7.10 Imperfect Control

by Matt P.

If it was possible, Morgan and Tania seemed more confused than Walter did—shock was genuinely etched across their features at the sight. They stood there watching as if made of ivory and paint as the dogs lowered themselves down like obedient puppies.

But the person who looked most shocked of all was Siobhan. She kept staring at the one hound she had made eye contact with, never looking away as she slowly walked toward it. No one even breathed as she stepped up to the beast, and laid her hand on its’ head. It…well, it made a sound that it probably thought sounded pleased—in actuality it sounded like something else. It reminded Walter, absurdly, of a comedian’s observation about French making hatred sound like love, and German making love sound like hatred. It was like someone threw a band of nails into a wood-chipper, yet it was distinctly pleased.

“Uh…I know you wanted a puppy, Bonnie…” Antigone began, more to have something to say than because she had something to add—and because Siobhan always got in the good sarcasm.

It was, apparently, not a good thing to say—or more accurately, speaking was not the right thing to do at that time. The silence shattered, and Siobhan’ eyes flicked up for the briefest moment from the dog she was touching. That seemed to be enough.

The other two dogs shuddered as if drawing themselves out of a deep sleep, and immediately bared their hideous fangs once more. Their bodies moved from a relaxed seat to full on aggression in a heartbeat, and within a second heartbeat they were both within a single stride from his daughter. She froze in panic, her eyes luminous and wide with the sickening flood of fear.

Walter, with all his years of training, was able to do three things. He took a single long, loping step forward. He brought his gun up and fired a single hasty shot. And he called out futilely “Bug!” His eyes were wide, and icy talons of fear ripped at his heart as he could do nothing else but watch.

But two heartbeats were apparently enough for Morgan. In one heartbeat she was next to the dogs, her odd and slender blade out and gleaming wicked sharp in the low light. She hit the first hound with her shoulder, low in the body, and fell into an absurdly fast roll. Within the space of the second heartbeat she was coming to her feet again under the second attacking hound, her blade driving up directly into the soft belly that she had as a target.

The blade bit deep into the unprotected flesh, and a spray of ichor guttered over Morgan in a spray. She kept rising, her blade biting ever deeper, until her gore soaked shoulders caught the dog in what used to be its torso. The powerful motion threw the dog out of the way so that even its massive weight wouldn’t crash into Siobhan, although enough blood did that even Walter’s Gothic daughter looked suitably shocked.

“WHAT THE FU-!” Siobhan began to shout at the top of her lung, having sufficiently lost her cool to shriek instead of quip. It was quite a banner moment, had Walter been able to enjoy his normally unflappable daughter’s moment of flap.

She was only interrupted by the attacking hound landing and turning around with a growl and a click as he started forward again. But this attack was interrupted before it even started as the Eisenhund that Siobhan had touched lunged. Iron resistant they might be, but the would-be killer hound was distracted and its flanks were exposed. Powerful ripping jaws tore into it, and it died in a hideous spray and a death scream like an explosion in a metal works.

Once more the room fell silent, save for the quasi-panting of a very pleased and apparently thoroughly in love Eisenhund, and the hissing of the other dog’s blood whenever it touched a piece of the very iron that had contained it moments before.

Antigone looked like she was about to faint, and moved over to lean against Walter. “Your insurance covers therapy, right?” She asked unsteadily.