For One Last Embrace by carlsojos

Chapter 5

Are you sure you want to do this? Hahn emerges from the depths of Piata Academy's basement, and looks at Rika, who was checking her old combat gear. While her bodysuit proved flexible enough to match her new curvatures, she had to forego the armor due to the pressure they made against her fuller chest.

Yes, I need to get back in practice before I join the Hunter's Guild. Will you make sure nobody heads down while I'm training?

Sure. I'll take care of Rui for you. Those monster capsules are working now, so whenever you're ready.... Hahn picks up the infant and cuddles him as Rika lets her claws extend outward, hearing the "Shhhk" that has signaled the beginning of more fights than she can remember. She walks down the stairs.

The first thing that comes to her mind is how dark and damp the basement is. As she quietly reaches the first corner, though, the scrabbling of a biomonster walking around reaches her sensitive ears. Rika presses against the wall, and when the creature draws near to her position, she dives after it, landing a solid haymaker with her left claw.

Almost disappointed with how easy it was to kill after such a long time as a simple housewife, she looks up as another pink critter scampers off into the dark. I guess they know I'm here now. She runs after it.

As the fourth Igglanova fires its projectiles, Rika finally notices one of them impact her shoulder, and she unleashes a fury of blows in response, causing it to finally collapse. Still not satisfied with how easy the fight is, she continues slashing at the carcass, mutilating it beyond the point of recognition.

As she stands up, panting, her eyes fall upon the monster capsules. Taken from her birthplace a few years ago, they were the reason for the monster outbreak that eventually led Chaz to find her... would he be here if she weren't instead of Alys?

The Numan shakes away her thoughts and inspects the machines. She gave Hahn instructions on how to activate the capsules, but given how embarrassingly easy it was for her to destroy every single one of the monsters, she decides to change the data in one of them for a better challenge. She lets the blades on her arms slide out of the way, as she removes the panel covering the auxiliary controls.

After an hour of tinkering, Rika believes that she may have changed the genome enough to try it out, and she commands the capsule to release one monster, at maximum speed. She watches as the glass dome bubbles to life, working to create life faster than it's designed to. Small bits of cell cultures stick together, and as the glob grows larger, it begins to take the shape of a unique monster. It doesn't stop growing when it reaches the maximum safe size for the capsule. Rather, it continues to grow unabated, until it finally shattered the machine, and the Numan found herself staring at one of the most hideous things she's ever seen. It takes on the appearance of biological ooze with clumps of hair and bone breaking the texture of its surface.

The monster ignores the shards of glass as it somehow slides out of the machine, turning to face a potential meal. Rika takes a step back, unsure of whether she should run or fight. The monster makes the choice for her by whipping out a tentacle and latching around her ankle, forcing her to the floor.

Rika reacts by swatting at it, and a lucky blow manages to make it cringe. The Numan rolls to her feet, and quickly tries for the advantage with a flurry of rapid slashes. Eventually, she's convinced it will fall, but its skin suddenly melts, making her anger for naught as her claws slice through without causing any further damage. When the smell of burning chemicals draws her attention to her heeled boots, she realizes that the creature was somehow dissolving the polymerized graphite of the soles.

Thinking quickly, she leaps onto one of the monster capsules. Looking at the puddle, she becomes aware that it's oozing towards her. As it circles around the machine, she notices the strange monster reconstituting, the liquid becoming solid again.

Rika's realization almost comes too late, and she leaps free of the capsule as the monster suddenly shoots upward, tooth-like structures scraping against her body as she drops to the floor just beyond. What the hell have I done?! She cries out when she climbs back to her feet.

Desperate to survive, she manages to recall how to cast Saner, and as the world begins to slow before her, she charges the creature once more, to try to stall long enough to defeat it. The sensation of a static charge building gives only a second's warning before a bolt of energy blasts through the Numan, knocking her onto her back.

Get up, you can't die yet... Rika mutters to herself as she pulls herself to her feet. As old techniques from her fighting days cycle into her mind, her eye catches sight of the capsule her creature came out of, still pumping bio matter out onto the floor...

On an impulse, she dives in front of the humming machine, and shouts at the monster. It lashes out with what looks like a Scorpius tail, and while the woman tries dodging out of the way, the spikes manage to impale her left wrist, pinning her to the machine. Ignoring the pain, Rika focuses her energy on casting Deban on herself, and the protective technique takes hold as the monster apparently damages a high-voltage cable inside the machine.

The electrical discharge nearly knocks the woman unconscious, but her ploy works. The machine immediately stops functioning, and without more cells to replace the ones killed by the electrocution, the monster simply dissolves, leaving the injured woman alone once more.

After spending a few minutes resting on the stone floor of the basement, Rika finally sits up to look at herself. A few cuts on her right side... her left arm looks horrid from the electrical burn, but it should heal. Hopefully, bandits won't prove to be anywhere near as dangerous.

Hahn looks up as the sound of footsteps alerts him of his friend's return, and his jaw drops when he sees the extent of her injuries. Oh Light, Rika!

The Numan glances up at the worried scholar. I'll be fine; I just pushed myself a little too hard for the first time. How is Rui?

He just woke up. Listen, I have a lecture to give in a few minutes, so I gotta leave. Here. Hahn gives the infant back to its mother. Please, Rika, Rui has already lost one parent. Don't let him lose the other one. He picks up his notebook and takes off back towards the rest of the Academy. She sits down to feed her son as she tries to remember how to cast Gires.

Next chapter

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