Chapter 43:

A Line Crossed by Instinct - Part 1


It took a few minutes and a lot of swimming for Anna to return to the harbor, wet and battered, but back to the harbor nonetheless. Her close surroundings were in flames and a chunk of the storage area was missing though.

The warehouse that was the cause of this whole chaos was mostly intact still, so that was a win. The only problem was that her rifle was still on the floor somewhere.

“Explosives are always a pain… And they blew mah’ cokes too!” The redhead complained as she advanced through the destroyed crates and injected herself some more elixir. “Anyway, where’re the gals?”

The fight was pretty much over. Anna wasn't that sure of how it went due to how hyper-concentrated she was earlier, but it seemed to be fine.

Cops were arresting the few guards that surrendered while the majority of them were carried away unconscious or wounded. Some were quite badly wounded, but there seemed to be no dead since the explosion had happened away from the distractions.

Except for the fact that she lost every single one of the possible ringleaders, all else happened according to plan. It was irrelevant now though.

What mattered now was finding her two companions and avoiding any questions, so they could keep moving. Maybe looking inside the warehouse would grant something useful.

Either way, pinpointing Karim's and Col's locations was easy to do, and avoiding the cops was even easier, so it didn't take long to get sights on them.

Both of them seemed as close to perfectly well as they could be. In fact, one could say they were in a better state than Annabeth herself, which was the usual in Anna’s case, even if it was weird if you looked at the situation.

They weren't together, though, since Colette was helping carry the wounded while Karim was talking with some of her co-workers. Anna had to go help the short cop there soon, as she could recognize those two there...

“Hey, Col!” She called out after approaching enough, prompting her so-called knight to stop and turn around. “How many ya got?”

“Hmmm...” The brunette put on a thinking expression and started to count after seeing her friend approach. “Twenty, I think. I rushed away when things started to blow up, so I’m not sure.”

“Good, good…” Anna continued before approaching Col enough so she could whisper. “Someone entered the warehouse after the explosions?”

Both inquisitors got serious expressions in their faces after this question. Even if Colette was unsure of what was the point of asking this, she knew by Annabeth’s actions that it was important.

“The cops got so focused outside that I don’t think they even moved close to there. Shorty told them something if I saw it right, but again, I’m not sure…”

“She did, eh…” The red-haired gunslinger said with her eyes turning to where Karim was. “I ain’t seein’ things then… Shorty is gonna get another one from me.”

“She’s being that helpful? What you saw inside that place to be that important?”

“That’s the point ‘ere...” Anna smirked while answering, but just because she was unsure if that petite blondie was made of luck or something. “She may’ve gotten all I saw inside there already.”

She then detached from her brawler friend and waved goodbye, heading to where Karim and the two cops were talking.

It was easy to understand what was happening there by the expressions of both parties. Nominally, one artificially hyped girl and two hurried cops bothered by the situation.

"You can't get 'em lawfully, so ya wanna use me, eh?" Anna spoke to herself in a hushed tone as she walked closer to her nominal partner. "Yer gettin' more interesting, li'l gal..."

For Annabeth, Karim was a sucker for protocol and a person that disliked risks, but she was starting to think that only the second part was right. She would've called for arrest right away instead of buying time for Anna otherwise.

The small cop could likely deal with the two other ones though, but that's where the risk part entered. There was also the option that she didn't want to hurt someone that was a former companion though.

It wasn't that hard to understand her point, even if the redhead could agree with either. She, for one, would first beat a rat and then think about anything lawful. Hurting too much or getting this two unconscious would be bad though...

Either way, Anna was now close enough to listen to the conversation, and listening to it was almost making her laugh.

“…and then, I got in the middle of everyone and ‘BAM’, smited myself so strong, everyone got blinded. Of course, I’m not even close to corrupt, so it didn’t affect me and I could use the flash to kick everyone’s butts!” The short girl with a strained expression kept going with her exaggerated explanation. “Are you taking notes? This will need to be in the reports, you know? Anyway! Where I was?”

Karim’s forceful way of buying time, how she was using her authority, and how she had no idea how she would solve the situation were way too funny.

If it wasn't for the fact that she had to strongarm them without sending the cops to a hospital, which would mean losing too much time, the red-haired girl would've started to chuckle already. For now, she had to focus still.

“In the ‘kickin’ everyone’s butts’ part, shorty,” Annabeth said while startling the two cops she had appeared right behind.

“Ah, that’s right… So, I was there kicking these goons, and then ‘CRASH’! A truck got stuck in the pier, and then ‘BOOM’! Things started to explode. And then, you finally arrived.” The blondie rushed the last few pieces after noting her partner arrive, likely waiting for a bail-out at this point. “That’s pretty much all, but why did you guys take so long? I’m sure we called reinforcements right when we noticed something weird happening here.”

“Ah… That… Well, it took more than expected to gather everyone, ma’am. The boss tried to send us right away, but it’s almost night and all...” One of the cops started to explain, using his limited amount of information to make something believable. “Right now, all I want is to go back home and sleep a little even.”

“I get ya, lads. This whole thing was very tirin’, y’know? What ‘bout we solve everythin’ now and start talkin’ though?” Annabeth said finally while also unlocking her revolver’s holster again.

At her actions, the two cops winced a little, trying to step back but being held in place by the inquisitor’s pressure. Karim was also ready to get her weapon in a moment’s notice, even if she would take longer.

“What you’re talking about, miss? We just arrived here, there’s nothing much to say...” The horned cop tried to explain, even if she herself was sure this much wouldn’t stick by now. In fact, if Anna wasn’t wrong here, she knew that there was little to be done the moment Karim stopped them.

Why they didn't try to flee earlier was the weird part if that was true though...

“If you two could put your hands where I can see them. We’ll talk about what you were doing here after we reach the department.” The small enforcer gave her ultimatum to the two likely corrupt cops in front of her. “It saddens me to see companions working for criminals though…”

“Sigh…” The horned cop was the first to give up under the small girl’s gaze. “I don’t expect a kid to understand, but what’s done is done…”

Her partner looked to the side and also seemed to concede after a moment, so both started to raise their hands. Still, before they were done with it, the complexion on the cop's face changed and they both suddenly attacked.

The movements were too sudden to react, so Anna was thrown away by the huge female officer while her partner rushed to grab his gun and aim at the blondie.

Karim now had a revolver at point-blank range and no time to react, but, for a reason or another, the weapon only clicked without firing. And then, reacting only by her self-preservation instinct, Karim's obsidian blade cut down the threat only for the girl herself to freeze right after.

The small cop freezing up was terrible news since an arm with enough strength to break metal was heading in her direction.

It never reached her though as, while letting go of the half-dozen bullets she stole, Annabeth unloaded her own revolver at the horned demon. She even made sure to avoid all vitals as she did so from her prone position.

“Why they always choose the rough way?” She asked with a smirk smeared in blood.

It was unlikely that the half-blood cop with cat ears would be getting any better, but the horned woman was still alive. Very wounded, but alive.

Annabeth was racking even more damage, but that was fine too. It would be fine as long as they had someone to get information from.

The only problem was if the remaining someone would wake up in time.

“Now we pray this horned demon will wake up soon, 'aight, parner..." The inquisitor's words stopped midway as she finally noticed the state of her shocked partner. "Yer kiddin' me, gal...”

And then she rushed up without caring about her body, for there was a chance something very serious was happening right now.