[FRAG] Grieve in Blood
Two Fragments struggle to get by, stay alive, and stay together.
For October 2018, I wrote a oneshot every day. Here they all are, consolidated in order. There is a sequel in the form of Keep a Secret.
Warnings will be listed in the author's notes prior to the chapter.
∗ A character is mentioned/described as smoking.
An unexpected delay makes Magnotris and Morning Star late for a meeting with their Overseer.
"Oh, you know Eclisse is going to be pissed."
Magnotris tensed, standing up straight to tilt his head slightly. His tail slowed, half-curled up to his back, his wings bunched slightly closer to his body. Temporarily frozen, he narrowed his eyes, before he spoke: "Alright. Let him get pissed."
Morning Star paused to brush his bangs out of his face, frowning slightly. He opened his mouth to speak, but rethought it; he closed his mouth and merely watched Magnotris fumble with the mechanism in his hands. He leaned forward on his perch, a concrete wall that lined the backroad they were huddled in, and clutched the steel bat tighter to his chest. The only light buzzed in and out of focus, a streetlamp several paces away. Crickets chirped in the silence, undisturbed.
They fell quiet as soon as the low hum of the machine filled the road, Magnotris letting out a curse of relief as it blinked on. The battery indicator lit up bright blue, casting their faces in its small light. In all honesty, Morning Star had always thought it looked more like a pneumatic rivet gun than any sort of weapon. Still, the sharp, silver-tipped steel on its end served as a constant reminder of its purpose.
"Stupid thing almost made us more late," Magnotris joked over his shoulder, running a hand down the top of the gun. It whirred softly, quietly, and the glow intensified.
It cast shadows on the half-collapsed individual in front of them, whose head was bowed and drool dripped out of their mouth. Their eyes were closed, ignorant to the blood seeping from a wound on their head. As Magnotris stepped closer and crouched, blue light tinted their fur and hair, illuminating all of the curves in their face. The gun was held close, poised against their neck, and Magnotris pulled the trigger.
With a wet noise, the sharp tip plunged into their fur, instantly breaking the skin, in part to the silver. Blood seeped fresh, stinging the air with the sharp smell of Magninium. The gun clicked a few times, the battery color turning from blue to paleish pink. Magnotris pried open one of the other Fragment's eyes, and nodded at the sight of light pink pupils. Morning Star glanced back away from the dead end, staring into the darkness of the city at night. Nobody heard. Nobody was coming.
The gun pinged and Magnotris stood, powering the machine off. He waved a magic-lit hand at the Fragment and flecks of Magninium darted to close up the wound securely. They would never know.
"Absolutely ridiculous," Magnotris muttered, holstering the gun into his belt clip again. "I think it counts as insubordination."
Morning Star slid off the wall to join Magnotris. "I don't know, I guess I'd be freaked out if the Overseer's assistant came at me with a gun."
"Oh, you know I wouldn't, not to you."
"I know! But I mean - in their eyes it's probably scary," Morning Star shrugged, "they don't know what's going on."
"It's not like they'll remember," Magnotris shot right back, glancing over their shoulder at their victim. "The memory-eraser spell's perfect. I made it myself. It has no flaws."
Morning Star fell silent, staring into the darkened main street as they exited the alley. His wings slightly curled up and with a small smile, he half-turned to the other, quipping, "You didn't test it on yourself, right?"
"What are you-" the taller Fragment blinked, eyes narrowing in near-offense before the humor caught up with him. "Oh! No, no, I didn't."
"How can you be sure? It's flawless!"
The joke failed to land; Magnotris sighed and glanced back to the gun he held. Morning Star blinked down at it, shoulders loosening slightly in defeat. Magnotris never usually got in such poor moods. Although "usual" had stopped being the norm quite a while ago. Maybe it was useless of him to try to cheer the other up anymore.
No, that's what a shitty friend would say. And Morning Star was fairly certain he wasn't a shitty friend.
"We don't need to get any more Magninium for tonight, right?" his voice was uncertain as he reached to point at the gun.
Magnotris shifted it slightly away from Morning Star, mouth drawing into a fine line. "No, this should be enough to last a while. We'll be able to make several doses from it."
"Ah, that's good." Morning Star chuffed his foot on the ground.
A low rumble announced the arrival of a small portal opening before them, glittering in the shades of Magnotris' magic. He motioned for Morning Star to step through, which the other did without complaint. It closed shut behind the both of them, and together they were standing in Magnotris' dimly-lit lab.
With a clap, the lights flickered on, fluorescent and almost too bright. They emitted a slight murmur, old electric wires and cables that hadn't been touched for millennia straining to keep up. Morning Star had offered multiple times to replace them - with magic, of course - but Magnotris had always waved him off. Something about the noise was comforting, or helped him focus, or something like that.
In silence, Magnotris trotted across the tiled floor to set the gun down on a precarious stack of papers on his desk. The office chair bent as he pulled it from the steel table and creaked as he sat down in it. He rolled himself closer and shifted through a few old documents, worn and yellowed from age.
"Do you want some coffee?" Morning Star piped up, unmoved from where the portal had dumped them.
Magnotris lifted his head, exhaustion sagging his features. "Ah, no, but thank you. I don't - uh... you can leave the bat here. I'll just make the doses myself and administer them-"
"-We're already quite a bit late for the meeting...."
The other fell silent, turning to stare at his papers once more. He glanced between them and Morning Star, expression mixed between worry and exasperation. With a groan, Magnotris stood, dropping them onto the desk. "It's most potent when it's fresh, though."
"Eclisse will be so angry the longer we're late, you know that."
"Yeah, like he'll do anything." Magnotris procured a cigarette and lighter from thin air and held them close to his mouth. "Let's at least check on the cages, see if they managed to chew a hole through them yet."
Morning Star dumped the bat near the desk as the lighter flicked a few times. By the time he'd returned to Magnotris, the other had lit his cigarette and had taken a deep breath. The two shared a nod and a look and strode towards the door on the other side of the room - a thick wall of steel reinforced with a sheet of wafer-thin gold inside of it. They had to move in tandem to open it, Magnotris securing the Magninium scanner-key and Morning Star fiddling with the handle until it clicked.
It groaned audibly as Morning Star pulled it open, slowly, scraping across the floor. The room it led to was unlit and dim, but with a clap from Magnotris, it lit up just as easily as the lab had.
As one, the duo stepped down a long hallway. Either side was lined with cages and machines, most empty and turned off. Only two were filled, at the far end of the room, and the machines spat out a continuous page of data. Magnotris paused to consider the graph and numbers littered on the printings, while Morning Star stood in front of the cages themselves.
"Hey, buddy," he spoke, voice soft and gentle as he crouched in front of one.
Bright eyes stared back, wide and pale. He reached out a hand, gently, between the steel-silver bars of the cage. Even without his fur and skin touching the poisonous material, it made his blood vibrate in anxiety. Still, he reached forward, gently running a few fingers over the caged's hair. Their eyes closed in brief reprieve from terror.
"Are you doing okay?" he knew they couldn't respond, but it still felt nice to ask. They pressed up into his touch, rubbing their face against his palm. "We're getting closer every day. You'll be okay soon."
Morning Star was dully aware of Magnotris striding to the other cage's machine, shuffling through its printed papers quietly. Its occupant growled at the movement, causing Morning Star's to snap away from his hand and huddle in a corner. He sighed quietly and stood again, glancing at his friend.
Magnotris' wings were sagging, tiredness pulling at all of his features. He was clutching the paper just slightly too tightly, eyes narrowed, although his eyelids threatened to droop once or twice. His cigarette was still gripped between his teeth, lit up orange and red. With a flourish, he dumped the papers and half-turned, blinking in surprise at Morning Star's staring.
"You look absolutely exhausted," he remarked.
Magnotris pried the cigarette from his mouth to blow smoke. "Gee, I could've told you that myself. The readings look okay. Nothing unusual. Still wish we had time for a dosage before leaving, though."
"They'll be alright," Morning Star assured him, reaching and offering a hand. "I think you've overworked yourself enough for now. Let's go to the meeting and then out for a snack or something, okay?"
Magnotris' eyes locked onto the hand, emotion welling up just slightly in his gaze. He nearly shoved his hand in Morning Star's, averting his gaze and pretending to stare intently at the papers. "Um, yeah. Sure. That - that sounds nice. Let's do that."
"Now, c'mon, before Eclisse has to wait any longer," Morning Star murmured, squeezing Magnotris' hand right before they teleported.