The Unholy Trinity

The door bursts open, an explosion of wood beams and flying splinters and the mangled body of a giant troll. Both of the troll’s arms are broken and the front of his shaggy fur is torn in several places to reveal meaty grey skin. Three very different women charge splintered door, breaking what was left of its parts and letting a draft of Harmattan air into the room. The room is a hall of some sort, three tables set haphazardly in the middle, while torches give off wavering light from the walls. Twenty six eyes train on them from the three rows of dining tables that lined the centre of the assassin prison, twenty six eyes belonging to thirteen very muscular men. The girls stand in the doorway, still as death, waiting for the men to react. As a unit the men stand up from their tables and the five at the table closest to the door crack their knuckles and flex their biceps, unable to resist the urge to preen before the girls. Loopy, a dark eyed girl wearing striped tights and steel toed Doc Martens over a black romper and crazy hair looks over her shoulder at Duchess Mason and laughs.

“I told you not to get that manicure.”

Duchess Mason rolls her eyes and pulls her waist length hair into a high ponytail. Duchess Mason is the one the men are really looking at; she’s so beautiful she’s practically ageless. She glances down at her pink, freshly buffed nails and sighs.
“I’ll just have to kick their asses without using my hands then.”

The biggest of the men speaks up just at that moment, addressing Duchess, who in her leopard print Capri pants and chiffon blouse seems the least scary of the three. “You killed our captor little girlie. Should we be grateful or worried?”
Duchess lifts a stilettoed leg up in the air till it’s raised above her head in a perfect ballet split. She rolls the ball of the suspended foot in a small 360 and purrs. “I’d say worried.”

“And in five inch heels too. Bloody show off.” Phoenix scoffs.

Out of nowhere, a whip appears in phoenix’s hands and she grins, revealing a tongue ring and diamond teeth. Coupled with her tattoos and the rings in her nose and ear, she’s Lisbeth Salander brought to life. Fast as lightning, the whip unfurls in her hands and she lashes out, curling the lip of the whip around the closest assassin’s neck. The sudden assault is like a shot of adrenaline and the other prisoners scramble for the girls. Unfortunately for them, Loopy is more than ready. She jumps into the melee, turning sharply to the right as the first prisoner reaches her and strikes out with a muscled arm. She uses the momentum of her turn to drive her steel capped Doc Martens into one of the few vulnerable places on any human, between the butt cheeks. The man straightens, his hands flying to the source of pain as a howl escapes him. Loopy uses the opportunity to drive her elbow into the base of his neck, sending him to the ground. Just then, she turns to see Duchess drive her shoe’s heel into the back of the knee of another prisoner. She turns her foot in a quick motion, breaking the heel in the man’s leg, severing his tendons. Her other foot slams into the other knee, sending the prisoner to the ground. Loopy changes stance, lowering her centre of gravity as two prisoners come at her from opposite ends. She charges the prisoner to her left, clambering onto him and using his shoulders as a fulcrum to drive her stronger right knee into his ribs. The other prisoner lands a punch, and she grits her teeth as her left shoulder flares with pain. She ignores the pain temporarily and drives her knee into her captive prisoner’s ribs a few more times. The other prisoner wraps an arm around her neck and squeezes and she releases the other prisoner. She claws at her neck while the other prisoner drags her away from her captive. The minute she’s off him, he slumps to the floor, sputtering spurts of blood from his lips. Her eyes begin to water as her air supply is cut off. She abandons prying his arm off her and instead tries to wiggle out of his slick arm. Suddenly he releases her and screams. She smiles when she sees the bloody impression on his arm. It suddenly makes sense that thirteen muscular fighters couldn’t escape a single troll.

“We need silver.” Loopy yells to the girls. “They’re werewolves.”

Phoenix grins from the end of the hall where’s she’s been cornered by four prisoners. She flicks a button at the end of her whip and the leather coating falls away to reveal a metallic link chain skeleton, each link a different kind of metal fatal to a different kind of creature. The links constrict, tightening each link till the whip reforms into a sword as long as her arm. The loping prisoners twitch uneasily. The minute they realise their true nature’s been revealed and their advantage has been swept out from under them, they begin to moult; their human skin shed and replaced with thick iron clad fur.

Phoenix is unimpressed. “I hope you don’t think that’ll save you. This whip’s been blessed by Uchariel himself.”

The prisoner who’d first spoken, now a hulking, eight foot tall man beast bent over on all fours, raises his head and with a roar, leaps at Phoenix. She leans forward and strikes as hard as she can, driving her whip sword into the were-creature’s mouth. The whip’s links contract like an accordion, spearing through the creature’s maw and exiting at the back of its skull. With a swift kick, she pushes the were-creature off her and constricts the whip, waiting for her next victim. The other creatures back away, and circle her instead, looking for an opening to strike.

Duchess Mason is down to her last opponent, a smaller, wiry prisoner who seems able to match her hit for hit. Though she doesn’t want to admit it to herself, she suspects it’s probably because she’d ignored Loopy’s advice to dress for war. The fight had dragged for a while now and she’d run out of stiletto heels to convert to deadly weapons. They’d struggled around the room, ending up on top one of the dining tables and he’d anticipated and blocked every attack she’d thrown at him. The wooden chopping board in his hands is heavy with pronged food utensils she’s turned to projectiles. With a feint, he stones the board at Duchess and she strafes left, turning ungainly in her now handicapped platform stilettos. The prisoner covers the distance between them with blinding speed and landed a sucker punch to the side of duchess’s head, throwing her off balance. She lowers her centre of gravity to realign herself, subtly lengthening her spine. She dips and swoops around in a surprise low kick that catches the prisoner in the shin. The kick catches him unaware but he manages to convert the momentum from the hit to spin into a back flip, landing all of his body weight in a wrestler’s fall on to Duchess’s ankle. She screams and scrambles off the table, falling off the side in a clumsy heap.

“I should have just worn wedges.” Duchess grumbles as she pulls herself to her feet, just in time to dodge a kick from the wiry prisoner. Summoning her link with her very own pocket dimension, she pulls out a revolver and taking aim, shoots the prisoner right between the eyes. The silver bullet digs into his skull, leaving a perfect bloodied circle.
Loopy raises a wild black brow. “Thought you said you wouldn’t use your hands?”

Duchess makes a face. “I fired a gun, doesn’t quite count as using my hands. Phoenix, need help?”

Phoenix rolls her eyes from where she is, and cracks her whip again. The three remaining werewolves pounce at the same time, the combined attack too much for Phoenix to parry. She is only able to spear the wolf to her right as the one on the left swipes a clawed paw at her jugular and the one to the fore sinks his teeth into her right leg. The other girls turn at her screams midway through stuffing the dead wolves with second helpings of silver. The two wolves drag her to the floor and before their eyes Phoenix disappears under a mound of teeth, claws and fur. Loopy and Duchess turn their attention to the wolves, expending the rest of their arsenal on the writhing mass of bodies but the wolves have bristled their fur and it stands almost three high off their skin and their bullets and silver throwing knives just ricochet off.

“What the hell are they?” Duchess yells at Loopy as she apparates a blessed shotgun and takes a pot shot.

“Unless werewolves have evolved and developed impenetrable skin and an immunity to silver, I’d say these ones aren’t werewolves.” Loopy hollers back, her arms a blur as a steady rain of knives issue forth from her side pockets.
Duchess turns sharply to her right and goes pale; the wiry prisoner with the bullet hole in his forehead is slowly dragging himself to his feet. She empties her shotgun into him, the force of the bullets pushing him back to the ground but as soon as she stops, he tries to stand unsteadily. Duchess makes a break for him and puts him in a headlock, changing the atomic components of the flesh in her forearms till they’re as strong as steel. She kicks the back of his knee and he falls forward and pushes back with all her strength, holding on till she hears the satisfying crack of the prisoner’s cervical vertebrae detaching from the base of his skull. She turns him over, raising his neck onto her shoulder and pulls, steeling her clavicle. The prisoner’s skin stretches even as he lets out a death groan, second death in his case. She drops him and turns to see Loopy surrounded by the remaining wolves, her throwing knives little more than minor distractions to them. They seem to sense her presence and half turn on their hind legs and growl at her.

“The roof, Climb the lattice!” Duchess yells at Loopy, “Their canine anatomy won’t let them climb.”

She feints to the left and makes a run for the circle, sliding onto her back at the last minute. The momentum and a subtle change to the texture of her skin let her slide right under one of the wolves and into the heart of the circle. She’s on her feet in seconds, fingers laced into a basket; it’s a sequence they’ve practiced a thousand times. Loopy puts a foot in the basket and Duchess Mason hurls her up and out, high enough to catch one of the beams on the wood lattice ceiling nearly fifteen feet up. At the last second before Loopy’s foot leaves Duchess’s hands she swivels and hooks her steel toed boot under Mason’s hands using the momentum of Mason’s preternatural lift to drag the both of them off the floor. The wolves, furious at being denied their prey, jump at Mason and one just manages to scrape at her shin, scratching her. Loopy holds on with all her strength as Mason uses her as human ladder, clambering over her to the beam above. Before long they’re both in the ceiling, simultaneously safe from and trapped by the wolves.

“What are we going to do?” Mason asks, pointing at the pack of wolves now gathered around Phoenix’s prone form, sound of vicious biting and scratching filling the silence in the eaves. “I know Phoenix’s immortal but there’s only so much damage her human body can take before things get really ugly.”

Loopy shakes her head. “We’re out of our league. These wolves aren’t just werewolves. They’re something else entirely. The only other option we have is for me to allow myself be possessed by one of the voodoo gods of the Loa. I can do it but we’ve come so far, and I’m so close, so close.”
Mason puts a hand on Loopy’s arm. “Don’t! Phoenix would never forgive you if you spoilt everything we’ve done by letting those vile things possess you. They have no sense of right and wrong and just want to kill indiscriminately. There has to be another way.”

Loopy sighs. “There is.”

A premonition of what Loopy intends to do flashes in Mason’s mind and she grabs for her but she’s too slow. Loopy leans back, sliding out of their perch and onto the floor. A throwing knife appears in her hands and she stabs into the space before her, cutting a rift into the reality of the hall, a disruption through which Yemoja the most benevolent of the Loa slips through. She’s a spectral form, all hair and lush skin darkened by countless hours of body art, the tattooing is so extensive it deceives the eye into believing the goddess is clothed. The wolves sensing a higher consciousness leave Phoenix’s torn body and lope for Loopy.

“Why is your mind shielded from me?” the goddess asks, confusion etched on her ethereal face.

“You must forgive me,” Loopy replies and plunges herself into the much larger goddess’s spectral form. Her eyes widen and her pupils grow pale as salt and the goddess stiffens as she realises the human girl has possessed her instead of the other way around. The wolves attack the goddess/girl hybrid, slashing and snapping but the transparent ectoplasm that forms the goddess’s frame is too strong for their strikes. The goddess tries to retaliate but Loopy holds her in place by the force of her will. The goddess is a creature of whim, used to reacting to any threats real or perceived and being unable to respond with violence infuriates her. She turns her assault inwards, flooding Loopy’s mind with an onslaught of horrifying images. Loopy’s control begins to falter and she struggles feebly to hold on as the goddess tries to force her out of her form. Mason terrified by the scene, abandons her perch in the rafters, lengthening her fingernails to points and crawling down the brick wall. She lands just in time; Yemoja expels Loopy out of herself with one final malicious push, sending the unconscious girl flying through the air. Mason turns at the last minute, shifting into Loopy’s trajectory and breaking her flight.

The two fall into a heap, Loopy’s eyes rolled into the back of her head, her lips murmuring gibberish. Mason looks up and drags Loopy to her feet when she notices the goddess spread herself into a mist, possessing the were-creatures. Mason drags Loopy to the wall and crouches with her, giving them as little body surface as possible. The wolves close in on them, their brute forms guided into a feline slink by Yemoja’s malevolent intelligence. They leap, their movement mirroring one another and Mason squeezes herself tighter around Loopy and waits for the end.
Suddenly tortured screaming rends the silence and the wolves fall back to the earth, twisting and writhing, their fur aflame with a sickly green fire. Hellfire. Phoenix is on her feet, her once human hazel eyes now green with blood red pupils, she’s rising slightly above the ground, on a carpet of flame, the tongues licking the soles of her feet but doing no damage. The wolves’ impenetrable fur is no match for Phoenix’s fire and their fur singes and falls away to reveal oxblood sinew and bone and that turns a dark brown and then charcoal black as the fire relentlessly burns. Before long, there are thirteen charred husks, still animated by Yemoja’s intelligence. She’s growling through what is left of their mouths, furious at being thwarted twice in such a short time.
“Go back to your world, before you make me really angry.” Phoenix says quietly, before she closes her fist and the green flames rise, burning the bodies to ash. Host less, Yemoja keens as reality imposes itself on her and sucks her back to her world. Phoenix steps off her carpet of flame and licks her hand with a forked tongue, using her spittle to seal the dimensional tear Loopy opened. It is then that she notices Mason and Loopy huddled together She runs to them and takes Loopy off Mason, putting Loopy’s head on her thigh.

“Wake up Loopy, We’ve taken them down. We’ve done it.”
Loopy’s eyes flicker as she tries to come to the surface, but there’s too much static in her head, Yemoja’s influence is too much for her to shrug off. Phoenix’s green eyes go glassy as she gently strokes Loopy’s hair and its taking everything Duchess Mason has not to cry.

“I know what you were doing Loopy. You were buying me time. Time to get back from the infernal realms and deal with these guys. If you hadn’t done that… I don’t even know.”
Loopy’s eyes flickered open and she struggled to speak, words catching in her throat.

“It was the last task I was given, the one I couldn’t tell you people about. I had to put my life on the line for you guys. Easiest thing I’ve ever done. I love you guys, forever.”

Phoenix feels the air leave Loopy’s lungs and her body go limp. She screams, a guttural searching sound, pulling Loopy’s body to herself. Mason gathers her legs in her arms and rocks back and forth. They’d been through years of servitude under the Hermit and worked freelance as the Red King’s guard. They’d made their name alongside the PTS band, gaining as much respect and notoriety. This had never been the plan. Mason reaches over to touch Loopy, disbelief still heavy in her. She stops just before she touches her. Loopy’s skin is glowing.

“Phoenix!” Mason hisses.

Phoenix opens her tear filled eyes and looks down, and
promptly drops Loopy and scrambles away. Loopy is glowing from within, a bright yellow glow that seems to erase her battle scars and mend the old scabs from her many wars. Her body begins to rise of its own accord, levitating off the ground and rising well above Phoenix and Mason’s heads. They rise to their feet, watching Loopy in wonder. The back of her shirt bulges as something began to grow from inside it. The fabric finally tears, exposing two huge nubs. The nubs unfurls to reveal beautiful wings, lined with millions of iridescent feathers. Loopy stretches, her body lengthening to accommodate the new wings. She finally opens white eyes with grey pupils and smiles.

“Wow! Loopy, what? How?”

“I know it’s a little over the top, the wings that is, but this is what I wanted. Why I decided to become a part of Uchariel’s guard. Perform a thousand acts of selflessness and get your wings. I’d have completed them a long time ago, all that was left was this last one. But I wasn’t ready to leave you girls.”

“Do you think you’ll be happy over there?” Duchess Mason
asks softly.

Loopy gives a sad smile. “Not until you guys get there. But please take your time, I’m in no hurry.”

Loopy hovers in the air for a second, giving the girls a last glimpse of her in her new form, and then with a powerful flap of her wings she soars into the air, breaking past the ceiling and heading for heavens, a yellow comet in steel toed Doc Martens.

“I’ll miss her.” Phoenix says to Mason, all teary eyed.

Mason smiles and hugs Phoenix. “I will too.”

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For Ogaga, never forgotten.

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