Jen Air: Springheel, Part Six
This is the final part of this story which is… just over 11,000 words altogether. And yeah, they probably should have just gone and gotten their real big gun right at the start.
As ever, any comments or feedback or suggestions or just spotted errors are welcome.
Springheel, Part Six
Tenley’s face wrinkled, strange noises piercing her ears from the phone. Kaya must have dragged Jen to some weird club or something. In any case, the reign of dinosaurs had just come to a sudden impactful end, so she put the phone away and turned the TV off before she made her way into the kitchen, yawning as she climbed up to find the cereal.
It was nice, she supposed, or at least convenient, being able to just call people and ask them questions. Mother would have just told her to find the cereal herself, and then she probably would have cursed and apologised to her great grandparents for raising such a mewling, pathetic little twit. Tenley tried not to think about her mother too much, although it was hard not to. Until very recently, mother had been all that there was in her life.
She sighed, and just scooped up a handful of the first cereal she found into her mouth. There was still a hole in the kitchen wall and a chill, but although Kaya complained constantly about how cold it got at night, Tenley didn’t really feel it that much. But her ears did pick up the sound of something fluttering through the opening, and she turned to come face to beak with her nemesis as of that morning.
He was bold, she had to give him that, the way he sauntered in on his little stick legs and started chattering away at her. She hopped down from the cupboard and glared at the magpie wondering what on earth could possess it to come near her. She was still holding the box of cereal, so perhaps he was after that. Perhaps he was just hungry. Exhaling and relaxing, Tenley held out her arm and with her other hand reached into the box and scooped out a few more flakes. The magpie hopped on and she held her hand under his beak, feeding him and then gently stroked his black and white feathers.
“You’re unlucky,” she said softly, “you’re greedy, a thief, and you’re a disgrace to your ancestors. But, I guess we can get along.” The bird chattered something, and having eaten his full took off, presumably returning to wherever it was he nested.
Tenley put the cereal away and also went out of the cottage through the hole. She made her way to the lighthouse, pulling the large lever to illuminate the inside. “Hull?” She said, swinging her arms before she sat and started spinning in one of the chairs.
The green circles pulsed, “good evening, Tenley. What can I do for you?”
“Do you have any games?”
“I have over thirty thousand titles in my database. Was there any in particular you were searching for?”
She thought a moment. “Do you have any games where you play as a T Rex and have to hunt other dinosaurs and then human hunters arrive and you have to eat them as well?”
Apparently, he did, and it came up on the nearest monitor so she played that for a little while. It turned out to not be as much fun as she thought. But she didn’t get to finish the hunters, as that deafening klaxon suddenly sounded. The proximity alarm, she remembered. The girl got up and told Hull to shut it off and, believing it was most likely just the others returning, she went outside.
But immediately something felt wrong. It was all too quiet… she couldn’t see or hear any sign of the van. Her heart jumped as something screeched… but it was just the magpie being noisy as usual. She relaxed and started walking toward the gate. Maybe the van had broken down and they were approaching on foot.
There was only a small change in the light surrounding her, an almost imperceptible dimming, but it was enough to cause Tenley to jump to the side just as a dark shape struck the ground where she’d been.
“What the hell?!” She gasped. Before her wide eyes, a man in a long black coat and red glasses unwound from the ground so that he stood over her with the blackest and most crooked grin she had ever seen.
He chuckled and spoke, “w-want… want… you!” He suddenly leapt at the girl, slashing at her with some clawed glove. She jumped back again, but was caught by the backhand and sent flying into the garage, the breath knocked out of her small body. She turned back, and saw the man jump high into the air, his arm outstretched to swipe again, so she instinctively raised her arms to cover her face and just in time, as he landed right in front of the girl and his fist came flying down.
He laughed manically, for a few seconds. He must have realised after that something was wrong. Tenley was being pushed right back against the garage, but her arms giving way to his. He pushed harder, but she was solid as a rock. And then, Tenley opened and narrowed her dark eyes angrily, and began to push back. Her attacker looked confused as he saw his arm shaking, then slowly be forced away from the girl’s face. With a final scream and push she pushed him away altogether, then jumped and bounced off the garage to deliver a sharp and powerful kick to his chest, sending him rolling back through the gravel to where he’d landed the first time.
Ten pawed at her chin, which was still sore from his backhand. She hadn’t been struck like that since her mother died… but, she was not going to let this creep get away with it. Now it just made her mad, so she faced her attacker side on and raised her fists.
“You want me, jerk?” The girl growled. “You got me.”
His jaw, which had been hanging open, snapped shut and he launched himself at her. Tenley did the same at him, ducking under his swing and rolling forward into a handstand. She then tucked in her legs and springing back up, smashing both her feet into his face. He staggered back, laughing and spinning and following her with more swipes which she narrowly avoided. She bounced away, pulled a post for a clothesline out of the ground and swung it like a bat, with his head as the ball.
This time he dodged and jumped back, and for a moment he stared at her while baring his teeth. He’d probably never encountered anyone who could challenge him before, and now he thought better of fighting her. With a snarl he turned and leapt onto the roof of the garage, and then again into the trees. But Tenley wasn’t about to let him go… he’d not only attacked her, but he’d been stupid enough to do it in her new home. For that, she was going to make him pay.
He sprung from branch to branch, tree to tree, before finally pausing to catch some breath, looking back toward the lighthouse to see that he had put quite some distance between himself and it. But when he turned around, he saw a now familiar face hanging upside down in front of him.
“Boo,” Tenley said. He gasped and fell down. She jumped after, leaves scattering around her feet as she landed. He jumped at her again, swinging with his claws… that seemed to be about all he knew how to do. Tenley however was not only the strongest girl in the world, but she had been trained by her mother in combat since the moment she could crawl. She easily dodged his strikes, and flexed and released energy from her muscles in order to deliver fast and powerful blows to his side and ribs. Even so, this madman, whoever he was, seemed to have far greater endurance and tolerance to pain than most people.
As they fought, dancing round each other, Jen’s van stopped a short distance away. Ten didn’t know how she had found them, but was really focused on other things right now. The blonde jumped out, the stripy haired punk just behind her, each of them holding a kind of rifle.
“Ten!” Kaya called out, taking aim. The man thrust at the girl, but she sidestepped and caught his arm, swinging him around and toward her two carers. They both fired at once, electrodes piercing his coat and hooking onto his suit. He screamed and convulsed, sparks flying from his body in various places before he finally fell, landing on his side and slowly exhaling. Tenley picked up the post from where she had dropped it, raising it above her head.
“Wait!” Jennifer suddenly skidded and knelt in front of the girl, holding up her palm as she panted. “Don’t kill him!”
The girl furrowed her brow, piercing the blonde with her gaze. “He wouldn’t care too much about killing any of us,” she said.
“But he hasn’t,” Jen said, meeting her gaze and crawling slightly forward.
“You see? We’re all okay. And he… he isn’t a threat anymore. You can let the police officers handle him now.”
Tenley rolled her eyes away, her frown disappearing as she inhaled. Then she threw the post over her shoulder and huffed, “fine. Death’s too good for this idiot anyway,” she said, walking away and muttering to herself.
Jen allowed her shoulders to relax. She looked back, Chance already putting cuffs on the villain who then rasped as he was dragged away, “ex… e-extraordinary…”
The trio returned to the lighthouse in the van, Tenley yawning as she unlocked the door and stepped out, still muttering to herself that they should have let her kill him.
“Hey Ten,” Kaya called after her. The girl turned around and tilted her curiously at the punk’s strangely smiling face.
“What?” She asked.
“You did good tonight, kid.”
The girl gasped and blushed, always seeming a little embarrassed whenever she was praised. It just wasn’t something she knew how to handle very well.
“I… I-I’m going to bed,” she said, and hurried off.
Kaya sighed, left sat next to Jennifer, who also had a small smile on her face.
“You did all right too,” the punk said.
“Thank you. You were… okay,” Jen said, only able to handle it a little better than Tenley.
“What are you talking about? I was awesome!”
“I wouldn’t go that far…”
“Did you see the way I rescued Daramy?”
“You were a bit lucky.”
“And you weren’t? How’d you even know there was still water in those old pipes?”
“Well… I-I didn’t, but I worked out the probability and… decided to risk it anyway…”
Kaya snorted. But then, after a moment, she put on her serious face. “Still… you only need to be unlucky once.”
Jen nodded solemnly. “I suppose… if this sort of thing is likely to become a regular occurrence for us, we need to be better prepared for it,” she said. But then, she yawned as well. “We can think about it more tomorrow. For now, I think I need some sleep too.”
Kaya wasn’t quite so tired as the others, so she went and watched some more TV for a little while, before going to the kitchen to find some hot chocolate. As she searched for it, and she was sure it was there as she had seen Jen drinking some, she heard a strange scraping sound. She looked over to where the hole was, and saw that one of the robots had finally worked out what the trowel was for and was spreading cement, while another laid bricks on top of it. It seemed, like Jen said, they were finally doing the right thing.
A third bot seemed to be looking at her, almost expectantly it seemed. “What?” She asked it as she shrugged her shoulders. “You are not getting a tip for that.”