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The Valentine's Day Bat

Spidernon Feb 8th, 2020 (edited) 702 Never
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  1. Read this on my blog at: http://spidernon.home.blog/2020/02/09/valentines-day-bat/
  2.  
  3.  
  4.  "Sammy..." Clara coughed. "Bring me my  bow."
  5.  
  6. The batgirl stared at her cupid friend and folded her wings. "You aren't going out," she said. "You have a fever."
  7.  
  8. "Don't be ridiculous. Angels don't get fevers!" Clara said. She tried to stand, her eyes glassy, but Sammy pushed her back down onto her bed with one of her clawed feet.
  9.  
  10. Clara whimpered. "It's Valentine's Day! I have to work!"
  11.  
  12. "You have to survive the night. This flu is brutal. You haven't even gotten the shakes yet."
  13.  
  14. Claea scoffed. "Shakes...PAH! Angels..."
  15.  
  16. "I know, angels don't get shakes," Sammy said. "You can't do this tonight."
  17.  
  18. "NO!" Clara said, rising from the bed with eyes bulging with terror. "Tonight is important! It's the big ball, the Prince must be struck with love's arrow when he kisses the enchanted peasant girl at midnight!"
  19.  
  20. "I'll cover for you," Sammy said.
  21.  
  22. Clara gasped, which with her fluid filled lungs sounded like death. "Don't even joke about that."
  23.  
  24. "How hard can it be?" Sammy asked. "I do a good job at the Halloween Pumpkin toss."
  25.  
  26. "The Hallowe-this is nothing like flinging pumpkins at scarecrows and rowdy drunks! It takes precision, aim, and most of all...CARE!"
  27.  
  28. "What are you saying?" Sammy asked, stricken. "Are you saying I can't be careful?"
  29.  
  30. "I'm saying there's a reason both our beds and the couch are broken, and its because somebody likes jumping on them," Clara said. "There will be a lot of people tonight, and the Prince will be in a crowd when he sees the peasant girl. He'll ask her to walk in the gardens. It'll be a hard shot to make. I need to wait in the bushes to make my shot, at midnight. I can't be seen."
  31.  
  32. "Why not?" Sammy asked.
  33.  
  34. "If they know you shot them, it makes them mad. They start resisting," Clara replied.
  35.  
  36. "So hide in the bushes and wait in ambush, shoot the prince, don't get caught," Sammy summarized. "I got this."
  37.  
  38. "Sammy, you...you have wings, not arms. You can't even use a can opener. How would you use a bow and arrow?" Clara asked.
  39.  
  40. "I'll figure it out," Sammy said. "I get can's open, don't I?"
  41.  
  42. "And it's so pleasant to have a bat toe in every can of soup you open," Clara replied. "Now enough nonsense. Fetch my bow."
  43.  
  44. Sammy grunted. "Well, okay. But at least take some cough mixture..."
  45.  
  46. "Will it make you relax?"
  47.  
  48. Sammy nodded. She ppured a draught from a simple brown bottle, and gave the cup to her friend.
  49.  
  50. Clara took a quick drink, then made a face. "What was that?"
  51.  
  52. "Just mama's recipe for hibernol..." Sammy said with a grin.
  53.  
  54. "Gosh darn it, Sammy!" Clara said -as she couldn't take the Lord's name in vain, being an Angel. She yawned widely. "Now I'm...I'm..."
  55.  
  56. "I promise; everything will be fine, Clara," Sammy said, helping her friend onto her goosedown pillow. "You need a good night's rest."
  57.  
  58. "...no....total...disaster...." she said. She soon began snoozing peacefully. The poor Cupid was so stressed. She needed this rest. Sammy was being a good friend.
  59.  
  60. Sammy clapped her wings together. "Right, now to get this arrow business."
  61.  
  62. First up was dressing for the occassion. She looked at the pretty uniform of the Cupids, which Clara had spread put near her bed. Sammy always liked pink.  Batgirls weren't supposed to like pink. For them it was always black, maybe purple. She smiled to herself. Today she would wear pink. Today, she would dazzle them.
  63.  
  64. After all, if she was going to do the job, she should wear the uniform. She and Clara were about the same size, give or take twenty pounds (who was giving or taking was a matter of hot debate).
  65.  
  66. She got on the costume, and smiled. Her dream, since she had been a little bat hanging upside-down in a belfry, had been to a Valentine's Day Cupid. It was silly, and she knew that, but she had always dreamed of being the Valentine's Day Bat, making Happily Ever Afters for decent people. Now she stood in front of the mirror in a frilly dress showcasing her
  67.  
  68. Unfortunately there were some real impediments to that dream. Namely, she couldn't even get an arrow on the bow, much less fire it. She'd have to go see Gahzraz the Gremlin to make some alterations.
  69.  
  70. . . .
  71.  
  72. The Gremlin wasn't exactly happy to have a visitor. Sammy could tell that as she heard the tiny genius stomping up to the shop's locked door and pull the bolt. The door opened harshly.
  73.  
  74. "Sammy, It's Valentine's Day, dammit! Decent folk are trying to rape their husbandos! Why are you here at this hour?"
  75.  
  76. "Gahz, I'm sorry, but I need your help," Sammy said as she walked through the entrance. She held up the bow and arrows. "Clara's sick and I gotta cover for her, but I can't use this."
  77.  
  78. Gahz grunted as she went behind her counter. The door shut with the clanging of bells. "This is good, very good!"
  79.  
  80. "You have something that can help?" Sammy asked with hope.
  81.  
  82. "Hell no! Law says only Cupids, Valkyries, and Angels can bear affection altering munitions and arms," she said. "So you'll be taking those right back to Clara, and I'll be going back downstairs..."
  83.  
  84. "I believe the law also says you can't keep a male suspended in a steam powered mechanical contraption for longer than sixteen hours..." Sammy replied.
  85.  
  86. There was a faint, hoarse cry of pleasure and exhaustion from the bowels of the gremlin's workshop. The gremlin stared at Sammy for a moment, then wordlessly produced several grapefruit sized ceramic balls from under the counter.
  87.  
  88. "Would you look at that: exactly what you need was here all along," Gahzraz said through clenched teeth, squinting one of her oval eyes. "I'll snap the arrows, crush them, and put the essence in these hand grenades."
  89.  
  90. There was a long, echoy whimper which turned into a sharp male cry of ecstasy.
  91.  
  92. "Is Taggart gonna be okay?" Sammy asked. Taggart was Gahz's husband, a bookish historian who liked fireplaces and armchairs, but who often found himself subjected to nefarious Gremlin experiments which he nonetheless seemed to enjoy. He was the official historian of the City.
  93.  
  94. "Oh yeah. He's having the time of his life," Gahz said dryly. "Machine will be rehydrating him soon and putting him down for a nap, so I got some time. Anyways, did Clara tell you how these things work?"
  95.  
  96. "Clara kinda doesn't know I'm doing this..." Sammy said.
  97.  
  98. "I'll pretend I didn't hear that. So four ways: One, they can convert hate to love. A boy really hates a girl, ptwang, now he can't cram enough chocolates down her throat. Two, they can make someone see a possibility they were blind to. This is arguably the main purpose of the things. Third, and most controversially, it can create feelings of affection out of nothing. This only lasts a few hours and then it dissipates into regret and a hangover, UNLESS there's a connection during that time. Lastly, and most potently, it can lower the inhibitions of one in love to pursue his love fully and without reservation. This is by far the best and most powerful usage, called the MOAB."
  99.  
  100. "MOAB?"
  101.  
  102. "Maker of All Brides. You get a guy on bended knee almost as soon as it hits. In the case of ladies, she opens like a Danuki shop on Easter."
  103.  
  104. "Ooooooh," Sammy said, gushing. "I can't wait to plug the prince!"
  105.  
  106. "Well, you aren't plugging anyone," Gazraz said. "You are throwing hand grenades. Light the comically long fuse and fling with your feet, like you do with pumpkins or candy apples on Halloween."
  107.  
  108. "Oh, that's a cinch," Sammy said. She was very good at divebombing targets with grenades.
  109.  
  110. "There are a couple caveats you should be aware of: some people are immune to love arrows or derived weapons," Gahzraz said. "The documents aren't clear as to why. And the person needs to be viewing the target when the arrow or explosion goes off, or immediately after."
  111.  
  112. "Make sure he's looking at her, some broken people can't be affected," Sammy repeated.
  113.  
  114. The mixing didn't take very long at all. Sammy was rarely envious of mamono with arms, because after all they couldn't fly, but at times she was impressed by how deftly they could move. Gahzraz was so swift and precise with those nubby flesh tentacles called fingers. It was somewhat weird to see women with them. On a man they made sense, after all...
  115.  
  116. "There," Gahzraz said, finishing up the last bomb. The grenades were now pink in color, which Sammy considered fortuitous, as they matched her outfit. "I made you four bombs. You should only need one. I took the liberty of saving some of the love arrows as payment." Her face twisted into a wicked grin. "Oh just wait until I get this lovely elixir into some tubing and pump it straight into my darling's mouth as he claims he is utterly spent..."
  117.  
  118. "I'll leave you to that," Sammy said, gathering up the bombs on her belt. "I've got a Prince to love-bomb!"
  119.  
  120. . . .
  121.  
  122. Sammy flew through the air. February around Valentine's day always brought with it the False Spring, a break in the cold weather where the harsh snows took a brief respite in favor of warm weather. She reveled in the time in the chill skies, as the rest of the winter was a time for sleepiness and walking everywhere. The air of February reminded her of October, her favorite time of year, when the city would be alive with torches, and men and werewolves would hunt each other through the city while vampire bats dropped fiery pumpkins down on the riotous drunks.
  123.  
  124. She tugged a grenade from her bandoleer. She had four, so...
  125.  
  126. A man was walking down the street with a tophat and cane. He briefly dothed his hat to a young hellwan maiden in a bonnet, whose flaming eyes lingered on him as he passed. They looked like they would make a good couple.
  127.  
  128. She swooped down and, with a shrieking sound normally unheard in February skies, she dropped off her bomb right into the man. It exploded with a pink cloud, and the man staggered, then turned to the Hellwan. He took off his cap and raced to her, kissing her on the lips. She responded in Hellwan fashion, by tearing off his clothes and raping him in the street.
  129.  
  130. With a smile, she turned towards the castle and flew towards the Garden. This would be a cakewalk.
  131.  
  132. . . .
  133.  
  134. Simon, the Count of Darloh, sat at his desk. As Castellan of the King's palace he  busied himself with many affairs. He had spent several days planning a lavish party. Men who knew him knew he was ill-suited to such a task. His had not been a life with an overabundance of joy. His parents had died young, and his schooling had been military. The military had been his life, and it had cost him an eye.
  135.  
  136. He would have to go and join the party soon, he knew, but he needed a moment. He hated Valentine's Day. He had been indifferent to it until it became his wedding anniversary, and any remembrance of it was more of a gut punch than a happy moment. He took a locket from his shirt and looked inside, at the unsmiling woman within. He still found her beautiful. His ex-wife, who had divorced him by publishing a note in a foreign newspaper. She was somewhere in the East, doubtless with hookahs wrapped around her nude body as she debauched herself. He knew he should hate her, but why did part of him miss her so?
  137.  
  138. There was a knock on his thick office door, which thudded and made little noise in the room full of old books.
  139.  
  140. "Enter!" He called.
  141.  
  142. The door to his office opened, bathing the dark wood room in light. He saw Fairfax, the leader of the palace guards, in silhouette.
  143.  
  144. "What is it?" He asked.
  145.  
  146. "There's a Monster Girl flying about the garden," Fairfax said. "We had some of the Owl girls bring her in. Doesn't have an invitation."
  147.  
  148. Simon sighed. "What is it, a mosquito girl buzzing about looking to lance The King? A magpie girl here to do a sambo show?"
  149.  
  150. "A Bat Girl. She claims she was trying to nest in the garden. She says she wants some fruit."
  151.  
  152. "Well, tell her there is a party tonight and  to come back tomorrow," Simon said, taking one last look at the face in the locket with his good eye before shutting it. The woman in it never smiled, at least not at him.
  153.  
  154. "She's...well, I can't describe what she's wearing. You better come see, sir. She's armed."
  155.  
  156. Simon frowned. He stood, and exited his office briskly.
  157.  
  158. They were in the garden, which was green and verdant in the false spring. There two snow-white Owl Girls towered over a small but fiesty Bat Girl. Simon had to admit the Bat Girl was a fetching thing. She had wings instead of arms, and she was in the most ill-suited pink outfit with frills and reds. It was like putting a mermaid in hiking gear. But her eyes...so big and pure, and of a deep green that was arresting.
  159.  
  160. But that was not the only thing which was arresting: there was also the bandoleer of pink hand-grenades which the Owl girls had confiscated. That...that was a problem.
  161.  
  162. . . .
  163.  
  164. "Let go, you mean hoot-owls!" Sammy shouted at the two Owl girls. They stared at her, their shoulder-mounted cannons primed.
  165.  
  166. "Pipe down, air rodent," One Owl Girl snapped.
  167.  
  168. A man approached, one with an eyepatch in a neat gray uniform, and the Owl girls tensed and stood straight as an arrow. "Here is the prisoner, My Lord," one of the Owl girls said.
  169.  
  170. "...And here is the contraband," the second said, handing the grizzled man the belt of grenades with her wing.
  171.  
  172. The grizzled man with an eyepatch took the bandoleer.  He was a bit cute, Sammy thought. It was always cute to see a boy with an injury. Not that you wanted that to happen or anything, but seeing it made you want to just hug them and baby them. Of course, she didn't think this man had ever been babied once his whole life.  In fact, it looked like the last time he had cuddled, it had been as he was squeezing an enemy soldier to death in a trench.
  173.  
  174. "So" he said as he clutched the bandoleer. "You want some fruit from the garden, eh?"
  175.  
  176. "What happened to your eye?" The Bat Girl asked, wide-eyed, pointing with a wing.
  177.  
  178. The owl girls gasped and covered their mouths with their wings. The grizzled man's remaining eye twitched. "Shrapnel," he said curtly. "Why do you have these pink hand grenades? Did gay anarchists contract you to blow up the palace?"
  179.  
  180. "What? No!" Sammy replied. "They are full of the love stuff on Cupid Arrows. They're to make people fall in love."
  181.  
  182. "Love? Well, we can't have that here," the man said. "Tonight is for Romance."
  183.  
  184. "There's a difference?" Sammy asked, confused.
  185.  
  186. "Yep. Love is carrying an injured child fourteen miles to get medicine. Romance is flattering an airheaded socialite so she'll smile at you and you can pretend she gives a damn. If there were any Love in here everyone would leave because they'd see what a waste of time this dull party is."
  187.  
  188. "Jesus, did losing the eye make you cynical?"
  189.  
  190. "You know, men have gone decades without mentioning my missing eye to me," he said. "You have mentioned it twice in as many minutes."
  191.  
  192. "How did they not notice? I got poor eyesight and even I can see the eyepatch," Sammy replied. "Maybe you should get a red eyepatch, or get one with a grinning skull on it."
  193.  
  194. "I don't think it's a problem of not noticing," he replied. "It is impolite to mention it."
  195.  
  196. "How so?" She asked innocently.
  197.  
  198. "It is an unpleasant topic," he said.
  199.  
  200. "You don't like being reminded it happened?"
  201.  
  202. He laughed. "I know every waking moment that it happened," he replied. "Every time that I blink."
  203.  
  204. "So what you're saying is no one until me has ever acknowledged that you were badly hurt in battle?" Sammy asked. "Are your friends assholes?"
  205.  
  206. A trace of a smile appeared on his lips. "As it so happens they are, but not in this case. I get a raised glass for my service here and there. I prefer my injury to go unsaid. I do not want my deficiencies to be public discussion."
  207.  
  208. "I am sorry that I mentioned it, then," Sammy said with a sincere bow. "It isn't a deficiency, though. It's a sign you were brave."
  209.  
  210. "Well...thank you," he said with a smile. Sammy felt butterflies in her stomach. She wondered if they were having a moment.
  211.  
  212. "Now that we've settled up on my eye, you'll be on your way," the grizzled man said. He held up the belt of grenades. "I'll hang on to these Love Explosives."
  213.  
  214. "Hey! I still need to make the Prince fall in love -"
  215.  
  216. "The Prince, eh? Isn't that a bit grandiose?"
  217.  
  218. "My cupid friend is sick. He's her target! This is important!"
  219.  
  220. "Well, if anybody's ruining the Prince's life with a love arrow, we'd need it to be a proper Angel. Which, by the way, are the only people allowed to carry these grenades," the grizzled man replied. She watched him supress a smirk. "I'll let you keep that costume, though."
  221.  
  222. "Keep the cos-OOOH! Of course you know, this means war!" Sammy shouted, pointing a clawed wing skyward. She flew over the garden wall and marched off down the hill, making drum noises as she went.
  223.  
  224. Infuriating man, she thought. Infuriating, cute, intelligent man who made her ache a little. She shook her head free. She had a job to do. She had to go back to Gahzraz.
  225.  
  226. She stopped, and turned around, facing back towards the grizzled man. She had one more thing to do.
  227. . . .
  228.  
  229. Simon let out a small chuckle as he watched the angry bat woman march away to her own vocal drum roll. Monstergirls always had a refreshing charm about them.
  230.  
  231. He frowned. She had stopped, turned, and was marching back, her face flush with anger and her brow knit. He was vaguely aware his heart was beating faster at the prospect of her return.
  232.  
  233. "What's your name, grizzled veteran man?" The bat girl asked accusingly with a pointed wing.
  234.  
  235. "Simon, Count of Darloh," he replied.
  236.  
  237. "Well...that's a NICE name!" She shouted, angrily. "I'm Sammy!"
  238.  
  239. "That's a nice name, too. Have a good night, Sammy!" He said with a friendly wave.
  240.  
  241. She turned and resumed marching off, shoulders hunched, taking up her drum roll.
  242.  
  243. Simon looked to one of the Owl Girls. "Contact the Angelic council. Tell them the angel that wasn't going to be here is sick. The King is eager for magic tonight."
  244.  
  245. "So, let any Angels through?" The other Owl girl asked. She coughed into her wing. "Can we...um...engage in custom?"
  246.  
  247. He sighed. Angel girls and mamono often had side deals concerning turning potential mates into love arrow pin cushions. "You may turn a blind eye to any Angelic operatives. Except that Bat Girl," he said. "Let her in and we'd have the King making out with a statue in the garden and Lord knows what chaos."
  248.  
  249. "Understood, sir," the Owl-Girl said with a salute. She took off into the sky towards the Angelic Council. The other resumed her patrol.
  250.  
  251. He turned away with a sigh, back to the strict mirth of a royal party. A few love bombs would make the dance more lively. Violins played, a few people waltzed, and a lot of blue blooded women clucked like hens while their husbands brayed about boring matters.
  252.  
  253. There was one thing which made this party different from most others, and Thing was the right word. As it was a Valentine's Day party, Simon had asked the celebrated Yeti sculptor Frossa Jormungander to create several ice sculptures of various romantic figures from classical myth and legend. She choose as a centerpiece the classical story of Titus and Reitia, both represented as over thirteen feet tall. Reitia was modestly dressed, standing with hands outstretched to Titus, who was arrayed  in ancient armor and tunic. Well, mostly arrayed.
  254.  
  255. Titus had apparently decided to forego armoring or even clothing his genitals, and looking at them in ice, it was clear why. The massive ice scrotum and shaft could unhorse an enemy rider with a simple pelvic thrust, and as the ice avatar was fully engorged, it was no wonder Reitia seemed both eager and frightened of Titus' approach.
  256.  
  257. Simon had confronted Frossa, but the temperamental yeti refused to even countenance the idea of making a tasteful edit, considering the icy erection - which required a support column to keep from breaking - to be critical to her vision.
  258.  
  259. The Ice Cock became a kind of rallying beacon, and had delighted the Prince and his friends even as it had caused every noblewoman to turn deep red. He had worried the King might not approve, but he had instead laughed uproariously and said it was EXACTLY what he wanted.
  260.  
  261. Simon knew the King would be thrilled to see his son hit by a love arrow, and this is why he had sent word to the angels. What war had not destroyed, the plague had finished off, and the royal family was down to the King and the Prince. The deaths had not merely draped the castle in black banners for three of the last four years, they had imperilled the kingdom itself. Beyond the King and the Prince, there were three elderly cousins who all had equal claims. And the King of Gath, that hot-tempered Fortinbras, had one as well.
  262.  
  263. The King, ever a forceful personality, had shown no outward sign of grief, but he had become obsessed with his son marrying and filling the castle with young children. He could claim it was for the good of the nation, but Simon guessed the old King was trying to fill the chasm left by losing a wife and two children.
  264.  
  265. Simon wondered which was crueller, to have a loving family and lose it, or be denied it outright by a wife whom you had disappointed, who had fled to a wealthier man in a foreign city and left you in disgrace. He wondered if the war had made him aloof and unkind as she had said, or if she was just a selfish whore who had left when all his money was gone. The time of day made him slide between which he believed. It mingled with the faces of men he left dead in the muddy grounds around Vendant and Tommel, and he concluded that in any case he was a vile person who had not been destined for such happiness.
  266.  
  267. He walked towards the Ice Cock, past a group of young women stared longingly at the Prince, who was standing with his young friends near the glacier-glans. The Prince looked about and yawned, loudly and long, his eyes searching as he did so.
  268.  
  269. "A very conspicuous display of nonenjoyment, Your Highness," Simon said as he approached.
  270.  
  271. The Prince smiled. "Too much?" He asked.
  272.  
  273. "A bit. I do wonder why you are so resistant," Simon said. "You've never shied away from a dance before. The girls are all hurt you will not dance with them."
  274.  
  275. "It's like the sculpture. It's all so...stiff," the Prince said to the laughter of his friends. "I know my father is watching from behind a curtain somewhere, and it makes me feel like he is watching me learn to ride a horse again."
  276.  
  277. Bertram, the Prince's most 'eloquent' friend, tittered, and the Prince elbowed him. Bertram was from an old noble family, but his father had not been. He had brought cash of ill repute from a life in the city underworld to the ailing family, and took his wife's name to buy respectability.
  278.  
  279. "Yes, yes, I know," The Prince snapped at his friend's tittering. "I said riding and he wants me to pick a wife out, which is like riding."
  280.  
  281. "Or being ridden!" Bertram said, ever the great wit. "Just stick your head in Lady Gretel's bosom and make engine sounds."
  282.  
  283. "Is that the best one for such a task, Bertram?" Simon asked.
  284.  
  285. "You have eyes! Look at those things..." Bertram said. Gretel did have a full bosom, some kind of P'orc girl who would squeal when she giggled.
  286.  
  287. "Far be it from me to stand in the way of true love, Bertie," The Prince replied. "But this party could use some livening. Why not go demonstrate?"
  288.  
  289. Betram guffawed. "A Prince could get away with such a thing, not a mere Baronet," he said.
  290.  
  291. The discussion was interrupted as new guests were announced. The Ladies Melody and Jane had arrived from the Gathian Embassy.
  292.  
  293. Melody approached. She was a Gathian, and so arrayed in their foreign dress and speaking with their slight accent. She was a small woman, brunette, with the pronounced, pointed nose of her people.
  294.  
  295. "Greetings, Your Highness," she said with a formal curtsie.
  296.  
  297. "Lady Melody," the Prince said with a respectful bow. "Welcome to the Party. I hope you shall have a delightful time."
  298.  
  299. "Thank you, Your Highness," she said, smiling. "I hope you shall grace us all with a dance, your majesty..."
  300.  
  301. "Sadly, a dismount has made my calf quite sore," the Prince said, rubbing his leg. "I shall see as the night goes on."
  302.  
  303. "Well I do hope it is not too painful," Melody said.
  304.  
  305. "Perhaps her Ladyship would care to sample some of our fine Fjordian wines..." Bertram said. "...while they remain still ours."
  306.  
  307. The Prince shot him a look. The Fjordlands were a point of contention between the King and Fortinbras. Everyone looked to the noble girl's reaction. Lady Melody bristled.
  308.  
  309. "I am surprised you favor the Blood of Jotuns, I believed the stout Cider of the Old Quarter was more to your taste."
  310.  
  311. Those assembled gasped. Bertram's eye twitched. His father had been a bootlegger in the City's Old Quarter. Bertram had fought men for mentioning it in his presence. His face darkened. "You..." he began.
  312.  
  313. "You look parched, Lady Melody," Simon said. "Perhaps it would be good to go and find yourself a drink to your liking."
  314.  
  315. Lady Melody curtsied again. "By your leave, I believe I shall go find my way to sample some refreshment, Your Highness," she said.
  316.  
  317. "Yes...yes, of course," the Prince said, eager to diffuse the situation.
  318.  
  319. As he watched her walk off, and Simon wondered if the girl was either unaware or totally unafraid of Bertram's possible reactions. As it was, it took every ounce of his gentlemanly training (such as it was) to resist a full outburst.
  320.  
  321. "Were she a man I would challenge her to a duel for that insult!" Bertram growled.
  322.  
  323. "Ease off on her, Bertram," the Prince said. "She has always had a proclivity for cutting too much," the Prince said. "I apologize on her behalf."
  324.  
  325. "You should not apologize for her, my friend. She is a Gathian whore," Bertram said, spitting. "Probably a spy."
  326.  
  327. "She is not a spy," the Prince said. "She was my sister's dearest friend. I won't have her made to feel unwelcome in my house," his face grew grave. "Or have her called a whore."
  328.  
  329. "And how unwelcome do I feel? I see men making japes even now..."
  330.  
  331. "You showed sense when you didn't race off to bury your head in Gretel's chest, but foolishness when you barbed at an Ambassador's daughter, young Baronet," Simon said. "You are too young to remember the Great War, but no one here is keen to fight another one, and we are closer than any of us would like."
  332.  
  333. "I made a simple joke. She-"
  334.  
  335. "She responded to your brash insult. Go and get a drink and cool down," Simon said. "And stay away from her."
  336.  
  337. "Come," the Prince said, clasping Bertram on the shoulder. "Let us get some warmed mead and not dwell on this matter. Men will speak well of you if you show forebearance."
  338.  
  339. Simon exhaled as the two men walked away. That had livened things up. He remembered suddenly why he preferred dull parties. He went to his office to store the Love Bombs away from where they could cause any more...excitement.
  340. . . .
  341.  
  342. Gahzrag's night had progressed well. When Sammy arrived back at the Gremlin's workshop, she and Taggart were both in plush white robes and sipping cups of hot chocolate.
  343.  
  344. "Hi Taggart," Sammy said gently. Taggart needed quiet movements and calm, especially after a few days in the 'rack' as he called it. "How'd it go?"
  345.  
  346. "I...I'm very tired," he said, still catching his breath. Gahzrag lovingly hugged him and ran her claws through his hair. Aside from whatever she did to him in those machines downstairs, Gahzrag absolutely doted on Taggart the rest of the time.
  347.  
  348. "Gahz, I lost my grenades," Sammy said.
  349.  
  350. Gahzraz looked at her and sighed. "You divebombed people on the street, didn't you?"
  351.  
  352. Sammy frowned. "No, I was really good about that! I only did it once! This jerk man-cyclops who can't talk about his lost eye took them!"
  353.  
  354. "Man-cyclops? Wha?" Gahz asked.
  355.  
  356. "Simon, the guy in the eyepatch at the Castle!"
  357.  
  358. "Oh Darloh?" Taggart said, sipping his chocolate. "He's a war hero, a close friend of the Prince. Had a rough time during the war, but came through it. We were stationed a hundred yards apart at Vendant, but we never met there. Good man. Shame about what happened with his wife, though..."
  359.  
  360. "Ohhh that Simon!" Gahzrag said."He's come to the museum a few times. He's a good man. Always very sad."
  361.  
  362. "What happened to his wife?" Sammy asked.
  363.  
  364. "Well I guess good things...from her perspective," he said with contempt. "She left him for the Shah of Azania, when she went on a 'pilgrimage' to holy sites there. It was quite the humiliation. He was set to be Marshall of the East but after that, he was passed over."
  365.  
  366. "But that wasn't his fault!" Sammy cried out. "Why would they punish him?"
  367.  
  368. "It wasn't intended as a punishment. There were worries that having an ex-wife abroad in foreign lands would put him at risk of being compromised through blackmail. He was assigned to be castellan of the palace instead. A position of prestige, and a public vote of confidence from the King, but...not the command of the East."
  369.  
  370. "No wonder he's grumpy," Sammy said, sadly. "What a cunt his wife was. Now I need to get past those damned hoot-owls," Sammy says.
  371.  
  372. "You could dress in my overcoat and say you're a mouse girl," Taggart said.
  373.  
  374. "Why would they let me in?" Sammy asksed "Do they let mouse girls in?"
  375.  
  376. "Oh. Well I have an invitation..." Taggart said.
  377.  
  378. "You do?!" Gahz asked, voice raised. "Why didn't you tell me??"
  379.  
  380. Taggart looked at her with hurt eyes. "I've been in your new machine since I got home from work four days ago! Y-you put that tube in my mouth and-and..."
  381.  
  382. "I'm sorry, sweetie, you're right," Gahz said, kissing him on the forehead and soothing him gently. "I didn't mean to shout, calm down."
  383.  
  384. Taggart handed Sammy the invitation. "Show this at the door, and you'll get right in," He said.
  385.  
  386. "Thanks Taggie!" Sammy said. "Thanks for your help!"
  387.  
  388. "Well, we won't be going, and our Prince needs to begin replacing the royals who have died," he shook his head grimly. "So much violence...so much loss..."
  389.  
  390. Everyone was quiet, only the crackling of the fires making noise. The last decade had been a harsh one. The Great War was a time of rations, of bread lines, and of starving children. And it ended with so little to show for it except death. The royal family had felt the sting acutely, but all three of them knew dear friends and loved ones who had not survived.
  391.  
  392. Taggart stood with a grimace. His entire body was sore from the stresses the Gremlin's machines placed on him, though he seemed to he in perfect health. "If you two will excuse me, I intend to stretch out," he touched Gahzraz on the shoulder gently. "Come to me when you are done."
  393.  
  394. "Of course, sprocket," she said with devotion.
  395.  
  396. "I need more grenades, Gahz," Sammy said as Taggart left through the door.
  397.  
  398. "I think you want to stay out of the air if the Owl Girls are looking for you. I got another idea. This is gonna have to be quick - Taggart and I are going in the study to cuddle. This is the biggest and most important part of Valentine's Day, where he's his happiest after I've worked out all my experiments on him. I want to experience it with him as much as possible," Gahzraz said. "Give me a few minutes."
  399.  
  400. Gahz emerged a few minutes later with a large harness. "This is similar to what the Owl girls use, only modified for a crossbow," Gahzraz said.
  401.  
  402. Gahz fitted the equipment on her under the overcoat. The crossbow could be deployed from underneath through a slit in the shoulder
  403.  
  404. "The crossbow is magically configured to follow your head movement. The wires going to your claws will control reloading. Pull back on your wings to reset the drawstring. To shoot, just whistle."
  405.  
  406. "Whooot!" Sammy called out in a whistle. A crossbow bolt flew across the room and embedded in a stuffed bear. The heart-shaped bolt disappeared in a cloud of pink smoke.
  407.  
  408. "You have ten shots. Should be more than enough," Gahzraz said. She hastily stood and headed for the back room. "If you'll excuse me..."
  409.  
  410. "I understand. Thanks, Gahz," Sammy said. "Have a Happy Valentine's Day."
  411. . . .
  412.  
  413. Simon watched the owl girls circle overhead, their shoulder mounts scanning every entrant. He had bade them to keep an eye on Bertram, but that was not necessary. The young Baronet was happy again, and had taken the much less brash action of asking Gretel to dance. The P'orc looked as happy as any woman had ever looked, bouncing along with Bertram as they waltzed about during the dances. He had wisely taken Simon's advice and given Melody a wide berth, and after the Prince had quietly spoken to her, she did the same of him.
  414.  
  415. He watched as a mouse girl in a dress overcoat entered. Slightly odd dress, but then mouse girls could often be chilly, and False Spring was considered cold for some. She passed close to him and for a moment he thought he saw a pair of green eyes he could never forget. He was about to pursue her when the Prince clutched his arm.
  416.  
  417. "W-who is that?" The Prince asked with a gasp.
  418.  
  419. The girl approaching was radiant, in a blue dress with sparkling silver and diamond jewelry. She looked about with uncertainty. She was clearly a peasant girl, but she was undoubtedly the prettiest maiden in the Kingdom.
  420.  
  421. The Prince walked towards her almost as as automaton would, as if drawn by a magic spell.
  422.  
  423. "I'm Cinderella," the girl said. "Everyone calls me Cin."
  424.  
  425. "...Cin..." The Prince said, captivated. "W-would you like to dance?"
  426.  
  427. The girl blushed and fanned herself. "W-why yes, Your Highness! I'd love to!"
  428.  
  429. The crowd enjoyed watching the Prince dance, and Simon permitted himself a smile. The two seemed to be getting along well. The King would be happy.
  430.  
  431. Simon thought of the cute Bat Girl, and he felt a bit sad she couldn't be here to see it. He had a vision of a love bomb dropping down on the two as they danced, and guessed it was probably, sadly, better that she was not here.
  432.  
  433. He did wonder, watching as men twirled their ladies and mamono about on the dance floor, just how a Bat Girl danced.
  434.  
  435. . . .
  436.  
  437. Sammy's heart pounded. Her disguise had worked! She had even passed by that cute hurt little puppy Simon. She would have to go see him later.
  438.  
  439. The peasant girl was dancing with the Prince. Sammy clasped her wings together. They looked adorable. She stared at the grand clock in the garden, which would soon chime ten. She had two hours, then she'd need to make her shot. She decided to make her way to the garden, but first she decided to just enjoy the party for a little bit. After all, Bat Girls were not often at black tie events. That was the domain of Vampires, those bitches.
  440.  
  441. Sammy was amazed by the opulence and weath, the fancy dress and lavish lights  and most of all, the giant ice penis. It was all so glamorous. She stood next to two girls, both short and thin, but one was blonde and the other a brunette. By their dress and accents they were foreign, but undoubtedly of high aristocratic breeding.
  442.  
  443. "The Prince looks happy," one of the foreign girls said to the other.
  444.  
  445. "Yes Jane...yes he does," the second said with obvious dislike.
  446.  
  447. "I'm sorry Melody. It doesn't always work out..."
  448.  
  449. "It's alright. I understand how these things go," Melody said. "It's just...a commoner, a vulgar street woman...the Prince deserves better."
  450.  
  451. "I know. Well...a Gathian noblewoman would not be the first choice," Jane said. "Not with the current tensions. I have been getting hostile stares lately."
  452.  
  453. "I got worse earlier. As if we are soldiers in the Fjordlands," Melody scoffed. She dabbed at her eyes surreptitiously. "At any rate, I think my time in this Kingdom is coming to an end," she said.
  454.  
  455. "Melody, no..." Jane said.
  456.  
  457. "There's nothing for me here," Melody said. "It's time for me to consider my own future. You would do well to leave as soon as you are able."
  458.  
  459. "I won't be returning, Melody," Jane replied. "Sherriff Loddan and I, well...I think he will ask me to marry him soon."
  460.  
  461. "I am happy for you, Jane," Melody said. "He is a good match, and you will be well provided for."
  462.  
  463. The song finished, and all applauded. Sammy walked away, feeling a bit bad for Melody, but then those things happened. She knew she needed to set up in the garden for her shot.
  464.  
  465. . . .
  466.  
  467. Sammy found what looked like a good spot in the garden, and began to set herself up. The spot was on a raised section among shrubs, with a good view of most of the garden. She took a deep breath as she settled in to wait.
  468.  
  469. "Psst! Sammy, over here!" She heard from the nearby bushes. She squinted, and noticed that one of the shrubs was pink, and not only pink, but a very hot and out of place pink.
  470.  
  471. "It's me, Valkyrie," a voice said from teh shrub.
  472.  
  473. "Oh! Hi, Val!" Sammy said. Val was one of Clara's friends, a fellow Angel, considered to be one of their most skilled operatives. "Why the hell didn't I notice the pink shrub?"
  474.  
  475. "Never mind that - you can go home, Sammy," Valkyrie said. "The Council dispatched me to handle this."
  476.  
  477. "How did you find out Clara was sick?" Sammy asked.
  478.  
  479. "Let's just say the Castle has an interest in the Prince getting hit with a love arrow," Val replied. "They passed along word. We went to check on Clara and saw she was asleep, and that her gear was gone. We all know you, so we knew what you were up to..."
  480.  
  481. "Why the hell did the Castle send me away, then?!" Sammy shouted. "I could do this, you know!"
  482.  
  483. "Don't take this the wrong way, but this is our thing," Valkyrie said. "If you could do it, there wouldn't be any point to us, would there?"
  484.  
  485. Sammy looked at the tall blonde woman with dove wings and a powerful frame squatting in the pink shrub. "Well of course there would be jobs for you. I mean, little bat girls couldn't take all your work...could we?"
  486.  
  487. "What possible use would anyone have for tall, blonde expert sniper-warriors who obssess about love, if Bat Girls could do our jobs? Men would desert us in an instant!"
  488.  
  489. Sammy's eyes widened. That made a lot of sense. "Ohh. I never thought of that. You're all such nice people, I don't want anybody to lose their jobs..." she said.
  490.  
  491. "You're a dear for seeing it," Val said. "Thank you for checking your Bat Girl privilege."
  492.  
  493. "Indeed, I...wait a minute!" Sammy shouted, hotly. "You guys pull that on us Bat Girls on Halloween all the time!"
  494.  
  495. "That's different," Valkyrie said. "Halloween is for everyone."
  496.  
  497. "It's all we've got!" Sammy said. "Halloween is tight enough for us Bat Girls with the black werecats and hellwans and the zombie girls! And then there are gazers and skelly girls and...and vampires, don't even get me STARTED on vampires! And then you bombshells start doing your trick shots, and every guy in the area is drooling for an Angel!"
  498.  
  499. "Alright, alright, shut up," Valkyrie said, her eyes darting. "Tell you what: you go hide near the punch bowl. There's a slight chance the Prince and Cin will be near there at midnight. If they are over there, SIGNAL me. Don't try to shoot him yourself. I need to be the one to make the shot."
  500.  
  501. Sammy saluted. "You can count on me!" She said enthusiastically.
  502.  
  503. . . .
  504.  
  505. The Prince approached Simon with a wide smile. He rubbed his hands together.
  506.  
  507. "Things are going well, then?" Simon asked.
  508.  
  509. "She's great! We've just been talking and talking and talking...well, mostly it's me, but she's such a good listener! I...I want to show her the hunting horn my brother carried into battle."
  510.  
  511. "At Vendant? Why?" Simon asked.
  512.  
  513. "I guess I...I feel like I really want him to meet her, and this is the closest I'll get," The Prince said. He suddenly teared up. "Is...is that wrong? Is it too much?"
  514.  
  515. Simon smiled. "I think it's fine. There isn't a person here who didn't lose someone. She'll understand."
  516.  
  517. The Prince smiled, his eyes shimmering. "You're right, especially her. She's great, just great," he said. He headed off to the rooms.
  518.  
  519. Simon wondered why the heck an arrow was even necessary. He guessed the King was thrilled by this, wherever he was watching from.
  520.  
  521. . . .
  522.  
  523. Sammy settled in under table near the punch bowl. This served two purposes: it made sure she would be at the best spot to monitor if the Prince and peasant girl were near it, and it also gave her the opportunity to help herself to a cup of punch here and there.
  524.  
  525. The punch, however, was frightfully bad.  The fruits were all canned and not fresh. This was a side effect of the war, when getting fresh fruit had become a hardship due to the blockade. Bat Girls were very sensitive to this, and it was a travesty that the palace had a worse fruit punch than her family gatherings. Still, she had taken seventeen cups, but under protest, and becuase she liked the fizzy stuff they added.
  526.  
  527. The peasant girl of the hour approached and poured herself a glass. She drank, then grimaced. Clearly a fellow connoseur of fruit.
  528.  
  529. A severe looking older lady walked over. "Enjoying the punch, Cin?" The old lady asked.
  530.  
  531. "It's shit. There's no alcohol in it. We shouldn't be seen together, stepmother," Cin reproached the older woman. "We don't want people asking questions."
  532.  
  533. "It'll be fine. No one knows us here. Where's Prince Charming?" The older woman asked.
  534.  
  535. "Going to get some hunting horn that he wants me to see. It was his dead brother's or some shit. Who the hell does that with a girl he just met?" The peasant girl asked. "We go to the dead brother after an hour? Really?"
  536.  
  537. Sammy frowned. Clearly it was a sincere attempt to connect. It might be a bit heavy, but couldn't a good person see that?
  538.  
  539. "Well, they lost the war, a chunk of the Kingdom, and most of the family. I'm amazed he isn't a total madman," the older woman said with a chuckle. Yes, a chuckle.
  540.  
  541. "Oh Joy. Nothing better than a guy blubbering about dead people all the time. Can't I just marry the money?" Cin asked.
  542.  
  543. "It isn't as bad as all that. The Prince is attractive enough," the older woman said. "Certainly the best of this particular crop."
  544.  
  545. "Maybe if the punch had some kick to it I'd see it. It's different when you 'have' to do it," she said, arms folded and pouty. "All the appeal goes right out the door. I'd much rather do that fetching servant boy."
  546.  
  547. "The swarthy youth serving drinks? He is a specimen isn't he?"
  548.  
  549. "Mmmm...I wonder if I could just sneak away...I'm getting some smiles..."
  550.  
  551. "Cin, hold it together. You're doing great so far," the older woman said. "Get your hooks in the Prince and we're on easy street. Then you can...liase...with whomever you wish."
  552.  
  553. The young woman giggled. "Won't that be nice?" She said. "Maybe I'll luck out and he'll die like his dumb brother in some upcoming war. Oooh, the youth is making eyes at me! I'm going to talk to him!"
  554.  
  555. "Stop! You are incorrigible!" The older woman admonished, but giggling while doing so made it rather ineffective at stopping her.
  556.  
  557. Sammy stared out from beneath the tablecloth in horror. Cin went up to the servant, and whispered something. They both smiled at each other. The servant walked to a small shed and opened the door, stepping inside. A few minutes later, Cin walked over and entered the same shed.  She...she was one of those loose women that Mother had told her about! She must be crawling with diseases...
  558.  
  559. Sammy looked to the garden, at the very pink bush that in no way looked out of place. She knew she had to relay this critical information.
  560.  
  561. . . .
  562.  
  563. "Hey Val, we got a problem," Sammy whispered to the pink bush.
  564.  
  565. "Sammy, it's an hour to midnight!" Valkyrie said. "We need to hunker down. This better not be that they used canned fruit in the punch."
  566.  
  567. "No, although they did, and it's fucking terrible..."
  568.  
  569. "What's the non-canned fruit issue?"
  570.  
  571. "The peasant girl just wants the Prince's money!" Sammy whispered in horror.
  572.  
  573. Val nodded. "I see. And the issue is that he doesn't really have any?" She asked.
  574.  
  575. "No, he's loaded..." Sammy said.
  576.  
  577. "So there's no problem then! Now, off you go..." Val said.
  578.  
  579. "She doesn't love him! This is wrong!" Sammy exclaimed.
  580.  
  581. "Let's not use the 'w' word," Val replied. "Human women are literally bags of chaos. She could still love him but be just putting on a hard face. They do it all the time. They call it having complexity."
  582.  
  583. "She's humping one of the servants in a shed!" Sammy shouted.
  584.  
  585. "...that's a bit harder to defend," Val replied. She sighed. "Alright, I'll level with you: 90% of men and women are good people. 10% are unbelievably awful, immune to love arrows due to psychopathy, and should be burned at the stake because they cause misery and suffering. The peasant girl is one of the latter."
  586.  
  587. "W-what the hell are you doing setting her up with the Prince?!" Sammy shouted.
  588.  
  589. "Trust me, nobody wants to. That was why for centuries we took it as our holy mission to both unite loving couples, and to light wicked people on fire. Sadly, after the...tragic excesses of the Ardent Crusade, we can't do that last bit anymore," Val said, bitterly.
  590.  
  591. "Oh I remember that," Sammy said in slow agreement. "By God...the children...even the children..."
  592.  
  593. "Yes, yes, yes, mistakes were made. But now we're not even allowed to gauge who is good and who isn't. I mean, look at this..." Val held up an arrow with a fist quill. "I'm not even allowed to carry real arrows! I gotta have these dumb 'force' arrows for defense that are just like a punch..."
  594.  
  595. "But that doesn't mean you have to shoot the peasant girl with a love arrow!" Sammy exclaimed.
  596.  
  597. "He's the target. We wouldn't bother shooting her. The only thing an arrow will do to her is make her insatiably horny for a minute or two. The peasant girl made an earnest wish on a shooting star for the Prince, so we had to put it in the lottery with the others, and she won. So you see, just about anybody could wind up with a bad person, even a Prince..."
  598.  
  599. "Wait a minute," Sammy said, narrowing her eyes. "You know exactly what you're doing here. You want to set the Prince up with a terrible woman so you can start burning people again!"
  600.  
  601. "Sammy, we're not allowed to act, thanks to the Prince's father," Val said. "We aren't going out of our way to do anything. We are doing precisely what the King commands - no judgements, just compatibility checks."
  602.  
  603. "She's compatible with him?"
  604.  
  605. "He's a gullible romantic. He won't catch on for years, if ever. And she wants money and power, which he has. And...she's gonna have a lot of kids. The royal palace will fill with children, some of which may even resemble the Prince. They are compatible," Val said, though she looked like she hated everything she was saying. "Remember, we can't judge to exclude, we have to match everyone, even the undeserving."
  606.  
  607. "I think I'm going to be sick..." Sammy whimpered, clutching her stomach with her wings.
  608.  
  609. "The job isn't all rainbows and unicorn cummies, is it?" Val said fiercely. She spit. "Love is Hell.  Mind you, if this does lead to desperately needed reform to our ability to judge people, it will be a silver lining to this whole dreadful business."
  610.  
  611. "I'm not in your group," Sammy said. "Maybe I could take care of this..."
  612.  
  613. "And do what? Shoot arrows in Cin's face?" Val asked. "You don't have that in you. Sammy...maybe you should go home. This matchmaking business is too sordid and unwholesome for a Bat Girl."
  614.  
  615. "It is much more honest to toss flaming pumpkins at raging drunks," Sammy agreed. She puffed out her chest. "But no. Tonight is Valentine's Day, and I am going to see True Love win tonight."
  616.  
  617. "And how are you going to do that?" Val asked.
  618.  
  619. "I'll get a man with an eyepatch to help me," Sammy said bravely.
  620.  
  621. "Well, best of luck, but my orders are my orders. At midnight, the Prince and Cin are a done deal," Val said.
  622.  
  623. . . .
  624.  
  625. "I need to talk to you," a voice from under the table beneath the punch bowl said.
  626.  
  627. The last time a woman had said that to Simon, it was before she left with his mother's pearl ring on a 'pilgrimage' of the East. This time a Bat Girl -who was supposed to be banned from the party- was pulling him under a table and into the secret world beneath a white tablecloth.
  628.  
  629. "Why are we talking under a table?" Simon asked.
  630.  
  631. "I need to hide," Sammy replied.
  632.  
  633. "I though you needed to hide from me," he said.
  634.  
  635. "Oh no. You'll help when you hear what I have to say," Sammy said. She leaned in, touching her nose to his. He felt his heart flutter. "The Prince is in danger. People are trying to make him fall in love."
  636.  
  637. Simon stared into her earnest eyes. "I've heard this before," he whispered. "This crazy Bat Girl was just here, trying to toss love grenades at him..."
  638.  
  639. "Be serious," she said, backing away. "I mean, this time there's a problem. It's the peasant girl..."
  640.  
  641. "Cin? He seems pretty smitten with her already," Simon said.
  642.  
  643. "That's the problem. What if the arrow is a MOAB?"
  644.  
  645. "A what?"
  646.  
  647. "If you shoot a boy who is in love, he can turn into a marriage-proposing zombie," Sammy said. "At least, that's my understanding of it..."
  648.  
  649. "Well, the King would be happy, I suppose. That's the whole point of tonight. What makes you want to stop it now?"
  650.  
  651. "The peasant girl, Cin...she's inconstant!"
  652.  
  653. "Inconstant? You mean she goes to the bathroom a lot?" Simon asked.
  654.  
  655. "No...well, I'd guess yes, but...She-she-she is of ill repute! She's a tart! A strumpet!" She leaned in. "A floozy..." she whispered.
  656.  
  657. "She seems pretty innocent. Why do you think she's all these G-rated terms for a whore?" He asked.
  658.  
  659. "She's sucking off a foreign guy in a shed."
  660.  
  661. Simon's smile faded. "Like...right NOW?" Simon asked.
  662.  
  663. "Well I assume they're done. The boy didn't look like the stamina-having type, more the quick pop-off and brag about it kind..."
  664.  
  665. "Aw shit," Simon said. He saw his own miserable past before his eyes, the cold woman who had broken his heart. He had to try to spare the Prince from that. "We gotta stop this..."
  666.  
  667. "I knew you'd see that. I have a plan but I need your help," Sammy continued. "It involves ten riflemen, holy water, and a lot of blankets. We have the riflemen surround her and open fire, then we dose her body with holy water to keep her spirit from attacking children as they sleep..."
  668.  
  669. "A few problems I see immediately with this plan," Simon said. "For one, when men with guns fire in a circle, they hit each other."
  670.  
  671. "Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Um...how about a half circle around her while she's near a wall...probably not one of them ricochet-causing walls..."
  672.  
  673. "A second problem is that it may alarm the guests if riflemen line up and fire upon a woman, even if she is a peasant that a Bat Girl says is of low character."
  674.  
  675. "That's what the blankets are for," Sammy explained, as if it were obvious.
  676.  
  677. Simon frowned. "Help me out with that one...We lay them down and say it's a picnic, or we cover the soldiers with them and claim it's ghosts doing the execution?"
  678.  
  679. "No...though that second one is a good idea. Let's bank that one for later discussion. My idea is you wrap her in a blanket, that way nobody knows it's her."
  680.  
  681. "Won't they ask who it is?" Simon asked.
  682.  
  683. "Not if you look angry enough. Eleven angry men with rifles can do just about anything if they march around."
  684.  
  685. "There were quite a few times in the trenches where I found that wasn't the case. Why eleven men? I thought it was ten soldiers."
  686.  
  687. "Obviously you'll need to command them, holding a sword. And dothat thing where you swipe it to make them all shoot."
  688.  
  689. "I see," Simon said. "Now as a counter-proposal, why don't we just go tell the Prince what you saw?"
  690.  
  691. Sammy blinked. "That's absolutely insane. He won't believe us and he'll try to confront her, then...Ptwang!" She exclaimed. "No, we must assassinate her."
  692.  
  693. "It may be jarring to tell him, but certainly less so than watching her be murdered by his own troops, at which point we'd need to tell him why anyways," Simon replied authoritatively.
  694.  
  695. "But that's why we use the blank...better plan!" She shouted, pushing him aside and pointing through the folds of the tablecloth. "I heard that girl talking about the Prince! She has the hots for him!"
  696.  
  697. Simon looked and saw the slight, anxious frame of the haughty Duchess Melody.
  698.  
  699. "Duchess Melody? She is the acid-tongued daughter of the Ambassador from Gath, the niece of its King, Fortinbras, who is said to dote upon her for being the same age as his own sadly departed daughter. A marriage with her would be acceptable to the nobility and be a public statement of peace with Gath, with whom we have been inching closer to war over the Fjordlands. It would be a prudent and fruitful match."
  700.  
  701. "We should do it anyways," Sammy replied. "Here's the plan; go get the Prince and bring him in front of me and the Duchess. Get them talking, and I'll shoot him."
  702.  
  703. "Shoot him? With what?" He asked.
  704.  
  705. "With this," she said, as her shoulder-mounted crossbow popped up with a wheeze.
  706.  
  707. Simon's eyes widened as he saw the tip pointing at him. "Hey, Careful with that!"
  708.  
  709. "It's totally safe. It points where I look, but I have to whistle to shoot it, like this - Whooot!"
  710.  
  711. He felt a sting, and looking down he saw an arrow sticking out of the left side of his chest. Huh, he thought, looking down at the heart-shaped quill.
  712.  
  713. "Uh oh! I did wrong!" Sammy said. She reached out and frantically grasped at the arrow with a claw, but it disappeared in a cloud of pink smoke.
  714.  
  715. She stared at him, her eyes wide with fear as she made little freak-put noises. He gasped. He knew those green eyes were beautiful, but now he beheld them fully, drank them in like the richest wine. The awesome perfect green ovals had so much mirth and chaos, and warmth. My God, so warm...
  716.  
  717. "Sam...Sammyyy..." he said, dreamily.
  718.  
  719. "Oh! Um...just relax...this will...this will pass..."
  720.  
  721. "Oh no, it won't..." he whispered. It didn't feel like anything had been added or changed, just that feelings that were there were intensified, as if a barrier were lowered and he were allowed to feel something he wanted to feel.
  722.  
  723. Simon grapsed her into his arms. She struggled, but it was perfunctory, like a kitten contented to lose when it is time for snuggles. He moved a hand up and stroked her ears.
  724.  
  725. "Oh.  Oooooooh..." she said, trilling. Her mouth opened and her tongue lolled out before she shook herself free. "No! We can't do this! We need to save the Prince! We-"
  726.  
  727. Simon pressed his lips to hers. She cooed, and melted into his embrace. Either the spell was contagious or unnecessary on her part, because she was soon returning all his passion, eagerly trying to sample and taste his entire mouth as though it were the juice of a life-giving fruit. When they finally broke free, the chimes had sounded the half-hour.
  728.  
  729. "Oh...oh my God!" Sammy called out, breaking her lips free feebly. "We've been kissing under the punch bowl for a half hour! We need to help the Prince!"
  730.  
  731. Simon broke free of his pleasure. Yes, the Prince, his old friend. He took a deep breath. "Okay..." he said, forcing himself to focus. He allowed himself a relapse into a kiss of the Bat Girl's delicious dark lips, which made Sammy coo with a mix of pleasure and worry. "Right, um...the Prince. That guy. That I've known for years. So...w-where's this sniper?"
  732.  
  733. "She's in the obviously fake pink bush," Sammy replied.
  734.  
  735. Simon stared, then saw it in the garden. He slapped his forehead. "How the fuck did I miss that?" He asked.
  736.  
  737. "I think the Cupids put magic on it," Sammy said. "I didn't see it either until she called out to me. She's going to make the shot at midnight. Val is really good. She won't miss."
  738.  
  739. "And she won't call off the hit?"
  740.  
  741. "No. They got some crazy rule about a lottery and a shooting star and now they have to match the Prince up with a thot. I guess it's because the Ardent Crusade failed."
  742.  
  743. "I'd like to hope there's a middle ground between the two extremes, personally. I could try to get her tossed, but she'll relocate and set up someplace else...better to keep her where we know her position," Simon said.
  744.  
  745. "What about Cin? Can you toss her?"
  746.  
  747. "That would most probably get the Prince to come running over, and then he'd be looking at her, which we want to avoid. Our best bet is to keep them separate until after Midnight, and get the Prince hooked to Melody."
  748.  
  749. "And Firing Squad is definitely out?" Sammy asked, hoping she was wrong.
  750.  
  751. "That will cause no end of problems."
  752.  
  753. "But it's out?"
  754.  
  755. Simon sighed. "Yes. No firing squad. I want to get through a dance party without an execution."
  756.  
  757. "In that case, you walk up and put the love grenade with the comically long detonator fuse in the Prince's pocket, then keep him talking to Melody until it goes off.  I'll keep Cin tied up," Sammy said.
  758.  
  759. "How? Like, actually tied up?"
  760.  
  761. "Girls can always get another girl to stop and jabber about pointless shit. I'll think of something. The Prince won't race over if he thinks it's just idle women's gossip."
  762.  
  763. "We've got no time to lose. Good luck," Simon said.
  764.  
  765. Sammy looked at him sadly. "I...I'm sorry I shot you with an arrow, Simon. I don't think it was fair."
  766.  
  767. Simon smiled, and grasped her in his arms, then kissed her face three times, each time a bit more forcefully, each time leaving her a bit more like a big ball of jelly in his grasp. "Don't apologize for that," he said as she smiled at him. "The arrow didn't do anything that time with you wouldn't have done. You just owe me that time, now."
  768.  
  769. She smiled. "It's a deal!" She exclaimed. "Let's go save the Prince from certain cuckoldry!"
  770.  
  771. . . .
  772.  
  773. Sammy walked towards the well-dressed peasant girl while Simon raced to his office to get a love grenade. Cin had just emerged from the shed, fixing her dress as she went.  Sammy needed to think of a way to stop her. She glanced over at the giant ice sculpture and the phallus that dominated the night. She smiled.
  774.  
  775. "Excuse me, Miss Cin?"
  776.  
  777. Cin stopped and frowned. "Yes, Mouse Girl?" She asked.
  778.  
  779. Mouse Girl?! Oh right, she was still in the overcoat, Sammy remembered. "I've been doing a poll of the ladies here about that big ice thing. Do you think it's anatomically accurate?"
  780.  
  781. Cin looked over and laughed. "I think every man wishes it was, but so few actually measure up..." she began.
  782.  
  783. "Whoot!" Sammy whistled. The arrow smacked Cin right in the neck.
  784.  
  785. "Ah!" The peasant girl said, rubbing her neck absently. Her eyes widened, and her mouth opened and her tongue lolled out.
  786.  
  787. "Ice Cock...Ice Cock!" She shouted. She raced forward, slavering, towards the massive frozen member.
  788.  
  789. It was only after the lovestruck peasant girl had begun to shimmy up the support column that the cries of alarm began. It was when she wrapped her hands about the Ice Cock that the true cry of rage and pain emerged.
  790.  
  791. "NNNNOOOOO!" Frossa Jormungander shouted. The yeti bounded up the support and suplexed the peasant girl off the structure, and they both tumbled into the fountain below.
  792.  
  793. Woman and Yeti grappled with each other in the water fountain. Normally a Yeti would easily win against a Human woman, but this was a woman possessed by a crazed mania for ice priapus, and she fought like a battalion. The result was lots of hair pulling and screaming.
  794.  
  795. Sammy smiled and puffed out her chest. This was a brilliant idea. She looked back to Simon and the Prince. Melody was with them, good.
  796.  
  797. And the fuse was burning away in the Prince's pants.
  798. . . .
  799.  
  800. Simon had managed to get Melody and the Prince together, and had managed to get them both talking about the hunting horn and the Prince's departed brother. As they did so, he had very stealthily planted the lit love bomb in his pocket (crouching and pick-pocketing was a sure-fire way to do this).
  801.  
  802. He took a few steps away but tried to keep them talking. It was then that
  803.  
  804. The fuse was cut, right near the union with the bomb, by a passing arrow. It was a hell of a shot, Simon was forced to admit. The Angel was not letting it go easy.
  805.  
  806. "What in the HELL?!" The prince cried out, holding up the grenade. "What has gotten into you, Simon? What is this?"
  807.  
  808. The clock began to chime for midnight. There was a splashing in the fountain. Simon didn't know, but he guessed what it was. "What the hell...?" The Prince said, beginning to turn his head.
  809.  
  810. "Your Highness," Simon said, seizing the prince by the face and forcing him to stare in his eyes. "You need to listen to me. Don't look at what is going on over there, or your life will be in jeopardy."
  811.  
  812. "My life? What-what are you saying, Simon?" The Prince asked, looking back at him. "Why did you put a love bomb in my pants?"
  813.  
  814. Simon took a deep breath. "A Bat Girl named Sammy saw Cin engage in deceit against you, and people are trying to make you love her. We wanted to help you love someone who would love you back. But look, we can't rely on magic arrows or love grenades. Sometimes we need to see for ourselves. I'm not a matchmaker, but I see how Melody has looked at you, and I know you have affection for her. Cin is not the woman for you. Melody is."
  815.  
  816. The Prince looked at Melody. "But Mel...I look at her and I see the little girl who used to annoy me with my sister. I can't...Ow!"
  817.  
  818. The Prince leapt in the air a bit. He had been hit square in the right buttock. The heart-shaped arrow disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
  819.  
  820. Simon looked. He saw Sammy across from him, her crossbow spent. She smiled from ear to ear and waved enthusiastically.
  821.  
  822. "...I guess we can rely on love arrows if we get a clean shot..." Simon said.
  823.  
  824. The Prince stared at Melody with clear eyes. He smiled. "Of course!" He said, breathlessly. "Melody...I was so blind! Can you forgive me?"
  825.  
  826. Melody smiled and turned beet red. "Y-your Highness..." she managed to stammer out. "N-nobody has asked me to dance tonight..."
  827.  
  828. The Prince smiled. "Would you like to dance?" He asked.
  829.  
  830. She smiled and took his hand. "Wild hellhounds couldn't stop me," she said.
  831.  
  832. The two left for the dance floor. All assembled were shocked by the prudent and politically sensible move of the Prince dancing with a Gathian noblewoman. Or they would have been, if they weren't watching an angry yeti artist repeatedly dunk a peasant girl underwater until Owl-Girls pulled her away, kicking and screaming.
  833.  
  834. . . .
  835.  
  836. The clock finished sounding midnight. Cin looked about, wide-eyed, still dripping wet from the fountain. She had come to her senses, but too late. Her fine dress was now wet rags. Her pretty face twisted into a very angry one, and this anger made her hideous. "You..." she growled at Sammy,  who stood her ground despite being smaller. "It was a love arrow, wasn't it? That's what that crossbow on your shoulder launches, isn't it? I saw you hit the Prince. You ruined me..."
  837.  
  838. "It's too late," Simon announced, approaching them both. "The hour has come and gone. It is time for you to leave."
  839.  
  840. "Leave? I want what is due to me!" Cin shouted. "Many promises were made...MANY promises. The Prince is mine! She used witchcraft on me!"
  841.  
  842. "The Prince is with his True Love," Sammy said fiercely. "Something you could never understand."
  843.  
  844. "You winged freak!" Cin shouted at Sammy. She tugged a long knife out from within her garment. "You ruined my Happily Ever After with your damned arrow! I'll kill you! I'll make a soup out of you and kill the whole fucking country by coughing blood on them!"
  845.  
  846. She lunged forward with the knife above her head, screaming in that way that entitled women do when they think they can get away with it. There was no time to try to grapple with her. Simon dove between Sammy and the crazed woman, blocking access to the Bat Girl's body with his own. He grit his teeth and braced for the searing pain of a knife entering his chest.
  847.  
  848. "KIYAAAAH!" He heard from the Garden. Three arrows-with fist quills- flew close enough to his ear that he heard their whistle and felt his hair move in their wake. He heard three thuds, and saw all three arrows smacked into the peasant girl's face with loud punching sounds.  Cin toppled backward and the knife clattered on the ground. Women screamed in shock and fright. He darted forward and grasped up the blade.
  849.  
  850. Cin had landed several feet back from him. The force of the impact of the arrows had knocked her clean out of her glass heels, and she lay dazed on the cobblestone, her bare feet twitching.
  851.  
  852. "Holy fucking SHIT," Sammy exclaimed. She grasped at Simon with her wings, feeling for punctures. "Are you okay, Sweetie?"
  853.  
  854. "I'm fine..." he turned back in the direction of the arrows.
  855.  
  856. A blonde angel stood, visible in the strangely pink shrub. "She came at me with a knife!" Val shouted at the stunned party goers. "You all saw it! It was self defense!"
  857.  
  858. "We should have just thought of punching her!" Sammy said.
  859.  
  860. Simon shrugged. "Well, at least this way here, no one can accuse us of-"
  861.  
  862.  "Violence!" Someone called out from the crowd. The stepmother and two ugly stepsisters ran out. "Justice!" The stepmother screamed skyward. "The Bat Girl is an evil sorceress! She bewitched my Cin! I saw it!" The old woman reached out her hands for Sammy, grasping angrily. "You monster!"
  863.  
  864. "Keep your hands off her, you old fucking hag!" Simon shouted, delivering a fist into the old woman's stomach. The stepmother fell to her knees, puked out the contents of the buffet onto the ground, and then collapsed face-first into it.
  865.  
  866. In hindsight, Simon would have to admit this was a poorly considered move, and an old woman sprawled on the ground in her own vomit made public opinion sour on the events that had transpired.
  867.  
  868. The boo birds came out, and even some rotten fruit was starting to be tossed their way. The guard lined up to protect their commander, rifles readied. Owl Girls landed with their weapons hot. Simon stepped forward to hopefully calm down the situation.
  869.  
  870. "STOP THIS MADNESS IN THE NAME OF YOUR KING!" A very loud voice yelled, which had a fair amount of practice bellowing this very phrase. Too much.
  871.  
  872. The King stepped forward. All present fell to their knees. He rubbed his bald head and looked at the prostrate peasant girl and her stepmother and stepsisters, at the bat girl with a shoulder-mounted crossbow, and at the six foot tall angel standing in a pink shrub with a purple longbow covered in red hearts. He took a long look at the Angel, one which made her give him a flirty smile.
  873.  
  874. "What is going on?" He said at last. "I was just taking a leak and I come back to a full fracas. Why is my son's new girlfriend lying on the ground?"
  875.  
  876. "Justice, My King, Justice!" Cin cried out. "I have been abused!"
  877.  
  878. "You, abused?" Simon said, he held up Cin's knife. "You nearly stabbed me! Your Grace, this woman..."
  879.  
  880. "She made me do it!" Cin shouted. She pointed a finger at Sammy, who stared at it cross-eyed like it was the barrel of a gun. "The demon-woman ensorcelled me with love arrows and made me fall in love with the Ice Dong of Titus! I was merely responding to the attack on my virtue. I demand she be tried for her crime!"
  881.  
  882. The crowd gasped. In a choice between a pretty peasant girl and a Bat Girl with a crossbow on her shoulder, people seemed to be breaking for the peasant.
  883.  
  884. "That's not right!" Simon said. "Sammy may have bent the rules, but she did it for the noblest of reasons..."
  885.  
  886. "It doesn't matter why she used love arrows," the stepmother said. "It is illegal for a non-Angel to use them! The penalty is DEATH!"
  887.  
  888. Everyone gasped. Sammy recoiled in terror.
  889.  
  890. "No it isn't, you old idiot!" Simon yelled. "Not even close! The penalty is exile to the fields of shit beyond the city limits!"
  891.  
  892. "Like THAT is any better???" Sammy howled. She clutched Simon fearfully. "I don't want to stink!"
  893.  
  894. "The hideous old woman raises a good point," the King said, rubbing his chin. "It is illegal for anyone but Angels to fire off love arrows, and the peasant girl is pretty, and therefore I would assume innocent of any crimes. I'm afraid that I must agree with her..."
  895.  
  896. "Your Majesty, this is wrong!" Simon shouted. "Sammy did what she HAD to do. She is an honest, Christian Bat Girl..."
  897.  
  898. "I-I'm Sammy by the way, Your Majesty," Sammy interjected, waving her wing frightfully. "Big fan of your initiative to stop drunks from pissing on churches..."
  899.  
  900. By the King's face, it was clear that he was not aware of this signature feature of his reign. Simon pressed on.
  901.  
  902. "Sammy did what she did to SAVE your son from a terrible fate by being manacled to this faithless woman!" Simon said.
  903.  
  904. "That is a calumny against my honor!" Cin screamed. "I was forced to debase myself with the ice penis..."
  905.  
  906. "But what about the serving boy you blew in the woodshed?" Sammy asked.
  907.  
  908. "You tell lies, rodent woman. I did no such thing," Cin shot back.
  909.  
  910. Sammy narrowed her eyes. "Then why does your breath stink of him?" she said.
  911.  
  912. "Y-you can't tell that..." Cin said.
  913.  
  914. "Any mamono can smell that," Sammy said.
  915.  
  916. "If it pleases your majesty..." Simon said.
  917.  
  918. The King shrugged. "Let's see it."
  919.  
  920. Simon motioned. One of the Owl-Girls leaned in, her nose a centimeter from Cin's lips. She sniffed. She turned her head 270 degrees and stared at the King.
  921.  
  922. "WHOre! WHOre!" She hooted, flapping her wings.
  923.  
  924. Everyone gasped. Cin recoiled. "W-what do you know, you dumb bird? You probably have some side deal to back up your fellow mamono!"
  925.  
  926. "I am not sure a mamono sniff test is really admissible in court," The King said. "Although, this isn't a court and I am a King..."
  927.  
  928. "Your Majesty, Sammy is kind, sweet, and beautiful, and..." Simon looked back at her, clasped her wing-claw, and smiled. "...And the only person she truly ensorcelled tonight was me, with her charming, innocent penchant for chaos. I love her, and intend to marry her. And so if she is going into a field of shit, I guess I am, too, like I did during the war. Only this time I'll want to be there, and it won't be hell, it will be the closest thing to heaven on earth."
  929.  
  930. "AWWWW," the crowd said all at once. Sammy cooed, and wrapped her wings around him.
  931.  
  932. "I-I'd like to state for the record that I still don't want us to go there," Sammy said.
  933.  
  934. The King looked at Simon with amazement. "Why Simon, I've not heard you speak with such passion since before Vendant. You trust her?" He asked, his brow furrowed in wonder.
  935.  
  936. "Beyond trust, My King," he said. "And I know she speaks the truth, as I have seen it all unfold first hand. I vouch for her."
  937.  
  938. "As do I, father," the Prince said, stepping over Cin's glass slippers as he took Melody in hand. Cin shot him a look of purest malice, which made the King recoil.
  939.  
  940. "She helped me see something I should have seen all along," The Prince said with a smile as he looked at Melody. She blushed.
  941.  
  942. "Sammy's a good person, Your Majesty," Melody said with a smile. "She helped the Prince and I get together."
  943.  
  944. The King looked at his son and Melody together, first in shock, but then a giant smile broke out on his face. He hugged them both into his arms and lifted them off the ground.
  945.  
  946. "Wondrous day!" He proclaimed. "My son has chosen a wife!"
  947.  
  948. "I want what's due to ME! He was supposed to choose ME!" Cin shouted. "I hate you all, but most of all I hate YOU, Prince! Fuck you! Fuck you and your dead brother, you..."
  949.  
  950. "Silence, thot!" The king shouted. He delivered a backhand across her face which knocked her to the ground with the skittering sound of loose teeth. "You are the most despicable of roasties! Guard, take these vile hags to the vast fields of shit we keep beyond the city!"
  951.  
  952. The crowds cheered, as everyone enjoys a good, righteous exile of ugly people into the fields of shit.
  953.  
  954. "Nooo! I-I can be good!" Cin shouted as Owl Girls seized her. "I give great blowjobs! Just ask the serving boy!"
  955.  
  956. "She doesn't, really," the serving boy called out, shaking his head. "She uses her hands too much and has this borderline crazy-irritated face the whole time. And what is up with the spitting? Does anybody find that hot?"
  957.  
  958. "You're a fag anyways! You wanted me to put a finger up your ass!" Cin shouted.
  959.  
  960. "Hey, he should get punished too," Simon said. "He was going to not say anything and let Sammy get exiled to a shit field and the Prince marry a whore."
  961.  
  962. "Yeah!" the King shouted. He walked over to the serving boy and delivered a nut shot between his legs. The boy let out a hoarse cry of pain and collapsed onto the ground. "...And you're fired," the King added, wiping his foot on the boy's forehead. "Take him to the field of shit with the others."
  963.  
  964. "Majesty, spare my daughters and I," The old woman screamed as she and the two ugly stepsisters uselessly writhed in the grasp of the guards. "We only helped her because we were afraid she would beat us. Cin is a total cunt like her father. She fucked the family dog once!"
  965.  
  966. "Fuck you, Mom!" Cin shouted. "This was all your idea. I said we should go to Azania."
  967.  
  968. "Don't you call me Mom, you malformed twerp! You've ruined us. All you needed to do was keep your mouth off a dick for eight hours and you couldn't do that. I wish your father had tossed your mother down a flight of stairs when she was pregnant with you, like I had asked him to!"
  969.  
  970. "I am so, so glad that lump turned out to be cancerous!" Cin shrieked. "Only they should have kept your right tit and thrown the rest of you out!"
  971.  
  972. The stepmother screamed and lunged, as did Cin, but Owl Girls held them fast in their talons. With outstretched wings the soldiers took off into the sky. All watched the ugly people be carted off into the dark night in stunned silence. Sammy turned to the Prince.
  973.  
  974. "That was almost your Thanksgiving dinners for the rest of your life," Sammy said.
  975. . . .
  976.  
  977. "You, dear Sammy," the King said, turning to her. "I shall honor you for your great service, not only to my son, but to my dear servant, Simon, who has learned to love again by your charmingly disruptive nature..." he raised his voice loudly. "Let today be hereafter known as Sammy the Bat-Girl's Day!"
  978.  
  979. "Um, Your Grace," a meek clerk said, stepping forward. "It's already Valentine's Day..." he pointed out.
  980.  
  981. The King rubbed his chin. "...Oh. Um..." he said.
  982.  
  983. "C-can I maybe be the Valentine's Day Bat?" Sammy asked hopefully.
  984.  
  985. "Is that a thing?" The clerk asked.
  986.  
  987. "It is now," The King said. "Let it be done! Henceforth, Sammy, you shall be the Bat of Valentine's Day!"
  988.  
  989. Everyone applauded, and Sammy shook with excitement. It had all come true! She was a hero!
  990.  
  991. "Now Valentine's Day Bat, ask me for any boon, and be it in my power, I shall grant it," the King said.
  992.  
  993. She looked back at Val with a wink. "If it please Your Majesty, I believe that we should restart the Ardent Crusade, and the burnings of the unrighteous! Let the decimations begin anew! Let every House be measured, and those found wanting be cast into unquenchable flames!" She said with the purest exuberance.
  994.  
  995. The King stared at her with the smile still frozen on his suddenly sheet-white face. The crowd looked on with what appeared to be intense, quaking fear. "Of COURSE you can marry my dear servant Simon Darlowe!" The King announced.
  996.  
  997. "Yay!" Sammy said, clapping her bat wings together and jumping up and down. That wasn't quite what she had asked for, and she had assumed she was going to do that anyways, but it was nice of the King to say it was okay, so she didn't raise a fuss. The crowd made very, very exuberant applause and cheering. They were VERY happy she was getting married, clapping furiously with panicked eyes and sideways glances. Val was pouting though, until the King made his way over and let her touch his moustache.
  998.  
  999. And best of all, Simon took Sammy in his strong arms, twirled her, and gave her the biggest kiss that made her ears twitch and her wings flutter, it was so good.
  1000.  
  1001. . . .
  1002.  
  1003. Simon and Sammy walked the castle garden in the earliest hours of morning. The party was done, the revelers departed. Simon was beginning to yawn, and Sammy began to fear that the best night of her life was about to end.
  1004.  
  1005. "I don't want it to end," she said, sadly. "I got to do everything I ever wanted. I got to be the Bat of Valentine's Day, and I got the man of my dreams. I never want this night to end."
  1006.  
  1007. "But part of a great night is its ending. The best part is the next day and the prospect of doing it all again," he said. He stopped to watch as melting water made it look like Titus was taking a massive leak. "I guess only one thing is missing for me to say the night was perfect," he said.
  1008.  
  1009. "What?" She asked.
  1010.  
  1011. "I did wonder one thing: how do Bat Girls dance?" He asked.
  1012.  
  1013. Sammy tilted him to face her. She wrapped a wing over his neck. "You put your arm around my waist," she said. He did so. Next she grasped his other hand in her claw and stretched it out. "And you hold my claw like this."
  1014.  
  1015. She pressed her hips in against his, right against his cock. "And we stand really close, like this," she whispered. He felt himself growing harder.
  1016.  
  1017. They began to dance, slowly, to music only the two of them could hear. It was wonderful. The air had turned a bit chill, but the warmth of their bodies kept them moving, and they swayed and moved in this way without regard for time, but only thinking of the moment, a moment when two hearts move in rhythm with each other and the universe ceases to matter beyond them.
  1018.  
  1019. When it was absolutely right to do so in that perfect moment, he took his hands from her waist and claw and put them on her soft face. It was so smooth and without blemish. She stared up at him with her big green eyes, and he kissed her sweet face.
  1020.  
  1021. It was then that she decided. She would give him everything a Bat Girl could give the man she loved, before sunrise.
  1022.  
  1023. . . .
  1024.  
  1025. "It is very late," Simon said with a big yawn. He felt very tired. "We should turn in..."
  1026.  
  1027. Despite this, he continued to go where she pulled him, deeper into the garden as she wiggled branches. "Sleep is why God made daytime," Sammy said, idly. She tested a tree branch. It was apparently too wobbly. She tugged Simon along by the hand to the next tree. "I need to show you the thing Bat Girls can do. Our special thing," she said. "A Dracula-Alucard."
  1028.  
  1029. "Wouldn't that be a vampire thing?" Simon asked.
  1030.  
  1031. "NO. It is a BAT thing," Sammy said hotly. "Don't let those bitches say otherwise!"
  1032.  
  1033. She found a sufficiently tough and rigid branch on a stout little sycamore. "Perfect!" She said. She deftly flipped until she was upside-down and facing Simon.
  1034.  
  1035. "Stand in front of me," she said. He did so. She unlaced his breeches.
  1036.  
  1037. "Sammy, what-"
  1038.  
  1039. "H-hey," he said. "You can't...not here and..."
  1040.  
  1041. He felt a warm mouth engulf his semi erect penis, and he let out an involuntary moan. Sammy may have ignored everything else he said, but his moan  made her let out her own, agressive sound of ownership and conquest. He felt wings wrap around his buttocks and push in.
  1042.  
  1043. Oh my God, he thought. I think she wants me to fuck her mouth. He gave a brief, probing thrust, and it was accepted with a loud moan of pleasure from the fierce batgirl. His heart began to pound. His ex-wife had hated that, said it was demeaning, even as she had kept no faith with their vows. But Sammy...Sammy was pushing on him. Wanting it.
  1044.  
  1045. Simon began to thrust, slowly, and Sammy seemed to come alive, growing more forceful. This only hardened him, and made him push more. He heard her gag. He started to recoil, but she pushed him in more, greedily. His mind reeled. This was...wrong. At least, he had always told himself it was.
  1046.  
  1047. "Don't hold back," she said, breaking free for a moment. "Let yourself go."
  1048.  
  1049. He did. He pumped and pushed even as she bobbed back and forth, swaying from the tree branch. He reached down and rubbed her soft ears, and she rewarded him by greedily slurping and sucking on him.
  1050.  
  1051. He felt himself getting closer, his heart pounding as the fury began to make his balls swell. Finally, with a cry of aggression, he began to erupt onto her waiting mouth. She began to happily moan with each shot, and as he finished her long tongue eagerly worked over his cock.
  1052.  
  1053. "Ughhhh..." he said.
  1054.  
  1055. She dismounted from the tree deftly. "We can rest here a bit," she said. "Then we can head back."
  1056.  
  1057. "O-okay," he said. They lay down on the soft grass beneath the tree, and she curled up on his chest, wrapping her wings over him. So entangled, the two of them quickly fell into a deep, happy sleep.
  1058.  
  1059. . . .
  1060.  
  1061. The sun hit Simon's face, and he smiled. He felt the Bat Girl at his
  1062.  
  1063. "Morning..." he whispered.
  1064.  
  1065. "Mmmmm...morning," she responded sleepily. Suddenly he heard her rustle. "Morning?" She said in a very sirprised voice.
  1066.  
  1067. "Yeah, the sun is rising," he said. "We should head in soon, but for now..."
  1068.  
  1069. "The...sun?" She asked in a tiny voice, full of fright. "THE SUN???"
  1070.  
  1071. "What-what's wrong with-"
  1072.  
  1073. "KEEP IT OFF ME!" She shouted  sezing him tightly. She was quaking in fear.
  1074.  
  1075. "Why, what'll happen?!" Simon shouted.
  1076.  
  1077. "What'll happen?? My enemies will see me!" She exclaimed.
  1078.  
  1079. "Enemies?" He asked.
  1080.  
  1081. "Predators! Like catgirls and lamias and big mean spider girls! All of them will come after me!"
  1082.  
  1083. "What do you mean? What will they do?"
  1084.  
  1085. "Bully me! Call me squinty and say they can see me! It'll be TERRIBLE!!"
  1086.  
  1087. "That doesn't make any-"
  1088.  
  1089. She hugged onto him tightly, shivering with fear. "Don't leave me!" She screamed. "I'll do ANYTHING!"
  1090.  
  1091. She began to grind her hips into his. "Please, kindly Simon, my sweet husbando, don't abandon your timid and vulnerable Bat-Waifu! I'll give you ANYTHING! Just demand it of me!"
  1092.  
  1093. He felt himself harden. He cleared his throat. "I think I'm getting an idea here," he said. "Would it calm you down if we got your mind off the sun?"
  1094.  
  1095. She nodded, vigorously.
  1096.  
  1097. Simon didn't need to be asked twice. He undid his breeches and pulled off her pink Cupid uniform, exposing her smooth legs and shaved pubic area.
  1098.  
  1099. He pulled open her shirt, and began to kiss her full, circular breasts. She groaned as he licked her nipples. She was no longer shivering in fear, her skin was now flush red with excitement.
  1100.  
  1101. He positioned his cock over her moist, warm, and shaved hole, and penetrated deep into her. She locked eyes with him and her eyes sparkled as he pressed in deeper. He slid in and out and she rolled her eyes and shut them, a smile of peace and happiness on her face. For his own part the tight, smooth walls of Bat Girl pussy proved almost too much for him to keep from climaxing immediately, and he was forced to slow himself and wait to keep from erupting.
  1102.  
  1103. When he finally heard her own voice begin to rise in a song of orgasmic pleasure, he allowed himself to thrust and go for it as well. They came nearly at the same moment, both exchanging moans as they stared into each other's eyes (or eye in his case). When it was done he fell upon her face in kisses of gratitude, and she giggled happily with joy.
  1104.  
  1105. "I love you, Sammy," he said.
  1106.  
  1107. "I love you, Simon," she replied.
  1108.  
  1109. "Much better," Sammy said with a deep breath as he rolled off of her. She settled in on his chest, staring at the rising sun calmly. "Kinda nice looking, actually."
  1110.  
  1111. "It is. Don't stare too long, it'll hurt," he warned.
  1112.  
  1113. "Okay," she said. She laughed.
  1114.  
  1115. "What's so funny?" Simon asked.
  1116.  
  1117. "I just can't imagine what I'll have to do to be the St. Patrick's Day Bat!" she said.
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