Archive for August, 2014

Shower time.

I hate it.  Not out of some childish thoughts that my time was more important doing other things, but because I just didn’t like looking at my body anymore.  I’d never say that I used to be vain or self obsessed, but I did admit I felt somewhat confident of my body, with no real worries or issues before the incident in Norfolk.  The reasons why were simple; I was unfit before, and for the last three years I’d been deteriorating.  It showed.

I walked down the hallway with the items I’d been given by the guards to allow me to bathe.  The bathroom was bright, several shower stall separated by the cubicles you’d see in a public toilet.

You step into the closest one, placing the towel over the rack that was concerningly too close to the shower’s assumed stream of water.  I turned the knob and the cold hits me harder than any punch.  Not as hard as…

I shook my head, hands going through my hair and allowing me to get used to the cold.  I’m here.  Not in Texas.  I’m fine.

“Damn it,”  I muttered to myself, barely audible in the shower.  “Fuck.”

I slowly slid down with my back against the cubicle wall.  I could only feel it in patches here and there as my skin rubbed against it and I sat on the floor.

***

Three Years Ago: Kingdom of New Austin

“Didn’t you want revenge, Ryan?”  Taker mocked, smiling as he looked on the arena where I stood, exhausted.  “You did, didn’t you?”

I stood there, shaking and trying to keep my footing, fists clenched.

“Come on Ryan, do it!”

Sacrifice looked at me, her eyes empty.  Hollow.  She was strewn against a pillar in a daze.  A drugged up mess.  In contrast, I was there, the other side of the ring.  I was nothing but the punchline Taker’s sick shaggy dog joke.

“Go on, you can punch, can’t you?”

I could, but barely.  I’d been awake for three days.  I had to watch for three days.  Despair and pity were overpowering what was blind rage.

I gave in.  “I-I don’t want to,”  I said quietly.  “I didn’t want this.”

Taker laughed.  Barely refined spite and anger.

“You see that, Samantha!”  he bellowed, pointing at me from his stand.  “He’s pathetic!  He can’t even attack you!  What the hell did you see in him!?  Potential!?”

Sacrifice, no…  Samantha finally fell.  I charged a little too late and punched her face with the force of somebody falling asleep.  She didn’t even react.

“I didn’t want this,”  I mumbled, crying over her.  “I didn’t want this.”

***

I took so long in the shower guards came in to check if I was still alive.  Apparently, I had inhaled water in the shower when I lost my concentration and nearly drowned.  That wasn’t what worried them.

A knock at the door.  Maxine.

“Come in,” I said.

She entered the hospital room and placed some flowers on a table.

“I’d get you some chocolate but you…”  she trailed off, looking at my hands and feet.

I was chained to the bed after they saw.

“Do they hurt?”  she asked after too much silence.

“Yeah.”

“Does Ma-”

“No,”  I interrupted.  “No, she wasn’t what…  I don’t think so.”

Maxine sighed, looking at me.  I turned away, avoiding eye contact.

Maxine finally brought up something.  “Derek’s dead, you know.”

Great.

“He was caught in an explosion.  It uh…  They said it didn’t hurt.”

I could hear some sniffing.  Dammit.

“I was so mad at you when you came back, you weren’t even there at his funeral.  I thought you ran away or died or something.”

“Derek was a bit of an ass, but he had his heart in the right place,”  I replied.  “I remember one time he was late hanging out.  Turns out he took a detour to give this abandoned kid to the Information office of the mall in Norfolk.”

I chuckled a little.

“He didn’t want to be seen as soft so he made the most stupid excuse about a blonde chick in a bikini.”

Maxine added on to the story.  “Yeah, I think Micheal put him in a headlock for wandering about with strangers on his own.”

We spent some time in silence.

“I hate how everyone says I’ve changed, Max.  I didn’t want this.  I wanted things to go back to normal, or for it to be a dream.”

“That’s why you chased after them?”

“I-”  I stammered out the next part.  “I think deep down inside that I deserved it.  I think I had this happen because I wanted to much, I wanted something I’ll never get back.”

Maxine left without saying a word, or a goodbye.

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“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about this?”  asked Dr. Meadows.

She was my shrink.  I only went because these meeting are mandatory.  It’s been a five days since I returned from the Kingdom of New Austin and this is my second meeting.

She sat across the table, legs crossed and two glasses of water in the middle.  She was giving me an inspection from her relaxed posture, her blue eyes scanning every minute reaction I had.

“I’m sure,” I replied.  “I can handle it.”

“Samantha can’t,”  she retorted firmly.  “You said she needs your help, I think you are unqualified.”

“I’m not,”  I responded, emphasising my disagreement.  “I can help her.”

“Like you could have helped Ellen?”

Those words hit me like a punch to the gut.

“…Not like that.  I wa-“

“You were wrong, Ryan,”  Meadows interrupted.  “We can help her more than you can.  Trust us.  Trust me.”

I couldn’t trust her, or I didn’t want to deep down.  I wanted to keep Samantha safe.  I could do that at the very least.

“I don’t want to.  I think s-  I think she’s gone throug-“

“Ryan, this isn’t about what happened or what crimes she committed,”  she tried to reassure.  “Things are different now, and all you need to worry about is that you, Margaret and Samantha get help.”

As much as she tried, it wasn’t all getting through to me.  I mean, Samantha still did what she did, right?  It’s only natural that people would want her arrested, even after those three years.

She started again, taking my silence as an urging to continue.

“You don’t seem to think about what you really want.”

“I do,”  I said.  “I want to protect Samantha and I want to help.”

She pulled out her notes.

“You said last time that you didn’t really know and you only came up with the Village project to appease the NHN.  You lied?”

“I-”  No use.  “I just want to protect Samantha.”

She sighed.

“That’s pretty possessive,”  she said.  “Are you sure this is what you want?”

“Yeah.  Yeah it is.”

An awkward silence filled the seconds nothing happened.

“I think we should focus more on that behaviour of yours,”  she finally said.  “Maybe if I can help you let go of this need to do…  To be so chivalrous all the time.  We can work on that first, and maybe if you start to trust me more, we’ll sort out any other issues you have.  Together.”

She had trouble finding the right words, constantly trying to be careful.  I didn’t react.

“How about this;  We’ll avoid talking about any possibility of Samantha being arrested for whatever crimes she had previously committed.  I promise I’ll try to see that nothing happens as long as both you and Samantha make progress with your recoveries, okay?”

“I’ll try,”  I said, somewhat unconvinced.  “I’m not sure I need it but I’ll try at the least.”

She smiled and took a note down on her paper.

“That’s good.”

 

***

Warm.  Baking warm dirt and sand.  It was too hot to breathe, let alone walk along the road.  Not that walking mattered at this moment.  There was nowhere to go.  Just road.  Endless road and tantalizing mirages on the horizon.

I looked at my hands.  I looked as flesh searing, drying up and peeling away as if I’m standing in the fallout of some nuclear blast, and the heat is just eating away at me.  Sweat boiled off my face and stung.

“Being alone hurts, doesn’t it.”

I turned around.  Nobody there.  Just me and the heat.  The sun.  It was purely a large and oppressive object, bearing down from above, dominating the sky.  Constantly assaulting me with no remorse.

“You want more.  You want something to hold onto, no?”

Still nobody.

“Who’s there?”  I asked, foolishly.  Impatiently.

“Just a nightmare,”  it replied.  “Look at your arms.”

I did.  The flesh was gone, burning away to charcoal.  Underneath the skin, piston replaced muscle, Wiring replacing nerves, piping replacing liquids and arteries.  A purely mechanical arm.  I should be shocked or concerned but I wasn’t.  I’d had been through too much to be surprised already.

I felt a pang of self pity as I tested out my new arm.  I should be reacting to this, not staring at it with borderline disappointment.

“What do you want?”  it asked.

What a stupid question.  I watched as more skin burned away, revealing more of my mechanical body underneath me.

“I’m not saying,”  I replied.

“Of course,”  it said, smugly.  “You don’t really say what you want much, do you?”

I moved my mechanical arm.  It felt normal, but painless.  Not like my remaining skin as it burned away.

“Who are you?”  I repeated my question.

“I’m just a Nightmare,”  it said.  “That’s all there is to it.”

Metal grinding.  A massive mass of scrap was grinding and tearing itself as it rose before me, forming an almost human shape.  An anchor here, a bit of car there.  I could see all the way through it in places, gaps where metal didn’t fit correctly.  It took a small bow, the sound of metal groaning in fatigue.

What was interesting, was the head was the most detailed part, heavily feminine, but still formed from scrap.  Cables and wires were arranged to create stray hairs of a fringe and sheets of metal bent around and twisted to form skin.  LED lights made for irises.

Not perfect, but good enough for me to tell it was a copy.  I was impressed, smiling as my face still felt pain from the heat, even as a massive shadow towered over where I stood.

“Dead Metal,”  the first voice said, tone changed to annoyance.  “You shouldn’t join in on my work.”

Ah.  Somebody is using powers over dreams on me.

As soon as I thought about it, I woke up, staring at the dark ceiling of the cold cell.  I raised my arm, looking at it in the minimal light afforded to me.  Flesh and blood.  Not metal.

I wonder who those two were.

 

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9 | 1 : Re-education

Posted: 08/12/2014 in Re-education
Tags: ,

I sat there, reading excerpts of ‘Awakening and You’ that were marked as important with highlighter.  It didn’t take long before the cross referencing got annoying, forcing me to eventually give up and start reading the ‘National Heroes Network Powers Classification Canual’ that sat next to me.

I gave the three other books on the desk in a pile a stare and sighed deeply.  The lawyer’s meetings were less boring than this.

Three knocks distracted me from my tedium.  Agent Williams.

“Ryan Anderson?”

“Come in,”  I said, putting the book down.  There was a printed copy of a supplemental report I was advised to read, but I hadn’t gotten around to it.

I was urged to read it if I was taking care of Sacrifice, according to the NHN.

Agent Williams closed the door and eventually found a chair to sat down on, with me turning to face him as he did so.

“You look different,”  he began.

“I am.  I’ve grown.  I’m eighteen, for a start.”

“That too,”  he said.

I took a pause.  He’s talking about the other thing.

“That’s isn’t growth,”  I said, placing my hand over my chest.  “You don’t grow from things like that.  I’m not any better of a person.”

“Yet you did.”

I don’t want to think I did.

“Is there anything important to discuss? Or is it all remarking about me?”

Agent Williams put the briefcase on his lap, opened it and handed over a few files.

“We said yes.  A trial period with voluntary members before accepting any more locations, and we agreed on three.”

“The three will be?”  I asked, looking at the details.  Logs of debate and expected costs; timescale; initial feasibility study; survey and population results; the actual allowed budget.

“Vermont, Mississippi and Colorado,”  he answered.  “You’ll be making them in a week.  You’ll also have to create two extra spaces for research and imprisonment.”

Three villages.  That’s more than I expected, but a lot of thinking and sensory capes probably would like to not have their powers dictate everything.

“… How many applicants?”

“At least seventeen families with members who have powers and eight members of the NHN.”

I nodded.  This was good.  It was worth it.

“I just have to serve out my time, right?”

“Yeah, that’s essentially it,”  replied Williams.  “Ah.  Before I forget:”

He pulled out a second file.

“A part of your sentence is to engage in an Expedition to Abio National Park.”

I took the file, skimming it.  Abio national park.  I knew that place well.  It was Biohazard’s residence.

“Why there?”  I asked.

“Well,”  he began.  “Biohazard isn’t a bad person.  He just can’t control his powers, like you or Unperson.  We think you could give him residence in your project.”

I see.  I’ll be giving the man to rendered half a state into an ecological nightmare in a day a home and shelter.  I couldn’t be mad at him, it was never his fault Ohio suffered as badly as it did.  I looked at the Expedition members.  Me, Alliance, Clawtail and Aim.

“I see.  These are copies?”  I pointed as the files.

“Yes, they are copies.  I’ll be going now.  Good luck with your recovery and rehabilitation.”

Agent Williams got up and opened the door.

“Before I forget, I’m sorry to hear about your parents.  We didn’t expect Trauma to encounter them.”

The closing and clicking of locks was relaxing.  Being alone was serene.

Damn, I should get to reading.

 

***

The copy of ‘Awakening and You’ was droll beyond comprehension, yet fascinating with its own naive charm, like a teacher invested in his subject as his students sit dumbfounded and bored.  As much as my own ignorance and boredom with the subject persisted I did gain a newly found appreciation for why this was taught in schools.  It wasn’t a case of teaching people how to name hydrocarbons or how to create macros in spreadsheet programs; it was more along the lines of teaching CPR and fire safety.

I’d already learned that you can’t avoid encounters with capes like you can with chemistry and computer science.  I put my head in the sand, and the little research I did do was too late to help.

I was in over my head three years ago and got punished for it.

Most of the stuff I was reading didn’t truly apply to me, but more towards Samantha who had gotten her powers from an awakening and thus could reawaken at any time.

Reawakening.  An event where one who previously had powers subconsciously alters them in high stress situations in an attempt to gain a beneficial power.  There is no assumed limit to the number of times one can reawaken, as the current record is the English hero Vector, at fifteen reawakenings.

I felt good, memorizing that.  Even if the book was outdated, I appreciated that Maxine gave me this stuff as reading material while I was in here at the NHN Rehabilitation Center.  I’ll thank her next time I see her.

Rehabilitation.  I guess I would have had to go through with it, considering that Margaret told Maxwell and Unperson the gist of what happened.  They insisted I needed it as much as Samantha and Margaret.  I couldn’t really make a convincing argument to the contrary, which I guess is a good reason to stay here for the time being.

Not all scars heal, but hopefully Samantha will have a few less after a while.

I put the book down again after placing a bookmark on it, looking at the two folders Williams gave me.  An expedition.  I smiled at the thought.  I’d be able to help Biohazard.  Maybe I’ll be able to help all the others who are effected by powers, or at the very least as many as I can.

I motioned to pick up one of the other three books, but I held myself back, opting to place them at the side of the desk on the floor instead, where they wouldn’t tempt me to read them too soon.  I was more interested in learning the basics of the super powered world, I’ll catch up on what happened while I was gone tomorrow.

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Samantha was unmoving, resting in a fetal position inside the sac, protected from the world.

“Please wake up,”  I cried, banging my hand off bone.  “I’m here for you!  It’s gone!”

No reaction.  The cocoon moved slightly, organs above shifting, providing nutrients.  I cut away at the side with the knife, forcing my way around the door and flesh.  Blood spilled everywhere as I fell into the room, on my knees before the mass of flesh.

I did what worked last time, and burst the sac with a stab.  Fluids poured out as I ripped away, reaching in fo-

A single eye the size of her face opened, moving to make eye contact with me as I reached for her.  Then one over her left breast, then her right forearm, her right shoulder and her left knee.  It was a decoy, meant to delay intruders.  A hand grabbed me, the eye on the back of it staring into my eyes.  Angry eyes.  I stabbed the eye with my knife, gouging it.

The many eyed child let go, beginning to climb out the sack as I backed up, giving her space.  Her hair, Samantha’s hair fell off and away as she climbed out. An eye opened at the calf of her right leg as I adjusted my grip on the knife.  Three more opened at the navel, looking up and down at me, blinking.

“One of Samantha’s protectors, I assume?”

It charged, reckless and violent.  I ducked under an overhead swing with the left arm and went for a stab at the ribs.

A mouth opened, nearly biting my hand off as I pulled away in surprise.

“That’s new,”  I said to the many eyed child.  It struggled a smirk, or what could be called one.

I charged in again, stabbing the three eye formation at the navel and ramming the right shoulder with my own, pushing her back into the ligament cage.  The many eyed child looked at my hand as I stabbed it in the face.  The eye exploded in vitreous, pouring down the neck as the many eyed child spasmed, dying.

“I’m the one who protects Samantha,”  I said.  “Not you.”

I walked out the room and began checking the birthing rooms more carefully, learning from my mistake.  Each room I checked had another monster of Samantha’s imagination, ready to challenge anyone who opened the door.  Another Many eyed child, staring through the door.  A belching screamer, creating a mess and laughing away.  A fingerface, unable to sit still.  A faceless mother and peekaboo child, trying to cooperate as they pulled at hair on the wall.

I wonder what those poor soldiers that were eaten will become?

The last room had Samantha.  It had to be.

It was normal. The only room that looked like a room and not a bouncy castle or some padded cell.  No skin floors with body hair rugs.  No eyes on the walls like security cameras, no traps.

A carpet, some walls and a ceiling were the confines of the room.  Even the door was normal, from when I approached it.  Inside contained nothing but a desk and two tables, with Samantha in the corner.

She had a coat over her cloak.  Another layer of armour.

I knocked, three times.

“Samantha?”  I asked, politely.

No response.  “I’m coming in, okay?”

I opened the door slowly.  Closing it, I looked at Samantha.

She hadn’t moved.

“S-shut up,”  she murmured, quietly enough that I could only catch it now.  “Not talking about it.  Shut up.”

“Samantha?  It’s me, Ryan.  You remember me, right?”

“I’m not like that.  Not like him.”

I took slow steps, trying to avoid her lashing out.  Eventually I got close enough and crouched down beside her.

“Samantha,”  I said, placing a hand on her shoulder.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t follow my promise to you.  I didn’t know they’d separate us so quickly, okay?”

Samantha was silent in response.

“I’ll take you out, and you’ll let it all be normal, right?  I assure you they won’t harm you.  I won’t let them.”

Samantha nodded. I barely picked her up and carried her in my arms back through the hallways as the rooms turned to normal, slowly.

Skin dried, shrivelled and gave way to carpet.  The bone doors slowly changed back to the painted blue wood,  Eye lens returning to glass.  Eyes fell away from the walls, rotting like umbilical cords.  One door opened.  A fingerface, his fingers wriggling in excitement.

“No,”  I said, ordering him.  “I’ve got her, she’s safe.”

He cocked his head, all but six fingers where his mouth should be laying flat against his skin.  An array of fingernails overlapped like scales.

“She’s safe,”  I repeated.  He backed away, waving dismissively behind me.

The peekaboo child was breaking inches away from my neck.  Blue eyes, scanning me from behind.

“She’s fine,”  I said, to reassure her, her protective beings and myself.

I had reason to.

***

One Year Ago: Kingdom of  New Austin

It hurts. It hurts.  Make it stop.

“Ryan,”  taker teased, sitting before me.  “You should give up.”

Make it stop.

“No,”  I strained.

Taker waved to his men, and another tink of metal sounded as a winch was pulled, the mechanism suspending me moving a little more in response.  Pain shot through my body.  My knees broke hours ago, it’s the only way to explain how I felt my legs bent against the drum.  My arms were next.  One more click, then-

Tink. It hurt so much.  I could almost faint.

“Just say it.  Beg me to let you down.  I’ll be nice, I’ll treat you like an important part of the family,”  he smiled, sipping some glass of alcoholic drink.

“I’ve always wanted a family pet.  I’ll adopt you from Sacrifi-”

“No,”  I interrupted, in pain from the act of moving when I shouted.  “I won’t.  She isn’t like that, she isn’t like y-”

Tink.

I woke up god knows how many hours later, all healed and healthy.  Sacrifice was right there, the cell across from me, still chained up.  She’d all but given up.

“Ryan, I’m sorry,”  she muttered, in the throes of a nightmare.  “Ryan, I’m sorry.”

I shifted, chains clinking.  I could move my knees and elbows, thankfully.  The one mercy we were given was that New Austin had some very good doctors.  Unfortunately, we had some very good doctors.

“Ryan, I’m sorry.”

I’m getting tired of the repetition.

“Hey, Sacrifice!”  I called out.

No response.

“Hey, Samantha!”

She roused awake, looked around, and sighed.

“I’m still here,”  she said to herself, audible only in the pure silence that had been our home for the last two years.  It was dark, but not too dark.  Stone were the walls and ceiling.  A thin layer of dirt covering the stone below was the flooring.  Metal bars separated each cell, and an array of shackles and chains as decoration.  “Fuck.”

Sacrifice looked miserable.

“Hey,”  I said, trying to create a conversation.

“What is it?”  she asked, looking at the floor.

“You were having that dream again, right?”

She hesitated.

“Don’t apologize.  He’d have done it anyway,”  I added.

She looked away.

I tried to get her to respond.  “Sacrifi-”

“Shut up,”  she finally spoke.  “Just shut up.  I want to sleep.  I want to lie down.”

“Sleeping all the time won’t work,”  I said, my voice louder.  “We have to keep sane minds!  We ha-”

“Sane minds!?  Sane minds!?”  She was shaking, crying in rage.  “He’s been fucking with ours!  Have you wondered how many times you wanted to give up but nearly didn’t?”

Too many to count.

“You did give up!  You did fucking cave in!  Every time, we let him win and he puts us back to square one and grinds us down again!”  She was shouting at the top of her voice now.

I sighed.  I feared this too.  He just wanted to play with us, and is holding up his agreement just because it was Trauma.

“I-I thought that too.  I wouldn’t dwe-”

“I saw you!”  she screamed, furious.  “I saw him fucking break your legs and make you beg him to stop!  And then he broke your fucking arms anyway!”

Wait, what just happened to me?

“He’s been making me watch, every time I was free he made me watch and now he’s just fucking letting me remember because it’s the last year!”

“Look, Samantha, Lis-”

It didn’t work.  She thrashed, angry and terrified at the world, her chains rattling like mad.

She glowed in the magnificence of powers being born and reborn, and chains turned to intestines, tied like knots.  The ground and the room slowly changed to human flesh.  She’d re-awoken her powers again; she’d reached the twelfth stage.

***

“I’ll protect her,”  I said to the many eyed child, heading for the outside.  Only Samantha’s beasts were left.  The parodies of the friends she had to kill.  The family she was tricked into murdering.  “I’ll protect her, Druggie.”

The many eyed child is surprisingly receptive to the name Druggie, just like how the peekaboo child responds to Bloodwitch.  Homunculi; perverted and insane representations of others.

I walked out, Unperson, Maxwell, the new cape and Margaret standing in a circle, talking.

Maxwell turned to me.  They knew.  Margaret must have told them.

“There are a few things in there that you should kill,”  I said.  “They aren’t that hard to fight, but they are human-ish.”

Unperson looked sick.  I stunk of various fluids.  I needed a wash.

“Ryan,”  started Maxwell, softer now.  “You must talk.  We can take care o-”

“You can’t,”  I said.  “You know who she is, and you know what happened.  What should be done, and what will be done are complete and utter opposites, and she’s already…”

I choked.

“I’m going to take her away.  Not to the City, the city is a hell hole.  I’ll make my own place, I can do it.”

Unperson looked confused, but stopped Maxwell from interrupting me.

“The city isn’t good enough.  Too many people get thrown in, regardless of how good they are.”

Unperson spoke up.  “She’s not go-”

“That doesn’t matter!”  I shot back.  “She paid for that more than anyone else ever will!  I don’t think a single criminal or fugitive or whatever out there paid for what they did in their entire lives as much as she did in a year!”

“Ryan, she’ll just do thi-”

“I can make spaces, and you know they don’t go away until I wish so.  There is only the City, that’s all there is to stop powers from activating,”  I explained.

Guards finished off the last monster in the now normal building.

“I can make whole villages to aid others who can’t, just let me take care of her myself.”

Maxwell looked at Unperson.  She was partially convinced, but not enough.  He looked at Margaret.

“He can do it,”  she said.  “And Maxwell;  I didn’t get it as bad as she did.  Nobody did.”

Maxwell growled under his breath, cooling the air.

“Fine,”  he relented after too long.  “It’ll be under contract with the NHN Ryan.  That is if the higher ups agree with it.”

He turned to the unnamed cape.  “Aim, go report this to Alliance and crew.”

Aim smiled, and set off in the air.  His green spandex didn’t suit him at all.  Sacrifice rested, not stirring as I barely held her up in my arms.

I need to put her down somewhere.

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This panic was unreal.  I’m just a normal guy.  My powers make super powered people normal when I think of them.

It took several seconds before I realized they were running towards something.  Something that I assumed was called Samantha.

I followed, running as fast as I could to the building they all surrounded.  She’d used her powers.  I knew it.  There was no way there would be such a panic if she hadn’t.

I’m easily beaten, I know that.  When I fight, I bring people down to my level and try and fight them one on one, or overpower them with whatever advantages I have.

Margaret is rather easy to handle.  She makes prisons to hold people as long as she likes, but she needs a line of sight.

Samantha is a different beast.  While I have had no extra powers due to my unusual origins and Margaret has had hers tailor into the best protection from an attacker, Samantha’s power became warped.

I saw the building.  Samantha was definitely in there.

“What the fu-”

A stray comment from a guard as I walked up the the building that held Samantha.  It was clear that the building has been influenced by powers.  The glass bent, wet.  The doors and windows lost their corners.  The ground around it faded into a new colour, pinkish.  The building stunk, even from where I stood, behind a crowd of soldiers.

The guards were backed up.  Maxwell stood outside, closer.  Next to him, Margaret and a third cape I didn’t recognize.

They made Samantha upset.  I knew it.

I barged past the guards as they barely noticed me, engrossed in the sight.

Maxwell saw me first.

“Unperson, why is Ryan here?”  he asked, looking behind me as I turned around.  Unperson smiled.

“I followed him when he freaked out over a question.  I was going to subdue him but there were bigger issues, boss.”

Maxwell looked cross.  “…We’ll talk about this later.”

I walked up to the doors, ignoring the commotion.  They let me.  Did they trust me, or…

I turned around to face Margaret.  She must have told them.

I turned back at the building and nearly placed my hand on the door handle before it moved, snapping teeth going for my fingers.

“Nice try, Samantha,”  I muttered, kicking the door with a boot.  The inside hit me with a wave of stench as the hallway dripped with all forms of liquids.  Bone and cartilage held the new interior up, as mucus, pus and other wonderful liquids dripped from above.  I took a step inside, the soft warm dampness soaking my sandal and touching my bare foot.  Reddish brown.  Gross.

“Samantha?”  I called out, taking more steps inside an stroking the walls gently, like last time.  “It’s me, Ryan.”

No response.  Only the sounds of dripping piss and vaginal juices from somewhere above as it splashed into a puddle on the hallway floor responded.  I smiled at the use of body hair for a rug as I looked at the sight inside.  Clever.

An eye failed to close in time as I turned, looking at the first door in the former hallway.  Two soldiers floating in amniotic fluid, given freedom to breathe with airway umbilical cords.  One saw my and beat on the window a few times trying to scream for help.  At least she’s playing nice, I thought.

The next door wasn’t as nice.  It was stomach acid instead.  They were still fighting, pulling away at the bone door, banging at the windows for dear life.  I moved on, quietly.

“Samantha, I’m here to help,”  I said, moving slowly down the hallway.

A scream from behind.  I turned around, quickly.  “You promised to make it okay!”

The mouth, lungs and and throat belched out a nasty smell that nearly floored me.  I took a step back into something that grabbed my foot.

“Samantha, I won’t hurt you!”  I yelled, pulling my leg out.  Teeth and bone shot out, filling the hole with shit stained spikes.  I sped up after regaining my balance.  She was hiding.  More doors, more soldiers.  I’d help them by helping Samantha, I thought.

A mass of muscle blocked my path as it contracted.  Blood seeped from it, slowly.  She was in the room behind it.  I turned to a Bone door and kicked with all my might, piss pouring out and nearly washing me away.  One soldier scrambled to his feet, panicked.  I grabbed him, trying to calm him down as he tore off the amniotic breathing mask covering his have.  He stunk of fecal matter and dried blood.

“Wha- wha- what,”  he repeated, shocked.

“Calm down.  Just stay here and don’t move,”  I said, petting him.

He lashed out, knocking me on my back and ran down the hallway.  He never even reached the door before a large bone swung out, ripping wall and slicing his feet off at the ankles.  I turned to the wall, ignoring his screams.  I warned him.

The wall in the office was soft, soft enough to could cut open easily if I had a knife.  I saw that the other soldier was dead, drowned in urine.  It didn’t take long before I had a knife in my hand from looting the man’s corpse, and I began tearing my way through the walls, like it was a jungle bush and I had a machete.

I broke through, covered in various liquids as I cut a tube pumping a mixture of liquids and it sprayed me.  The bone was easy to get past.  Kick it down, hard.

“I’m sorry, Samantha,”  I said.  No liquids filling this office.  It was a pit trap into more stomach acid, smooth, oily skin serving to lead victims in.  I opted to just cut my way into the hallway, slicing flesh and organs away.  A bone spike shot at me from inside the wall, but I dodged it, having it only clip my hood.  I grabbed it and cut the hood off, unhindered by Samantha.

She was there, in a room surrounded by a cage of bone, an amniotic sack suspended by a mass of tendons and ligaments.

“Samantha!”  I shouted from behind the door.  “Wake up!”

 

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“I admit it,”  I said.  “I fucked up.”

Maxwell had no sympathy for me.  I didn’t expect him to.

“You are telling me you had your powers readjust six times?”  Maxwell asked Margaret.

“Yeah, and?”

Maxwell had no response.  It was a mix of emotions, hearing this and seeing her treat it so casually.

“This,”  he began, sighing.  “This is serious.  I can’t really let you all go.  Not before, and not now.”

I relented.  I didn’t want a scene to be the first thing, and it already was.  Even the soldiers in the distance were tense.

Unperson restarted the conversation after a few seconds.  “So, Ryan Anderson, Margaret Upton and Samantha…”

Samantha didn’t take the bait.  She just stared at her, cautious.

“She’ll prefer to go by Samantha for now,”  I said.

Unperson gave a curious look.  “Let’s get you inside,”  she said, leading the way.  I followed, with Samantha tightly holding onto my hood still.  Margaret walked alongside Maxwell, trying her best to get acquainted with an old friend.

 

***

Three Years Ago: Kingdom of New Austin.

“Ryan, you aren’t eating,”  said Fractal.  He was dull, everything wiped from his mind by Taker.  Taker began to enjoy the boosts his power got, mainly the ability to use his powers without the touch requirement.  I hated it.  I couldn’t trust anyone.

I hated his sick joke of a reward.

“I don’t want to,”  I said weakly.  It still moved on the plate.  unnerving.

“Ryan, if you don’t eat you’ll lose your strength,”  said Fractal with no inflection at all.  “You want to get out, right?”

There it was.  The goading.  I didn’t want to die here, neither did Event Horizon or Sacrifice.  Taker abused this, used it to turn us against ourselves.  I almost wanted to die, and every time that feeling reached its peak, Taker jumped on it.  A cycle of torment.

Fractal put the plate down, just out of reach enough that I’d have to crawl over to get it.

“It’s only fair, it’s a treat,”  he said.  “She took yours, you take hers.”

It wasn’t like that, I thought.  It wasn’t.

I hesitated, reaching out for the plate, shackles and chains clinging along the floor.  I finally crawled over once it stopped beating.

“Good,”  smiled Fractal, uncanny in his appearance.  “Every last bit.”

I slowly took a bite down, blood spilling from Sacrifice’s heart into my mouth, down my hands.  She probably grew a new one by the time I was given this.  A new one for Event Horizon.

 

***

“Hey, what’s with the staring?”  asked Unperson, waving a hand in my face.

“Sorry,”  I said, my attention finally grabbed.  “Daydreaming.”

She shrugged and sat down at the other side of the table, papers in hand.

“Shall we begin?”  she asked.

“Can we hurry?”  I asked back.  I didn’t have time for this red tape.  I had to check up on Samantha, too.

“We could just get somebody to read your mind out your range,”  she said, stern.

“Fine.  Here’s what I know; four members are left from the Hunting Party, one of them is effectively harmless.  The kingdom is ruled by Taker, who has mind control powers,”  I said, counting my fingers.  I put my hand away under the desk.  They were all back, but how they grew wasn’t a good memory.

“Sorry!”  I said when I noticed her confused look at my actions.

“That’s all good,”  she said, writing down some notes.  “I’m more interested in you.  You mentioned mind control.  I don’t want to ass-“

“Assume I am under Taker’s thrall?”  I finished for her.

“Yeah.”

I sighed.  I didn’t know if I was, really.  Three years for him to prod and poke at me, with my glaring weakness every time I was asleep or distracted combined with the things he did everyday to throw me off, to throw us off our balance…

I didn’t know.  Maybe I broke down at some point and he patched me up, or he gave me a subliminal order for Trauma later on?

“Ryan?”  I looked up.  Unperson looked worried again.

“Your cloak fell down a little,”  she pointed.  I smiled and pulled it back up, covering my left shoulder.

“It’s not broken, right?”  she asked.

“No,”  I replied, brushing her concern off.  “It’s healed.  I don’t want to talk about this.  So-“

Unperson interrupted my excuses.  “You need help, Ryan.”

“I don’t,”  I said, quieter.  “I’m fine.  This is irrelevant to the reason I’m in here anyway.”

They can’t prove I am or am not a sleeper agent, truth be told.

“I’ve told you what I know, or all the rele-“

“You didn’t tell us exactly what happened,”  Unperson sighed.  “We need that.  Everything that happened, from the day you and Event Ho-  The day you and Margaret had gone missing until the moment you le-“

I stood up and left the interrogation room, annoyed that I was asked to narrate what happened.  I had to find Samantha, anyway.  If she was being asked the same questions…

No.  I ducked into a utility closet as several guards walked by, just avoiding their attention.  Maybe she’s in the same hallway?  That would be stupid.  They’d separate us.  Myself and Margaret have powers.  Samantha would be assumed to have them.  I took a glance into one of the rooms, my pace quickening when I didn’t see Samantha or Margaret.

No guards as I turned the corner, only a breeze knocking paper away behind me.  Damn portable buildings.

Almost every room at least glanced at, and none of these portable offices have more than one floor.  I went for the exit, nearly breaking out into a run.  I reached my hand out for the do-

Unperson grabb-

I tripped over and fell into a trash can in haste.  A guard came out to look at where the noise came from, spotting me instantly.

“Hey,”  He shouted, reaching for a gun or taser.  “Stop!”

I didn’t have time for this.

The door was feet away from me, I charged at it, tossing the trash can at his direction with one arm making trash flying through the air and block his sight.  I barged through the door and ran to the next building, the base kicking up in activity.

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Samantha stood next to me and Margaret.  She shivered, looking at the great red forcefield that separated us from the world.  The wall that held New Austin back.

“I’m scared,”  she murmured, rubbing her arms.  The single piece cloaks and sandals were not suited for such cool weather.  “I mean, what if he lied about the Exile?”

I looked at her, and smiled.  “He promised her.  Even if he lied, would you want to go back?”

Samantha flinched at the thought, before turning back to the forcefield, her blue eyes scanning the wall.

The Exile.  A gift that allows us to pass through the borders of New Austin once.  A chance to leave.  We all took it without hesitation.  Margaret made a run for the borders, laughing.  She phased through with ease collapsing to her knees at the other side still happy.  Samantha followed, nearly tripping over in the dirt.  Her cloak hood blew down and her long black hair flew behind her as she regained her balance and made a beeline for it.

I walked to the border, placing my hand against it.  It was soft, kinder than whom it contained.

“Hurry, let’s go!”  yelled Samantha, bringing me out of my distracted daze.

I pressed my hand through first, and began my trek to the greater world as I slowly felt the softness crash through me in a single step, like a wave.

***

Less Than Three Years Ago: Kingdom of New Austin.

Taker sat there, telling me the tale of why he did this.  I wasn’t listening to him.  I didn’t want to.

“So I just altered her mind and made her think she was a maid!”  he laughed, sitting in his chair.  He pointed at a jar of water and a glass on the table in the middle.

“Help yourself.”

I shifted in my chair uncomfortably, the chains giving little leeway and rattling.  Taker smiled to himself, his own little joke amusing him.

“So it has only been a single week so far, you know,”  Taker said, leaning over to drink from his own glass as my eyes followed his movements.  “I’m glad we could chat.  See your progress so far.”

“You bastard,”  I countered.

“Well, that’s enough speaking from you.  Quiet.”

I shut up, unable to defy the King.

“So how are things anyway?  Are the cracks already showing?  Are you still angry at Sacrifice?”

I was, but…

“I should check up on her progress.  She should be further along, after all.”

…I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sympathy.  I’m glad I don’t have any super-healing or super-durability at all.  If I did; if Event Horizon did, I’m positive Taker would go all out on us, too.

“I must admit, the medical technology in here is pretty good anyway.  I was actually surprised when they said that you wouldn’t die from shock!”

He laughed, wiping a tear from his eye.

“You know, that’s a pretty fun face you made there.  You are still so angry at the world.”

***

I didn’t need to walk far before my first encounter with the world I was taken from happened.  New Austin was small enough that a perimeter was easily built around it, thanks to the efforts of my companion and I, over three years ago.  Chain-link fences formed a wall in the distance, and there was an occasional station with guards and turrets of all shapes and sizes lingering about.  A gate with sand bag fortifications stood before me, Samantha and Margaret.

Samantha hesitated, seeing so many people.  I caught up with her and Margaret as they stopped at the gates.

“Halt,”  boomed a soldier holding a megaphone from the other side.  I figured we’d have to deal with this sort of problem at some point.

I raised a hand, a gesture.  Seconds passed.

“Somebody will be sent to see you,”  said the soldier.

Somebody did.

Maxwell.  He was still blue, cold and frigid as the air around me began to chill.  I huffed out a visible breath as he approached, towering over me, still.

“Greetings,”  he said.  “I am Maxwell.  I’ll be the emba-“

“I know that,”  I said, impatient.  I had too few clothes to deal with the cold, and any more reminders for Samantha that she was separated from people by only two layers of cloth hiding away her body would do no good for having her help me at all.

Maxwell raised an eyebrow, looking at me as I stood there, my hood still covering my head.

“We’ll start by asking you to remove your hood,”  Maxwell said.  “It’s suspicious when three hooded figures show up by leaving the border of a country run by a known…  Well, I’ll let you imagine.”

Those pronoun changes were enough to convince me.

I took off the hood slowly.  “Hello, Unperson.  Can you stop?”

Unperson walked into my view, surprised.  She’d changed.  Her hair was longer, her costume was different.  She was wearing body armour, evidently enhanced by something, as the glow lines indicated.  Her eyes were still covered, but the goggles were newer.

“Ryan?  I thought you died!?”  she exclaimed, a little too unprofessional for my liking.

I smiled back at her an Maxwell.  “Not exactly wrong.”

Samantha moved behind me, peering over my left shoulder, staring at Maxwell and Unperson with suspicious eyes.  I turned to look at her as she tugged on my hood.

“D-Do I know them?”  She asked, figiting in perceived safety.

I smiled and patted Samantha gently on the head in response.  “Yes, but not like how I did.”

Maxwell looked at me, her and Margaret.

“So, Ryan and…”  he prompted me to finish.

“Margaret is your old leader.  Sorry,”  I said, looking and pointing at Margaret as she smiled and waved, finally taking her hood off.

Maxwell looked at Margaret, surprised.  Three years change people.  Three terrible years change people even more.

“And the big softie behind you?”  asked Unperson, looking at Samantha.

Samantha whimpered slightly.

Dammit.

“I don’t want to say,”  I replied.  “It’s a long story.”

“I’m okay with stories, Ryan,”  said Unperson, crossing her arms.  “You’ll need to tell us one anyway.  It’s not often that you see peo-“

“I told you I don’t want to say,”  I emphasised, harsher.  Unperson didn’t react.  She took a step closer, making Samantha pull me by the hood as she took a step backwards, still clinging tightly to me.

“Ryan, things have changed,”  she said.  “I don’t know how you enjoyed the last three years but out here it’s been hell.  We’ve had worse things than a fucking wa-“

Margaret cut Unperson’s ranting off with a wave of her hand.  A cage of energy, holding her down with a mask covering her eyes, binding her to the spot with chains.

“Hey,”  Unperson exclaimed, surprised.  I was shocked too.

I gave Margaret a look.  “Stop.”

She let Unperson go, allowing her to feel her face for the mask that disappeared and the bindings that left.  Maxwell looked shocked most of all.

“What the hell happened for her to get to the second stage, Ryan?”  He asked, the air becoming deathly chill.  Samantha rubbed herself, her clothes too thin to help with the cold.

Margaret answered first.  “I’m not at the second stage, dumbass.”

“I’m at the seventh.”

That statement did nothing to calm Maxwell down.  He looked at me, blamed me.  I did too.

“Ryan, what the fuck happened?”  asked Unperson, serious.

“I fucked up,”  I replied.  “I fucked up and got everyone hurt.”

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7 | 4 : Ambush

Posted: 08/06/2014 in Ambush
Tags: , , , ,

“It feels good to be king,”  said Taker, sitting there like he was a king.  He was a king.  “Doesn’t it, Sacrifice?”

Sacrifice clenched her fit and got up, standing.  She was shivering noticeably from where I stood.  Anger.  Resentment.  Disgust.

“Taker,”  she said slowly.  “Why?”

Taker looked at her, pretending to be offended.

“For fun,”  he said, exaggerating his mock offence with gestures and faces as he stood up.  “Isn’t that my only motiv-”

He stopped, standing normally but not quite.  “I can’t do this pretend stuff anymore,”  he sighed.

Taker took several strides towards us quickly and lifted Sacrifice’s chin as soon as he had reach, making her look at him with level eyes.  “Bet you didn’t know I could fuck with your head.”

Sacrifice slapped his arm away, scowling.  “What the fuck do you mean by that?”

Taker smiled, backing off with his arms stretched wide and a massive shit eating grin painted onto his face.  “Who’s the daddy?”

Sacrifice leapt for Taker, reeling her fist back for a punch.

Taker was unimpressed.  “Stop, peasant.”

Sacrifice froze.  She froze in the air, immobile.  I took a double take.

“Wow, this king thing is great!”  said Taker, surprised and happy at his newly found power.  “Ryan, come over to your king.”

My legs moved on their own.  I couldn’t struggle or control myself as I walked over to Taker.

“H-Hey!”  I said, approaching Taker while dragging the cocoon behind me still.  “What the hell!”

“Stand right here,”  he ordered pointed just in front of where Sacrifice was.  I saw her looking at me, still in the air.  “Facing her.  Don’t move from there or speak.”

Everything felt slow as I slowly walked to where Sacrifice was aiming for before she paused.

Event Horizon stirred.  “Mmm,”  she mumbled, mouth covered.

Taker untied her from the impromptu harness I made with the silk and pulled her away.

“So Ryan,”  he began as Event Horizon began to realize where she was, struggling with futility against the cocoon.  “You wanted to kill Sacrifice, right?”

I said nothing.  Couldn’t.  My eyes darted between Taker and Sacrifice, as did hers.

“Changed your mind?  She has a habit of doing that.  She did it pretty well back in the day,”  he said, gesturing to Fractal.

He held the cocoon up, forcing Event Horizon to face us.

“Anyway, you know exactly how strong she is, right?  You think she’s telling the truth?  Do you trust her?”

He smiled.

“You could die.  You could be smashed like a melon if you are wrong and I say the magic words.”

She wouldn’t lie to m-

She already did.  She has, several times before.  That was irrelevant.

“You know, that little girl you were after was really fun to talk to.  She offered me a bet, or a deal.  I keep you for three years.  Three years.  You, Sacrifice and this little dear here,”  he revealed, stroking Event Horizon’s chin,  “Are all mine to play with.  Have fun with.  She’ll be busy bringing her own plans to fruition, and I get a free pass after three years.”

Free pass?

“You see, she wants to give me a gift after I gave her a chance to move freely, without that human side interfering.  I break you three down; she gives me the gift I seek,”  Taker walked over to Sacrifice.  “Sacrifice dear, will you tell Ryan every lie you’ve told him that don’t relate to how your powers work?”

Sacrifice looked at me, her face horrified.

“I-” she choked.  “I lied about my past.  I was good, once.  I changed after a while, and things progressed.  Most of my teammates stayed with me.  Glutton. Fractal.  Jawbreaker.  Taker was a villain.  It sorta happened when Druggie came by, we were just teens looking for thrills.  I-”

I knew that.  I did the research and found a summary of your back story.

“I lied about what I was doing with Kingmaker.  I didn’t want to be queen.  I wanted some medicines, and surgery equipment.  M-”  Sacrifice paused, her face was miserable, spilling out her secrets like this.  “I had a father who was sick.  H-He was going to die.  I uh, somebody came by and I tried to get help.  I did the things you know trying to figure out how powers work.  It was sort of relevant when I-”

She looked terrible, telling me this.  It was if she was exposing her true self, exposing her body for all to see.

“It’s why I was so wanted, I think.  Knowing stuff.”

I don’t care.  That wasn’t important.

“I lied about the promise.  I wouldn’t hold it up when we were done.  I’d have killed you or run away or something.”

She didn’t elaborate on why.  She didn’t need to.  I trusted her based solely on the fact I’d have a chance to avenge the hell I was being put through and she crushed it, if I wanted to go through with it.  Our whole relationship, the reason I was okay at the back of my mind with her eating my fucking flesh, it was ruined in an instant.  The promise was a lie.

I wanted to scream.  Scream in anguish, hate, pain, betrayal.  I wanted to cry.

“That’s it,”  Sacrifice finished, exhausted.  “I’ve finished.”

“Good job, not shut up,”  said Taker, turning away from Sacrifice and looking at me from.  “Well, Ryan?  You ready to take the hit?  If you want to live, just say three magic words;  ‘I give up’.  Say them and you’ll get a reward.  One that will make the next three years bearable.”

I could move my lips.  Sacrifice’s reaction said it all, as she saw my face contorted into pure unfiltered contempt.

“I give up,”  I said, staring her down, still immobile.  Taker smiled.

“Good, good,”  he cheered, patting me on the back as I stood there, unmoving.  Unable to.  “I think you’ll like this reward.”

He walked off, slowly, still in my sight.  “You see, I looked into Sacrifice’s mind.  It was easy, really.  Hell, she even thought that I couldn’t, because of all the little false memories I made.”

For the next three years, I regretted this decision every day.

 

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I dragged Event Horizon along with me, making sure not to wake her.  The softness and lightness of the cocoon Kumo made meant I could easily drag her along without waking her up at all.  I actually tied some around myself, freeing up my hands as I dragged her along the multiple hallways that were separated by doors.

The trip was quiet this time.  Sacrifice was concentrated, and so was I.  Taker had to die; this was an unspoken agreement.  Anything after that was not meaningful at all.  I didn’t care about the promise right now.  We might not live through this.

My thoughts were interrupted by a familiar face.  A face I saw many times, smiling behind the surgeon’s mask as he jabbed me with the needle.

“Druggie!”  yelled Sacrifice, serene.

This was unusual, seeing her so calm, so concentrated.  The current look she gave made every action she took before look exaggerated, as if every act was part of a theatrical play.  Druggie looked at her, his eyes declaring nothing but fury.  Four syringes, one between each finger of his right hand, each a different colour.  I gulped a little.

He took the green one between his pinky and his ring finger, and stuck it into his neck, walking towards us.  I moved back and Sacrifice walked a little forwards.

Druggie forced it into his veins, taking the red one that was between his ring and middle fingers as he discarded the now empty syringe he used to the side.  Sacrifice sped up to a sprint, and so did Druggie.  They met in the middle of the hallway.

The sound of the impact was intense.  Wind blew me off my feet.

Sacrifice was lucky to be partially in blood from her frequent skirmishes.  She was red and bloodied, standing there as dust blew past her.

Druggie injected both the yellow and blue formulae that remained into his neck at the same time.

“Sacrifice,”  he said.  “You’ll pay.”

Sacrifice looked almost confused as she suddenly shot down the hallway at blinding speed, missing me by inches.

The crashing noise confirmed that she was smashed through a wall somewhere behind me.  I turned around to see Druggie there already, moving faster than I could see.  He was holding Sacrifice by the ankles, hammering her body against the pillars.  One by one, each broke with the force of the impact as her flesh connected with stone.

“I figured cutting and stabbing and drugging you wouldn’t work at all, you bitch.”

He used her limp body to crater the marble floor with a downward swing, still holding her by the ankles.  The pillars and floor were ruined.

“The fact you killed her disgusts me,”  he said, tossing her into the ceiling.  She fell down after a few seconds with no grace.

Druggie dashed to Sacrifice as she fell, punching her with incredible force.

“I’ll just fucking pummel you till you can’t get up, then I’ll take you to Dad.”

I was horrified, watching this.  The whole time I was with Sacrifice she was more competent and anyone I knew, she was fast, powerful, intelligent.  Right now, she’s being beaten half to death before my very eyes.  She’s being overwhelmed.

Druggie grabbed the back of her head and brought it for a knee to the face.  It sounded painful from where I was.

The beating continued, her body covered in bruises.  Druggie avoided attacking the bruises, as they seemed to form an impromptu armour on her body.

After one minute, Sacrifice got the first decent hit in.  Druggie mistimed a kick and sacrifice was able to strike his leg with her right arm.  I noticed that her wrist was broken.  She must be in complete agony.

Druggie lost balance and hopped back, but sacrifice followed up with another hit, this time to the temple.  He tumbled to his side as he dashed an impossible distance for any human.

“What? Going into withdrawal?”  chuckled Sacrifice, her body visibly beaten.  She’d die if her powers weren’t active, clearly.

Druggie was sweating.  He charged again, a relentless assault, unending and unreadable to me.  Punches, kicks, elbows, knees.  The only moves I was able to see were the grabs and throws, and just barely.

Finally, he stopped.  He tossed her hard into the cracked and broken marble floor from a decent height.  His clothes were worn out, frayed at the ends.  His face mask was gone, his hair a mess.

He grabbed Sacrifice by the ankles and looked at me.  I was too terrified to refuse.

I followed him down the hallway, keeping back to make sure I didn’t let Sacrifice into my range.  If I shut her powers off, I’d kill her.

Her hand twitched.

“Boy. You take her,”  he said, pointing at me as Sacrifice slowly moved her arm to his right leg.

“I have Event Horizon, I can’t take her,”  I stalled, glancing as she moved her arm to his ankle.  He stared at me intensely, making me look back at him, holding my hands in the air in submission.

Sacrifice crushed his ankle as I stared him in the eyes.  His scream was blood-curdling.

She got up, showing me that her bones had healed. Unfortunately, nearly every bone broke,  and many healed while they were in the wrong place.  Her legs were bow shaped, her ribs and hands has stray bones sticking out, her jaw was misplaced.  She was black and blue and yellow from head to toe, and her left foot was bent into a fist.

She stood, twisted and malformed, almost grinning as three teeth fell out.

“I eedig,”  she said, unable to speak properly. “You ose.”

Blood sprayed me and Event Horizon as Druggie was beaten to a pulp against the marble floor of the hallway.

 

***

 

 

Sacrifice spent an hour breaking herself, putting everything back to where it should be.  I took the time to vomit behind one of the few remaining pillars as she did so, somewhat horrified at the sound.

I finally looked at her when she was done, and she looked human again.

“So,”  I began,  “Why the wait?”

“Waiting for his drugs to wear off,”  she said, holding a bit of foot in the air.  “He nearly knocked me out, I just came back at the right time.”

She got up and we continued out trek to the throne room.

The doors to the throne room were large and wooden in texture, but solid metal from how they felt.  Sacrifice pushed them with all her might, and fell over to her knees as the doors finally gave way.

I checked to see if she was okay, and I saw the worst situation possible as I glanced into the room.

Taker sat at a round table before the throne.  The King sat at his throne, a spear protruding from his head, a flow of blood dripped off the end of the spear and his wide eyes stared at nothing.  The crown was in Fractal’s hands as he stood behind Taker.

“Good to see you could make it,”  said Taker softly as the crown was placed on his head.  “Long live the king.”

I turned to look at Sacrifice, and I saw it.

I saw despair.

 

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“Ellen, you are truly pathetic,”  ranted Trauma to herself, marking the wall with a pen.  “What was your plan, lie down and just take it?  Hide me away in the City?  Hope nobody comes?”

I’m sorry…

The hallway was the same, confirming yet again the only inhabitants of the wall were Trauma and Ellen.  Trauma passed through here several times in an attempt to escape, an attempt to be free.  Tally marks covered the walls, painted on with cooking supplies from kitchens, pens from offices and whatever else she could find.  The total count for this particular hallway she was in reached to twenty-seven, and she marked it again.

“You know, I’m glad we can talk.  We can just chat.  I’m really happy we can just have a nice long conversation, because I really, really need to get my own plans in order, Ellen.  It’ll be so mu-”

Please stop, I’m sorry…

“Sorry!?  You think you are sorry!?”  snarled Trauma, enraged at the comment from Ellen.  “I’ll show you true, real, physical regret, you pathetic bitch.”  Trauma licked her lips, exited.  The conversation was almost too much, she couldn’t contain her enjoyment.

No no please n-

“I’ll fucking find that love-struck retard who followed me and I’ll grind him into fucking dust,”  she cursed, exaggerated hand movements illustrating her point.  “He’ll be so happy when he finally fucking kills himself.  I’ll make him enjoy it, do it slow.  I’ll ma-”

Shut up! I don’t want to lis-

“I’ll fucking make him shred his goddamn friends apart, with a grin!” Trauma interrupted, furious at Ellen’s indigence.  “He’ll pay a nice long visit to his mommy and da-”

Don’t you dare!  You’ll be so-

“He’ll turn to realize what he just did right as the bitch chokes out her last fucking breath!”  laughed Trauma, grinning wildly.

She opened the door at the end of the corridor, finding the one corridor she was looking for hours and hours on end after running away from the fight.  The corridor with poorly washed the orders from Taker, still attached to the entrance.

“He’ll be so happy when he finally guts himself!”

She smiled at her handiwork.  Taker may have written the orders, but Trauma was the one to deliberately fail to erase them correctly.  Feeling Ryan’s heart slowly sink as she walked down the corridor was delicious.  The tension and heartbreak as Bloodwitch slowly had to steel herself knowing she was going to fight her old mentor to the death?

To die for.

You can’t get away with this, they’ll kill us!  You’ll be stopped!

“I know,”  replied Trauma, grinning.  “It keeps me going, by the way, knowing that as long as I breathe you wish you’ll die.  That feeling I got when you were just begging Sacrifice to take notice of what I did and kill us both, even though it was merely futile because I’m in total control?  Simply Orgasmic,”  said Trauma, groping herself to provide emphasis as she grinned wildly.

Ellen was silent.

“I can’t wait,”  she continued, almost drooling at the thoughts in her head.  “I’ll ses mothers convinced to smother their daughters like it’s the only thing left on a chores list, I’ll meet single men and women ready to grieve over lost loves and end it all, there will be widows who wish to join their other halves that I’ll gladly aid…”

Catching her breath, she slowed down, her breath panting.  “I can’t contain myself, Ellen.  I almost want to skip the family reunion.”

Trauma stopped her hands from moving any further under her clothes, blushing in embarrassment.  Taker may have given her control, but she still has her own issues with self control.

“I can’t wait to make you watch,”  she finished, walking to the less damaged van.

She opened the doors, happy that the keys were still in the ignition.  She sat in the front seat, hands on the driving wheel and feet struggling to reach the gas and brakes.  She imagined for a moment the pure unfiltered sound of loss that would cry out if she plowed through a group of children crossing the road.

Stop that, hands where you can see them, thought Trauma.

Ellen all but gave up.  Trauma had enough time to work on her.  After all, Trauma knew everything about her.  She knew everything about Everyone.  She knew who people were cheating on whom with, she knew the size of your debt, she knew how unrealistic your dream job is…

She knew what to say to crush people as painfully and thoroughly as possible, in as few words as necessary.

Taker was kind to her for that reason,  because she was ‘fun’.  She’d have to visit taker sometime in the future.  She’d love to see how fun Taker was to her.

“Taker was like a father,”  she lied to herself, starting the ignition and reversing the car slowly.  It was harder than she thought, really.  She had to exert so much effort to drive, just because she was so small.

“I guess that means I have more of a family than you, right Ellen?”

Please, she’s your mother t-

“She’ll be nobody’s mother soon enough, sweetie.  Just sit back and let me take care of it.”

The Car reached the road, turning slowly and clumsily.

Don’t do this to me! You’ve done enough alr-

“The fact that I’m not hearing you say ‘kill me’ over and over again suggests that I’ve not done enough!”  shot Trauma, trying to adjust the side mirror of the van.  “Just sit back and enjoy the show.  I will.”

The van was difficult to drive with her height, but she figured she was going in a mostly straight line anyway.  She’d worry about it when she got to the city.  When she got to people.  Happy people.  People with families, jobs, friends and so much more.  People who will just go crazy with despair when it is yanked out right from under them.

People who just can’t handle dealing with trauma.