Chapter 35: Essence variants
The next morning had come with the sun shining through a massive window that looked out to the city. Lou and Kim had gotten changed into their techwear-like clothes that were left behind by whoever stayed in the penthouse.
Kim wore a long-sleeve skin-tight blacktop with an orange collar around her neck. Over the top was a dark grey tank top that was slightly skin tight and provided a bit of extra warmth. Kim also wore a skirt exposing her brown legs and although not her favourite choice of clothes Lou requested she wore a skirt.
Lou wore a pair of fully black military pants, a t-shirt, a jacket and a pair of black ankle boots which all contrasted with her silver hair. She also had put bandages around her hands and wrists.
After spotting a giant lion in the distance they intended to investigate in that direction, however, a group of rebel scouts came knocking on their door and Lou was able to take care of them.
Making their way back to the entrance pools of mutant slime covered the area insinuating the rebels had killed some of the mutants before coming up.
"Seems like they know what they are doing." Lou was surprised at how efficiently the rebels were already adjusting.
'Did they have any involvement in the collapse of the military or were there forces already hiding in the city waiting for a moment to strike.' Lou would have expected them to take much longer to prepare, but it seemed like they were ready before it actually happened.
'I don't need to worry about it now, I need to regroup with Reia and the others.' Lou, although excited by the idea of taking on an army of rebels, she had to focus on looking for Reia.
"We should have brought one of the bodies with us to see if it is able to turn people who are already dead." Kim guessed it would work but so far they had only seen people get infected when they were alive or were just killed by a mutant.
"I wouldn't stress too much, I'm sure once we get Echo back he will do all the testing plus I would rather not accidentally create a new variant of the mutant." Lou knew it wasn't her expertise, so she didn't worry about testing and preferred to let someone else do the work.
"I guess so, but we shouldn't waste too much time, before we know it, that lion will be long gone." Kim wasn't too keen on the idea of fighting the lion, but knowing Lou it would be impossible for Kim to change her mind.
"Yes let's not waste anymo-." Lou was about to move until she suddenly felt a chill to her right and instantly shot in that direction.
Lou saw blood come out of something invisible and then a panther appeared out of nowhere. It was a spectre variant and it was just about to pounce until Lou shot, setting its body on fire. However, something was different about the mutant. Instead of the usual green glow, this one had an ice-blue glow.
The fire on its body had been extinguished as the panter used ice on its own body.
"Oho~ don't tell me these mutants can use essence." Lou smiled as things got a whole lot more interesting.
"If that's the case, it must have been a panther with an ice affinity." Kim had moved back holding her beretta making sure she was not in the way of Lou.
The panther growled and quickly went back invisible.
Lou focused on her hearing as the panther was not able to fully negate the sound it made while moving.
The panther had seemingly jumped and was approaching Lou's side. Instantly reacting Lou had fired a few shots but missed.
Suddenly a blue glow appeared even higher from where Lou shot and the panther was about to grab Lou.
Lou pushed off her feet backwards dodging the claw attack that almost clipped her ears. The panther landed on the ground and a bunch of ice spikes came from the ground. Lou was unable to dodge the spikes causing her to get stabbed in the shoulder and get a few cuts on her arm.
"This stupid fucking cat." Lou, despite the immense amount of pain in her shoulder, still aimed her gun at the panther and shot as much as she could. Kim, who was behind the panther fired a few shots of her own, managing to get rid of one of its legs.
The panther tried to move out of the way, but thanks to Kim removing one of its legs, the panther was unable to escape from Lou's barrage of bullets.
The panther was killed with ease, but Lou still had a bit of ice stuck in her shoulder.
"Great, my jacket is already ruined." Lou grabbed the ice in her shoulder and shattered it to pieces by crushing it. Blood came out, but that did not bother Lou at all except Kim.
"Lou! Are you okay?!" Kim came running up with a bandage in hand and went to cover up the wound.
"Yes I'm fine, it's just a small wound." Lou did not feel much pain, but she still let Kim patch her up so Kim's mind would be at ease.
"A small wound in an apocalypse where people turn into mutants by contact, I wouldn't be calling a HOLE in your shoulder a small wound." Kim was panicking as they did not know if an attack like that from a mutant would also cause infection.
"As I said I am fine, it was just essence so I doubt I will become a big bad wolf." Lou flicked Kim's head who had just finished bandaging Lou's shoulder.
"Hiss~." Kim did not have any more words and so she glared at Lou.
"Anyway, thank you Kim." Lou scanned the lobby to look for a similar jacket and to her luck there was. Lou picked up the jacket, but a sharp pain appeared on where her shoulder was.
"Damn." Lou put on the jacket and grabbed her shoulder which had a lingering pain.
"What did I tell you? Take it easy otherwise you will get yourself killed." Kim knew exactly what was wrong and could not help but stare at Lou unimpressed.
"Hai~ I know, I will be careful." Lou, unable to fight her current circumstances, had no choice, but to listen to Kim's advice.
"You know I have been through worse right?" Lou who had been on the brink of death many times could not help but think of her shoulder wound as something small.
"You are still a person who can die in one bullet and just because you visited death's door more times than I can count, doesn't mean you should be cocky." Kim pouted as there had been many times where she thought Lou was going to die, but never did.
Without saying any words Lou grabbed Kim by the collar and pulled her in for a kiss. After holding the kiss for a few seconds Lou then hugged Kim to provide a bit of comfort.
"Again, don't worry, you are the reason why I will never die." Lou fully understood Kim's feelings so all she could do is hug Kim to show sincerity.
"I-i…" Kim was at a loss for words and even began to cry a little as Lou's words really touched her.
"Now let's get out of this place. Like I was about to say, let's not waste anymore time." Lou released Kim from the hug and faced the exit. Kim wiped away the tears and the immense amount of stress that had been building for the last day or so was gone.
Walking out of the hotel, they spotted a street that led in the general direction of where they saw the lion.
Walking along the street they had noticed that there were a lot of dead mutants on the ground.
"We might be walking towards a rebel base." Lou was not sure if it was the rebels she killed or someone else.
"Makes our life easier, but I will say it is safe to assume that we are following the trail of those rebels." Kim wasn't too worried as it was not likely that the rebels were holding up in apartments or office buildings.
Walking further down the street, a few survivors had poked their heads out the window to see who was outside.
"Seems like they were smart enough to not run away as it would have been pointless." Lou looked at a few of the survivors which had fear in their eyes.
"With the mutants pretty much appearing from everywhere it would be almost impossible to leave especially since the military didn't even seem ready for it." Kim thought about how there were massive cracks in the ground which most likely appeared throughout the entire city making the infection spread everywhere.
"It's a shame that they won't be able to survive like this unless they join up with a group." Lou thought of the rebels and potentially other groups of people that might get their hands on weaponry.
"Hey! Are you the rebels that were coming to bring us to the camp?" A woman from an office building shouted at Lou and Kim.
"No, so shut up and leave us be." Lou did not want to bother them and continued to walk. Kim kept her head low as she found it rather embarrassing. 𝙛𝒓𝓮𝓮𝒘𝓮𝙗𝒏𝙤𝓿𝓮𝒍.𝓬𝙤𝙢
"Tch, probably dead by now, let's head to the mall ourselves, we know our way around the city." The woman from the window turned around to speak to more people that were in the building and a particular detail caught Lou's ear.
'So one of their bases is at a mall.' Lou smirked as this would be where she could get some action with more of the rebels.
"Lou I know what you are thinking and no we are not running head first into their base." Kim shook her head as the murderous glint in Lou's eyes would appear every time she thought of killing.
"Tsk, you are no fun."
"Sorry, but you literally just said to me you won't die."
"Fair, fair, can't argue with that."
The two continued to bicker while walking, leaving the small survival group that seemingly formed.
After reaching the end of the road that cut off into 2 different roads Lou and Kim decided to have a small break to eat.
"Good thing we were able to pick up some food from the hotel." Kim looked at their food supplies which only had military rations.
"Anything over the rations." Lou despised the rations and would often bring food to missions that were not allowed just to avoid eating them.
"It can't last forever though, just imagine in 6 months all the food goes off." Kim was dreading this day, but they needed to accept it so they wouldn't complain later.
"Geh don't talk about it and let us enjoy some meat while it is still okay to eat." Lou took a massive bite out of some cooked meat she had found in a store.
"Mhm." Kim nodded while also taking a bite out of a piece of cooked meat.
After finishing their meals they began to walk towards the right as it made them get closer to the military base which had a higher chance of finding squad members, assuming they did not travel far.
Approaching a cross-section Lou noticed a slight tremble in the ground. Not saying anything Lou grabbed Kim by the hand and dragged her into a nearby building. Entering the front door of an apartment building Lou looked out a window to see what was making the trembles.
Shortly after a massive tiger mutant appeared in the middle of the road. Lou's eyes were filled with excitement, but before she could move Kim stopped her.
"No." Kim whispered into Lou's ear and thankfully she backed off.
"Let's follow it." Lou had an idea and if it worked would hopefully be able to start a fight with a bang.
Kim sighed as she didn't really have a choice this time, but she was glad that Lou did not rush in without a plan.
Going up the stairs they managed to get up to the roof without the mutant noticing them. Seeing that it was heading for a certain location, Lou and Kim followed the tiger along the roof.
"Now let's see where this big boy is heading." Lou smiled, still itching to go in and fight the tiger.