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Challenge: Fog
Title: Magnesium
Rating: R/FRM (For Violence)
Dolls: Ming Jian Yuan [Iplehouse Bichun], Wren Llawcae [Iplehouse Asa/Nobility Doll Custom Muscular Woman Body]
Author's Notes: Any and all criticism and comments welcomed, as always.

Impending violence was heavy in the air, running in the adrenaline-swollen veins of his little group, visible in the pulse hammering in the throat of the man crouched to his left. This was not their first raid, but for some among their number it would certainly be the last. He had brought twenty-five with him this time, a larger strike force than their usual. But then, this target was better guarded. One of the countless supply trains. Medical supplies, munitions, radios. This was no camp kitchen’s order, snaking along the road below them, no procession of trucks laden with white rice and dried pork and sacks of salt. This was something that, if they captured it, could mean the difference between death and survival for his slowly growing band, hidden in the mountain caves.

He glanced to the side, checking on the positions of his soldiers, his warriors, making sure they all remained hidden until the proper moment. His gaze slid down the line, came to rest on the new one, the foreign woman. The Altered, though he kept that bit of information from all but his most trusted advisor.

She stared down at the little line of trucks, eyes impassive, weighing. There was no sign in her of nervousness, of fear, no hint of motion. She was poised. Potential energy, absolutely immobile but still there, just on the edge of his perceptions.

It came to him suddenly, ripples spreading across the pool of his mind, the calm before the next strike of the water droplet. She was a rock, balanced on the edge, gathered and prepared to fall upon their enemies.

He hoped she was as fast as Lee Hu Fong claimed. He had yet to see her moving seriously, had only a few moments in the last few days to step aside and observe her as she moved, as slow as the tide, through a set of simple forms, over and over. It didn’t seem like much.

The third truck in the line passed the marker, and the men and women around him leapt into action, tossing down incendiary grenades at the escort vehicles packed with enemy troops, careful to avoid hitting the supply transports themselves. Explosions, deafening, the heat of the magnesium-fueled inferno burning away the fog that shrouded the trucks, and the strange silence afterwards as eardrums popped and realigned – he could see the enemy, some still alive, tumbling out of smoking and slagged truck remains, mouths stretched wide in rictus screams, clutching the places on their bodies where blood and bone showed through skin, but could not hear a thing.

Then they were all up and moving, the moment broken as his small force poured out of the rocks and dirt and low scrub on either side of the road, slithering down the inclines, practically falling, yelling and shrieking, their cries only just barely audible to his still shocked and trembling ears. He joined them in a shower of scree, pebbles and small stones knocked loose and skittering down the slope, racing him to the bottom.

The fighting then was fast and close and bitter. The enemy knew that there would be no prisoners taken – in this kind of fight, the common niceties of war did not matter. They would kill the attackers, beat them off, or they would die. There was no surrendering.

He had his hands full, cheap AK knock-off spitting bullets into the faces and torsos of those who came toward him, but he caught sight of the Altered woman at one point, her own gun lost or discarded, locked in struggle with a man from the other side. He had a handful of her hair, was reeling her in. She let him pull, went with the force of it, and as she reached him her stumbling turned into a decisive step that buried her knife in his gut to the hilt. She ripped it back out again, stepped past him as he released her hair to clutch at his stomach, and slid the serrated edge of the blade across his throat. If it caught, she showed no sign of it, moving on to the next enemy without any hesitation. The man went down into the spreading stain of his own blood. He lost sight of her after that, as she ducked behind a still-burning truck to go after some new target, and he returned his focus to his own work.

After, in the caves, she took the knife, newly sharpened and shining, and chopped at her hair until it was barely two centimeters long, and ragged at that. The lower layers that were revealed, not exposed to the sun like the rest of it had been, were darker, the color of dried wheat. Jian watched her in silence from the darkness outside of her assigned sleeping cave, and if the others noticed it, they did not comment.
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