightbulb lit up inside my head. I raised both my hands as a sign of surrender. “You got me,” I said.

“Huh?”

“I said you got me.” I shrugged. “I’m an Adumbrae.”

His brows furrowed, still not quite understanding what was going on. “You are?” A wide smile formed on his face; his eyes brightened. “Mr. Cohenn was right! We’re not crazy! Adumbrae are really among us!” Just as fast as his confusion turned into happiness, happiness turned to intense hatred. “Die, you Adum—!”

I stepped forward and slapped the gun out of his hand. More cracks. His hands and fingers were messed up. Fuck, too much strength again.

Radi was about to yell but I clamped his mouth tight. His other hand dove into his jacket. I grabbed it, recalling he also had his own gun, and crashed his forearm bones. He whimpered. The gun fell to the floor. His pained faced contorted in anger. "Mhhmm!"

“Now,” I said, dropping him on top of Harper’s body. “Where’s the SVS?”

“You…you’re going to help them?” he said, his words punctuated by groans. “Mr. Cohenn is really right…many didn’t believe him when he said that you Adumbrae bastards are here…and you’re in league with that trash SVS!”

“Tell me where—"

“You’re not getting no shit out of me!” he interjected. “I’m not giving in to you like you seduced Harper—AH!”

I stepped on his ankle. “I didn’t do anything to your perverted friend,” I snapped, besides accidentally killing him. Was this torture? Perhaps. He did point a gun at me. And, unfortunately for him, he was witnessing the debut of my villain face. Such a stroke of genius to transform the timid girl face into a hidden Adumbrae persona—well, it was also the truth, but also a face. “Either you tell me or—”

“I’m not going to tell you anything! I’m not afraid of dying. Finally, something worth fighting for. I’m not giving in to an Adumbrae!”

He kept rambling on, his words bunching together, his mouth starting to foam. His crazed eyes were bloodshot, almost popping out of his head. And it seemed like he no longer felt the pain of his injuries.

What the hell was going on? It was seriously starting to get weird. He wasn’t crazy like this earlier.

Were normal people this weird all along?

And how do I torture information out a guy in this state?

Was there a guide on the internet for this?

“Kill me! Kill meeee!”

I believed this guy really wasn’t afraid of what I could do to him. The fact I was an Adumbrae actually gave him courage. Okay, I had to admit things were not going great for my villain debut. Embarrassing really.

“KILL ME! DO IT, YOU ADUM—!”

Too loud. I grabbed his shoulder, holding him in place. Then my right hand flew across his face. His head violently snapped to the left that I was concerned I killed him. I just wanted to put him to sleep. He spat out blood and a few of his teeth.

“Urghkk…fucking bitch—"

Still awake?

I slapped him once more, aiming for the side of his chin. This part of the jaw was supposed to be a knockout spot, knowledge courtesy of random internet videos. The lower half of his face just shifted left. I jerked back and released him, shocked at the sight.

“Oh my god, I didn’t mean to…” Hang on, I felt like I had already said this.

Radi was twitching on the ground. His fingers curled, followed by his arms getting rigid while still shaking horribly. Tears poured from his eyes mixed with the blood from his nose and mouth. Poor guy, maybe I should just kill—nah. While he did try to kill me, he was a nice guy before that so he gets to keep his life.

“This really isn’t going well.” I sighed, shaking my head.

Why was I having trouble controlling my strength? There was no problem if I was doing normal human stuff, but when I tried to exert superhuman strength, I was overshooting it.

It must be connected with my practice with Myra. I was getting out of sync estimating my strength. Not only did I need to practice going past the limits of my strength, I also needed to relearn calibrating my super strength.

Oh, well. So…what should I do with these two?

I could just leave them here. They didn’t know who I was, and neither did I leave any traces.

“What was that?” A ringtone. It wasn’t my phone.

I rummaged through the pockets of Radi and finally found his phone. I used his bent fingers to unlock the screen, trying each to find the correct one. I didn't pay any attention to him having a seizure beside me while I scrolled through his messages.

The PCM was giving orders to its members where to gather. They apparently cornered the SVS who were trying to do an ‘Adumbrae summoning ritual’, whatever that was supposed to be, inside a warehouse.

“Warehouse of Dawson Stevedoring and Logistics, LLC,” I read. “I don’t know where that is.”

But it wasn’t a problem because there was a tracking feature on Snippet so the PCM members could see each other in this area. I opened up the map on Snippet and found the pinned location of the warehouse. Deen was right, these social media apps had plenty of handy features.

The warehouse wasn’t that far, but I still might be too late to help. I could run maybe two or three times faster than a normal human, but everyone along the way would see me.

Unless

I ripped Harper’s PCM bandana off his arm before jumping as high up on the wall as I could. My fingers easily sunk into the bricks. Then I pulled myself up, kicking off in tandem and jumping to the opposite side. A couple more leaps and I was on the roof. I took one last look at Radi and dead Harper below before dashing to the warehouse.

I jumped over a small street, landing on the next row of buildings. This was so much faster than weaving through the streets. No one was looking up. And even if they did, they couldn’t see me anyway, camouflaged against the cloudy sky with my dark clothes like a reverse penguin.

I miss watching the Animal Channel.

Who knows, I might get to witness more interesting animal behaviors at the warehouse.

I couldn’t help but grin as I zipped across rooftops, the sides of my hood flapping against my head, the cold night embracing me. It was like a dream, sprinting with superhuman speed, leaping from one building to the next a couple of dozen feet away.

Almost flying...

I’d only done this before when Myra and I ran away from Bob. But this was more satisfying...probably because there was no unkillable Adumbrae chasing after me.

Weeee! I thought, giggling while yet again increasing my speed.

Nearing the location, I noticed more and more people running on the streets below. I tied Harper’s bandana on my arm to fit in, then dropped down the gap between two buildings, narrowly missing an open dumpster that I didn’t notice in the darkness.

“Phew, if I fell into the trash, I can say goodbye to all my snooping plans.” I jogged to the street, seamlessly joining a small crowd of people.

Most of the streetlights were still functioning in this area because we were a bit of a distance from Marshall Avenue so I had a better look of the people around me. Although the PCM yellow was predominant among us, there were other splashes of color and symbols, indicating that other groups were coming under the PCM's banner.

We entered a compound—the gate and the small guard house beside it already destroyed—and headed to one of the warehouses. It was the same size as the one at the docks where Rofirio put me and Ramello.

I inhaled sharply as people gradually invaded my personal space, more and more of us packing in front of the warehouse. I was jostled and pushed around because of my small stature. My fists were balled, my jaws clenched. Don’t think about it, Erind, I told myself. Think about an open space. Every bit of self-control was needed to stop myself lashing out at these fuckers while I was getting squeezed.

I really should get out of this crowd before I kill someone.

I waded through the throng of modern-day witch hunters—Adumbrae hunters to be more accurate; misguided and misinformed Adumbrae hunters—easily squeezing myself past them. Most people probably didn’t notice who forcefully shoved them aside. The irony that me, an Adumbrae, was in the middle of their group, joining them in their hunt, wasn’t lost on me.

Very amusing.

I climbed up the hood of a delivery truck to have a better view of what was happening.

They were trying to open the doors of the warehouse, seemingly closed from the inside with chains or something. A group of men were holding it as far apart as they could while inserting a circular saw through the gap. Sparks flew while the crowd held their phones up like we were in a concert.

Someone with a megaphone was giving out instructions, trying to make himself heard over the din. “—are inside. We’ve sent out pictures so you know who to look for! Find them! Don’t let them escape!”

“Pictures?” I said, checking Radi’s phone. Sure enough, the faces of the SVS members were shared on Snippet. Reginus’ picture was first, followed by other people I didn’t recognize. They were likely in the SVS vid but I just didn’t bother to remember them. “Next…next…next…huh?” I came across a picture I did recognize.

Ramello? You’re with the SVS?

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Temple

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Phoenix_dreams ago

Thanks for the chapter! I didn't think Ramello would get associated with the SVS so quickly, but the SVS did make themselves a little too public in this fear driven city. Anyone the SVS talks to that are aquantances, or just strangers they stop to talk to, may suffer the same fate if the wrong people see them.

    Temple ago

    This ties in to the earlier scene where Ramello reached out to the SVS and met with them. There could be people spying/following them around, especially now that they're getting hunted. They do have pretty radical views in this world.

Flixie ago

Thanks for the chapter and keep up the good work!

444.EXE ago

Thanks for the chapter!

A doubt of mine. When Erind gets stronger will she gradually become more like SpookyErind from the first cover?

    Temple ago

    She will make a gauntlet of her own, and that's already hinted with the crystal formations on her palm like the gauntlet of SpookyErind. But do you mean like she'll look like SpookyErind? No, she's still just Erind.

Nari ago

i actually forgot who remalleo was.... lol

    Temple ago

    Ramello's the guy with Erind when she was kidnapped in the first arc. He's also related with the detectives. So now, he's investigating what happened during the kidnapping because, like was revealed by Myra, it was covered up. He also remembered Blanchette being there so he reached out to the SVS for clues. It's understandable you forgot about him, I also forgot a lot of the past characters. I only recalled them because I'm rereading the story, and I thought better bring these guys back so i don't forget their plot lines.

    Like right now I'm in Arc 3 in my reread, and I just now remembered Lizzie's Mom. I also forgot the names of the Adumbrae who survived the condo fight.

OmniHumanist ago

“Oh my god, I didn’t mean to…” Hang on, I felt like I had already said this.

Radi was twitching on the ground. His fingers curled, followed by his arms getting rigid while still shaking horribly. Tears poured from his eyes mixed with the blood from his nose and mouth. Poor guy, maybe I should just kill—nah. While he did try to kill me, he was a nice guy before that so he gets to keep his life.

“This really isn’t going well.” I sighed, shaking my head.

It's interesting how Erind still acts like she is disturbed. Although, she seems to enjoy the moment afterward. Like how she talked about how crunchy and soft humans were.

I miss watching the Animal Channel.

Who knows, I might get to witness more interesting animal behaviors at the warehouse.

Technically humans are animals, so Erind isn't really wrong.

like she's still detached even though someone threatened to assault her or that she's slowly killing a guy because she's too strong. While to us, she's justified in defending herself in the situation, she doesn't even think of the morality of what she's doing.

It's also fun seeing how Erind still tries to keep her face up as well. Like she doesn't actively taunt Radi or enjoys torturing him, but she just does it because she wants to save the SVS as "Blanchette".

Thanks for the chapter!

Edit suggestions:

“You…you’re going to help them?” he said, his words punctuated by groans. “Mr. Cohenn is really right…many didn’t believe him when he said that you Adumbrae fuckfucks are here…and you’re in league with thosethat trash SVS!”

    Temple ago

    - The "not going well" part is more to her not being able to control herself than injuring the guy more than she intended to, a small but also huge difference when framing that mindset. That's why she seemed amused at what's happening.

    - The thing with animals is also part of the characterization of Erind. She can't have a "personal" understanding of what we normal humans do although she can approximate or guess it. Like we can say that a dog wants food or something, but we can't say that we think like a dog, something like that. Hard to articulate hahaha.

    - Yep, she's really committed to faces because that's a rule, even if she has a wrong understanding of how a face should go.

    - Thanks for the help proofreading!

sebasse ago

Thanks for the chapter

 

Leaving the dude alive feels like a mistake, because while he may not have seen Erinds face, him just knowing the general information like that there is a adumbrae interested in the svs, in what area she was last sighted, haircolor, body type, gender etc, already sounds like Informationen that would be better off not being spread around.

And here Argumente that he seemed like a nice guy is kinda hypocritical considering that she killed the girl she escaped the Club with through the tunels (mayors daughter?) who was even nicer.

    Etly ago

    Yeah it's super weird, thought she decided she was gonna be more thorough in making sure she wouldn't get caught from now on. She has to be starting to lose her mind adumbrae style, only logical explanation I can think of.

      Temple ago

      It's an development of Erind's character. Can see my explanation above. What do you think of it? I'm still developing it so haven't really got a concrete plan.

    Temple ago

    She's weighing the consequences of leaving this guy alive with his acts to her. So, for Vanessa, there's just no way Erind could let her go alive because she knew how she looked like and would surely report it to the 2Ms. And the 2Ms know about Erind already, so they're for sure going to attack her - which they did in Arc 3.

    As for Radi, we can say that it's way harder for them to find her. All they know is that there's a woman Adumbrae somewhere with a hoodie (and that looks like Blanchette description anyway except the body type.) Plus, it's way harder to believe these people that there's an Adumbrae compared to them just whacking each other, like now they're going to lynch a bunch of people.

    We could just stop there, but that's not all. Erind mentioned she just wanted to do a knockout hit to the jaw, but she actually dislodged the jaw from the skull, so that's way more than just a knockout hit. Notice here that Radi's fingers are curling (not just because Erind messed up his hand), his arms are getting rigid. There's also mention that he's having a seizure. The way Erind narrated it is like nonchalant description, but Radi is actually having a severe stroke due to brain damage from two super strength strikes to the head. Plus with internal bleeding, which is why blood is coming out of his mouth, Radi is dying for sure.

    BUT, Erind is not admitting that to herself. She does know Radi is going to be dead, and there's no one to help him in that location, but the way she's framing it in her narration is that she's giving him a chance to live, that she's benevolent to him because he did try to help her. She's really painting her own reality.

    A long explanation, but that's because I'm still exploring this characterization so I haven't pinned it down yet. Hahaha.

dimgam ago

Edit suggestions:

Doing superhuman things as Erind

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