Season Notes: violence, magical coercion and related self harm, references to suicide, cliffhanger
At Quickmoon’s command, he dropped his plate and slammed the knife through his hand and into the wall. Pinning himself like a bug in a box.
Mobb dashed across the room and grabbed for the knife. Blade yelled at her, “Don’t! Leave it in,” while he dove for the first aid kit he kept by the front door. Salem and Astaroth had both made it to the sink before they threw up. Barely, in Astaroth’s case.
Through it all, he and Quickmoon never broke their stare. Ey mouthing, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” over and over again. He with a calm face but breathing heavily and clenching and releasing his free hand. The eggs he had been eating were scattered across the floor at his feet.
Mobb, ignoring Blade, kept trying to pull the knife out, but it had been driven in up to its hilt and wouldn’t budge.
Blade jostled Quickmoon as he ran back into the room, and ey looked away, breaking the weird staredown.
Bandages at the ready, Blade joined Mobb in trying to get the knife free. Astaroth stood from the sink, wiped his mouth, and went to join them. But stopped when he realized that he’d just get in the way.
He ignored Mobb and Blade trying to free his hand. Still watching Quickmoon, he said, “May I?”
“Yes,” Quick gasped out, “God yes. Get it out.”
Pushing aside Blade and Mobb’s hands, he gripped the knife with his free hand, took a deep breath, and yanked it out on the exhale.
Blade was on him at once, spraying the wound down with disinfectant and wrapping it in bandages.
“Next time you require a demonstration child, may I suggest a flesh wound? I will be a week or more healing this.” He flipped the knife so he held it by the bloody blade and offered the hilt to Mobb.
She grabbed it and stepped back, staring at him. He looked away.
“Sword,” Astaroth said. “What kind of demonstration was that? And why the hell did you think we needed it?”
“He… oh my god, Frontman, I thought I was imagining it. I expected him to laugh at me, but he did it. I told him to, and he nearly did it, and I wasn’t dreaming, this is real.
“It’s real. He’ll do it. Whatever we tell him to. Like, he has to. Even if it kills him.”
Quickmoon’s voice trailed off, and for a moment, no one said anything.
Then Astaroth murmured, ” ‘My lord commanded I gain him a foothold. So I shall or die trying,’ ”
Blade, remembering a more recent discussion, reached up and touched his own throat. “An accident.”
“Is Sword right?” Astaroth asked him.
“Yes.” He was leaning against the wall, examining the nails of his uninjured hand. “Congratulations, you have gained your first minion.”
“But why…” Astaroth trailed off, and Blade snorted.
“The obvious questions,” Blade said, “usually have obvious answers.”
“What the hell does that mean?” Salem gasped.
“It means what it means. Think about it. Why surrender to us? Come on, Guns, If you had to choose between us and Mourningdagger…
“Why not tell us before now? Well, just because we’re a better choice than Mourningdagger doesn’t mean he has any reason to trust us.”
“I’ve got one,” Mobb said. “Assuming any of this is true, why was he able to surrender to us at all?”
“Loophole. I’d bet after, what, hundreds of years? Thousands? he’s become one hell of a barrack’s lawyer.”
Gripping the knife like she wanted to use it, Mobb growled at him — HIM-him, that is. “Is Heals right?” she demanded.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what a ‘barrack’s lawyer’ is,” he replied, ignoring the knife.
Mobb startled herself with a chuckle. “Barrack’s lawyer. We’ve got a barrack’s lawyer for a minion. I, for one, never wanted a damn minion.”
Salem, still looking green around the edges, stalked up to Quickmoon and shoved em against the wall. “You knew.
“You knew what would happen, that he would… that he would have to do what you told him.”
He looked up, actually looking at them for the first time since Quickmoon had started talking. If any of the team had been paying attention to him, rather than Salem and Quick, they might have seen his jaw drop.
“What the hell is wrong with you!” Salem yelled right in Quickmoon’s face. “You don’t fucking do shit like that. You don’t hurt people like that, you don’t…
Blade grabbed Salem and pulled her back, pulled her into a hug. “Shh, Speed.”
“You needed to know,” Quick cried, tears breaking free finally. “You needed to know, and M– Guns wouldn’t have listened. And we would have argued. And I hoped he’d leave. I hoped he’d just… disappear into the night and be free of us and Mourningdagger and all of it, and we wouldn’t need to figure out what to do with him!
“I don’t want a minion either, you know.”
Mobb, with a last glare at him, tucked the knife away and went to give Quick a hug. “You’re damn right I wouldn’t have believed you. I’m still not sure I believe it. Or I don’t bloody want to believe it. You probably did need to do something drastic — but that bastard is right about one thing — flesh wound next time or kill him outright.”
Quickmoon chuckled a bit and Salem reached out and took her hand.
“I’m not sorry I yelled,” Salem said, “but I understand.”
Astaroth shook his head and looked back at him. “That does kind of bring us back to Sword’s first question. Why are you still here?”
He said nothing for a moment, and Quickmoon whispered, “Please.”
So he sighed and said, “I am too easily recognized. If your ‘police’ or army find me, either I must kill them and end up all over your news, or let myself be captured, and then they would hold my leash. In either case, Mourningdagger would know where to find me.”
“And then you’re right back in the shit with nothing to show for it but a lot of dead people,” Mobb said. “Makes sense. Not saying I believe it, but it makes sense.”
The next several days passed quietly.
The team hadn’t figured out how to treat their… house guest. Mobb and Blade had insisted on laying a few, carefully thought out commands on him to make sure he couldn’t harm or betray them. They agreed they couldn’t send him away or turn him over to the humor justice system. Even if the human justice system knew how to handle an infinitely old supernatural something that had committed horrific acts under magical coercion — he was right. It would be way too easy for Mourningdagger to swoop in and steal him away from the cops. Aside from that, they were at a loss.
It made things awkward. Quickmoon dealt with the awkward by turning his sardonic humor back on him. Salem avoided him. Mobb glared suspiciously any time they were in the same room. Astaroth got quiet, afraid to accidentally say something that would become a magically-enforced order. Blade was the only one who seemed comfortable with him.
While Salem was avoiding him, she also didn’t talk about anything else. It got so the rest of the team tried to avoid her just to have some peace.
“We can’t do this,” she said when she cornered Mobb in the laundry room. “It’s… it’s fucking horrible. It’s like he’s our damn slave, only worse because he can’t even run away or even fucking try to rebel.”
“And?” Mobb replied.
“And? And! Is that all you have to say?”
“What do you want me to say?” Mobb slammed the lid on the washer machine and started it running.
“Salem, we are trespassing on what might be dead people’s property, all of us but you have faked our deaths, and god only knows how our families are dealing with that. Hell, Quick’s transformation was based on em trying to defend eir damn family, and ey can’t even tell them that defending them didn’t get em killed!
“We are fighting some… some anime villain with powers we don’t bloody understand. We have no idea where our powers came from or even if they are ‘good guy’ powers–”
Salem tried to interrupt, but Mobb drove right over her, “–because if it hasn’t occurred to you that whoever gave us these powers might be ANOTHER evil asshole, you are too naive to handle this gig. And all you can think about is an enemy who committed multiple war crimes ‘under orders.’ Oh, and he willingly put himself in our hands and claims to be under some magical… something from generations before we met him that makes him innocent of all his crimes?
“Assuming this isn’t a trick, it’s a horror. But it’s a magical horror. None of us are mages. We’re like… magical knights with no training who are trying to save the fucking world. We don’t know how to free him, and anything we try might just make things worse.
“That’s if everything he’s telling us is true and we shouldn’t be executing him for war crimes.
“So lay the fuck off.”
Salem walked off in a rage.
She was still in a rage later that day when she overheard Blade say, “Have you had a lot of experience with barracks lawyers?”
Mobb snorted. “More than anyone else here, since I’m the closest we’ve got to a soldier. And no, I’m not going to tell you how to trap that bastard. I don’t trust him farther than I can throw him, but I’m not gonna help anyone else screw him over. Let him have his damn loopholes. Not like he has anything else going for him.”
“Nothing like that. I want to give him loopholes. Hell, what if we could give him the mother of all loopholes?”
If there was one thing about Blade that drove Salem crazy, it was that he could never just come out and say what he was thinking. She had no clue what he meant about ‘mother of all loopholes.’ But…
She tapped on the door to let them know she was there.
“I don’t know any barrack’s lawyers, but I knew some D&D rules lawyers. Could that help?”
Blade smiled and waved her in. Mobb grumbled, “I hate it when you talk that jargon,” but patted the bed next to her for Salem to come sit.
And they all practiced, and watched, and held their breath waiting for Mourningdagger’s next attack.
Mighty Hero Force Epsilon (S1 E8)