Tale翻訳 Icky & Ichabod
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Suburbs of Salem, Oregon. 1988

It was raining, but only gently, the sound of it falling on her umbrella no more than a soothing pitter patter. The air was cool and crisp, the sky grey but not dark, and water droplets hung from the pine branches like glass bobbles while songbirds fluffed themselves in the natural shower.

“This is a pretty little neighbourhood, don’t you think?” Icky asked as she strolled down the sidewalk, the violet colouring of her face subdued to avoid drawing notice to her bozomorphic nature.

“It’s still Humdrum territory. Don’t get too comfortable,” Manny replied gruffly, a scarf and hat hiding his upside-down face.

“Oh, you’re so grumpy. You should take me scouting with you more often. I’ve got better people skills. With my help, you probably wouldn’t have to stuff so many kids into sacks,” she joked, giving him a playful jab in the arm.

“I do not stuff kids into sacks,” he claimed, though his guilty tone made it clear that statement was only technically true. “Look, if you can talk this kid into coming with us willingly, super. But remember the main reason I brought you here is back-up. Child Reality Benders are unpredictable, and we can’t risk attracting attention while we’re out in the open like this.”

“Don’t worry. I’m great with kids, especially magic kids,” she assured him. “I’ll turn this girl into a 5-star act in no time.”

They turned a corner and came upon a small park with a lone girl running along the play equipment, talking to herself in a loud, pontificating voice. At first Icky thought it was odd that the girl was playing in the rain, but then realized that it wasn’t raining inside of the park.

“That’s her?” she smiled.

“That’s her,” he nodded. “I’ll let you take the lead.”

The two of them walked towards the front gates and saw that they were locked. A sign had been hung reading ‘Royal Kingdom of Queen Sophie – Go Away!’. The inside of the park was littered with countless toys and candy wrappers, buoyant balloons that bobbed up and down, and a fountain full of chocolate milk.

“It’s like a little Clown Alley in there,” Icky smirked. “Excuse me? May we speak with Queen Sophie please?”

“Who dares intrude upon the greatest sorcerer Queen in all the land!” the girl demanded, marching towards the entrance with a plastic staff in hand. She was a redhead, maybe about eight years old, and looked like she hadn’t had a bath for some time. Her sparkling tutu and Care Bare t-shirt were covered in dirt and chocolate, and quite possibly other brown substances as well.

“Just a humble Circus performer, Your Majesty. And her companion,” Icky replied with a polite curtsy.

“You’ll kneel if you don’t wish to face my wrath!” Sophie threatened, followed by a loud burp. Icky humoured her without hesitation, but Manny was a tad more reluctant. “I said kneel, foreigner!”

“Just what we need, another high maintenance Reality Bender,” he murmured as he dropped to one knee.

“Now, explain why you have interrupted my eternal playtime!” Sophie ordered.

“Of course Your Majesty. We’re from a community of magical people, like yourself, and -”

“I’m the only magic girl in the world!” Sophie screamed. Partly in pride, partly in pain.

“Do you really think that?” Icky asked. “Is that why you’re all alone in there?”

“…Other people are scared of me. Kids, my parents, even the police and soldiers in black ran from me,” she explained. “It’s better if I just stay here.”

“I’m not scared of you, sweetie,” Icky replied, allowing the bright violet to return to her lips, cheeks, and eyes. “I’m magic too. So is he.”

Manny pulled down his scarf to fully reveal his upside-down face. Sophie eyed them both with cautious optimism.

“You’re… you’re really magic?” she asked softly.

“Yes, and we’re from a place full of magic people,” Icky told her. “A place where people won’t be scared of you, where you can have friends again, where you’ll be safe and loved and learn how to become even better at magic. Have you ever heard of the X-men? It’s kind of like that, except that we’re not superheroes. Just a Circus.”

“Are you a clown?” Sophie asked, her eyes wide with wonder.

“I am. Do you like Clowns?” Icky asked with a wide smile. The girl nodded. “Well if you were to come back with us, you’ll get to see the most talented Clowns in all the Worlds. We could help you with your magic. If you’re really good we might even -”

A bullet whizzed through one side of Sophie’s skull and out the other. As her body hit the ground, all of her balloons floated away, her chocolate fountain ran dry, and the rain fell unhindered inside of the park.

“No!” Icky screamed as she broke through the gates and rushed to Sophie’s side, cradling her in her arms. “Sophie? Sophie! Sophie, sweetie, wake up! Please wake up! Sophie!”

She plied her magic as best she could, but there was nothing she could do.

“Scoop her up and let's go! It’s the Geo Sea, we’ve got to get out of here!” Manny shouted.

Icky glanced at the crumpled bullet on the ground and saw that it was silver tipped beryllium-bronze around a layer of telekill and an iron core, with warding microgrids engraved into each layer. It wasn’t just the Global Occult Coalition, but the Ichabod Campaign. They had killed tens of thousands of Reality Benders over the decades, mostly like this. A sniper shooting down a child before they had any chance to fight back, or grow up to become a serious threat. To become anything.

Icky howled in rage. Pulling a tetherball post out of the ground for a weapon, she sped off in the direction the bullet had come from.

“Veronica, no! It’s suicide! Veronica!” Manny’s increasingly distant voice pleaded.

As enraged as she was, she wasn’t suicidal. She kept at top speed, never ran straight for more than a couple of seconds, and weaved behind any cover she could find. She couldn’t manipulate those bullets with her telekinesis. If enough of them got inside of her, they’d impede her magic too much for her to heal. A single shot to the brain or heart would kill her for sure.

This was going to be a problem; if the Strike Team couldn’t take a Type Green out by surprise, their contingency was overwhelming firepower.

Icky headed for the highest point along the bullet’s trajectory, and on the top of a small hill she saw the outline of ten cloaked G.O.C. Strike Team members, the rain giving away their position. The sniper was still trying to get a lock on her, but the rest of them were clearly holding assault rifles at the ready.

She pulled out her deck of trick cards and threw them all at the Strike Team before leaping down a manhole into the sewers. She knew their battle dress had the same reality anchoring and anti-thaumaturgical protections as their bullets did, so she didn’t aim for them directly. Instead, all fifty-four cards hit the pavement surrounding the Strike Team with so much kinetic energy that enormous amounts of concrete shrapnel went flying in all directions at deadly velocity. She heard the men screaming in surprise, pain, and then anger. At least one was still in good enough condition to bark orders at the rest, but she was willing to bet she’d incapacitated at least a few of them.

They’d have their guns pointed at any manholes or sewerage grates around them, so she headed to the next manhole that still gave her a clear line of sight.

She lifted it just a little and saw six remaining Strike Team members standing in a defensive back-to-back formation, visible from either being covered in concrete debris or their stealth units having been damaged.

She threw the manhole cover with so much force that it decapitated one of the Gockers, and likely killed the team member directly behind him. She rapidly ducked under the gunfire of the remaining Strike Team but made no attempt to hide. After only seconds of running, she heard their rifles sputter impotently as they exhausted their magazines.

“Reload! Reload!” the commander shouted, but Icky had already moved in for the kill. She struck him across the head with the tetherball post, scoring yet another decapitation.

It seemed appropriate, given the name Ichabod.

The last three reached for their sidearms, but she dropped to the ground and took out their legs with one sweep of the post. She impaled it through the chest of one of them, kicked off the head of another, and jumped onto the third and began mercilessly pounding his head into ground beef with her fist.

Fuck-you-you-evil-fucking-kid-killing-evil-fucking-genocidal-evil-fucking-Nazi-evil-fucking-bastards! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” she screamed until there was no skull left and she was just punching the pavement. She hung her head and began to sob, but then heard a groan coming from behind her. One of the Strike Team members, the second one to have gotten hit by the manhole cover, was still alive. His visor had been shattered, and Icky could now see the man’s eyes.

One blue, and one green.

Not that she noticed or cared. She pulled the tetherball post out of the corpse’s collapsed chest and swung it with the intention of collapsing the survivor's skull.

The moment it made contact, it turned to sand in her hand.

Taken aback, she stepped away from the man, unsure of what just happened.

“Did, did you do that?” she asked softly.

The man took off his now useless helmet, shaking dust and sand out of his blond hair. The two of them quickly became stained with crimson streaks as the rain around them turned to blood, and she had no doubt it was his doing.

“Traitor!” she screamed, lunging to tear out his trachea. Without moving, he shifted out of her path, as if he had never been there at all. With a single motion of his fist, he called down a bolt of lightning to end her for good.

True to form, Icky merely spasmed with an illuminated skeleton, and survived with nothing worse than some singed hair and clothes.

“Well, that’s a first,” the man muttered. “What’s it going to take to put you down, Jugs?”

He reached for his sidearm, only to find it wasn’t there. Icky had snatched it as she ran past him, and was now aiming straight at him. She fired, knowing he was as powerless against the magitech bullets as she was. Had she taken him by surprise, this might have worked, but instead the blood rain before him instantly congealed into a gel-wall nearly two feet thick, more than enough to stop the bullets.

Screaming in frustration, she threw the gun down and jumped over the wall, only to find that the man was gone. Or rather, he now stood where she had been a moment ago, smoking a cigarette.

“You know, I really, really fucking hate it when you freaks make me use my own abomination against you,” he said. “It’s just so fucking hypocritical. I prefer to think of myself as a man of integrity.”

She charged at him again, this time slipping on the blood. It congealed around her and strapped her to the ground, constricting around her torso like an anaconda. She couldn’t summon enough strength to break free, nor enough magic to overpower whatever it was he was doing to her, and it was getting harder to breathe.

“Should’ve taken the bullet, sweet cheeks. This ain’t going to be pleasant.”

There was still one thing she could do. As much as she hated being a damsel in distress, it was definitely preferable to being dead.

“Hey,” she croaked out. “Have you ever heard of The Man with the Upside-Down Face, at the Circus of the Disquieting?”

The man with the right-way-up face scoffed at the nonsensical question, but went pale as he recognized the feeling of something foreign probing around inside his mind.

Hello Francis, whispered a voice with no actual sound.

“Then he’s heard about you,” Icky smiled.

Infohazard. She had exposed him to some kind of infohazard. His heart rate shot up as he tried to think of what to do, but he wasn’t prepared for this kind of threat. The Man with the Upside-Down Face was inside his head, looking for anything that he could use against him.

And it didn’t take him long to find it.

The Man saw Lilly, the Goddess Francis lived in constant fear of - no, that wasn’t true. He loved Lilly. He knew he loved Lilly… The Man saw the constant disrespect, the unending criticisms, the vicious insults - all because he wasn’t good enough for her. If he could just be the person she deserved, she would be nicer… The Man saw the attacks, the punishments, the mutilations - his fault. His fault. All his fault…

The Man even saw when she raped him, and did exactly what he had always feared if anyone ever found out.

He laughed.

The laughter of The Man with the Upside-Down Face echoed through Francis's skull. It was all he could hear. The Man laughed at Francis's helplessness, at his weakness, at his failure at being a man. The Man laughed at how pathetic Francis was beneath his tough guy façade. The Man laughed and laughed and laughed, until in Francis's mind there was nothing else but the laughter and the deafening, ego-destroying thoughts.

The rain had turned to water again. Icky was free, and the treacherous Gocker had collapsed into a fetal position on the ground, blanketed by an impenetrable ontokinetic cocoon. He was rocking back and forth while clutching his head and sobbing, begging Lilly not to hurt him.

Icky moved in to smash the cocoon and finish him, but heard Manny’s voice in her mind telling her to leave him be and run. As much as she hated to leave a Gocker breathing, he had nearly killed her, and it was probably best to take her chance at escape while she had it.

Even so, she spat on him before she ran.

Several hours later, Icky knelt over the shallow grave she and Manny had dug for Sophie in Mount Hood National Forest. She had transfigured a boulder into a proper tombstone. It read ‘Here lies Queen Sophie, age unknown but far too young, victim of the Ichabod Genocide. May she find peace in what lies beyond this world, and may her loss forever remind us why we fight against the Book Burners. Sleep sweetly, Your Majesty’.

“I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry,” Icky wept. Manny knelt beside her and put his arm around her, wiping her tears as she laid his head up against him.

“It’s a nice headstone. I’m sure she would have liked it,” he said softly. “And even though I don’t approve of you risking your life like that, it’s nice that you were able to avenge her, and that there are nine less Book Burners in the world who won’t be able to kill any more Freaks.”

“What about the last one? The Traitor?” she asked.

“He won’t remember us. I took that away,” Manny replied. “But he was too powerful for me to do any lasting damage. I hope we don’t ever cross paths with him again. He had some serious issues.”

“I don’t give a shit what his excuse is. He’s a monster,” Icky hissed, but then let out an exhausted sigh. “Thanks for saving my ass back there. I owe you one.”

“You’d have done the same for me,” Manny nodded. “Well, we should get going. If we’re not back at the Circus soon, Fuller might send Stretchy after us.”

Icky nodded softly. Kissing her fingers and touching them to the gravestone, the Freak and the Clown rose to their feet, leaving the swiftly yet lovingly made grave in peace amongst the dripping pine needles and gently falling rain.


















































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  1. portal:5372876 (23 Jun 2019 07:02)
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