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located in Father, a part of Impending Pursuit, one of the many universes on RPG.

Father

Not Daddy

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Cortège

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Blood trickled from Amiya's piercing pink eyes, dribbling as tears before dripping down onto her black coat, where it massed and eventually coagulated, filling the air with the pungent sting of iron. She had suffered no injury—no physical injury, anyway—but the arterial flow was by a strange mutation she possessed, which tainted her sweat, tears, and even saliva with the qualities of blood.

She grit her teeth, which through the years had been stained a light pink. "It isn't fair," she lamented. "I saw him first. I said hi first. I even wrote him a love letter."

"In your own blood," added a tall, voluptuous mutant, whose short-cut, form-fitting dress left little to the imagination.

"In my own blood!" Amiya responded.

"That's men for you. Fickle and ungrateful. Can't see the forest through the sleaze."

ACCESS DENIED.

With a groan, the tall mutant tossed another tag bracelet aside. It clattered like a coin along the floor, where it joined a pile of similar bracelets pilfered from other mutants aboard the ship. She took another from her bag and touched it to the warehouse door's reader, which began to scan it thoroughly to validate entry.

"Oh, don't talk like you're above it, Hecate. It's a different guy every day with you."

ACCESS DENIED.

Hecate's little black horns twitched in annoyance. "Ugh. Yeah, but when I do it, I don't go falling in love. I'm gathering intel and softening them up."

"It's sleazy."

"It's survival. You want to win, don't you?"

Amiya wiped her tears with the back of her hand, staining it with red smears. "Yeah..."

"Then don't be so picky about where you get help from. We wouldn't even have gotten back here if I hadn't spiked the guard's drink. And he wouldn't have accepted it if I hadn't—"

ACCESS GRANTED.

"He-he~" Hecate teased in a sing-song voice as the door slid open, granting access to the competitors' armory, where all of the support items were stored.

But instead of entering, she suddenly froze, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. She backed away from the entryway, standing to its side, bowing her head respectfully and allowing passage.

Amiya held her breath, fidgeting with her fingers and gazing at the floor, daring not to make a single sound.

Step after step, a small mutant with sea-green hair approached, her shoes meeting the floor with, not a gait, but a dance. Her arms gracefully swayed to a melody that only she could hear, and she bounced her knees and spun as though she were waltzing without a partner, sending her flowing ocean-colored dress twirling around her little frame. She held a malicious smile and a knife between her lips. Her dancing took her past the door, down an aisle, and through to a shelf bearing the name Chika.

Once there, she retrieved her support item: a human skull. Her dainty fingers reached inside of an eye socket to pull out a string of shells, pearls, and teeth, which she placed upon her head as a diadem. She giggled melodically and brightened up, looking like she was on top of the world. In one hand she held the skull, and with the other she retrieved the knife from her lips.

Amiya and Hecate cautiously stepped inside to join her.

Sensing movement, the small mutant's red eyes locked on to the two of them like a predator sizing up prey. They froze in place once again. Chika grinned, showing off serrated teeth that would make even a shark think twice about coming near.

"Adorned with a crown, your Queen is complete; now tell me again whom we three must beat."

"Boqin," Amiya murmured, avoiding eye contact.

Chika's smile contorted into a frown, and she growled, exposing her sharpened teeth.

"M-my Queen," Amiya added, completing the rhyme.

Satisfied, Chika returned to smiling and danced along until she found the correct shelf. Upon the metal platform marked "Boqin" was a handcrafted sword, perfect in weight, with the symbol of a dragon scorched into its grip.

Chika worked the blade of her dinner knife beneath the fibers of the grip, sawing at it to wear it away, careful not to snap it lest the defect be noticed too soon. She stopped just as soon as she was confident it would break under the strain of a real fight, then freed her knife, blowing it clean.

"The deed has been done. The Games have begun."

Hecate dared to raise her head, confident that Chika would answer her question if said respectfully and in a rhyme. She had long wondered something. "I'm here for Amiya, to help calm her heart. But...what of my Queen? Why do you take part?"

Chika licked her lips. Few things pleased her more than someone who played along with her own song and dance. She waltzed over to her own shelf, stepping to and fro, turning this way and that, before gracefully setting the skull back to its place, ready for the competition.

"You two have your reasons, but I have just one: I kill and I maim..."


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