As usual, the Bounty section of the police department was fairly energetic with many people walking back and forth, with most of them wearing flashy clothes and masks that wouldn’t feel out of place in a super-hero of comics.
Which wasn’t all that wrong, being honest.
It wasn’t anything new when another one came inside the building, carrying two tied thugs with him. Wearing a deep black overcoat, underneath was what looked like a thin metallic chestplate and thick leather pants. Metallic boots protected his feet, being surprisingly thick compared to the rest of his gear, while an intricate edgy helmet closed around his face.
Not even batting an eye at the situation, and not having a single eye batted towards him, the man walked towards a counter and leaned over, taking a card from his pocket.
“Ace of spades. Freelancer Magician.” He said briefly while giving the card towards the attendant. The man behind the counter took a quick look on the card before nodding and punching a few things on the computer. “Got these two thugs here on a robbery attempt on the new store near Dead-tree mall.” He said with a nod towards the two men behind him, who were marked with cuts and bruises.
“Okay. Just let me check the footage for a moment…” The attendant said while watching a video play on the screen. After a few seconds he nodded satisfied and gave the card back to the one who called himself Ace of spades. “The credits have been transferred. Thanks for your work.”
Ace nodded at the words while untying the ropes from the thugs’ body and letting a cop cuff them up.
Having finished his job and earned his paycheck for it, Ace walked away from the bounty area and tucked his card on his pocket. On the way out, he noticed that someone else was leaving with him. Recognizing the person, he gave a brief smile and a nod towards her.
“Dead-shot.” He said to the woman wearing what looked like a sci-fi version of a cowboy costume.
On her head there was a cow-boy hat covering her long red hair, with a slightly more angular look than the usual and imbued with a pair of large eyeshield glasses that covered most of her face instead of the usual masks that supers used.
Her clothes, although all fashioned by the old cowboy theme, had a modern feeling to them, thanks to the use of modern techniques and materials. A sleeveless jacket filled with pouches went over her blouse that had a slightly metallic look to it. A bandolier with many different bullets held her bag that looked strangely heavy. Her pants were made of what looked like jeans, but thick paddings could be seen around it.
“Heya Ace. Fancy meeting you here.” She said with surprise in her tone while her fingers played around with the revolver in her hips. “Got a good catch today?”
“Yeah.” He replied cheerfully while pointing to the goons. “Managed to get something to last me for the rest of the month! I think i’ll even eat out today!” He said while opening the door and letting Dead-shot walk through.
“Always the gentlemen, i see…” She replied cheerfully with a teasing tone.
“I need to at least pretend to be polite, you know?” He replied in a similar tone before shrugging. “So, what about you? Got something good?”
“Aah… Sadly not.” She shook her head. “Was just here today for paperwork. Had to renew my registry.”
“I see. I did mine a couple of weeks ago, so i’m already done with it.”
“You are so lucky… My job didn’t let me come here last week.” She said with a sigh while hanging her head low.
“Well, sucks to be you, i guess.” Ace said with a brief laugh while they walked side by side. “Ugh… I really need to get funds for that heat resistance rune. My armor is killing me in this summer.” He complained.
“Well, why don’t you get something like mine.” She said proudly while showing her armor. “It’s cool, it’s got muscle fibers to help me hit harder and aim steady, and can stop an assault rifle bullet with ease!”
“Nah, your techie stuff costs too much maintenance if you can’t do it yourself.” He said with a shrug. “I’ll stick with my enchanted armor. Just need a bit of silver to make the enchantment anyway.” As he said that, he stopped for a moment as if thinking. “You know what? I will patrol a bit more. Only need one more thug and I can get myself that silver.” He said with a firm tone. “You coming?”
“… Sorry.” Dead-shot said shaking her head. “I have to go now or my father might start complaining again.” She sighed loudly, making Ace chuckle for a moment.
“Cy… Oh yeah.” She stopped him just as he was about to run off. “Just a second! Did you hear about the whole Grandia convocation thingy?” She asked, and seeing how Ace kept silent, she went on. “You did hear about the attack their branch received, right?”
“That I did.” He nodded. “It was three days ago, right?”
“Four, but yeah.” She corrected him. “It seems that during the attack, something happened that they had to call in some bunch of big shots to deal with it.”
“What about Genesis? Wasn’t she under their contract?” He asked surprised, but Dead-shot simply shook her head.
“It seems like Genesis was unable to do anything against it.” She replied with a surprised look.
For a moment Ace froze in place while making a pensive pose, holding his hand against his forehead.
“Are we talking about the same Genesis?” He asked dubious, but Dead-shot nodded. “THAT Genesis? Who completely destroyed a major drug-lord’s cartel in a weekend? The one that stopped a rampaging Tier S calamity?”
“Yup. That Genesis.”
“… I’m moving away from this city. Nice knowing ya.” He said while waving goodbye to the cowgirl.
“What, The great Ace of Spades is scared?” She teased.
“I’m not foolish enough to get into a fight with something capable of doing that, you know?” He said with a matter-of-factly tone.
“Som… Something? She’s not even human anymore?” Dead-shot said surprised while smiling wryly.
“Well, jokes aside, the city seems pretty calm for something so strong having escaped…” He said with a frown.
“Hmm… Now that you said it…” Dead-shot said with pensive pose. “Anyway, it seems that whatever it was, it made a bad match with Genesis, so they are calling from Sponsored supers to Freelancers to deal with it.”
“I see. Then I will keep a lookout for anyone famous, then stay the heck away from them.” He said in a proud nod.
“Some super you are…” Dead-shot said with a mocking cheerful tone.
Turning away from her, Ace waved goodbye to the Techie Redhead while walking towards a nearby building. Without stopping, he simply walked into the wall, and planting one of his foot on the vertical surface, he leisurely started walking up the wall as if he was strolling in the park.
Dead-shot who was already used to it didn’t even bat an eye, even though she watched him with curiosity. The other pedestrians, however, didn’t watch the scene as many times as her, so it didn’t take long for a few hands to start pointing towards him.
Reaching the top of the building, Ace looked around and picked a random direction before walking away, jumping from rooftop to rooftop with ease, and when the distance was far too great, he would simply walk on the wall down then up the next building.
He didn’t have much luck. Even though he looked around for a few hours, there wasn’t any sign of bandits or anything of the kind. And the couple of times he heard something, another super had already taken on the scene and was dealing with the problem.
Luckily, he didn’t cross path with any of the famous supers he had been watching out for, so not everything went badly. From what he saw from afar, they seemed to be concentrated on the other side of the city.
Feeling a bit dejected by his lack of monetary luck, Ace looked up to the darkening sky and then towards his ever so faithful watch. Seeing that it was starting to get a bit late for him, he decided to call it a day, so walking down a wall that led to an unpopulated back-street, he prepared to take off his gear and change into his usual daily clothes.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?” He heard a man’s voice shouting from nearby.
Immediately changing his traject, Ace started a transversal run on the wall heading towards the owner of the voice. Jumping down towards the road once his wall ended, he took off once again into full speed, from far away he saw what looked like a mechanic ran away from an automobile repair shop.
Following his gaze, he saw a large trashcan full to the brim leaning against the back of the building, looking at it in suspicion, he quickly approached the man who was terrified and held him by the shoulder.
“I’m a super. Ace of Spades. What happened?” He asked quickly. Reacting to the word super, the man blinked out of his state and stared at him for some time.
“Aah… There’s… There’s a monster in the can!” He said pointing towards the large bin. However, Ace simply frowned at his words.
“But that thing is completely full! How the hell can there be a monster in there?” He asked dubious.
“I… I don’t know! Between the pieces… It’s… I don’t know! It’s there okay!” The man said. Seeing that he wasn’t just faking it, Ace nodded and let go of his shoulder. The man didn’t take much longer to run away from there and hide on a nearby corner.
Smiling wryly within his helmet, Ace extended out his hand as a rune started to shine mid-air. As it passed through the floating rune, his hand seemed to bend and twist reality as ripples appeared in space and disappearing from thin air as if entering a pool of dark waters.
Feeling his hand gripping what he wanted, Ace immediately pulled his arm out, and the rune started to shine and distort, gathering on the edge of his hand and taking the form of a long sword that was almost one and a half meters long. Brandishing it a couple of times to be sure the process went well, Ace cautiously approached the trash-can.
When he was at almost two meters away from it, he saw movement. The broken car pieces trembled slightly as if something within it moved. Waiting for a couple of seconds to see if something would happen, he stood still while tightening his grip on the sword.
Then, something happened.
A sudden movement happened from within the trash-bin as something jumped out from it, scattering pieces and batteries everywhere due to the speed with which it got out. Blinking surprised, Ace immediately went on to react to its movement, running behind the thing as it slithered through the ground.
Surprised with its method of movement, It took Ace a couple of seconds to actually understand what was happening, but by then the blue thing had already entered into a nearby back street.
Gritting his teeth, he activated the speed runes he had set on his greaves and felt as the winds started to help him run at speeds that wouldn’t lose to a car.
However, these runes were the cheap variant, so they only managed to increase speed, making turns extremely difficult to perform. Thankfully, Ace had a counter for that shortage, and he jumped towards the wall of the backstreet, running on it while slowly making his way back to the ground.
From far away he managed to see the thing he was hunting.
“Did this become a fantasy rpg or something?” He said out loud in an annoyed tone.
What he was hunting was nothing other than a slime. Or at least that was the best word he could come up with to describe the thing. A medium-sized blue blob that slithered through the ground in a zig-zagged pattern.
The only difference is that Slimes aren’t supposed to be as fast as the one he was hunting, but he guessed that trying to base what he was seeing in reality by what he knew in a game wasn’t going to cut it.
Dashing ahead, he tried to aim for the slime with his swords, but the moment he was about to hit it, the slime swerved to the side and passed beneath a bunch of boxes. Grimacing, Ace quickly summoned another one of his runes, and from it he pulled a large battle hammer, swinging it with one hand and bashing the boxes away.
However the slime took this as a chance for it to run away, passing beneath his legs and darting on another side street.
Surprised, Ace quickly took chase once again while carrying the two weapons with him. Pulling up a mental map of the area, he made a brief grin as he noticed that the way the slime was going, only two of the streets actually led to an exit. Darting to the side one of those were, he baited the slime into taking a bad turn on a fork of the road.
However, before he could even try to start his victory chase…
“Come on woman! If you don’t want to be charred give me that bag already!”
“Are you Fucking kidding me?” Ace complained while looking back and seeing as a man with flaming hands tried to mug a woman.
For a moment he weighed his options. On one side he had the monsters that was an unknown variable. There was a certain danger to leaving it alone, but… Thinking about it, the monster didn’t even try to attack him. On the other he had the mugged who seemed ready to kill the woman.
It didn’t take him much thought before he made his choice. Grimacing, he turned towards the thief while quickly analyzing his situation. The mugger didn’t seem like he was experienced as the flame in his hands were fairly weak. Probably a newbie Pyromancer or a mage wannabe who went wrong.
Seeing that he hadn’t been noticed yet, he ran up the wall and approached the mugger from behind, storing the sword into a rune and taking out a small baton not unlike the ones cops use.
“Thank you for your service Ace of Spades.” The cop told him as he handed the knocked out Pyromancer. “We’ll take it from here. The deposit should be coming in a few minutes.”
“You are welcome.” He replied with a wry smile and turned to the woman who was being calmed down with a cup of tea from a cop. “Are you fine madam?” He asked worried, and the woman nodded briefly.
“Th-Thank you…” She said with nod and trembling hands. “Yo-You re-really sa-sa-saved me the-there.”
“Nah, i just lucked out since i was nearby.” Ace said shaking his head and remembering the slime he had been hunting.
Although taking care of the criminal was easy enough as he had the element of surprise and a lot more experience in fighting against supers, the time it took for the police to come over and check the situation should have been enough for the slime to have escaped somewhere else.
He had the option of taking the man to the bounty section himself, but the closest one had started a reform a couple of days ago, and the one he had been previously, which was the second closest, was farther away, so waiting for the cops to come was the best choice time-wise.
“Oh, you should also watch out. It seems there’s a monster nearby.” He told the cop who blinked surprised. “But it seems to be docile if not harmed, so approach with caution.”
“I see, thanks for your information.” The officer said with a nod before speaking a few things on its communicator.
“You are welcome. I’ll take a look around to see if i find it again, but it should have run far away by now.” He told the cop, who nodded briefly before Ace turned back and walked away towards the backstreets.
He looked around from the rooftops and the street level for half an hour, and saw as some of the cops did the same, however, contrary to what one might expect from a slime, it didn’t leave anything like a trail or something, so finding it was a lot more difficult than they expected. Calling it a day, the cops left, seeing that the thing might have gotten away already and Ace agreed with them.
Once again jumping down to ground level, he hid himself on the backstreets and started taking out his disguise, starting with the helmet that had been roasting him alive earlier that day.
Taking out the helmet, his short black hair came into view, as well as the scar that crossed dangerously close to his black eyes, a reminder from his newbie days as a hero when he would still announce himself before attacking.
The armor came out with some more trouble, seeing that it was tied around with leather stripes. Throwing down the chestplate and the greaves, he pulled a ring he had around his finger and activated it by pouring a bit of his magic. A light appeared around the armor pieces in the ground and they suddenly disappeared, the ring in his hand turning red as it warned him of its limit reached.
Finally, he took out the overcoat and folded it, carrying it around his arms. Sighing deeply and ruffling his hair, he fanned himself with his free hand as he felt the cool night breeze cooling him from his time spent on his stuffed armor.
Sighing loudly, he turned towards the main streets and started walking, deciding to call in a taxi since he felt tired from all that happened that day. On the plus side, he finally got the money for the silver he needed with that last thug, so not everything was bad.
Smiling satisfied, he started making his way out of the alley. Seeing the place where he had slammed the boxes out of the way earlier, a thought crossed his mind as he reminded himself of the slime. No doubt about it that the slime had not even once tried attacking him, and when he thought about it, he started feeling that he might have been a jerk to it.
“A jerk… To a monster… ” He commented out loud while chuckling.
As these thoughts crossed his mind, he wondered if this monster truly was as dangerous as the other ones that popped up from time to time. All that it had done up to now, was… Something, in a trash bin full of car parts. That doesn’t really sound dangerous when he thought about it.
Walking and laughing wearily, Ace decided to pass on the rune-store so he could get himself the rune and inscribe his armor before heading home.
Stopping on his tracks at that sound, Ace turned around to look for the place where the strange sound came from. It was a loud and wet noise, as if a large body of water fell into the ground. A thought crossed his mind, and quickly pulling his sword out with his magic, he approached the area warily.
The sound came from an abandoned house that had been hammered shut. A quick look around the block showed that the only entrance was a door that had been locked down with chains and windows that had been closed shut with wooden frames
Looking at the situation, there hadn’t been anything broken, which would usually mean that nothing came in or out of the building. Under normal circumstances, the cops would ignore such a building as there was no way for a monster to get inside. However, when he stopped to think about it, he never told the cops about the characteristics of the monster, and from what he saw, there was a crack in the door that looked wide enough for it to pass through.
Clicking his tongue for his carelessness, he decided to be safe rather than sorry. Summoning the hammer he wielded earlier, he took a wide swing with it, breaking down the lock with a surprisingly low noise, and forced the door open.
While still wielding his sword, he kept it low to show he didn’t mean harm. Looking around warily, he finally found traces of movement with the corner of his eyes, seeing as a small piece of the blue slime seemed to try and hide itself from his eyes behind some boxes.
Although the light was a bit dim, he barely managed to catch sight of it, so he slowly approached it from afar, slowly moving to the side until he reached an angle where he could see the monster, he finally laid his eyes on it clearly for the first time.
Shock crossed his face as he laid eyes on the monster clearly for the first time.
Although it was still the same blue slime monster as before, and to this point he had no doubt at all. However, the shape it took was completely different.
A small puddle gathered on the ground, and up to this point was the same, albeit much smaller than the puddle that gathered previously, but instead of an amorphous blob that grew from it, now it had a very definite shape.
Long and slim appendices emerged from the edge of the puddle, then bent back down as it gained thickness, joining together in a place around the middle of the puddle, before emerging back up in a single thicker strand that had a pair of bulges near its end, where it spread into three other appendices, two longer ones that seemed to protect the main body and support it, and a smaller and chunkier one, where many features were present and from which long and darker strands seemed to form.
“It’s… It’s a girl?” Ace asked surprised as she shrank back.
Although its body was, without a doubt, the same slime as before, however it body had taken on the shape of a girl around his age… Somewhat. Her body seemed to melt around the edges back into the puddle, as happened with her feet, bottom and arm she had against the ground, but apart from that, everything else seemed surprisingly firm, including the hair that was made of darker strands of slime.
However, besides the surprisingly pretty face, made of wide eyes, small and delicate nose and full lips, her body made entirely of the blue mass was featureless and perfectly smooth, so nothing like leg hair, pores or anything of the like formed.
This somewhat helped with the fact that she was completely nude, as those parts were also perfectly smooth, so it felt more like she was a girl wearing swimsuit than one that was completely nude.
Ace snapped out of his trance when he noticed that the girl tried to move away from him even more, fear and worry appearing in her face, as well as an extreme exhaustion as her chest went up and down as if she was breathing heavily, the movement sending ripples through her liquid body.
For a moment he wondered why she didn’t try to run away, and more out of instinct than anything else, he tried to approach her to check on her condition, however she seemed to panic, as she quickly tried to move away even more, only to have her arm give up on her and fall down against the ground with a pained expression.
“Wh…Damn it!” Ace cursed as he stored his weapon away with his magic. “Hey… Ca-Can you understand me?” He said slowly, making the girl widen her eyes in shock and stare at him for some time. Finally, while crouching even more she nodded weakly.
A sigh of relief escaped Ace.
If she could understand him, it meant that she wasn’t a monster. However, what she was was still a mystery, as almost nothing else he could think of could possibly fit her situation. Frowning slightly, he wondered if she was one of the aberrants, as people called them.
Noticing the girl’s reaction, he noticed that his frown wasn’t actually helping, so shaking his head, he tried to put on a calming smile as he extended his hand towards her.
“Were you the one from earlier?” He asked her calmly, and while looking at him, she nodded very weakly. Cursing himself in his head, he went on. “I’m sorry for earlier. I thought you were a monster that could be dangerous. I won’t attack you anymore if you don’t attack me.” At his words, the girl widened her eyes in shock for a moment before nodding weakly and relaxing her posture.
Smiling in relief, Ace slowly approached the girl and noticed how she looked at him in a mix of worry and curiosity. Thinking on how he would have to explain to the cops that it was a case of misinformation, he decided to find out what happened to the girl before him for her to be in that state.
But before he could do so, she collapsed.
“Wh… HEY! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” He asked while darting to her side and trying to hold her head up.
He became surprised when he managed to do so. She felt a lot firmer than what he initially thought, although the feeling was slowly changing into one of trying to hold a liquid with his hand as her expression turned worse as time went, as if she hadn’t eaten or rested for days.
Worried about her strange condition, he pulled her closer while instinctively trying to feel her temperature, and becoming surprised at her surprisingly cold body.
The moment he made contact with her cheek, the girl opened her eyes slightly and looked at him in shock, and before he could even react, she threw herself at him, passing her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly.
“Wha… Hey! What are you doing?” He asked surprised, noticing how she tightened her grip around him and pressed herself even tighter. However, that said, it wasn’t like she was hurting him at all, so he couldn’t bring himself to push her away. “What are you doing?” He asked her after calming down. She simply shook her head and refused to let go of him. Sighing loudly, he took a deep breath while letting her hold onto him for some time, trying to wrap his head around the situation to decide his next step. “Is there any reason why you don’t want to let go?” She nodded. “And are you unable to talk?” She hesitated for a moment before nodding. “Okay… Do you have any idea what happened to you?” This time she once again said nothing, simply staying still as if confused. Wondering if she had memory loss, Ace sighed loudly. “Okay then. I’ll… I think i’ll take you to a medical hospital. They might know wha…”
She stopped his words suddenly, by pulling her head back and staring at him in shock, shaking her head desperately. Blinking surprised, Ace looked at her confused.
“Don’t you want to know what happened to you?” He asked and she shook her head hastily. Confused by her sudden denial, he stared at her in confusion. “What do you want to do then?”
She blinked surprised for a moment while lowering her head, thinking, a sad expression appearing in her face before she leaned against him again and stayed there. Seeing that she refused to let go while holding him tightly, he decided to, for now, to solve one problem on the back of his mind.
“Look, we… Can decide what to do with you later, but could you at least put this on meanwhile?” He said while offering the overcoat that he usually wore on his disguise.
Having a naked girl hold him tightly for so long was starting to mess a bit with his reasoning, after all.