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"Monica and tracking?" You asked

"She could smell some tracks that lead to the forest, but I do not think we should follow it, sir. If we know the Doggirls will come for food, perhaps it would be best to lay a trap."

Waiting until she'd confirmed the wound was healed, you turned to the others, clapping loudly to draw their attention. You raised your voice. "Let's talk battle plan, people, I think I might have an idea or two." As the others approached, you glanced at Kat. "Just to confirm, what can your girls do?"

"Liz and Coco are great at tackling ferals to the ground. Coco has those long vine things, like extra-long arms," she said, though paused, and her lips thinned slightly while looking away. "They're... I put them both through a level four. They're still a bit dazed."

"What?" Tomas practically recoiled.

"Look, they're both feral, they needed to learn, and I wasn't going to put them through a five just so I could have them listen to me, and Rick put Monica through a four and things didn't turn out that badly, right?" Kat spoke quickly, shrinking a little.

"That..." The young man hesitated. "I think it's wrong."

"And it's irrelevant since it's not your decision to make," Mr Gabriel spoke firmly.

"I'm still not sure why the old man is here, his monstergirl is worthless for a fight." Rachel's voice was heard clearly. Everyone turned towards her and she scoffed, crossing her arms.

"She's right," you said.

Just like that, you noticed several confused looks, and one very surprised looking Succubus.

"Mr Gabriel will be leaving as soon as we've determined a battle plan unless we find something Tessa can help with," you said. "The best bet would be to have him keeping an eye on us from a very safe distance and closer to the town. If things get hairy, we can change strategies to something defensive, send a signal, and Mr Gabriel could get help."

You didn't really think it would be much if anything; the man was old and slow, a liability. But giving him something he thought he could help with was clearly better than proposing he stay near where things might get dangerous.

"The signal would be Rachel lighting something on fire, that should be a pretty clear signal," you said. "You have a plan in mind?" Mr Gabriel asked calmly, frowning.

"The dogs come to steal some fruit, we can ambush them. Just wait them out. Once they're out of the cover of the forest, Freya can shoot them down while Monica chases stragglers."

"Wait." Kat blinked. "You're going for the kill?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" Your response was calm. "It's the way to ensure minimal risk to the group. Capture poses a greater risk."

"If we can catch them we can sell them," Tomas quickly spoke up.

"Then it will depend on whether they're slow enough that Freya can shoot their legs and Monica can snap their spines," you stated, now watching them squirm. "I've seen what the healing cycles did to Tessa, broken bones should not be an issue."

"Still..."

"Tomas." You looked at the young man, levelling your gaze. "You've seen how it is out there, we went through it together. Just because we now have a warm bed doesn't make what happens out there any less real."

With a slight nod, he lowered his gaze to the ground, growing quiet.

"Now." You glanced at Freya for a second. "I think it would be wisest if us humans stay away from the action. You and Diane will be in charge of the operation and handling the others."

"Wait," Rachel growled. "What about me?"

"Your fire abilities are necessary for a potential flare signal. The other abilities are good to subdue any potential threat that sneaks on us," you quickly replied, glancing at Tomas. "Unless you have different orders for her, I'd rather she remain the group's bodyguard."

"I mean if it's what she wants?"

"Oh thank you, Master!" Rachel cooed, glomping him into a hug, kissing his cheek and rubbing her head against his shoulder emphatically. "I'd just love to stick around and keep you safe while the others handle the nasty ferals."

You tried not to roll your eyes too hard, focusing on the rest. "I'll be the first to admit I don't have a clue how to set up an ambush on a group of ferals that have good hearing and sense of smell," you said, looking around, making sure to look into the eyes of each monstergirl that was present. "Who has any ideas?"

There was a moment of nervousness before Freya coughed a little. "I may know some things, sir."

"We're all ears, Freya," you replied.

She waited as she glanced at Tomas until he gave a little nod. Crouching, she brought out one of her arrows out and drew some circles in the dirt.

Kneel before my artistic skills!

"The strategy would be fairly simple," she said. "The ferals would come from the forest towards the farm. Monica would attack them, making sure to cut them off to avoid them from going back to the forest for cover. If they run towards the other side, Liz and Coco, under Diane's command, could cut them off and lead them towards where I am."

You looked at the crude drawing. "Would you be safe?" Kat asked.

"No need to worry, ma'am, I can handle some ferals, Doggirls don't pose much of a threat," she replied with a nod. "Worst case scenario, I should be able to buy myself time for the others to reach me and help."

"Can you hide from their noses though?" You asked. "If they know you're there, they might opt to not show up at all."

"I can." She nodded. "And I can help the others as well."

"Well, we have a plan." You nodded. "Unless anyone else has anything to say, we might as well start preparing for it."

Everyone nodded.

You sat on the fence as you tried to get a good view of the forest. It was getting dark, and you very much doubted you'd be able to spot anything. Next to you, Tomas was standing on the thing and glaring into the night like a hawk. Kat was nervously pacing back and forth.

Rachel flew lazy circles from above.

Monica stood next to you, her eyes looking at the forest as her ears stood, perfectly perked and carefully paying attention.

At a distance, there were guards. who you'd seen moving around the fields. They ignored you but kept a distance, their figures hard to make out. The field's owner had put them there most likely to keep an eye on potential trouble. You didn't expect they'd help nor did you want to cause issues, so you ignored them just as much as they ignored you.

There was a shift in the wind.

"Here soon," Monica spoke. Tomas followed it by glancing up and waving at Rachel, urging her to come down, and thus avoid being spotted and potentially spooking the ferals.

"I can't see anything moving out there." Rachel plopped herself onto Tomas' arms, hugging him and following it up by pulling him into a deep moaning kiss.

The young man stumbled down as the infernal kept herself clinging to him.

"Keep it in your pants," Kat hissed.

You were mostly ignoring them. Standing next to Monica, you tried to watch at the treeline, and glanced at Monica as she was dead set on looking firmly into the increasing darkness. "Here."

The word was spoken, and you nodded. "You ready to go?"

"Hunt."

"No kill," you said.

"No kill." She nodded.

"Go, then."

Monica lowered herself, jumping into the farmland, and vanishing into the vegetation. Judging by the disturbed plants that shifted in her wake, the feline was accelerating. You had to squint, but you were managing to see her progress and she was starting to move fast, REALLY fast; by the time she'd reached the half-way point towards the objective you'd noticed some shadows stepping out of the forest. By the time the shadows were half-way to the farm, Monica had reached the edge of the farm and had come back into view.

You were pretty sure she was going faster than a jeep would have within the same terrain.

The handful of shadows who'd been walking through the grassy field tried to run the instant they'd noticed the feline, but Monica was fast, way faster. She ploughed through them.

Two figures didn't get up.

"Oh shit," you muttered.

"What?"

"Monica just downed two," you said, watching her then turn and head back to the scattering ferals. "They're scattering." You cursed under your breath; of the four remaining figures, three were running towards the fields, the other one towards where Freya laid in wait.

"How many left?"

"Four, but three are headed towards the fields." You made a face, Monica was running towards the one that was headed to where Freya should have been. "Fuck, no, Monica..." A grimace. "Three are escaping, she's chasing the one headed to Freya."

Just as you said this, you noticed that one of the Doggirls who had reached one of the fields fell for no apparent reason. And stayed down. Whatever had just happened, something had hit her- you couldn't tell exactly by who or what, and looking around showed you no presence that might have done that. Another guard from some different farm? Or maybe... Freya? You had to squint, you couldn't be sure.

It was becoming harder to tell what was going on with the increasing darkness, but you did see Monica starting to sprint back in the direction of the remaining two. You hoped she made it in time. Hopping off of the fence, you had no choice but to acknowledge you couldn't tell anything anymore. "One or two Doggirls might be coming this way."

"Rachel?" Tomas managed to stammer a little.

"What about me?" She said.

"We're trusting you're capable of keeping us safe," you said. Just as the words had left your mouth, you heard a barking sound that ended with a shriek.

"That probably means there's only one left," Kat said with a little shudder.

You were looking towards the fields, wondering.

A second shriek.

Then, silence.

"Seems it's over," Kat commented with a sigh. "Might as well head over."

"No," you replied firmly. "The plan is we wait, no matter what. What if something else pops out of the forest? They know what they're doing."

"So commanding and rough," Rachel snorted as she hugged Tomas closer. "Might as well say this was entirely your doing, sir."

"That would be stupid," you replied, watching the red flashes of light meaning capture before hopping off of the fence. "I helped everyone organise, Freya laid out a plan, and apparently Monica singlehandedly dealt with things."

"Brutal," Kat grinned. "Monica's unstoppable."

"She's scary, yeah," you replied, crossing your arms and leaning against the fence. "So after this, we go meet with Gabriel and head back. I want to sleep in a bed while I can."

"Oh, right, we'll be hitting the road soon," Tomas managed while blushing from the way the succubus was touching him under the shirt.

"That's going to suck," Kat nodded and grumbled.

Your eyes looked up into the starry night sky. It was beautiful, really. This world had little contamination from either light or smoke, the sky was clear, and you could see the milky-way. Crossing your arms, you looked at it. Your thoughts trailed to the forest, and of the nights spent afraid, hungry, too tired to remain awake, afraid that you might not wake up at all.

A slight shudder ran down your spine. You opened your eyes and felt slightly surprised to find Rachel looking at you firmly, as Tomas was moaning under her touch, entirely unaware as he couldn't summon the strength to stop her.

Her brows narrowed and as the look vanished, she turned to kiss Tomas, and the air returned to normal. What was that about?

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Ravnicrasol

Bio: Got into writing English fiction out of practice.

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