Mini-Interlude 30 – Seth and Shiori

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The following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Seth and Shiori during the events of the current chapters, while Flick, Avalon, and Gabriel are upstairs dealing with Fahsteth. 

Also, please note that there is an important message about donations, the Patreon, and bonus chapters in general in my first comment at the bottom of this chapter. Please take a moment to check that comment if you have any interest in such things. Thank you. 

The thing looked like it was made of bones and a few patches of rotting skin and exposed muscles. Its front half was shaped roughly similar to a crocodile (or at least the skeleton of one), while the back half was more like a kangaroo. It was that back half where most of the muscles were, muscles that allowed the thing to leap tremendous distances before snapping its impressive jaws (where the remaining muscles were) shut on its prey.

That prey, in this particular case, was Shiori Porter. The young hybrid dhampyr-Heretic was just spinning away from her most recent opponent to see the collection of bones and rotting flesh lunge at her when Seth’s hand caught the thing by the neck bone just behind its head. Those powerful jaws slammed shut a few inches from the girl’s face before he yanked the thing back. Pivoting, the three hundred-year-old vampire slammed the captured skeleton-croc into the nearby wall with enough force to punch its body through the wall before yanking it back out. Briefly stunned as it was, the thing didn’t move as Seth dropped it on the ground, bringing his foot down hard enough on the point where its head connected to its body to almost separate the two.

It lay there, paralyzed from the damage to its spine, feebly snapping its jaws a few times while Seth turned to the girl with a gesture. “Finish it,” he instructed while glancing toward the other creatures visible through the glass door in the motel lot. Whatever those kids had been doing up with Fahsteth, it had apparently resulted in summoning a handful of Alter-animals from other worlds. But since the creatures weren’t being controlled or directed at all, they were mostly just fighting one another (or, in the current case, circling and snarling at each other while clearly utterly confused about where they were and how they’d ended up there). They were, in the end, just animals that had been yanked away from their homes and dumped into a strange land.

Shiori, meanwhile, just blinked at him. “Uh, wait, why do you want me to–”

Keeping his foot on the thing’s neck, Seth replied simply, “Because the only thing I get from killing these creepy things is a sense of personal satisfaction, kid. But you actually get stronger from doing it. So finish it off and we’ll go deal with the rest of those things before they spread out and start attacking people.”   

She gave him a brief look at that, while he simply glanced away to keep an eye on the things in the lot. So far, they were too busy having a collective pissing match with each other to worry about moving out into the streets and eventual houses beyond the motel. But that wouldn’t last forever.

Thankfully, the kid didn’t take long to snap out of her surprise. From the corner of his eye, he saw her take one of her spinning disks. Charging it up with enough electricity to take down a decent sized bull moose, she waited for him to lift his foot off the thing’s neck before shoving the disc right up to its head. There was a brief screech from the skeleton-croc before it went still for good.

Meanwhile, Shiori herself seized up a bit, giving a familiar gasp of pleasure that brought to mind other, far less pleasant encounters with Heretics. Seth had had plenty over the centuries, and far too many of them ended with him taking advantage of one of the Heretic-fucks being briefly indisposed as they reacted to the sudden wave of pleasure they got from killing one of his friends. Or at least one of his acquaintances or allies. Either way, the memories weren’t fun.

Thankfully, a distraction came in the form of one of the Alters that had wandered away from the others far enough to spot the two of them. It was a Cù-Sith, a massive, wolf-like hound the size of a bull. Seth had only seen a couple before, and they were always a pain in the ass because of the–

The thing gave an astoundingly loud bark that shattered the glass of the doors as well as a couple of the nearby windows. It was a focused sound, like the sort used by the banshees. But more than that, the bark had a debilitating mental effect that was magnified with each subsequent iteration that came in short succession. By the time of the third such bark, most normal humans who were subjected to it were left dead on the floor, bleeding from their ears and eyes as their brains were literally liquified.

For those with enhanced hearing like a vampire, it only took two to put them on the ground. It wouldn’t kill them (they were a lot harder to kill than that), but it would take a long time to recover. Too long. And frankly, he didn’t feel like dealing with that again.

To that end, as the giant wolf-dog geared up for another devastating bark, Seth blurred his way through the now-empty doorway where the glass had been.

Vampiric speed was far more like a cheetah than a horse. Vampires were sprinters, not marathon runners. They could run at incredible, blinding speed, but only for a relatively short distance before they needed to take a breath and recover. In this case, however, he only had to travel about eight feet, from the doorway of the motel to the front of the parking lot. There, his foot found one of the concrete bumpers set at the front of each parking spot. The resulting kick sent the heavy concrete block spinning up through the air to smack into the face of the hound an instant before it would have barked. Instead of making that terrible, devastating noise, the thing reared back with a yelp.

The concrete block was rebounding off after smacking the dog in the snout. Before it could finish falling, however, Seth had already recovered enough to blur his way forward once more. He caught the end of it, then used both its momentum and his own to spin in a quick circle before slamming the block into the side of the Cù-Sith’s head.

It collapsed, giving a pitiful little moan before starting to pick itself up. Or at least, it did before he took the time to break both of its front legs with a couple of well-placed kicks.

“Got another one,” he informed Shiori then, since she was focused once more. “Take it.”

That time, the kid didn’t argue or hesitate that much. She put the big hound out of its misery before giving another little gasp, eyes fluttering as that Heretic death-pleasure worked its way through her.

“You good, Zipper?” he asked flatly once she had recovered.

“Flick and Avalon–” the girl started with a worried look behind them, back to the stairs.

“–are just fine,” he finished for her. “Believe me. Gabriel went in there. They’ll be good. But we gotta get out there.” He nodded to the animals in the lot. “Because those things out there aren’t gonna keep each other busy for long.”

That at least convinced Shiori to start with him the lot, toward the other animals. But she hesitated partway there, her voice quiet. “I’m-umm–”

“Surprised I care if the things go slaughter a few humans?” Seth finished for her, a slight smirk on his face.

She flinched at that. “I didn’t mean it that way. But umm… I mean, the way Senny talks–”

“Senny and I have different priorities,” he confirmed. “She’d go out there and risk her life to fight those things just because she saw it as the right thing to do. For me, it’s pragmatic. First, if those humans were killed, it’d make you feel bad. And while I could give a toss if a couple humans bite it, cuz fuck knows there’s enough of them, I do care about how you feel.

“And second, if those things get out and start doing enough damage, it’ll attract Heretic attention. Get enough Heretics out here and they might find something to draw them to you. I don’t want that.”

For a moment, Shiori said nothing. She just looked at him, mouth open. “You–but–you don’t even know me.”

In response, Seth winked, his voice as casual as ever. “Don’t have to. Like I said before, Zippy, you’re family. Tiras was like a dad to me for a long time. Or a brother. Whatever. It all kinda blends together after awhile. He was my sire, my teacher, my world. It was him and me for a couple years, then Jiao. About twelve years after that, your big sis came along. Family.”

“I thought you were just messing with us,” the girl admitted quietly, biting her lip as she stared at him. “I mean, about seeing me as a sister or a niece or whatever.”

“Fair,” he admitted. “I mess with a lot of people. It’s a lot more fun than piloting through the rivers of this long fucking life by using the stick up your ass like a rudder.”

He paused then before reaching out, using two fingers to brush the much younger girl’s hair up away from her eyes. “Zipper, you got a lot of choices in this life. I ain’t gonna tell you what to do about your morality, what hills you choose to live and die on. That’s up to you. I got my morality, my choices, my things I care about. I ain’t gonna apologize for any of it, and neither should you. But what I will tell you, is that this shit can get awfully lonely. Seeing people live and die, live and die, live and die, it gets old right along with you. So if you find people, anybody that you think you could get along with… you hold onto ‘em. Even if you almost never see ‘em… even if they don’t see you the way you see them… you do what you can to keep them safe, to keep them alive. Because people you care about can be like lighthouses in the dark, stormy gods damned ocean of this severely fucked up world. They keep you honest, and they keep your ship off those rocks. They can give you direction, even if they never really see you.

“So you ask, do I really give a shit about you? Yeah, Zip, I do. That ain’t a joke. You can feel about me and my choices however you want. I’ll keep paddling along in the dark. But you shine enough, and I’ll stay off the rocks.”

For a moment, Shiori said nothing. Finally, she managed, “You’re different than Asenath said.”

He smiled faintly at that. “I suspect I am. But that’s family for you.” He nodded to the lot then. “So you wanna play hero and see what kind of powers we can rack up for you, or what?”

She bit her lip then, glancing that way. “I feel bad about it. They didn’t ask to come here.”

“True,” he replied. “But you let ‘em wander around out there and they’ll do a lot more damage. Think of it as like when those animal services people put down a bear that starts wandering into people’s homes. It’s for the best.”

He didn’t add that if he had his way, the girl would kill every last Alter she needed to in order to be able to survive the kind of shit she was getting herself into. It probably wouldn’t go over well. Let her focus on the poetic shit.

Finally, Shiori nodded. “Okay. Okay. But can I ask you one question? Why do you call me Zipper?”

The question made him grin. “Wondered how long it’d take you to ask. Why? Simple, Zip. I was born in the seventeen hundreds. Zippers, well they didn’t really get to be a big thing until the 1920’s. Just something I never thought about, but now… well, I can’t imagine being without ‘em. Little, tiny thing that doesn’t seem like it should be important, like, at all. But it makes life a lot better than it was. That’s why you’re Zipper, kid.

“Now let’s go kill this shit, cuz I need a drink.”  

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  1. There we go, guys! Now you know what Seth and Shiori have been up to down there. And what do you know, Seth’s kind of a little more of a softy than Asenath gives him credit for. At least around people he cares for. 😉

    Anyway, hope you enjoyed that little commissioned mini-interlude. And speaking of commissioned chapters, time for the announcement that was mentioned at the top of this chapter. To that end, there are two important notes to make. First, as it’s been a little over six months since I had the last interlude discount sale, it’s time to have another one. From now until about Saturday, July 22nd (that’s just over two weeks), all commissioned interludes are 50% off. That means that 500 words is five dollars, 1000 words is ten dollars, 1500 words is fifteen dollars, and so on. For additional information about that, feel free to check the support page here

    Also, I’ve decided on a decent-ish reward for Patreon donators and people who donate/purchase interludes regularly. From now on, for every one hundred dollars we get each month (be that from the Patreon, from general donations, or from people purchasing mini-interludes), I will give away one 1000 word mini-interlude at random to any person who has either donated via Patreon or any other method (standard donation or buying mini-interludes). Basically I will take the names of everyone who has donated any money whatsoever in that month for any reason and put them all into a randomizer, then take the first name that comes up. That person will be given a free 1000 word mini-interlude to commission for anyone/anything they want within the bounds of the normal rules for mini-interludes (I reserve the right to say that’s too spoilery, basically). They can use the 1000 words by itself, add money to make it longer, or hold onto it as long as they want to in order to win again and add another 1000 words to it, and so on.

    Again, that will be 1 drawing for every 100 dollars we get per month, regardless of the source. And anyone who donated that month can win, whether they spent 30 dollars on a mini-interlude or just one dollar on the Patreon. It’s just that the higher our total donations, the more drawings there will end up being.

    Winners each month will be contacted via e-mail and given one week to reply. You don’t have to choose your interlude within that time (as stated, you can save it to use later when an idea of something you’d like to see comes to mind, or to combine it with another win or donation to make it longer), but you do have to acknowledge the win/reward within one week, or the drawing will be held again. 

    As it stands now, the most recent Patreon was 84 dollars. Since I made the note of this sale on the Spacebattles discussion thread for this story yesterday, we’ve had roughly eighty dollars in commissions come in. That puts us at 164 dollars, or one drawing for the bonus 1000 word mini-interlude to whoever’s name gets drawn, with hopefully more to come!

    Anyway, on Friday, we’ll jump back to see what’s going on with… well, the Fahsteth situation. Should be fun, so I hope to see you there!

    Tags for this chapter are: Damn It Seth – The ‘Play Fetch’ Joke When You Kicked The Concrete Bumper Was RIGHT THERE., Huh. Dogs Whose Barking Literally Melts Your Brain. I Think My Neighbor Might Be Harboring One Of Those., Seth, Shiori Porter

    Liked by 4 people

  2. You know i now that i think about it you never gave flick a power… well powerful.
    What i mean is that until now rather direct attack all the power she have are for supporting her own abilities. Like reflex strength endurance radar anti-lock etc. All those power are cool and frankly useful but all mc need a badass super ability (at least in my opinion )
    Anyway thanks for the chapter i really want to know what new power shiori will take.
    By the way a question. Can heretic strengthen a power they took by themselves ? Like flick took a part of the strengh from were. Is there a way to raise this ability in order for it to reach the full strength of an adult were without killing other alter ??


    1. BTW, I absolutely love the Zipper thing. It’s perfect on a lot of levels.

      Although, I should nitpickily point out that Shiori asked why he called her “Zipper,” specifically, but he only called her “Zip,” or “Zippy.” Like I said, nitpick.


  3. So, stick to the family, and be ready to do things for them even if you don’t entirely agree, or agree for different reasons than them? There are way worst codes to live by. Rather smart move of letting her power up with the kills, although yeah I guess the killgasm thing is really disturbing from an outside viewpoint.

    I also fouund the nickname’s explanation rather heartwarming and fitting. Congrats for this fleshing out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Seeing people live and die, live and die, lie and die, it gets old right along with you.”

    Is it supposed to be “live” again in the last repetition instead of “lie”?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, that was nice of Seth to let Shiori finish off all the Nocen he took down so that she’d get the benefit of the power-ups a kill would provide.

    And interesting, but not surprising that the killgasm is an exploitable weakness by a sufficiently intelligent & alert Alter in a position to attack because there’s a moment where a Heretic’s guard’s down & they’re vulnerable, particularly if it’s a lone Heretic fighting several Alters. Wonder if that weakness is one of the reasons why Heretics seem to work in teams, so that they can cover each other when they have their killgasms.

    And those Cù-Sith sound like a particularly nasty type of Nocen given what their barking is capable of.


    1. Flick actually speculated the same thing about Heretics working in teams way back in the beginning of the story. I think it might have been when she and Shiori were fighting the Alters on the Meregan world.


  6. For future reference; I asked Cerulean what powers Shiori got from this chapter. This is what he said.

    That, basically. Deafening sonic boom cry with a cooldown period. Which, combined with her lightning breath, could be kinda cool. Thunder and lightning in one scream.

    Besides the sonic scream, the first thing gave her enhanced leaping ability/leg strength. Basically, she can jump twenty feet straight up or about twice that in length. Also, she can kick really fucking hard. Other than that, we’ll see. 😉 But the leaping thing blends well with her wall-sticking and oh my god I made another Spider-Man expy.

    He said it here.

    Liked by 1 person

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