The mask was a multitude of everything. It stretched from the top of the girl’s forehead, artfully covering the top half of the girls face, the lowest point was the tip of the girl’s noise. It was in a masquerade style, but was not visibly secured to the girl’s face.
It appeared to be hand painted, and cracked with age; every time he looked at it the design was different. It was mesmerizing, literally just by wearing the thing the rest of her face couldn’t be described, even photos. She probably had long hair, but there was no way to be certain.
The rest of the girl wasn’t much better. Her long flowing gown of something changed in cut, and color. No one had ever seen it change, and it was always the same to everyone looking, but it changed several times a minute. There was one thing however that never changed about the girl.
On her right wrist was a jade piece of jewelry. It started as five rings, each one an ouroboros, a dragon, a serpent, a raven, a fox, and a ferret. One on each finger. Each ring had a fine chain attached to it, that ran down the back of her hand. The chains attached to a bracelet that looked something like a very tightly fitted manacle. It had been carved with vines, thorny ones.
Most of this was incidental to the dragon of the Chinese serpent style, that was currently wrecking downtown LA’s shit. It was a big one, almost twenty meters at full length. It was finely scaled, that covered a multitude of shade of blue. It’s long snout contained far to many teeth, and it’s two long whiskers reached almost half the length of it’s body.
The dragon had showed up about twenty minutes ago. The good news was it wasn’t the fire breathing kind, reducing the amount of structural damage. The bad news was it appeared to be breathing poison gas, vastly increasing the number of casualties, and the options of the people who could fight it off.
The girl was apparently one of those kinds of responders who didn’t give two shits about poison gas. She had shown up one minute ago, just teleported in, no fanfare. Now she was walking closer to the dragon, closing the gap. It wasn’t worth being worried about the girl. She was not the prey in this scenario.
She had first been seen six months ago at an inter-dimensional horror attack. The kind with too many eyes, and tentacles. People had been worried about her at first, until she had banished the thing to what the eggheads called a sealed pocket dimension. It had taken her four and a half minutes, she teleported out right after.
She had repeated the feat about half a dozen times over the ensuing months. She only showed up for the big mindless monster types. The kind were ethical questions weren’t asked when they were banished for all eternity. She was estimated to have saved a similar number of responders, those monsters usually went down fighting.
It was a good thing in a way she never deployed against anything else. Otherwise people would start getting very nervous, on both sides of the line. When people got their hands on something really nasty, either they, or it tended to disappear. Sometimes making a reappearance in specialized situations. The girl had made her choice of situation, and stuck to it.
He watched as she repeated the feat here, a couple random magical words. Raising her right hand, some kind of pointing. The dragon faded out of reality, never even having a chance to fight back. Frankly the girl was scary as shit.
She had never identified herself, and the indistinct nature of her costume made names difficult. The community had taken to calling her Banishment, it really wasn’t the best of names, but she wasn’t complaining. She was taking longer than normal to teleport away however, that was consistent with the report of her last appearance.
He started flying down to were the girl was, maybe he would actually get to say something to her. A word of thanks maybe, he hadn’t liked his odds against that dragon. But then she did teleport out, taking a single step, and then she was gone.
Or not, she showed up again down the road. She fell to one knee, dry retching, a coarse painful sound. She staggered up to her feet again, seemingly trying to walk forward, or maybe teleport. She blinked forward about a meter, collapsing down to the ground. He ran to her side, he could feel her pain through all three layers of his armor.
He helped her up to kneeling, as she tried to vomit her guts up. It wasn’t working well, as she made a dry throaty sound. He asked what he could do for her. No reservations, what she asked he would do his best to provide. She told him to take her west.
He scooped her up into his arms, whatever it was that she weighed it wasn’t enough to interfere with the suit’s flight system. So he activated the flight panels on the back. He called them that because he didn’t actually know how they worked. When he asked the only answer he got involved quantum locked relativity. He didn’t know how any of that related to flight.
So they flew together for a little while, into the sunset. Little being the key word, it was less than ten minutes of slow flying, before she pointed down to an empty lot. She was doing worse, barely conscious, eyes glazing over. He wanted to take her to a community hospital, but people like her tended to be hard to treat. Or had their own medical supplies handy.
So he slowly landed in the empty lot, doing his best not to jostle her light body. The lot wasn’t as empty as it had first appeared. One corner had an empty barrel that looked like it at one point had been used for a fire. There were a few wooden pallets strewn around, with a pile of five just off of the middle. Even some graffiti, and tagging on a wall to the side. Also the usual plastic bags, newspapers, and general refuse that floated around cities like LA.
It didn’t look like anyone had been in this lot for several months, possibly longer. Since his GPS didn’t seem to have any idea were he was, that was probably purposeful. In one corner there was a large rusted metal plate, that the girl was lethargically pointing to. So he walked over to it, and it tuned out to be an elevator.
It activated as soon as he stepped onto it, either it was automatic, or it sensed her presence. Either was it took them down, and the girl did her best to rouse herself. She had developed quite the fever, he didn’t know what her temperature was, but the suit said she had a fever. He was almost a little jealous, it was very effective camouflage.
She teleported out of his arms when the elevator came to a stop. She didn’t go far, just to the end of the large chamber he found himself in. She had appeared in front of a large computer console, she smacked a largish red button. The effort making her fall to the ground again.
The screens lit up with words that he found worrying. Things like lock down, armed defense systems, and self destructs. She mumbled something, apologizing, calling it just temporary, that he would be stuck there for a while. He said ok, it wasn’t that he minded much. It was inconvenient, but if she thought it was necessary he would deal.
A portion of the floor next to the girl slid open, and she rolled herself into it. Before what was hidden finished rising up from the ground. It looked something like a stainless steel coffin. The inside was just barely big enough to fit her, but the box itself was rather larger.
A lid slid over the top as the coffin slid back into the floor, leaving him alone to explore the chamber. It was sparse, it was a long tunnel, probably a repurposed train track. With the elevator at one end, and the computer at the other.Along the wall to the left of the computer was a small sink, with an electric kettle, and a fridge. There was also a white box on the counter.
The box as it tuned out contained pills, lots of them of varying sizes. He found a box of tea bags next to the couple of mugs. The fridge contained several water bottles, that looked to be full of a thick purplish liquid. There wasn’t one sink as he first assumed, there were two, one much deeper, and had better drainage.
He found a spiral staircase in a shadowed alcove, but it was too small to go down in his suit. He debated internally about whether to take it off or not, and decided to do so. She exposed herself quite a bit letting him come in here, he might as well trust her. So he took his suit off, it came off in three parts, over a series of forty seven seconds.
Descending down the stairs he found something that was a combination of a shrine, and a den. It wasn’t a large room, and the walls were covered in rich dark wood. The floor had thick dark blue carpet. There was only one chair in the room, a large high backed armchair next to the fire place. It was one of those imitation fireplaces, that looked very realistic, but was actually gas.
There were low bookcases around the walls filled with all manner of books. Some were thick leather bound tomes in various languages, others were trashy romance novels. At some point they had been organized. Now they were in general categories, all sorting out the window.
What surprised him was what was higher up on the walls, this was the part that made it a shrine. There were posters a good dozen of them, they were of his colleagues, one was of him. Under the posters were glass cases, filled with mementoes of those in the posters. He noticed several bits, and pieces that he had lost in fights against a certain girl who lived on the other side of the line.
The center of it all above the fire place was a large poster in a pinup style. It depicted the girl who had taken the bits and pieces from him. It was beautiful, much like the girl it depicted was.
He found another door hidden behind the staircase. It lead to a properly stocked kitchen, with two more doors, one leading to a very nice bathroom, the other a wardrobe. The wardrobe was divided into three sections. The smallest he couldn’t describe what clothes were placed on the hangars. The largest was full of girls clothes, all sorts of outfits. The middle one was filled with identical uniforms. The uniforms were just like the one the girl in the pinup poster had been wearing.
When the coffin opened up he was back on the top floor watching for it. It had taken several hours, but he had been patient. She surged out of the coffin, far stronger than she had been going in. Or possibly more desperate, as she went to the deeper sink, and vomited into it. She stood over the sink for several minutes retching before she was done.
She looked over saw him, and proceeded to ignore him, going to the fridge. She took out one of the water bottles, and drank a good half liter before stoping. She then grabbed a handful of pills from the box, apparently not caring what they were. She started downing them with handfuls of water. Once finished with her pills she put on the electric kettle, before finishing the other half of her bottle of purple.
She asked him if he wanted tea. He declined. She asked if he looked around, he said yes. They were quiet for a time before she asked what happens next, nothing he says. He wishes her the best before heading to the elevator.