With the heat of the morning sun came a renewed offensive that shifted the lines back to the west. It took thousands of men and millions of tons of munitions to advance even a mile and just like that their fortunes had been reversed.
Clara used the chaos of battle to make her way back to the church. The first thing she noted was that there were no traces of Gladys’s body. Fortunately, it looked like Edith had made it out on her own, so Clara went on to their rendezvous point.
Once she reached the remnants of the home, she heard a bird whistle. Clara replied by varying the chirp and saw Edith come out from the shadows wearing her nurses uniform. Clara’s partner looked very much worse for wear.
“You look like you had a rough go,” Edith said.
“I was about to say the same,” Clara replied.
The girls rarely showed affection, but the long night had heightened their emotions. They hugged one another and sought cover inside so Clara could be debriefed while she changed. With the battle raging on nearby, it was wise to not be seen as a combatant.
“I awoke with the sun in my eyes,” Edith said. “Took me a bit to remember what happened. Once I realised that I had your coat, I figured you put me there before pursuing your target,” she added.
Clara nodded and began to recite the entire tale about blowing several large holes in Gladys’ head followed by her chase of the male. Edith listened intently, committing every detail to memory in case they were summoned to substantiate their report.
“You think the name Drusilla is legitimate,” Edith asked.
“I don’t know of a Drusilla at the Tower but the name was its dying words,” Clara replied. “At the very least we should report it,” she added.
Edith nodded while helping Clara remove the hastily added wrapping and bandages. Bit by bit she turned back into a mature and sensual woman; the perfect weapon against any man who had an inkling for the feminine form.
“You took a big risk approaching him dressed like that,” Edith said as a friend.
“Gladys would never partner with someone who could challenge her authority. So that meant a low level neophyte,” Clara said.
“Still a big risk,” Edith said and this time it sounded like her superior officer.
“I know,” Clara said. “That’s why you are here to keep me in line,” she added.
Edith smirked since the mission would have gone sour had Clara not gone off half-cocked. It was her willingness to take risks that kept them alive.
“I will omit that from my report,” Edith said.
All the while Edith was watching Clara get dressed, long enough to feel a shiver and bite her lower lip to maintain control.
“Did you find anything near the fence,” Clara asked while she adorned her hat and cloak.
“Nothing but a few stains of blood,” Edith said.
That meant that Gladys had managed to heal up enough to escape. She must have gone on a rampage. In the back of her mind Clara wondered if the withdrawal had been caused by the actions of that enraged creature.
“She will not be so easily dealt with next time,” Clara said.
“No she won’t,” Edith said. She then smiled and pulled out a slip of paper, “Oh I almost forgot to mention that I came across this.”
Clara looked at the piece of paper and for a moment thought these were hieroglyphs. However the iconography was inconsistent with anything known from that period.
“What are these,” Clara asked.
Edith shrugged then said, “Not sure. I once came across a reference that mentioned scrolls that contained gate symbols on available destinations,” she added.
“So… A list of destinations and their sequence,” Clara asked.
“Possibly. Either way I will have to include it with my report,” Edith said.
That revelation explained a lot of their trouble in the region. While their portals had been shut down for security reasons, it seemed that these creatures had maintained the status quo. That meant they were able to pop in and out to sow discord just as Gladys had.
At least now she knew why they were dressed as like they were. No one could make that far in No-Man’s-Land without getting dirty.
“We need to hurry. Casualties will be pilling up by the time we get there,” Edith added.
“No rest for the wicked,” Clara said with a sly grin.
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!