With nothing else to do, I can only wait. Second after second passes, fraying my already-strained nerves more and more with every moment. Tension fills the air, almost tangible in its intensity… only to lessen abruptly as the woman’s voice once more reaches my ears. Though I fail to catch her exact words, owing to my own tenseness at the moment, the underlying meaning gets through. She seems to have found the can of rotten fish. I just heard her picking it up, and it is clear by now that she took the entire thing out of this little wooden container. There is nothing else in here that smells quite like that.
“I think I’ve… found the source”, the female says, clearly less-than-happy about the thing’s presence. Nonetheless, although I have no doubt that her own nose is really complaining right now, she manages to spit out another sentence, one with a tone that seems more puzzled than anything. “Looks like someone went at it with a small pickaxe…”
The words have been in the air for less than a second when another human speaks, clearly in response to the earlier statement. The new voice is considerably deeper, seeming older and possessing a certain roughness. The dragon in me really only consider it to be another human’s voice, but my more human half immediately recognize it as male. His accent rather reminds me of southern Europe, though I cannot place it in any more specifically than that. The words read: “The target’s been here. Stay alert, weapons drawn; this isn’t over yet.” Following that, he begins to dish out orders.
“You and you, secure the corridor, left. You, right. You, cover her. Johnson, spread the word. You two, search the room. See anything suspicious, tell me, pronto.” In the following seconds, my ears catch a good number of footsteps as people head out, as well as a few phrases of the affirmative kind. If my math knowledge is not completely wrong, the man sent five people away on various tasks, and judging by the other orders, that leaves three -presumably armed- humans in here. Not great odds, but considerably better than before. Of course, they sent someone to tell the higher-ups, so more people may be showing up in the immediate future. Not to mention that the people on corridor-duty will probably hear if shots start to be fired, and at that point I will probably get overrun. Hopefully I can just… be quiet about this. Keep everything a little hush-hush, if that is how you say it.
Admittedly, if I do end up in a fight, keeping it quiet will probably be far from my mind. I can plan all day, but when instinct takes hold, actually adhering to the plan I have made becomes a wholly different question. I have gotten better, admittedly. I am more in control than I once was. Despite that, my instincts remain far from easily managed. I suppose I should be thankful that I have as much of a handle on them as I do.
Now, I should probably think of a plan, even if it might not last. Remaining where I am is tempting, but common sense is quick to point out that they will eventually find me once they start searching for me. If this is to work, I need the element of surprise. That is not to say that I should go for some sort of ‘heroic charge’. That sort of stupid behavior is nothing more than a one-way ticket to the grave. Or the dissection table, if the humans are so inclined. Definitely something worth avoiding, in either case. No, I need a more… stealthy approach. A little sneakiness may go a long way to ensuring my survival. Before I do anything, however, I need a better overview of the situation. With my sense of smell more or less useless right now, and given the inaccuracy of muffled hearing, the best option would be to peek out to actually get some eyes on the situation. Risky, perhaps, but I am sick of building my plans on guesswork.
My decision made, I nudge a bit of the fabric to the side, push my head through… and thus promptly derail whatever plans may have been brewing in the back of my mind. As for why, coming face to face with a sour-looking woman would pretty much do the job. Dressed in a heavy-looking, dark-grey vest and matching pants, on the latter of which I catch a glimpse of a small gun-holster, the woman’s dirty-blonde hair is tied neatly into a ponytail behind her head… or so I would assume. It is sort of hard to see from here, but it seems to be something along those lines. Her boots look sturdy, thick and heavy; hiking stuff. Her clothes do not match those of the people I originally ran into. Who knows why? Different squads or something? Maybe a response team, if one assumes the orange jumpsuits were local security? It does not really matter. What matters is, she seems to be just as surprised as I feel, and though her weapon-holster is clearly visible, she quite frankly looks too stunned to pull a weapon on me right this instant. I would bet my life on that particular state not lasting very long, however. With no time to think, I just do whatever first comes to mind.
I open my mouth, feeling my inner flames igniting, and then I let them out. It is an instinctual reaction to the sudden fear inherent to coming face to face with danger, though it still surprises me somewhat in its own right. More surprising, however, is the dark, dirty smoke that follows the fire out. It scatters through the air, its scent filling my nostrils and nearly making me cough even as it clouds my vision. The woman stumbles away, batting at the flames that now cover her shoulder, disappearing behind the dark smoke-screen a moment later even as she starts to cough. Its presence puzzles me. Why is there so much smoke in my fire, all of a sudden? It could not be a reflection of the darker path my thoughts have been taking lately. I doubt it, at least. Have I eaten something bad or…?
Ooooh, of course. The coal. Does that not burn in a rather dirty way? I chewed some down, a while back, so could it perhaps have… mixed into my fire? I cannot really think of any other explanation, even if the one that I just thought up seems just somewhat far-fetched. Not that I really have the time to think of these things at all right now. Still, it gives me a much-needed advantage in my time of need, so why complain?
With my brief surprise at the sudden appearance of the dark smoke, the woman targeted by my initial attack is able to somewhat regain her bearings. Her hands reach for the firearm on her left hip, pulling out a rather basic-looking, steel-gray pistol from the lightly brown holster there. She attempts to point the weapon in my direction, but at that point my instincts kick in for real, sweeping my errant thoughts away like leaves in the wind as I feel my body start to accelerate. Countless muscles move beneath my scales, working in perfect unison towards a single, primal goal: survival. My acceleration is far faster than that of any human; my foe aims her weapon towards me, but before she can pull the trigger, I have jumped and a clawed foot reaches her hand. The weapon falls to the ground, her hand mutilated quite nastily by my own weapons, though she has no time to reflect on this fact. My body slams into hers, knocking her down as gravity drags both of us back towards the floor. Of course, with my injured leg, it all hurts like hell, but with a willpower that I doubt I will ever have, my instincts trudge heedlessly through the pain. Somewhere, someone shouts out a name, a short one along the lines of ‘Emmy’ or ‘Emilie’ or something like that. Uncaring of the voice, I do not hesitate for even a moment as I go for her throat.
Just centimeters away from my intended target, my attack is interrupted as something strikes my side. Forceful, but thankfully without any real penetrating power, the kick nonetheless sends me crashing to the side. My claws dig into the thick vest that the woman wears, burying through the synthetic material and drawing blood. The wounds are clearly superficial, but that does not change the fact that she lets out a groan as they are formed, the tone half-pained, half-surprised. Small flames continue to lick her clothing in a deceptively gentle act, not entirely extinguished by the scuffle.
Losing sight of my original target, my focus transitions to the unknown attacker. My head whips around, looking, searching for the threat. I soon find it, as another kick strikes me, smashing into my rib-cage with force enough to send pain blooming straight through my scales. As sturdy as my scales are, brute force is still brute force, and there is little that they can do to absorb the raw kinetic energy of the strike. The attacker’s feet probably hurt too, but that is only a small consolation.
With a burst of panic, I realize that I am upside-down. Instinctively aware of my underbelly’s relative vulnerability, I do my best to try and put my feet back on the ground. With my wings folded, they are of little help, and grip for my feet is not exactly plentiful, which leaves my tail as the most usable body-part for fixing the immediate predicament. It reaches out, grabbing the first thing within reach. My injured tailfin protests at the somewhat rough treatment, but once again, the pain is blatantly ignored. Admittedly, I could have tired rolling, but in combat that takes precious time that one may not have.
Of course, as it happens, the first thing within reach is my attacker’s leg. My tail wraps around it, trying to use it to right myself, but all I accomplish is to move the leg itself. Caught off-guard, the human lets out a decidedly un-manly scream (although it is quite clear by the sound of it that it still came from a man’s throat) as he falls to the ground. A second or so later, I am more or less aligned in the right direction, my eyes taking in the form of my newest attacker as the man struggles to get back up. He seems to be dressed roughly the same as the woman I just tangled with, although I cannot discern much more from my current position. With him already halfway back onto his feet, I am at a disadvantage. However, his speed is not as admirable as my own. I launch into combat as fast as my tired body will allow, charging towards my vulnerable foe.
The sound of a gun echoes through the room, a bullet ricocheting off the floor just a few centimeters from my right foot. More follow, although the shooter is clearly not the best at what they are currently doing. One shot misses, then another, a third glances off my lower back’s scales right between my folded-up wings… and then I barrel straight into my foe, robbing him of what little balance he’d managed to acquire. Despite their abilities, humans are surprisingly easy to topple. The shots stop, no doubt because of the risk of friendly fire, even as I pin down my foe. Despite the general pain and discomfort throughout my body; despite my instincts’ heavy hold on body and mind alike, I am still coherent enough to realize this. I could kill one of the humans right now. There is nothing stopping me, morally or physically. Not anymore. Marcie would have hated what I have become… but I am no longer Marcie, am I, really? I may have gone under that name once, but me and Marcie are no longer the same person.
He is all too vulnerable, his shoulders pinned by my own feet… but if I did kill him, where would that leave me? Staring down a gun-barrel, most likely. The weapon did not seem all that powerful, but that does not mean that my scales would necessarily withstand a direct hit. Bullets are nasty enough as they are. Running straight into them is just asking for trouble. There has to be another way. Surrendering, yes, but at this point they are as likely to shoot me as to put me in a cage with a shock-collar around my neck. Not really an option. There has to be some other way. There has to…
Another shot rings through the air. The bullet strikes me right in the rib cage; I can practically feel that one moment when a few of my scales crack… but the weapon is of a small caliber. The bullet ricochets away, failing to penetrate my weakened armor. I snarl, the illusion of safety now broken. My heart thuds rapidly in my chest, an expression of the fear that courses through me even now, but I am a predator at heart. My fear translates into ferociousness, not inability. It is without much thought that one of my feet reach out, a claw neatly slicing the throat of the man beneath me.
There is nothing satisfying with the kill; no elation as I slay my foe. There is only my fear, and a crushing need for survival that drowns out everything else. The fire inside me is comforting, but right now, it is of little help. Somewhat disorientated, my senses nonetheless focus on the gunman. I turn, wild eyes searching for the danger even though I have little idea where, more precisely, I am in the room.
I spot him on the other side of the crate which I once hid in, just a few meters away. He is young, little more than a kid if I am to be perfectly honest, but any mercy I might have had was lost when he pulled that trigger. His dull-brown eyes meet my own, and for a moment, his youthful features and short, black hair almost makes him look like a child. The illusion is somewhat broken by the clothing he wears, which is very much the same as that of the other two humans in here, and which would definitely not fit on your average child. The gun in his hand has a bland, steel-grey look over it, and I must admit… that is a very small gun. It is certainly smaller than anything I have seen in here previously. Against humans, yes, it might work, but I believe myself to be somewhat more resilient than that.
For a moment, he begins to tremble, but then his jaw locks, his entire face adopting a look of steely determination before he opens fire. I return fire of my own, and yes, I do mean that literally. Heat pushes through my throat, streaming out through my mouth like a miniature fountain of hell even as a generous helping of the odd, thickly black smoke follows along with it. I hear the boy curse, but I know not what is happening, for I can see very little through the dark haze my fire has left behind. Thankfully, as I feel myself begin to move forwards, that little issue is soon rectified. The scene before me re-attains clarity, my body outrunning the smoke which in turn allows me to view the events before me.
Nearly barreling into the box (which appears to have caught fire; the flames lick the wood and consume the cloth in some strange imitation of a miniature bonfire) that stands between me and my current foe, I leap forwards, reaching the top of the box surprisingly easily. My leg complains, but I do not really feel it. There is too much adrenaline in my body; pain simply does not register. Most likely, I will feel quite dreadful once all this is over… but that is not a present concern. I will deal with that particular obstacle when I get to it.
The young man once more appears within my sight. Batting at the flames that now cover half his shoulder, he seems to be stupidly disregarding my approaching form. I pick up speed; that mistake will be the last one he will ever make. He notices me, of course, but by that point it is too late. His gun moves, not far enough to shoot me where I am, but enough to potentially hit me if I leap at him in a bid to knock him down. Robbed of my preferred strategy, I instead sprint even closer, opening my mouth only to bite down on his left leg a moment later. He screams, a torn, pained sound that grates on the ears, but I give him no time to contemplate his new injury. I move sideways, teeth tearing at his flesh even as my torso hits his other leg. It is enough to steal his balance away from him, and after that, gravity does the rest.
The fall itself goes mostly according to plan. The direction could use some work, though. I do my best to get out of the way, but it is nonetheless a very close thing that I manage to avoid being crushed by his weight as he falls. Tough my scales may be, but they can do little against raw force, and getting out from under him would not have been any fun whatsoever.
As I turn, I find that he is already getting back up. Though clearly not the best at shooting, the human is surprisingly agile. Quickly gaining some new momentum, I advance in an attempt to finish him off before he is able to try shooting me again. The gun’s small caliber may make it relatively harmless, but if it hits something which is unprotected, or a point where the scales are weak, the bullets it fires might still cause serious damage. However, as I launch myself forward with what energy my tired body can supply, he merely rolls to the side, only for him to roll back again and jab an elbow into the side of my neck.
I stumble. The attack catches me off-guard; humans had always been so easy to kill once I had them on the ground. Through a mixture of surprise and fear, most people were posed to do very little to stop me once they had lost their footing. Either this guy just handles it better than everyone else I have run across, or I am starting to underestimate the threat of a downed human. Probably a bit of both. The fact that my attack was not an ambush may have had something to do with it as well.
Fortunately, my neck is long and flexible enough to bear the hit without much issue. I am left coughing and hissing, but without any real injury having been caused, and so it does not take long for me to recover. By the time I do, however, my foe has re-acquired his gun, even if he is still lying down. Still very much under the sway of my own instincts, my automatic response as he points the weapon towards me is attack, not retreat. Had he been bigger physically, perhaps I would have reacted differently, but for a grown human he is quite small and my instincts by themselves hold no real fear of firearms. Those weapons have been around only for a few hundred years, hardly enough time for any sort of instinctual fear to be developed. My mind can compensate, but only to a certain degree; firearms are dangerous, and even in this incoherent state I can tell myself that much, but that does not give me much control over my instincts as a whole.
He fires, pulling the trigger, and then again a moment later. The first shot zooms right between my legs, shooting past my main body only to hit the middle of my tail on its underside. Pain jolts up my spine; my tail’s scales are some of the smaller on my body, as it requires a fair bit of mobility to work properly, and so they would naturally be less effective at the art of defense. I cannot really see what is happening back there, but I think it broke a few scales and I may be bleeding somewhat. On the more fortunate side of things, at least I think the bullet did not lodge itself in there. If I were to guess, the bullet probably hit the tail, bouncing off but causing a few to splinter, and one of the splinters must have cut through the skin beneath.
The second shot barely misses, shooting past scarily close above my head. Had it gone just a few centimeters further down, it would have hit my skull. I would probably have ended up without any truly serious injury, but there is always a risk, and a hit there could very well have turned the entire battle around in an instant. He is going to regret shooting at me, even if the gun was basically a toy. I can promise myself as much.
Vaguely, I am aware that the fire I started earlier is spreading at an alarming rate. I can smell the smoke, see the light and feel the heat as it burns in the background. Since I turned around after getting my foe down to the floor, the flames are in full view; already, they have spread to the nearby boxes, and by the look of things, they are just getting started. Since I am currently in the middle of a fight, however, I could not care less. It is just background static, nothing more.
A clawed foot shoots out, striking his gun-arm and consequently sending my foe’s third shot straight into the ceiling. I try another leap, aiming to get on top of him. My injured leg protests strongly, but the others add a few smaller complaints to the pile too now. I am starting to get tired. Despite this, my jump is more or less successful; I get into the air for just a moment before gravity pulls me back down, my body crashing onto his as I try to finish him off. My head moves forward, attempting to get in a killing bite, only to be stopped dead in its tracks as my target’s left hand grabs me by the throat. I try to claw his face, but it is too far away, just barely out of my reach. My limbs feel heavy, their energy reserves dangerously low after the strenuous activity that I have been -and still am- undertaking.
He attempts to point the gun back in my direction, but on that front I am the one with the advantage. I push his arm down, my own weight aiding my tiring limbs as they endeavor to neutralize his combative efforts. My mind races, but there are no thoughts within my skull. The entirety of my focus is aimed towards my own survival; thoughts tend to distract me, and right now a distraction could very well prove to be the death of me. I simply cannot afford to think, not now, not in the middle of battle. This is a situation which my instincts will handle infinitely better, unhemmed as they are by things like ‘morals’ or ‘compassion’. The battle continues, but it is with neither thought nor reason, plans or tactics.
I am halfway into the process of swallowing a chunk of meat when I realize that the battle is over. I have no idea how it really happened, nor do I really care to find out. What does worry me is the fact that I have a piece of human in my mouth; I stumble backwards, coughing and spitting. I nearly ate a </i>human</i>. Just a few… well, I have no idea how long it has been, but it has been a while. Just a few however long it has been ago, I was a human, and now I am eating them? What would Carrie think? She’d be horrified, and I don’t want to lose the only friend that I have. That I had, rather. Right. She is dead. For a moment, I almost forgot. Still, this is no way to honor Carrie’s memory. I can’t just go around eating her kin.
…Now that I think about it, though, Carrie is dead. She won’t notice if I just take a little bite. My stomach feels empty and that human smells good. I don’t think he will notice anything either. It is probably rather hard to notice anything at all when you are dead. At least I think he is dead. Mortally wounded, at the very least. He might still be feeling it as I- actually, that is rather gross now that I think about it. I would hate to be in his position right now. Still, just one bite wouldn’t do any harm, would it? Not that a little bit of harm more or less will make much of a difference by this point. I lower my head, my neck bending in what I believe to be a rather graceful way as I move to take just a little bite of my defeated foe. After all I have been through, I deserve something little to eat.
An odd sound reaches my ears. I stop, feeling brief annoyance at the interruption. My neck, still practically uninjured despite all that I have been through, is quick to move. Lacking much choice in the matter, my head follows, letting my gaze turn towards the disturbance. Unfortunately, all I see is a big fire. The little fire I started earlier has clearly taken advantage of the time it has been given, spreading to not only set the entire mid-passage box alight, but a good portion of the boxes serving as makeshift walls beside it. Thick smoke, both dark and dense, gathers by the ceiling. If I were up there, I doubt I would be able to see much of anything. Still, from what it seems, whole fire is not that bad just yet. If I were to guess, it is only a matter of minutes before the entire room is set aflame, which I would still call plenty of time to get out of here. I do not know how much fire and heat I can really take, and it is not something I would like to find out anytime soon.
The sound of the fire was not what I heard, though. It was a different noise. One more alive, more… human. Not at all the same as the crackling of the flames. It was a note of pain, a… gasp, the humans call it? I think so. I’m not really sure; my head feels a bit fuzzy right now. It feels like I am thinking in slow-motion, like my thoughts are crawling through a thick sludge of some sort. It might take a little while to… recover, knowing that I relinquished my control as much as I did.
Another noise shoots through the air. It is a bit more distinguishable this time; definitely a little gasp of pain. Someone is making the noise, that much is obvious. It cannot be the guy beneath me, for the noise did not come from that direction. The human whose throat I slit would probably not be able to gasp very well no matter how much pain he is in. Can’t be that one either, then. As for myself, I doubt my throat could even make that kind of sound to begin with. My entire body hurts, some parts more than others, but I would be much more prone to growling or hissing than gasping. It is rather tempting, actually, but this is really not a good time to make noise of any sort. That only really leaves one option: the female that I ran into ‘straight out of the box’, as it was. I suppose I did not slay that one.
Do I really need to? I have killed several humans already, so adding one more to my kill tally would not really make that much of a difference. That being said, this is the first one where I am not really under much pressure; the first one where I can afford to really think through my decision. I could just walk out the door and, in all likelihood, doing so will allow me to escape back into the vents. The vent means safety. It means not getting shot at. It means survival.
That still leaves the fact that the entire room is on fire. Even if I were to just walk out, that human would probably just end up being roasted alive. She sounds injured, not to mention humans aren’t exactly fireproof. She could not escape this growing inferno. In failing to do so, she would be given a slow and torturous death. The fire would start small, roasting her piece by piece, leaving her last moments filled with terrible pain as she is slowly consumed by the flames. If I am to be frank with myself, I really think she deserves better. The least I can do is roast her quickly. It would mean another jump over the box, through fire to boot, but she deserves it. Injured though I may be, my body can handle granting that little token of my respect.
Dredging up what energy reserves I still possess, I force myself to start moving again. I step off the corpse of my fallen foe without so much as a single bite of meat in my stomach (as far as I know), setting my mind to the little task ahead of me. She may still be armed, and despite my good intentions she may remain very inclined to use her weapons against me. It is very possible that she won’t appreciate my efforts to give her a quick death. I understand her. I would not want to be mercy-killed either. If given the choice, I think I would keep trying until the very end. Still, this will save her a lot of suffering no matter what her opinion of it may be. I am going through with it, end of discussion.
My tail slides smoothly across the surface beneath me. The sound of my claws as they leave faint scratches in the floor is just one of many that surround me. The local environment is anything but peaceful… yet I cannot help but be tempted by the prospect of rest. With the battle having passed and the remaining adrenaline in my body slowly dissipating, physical needs are once more starting to really make themselves heard.
The jump to get over the burning crate does not really go all that well. The initial stages work as they usually do, but I do not put enough force into the jump itself. Most of me clears the edge of the box, but not all of me. My hind legs catch the edge. Were it not for my already-present injuries, it would not have been that bad. With the gunshot wound in my knee, however, it hurts. A lot. In that singular moment, a plethora of very colorful and surprisingly imaginative swears and curses shoot through my mind. The only thing that stops me from voicing them is the simple fact that I cannot speak at all, forcing me to settle with a simple, pained hiss. The fire that I am now practically standing in does not help matters. In most places, it is a very small bother. My scales withstand the flames with ease, and deal with the heat almost as easily. My injuries are not as fortunate. Where the scales are cracked, broken or otherwise unable to perform their duties, the fire has no issue getting through. Needless to say, the flesh beneath is definitely not fireproof.
Hurrying out of the fire -and making a mental note to avoid it if possible as long as I remain injured- I quickly observe the area before me, searching for the injured human. It does not take long for me to find her. No longer lying down on the floor, she is leaning back against one of the open path’s sides; I don’t care to identify whatever the grey thing at her back is. Her shoulder is no longer on fire, but where the flames once were, scorched fabric remains. Burnt flesh peeks through here and there, the clothing clearly having failed to fully protect the woman’s skin as some parts of the clothes-piece’s shoulder have been burned away completely. The hand of hers, which I injured quite severely with my claws, she cradles against her stomach. It is still bleeding notably; the blood has already created a fairly large stain as it seeps into her clothing, and without interference it will probably take a while longer to really stop bleeding. Her other hand rests limply against the floor, reflecting the posture currently held by most of her body. Despite this, she is clearly alive, as evidenced by the slow yet steady rise and fall of her chest. The fact that her head turns and her eyes focus on me when I, following a somewhat careless attempt to get down from the box, let out another hiss of pain -albeit a hiss which is not quite as loud as the previous one- is a clear giveaway.
Quickly recovering, I begin to advance on her vulnerable form. She makes an attempt to get back up, her hands grasping for a weapon. Even as her uninjured hand finds naught but air, the heat of the moment apparently has her temporarily forgetting about the injury that the other one has suffered. Unfortunately for her -if not so much for me- she is soon reminded quite harshly of this fact. With a small gasp of pain probably caused by her hand’s attempts to move, she falls back, her breaths growing labored as she starts another attempt, this time with obvious care not to use her injured hand, as well as whatever else may have been injured during our earlier scuffle. Her uninjured hand goes to a spot on the left side of her torso; I would guess that her wounded hand isn’t the only injury she has.
I approach, her own attempts growing more hurried as I do so. She seems determined, stubbornly seeking survival with a determination to rival my own, but it is hard not to notice the primal fear that has taken root in her eyes. She probably knows what is about to happen, although she is clearly refusing to acknowledge the fact. My steps carry me closer and closer; she attempts a kick to ward me off, but her angle is terrible and I see the desperate attack coming from half a mile away. Metaphorically, of course. This room is nowhere near large enough for anything else.
“Don’t…”; her voice reaches my ears, low and pleading. It is a desperate attempt, one that she clearly does not believe will work. A last option when all else has failed… yet for a moment, I pause. My eyes widen just a fraction; I stop and observe her. She actually attempted to talk to me. Except for Carrie, that’s… a first, actually. She looks equally surprised, though I do not doubt that her surprise is more because it worked than that it was done in the first place.
I shake my head, if only very slightly. It does not matter. Even if she did speak to me, there is no way she will get past the growing inferno at my back short of me carrying her through, and even if I was perfectly healthy I doubt I could manage something like that. Her pleas make no difference. She may not like it, but right now, a quick death is her best option.
I take a step forward, only to be caught mid-step by the woman’s foot as she delivers another kick. This one strikes true, although it is rather low; my two front feet are knocked out from under me, sending me crashing forwards with no way to maintain my balance. My lower jaw hits the floor quite harshly, sending a spike of pain travelling straight to my brain; any compassion I may have had for my foe is instantly gone. Getting back up, I move my jaw around somewhat to dispel the odd feeling that the collision left behind, her attack having done relatively little in the grand scale of things. She attempts to kick me again, but this time I am prepared, allowing me to dodge the attack with ease.
Angry at being attacked like that, angry at the fact that she would try to plead with me only to take advantage of it to try and attack me (even if I was going to disregard her pleas), I launch myself forward. Gathering up what little remains of my fire, I rush up to the now clearly afraid woman, push her up against the surface at her back, and release every bit of inferno I can manage straight into her face. It is only after I have done so, once her head is already lit up like a torch, once the surface behind her starts to crack… that I realize just what she was leaning against.
Right then and there, the egg at her back breaks open.