The shop was a hole in the wall, mom and pop type setup, selling mostly stationary and hobby craft supplies.
In the short time he’d been out they’d shoved everything at the front of the store into a big pile. The wounded cop laid out on several rolls of fabric and down, his own little makeshift bed on the tile tile floor.
Mike noticed there was a zombie corpse in one of the isles. He didn’t know if the group had killed it or if it had been dead when they entered. Next to the body was a potion, whoever had killed it hadn’t bothered to loot the drop. Seeing it, Mike reminded himself to check the big wolf thing’s body later. The troll hadn’t dropped anything, not all monsters did, but if it had, he figured it should be better than the average zombie drop.
Walking over to the zombie, he bent with a groan and retrieved the bottle.
It wasn’t the red of the health potion he’d given to Yuki the day before to help with her internal injuries. The color was more of a pale amber, almost like a beer without the suds.
Using [Analyze] Mike saw it wasn’t a health potion, but a temporary status boost. Specifically a Str+ potion. He noted that it might come in handy, as he slid it into the dimensional storage bag he’d been given by the group.
Exploring done, Mike couldn’t tune out the moans of the injured cop anymore. He walked up behind Jessica and crouched down. She reflexively looked over at him, and despite everything she sputtered, suppressing her laugh.
Mike grunted. He could feel the tenderness of his face, but he couldn’t see it. Without carrying a mirror, he had no way of knowing he looked like a villain from a kids movie after they survived an explosion. It was quite humorous. But the timing was bad.
The cop’s body jerked and spasm’d as he cried out, grabbing his partner’s wrist with his full strength. It was enough to make her wince, but she leaned in to listen to what he had to say anyway.
Mike didn’t feel it was appropriate to eavesdrop. It was more old world sentiment cropping up. But it wasn’t likely to be directly harmful to him to let them have their privacy, so he asked Jessica what had happened to the cop on the pallet.
“They say that big dog snuck up on them and bit him,” Jessica said in a whisper, looking over her shoulder at him, the smiles all gone.
Mike was about to say something to the effect of, “how careless do you have to be to get snuck up on by a giant dog?” when Jessica followed up with, “The big dog wasn’t big then, just a regular dog size. It was only after Oscar was down that it started to grow and call its pack. At least that’s what they told me.”
Mike nodded. It made as much sense as zombies.
Noticing Jessica hadn’t turned her head back, and was instead giving him a strange look he asked, “what?”
She pointed at his left arm and half a dozen other small wounds, “How are you not in pain right now?” she asked.
Mike smiled, doing his best to add a false swagger into his voice as he said, “ah these scratches? They’re nothing,”
Jessica didn’t say anything, just leaned over and drove her thumb into one of his “scratches.”
He grimaced, his eyes tearing up involuntarily. He didn’t let out so much as a whimper.
“So you really are a tough guy huh?”
Mike grunted, not trusting his voice again yet, even after she let off the pressure.
“I have a minor injury tablet for the tough guy if he admits he’s in pain. I get them for cheaper from the system cause of my bloodline. They’re only good for “scratches” they won’t help anything really bad,” she said, glancing over at the wounded cops still struggling to breath through his contortions.
“It hurts.” Mike admited, his tone dry and aloof.
“So bad,” he said again, actually managing a half smile.
Jessica laughed and said, “say ah.”
As Mike complied she tossed a small red pill into his mouth and he swallowed.
A few feet away the blonde female cop glared at them. Obviously thinking their flirting was inappropriate. Jessica seemed cowed. Mike just shrugged in what might have been a apology but could just as easily have been a “whatever lady.”
Giving her a closer look Mike noticed a few things he hadn’t before. First, she was attractive. Like recruiting poster attractive, petite, but with just enough soft curves to take her from cute straight to sexy.
The second thing he saw was she was younger than he’d first assumed. His age, maybe even younger. Unless she was some sort of genius, she’d skipped college and joined the police force.
But the thing he noticed about her that really grabbed his attention, was her ears. They were long, almost eight inches, and tapered to a knife sharp point. He didn’t know the exact details, but it was clear that not only was she a player, she’d gained an elven bloodline as well.
Clearly it was the wrong time to ask her about it.
Curious, Mike took in the rest of the group.
The office lady seemed oddly calm.
He guessed she was in her late twenties, maybe early thirties. Mike couldn’t guess what it was she did before the end, but given her air of competence, he assumed she was good at it. A real professional, attractive but only slightly above average, a seven or possibly an eight at best on a scale of one to ten, unlike the Amy, or the elf who were clear tens.
Mike passingly wondered if that put her out of his league. His new body was better than his old one since the bloodline. He had confidence and felt like he knew what he was supposed to do in life for the first time ever. But he wasn’t delusional, his looks hadn’t improved at all.
In fact his ears might lower his score. He was a five at best, and that was figuring in personality.
A cracking sound rang out, and the wounded cop, Oscar’s body began to writhe even more. The pain was clearly intense beyond words.
Mike scolded himself for getting lost in hie thoughts.
Glancing out the window at the big wolf’s body, then back at Oscar, a vague familiarity struck him. He grunted and grabbed his ax, ready to act if his suspicions turned true.
In moments they were as patches of rough fur began to form on his body, and his face slowly cracked and popped, a snout forming where once he’d looked human. The others shrieked, jumping back, only the blonde and Jessica ignored the fear.
The blonde pressed down on her partner, screaming things like “it’s going to be okay,” and “hand in there Oscar.”
Jessica just looked at Mike, saw he was holding his ax, and nodded, giving her approval.
Mike grunted, and stood. He slowly walked around to place himself even with the transforming cop’s shoulder, and waited. There was a chance the change wouldn’t turn him into a monster. Mike wanted to give it to him.
It was turned out to be a useless gesture.
Fully turned at last the wolf-dog-man threw the elf cop off its chest and howled, bringing the sound of distant howls in answer.
Mike swore, his mercy had clearly backfired. Raising his ax he dropped it on the wolfman’s neck severing its head in the next instant, cutting a second howl into a gurgle before it could even react.
Without so much as a pause, he whirled around and projecting all the authority he could muster he said, “we need to leave, now!”
Jessica drew her pistol and using her other hand herded the girl and the teenager toward the back of the store. Mike noted with approval that even the shell shocked cop and office lady obeyed without question. They were in the alley and into another shop almost immediately.
A group of two zombies shuffled toward them from the isles of cheap electronics. A single look from Mike to Jessica and she lit them both up like candles with her plasma.
They exited to the street.
Mike spotted an office building. The idea of vending machines occurred to him and he began to steer them towards it. Once inside they took stairs to a second floor that over looked the first and spotting both couches and two vending machines, Mike called a halt.
He wanted to restock on a few things. Not carrying a health potion suddenly seemed was a bad thing.
He also wanted to see if he could find something to cure something like a werewolf bite. He was confident he could kill one, but not so sure he could do it without getting bit himself.
“Everybody take a breather. I’ll go clear out any zombies on this floor, you guys just sit tight. Jessica,” he looked over and met her eyes, “keep them safe?”
Jessica nodded once, then whispered towards him, “you stay safe too. They don’t know it yet but we need you.” she hesitated and added, “I need you.”
It didn’t really sound like a confession of love. But Mike had to turn his face away anyway as he blushed beet red.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, as he hefted his ax onto his shoulder and walked away.
Halfway down the nearest hallway he swore, “dammit I didn’t get to check that big dog thing for loot.”
Author : The Steve