Samantha was here. She was safe. Well, safe as her power allowed her, anyway. There was still the issue of escaping and the more pressing issue of calming her down, but everything was perfect.
Now, to find a staircase.
I turned to the Fingerface.
“Any stairs?” I asked.
The Fingerface walked past me, towards the area covered in fire and ice.
I followed it and after a brief pause to look at each other, so did Nightmare and Dead Metal.
The staircase up was made of mostly bone rather than flesh. It was a clear attempt to maintain some form of structural integrity as Samantha’s power spread throughout the area.
Dead Metal ran ahead up the stairs, leaving me and Nightmare alone.
Climbing it was… painful. My burns were still fresh and exhaustion kicked in halfway up the stairs. Thank god for railings, I mused.
I limped up the second half of the stairway, holding down a desperate need to cry as Nightmare aided me for the last few steps by propping my bad arm over his shoulder.
It was a slow,
Dead Metal was standing at the top of the steps.
She spoke her first words in my company. “It’s her.”
I could feel the contempt dripping off her as she said that. Nightmare gave a quizzical look.
“Are you sure?”
We reached the last step.
“I know. She looks exactly like she did that year. Sacrifice, the bitch.”
I gulped a little, and Nightmare looked at me like I’d insulted him.
“That’s the girl you were after?”
He got out from under my arm and stepped back. I gripped the railing a little tighter. I could see the thoughts running through his head. Kill her. Kill her and kill him, too. The silence was thick.
“Just do it, Nightmare.” Taker said gently into his ear. “Go on.”
Taker wasn’t real. He’s busy, safe and happy after putting me through hell.
“Just push him down the stairs and finish her off,” he sneered. “After all, she ruined everything.”
I closed my eyes and took a breath.
“Taker was the leader, not Sacrifice.”
Dead Metal took a step forwards, but Nightmare stopped her with his cane.
“Explain,” he said, anger seeping into his tone.
I did. I explained the three years, what Sacrifice told me, what Taker could do, what he did do. What he did to Sacrifice.
He didn’t say anything until I finished.
“Ryan, my boy.”
I looked at him.
“If Sacrifice is supposedly fine,” he said, stepping to the side. “Why is she dressed like that?”
Samantha walked around the corner, slowly. Naked, covered in blood. The goat skull mask was affixed to her head again.
Even the pose was reminiscent of Sacrifice. Samantha was always on edge, worried. Expecting the worst.
Sacrifice didn’t worry at all. She relished her own presence, trusting her powers.
Apparently, she had fine control of bodily fluids. Blood, sweat, hormones… even the fluid within the cells themselves. She could reinforce herself to ignore a stab wound or break bones with ease, or alter hormones to induce sleep. Luckily, she needed physical contact to alter the fluids of others.
She took a step forwards and reached her hand out to me, ignoring Nightmare and Dead Metal entirely.
Sacrifice stopped and lowered her hand for just a moment. I internally breathed a sigh of relief.
Then she lept at me.
She hit like a truck, winding me and sending the both of us down the stairs. I still held the railings; they snapped off. It didn’t matter since the pain of impacting the ground made me drop the bone railing anyway.
Nightmare and Dead Metal moved to follow us, but Sacrifice turned and literally snarled at both of them. They stopped in their tracks two steps down and backed away.
She turned to me.
“H-hey Samantha,” I stammered. “It’s me, Ry-”
“Shut up,” she answered.
I sighed in frustration as she stared at me. Stared through me.
“How do you know my name?” She asked.
“You told me.”
“Where am I?”
“An asylum for people who don’t have a handle on their powers and their sanity.”
She took a second to think. “That figures. What about my powers?”
“Because you had a re-awakening,” I replied, pausing to catch my breath. “Several.”
She got up, still sitting on top of me. “Twelve?”
I nodded as much as I could. “Twelve,” I assured.
“You don’t remember?”
That was a dangerous answer for me. Up until the war with Texas Sacrifice was firmly on the side of ‘sociopathic serial killer’, even if it was because of Taker’s influence. Worst case, she remembers Norfolk and nothing after. Best case? She remembers the war. Anything before Norfolk? Almost as bad.
“Do you remember the war?” I asked.
“The Kingmaker war.”
“No,” I paused. “Texas.”
She turned up to Dead Metal and Nightmare, then back at me. They didn’t move from the top of the stairs, mixed between looking for an escape from Sacrifice and wanting to listen to my conversation with her.
“I don’t remember that.”
I took the plunge. “W-what do you remember?”
She didn’t say. I could understand that, there was a real reason not to trust me.
“It’s May,” I said. “2015. What date do you remember?”
A gap of roughly eighteen years separated me and Sacrifice. Me and Samantha. I felt a pang of sadness, then my side flared up. Sacrifice quickly got off me.
She turned to Nightmare and Dead Metal.
“What the hell are you waiting for, help me help hi-”
“Murderer,” Dead Metal called out.
Sacrifice looked taken aback.
“You murdered people all the way up to 2012, Sacrifice.”
Oh, I see. Her group never formed until 1999. In her current state, the Hunting Party doesn’t exist to her knowledge. That’s slightly better than what I feared. Still, Nightmare and Dead Metal have a serious grudge with Sacrifice. Victims? Probably.
Sacrifice alternated between looking at Dead Metal, Nightmare and me.
“I… I what?”
“Before we go through the history you’ve somehow forgotten,” I interrupted. “Can you heal me first?”