Leandra and Gwen
These people are idiots, thought Mel from the cliff above. Two Crusaders, easily identifiable in their padded vests, had cornered a Ruach…or so they thought. The creature was backed up against a cliff wall adjacent to Mel’s and was carrying its back leg as though injured. However, there was no other sign of injury, and Ruachim were unlikely to leave one of their own alone while it lived. This was an ambush.
As the Crusaders closed on their prey, it let out an obscene screech, placed its “injured” back leg on the ground, and reared up, slashing its scythe-like front claws through the air. Its scream echoed, and the cleft flooded with Ruachim, gray skin clinging to emaciated frames and viscous claws leaving gashes across the ground. The Crusaders fell into back-to-back formation but were clearly outmatched. Luckily, they weren’t alone.
Mel reached back, grasping the skin over her tattoo until it coalesced into a golden spear, taller than her and strong as steel. She silently leapt off the cliff and into the fray, sending her knee into a demon’s spine just as she sent Sophrosune plunging into its skull. She pivoted, blocking one’s claws with her spear shaft just as a bullet grazed her cheek before striking the creature’s shoulder. It reared up to strike even as gelatinous blood splashed into the dirt. Shaken from the friendly fire, she ducked low and drove her spear into its groin but felt the cold slice of its claw upon her back. She hadn’t gone low enough.
Mel released Sophrosune and rolled under another demon to her fellow humans. As soon as her spear was out of her grasp, it dissipated into the air until she seamlessly pulled it from her back again. She quickly drove it through the heart and into the spine of the Ruach she’d rolled under. One of the Crusaders, who carried an assault rifle, looked at her with wide eyes. The other was busy hacking at the initial Ruach with an ax until it stopped moving, her hijab fluttering with each swing.
“Try not to hit me again!” Melanie shouted at the gunman while blocking another demon from approaching her from the side with the butt of her spear. She followed it up by using the shaft to crack its neck against the cliff face, wincing as the move pulled on her injured back. She was nearly deafened by the shout of the gun beside her, but when Mel turned to face the remaining three demons, she found only two alive, and one slumped over with a bullet at the base of its brain. It was the one she had slowed significantly with her groin attack, but a kill was a kill.
Speaking of, the ax-wielding woman-more a girl, really-was finished with her kill and charged one of the remaining Ruachs, cleaving her weapon into its skull. Not to be outdone, Melanie launched herself at the other and drove Sophrosune through its mouth into the base of its neck. It dropped instantly, but she heard the woman scream as her opponent drove its claw into her arm with her ax still embedded in its skull. Mel took advantage of its distraction to push her spear into its spine, and the gunman ran forward, gun at the ready.
“Don’t waste your bullets,” instructed Mel. “It’s dead. You just have to disrupt its nervous system.”
The gunman nodded sheepishly and looked over at his companion, “We, err…didn’t know that.”
“Thanks for the help,” added the other Crusader, pulling her ax out of the creature and shakily using it to cleave the claw from the arm at its base. She began to pull it out of her forearm but stopped at the first gush of blood. “I guess…” She took a deep, steadying breath. “I guess I should leave this in til I can get a doctor.” The girl paused to wipe tears from her eyes and look Melanie up and down. “Seems like you could use some medical attention too. Come with us back to base? It’s the least we can do since you saved us.”
“I’ll take you up on that,” replied Mel, returning Sophrosune to the tattoo at her back. “I’ve been looking for you Crusaders anyway.”