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Aug. 17 – Fox Strikes

Bookworm received word that she was needed at the hospital. Grabbing both rifle and dart gun, she hurried across the canals to the still relatively-new building, her ghostly friends ranging ahead and to either side, keeping an eye out for danger. In a few minutes, she entered the entrance hall of the hospital, and looked around.

“Hello, Book.” She honed in on the familiar voice, and spotted Beryl near the door that led into the main hospital area. “Beryl, what happened?”

“Tepic’s…” He paused, seeming to search for the right word, “shack was attacked. The one where he trapped the cougar.”

“Is he all right?”

“He, Wisp, Charlie, and Billy were all injured. They’re alive, but nursing nasty bruises and burns.” He waited while she sighed in relief. “It was the fox. She showed up and then apparently took them down.”

“She?” Bookworm’s eyebrows raised in surprise.

“Tepic didn’t know either. He found out the hard way. He tried fighting her and so did the others, and she kicked Wisp between his legs. Tepic tried to return the favor, thinking he was fighting a boy. He couldn’t smell the difference. Anyway, they tried to hurt her back, but she… was the only one to walk away without help.”

Bookworm shook her head, knowing it was a losing proposition to try to keep Tepic out of trouble, but still wishing she could.

“Tepic claims she was ‘enormous’ or he could have taken her… even though he says they were the same age. He also says she didn’t try to kill them. Up until she blew up Tepic’s place, it was no more serious than a few children having a scuffle.”

“Huh. Was she human, or fox, or in between, when they saw her?”

“Charlie said it was a fox,” Beryl replied. “Tepic said she had a tail, which… well, he got desperate and attacked he admits. Even though foxes don’t do that to one another. He was very clear about that.” He paused. “Prometheus wasn’t there, but she was clear this was for her ‘brother.’”

“Are there any signs of any of the others yet?” Bookworm asked. “The wolves, or whatever?

“No, we only have signs of the fox and the bear. The others are probably hiding until they are ready. Snow would know more… but he’s not ready yet.”

“I wouldn’t think he’d be ready for at least a few more days, if not longer.” Bookworm sighed, wishing she could use his tracking skills now.

“At least we have a description of this fox. She has red hair and a white underbelly and jaw. She had a cloak which she had removed.” He looked up at Bookworm. “She is uncommonly fast, too. Tepic tried to shoot her with a flare gun, but she picked up one of the boys and put him in front of her. Billy has minor burns from it.”

Bookworm’s expression darkened at that, something Beryl didn’t miss. “Book? Maybe you should get your friends out of town. Just until this is over.”

“Mrs. Sawyer and Mrs. Pritchard will be,” Bookworm replied, smiling sardonically to herself as she remembered their protests. “Mariah insisted on staying, though.”

“So what are you planning to do?”

“I don’t suppose the Cabbits have anything new to report yet?” Bookworm looked hopeful.

“They do…” Beryl looked less than encouraging. “Their creation is started, but they aren’t done. It will take a few days at least–maybe a few weeks.” Bookworm winced at that news. “‘Til then, there is the tranquilizer,” he continued.

“We haven’t had the chance to try that yet.”

“Well, you have, in a sense.” Beryl shrugged. “It took out Snow.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work on them.” Bookworm couldn’t help but feel a bit pessimistic.

“If it works on him, then it’ll probably work on… some of them. Probably the fox. They’re both canines.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“Be careful, Book,” said Beryl soberly. “She’s apparently faster than Tepic. And if you thought that I did well against Kuga that’s probably only because he didn’t get ahold of me.” He looked at the wound on his arm, which was only now starting to heal. “Sadly, that’s all the good news I have for today.”

Bookworm almost replied with, “Well, it can hardly get worse,” but managed to swallow it back, hoping the mere thought didn’t bring worse down on them. “Let me know when the boys are feeling better. I’ll want to speak to them.”

“Of course. Tepic is already making plans for his next time he sees the fox,” replied Beryl, looking amused.

“That figures.” She bade him good night, and headed out to coordinate with other militia members.

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