The only sound was the whistling of wind through cracks in the ice above my head. The Snowmoorian Frost Roses filled the air with their peculiarly minty scent. The irregular dusting of snow on the frozen earth was patterned with the marks of fox paws.
The fox, or vixen, in question was resting her fluffy, white, head on my knee. She seemed to be taking a somewhat lazy interest in the project spread out on the portable crafting table in my lap. I rubbed her head affectionately.
I declare, Moonlie, you are getting rather plump. I think your prey is too easily caught."
As if to prove my point, one of the furry scorpions particular to the Snowmoors scurried across my vision. Moonlie's mouth gaped open in an animal grin and she shuffled up onto her front paws, one of which was mechanical. I admired my handiwork for a moment. Moonlie had lost the original leg in an encounter with a Scorpiston. Bringing her here, to this secret garden near the Great Engine, seemed to be the best thing to do. She would never thrive in civilized society, but the wild Snowmoors were not exactly kind to amputee vixens.
"Well, fuzzy, that's the final touch. Are you ready to see me turn into a vixen?"
Moonlie said nothing, she was a vixen of few words. However, she did laugh as if she thought the notion of a human becoming an animal to be the most ridiculous thing in the world. I couldn't help but chuckle along with her, fox laughter is contagious.
I put the crafting table aside and rose to my feet. My creation cascaded down like the waterfall that sang nearby, and just as white. With a little difficulty, I attached it to the other half of the device worn under my dress, a series of sensors that went up my back like a second spine and ended at my head in a strange array of brainwave sensors. With the ports connected, I fastened the stabilizing belt around my waste. The Aether receptacle glowed violet in the silvery metal.
"Now for a test."
Moonlie cocked her head as the device began to move. It rose, fell, and curved around with an almost natural grace. I couldn't help but grin, I had a tail. It was a beautiful tail covered in a sheath of white fur. I brought it up to my nose and inhaled deeply. The perfume had been a good idea. It smelled like vanilla cheesecake.
"Now for the rest."
My costume was already completely white, accented with fur. The large skirt offered many hidden pockets, and it swished magnificently over my water resistant, white boots. The white gloves concealed tiny claws that would be useful for climbing and cutting. I pulled up the hood with the fox ears I had attached earlier and placed the buds in my human ears. Now, I would have enhanced hearing to my advantage, as well as the ability to listen in on short-wave frequencies. The entire costume was of Aetherized fabric which was difficult to see when Fog was around, water resistant, and an unspeakable pain to cut.
Next was a white, full-face, vixen mask. I fastened it around my head and tested the dial that would switch to night vision. It worked like a charm. Last, but not least, was a glittering gold device that fastened around my neck like a choker. The Aether receptacle was full and glowing. I had debated whether or not to bring it on this venture, but decided I might need it while on the hunt.
"Now, Moonlie, let's see what those anarchists are up to."
Moonlie was diving headfirst into a snowbank and seemed annoyed at being interrupted. I turned my mind back to the task at hand.
A league of extraordinary gentlemen were tearing up No Man's Landing in animal masks. So far, they had only attacked Imperials, which seemed good for the Resistance. I was all for letting them run about, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, after all. Still, the Metalheart family didn't see it my way. The Anarchists made them and other Resistors nervous. They wanted to know who these Anarchists were and what they wanted. There had been a new mission on the Beacon bulletin board offering an extravagant reward to any Resistor who could find out anything about the Anarchists.
That was what had prompted Project: Huntress. I'd figured if these fellows wanted to dress up as animals, I would play along. I had long admired foxes, so a vixen I would be. If these Anarchists were friendly towards the Resistance, they might welcome the sight of a fellow beast. If not,.....I fastened my whip-dagger sheath around my waist below the tail support. The black leather glistened while the rest of me glowed. I smiled to myself, I looked like the moon.
Opening my Aethermeter, I selected Lukas' workshop as my destination. A shipment of shiny-new automatons was arriving in town tonight attended, it was rumored, by a big shot from the Fogworks. No hunter would be able to resist such tempting prey.