I look up at the hulking Silicoid blocking our path to the next area.
He’s even bigger than Kobul. He could just barely fit through the doorway, and those are some big doors.
“You can stay where you are, or you can get out of the way. Either way: we’re coming through.”
The Silicoid scowls down at me.
“Yer not goin’ anywhere.”
“Do you even know who I am?”
The Silicoid shrugs.
“Alla yer humies look der same ter me.”
Wow. Racist, much?
I give him one of my trademark audacious smirks.
“Then allow me to introduce myself. My name is Calvin Korkea of Earth. You know that name, yes?”
This seems to give the bastard pause.
“I just said so.”
The Silicoid smiles.
“Den I got orders ter let you’se through. Yer friends, 'owever… I’m gonna eat dem all alive.”
Jack looks very amused.
“You do realize that trolls can’t even digest carbon-based life, right?”
The Silicon glares at Jack.
“Yer gonna die first. Dat’s what yer get fer callin’ me a troll.”
I keep smirking at the Silicoid.
“My squad is coming with me whether you like it or not. And if you even touch my friends, I’m going home with a brand new diamond necklace. Do you catch my drift, you big stupid rock?”
I don’t think Kobul would mind me using that word for a troll on this bastard.
It achieves the desired effect, and pisses the bastard off.
“NEVER CALL A SILICOID A ROCK, HUMIE!!!”
When he tries to punch me…
I turn to steel.
And his stone fist definitely doesn’t remain intact.
As he howls in pain, I revert to flesh and turn to my squad.
“Get out of the way, folks.”
After they do so, I take a few steps back, and away from the doorway.
With a wave of my hand, the troll flies across the room.
And slams into a wall on the other side.
I copied Famke and Chakra’s telekinesis, remember? Remember me levitating that plate of bacon? And getting dressed by levitating the clothes onto my body?
It’s alright if you don’t. I keep forgetting I have that power. In my defence, I’ve got powers for days.
I should make a list of that, too.
As the now unconscious troll slides to the floor, golden liquid oozing from his ruined hand, I turn to my squad again.
That’s troll blood, by the way.
“Kobul wasn’t kidding when he said that a lot of trolls are literally dumb as rocks. I don’t know what this asshole was thinking, taking all of us on by himself.”
Then I notice that Victor and Scarface aren’t with my squad.
I look around the room.
“Where did they-- oh.”
Victor is now prying the Silicoid’s teeth out of his mouth. And salivating.
“Look at those teeth, Soul Brother. Pure diamond. They’ll be worth a bundle back home.”
“Nu seww awwa dem, Victow. Scawface wan a nyu dia-mund gwiww.”
Everyone starts laughing.
“Vic, get those teeth out quickly, we don’t want anyone else to show up before we can move on.”
“Relax, Cal. This ain’t the first time I’ve pulled someone’s teeth out.”
In the meeting room, Vanessa sighs as she watches Victor liberate Mhortur’s diamond teeth from their home in Mhortur’s mouth.
“I never liked Victor, you know. He’s a scruffy, ill-mannered deadbeat. I don’t know why my ex-husband and ex-brother-in-law even associate with him.”
Dr. Eierkopf smiles mischievously.
“Well, you’ve seen how much they dote on the shitrats. It’s just in their nature to care for vermin.”
Then one of the new arrivals speaks up, in a dry, raspy voice.
“I’m not a fan of Victor either. That little poser…”
He’s wearing a black robe, and looks like a walking corpse. The corpse of someone who has been dead for a rather long time. Bits of bone are visible under the rotting flesh. His nose has rotted off entirely. What little hair he has left is grey and stringy.
Garm has gone to have a lie down. The smell of this newcomer and Dr. Eierkopf’s excessive cologne was too much for his werewolf senses.
Everyone else is keeping their distance from the newcomer, except Dr. Eierkopf, who doesn’t care about the smell. He’s smelled worse.
The newcomer chuckles, sounding like a death rattle.
“…he thinks he’s undying?”
After Victor finishes playing troll dentist, we move on, finally passing through the doors to the next area, walking down another corridor.
Me and Marley are at the front, of course.
“So far, so good. Two nasty sons of bitches down, Mar.”
“But daddeh, yu du knu dat Vanessa am fwo-in dem at us tu swoh us down, wite?”
“Of course I know that, Mar. But it ain’t workin’. We’re powering through everything the hag throws at us.”
Annette and June grin.
“Nah, she’s ain’t a hag. She’s ain’t good enuff t’be a hag.”
“Angus’ folk call Annie ‘ere the Hag O’ Hags. They mean it outta respect. They call all witches hags, even if they ain’t old, an’ the Hag O’ Hags is what they call the best witch.”
“Yup. If’n you’se asks me, the propper term fer Vanessa is miserable old bitch. She’s always got along wif Demmy. That tells ya everythin’, don’t it?”
Pierre and Deston chuckle.
Then Pierre turns to Valerie, Alfred’s tendrils currently retracted.
“Val, I’ve said this before, but the one good thing that came out of my marriage to Vanessa… was you. I’ve always been proud of you and Suzy.”
“Thanks, Dad. Believe me, I’m not gonna be happy to see Mom either.”
“Vanessa lied to me about my mother. She used me to get innocent people killed. If she won’t come quietly, she’s not leaving this space station alive.”
Cecil nods, in agreement with his son.
“As much as I’d love to see Shannon again… I highly doubt that Vanessa actually knows anything about my wife’s whereabouts. She played my boy. I cannot forgive that.”
Phantasm, floating above us, looks ahead with an expression of grim determination on his translucent face.
“Vanessa am da wee-sun Fan-tas-um an speciaw fwend went foweba sweepies. Fan-tas-um nu can fow-gib dat.”
I look up at Phantasm.
“So, I gotta ask: what are ya gonna do after we take down the Syndicate? Are you gonna… y’know… move on?”
“Fan-tas-um wiww pwob-ab-wee stik awound. Speciaw fwend am awn da Udda Side. Speciaw fwend nu am guin anee-whewe. Fan-tas-um hate nu bee-in wif speciaw fwend, but Fan-tas-um haf da feew-in dat Fan-tas-um am nee-ded awn dis side.”
“You’re a noble little guy, Phantasm.”
When we reach the end of the corridor, Jack gets to work opening the doors.
He’s opening each set of doors a bit faster than the last ones, and with fewer mistakes.
Which is good, because he can only rewind time so many times before he needs to take a break from it.
And he wants to have at least one “extra life” in his pocket when we finally face Vanessa.
“Got it! Okay, let’s-- eurgh! What is that?”
As the doors slide open, and we walk through, all of us who can smell feel an all too familiar odor fill our noses.
The smell of death.
And we see that the room, big and round like the last one, is filled with fluffy corpses.
Gee, I wonder how they got all of those.
Some of the corpses have been pushed aside, clearing a path to the other side of the room.
And our magical team members all look very alarmed.
“There’s magic in the air, people.”
I turn to Deston.
“This is another trap, isn’t it–”
And then we hear the doors slide shut behind us.
“Yup. This is another trap. Because it worked so well the first time. Des, what kind of magic is this?”
Deston answers the question in a grave tone.
“One of the vilest schools of magic…”
The corpses start moving, and groaning in high-pitched, raspy voices.
All of them have blank white eyes, and their fluff is discoloured. They’re in various states of decomposition, and still sport the injuries that killed them. Judging by the look on Phantasm’s ghostly face, one of those corpses is his corpse.
For fuck’s sake.
Well, we were probably going to be dealing with zombies sooner or later.