Bookworm emerged from the telegraph office, situated about halfway between the asylum and the hospital. She looked around carefully, and didn’t see anything untoward. The chill autumnal wind, though, now carried to her ears the sounds of shouts and cries from the north – from the hospital.
“Mr Wright!” she roared, and within a few seconds, he appeared at the asylum gates, which she could see from the telegraph office entrance. She made a broad “Follow me” gesture and took off running to the north. She didn’t hear Mr. Wright’s footfalls, but he quickly caught up with her.
Bookworm skidded to a stop as a figure emerged from the hospital entrance – tall, and cloaked, but she could see the feline cast to his features and build. “Stop!” she yelled as he crossed the bridge, and he did indeed pause on the other side, by Miss Solano’s warehouse, and turned to look back at them. Mr. Wright rushed past her, blocking her view. She muttered under her breath, dashed after, and veered to one side, her dart gun drawn and now leveled at the tigerish form. “You must be Damocles.”
“Surprising you know my name.” He drew two swords from his back, while Mr. Wright drew his cavalry sabre. “One arrives to talk, and ten men try to kill one. I warned them not to, but they didn’t listen.”
A growing crowd of warehouse workers were gathering at doors and windows, and even the roof. Damocles, Bookworm could tell, was aware of them. Most were armed, but Bookworm had left word with Miss Solano that should any situation arise near the warehouse and Bookworm was there, they should take their orders from her. Hopefully, they would obey that…
She narrowed her eyes at Damocles. “What did you do?”
“I bloodied them,” he replied indifferently. “They’ll live to fight another day.”
Bookworm decided not to waste any more time with talk, and squeezed the trigger of the dart gun, firing one of the tranquilizer bullets. It flew on target… and simply bounced off Damocles’ body with a metallic ring. A sudden gust of wind fluttered the cloak open, to revealed part of the armor he was wearing.
Damocles shrugged when he saw that Bookworm and Mr. Wright had taken note of his armor. “This did not deter the men. They tried to overpower me next.” As Bookworm holstered the dart gun, reluctantly replacing it with her rifle, the tiger studied Mr. Wright’s sword closely, and then the wolf himself. “You should reconsider,” he said, a warning, meditative rumble in his voice. “You will die.”
“Are you certain of that?” growled Mr. Wright.
Mr. Wright smirked. “You make an assumption because you believe you’re the best. Captain of Northwestern University’s fencing team, undefeated.” He flourished his sabre.
“You make the assumption because you believe *you* are. Thirty-five years I have devoted to mastering the art of the sword, and only my blades are your weakness. You are the one who has fallen in love with his own legend, Black Jack. You are a pup in this art, and there is no match between us.”
Mr. Wright, however, seemed unintimidated. “My legend can go back to the hell it came from. Most of what you’ve found are children’s tales; the real story is full of much darker acts than anything you’re capable of.”
Damocles sighed. “Then make your peace.” He dropped into a swordsman’s ready stance, blades in both hands. His action was mirrored by Mr. Wright, though the wolf had only the one blade.
Bookworm, though, wasn’t ready to see this – not if she could somehow prevent it with words. “Is this really what you want to do, Damocles?” she asked intently. “Fight for a ‘creator’ who throws away the lives of your brothers?”
The tiger’s eyes flicked from Mr. Wright to her. “What exactly do you mean, throw their lives away? He *gave* us life.”
“And he’s taken it away.”
Though he kept his ready stance, Damocles’ eyes were now locked on Bookworm. “Explain.”
“We didn’t kill Jormung. The medicine we were sent – from *your* creator – was poisoned. And Luas – his belt contained poison, too. In fact… I wouldn’t be so quick to use yours right now.”
“What do you mean, Jormung and Lucas are dead?”
Bookworm’s eyes widened in surprise. “What, you hadn’t been told that by Prometheus?”
“If Prometheus thought they were dead, I would not be standing here alone right now. He’d have come here himself.” Still fixing his intent gaze on her, he started to walk forward. Mr. Wright stepped between the two of them, his stance tense. But Damocles, though his weapons were held at the ready, did not use them.
Bookworm had held her ground, sensing that this one was different than the other Bear gang members – seemingly much more likely to listen to reason. “Apparently, your creator wants you either in his power, or dead. No other way.”
Damocles shook his head. “You do not understand anything. The doctor hasn’t been making our medicine for two weeks. Lilith has.”
((To be continued…))