Friends and Enemies (Gwen Farris Book 5)

Gwen Farris:

 

Friends and Enemies

 

P.S. Power

Orange Cat Publishing

Copyright 2015

 

Chapter one

 

There was a strange feeling to the whole thing. Something surreal, nearly, when she thought about it. In a way it was like she was still asleep, and dreaming the whole thing, which was more than possible, given how very messed up her dreams had been for the last three or four months. Terrifying came to mind as a way to describe it. A big part of that was that Gwen had been asleep when the men came into her room.

It was, in fact, probably the
main
reason it was so strange.

She was at Park Street, her adopted family's freaking vast mansion compound... thing, which was guarded, if only by the staff, so being attacked there was odd. Like how banks with guards were almost never robbed, even if it was just a drunken old guy padding his retirement. That, on top of being asleep when it started, made her feel like she was dreaming. Except for the pain on her left side where she'd just been stabbed. Gwen really hated being stabbed. More than most people even.

The spot of blood there on her side wasn't that big, but the pain was real enough to get her going. Her fantasies might hold pain for her, but that was all mental. Sadness, depression, and a sense that she was about to be betrayed and left alone again. This wasn't mental. It was sharp, biting, and enough to make her moan. Shriek too, but she'd been asleep for that, if it had taken place.

So there was fighting going on when she really woke up. Three or four awkward blows into the thing she opened her eyes. The room was nearly black, which didn't help much, but her eyes were adjusted to it, and the faint glow from the window was enough to get the picture. Three men, in the darkness, each with a glowing green amulet showing at their necks, dressed in some way that wasn't exactly visible. Like movie ninjas, except that their faces were pale and visible to her. Not that she was going to be able to identify any of them, if she lived.

The nightlight
was
a thing in this world, Gwen knew. They ran off of little magical crystal packs, and were designed to sit on the top of night stands or dressers, keeping the monsters at bay. Just not for adults, which was a mistake. After all, she had her share of things that went bump in the night to deal with. So there was no faint glow to tell her what was going on. It was an oversight on Gwen's part, no doubt. If there had been light...

Then the stab to her side
probably
would have hit something useful, and she'd be dead already. There was that.

Rolling out of bed seemed like a good idea, except that there was an inconvenient body on either side of her, to prevent handy things like that. At her head was the wall, and at her feet, backlit just a tiny bit by the window on the far wall, was another form. Not a huge one, but not a woman either. A regular sized man.

One that had her trapped in place.

They all were both things. Men, which was clear from their silhouettes, and normal in size. Not midgets or giants. That was about all she could tell in the moment. There was nothing that called her attention, other than the weapons. Each of the bodies was, as far as she could tell, plain enough seeming.

Other than the part where they were in her room, trying to kill her.

Not being able to move, really, she did the next obvious thing, which was
point
at the man on her left, who'd just stabbed her, and seemed to be gearing up to do it again. Back home, in her own world, that would have been funny, and about as useless as anything imaginable. Poking him with her finger wasn't going to save her. Not surrounded by armed men like she was. Her plan though was to blast him with an awesome, and destructive, bolt of mental force. Magically removing him from life. Or, if she kind of sucked at aiming after being stabbed, distracting him. Maybe the others, too. Much like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expected a sleeping girl to fight back very well.

Seeing your friend die
might
just set even a trained assassin back a step or two. That was the theory of the moment as far as she was concerned, not having anything better to work with. The problem was that nothing much seemed to happen when she released the the organized magical force. Gwen was certain she'd done it correctly. After all, she practiced almost daily, because having super powers was fun. There was a sense of pressure, which told her the magic was leaving her body, just like it was supposed to. It was working that way, then. Still, that was it. There was magic, but no action from it.

"Fuck. Null radiatives? That's
totally
cheating, assholes. Fine then, we'll do this the hard way." Gwen rolled then, not knowing why, just letting her body flail a bit, avoiding blows from either side. They stuck in the mattress a bit, since these guys weren't just trying to hammer her with fists. Then she grinned, fear ripping through her.

No one was going to kill her
that
easily. Even if the magic wasn't working for the moment she had other things going for her. Ones that no one from this world would expect. After all, Gwen Farris had started life as a crippled social outcast, in a world where no one went out of their way to help the lowest people on the pole. That meant she was used to being nearly killed, and had ways to deal with it.

"
Fire
!" She screamed the word just as loudly as she could. The idea was that these men wouldn't want attention, but also might just be taken aback by her clearly insane behavior. Most people would scream for help, expecting the world to aid them when it came down to it. She didn't, so was willing to trick others into coming. "
Fire in the east wing
!"

The fight changed then, since she managed to bunch up near her own pillow, aim at the nearest a-hole and kick with both feet at the man on her right. It burned horribly doing that. Being gut stabbed would do that for a girl. As she thought it her mind changed the meaning a bit, to include everyone. Men stuck like that would probably feel the same way. It wasn't like she was sexist. The idea got her to smile as she finished the move. Considering things carefully, Gwen had to figure it probably wasn't that bad a wound then, really, or she wouldn't have been able to stay conscious moving like that. It got the fellow on that side of the bed to shift back enough, both feet pushing him away, so she could make it to the floor.

That part happened with a bit of a thud, but she got to her feet before anyone managed to kill her.

"
Fire
!"

The fight then was faster, because lying down wasn't exactly the best way to start out in a knife battle. Another thing that would have been great would be a knife. For half a moment Gwen frowned. If she'd been sleeping with a weapon like a regular girl, particularly a blade, then she'd be able to fight back a lot more ably right then, wouldn't she? Instead what she had was the small night stand next to her bed. For a moment she felt a bit like a real loser. Taking a weapon to bed with her had actually been something she'd thought about, then dismissed, a few hours before.
Now
she felt like a tool, and deserved to.

It had probably been prescient, and here she went fucking it up.

It was a sweet piece of furniture, the solid wood nightstand. Probably older than she was by a few decades. Even if she'd been in her own wreck of a body and not the pretty young thing she was at the moment. The thing was also polished, light weight as far as such things went, and made a nifty sound as it smacked the closest man on the head. The fellow went down, his dome making a hollow noise like a watermelon being hit with a large wooden mallet on a television show.

Everything she needed to know in life she'd learned from T.V.

"
Argh
!" The fellow hit didn't make the sound, the stuck pig girl did. Gwen felt a bit embarrassed, but didn't let it slow her down. It took three hits for the others to work their way around to her, the man on the far side coming directly across the bed. That was both good strategy, being unexpected,
and
fast. Gwen had to jump back, gasping in pain as she slammed him in the head with a one handed blow. That ended the life of her faithful nightstand. It was weird, but she winced anyway, since it had been there for her the whole time.

In a very real way, the nightstand had been her friend, over the last year. Keeping her things for her all night long. Helping her out, even as she ignored it. That was bitchy of her, she decided that moment. Not that she was going to start talking to the furnishings. Even the people here would think she'd lost it then.

A full year. The length of time that she'd been in this strange steampunk world of magic, and apparently, constant attacks on her person. Which made it kind of like home.

From the start, nearly, the faithful piece of furniture had been there for her. Holding a glass of water, or a lace doily, the whole time.

Now it had saved her life. Or given her a good shot at it, if she could get the remaining men there to go down.

"Fire! Seriously, it
isn't
three men attacking me, it's a blaze. Really! Don't come help me!" Sounding insane might not help her, but it wouldn't hurt. The men really did seem to pause for half a second, which was
something
. It let her throw a kick at the man from the bottom of the bed anyway, as he closed.

It was a mistake. More to the point, her foot connected with the center of his crotch, making a smacking sound. There was a pained groan, too. That one came from her again, the assassins being eerily silent the whole time. The wound on her side bit her sharply enough that she nearly passed out. There was a certain temptation to it, even as she fought against the shining blue black sparkles that tried to take her down. Doing that would mean dying, she had to figure, so Gwen rather nobly fought it, slapping at the groaning guy with the little table leg in her right hand. That hurt nearly as much as kicking had, but it rocked the guy. A bit. If she wasn't imagining that part of things.

"Miss Farris?
Miss Farris
?" The voice was from outside her room, and sounded like Charles Winslow, the butler. Possibly the world's strongest house servant, thank goodness. The tough, former special forces man. He was a bit old for fights to the death, being in his mid-forties, but that probably wasn't going to stop him. Old soldiers were stupid that way. The idea made her smile a little.

She understood that part for certain when the door opened, and a fit, rather good looking man, opened fire with a crin. It looked like a four feet long length of copper pipe, the light from the hallway not letting her see the color of it. She knew though. All crin had the same hue, as far as she knew.

"Down!" He opened up with a splash of green light, pointing at the man closest to her. The bent over man who was groaning now. Not
much
though. In fact, she honestly wasn't certain that she wasn't imagining the noise she was making as his. It sounded like her, she realized.

That was so unfair, really. These guys were doing everything quietly, and she was the one whining like a little girl.

There was a second flash of light, which was still and ugly green, matching the amulets on the men's necks. Nearly. It was a
bit
off, if they were coordinating colors. Lighter and slightly less yellow. The man shot was perfectly fine though. There was, about four feet from the necklace, a point where the magic just kind of
stopped
.

Gwen tilted her head, and took a breath.

"Shoot their feet." She'd meant to scream it, but it still worked. Charles was brilliant that way, it seemed. Faster than she would have, the man pointed at the floor, squeezed the funny trigger mechanism, and forced the attacker to bellow in pain.

Now he hollered nicely, like an assassin
should
.

Belatedly, Gwen slapped her left hand over the wound on her side. Stopping the bleeding would probably be a good idea, now that she had a bit of help. In fact, she didn't need to do much of anything then, since Charles handled it all.

Gwen grinned, as insane as it felt. After all, she was fine. Charles Winslow, the combat butler, was there. She was saved.

The great part was that it was simply true.

"Surrender now, or
die
." He sounded grim. Fierce and a bit like the guy in the bat suit from that annoying movie series she'd seen on late night cable. Raspy and like death personified.

"I don't think so." This came out of the man that had stabbed her. His voice was smarmy sounding. Creepy, thickly accented, and too slick for a man that had been hit in the head not five seconds before with a chunk of wood. Not too much longer than that. It was hard to tell what was going on, and how long it was taking. That was always part of fighting. The brain didn't work the same way when you were about to die.

Except for
this
jerkwad. Stabby the Prickmaster.

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