Bookworm fired at the charging figure, but missed. Not even looking back, she yelled out, “Lock the door!” and was pleased to hear its quick slam. Beryl, meanwhile, had let out a roar and planted himself in Kuga’s way.
The cougar smirked. “You. First that pure-blood mutt, now you again. Why do you all get in the way? I only want my sister back. She is coming with me.”
“Over my dead body,” Beryl growled. Then he added, almost conversationally, “You can take that literally.”
Bookworm wished that he hadn’t said that after what had happened to Dr. Viper. Kuga kept his eyes locked on Beryl, but he sounded amused as he responded, “That can be easily arranged.” He lunged at Beryl, snarling and swiping his claws. Bookworm took advantage of the distraction to dart around the fighting bodies, positioning herself at the asylum door.
Beryl pivoted back, avoiding the cougar’s first lunge, and then fell into a stance Bookworm recognized as one Mariah had taught him during his boxing lessons. Then Beryl moved forward, his claws flashing out, striking across the cougar’s waist.
Kuga jumped back with a startled hiss as he clutched his side, which was bleeding freely. “You… we should have dealt with you then…”
“Book, do you have a plan?” Beryl’s eyes never left his opponent, who was now growling angrily.
“I can wound him,” she replied, her revolver ready. She didn’t dare fire yet, though, with the two so close. “Not sure if I can kill him, though.” She watched Kuga’s head, hoping she could try for a shot through an eye.
Kuga lunged again, faster than before and teeth bared to bite into and grapple his opponent. Beryl’s training with Mariah had apparently paid off, though, as he pivoted again and caught Kuga on the head, this time with a left hook. The cougar’s claws caught him on the arm but Kuga fell back a little, snarling and disoriented, surprised by his small opponent’s unnatural strength and reflexes. Beryl used the opportunity to put some distance between himself and Kuga. “Shoot him!” he yelled.
Bookworm fired at Kuga’s head. The cougar tried to dodge, but the bullet caught him on the side of the face. His paw came up, pressing against the wound. “You,” he growled deeply. “I… will… *killll* you…”
Not wanting to give the cougar a chance to leap at her, Bookworm fired again immediately, hoping to at least drive him away. The cat was able to dodge that shot, but he did retreat to the gate. “Next time… I will take her.” He disappeared around the side of the wall.
Bookworm and Beryl ran after him, wanting to make sure no one in the street would get into trouble. A nearby sight of fur brought Bookworm’s revolver snapping up, but she relaxed again as she recognized Mr. Wright Davis standing there.
“I heard gunshots,” he said, his own weapon drawn. “Is everyone all right?”
“Except for the person who shouldn’t be,” Beryl replied. He licked at his arm wound as, from the other side, Dr. Sonnerstein came running back, also attracted by the shots.
Bookworm gave a terse summary of what had happened, and warned Mr. Davis that bullets weren’t a great help against these enemies. She looked around. “I’d like to get Lilith out of there, but I doubt it’s safe yet.” Her eyes wandered upward, taking in the solid set of the asylum building. Suddenly, she grinned. “You know what we need? An airship!”
“An airship?” asked Dr. Sonnerstein.
“It comes in low, lets down a ladder, Lilith gets in, it goes up. I’d like to see those two get her from there!”
“Those two?” Beryl asked. “As in just those alone?”
“They’re the only two I’ve seen, though I think there might be at least one more here,” replied Bookworm.
Mr. Davis said wryly, “They seem to be putting you through some manner of hell, don’t they?”
As Bookworm nodded, Beryl looked up at her soberly. “I could wish it was our only bad news of the day. I received a new ‘love letter’ from our old enemy. The one who wanted to collect heroes… and anyone he thought might be a hero despite the fact they’re not. Like Tepic.”
Bookworm sighed. “Lovely.”
“Do you have any idea as to what you’re up against?” Mr. Davis asked, obviously wanting more information for his own protection.
As an urchin boy approached, Beryl replied bluntly, “We’re up against Moreau-looking individuals with increased strength, hard to kill, and were grown in a lab. In short – monsters.” He looked around to the boy. “Hello, Leon.”
The boy blinked, looking a bit uncertain. “Good to see ya, Beryl. I was coming to pick up the next shipment, and Kasa said something was going down, so I hurried over. Are these monsters why you told me to make my drops by airship only?”
Bookworm perked up. “Airship?” She quickly explained her idea to Leon, who agreed to take Lilith in his airship and keep her safe aloft. After expressing thanks – and cautions – to Dr. Sonnerstein and Mr. Davis, Bookworm led Leon and Beryl inside.
((To be continued…))