We took a quick trip back to my office, and I grabbed my Python .357, and my Taurus Judge, which could either take .45 Colt or 410 shotgun shells. I made sure to take double aught, unlike last time. I left the Sig and dropped my snub-nosed .38 into my pocket. I felt like a battleship.

The bouncer put us on a trail that eventually led to an old, dilapidated and out of use warehouse. Mr. "Glorious" apparently liked to use the place to keep hot items hidden until the time was right. My car still hadn't left the shop, so Tohsaka and I had to huff it out on foot. We both hoped there was nothing too dangerous there, because without my car, there was no way we could make a fast getaway.

Of course, once we started to get close, we heard an ear-splitting scream. We both sighed, then started to run towards the warehouse.

We kicked in a door and stepped in. The clouds had broken, and there was a full moon. Its light fell through some high windows. It didn't light much, but we could see that there were very high racks, mostly empty now, and they stretched down in long rows. We could also see a torso lying in front of us with no arms and no head. There was another scream.

I pulled out the .38. I took a deep breath. I wondered if I had donated to charity recently. I realized that I would still be screwed karma-wise.

"Keep sharp," Tohsaka snapped.

"Yeah, yeah, frosty like a banana split over here."

We pushed into an aisle side by side, heading towards the end of the building, where a flight of stairs led up to a box on supports: the main office. Here and there, we'd kick past decaying sleeping bags and blankets entangled with empty plastic brandy and vanilla extract bottles. It was a nice place to hate yourself.

Not too far from the main office something blasted out one of its windows. We both ducked into separate sides of the aisle we were in, and that's when I found Clive, who was trying to find his legs. He grabbed me, and whispered, "Tom got Greg."

"Tom got Greg?"

"Y-yeah." He looked at me helplessly. His hands originally had been tightened on my overcoat, but the grip was getting lax. The moonlight made his pallor border on glowing. "I don't... I don't know what... what the hell that thing is..."

His gripped finally ceased. Good thing, too, because not a second later something yanked him away. All I could see were silhouettes, one lanky one on fours tearing pieces off half of one. I stumbled backwards on my ass towards Tohsaka, who helped me up and got me running.

We almost made it back to the door when what was left of poor Clive flew through the air and slammed it shut. A sickly voiced trickled through the air, "...and what is this? Who sent you?" It cackled at us, "Did you come to take it away? Or are you just stupid?" The voice got icy, "You think you can tell me what to do, is that it?!"

"Tohsaka!" I whispered. She turned and looked back at me. I said, "I want double now."

"Non-negotiable," she hissed back. "Come on, it's coming from the office."

I pulled the Taurus and crouched behind her. We stuck to the wall, taking careful, quiet steps.

Something shot past our right, and leaped up into the broken window of the office. From inside, we heard soft cooing, then the sound of hurried feet coming down the steps. The voice echoed back out to us, "I didn't think anyone would care about Greg. Or is every bit of scum scared now?"

We weren't that far off from him. He was just standing in the open, not caring about anything. He didn't look all that healthy. At first I thought he was wearing robes, but then I realized that his clothes were far too big for him. They swayed ridiculously with every step he took. He spread his arms, "I'm free now. No one owns me. All my life I had to skulk and steal and roll around in filth just to survive, but no more! None of you are my brothers! I was weak, and you took advantage of me, made me do terrible things just so I could live! No more! No more! I make my own destiny!"

"Oh sweet Jesus, he's gone completely mental." I started to pull the .357, but Tohsaka stopped me, saying, "He's baiting us."

"It's working."

"Give it a minute. I want you to distract him, to make him think there are no magi here." With that, she started to stealthily climb one of the racks. I would have given her some crap, but to be honest, I couldn't think of a better plan. If this guy was a magus, I would make him over-confident. If he wasn't, he wouldn't see Rin coming. I kept the Taurus out, and headed towards who I figured was Tom.

I wasn't sneaky enough. He turned and locked eyes with me, then stared at the gun. He smiled, "And what are you going to do with that?"

I had no answer. The kid was all skin and bones, almost literally. He didn't have cheeks, just skin stretched across his skull. I was amazed that he could stand.

His smile got wider when he noticed me gawking, "Yes, rather off-putting, isn't it? But it was necessary. I had the knowledge, but I didn't have the energy. I still managed to bind it to me. It will listen to no one else, now that he is gone."

"He? You mean Geiss?"

Tom nodded.

I asked, "Are you a magus?"

It was his turn to gawk. "Magus?" Suddenly, realization hit him, and he started laughing, "So, I've managed to scare everyone!"

"Who's the other scum? You talkin' about hoods?"

"You ask an awful lot of questions."

I shrugged, "I've always been nosy."

"Hah! Well, to answer your question, yes." His face hardened, "You have no idea, do you? What it's like to be kicked around, and they are the only ones that you can turn to for help. I've been alone almost my whole life. All I had were some books and other keepsakes from my parents. I had to join them. I had to. I would have been killed." He waved his arms, "But now I'm free!"


"I stole the familiar from that magus. It was too easy. Now it's mine."

I started to ready the Taurus. I wasn't that nosy. But then I saw it.

It crawled down the stairs. It had the body of a lean yet muscular man. If it stood up, it would probably be almost a foot taller than me. It's skin didn't seem to fit right; it just seemed like a tight wrapping around the moving muscles. They didn't move as one. It looked like someone writhing underneath bedsheets. The hands and feet were way too big. Each hand could palm my head. They ended in sharp claws. The legs were animal-like, almost like a dog's hind legs. But its head. Its friggin' head. The bottom looked like a man's jaw, but the rest was almost completely spherical, and featureless. It had no eyes, no ears, and no mouth. It was perfectly smooth like a cue ball, and the whole monster was colored just as white.

I pointed the Taurus at it when it reached the ground. Tom chortled, "A wise choice, my friend."

I licked my lips and started to carefully back away. The creature slowly advanced, looking as if it were ready to spring at any moment. I couldn't figure out how it knew where I was.

Then Tohsaka screamed, "MIKEY! LEFT! NOW!"

I rolled left just as the creature jumped. I barely dodged it. Tohsaka's arm was glowing with her family crest, giving her away in the racks she was perched on. She fired a curse at it, but it just splashed off like throwing water on something.

Tom was laughing out of control now, "Even magi can't beat it! Nothing can!"

I watched in horror as the thing started to furiously climb towards Tohsaka. Her expression mirrored my own, and she started to clamber down. The creature changed its direction, slashing at her. It looked like it got her. I hoped that it was just her coat.

Whatever it was, it got me to pull the .357 and take aim. She was shrieking, and I think I might have been too, but I couldn't hear it. Everything got quiet as I clicked the hammer back.

I let out a breath and pulled.

I hit the thing right in the shoulder. It spun off the racks, landing on all fours, and a muffled howl escaped it. Tohsaka had thrown off her coat, and was running to its flank, but still keeping her distance, yelling, "Physical! Use physical attacks!"

I clicked the hammer again, but I also was transfixed again. The jaw on the monster seemed to be working, stretching against the skin on its face. I heard Tom's breathing getting labored, "That... that still won't... not after I give it..."

I turned to look at him. He was getting thinner. His eyes looked like they were going to retreat back into his head.

I ignored him and faced the monster. It swiped quickly at its face, leaving a cut. The jaw was able to move further, then further, and then it started to tear its own face open. Dark red blood dripped off the jaw, now able to move freely, showing a huge, wide mouth, with no tongue, with way too many rows of needle teeth.

I had been wondering where the bite marks on Sal had come from.

That mouth was also incredibly impractical.

I slapped myself in the face and took aim again, just as the creature bounded towards me with freakish speed. I panicked and fell backwards as it leaped, only barely managing to pull the Taurus with my other hand and fire three quick shots into its stomach. The thing didn't even touch me, running away while bleeding profusely, now able to howl in pain unobstructed.

Tom collapsed onto his hands and knees, whining. He had a hand on his chest, "As long as I... it can't..."

The holes started to close up on the monster, but not all of them. Tom wheezed, and fell to the floor. He didn't make a sound, save for the swish of his clothes.

The monster then went completely berserk. There were no restraints on it now. It thrashed wildly, but I saw Tohsaka running towards it, carrying a large, heavy pole. She screamed in rage as she thrust it into the monster like a lance. She was staggering, using every bit of muscle and energy she had to keep it pinned. I got to my feet and ran towards them, pointing both guns at the trapped monster. I fired, reloaded, fired, reloaded, then fired again. Tohsaka kept pushing the pipe into it. I reloaded. I fired. I reloaded. I fired. I pulled the .38, the others were all out, I aimed it...


Suddenly, I was able to hear my own heaving breaths. My arm lost all of its strength, and dropped to my side. I carefully thumbed the hammer back forward.

Tohsaka's hand was on my shoulder, "Mikey."

"Yeah, I'm back." I was shaking. I turned to her, and saw that she was holding a small travel bag. I realized that she had left me there, staring at the crumpled corpse of the monster, which was starting to turn to ash. I pocketed the .38 and picked up my other dropped guns, then nodded at the bag, "What's that?"

She was shaking, too. She traced a finger over some strange markings on it, "I think this held it."


"Don't stick your hand in there. It's not... right."

"Ah. Okay. What about Tom?"

"He's gone. He didn't have enough energy to give it, so he..."


The monster turned to ash. Rin found her coat. We walked out, and I called the suit, giving him the address of the warehouse and a quick recap. Tohsaka and I parted ways. I walked into my apartment, poured myself a Jack and Coke, lit a cigarette, and thought about the money I was going to get tomorrow.

My car's in the shop, you see.