Chapter 17:

Express Shipping - Part 1


“That was a good lunch!” A happy Karim left the small restaurant followed by a red-haired inquisitor who couldn’t share her happiness.

“What kind of monster are ya?”

Anna was equally confused and scared after seeing the massacre committed against her wallet today. It seemed to be commonplace in the small restaurant Anna didn’t even bother to see the name, but Anna herself was still unable to believe what she saw.

No one would fault her on that as it was arguable that Karim ate a bigger volume than her own petite body in the last hour. And half of that was desserts even.

“Take that as a payback for being a prick ever since you arrived.” The small cop answered, now with an advantage for the first time.

“I made it very clear that we can fight whenever ya wanna, 'kay? Don' go usin' whatever y'have against me to kill mah' wallet! That was, like, a whole month of food funds…”

“You can deal with it.”

“Yes, I can, but I don’t wanna! People who spend like that are the same ones that go bankrupt.”

“Don’t go around offering free food then.”

Karim gave a small and very cocky smile as she basked in her victory and then went ahead in the direction of her house.

“Tch! You win this time…” Anna finally resigned as this one was, indeed, something she threw herself into. “I’m going home now. My looks are still decent but I need a bath…”

Annabeth still had bandages stuck to her, but she knew that the wounds beneath them should be almost healed by now. Her clothes weren't in the best state possible though.

“That’s fine, but my house only has a bathtub,” Karim answered while vaguely remembering that people in the continent were more used to showers. “Is it fine for you?”

“Why? Yer gonna use my bathwater or something?”

“Huh? What?! No!”

“Then why ask? Wanna take a bath together? I’m not very against that, but we strangers still, ain't we?” Anna said while considering if this kind of relationship would be worth the effort.

Karim wasn’t human, but getting closer to her would be useful in some ways since she was a holy mage and the boss’ niece. The target of these words only stood there stunned for a while before she could finally react to the outrageous words she heard.

“What the heavens are you talking about?!”

“It wasn’t that? Then I don't know! Yer words are way too weird...” The redhead backed off with a small red on her face as she noticed her blunder, even if she recovered herself almost right away. “Why yer talkin' 'bout bathtubs to begin with?!”

“Don’t you continent people always use showers?”

“Mostly, yes, but what it has to do with anythin'? Takin' a bath shouldn't be that different…”

They had returned to the middle of the Spice Quarter by now, but the crowds were much smaller at this moment. The smells were still quite strong though, almost enough to make Anna consider trying something out...

Annabeth was in quite a trauma related to food at the moment though, so she could ignore it and continue with the useless conversation.

“You know there’s proper etiquette for bathtubs, right?”

“Etiquette? Like… Don't pee inside 'em or somethin'?”

“Ew… No! I mean. Yes, that too, but that one is common sense! I’m talking about cleaning yourself before entering the thing, tying your hair properly and a few other things... I’ll use the same water in the end.”

“I say ‘ew’ now! Why you don’t fill it again?”

“The whole point of using the tub only for soaking is to not have to fill it again! Do you think we have unlimited water around here or something?”

“Well…” Anna looked to their back as the two went up the street. “That’s a lotta water '''round us, ay?”

“You’re not telling me to bathe in salt water, are you?” Karim asked with an expression that seemed as angry as when Anna called her a hag.

“Just throw a magical circle and some bloodstones and it’ll be proper water.”

“That’s sorcery!"

“Aw… Right… The sorcery thing.” Anna slowed down while finally noticing the problem with her plan. “Well, then I guess I’ll have… Halt!”

Anna pushed her petite partner away from making her next step just as a shadow passed above their heads faster than most could even notice it. Slightly on guard still, the inquisitor only let Karim leave her hold after a tubular object had stuck itself in the ground right in front of them.

“This is...” Annabeth tried to get what had fallen from the sky but was pushed back before she could even end her words.

“Let me go already!”

“Hey! I’m good for the touch… That’s beyond the point though.” Anna smirked at her small partner pushing her away, changing her expression right away though. “Evacuate this area a bit, li'l partner.”

“What? Why?!”

“Somethin' will fall 'ere soon and it’ll be a pain…”

Karim kept a confused look as her taller companion kept her eyes focused on the sky. She wasn't sure of what was happening, but the tone of Anna’s voice made her decide to follow the orders fast.

“Clear off the street, everyone! Something dangerous is coming, so please try to steer away.”

She started to run around the street shooing bystanders and stopping vehicles in their tracks in a weirdly fluid way. The whole process ended up being easy since most people around this area knew the petite member of the police department and believed in her right away though. 

With a few passes, even some local guards moving around started to help her, no questions asked.

Soon enough, the area was clear and safe, in theory. 

Crowds were forming on the corners of the area Karim was clearing and the few stopped vehicles were enough to create a traffic problem though.

“Yeah, that’s confirmed...” Annabeth said while still around the evacuated area.

She then took the small object on the ground and threw it into the middle of the road right after. Less than a minute later, while under many and many eyes, another shadow passed above their heads. And just as Karim was ready to ask what was happening, a metallic object outfitted with half a dozen parachutes hit the ground very suddenly.

It bounced off once and twice, causing a few cracks on the road and even damaging one of the waiting buses, but stopped without much of a problem.

“What was…?” Karim started to ask, just as surprised as almost everyone else but had her words cut by the metallic box being kicked open.

This simple happening only furthered the chaos though since a person left the crashlanded object.

“Ain't a thing called 'common sense' in yer dictionary, eh?! This place has a port fer a reason.” Anna shouted to the female leaving the padded box that fell from the sky.

“Nothing I can do...” A muscular short-haired brunette said while leaving her ‘vehicle’ and stretching her toned, and somewhat flat, body. “I fucking hate ships.”

“What is happening here, Annabeth?!” The only person with enough of a position to mess up with the red gunslinger charged forward in search of answers.

And in answer to her, while opening one of her now trademarked smug smiles, Annabeth turned to the new arrival.

“This person 'ere, shorty…” She said while moving her hand to the shoulder of her old friend. “She’s mah' knight.”