Right in the middle of a scrapyard, Amelia was about to begin her first real fight in months.
All this time, she had been anticipating this moment with fevered excitement, and now that it was here she could hardly stay calm enough to actually prepare to fight the four men that surrounded her. One dwarf and three humans, including the loudly-dressed cretin Theo with his stupid cane blade. Anger seared through their eyes, as if their blows would be precisely enough to avenge the human she already killed.
It would not be enough. Amelia had enough fury inside her to match theirs a hundred times over. And, unlike them, she would actually live long enough to unleash it all.
Her Combat Module and Scan Module were active, and her HUD whirred about, displaying all sorts of diagnostics, including elemental fields, weather conditions, and her mana reserves and structural health.
The latter two items were dangerously precarious, but just seeing it all again brought a wistful smile to her face. It had been a long few months. A long few months pretending to be human, holding back on her power to keep her mana burn low and attention on her even lower. Since the fight in Netherhill with the golemancer, she had been in precisely one fight, and that one was necessary to gain the false ID she needed.
Now she was in Fleettwixt, and now she could finally begin her campaign against the North Sunwell Company’s heinous existence.
First off, their little Fourland Growth Corporation subsidiary would get the appetizer to her dish best served cold.
“Let’s go with the easy option,” she said to herself. She did not need to speak to use her system, but sometimes it just felt right. It felt almost like, well, talking to her girlfriend. Not always.
She glanced at the photo of Ed displayed on her HUD, then looked at the text from her system that popped up in her HUD.
An easy option, for combat? Coming right up.
I think [Throwing Hands] is a good one.
That was just what Ed would have suggested. Always her favorite skill, probably because she designed it herself.
Okay. [Throwing Hands] equipped.
Now she was ready.
“Last chance to speak,” Amelia said. “Any useful info and I’ll spare you all.”
Theo laughed. “Really brave for someone who’s about to die. We ain’t tellin’ you nothin’.” His callous words were only matched by the cowardice in his shaking body.
She turned to the other men surrounding her. “I don’t know how much he's paying you, but it’s not enough for this. Go on and live.”
None of them fled.
She scowled. “I wasn’t really going to spare you anyway. Wouldn’t be any fun.”
Just as Theo’s goons rushed her, she launched her stone fist. It shot off from her arm and collided right with the dwarf’s forehead, so hard it audibly cracked. Then, like a powerful magnet, it came right back to her.
The dwarf hit the ground about the same time as his bat, both with a deep thud. No blood, but it was not the kind of hit that mortals got back up from.
A human with a crowbar approached with a swinging motion, but Amelia backhanded him—with her fleshy left hand, unfortunately—and he stumbled back into a pile of trash. He would come back into it, but not for a moment or two. She moved her right arm over to aim it at him, but Theo rammed it away and her fist fired off up into the sky.
The other human struck her in the side of the face with a glass bottle. It shattered all over her and ripped her jacket in several places.
She groaned. “I just bought this.”
The human’s eyes popped as he got a clear view of Amelia’s face for the first time. The entire right side past her glowing eye was made of light brown stone. Dry, crackled, and tough as brick. She brushed the shards of glass off her head and, the moment it came back to her, launched another fist into the man’s stomach. He was knocked straight off his feet and collided with a stack of old data server cases. The sharp, rusted metal collapsed and buried him—if he had survived her fist, he certainly would not survive the thousand cuts from that.
Theo and the crowbar-wielding human were all that was left. Neither were in any shape to continue fighting. And yet they continued all the same. Idiots to the end, or possibly respectable opponents. She could not decide which.
She faced Theo and cocked back her elbow to send a fist his way when—
Smack, hard metal right in her face.
Amelia’s whole body spun around and her vision blurred over completely. Her HUD flickered in and out before stabilizing and popping up a very helpful message:
Internals damaged! Take care and don’t lose balance.
Not losing balance would be a lot easier if her body were not designed specifically so that half of her was significantly heavier than the other.
It was probably a stupid move, but she did it anyway:
Activating Boost Module...
Overclocking physical systems.
Boost Module now active.
That one-second blip was all she needed. Her body flowed back into action, tumbling onto the ground but with the deftness of a cat leaping at its prey. She caught herself with her right arm and punched the ground—literally punched it—to propel her body back into the air.
Amelia always found herself immensely surprised when she overclocked herself. Her body moved so quickly, so furiously, and with only the slightest effort on her part. She landed on her feet, right in front of the man who just struck her.
His crowbar was bent up, his face terrified. But that expression disappeared along with the rest of his head a moment later after Amelia was finished with him.
Now, it was only Theo against her. He swung his cane around, and it was just long enough that she could not lunge and rip his throat out.
“I ain’t what you think,” he said, panting. “I used to be somethin’. Then I lost it all. Fourland’s all I got. It’s my life here.”
“Your life’s ending.”
“No, it’s—” Theo suddenly raised his hands and a wave of colorless kinetic magic flowed through the air. Amelia jumped up to avoid the blast and landed on a pile of rusted junk. The kinetic force hit the stack and it instantly bent and started to give way. “Gotcha, didn’t I?”
A human with minor magical powers. Not too common around Sunwell, even less outside of the mage enforcers. She had been caught by surprise.
He stepped away and the pile collapsed with Amelia still on top. Just leapt forward and rolled against the ground to absorb the shock of it all, and ended up right next to her bag of stuff still on the ground.
The empty hollowed-out diary. She picked it up and tossed it at Theo like a disc. He swiped it away, then looked at it confusedly for a second, wondering just why she would have done such a thing.
By the time he realized the distraction, she had already gotten up close to him and grabbed ahold of his dominant arm.
Immediately, he retracted the blade of his cane and dropped it.
A loud scream of anguish.
If only Amelia’s systems still worked properly, she could have used her [Slice] skill and ended it all much more quickly. But doing it the old-fashioned way had sufficed.
“Please,” Theo said. “I can’t die like this. I’m just a smuggler. I don’t care about North Sunwell or Fourland or any of that. Please.”
“Do you have any information for me, then?” she asked. “Anything to help me find my girlfriend? Ed Winback. She’s a pretty famous golemancer, so maybe you’d know. Just a little?”
Theo was paralyzed. “Well, I—um, I don’t really...”
“You’re allowed to say no.”
“They’re not going to stop, kid,” he pleaded. “North Sunwell don’t forgive stuff like this. When they find out, they’re gonna throw everything they got at you.”
“I doubt they will. You’re not important enough.”
She backhanded him with her fleshy hand and shut him up.
Amelia was no fan of torture. Too inhumane. So instead she activated another skill:
Are you sure about that? With your reserves? You just want to show off.
Well, I literally can’t argue with you, so have fun.
Crackling purple energy shot out of her arm and engulfed Theo. He collapsed on the ground and writhed around for a moment before he, too, stopped moving.
“I told you, I’ve got two goals here in Fleettwixt,” she said. “First, find my girlfriend. Second, topple the North Sunwell Company. No two-bit bandits are going to—” She cut herself off when she realized they were all dead already.
Now Amelia was alone, surrounded by a bunch of scrap.
Without warning, her right hand detached from her wrist and plopped on the ground.
Alert! Mana leak detected! Reserves fully depleted.
Oh, there was the warning.
Well, at least she had five new souls to make use of.