My swarm swamped Night, catching her alien, angular legs with strands of silk.

Lots of legs, only so much silk.  It wasn’t really working.  It might have been doable if I had a sense of how her body moved, or how the legs bent, but any time I looped silk around what I might consider a knee-joint, it turned inside out, the silk dropping to the ground.

…heh, nice.

Irritating.

My bugs weren’t finding anything I could identify as a sensory organ, no eyes or anything of the like.  Nothing that pepper spray would have an effect on.

Interesting. So how do her senses work? Is she blind, like a reverse ostrich? If you can’t see her, she can’t see you?

Or does she just have visual organs that are completely unidentifiable as such to the bugs?

Okay.  Something else.  I held back with the bugs that had the silk lines, rearranging them as I closed the distance.

The second I rounded the corner to spot Night, she was human again.  She pulled her cloak around herself, glancing around until she spotted me.

“Wait, what, who can see me– oh, it’s her.”

I swallowed, backing away slowly while keeping her in plain view.  My bugs gathered, but not to the extent that they blocked my view of her.

Don’t. Blink.

Shatterbird stopped driving the glass shards at our enemies and began collecting the nearby glass instead.  She formed it into a barrier.  The join wasn’t perfect, and Regent apparently lacked the fine touch the real Shatterbird had, because he didn’t strategically break the glass to make the joints fit better or create smaller pieces to jam in the holes.

You just know Shatterbird is judging him for it.

Fog was slowed, but not stopped entirely.  He seeped through the cracks.

That’s part of the problem with gas people. They’re a bit difficult to block the path of.

Fun fact: I’m actually going to play a D&D character with this ability soon, in a Halloween oneshot my group is planning. He’s a fire elemental, allowing him to squeeze through anywhere as long as there’s one inch of space to pass through. I kinda hope it’ll come in handy at some point.

The high-pitched sound of glass slapping against glass filled the area as Regent patched up the holes by pressing larger pieces of glass over the gaps.  Still imperfect, but it was as good a barrier as we might hope for.

Still sounds like it won’t stop him.

Night had paused.  She’d clearly wanted to use the smoke cover or the distraction of Fog’s approach to attack, but with his approach delayed, she was slowed down as well.

Right, that’s fair. That helps.

I was already prepping my bugs, readying with a response of my own.

I was nervous, I had to admit.  I’d fought against Leviathan, I’d fought the Nine, but Night was never going to be an opponent I could laugh off.

There’s a reason the Weeping Angels are among the scariest antagonists I’ve seen in Doctor Who.

That wasn’t the startling thing.

At a point halfway inside the barn, there ceased to be any barn at all.  White tiled floor and white-painted walls stretched a distance behind the woman, and the ceiling was all glass, hiding a smooth distribution of flourescent lights that made it all glow evenly.

Ooh, neat. A kind of portally power, perhaps? Or maybe the barn is a secret entrance.

It also reminds me a bit of Labyrinth’s power, though I doubt that came from Cauldron. Unless the asylum was also under their control?

“Who are you?”

“Some call me Mother, but that is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.  Those with a more professional attitude know me as Doctor.”

Doctor who?

“I’m-”

“No names.  We’ve already investigated you, we know much of what we need to know, but I think there is a great deal of symbolic value in having you maintain some anonymity.  Pick a name, and I will use it for the duration of this meeting.

Fair enough.

Something tells me we’re not going to be learning the POV character’s civilian name in this chapter, or at least not before we approach the end.

It doesn’t need to be permanent or long-term.”

“Okay.  Is it supposed to be a fake regular name or a codename or…?”

“Anything.”

“Well, if you’re the Doctor, you can call me the Master.”

Random 4 AM prediction: At some point there will be a character (if there isn’t one already) whose civilian name is Rose. It seems like most works I’m actively in the fandom of has one at this point.

Night staggered from the blow, and I drove my shoulder into her.  It wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped, but I did get her far enough away from the canister that I could duck down and scoop it up in one hand.

Nice work! Now what? Are you gonna throw it out of the battlefield or something?

I dashed away, past her, and she struck me from behind.  I knew from the magnitude of the impact that she wasn’t in her human shape as she hit me, and for one paralyzing moment, I suspected I’d made a terminal error.

Ah, shit. No one was looking, huh?

The blow was enough to knock me to the ground and make me roll a half-dozen times before I could stop myself.  I cast a glance over my shoulder as I stopped.  Night was there, and the residual smoke from the canister that surrounded her had apparently been sufficient to block my teammates’ view.  

Damn.

Stupid of me to turn my back.  I was lucky that she hadn’t had more than a second or two in her transformed state to act.

The Doctor warned you against turning your back on her, Taylor.

Don’t blink. Don’t even. Blind and you’re dead. They are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t. blink. Good luck.”

A dozen gouges criss-crossed his side, each wider than my handspan.  One of the gouges had even shattered some of the protective bone plating.  Brutus exhaled slowly, shuddering.

Ouch 😦

She’d done that?

I sent my bugs at the woman,

A justified reaction. But yeah, so much for retreat.

but the delay Night had created had bought time for Fog to get close.  His mist blocked the path to Night, reduced the woman to a faint silhouette, and where the cloud passed, my bugs were crushed alive in midair.

Damn. It seems he can really fine-tune the movements of individual molecules in the gas.

The mist swelled forward, and we backed up as best as we were able.

I checked our escape route.  It was blocked by none other than Night herself.  Had she teleported?  Cloned herself?  No, it wasn’t cloning.  I couldn’t see her silhouette anymore.

Hm. Shadow-walking, as in shadow-to-shadow teleportation? Would make sense for that to be an ability of someone called Night.

“What the fuck is this woman?” I asked, “Tattletale?”

“You know how the Manton effect could maybe be a psychological block that comes parceled with our powers?”

Oh no. Are you saying she’s one of the people who got around the effect?

I nodded, once.

“Okay, well, imagine that this woman got powers that let her turn into something so wrong that she’s got some sort of mental block that keeps her from transforming if anyone can see.

Interesting. So kind of like the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who but with transformation instead of movement… I suppose that’s why she has Fog cover up the view when they’re doing things like murdering that cameraman a few chapters ago.

Maybe because she’s so ashamed of being seen like that.  When nobody’s looking, though, she’s a monster.  Lightning fast and all sharp.”