Posts Tagged ‘Bloodwitch’

6 | 3 : Wall

Posted: 08/01/2014 in Wall
Tags: , ,

Sacrifice sat there, slowly cutting a fried egg with her knife and fork, humming away like nothing happened.  Her feet swung childishly and she bobbed hear head from side to side, the bull mask sitting on the table next to her place, facing me.

Mocking me.

I had no real will to pay attention to her.  I fiddled with my food slightly, feeling unable to eat.

“You haven’t touched your food,”  said Sacrifice, pointing at me with a knife.

Don’t treat this like it’s normal.

“Eat. I’ll take a thumb if you don’t.”

I reluctantly took a mouthful of fried egg and bacon.  It tasted nice, but I couldn’t really eat.

“So Ryan,”  she began, “Use your powers to find your previous spaces.  Both of them.”

I concentrated on my spaces, swallowing the food in my mouth.  I could feel the hallway where Truama and Bloodwitch betrayed us an-

That wasn’t right.

“You noticed, didn’t you?”

The space I made outside this room was above us.  This is the highest we’ve been.  Why is the space I created above me?

“These rooms shift. Taker is trying to delay us,”  said Sacrifice, standing up.  She grabbed a knife and cut her other wrist open, letting blood drip all over herself.

“I’m not letting him.”

She covered her whole arm in blood, and told me to stand back.  A single, reeling punch broke the floor, creating a visible crater.  She grunted with every strike, widening and making a larger crater.  After several more punches, a lout grinding sound permeated the room.

She broke through into the maintenance rooms of the wall.

Sacrifice gestured me over and I obeyed, the throbbing pain in my hand still reminding me of why.

“It’s dark, and you can see all the little wheels and gears,”  she said, peering in.  “Odd for it to be so chaotic.”

I didn’t say anything, rubbing my right hand.  The hand without a ring finger.

Sacrifice turned to me, her mood changed from curiosity to mild annoyance.  “You can speak right now.”

“I-I don’t feel like it,”  I stammered.  “I don’t have anything to say, I think.”

She turned to me and took several strides.  I moved back, tripping and falling down as she drew nearer.

“No, wait,”  I said, backing up still.  “I didn’t mean it like that, honest!”

She smiled as I scrambled backwards on all fours, still looking at her as I reached the wall at the other end of the kitchen.

“I see,”  she said, her grin widening.  “Are you scared, my golden goose?”

I was terrified of her.

“I-”

She charged, grabbing my leg and pulling me towards her, her expression changed to almost anger.  I closed my eyes and covered my head on instinct, whimpering slightly.  After a few seconds of nothing, I relaxed and looked at Sacrifice.  She was standing over me, looking at where I was.  I looked up.  Bloodwitch was there, a spear of congealed blood piercing the ground where I was a few moments before.

Sacrifice just saved my life.

“Ryan, corner, now,”  Sacrifice barked.  I scrambled away from underneath her, panicked.

The kitchen was thankfully large enough to accommodate my aura and allow others to freely walk about, for the most part.

“Another work in progress?”  asked Bloodwitch, glancing at me.  Her red scarf draped over her body and her red garments were loose-fitting.  From what I read, she dies her clothes in her own blood and her hair was altered when she got her powers.

“I’m not interested in that, he’s just helping me,”  replied Sacrifice, backing up a step.

“Really? I see differently, considering he’s missing that finger,”  mocked Bloodwitch, a spike of blood shooting from her eft wrist.  “You have the most disgusting hobbies, Sac.”

Sacrifice took a single leap, twisting to avoid Bloodwitch’s spike as she thrust it out.  Bloodwitch reeled her right hand and swung for a jab, blood reinforcing it.  Sacrifice was quicker.  She caught Bloodwitch’s leg with her own and wrapped her arm around her neck, quickly pulling her to the floor in a single movement.  Bloodwitch countered by forming a blade at her foot and kicking, cutting into Sacrifice’s hip.

“You still make that mistake,”  laughed Sacrifice as blood dripped down her leg.  She reeled in for a kick with her newly empowered leg and fell over.

Bloodwitch cut her other foot off, throwing Sacrifice off balance.

“I figured I could just cut you up,”  said Bloodwitch, climbing to her feet.  She began limping to the kitchen table.  “I mean, If I just take your limbs I could give you to father without a sing-”

“What!?”  yelled Sacrifice, rolling to her knees.

I was terrified.  I was going to die.  She tried to kill me.

“Father, you know him!  He’s great and I missed him,”  replied Bloodwitch, cheerful.

Taker was Bloodwitch’s father?

“That bastard,”  said Sacrifice, visibly angry.  She was kneeling in a pool of her own blood, her wound healed.  “I’ll kill him.  I’ll kill him for this.”

“Don’t threaten father,”  shot Bloodwitch, stern.  Sacrifice motioned to grab her dismembered foot.  She got a kick to the face for her efforts.

“He’s always been there, he’s be-”

“He’s a fucking lie, you stupid moron,”  interrupted Sacrifice.  Another kick, this time to her abdomen.

Bloodwitch kicked her one more, harder.  “Shut up.”

She turned to me.

“I’m guessing five meters, right?”  She was forming a long, hard spear with her own blood.  She reeled her hand back an-

Crack.

I heard a blood curdling scream.  Crack.  More screaming, and blood.  I could barely see anything, she was behind the counter when she fell.  Crack. Crunch.  I felt sick hearing it.  The screaming finally stopped with a loud pop.

“Wha-”  I muttered to myself.  I was shaking violently.

Sacrifice slowly got up, and limped over to me, her foot reattached with Bloodwitch’s scarf.

“Get up,”  she said, before shouting.  “Get up!”

I scrambled to my feet.

“Stay a good distance from me from now on,”  Sacrifice ordered.  “You know very well what will happen otherwise.”

I wanted to ask about Bloodwitch, but I got my answer when I left the room, glancing back.

Sacrifice showed no pity to friend or foe.  Bloodwitch was dead.

 

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6 | 1 : Wall

Posted: 07/31/2014 in Wall
Tags: , , , ,

The drive was calmer than it should have been.  We were merely catching up with Taker’s group, driving by farms and empty streets.  I had the displeasure of seeing Sacrifice make a new mask out of a cow, tearing it apart with her bare hands and covering herself in the blood.

I also had the displeasure of throwing up at the smell.  She reeked of death.

The van stopped.  We got out, Sacrifice almost dragging me.  I’m glad my legs work again, she’d probably have done so anyway.

“We’re here,”  said Bloodwitch, looking up.

There was a massive, giant wall in our way.  There was also a message written in blood.

DOOR 3 MILES THAT WAY –>

YOURS TRULY,               

                          –TAKER

P.S  :  BOSS, WE’LL MEET IN NEW AUSTIN

 

Sacrifice sighed, pulling me back into the van.

We drove to the tunnel door in relative silence.  I had nobody to talk to apart from Ellen, and she only responded to members of the Hunting Party, for the most part.

We got out again, seeing the second van and the door, wide open.

“Trauma, check it,”  Ordered Sacrifice, pulling on me again.

She looked inside, felt around the door and turned around.

“Not many lights, boss.  It’s also a maze in there,”  she said, taking a step back.

“I see.  We should find a way through it,”  said Sacrifice.  “We’ll split up if we can’t find an exit.”

“We will go first,”  said Ellen, taking Bloodwitch by the hand.  She pulled her in, closing the door.

Sacrifice flinched.

“Ryan, tell me what you notice about this situation here,”  she said slowly.

“I’m being dragged around by a naked chick old enough to be my mother?”  I blurted out.

“Not that.  We got a message from taker, right?”

“Yeah, so?”  I looked at her and saw that she was clearly stressed.  The pressure of Taker’s betrayal has wormed its way into her.

“Why didn’t we get one here?”

She’s overthinking it.  “You’re overthinking it.”

I pulled her into the darkness of the wall, and turned to foll-

Sacrifice tugged back and pointed at one of the walls:

KI                          

                            ICE  

                      ER

 

I swallowed deeply, terrified.  Sacrifice was right.  Something was up.  She gave me a knowing look, glancing at the pair up ahead.

She began to speak.  “We sho-”

“Hurry up,”  shouted Trauma, interrupting her.  “We’ll lose sight of you two at this rate!”

 

***

 

The walk was tense.  We took turns, walked up and down stairs and entered several dead ends.  The sounds were mainly of our footsteps and the hum of lightbulbs.

Sacrifice provoked a mix between hate and fear.  I was scared because she had more experience than I did in everything, and she acted overtly like a predator.  She does horrible things casually, and she acts like she could kill me at any time.  I hated her for what she did, and I’m scared of her for what she might do.

This situation however, was different.  I was as scared as she was stressed; playing along when we both knew they’d kill her.  She also knew I’d never help her, even if she begged.

If I was a hostage out of the necessity of Sacrifice’s plans, then she was a hostage out Taker’s.  We were enemies in an inescapable trap.

“Hey Ryan,”  said Trauma, glancing back.

“Yeah?”

“I was wondering about that time a few years ago,”  she said.  Another left turn.

“What about it?”  I said.  Sacrifice tapped my arm.  Stress.

“Well,”  she began.  “You still like me, right?  Isn’t that why you ran away from Maxine and Derek?”

More taps, harder.

“What?”

“You ran, didn’t you,”  she sounded cross as she said it.  “You really shouldn’t abandon your friends.”

“Look, I could help,”  I explained, weakly.  “I can make spaces where yo-”

“At what cost?  That chick who followed you might die.  I bet that it was her blood that was used to write those messages.”

She admitted it.

“What do you mean, ‘messages’?  Was th-”

“It isn’t exactly like that!”  yelled Sacrifice with anger, interrupting me.

“Looks like you figured out, Ryan,”  said Trauma, turning around with a massive grin.

“Your powers, right?”

“No, I am her power. I’m that little voice that says ‘go on, do it’ over and over and over and over! And I never lie! It’s so great!”  she giggled.

Sacrifice charged as Bloodwitch took several steps forwards.

“Don’t listen to it! Ryan, stop her!”

I felt for my baton.

“Ryan, your powers don’t work properly,”  she said, taking a step away as Bloodwitch threw up a wall of blood.  Sacrifice punched it with all her might, creating a shockwave that knocked Bloodwitch over and down the hall.  Trauma ran down a side entrance.

“Maybe I’ll have a nice long conversation with Mom!  She’ll be glad to see me again!”  she laughed, growing fainter.

Sacrifice charged at Bloodwitch again, punching into the floor as she rolled away.  The lights went out.

Sacrifice yelled in the dark.  “Ryan, you know how to use your ac-”

“Yes!”  I interrupted.

I made a space, and began to envelop the hallway with ‘normalcy’.

The darkness was terrifying.  I spread it out more, filling wherever I could.  I could only picture a general shape, unable to picture who occupied it.

“Ryan?”  asked Sacrifice.

“I’m covering the who-”

“She’s gone,”  she interrupted me.  “They’ll attack us later.”

I fell to my knees.  I couldn’t bear it.  Ellen betrayed me again.  She tried to kill me.

“Fuck!”  I yelled, a futile gesture.  Tears welled up and ran down my face.  “This is all your fault.  I’m blaming you.”

Sacrifice didn’t react.  She got closer, as far as I could hear.

“Ryan,”  she began, slowly, calmly.  “We’ll die if we don’t put in our effort.”

“I don’t care anymore!  She was a friend and you bastards did that thing to her and changed her and she was taken away and she tried to kill me!”  I couldn’t hold it in anymore.  It hurt, everything about this hurt.  “Why would you do that to us!  We were just kids!”

I knew Sacrifice would give no sympathy.  Her reply was just as I expected from her.

“We didn’t do it to kids before.  I would have been interesting to see your development.”

Rage built up again.

“That’s why!?  To see what happens!?  Curiosity!?”  A lump in my throat formed.

“Yes,”  she replied with ice.  “It was exactly like that.”

She sat down.

“I think I should explain what Taker is trying to do.  What I was trying to do.”

“I’ll kill you,”  I muttered, under my breath.  “‘I’ll fucking kill you.”

“Help me and I’ll offer myself up on a silver platter,”  she said.  “I’ll let you kill me.”

 

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“You are taking the Motorbike? Why?”

Bloodwitch looked at Ellen and gave a massive grin.  “I loved these things back in the day.  Look, this bike has been modified to hell and back.  It’s all cape tech, and Texan cape tech, too.”

“That doesn’t answer why,”  replied Ellen, with dull inflection.

“It does. I want to try it, and I know how to ride it.  Ryan won’t do anything stupid, anyway.”

Sacrifice looked worried.  I loved it.  She was actually stressed, her usual confidence and her theatrics are gone.  Taker was nearly heroic in my eyes, but he was still scum like her.

“Bloodwitch, We sho-”

“We’ve delayed too long, Sacri-

 

***

 

I woke up, face in the wet dirt.  I motioned to stand.  I couldn’t feel my legs.  I figured that the dirt was probably soaked in blood.  I’m dying, and I don’t know why.  Ellen stumbled into my field of view.  She’d been hit by whatever it was too.  Maybe that kil-

Sacrifice walked into my peripheral vision from the other side, grabbing Ellen by the arm.  She pulled her away.

“Bloodwitch, check up on our little pet,”  said Sacrifice.

She was okay, Bloodwitch was okay.  Why do they get away with everything?  I hate this.

A pressure on my neck, then I was flipped over painfully.  I couldn’t stop myself from screaming.

“He’s crippled, I don’t think we can carry him,”  said Bloodwitch, looking at me.

She was smiling.  Why was she smiling?  I’m supposed to be necessary to Sacrifice’s plans?

Was Sacrifice being betrayed already?  This soon?

“Heal him,”  ordered Sacrifice.

“Can’t.”

“Fine, give me a second.”

Everything went black again.

 

***

 

I woke up, dazed in the back of the van again, laying on the floor, not seated.  Bloodwitch was driving, Ellen sat calmly in the passenger seat, bandaged up.  Sacrifice lay in the back, reading her book again.

“He wakens,”  said Sacrifice, not even bothering to look away from her book.

“What happened?”  I asked, still sore.  Correction; freshly sore.  The adrenaline and shock wore off, and Bloodwitch must have fixed me up while I was out.

“Merly’s bike was rigged to set off his toys.  His toys, if you didn’t realize by now, were small explosives.”

Ouch.  I must have been hit by shrapnel along with Ellen.

“Where’s Glutton?”  I asked, not seeing him anywhere.

“Dead.”

“And knocking me out?”

Sacrifice put her book down and leaned over.

“You read up on us.  We had to knock you out to work on you,”  she spoke.

I gave her a look.  What was I supposed to do, nothing?

“Don’t you ever fucking act like you did back there again, got it?”

I looked away, moving my head to the side.

She grabbed my chin and pulled my face back to hers, forcing me to look at her.  “Got it!?”

The pet remark she made was becoming really apparent.  All I’ve been doing is rebelling and hoping for a chance to do something, and all she does is punish me for it.

“Fine,”  I relented.  “I’ll behave.”

She let go.

“Good,”  she remarked.

The pause and quiet was unbearable.  I had to talk.

“Can I ask some questions?”  I said, swallowing my pride.

Sacrifice put her book down again.  “Go ahead, you can ask three.”

“I was in the van when I got hit, how was the van okay?”

“The bearings were secretly placed on our clothes, according to Trauma’s recollection.  She was hit by one nestled in the collar of her shirt.  Only I got away with no injuries because, well…”  she gestured to her lack of anything that could be called clothing.

“I see.”

“Two questions left.”

“What is Kingmaker’s powers, and what is it with all these kings and stuff?”

Sacrifice shot me a look of utter bemusement.  She barely held a laugh in.  “What?”  She asked, shaking her head slightly, thinking she didn’t hear.

“What is this Kangmaker and King of Texas thing all about?”  I repeated.  It was a good question that allows me to gauge what exactly the Hunting Party was or still is after.  If Taker had usurped Sacrifice in all but name I’d suspect they both are after the same thing, and maybe I could prevent them both from getting it.

“I don’t believe it.  How stupid are you?”  She said bluntly, bursting out in a fit of laughter.  Bloodwitch was also laughing from her seat in the van.

Ellen turned around.  “He’s not joking.  He actively ignored cape related stuff for years,”  she explained.  “He only knows that there is a Texas, a Scotland and a few more nations influenced by kingmaker, like the former Japan.”

Sacrifice wiped a tear off her face.  “I see,”  she said.

“Let me tell you a story.  Kingmaker was a low level cape on his own, but he had one of the strongest powers ever.  You see, Powers can be simple, like Bloodwitch’s and Undertow’s and that girl we caught with you, or they can be complex.  Complex can mean complex, here.  I’ve seen people whose powers work only under a full moon, or they dissipate if you say your name in french three times backwards.  I’ve actually encountered those capes,”  she said.

You probably killed them too,  I thought to myself.

“Kingmaker was the granddaddy of needlessly complex powers.  We still don’t know how they work, we just assume they work off a theme, like most powers.  Alliance needs friends and support, and he gets stronger.  That’s why he’s called Alliance.  I need to bathe in blood, as you’ve seen; thus my moniker.  Truama influences people to kill themselves as quickly as possible.”

She paused.

“Your powers punish your ignorance, leaving a very unfitting name there,”  she smiled at me.  She saw that news cast, too.  Hell, she might have seen it in person, lurking in Oklahoma, under my nose the whole time.

I wanted to hit her so badly for mocking me.  She was right, and I hated her for it.

“We don’t know how Kingmaker did this, but he created nations.  Nations where the king gains powers over his or her people, and they have invincible borders as long as they avoid war, and they can do many other things as well.  You know capes who become kings have their powers increase to godly levels,”  she said.

I figured it out, to my horror.

“You want to be a queen!?”  I blurted out.

“That’s three, and I-”  she paused, looking at Trauma who was watching her explain to me.  “Yes, I wish to be a queen.”

Liar.

“Can we get back to the second question?”  I asked,  trying my best to steer her away from giving up her counter-betrayal too soon.  Just you wait, I thought.  I’ll get you yet.

“Sure,”  she replied.  “Well, the guy who is the King of Texas is a former villain called ‘Contractor’.  His powers are complex, but the jist is he could teleport animals back to himself as long as he wrote their names in blood.  I don’t know what that says about naming things that can’t speak, but that happens with powers.”

I didn’t press the issue any further, I was actually tired, with the pain shooting throughout my body.

“I understand,”  I said.

 

 

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“What’s this all about?”  I had to ask.  It was confusing, seeing what felt like the Hunting Party play a game right in front of me.  Sacrifice and Taker had no concept of tension, apparently.  Event Horizon struggled to get up.

Taker turned to me, explaining away.

“Well, I thought we weren’t having any fun.  So I thought that maybe we should just deal with whatever powered capes we encounter one by one, starting with our dear leader, Sacrifice.”

He smiled a little, placing an arm on Event Horizon’s shoulder.  She looked dazed, like her energy was drained from holding Merly’s ball bearings while he struggled to move them.

“Make no mistake, You and her will not be involved in this game, right Sacrifice?”

Sacrifice was staring down Merly as he listened, curious.

“Yes.  I,”  She began, hesitating.  “Yes.  That’s what I decided.”

Merly cocked his head.  “A duel? in the middle of a war?”

“There are more of us than there are of you,”  replied Sacrifice, tense.

She was right.  Even if he attacked us, there was Bloodwitch, Fractal, Glutton and Ellen to deal with.  If it comes down to it, Even me and Event Horizon would end up fighting.  He can’t beat us all.

“Very well, a duel it is,”  said Merly, revving up his bike.

An instant later, he vanished, replaced by several floating ball bearings.  Sacrifice leapt backwards as they smashed into the ground around where she stood, nearly throwing her off balance.  the Rest of the Hunting party quickly backed away, with Bloodwitch grabbing me and Taker pulling on Event Horizon.

“Seems he has a lot of strength in his telekinesis,”  mumbled Bloodwitch, staring on.  “What do you think?”

I couldn’t care about this.  “Don’t treat me like a friend,”  I whispered harshly.

Merly came back into view behind Sacrifice, charging at her on his bike.  She dived out the way into the pot hole Merly created in the road.

“Dammit,”  Sacrifice, muttered, picking herself up.

Several ball bearings had removed and lifted one of the back doors for the van.  They floated along the sky, carrying the door in the air.  Sacrifice didn’t notice, She was busy avoiding falling over as more ball bearings burrowed and destroyed the ground below.

“How many do you think he’s using? I counted twenty balls,”  said Bloodwitch, again.

“I don’t want to talk,”  I said again, sternly.

“Hey, that’s unfair.  All I have for company are old coots and Trauma,”  she joked, acting as if everything was normal.

“Her name is Ellen,”  I growled, baring my teeth.

Sacrifice struggled to get a decent hit in, being led around with the ground breaking up constantly.  Merly had stopped using his motorbike or the cloaking ability he had.

“Don’t think I didn’t read up on you.  I know what you can do.  I’ll notice if you use your powers on me,”  I said, continuing my quiet rant.

Bloodwitch giggled, holding the red scarf around her neck to her mouth.

“I’d tell you the truth, but I’d have to kill you,”  she smiled.

The door fell.  Sacrifice didn’t even notice it as she dived backwards into its trajectory.  A satisfying thud and crunching filled the air.  I had a moment of joy, distracted by Bloodwitch’s threat.

“Yes!”  I shouted on instinct.  “You killed her, thank you!”

Merly looked at me, confused.  “You are not with her?”

“No, fuck her,”  I replied, smiling.  “Sh-”

She was alive.  Sacrifice got up, smiling deeply, clothed only in dirt, her own blood and the dried blood of the sheep’s head she wore.  She wore a deep cut from her chest to her pelvis, Rib bones showing and intestines clearly severed.

“There was a reason I hunted Bloodwitch down for three years,”  she said deeply, staring at me.  She was angry at me.  She was angry that I thought she’d die so easily, that I’d be free of her.  She was livid.  Bloodwitch squeezed my arm hard as her name was said, and I quickly glanced at her.

She was crying tears of pride.

“Do you want to see why, Ryan?  I’ll show you my secrets.”  she said, almost smiling.  Blood continued to pour from the gash in her body.

She raised her arm, and buried it in her chest.  I nearly threw up at the sight.  She mover her hand about, then took it out, forcing the other inside.  “Now then,”  she said, taking out her blood soaked hands.  “Let’s get fully prepared.”

She washed her feet in blood.  Even Merly was appalled.

“Dear God woman, what are you doing?”  he asked in horror.

“Setting the stage,”  Sacrifice responded.

She placed her feet down after ensuring they were totally caked in blood, and she leapt from my focus to about a foot away from Merly in a single bound.  Merly panicked and tried to accelerate on his bike, but Sacrifice was quicker.

“Not so fast.”

She grabbed the rear of it and squeezed, bending and crushing the seating with her bare hands.

“Don’t damage it,”  interrupted Bloodwitch.

“I’m trying,”  Sacrifice replied, frustrated.

Merly got off his bike and made a run for it, ball bearings tearing up the ground behind him.  Sacrifice seemed to ignore them, closing the distance in seconds.

Merly became invisible again.

“Dammit, I hate doing this,”  Said sacrifice, sticking her hand into her wounds yet again.  She poured the blood she cupped onto her face.  Her eyes, her nose, her mouth was all covered.  She removed her mask to make sure her ears were covered too.  I noticed she had short black hair.

“If you can’t tell, this is the reason she calls herself Sacrifice,”  said Bloodwitch.  “Any blood empowers her.  Drinking blood cures poisons, bathing in it restores youth and heals wounds.  Her legs move faster, her arms get stronger,”  she described, smiling with pride.  “She chose me because I can help her.  I’m not like the others, I’m necessary.”

This bitch is crazier than Sacrifice is, and she’s fondling her guts in public.

“I think that’s enough,”  said Sacrifice, rubbing her stomach and chest along her scars.  The gash appeared to begin healing, visibly dissapearing.

Sacrifice took a few seconds to look at the members of the Hunting Party.  Event Horizon was pale.  Her powers; my powers were nothing compared to that.

She turned around and grabbed the air, Holding it with both hands.  It took me a second to realize what happened.  She caught Merly while he was invisible.

“I win,”  she said, as blood gushed onto her chest and the sound of Merly’s skull being crushed filled the air.

Merly was still invisible, a silhouette of red.  She let go and he fell down, limp.  She did a small stretch, and knelt down, rummaging through his clothes.  She suddenly appeared as normal, but still dead.

“Anyone want the thing he was using for invisibility?”  she asked.  “Our guests exempt.”

Glutton raised his hand.  “I’ll take it.”

She tossed to Glutton while walking back to us, who caught it easily enough.

Sacrifice killed Merly easily.  How could I kill her?

“My boss,”  said Taker, rubbing his hands.  “I think that’s one for one, right?”

“One for One?”  repeated Sacrifice.

“Well, isn’t Jawbreaker down for the count?”

Sacrifice righted the overturned van.

“He’ll be okay,”  she said, pointing at the unconscious villain laying in his seat.

“Glutton, you drive.  I’ll put Jawbreaker with you, right Taker?”

Taker smiled.  “I’m thinking of having the young boy with us.  You can have Jawbreaker and Glutton.”

Sacrifice paused.  “I’m the leader of this group,”  she said quietly, almost to herself.  “We can’t have the two hostages working together.”

Taker smiled again, licked his lips and turned away.  “Right,”  he said, walking to the other van.  “I’m just a subordinate.”

The silence was apparent.

“Taker, take your group and go ahead.  I’ll need to do some repairs.”

Taker walked off, with Glutton following him, carrying Jawbreaker over his shoulder.  Druggie dragged Event Horizon behind him.  She didn’t resist, much.

The van drove off as Sacrifice knelt down, leaving only me, her, Ellen, Bloodwitch and Glutton in the road.

“Ryan,”  she said calmly.  “I’m going to have to have a private conversation.”

“I’m not tal-”

“You’ll fucking do it,”  she fumed.  “You’ll fucking listen to me and do as I say or I’ll swear I’ll turn your fucking friend here into a human fucking Pretzel and I’ll make you watch it.  Do you understand?”

I said nothing.  She got up and grabbed my arm, still wet with blood.  “Everyone else, keep watch,”  she barked.  Everyone but us moved away from the van, away from earshot.

In one swift motion she tossed me into the back of the van, and pinned me down, her hands tightly squeezing my arms.

“Stop struggling,”  she murmured.

“Get off me,”  I snapped back, writhing as hard as I can.  She squeezed so tight on me I was afraid she would break my arms.

“Listen to me,”  she said, harsher.  Sacrifice still dripped with blood.  Some dropped from her nose onto my face.  I turned away.

“If you wanted me to do what you say,”  I said, calmer now,  “You shouldn’t have kidnapped me.”

“You walked into that trap easy,”  she nearly laughed.  “you honestly deserve-”

“I meant the first time,”  I cut in, with a harsher tone.  “You ruined everything.”

I hate her.  Get off me and die.  Stop threatening Ellen, stop ruining lives, stop nearly dying and getting my hopes up.  Just stop.

“I don’t care,”  she said.  “This is more important.”

I tried to adjust myself, but she held me down with all her weight.

“Did you notice anything with Taker?”  she asked, after a lengthy pause.

“What?”  I said, shocked.

“Did Taker look suspicious to yo-”

I cut her off, laughing.

“Let me fin-”

I laughed harder, facing her.

“Taker usurped you, right?”  I said, stating what I realized all too late.  “The big bad wolf got her pack stolen from her?”

She slapped me across the face, hard.

“You and I are in real danger here,”  she whispered.  “That girl of yours in the van with him is in even more.”

That got my attention.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Sacrifice eased up.

“Taker, myself and many others lie about our powers.  It’s a common thing.”

“Cut to the chase.”  I said, impatient.  I earned another slap, harder.  I nearly started crying.

“I’m still in control, kid,”  she said, pausing.

Glutton opened the back door.

“You done with him? We need to catch up, boss.”

Sacrifice turned back to me.  “We’ll continue this later.”

 

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The trip made me feel miserable.  The drugs took their sweet time wearing off, and during the whole time they did I had to sit there, looking at the Hunting Party.  Bloodwitch, Sacrifice, Jawbreaker and Ellen were the only ones in the van with me.

Bloodwitch was in the back, leaning over into the passenger seat.  Sacrifice was busy reading a book, occasionally glancing at me, to see If I was trying anything funny.  Jawbreaker was driving, and Ellen sat in the passenger seat, looking out the window.

I had to do something.  I thought about my powers.  I took my sweet time and read up on their powers whenever I could.  I read everything I could about them.  The NHN Database, fan forums, Wikis and everywhere else.  I was convinced I could beat them.

Honestly, I was a fool.  I was younger and weaker than all of them except Bloodwitch and Ellen, and I didn’t want to fight Ellen at all.

The bleeding stopped a while ago, and I’d wiped everything off my face with the sleeve of my suit.  My helmet and my Shield lay next to me, freely sliding along the floor of the van as it took turn after turn.

A faint whizzing sound filled the air, distracting us all.

“Everyone get down!”  yelled Jawbreaker, Swerving the van.

A bullet penetrated the front window explosively.  Sacrifice toppled over, the shot just missing her.  When the van landed on its side and skidded uncomfortably along the road, stopping after several long seconds.

Sacrifice picked herself up first, along with Ellen.

“Wow, you look great up there,”  she laughed at me as I dangled from the side of the van in my bindings.  “A chandelier.”

“Let me down,”  I said sternly.  She gave a look and I added “Please.”

“One second.  Friends before foes,”  she replied.  “Jawbreaker, Bloodwitch!”

“JB is KO’d,”  replied Bloodwitch, checking up on Jawbreaker.  The airbags were deflating, slowly.

“Good, take this one down from here,”  said Sacrifice as Ellen opened the door.

“Truama, dearie?  You stay as a hostage.  I’ll need you.”

Bloodwitch roughly unbound me and let me fall too the floor.

“Up,”  she ordered.  I got up quickly, grabbing my helmet and shield.

I looked around and the sun hurt.  Another van was on the road, parked perfectly.  The rest of the Hunting Party was here, I assumed.

Sacrifice was quick to action.  “We have company, Guys! Get out!”

Fractal had already teleported Kumo, Glutton, Taker and Druggie out of the van, along with Event Horizon, who was in handcuffs.  She caught a glimpse of me, and her face told me what I didn’t want to know.

She followed me and got caught.  I turned away.

“Well, now we are all here,”  began Sacrifice,  “We should be taking cover, although it may not help at all.”

She turned to the tipped over van as another thud rumbled through it.  A ball bearing less than a centimetre in diameter stopped inches away from her mask.

“Ryan, use your powers,”  she ordered me.  I didn’t comply.

“No,” I murmured, “I don’t ne-”

“Your friends will die here,”  She interrupted as she turned her head.

She looked at me.  She looked deep into me.  The Ball bearing was so close.  If only it started moving again.

“Start thinking, now!”

I hate her.  I hate her so much it hurts.  I hate how she’s using them; using me.  Still, I have to do this.

“Fine,”  I said.  “It only attacked the van, and isn’t going for you.”

The ball bearing quickly darted towards me, striking my facemask that is attached to me helmet.  I fell backwards, stumbling.

“Ryan, no!”  shouted Event Horizon.  Nobody else moved, not even Ellen.

“Sounds like its owner was mad at hearing that,”  said Sacrifice.  “You think its owner is hiding or nearby?”

I didn’t care, blood dripped from a shard of plastic in my cheek.

“Fuck, don’t as-”

Sacrifice ran over and kicked me in the stomach.  “Answer me!”  she shouted.

This was a game to her.  Another way for her to assert her dominance.  She knew exactly what was going on.  I hate her so much.

“I think they are hiding or something!”  I shouted in response to her interrogations.

“Good, good,”  she replied, smiling.

I got up as she walked over to Event Horizon.  The ball bearing floated aggressively between her and Sacrifice.

“You were the team leader for the Juniors, weren’t you,”  she smiled, stroking EH’s hair back gently.

“I still am,”  she replied.  “Don’t touch me.”

“Lock that ball down.”

“Why should I?”  asked Event Horizon with a smug but scared look.

“Well, if you don’t I’ll just give a pledge to Texas here and now, and in about two hour-”

Event Horizon reacted before she could finish.

“Okay!”  she said, panicked at the thought of Sacrifice’s threat.  “I’ll do it!”

The ball bearing stopped moving.  Event Horizon winced a little.  Sacrifice walked away, into the open.

“It’s pulling hard,”  she complained.

“Suck it up, dearie,”  smiled Sacrifice.  She turned around to face us and yelled directly into the sky, arms outstretched and her body showing.

“Show yourself!  You can do it!”

No response.

“We’ll fight honestly!  Come on!”

Still no response.  Event Horizon’s foot dragged a little along the ground, prompting Bloodwitch to snigger.

“Fractal, get everyone but the leader in the van and dri-”  She was cut short with a loud fizzing sound behind her.

A young man with long, flowing golden hair stood right behind her, holding a motorcycle helmet in one hand with hos bike between his legs.

“I figured you’d have to show yourself if Event Horizon held onto your toy,”  gloated Sacrifice.  “Get lost or I’ll kill you.”

The young man smiled.  Event Horizon dropped to her knees in exhaustion as the ball bearing she held with her power fell to the ground.

“Don’t expect the King’s guard to be so pathetic,”  he smirked, sticking one hand into his pocket and placing his helmet on with the other.

Sacrifice was about to move, but Taker took control of the situation, much to my surprise.

“Sacrifice, don’t do that,”  he pleaded gently.  “It’s not fun that way.”

I looked at them and noticed that everyone was staring at Sacrifice, waiting.  Were they judging her?

Even Ellen did so.  I looked at Event Horizon as she groaned.  Our assailant huffed.

“War is not fun.  Protecting our King is a privilege.”  he stated with pride.

“Fine,”  said Sacrifice, after such a long stare down against what was the entirety of the Hunting Party.  “We’ll do it the fun way.”

She turned around, bowing.  “I bid you welcome, I am Sac-”

“Dear god woman! Put on some clothes!”  Interrupted the man, shocked.

“Who the fuck are you anyway?”  I finally asked, annoyed.  Just fucking kill her, or get out the way and let somebody else kill her.

He gave pause and looked at me, glad to be distracted from Sacrifice’s bosom.  Sacrifice gave me a nasty look.

“Why,”  said the man in full theatrics.  “I am a member of the king’s guard, Merly.”

 

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“Ellen! Ellen!”

Ellen turned around, giving one last look before running down the street.  I ran out the bedroom and bounded down the stairs after her.  She was faint in the distance but I was closing in as she ran away.  I can still catch her, I thought.

Ellen was nearly running out of breath as I finally caught up to her, grabbing her arm tightly and pulling to make her face me.  I caught Ellen.

“Ellen, it’s me,”  I said, barely audible as the rumbling increased around us.  “I can help, lis-”

Pain suddenly struck my neck both sharp and quick.  Ellen looked at me without a single flicker or any tell as I felt the metal of something pierce deeper into me.  I turned my eyes to look at what happened with care not to move my head too much, and I saw her slowly push the last few inches of a golden liquid into my veins via a syringe.  I knew exactly what happened.  Druggie’s formula pulsed through my veins yet again.  I looked on in horror as its effects hit me all at once, making me collapse to my knees with weakness.

Ellen caught me by the armpits, holding me up as I raised my head to face her.  I felt my vision blur slightly, with each heartbeat pounding in my chest painfully.

“-ot to follo-”

I couldn’t make out her words as the sounds became faded, distorted.  She looked nice from this angle.  I bet she was staying healthy.

“-at the he-”

Another voice.  Event Horizon.  I tried to raise my hand in an attempt to communicate, but it was no use.  I looked up at Ellen.  What was she saying?

“-ive this- -out he-”

More words, faint, barely audible.  Rumbling faded away with the finer details of Ellen’s face.  Ellen moved to my side, still holding me up.  I was nearly blind at this stage, the outside world was almost entirely gone.  The rumbling was a whisper, along with the faint sound of crying behind me.  I took a hesitant step into the blurry darkness, nearly falling over.  Ellen helped pick me up.

Wait, wasn’t Ellen kidnapped?  I soon took a turn somewhere, I think it was a left turn.  Was I still even on the pavement?  I hope Event Horizon if following me, I might need help.  Ellen needs help.

“Ellen,”  I murmured, dazed and confused.  “I missed you.  Derek missed you.”

Ellen continued walking me to somewhere.  Who was it that took her?  Did she leave?  My legs felt heavy, sluggish.  Everything seemed unreal as sounds came out heavily muffled and my vision distorted with each passing step.  A quick glance showed everything looking the same as I could only make out the sky due to the colours, and even that was difficult.

“I want to return, I hate this.”

I nearly tripped over rubble.  Ellen picked me back up, slowly.  She was gentle.  Our pace picked up.  More muffled talking.

“I want to go home, don’t you?”

A finger against my mouth silenced me.  I didn’t know if the words reached her.  I don’t know if I was even speaking, my body was numb.  My movements were rehearsed, less walking and more remembering how I would walk if this stuff wasn’t in me.  I need to ask her what that was.  I bumped against a wall as Ellen led me on.  Where was I?  I’ll find out later.

I finally stopped after a timeframe I can’t comprehend, and the weight of my body and my exhaustion made me fall over into softness.  I was unable to move.

What was I doing?

***

Still dazed, still weak.  I was moved to somewhere different from where I landed when Ellen let me go.  I took a moment to gather my bearings.  There were sounds, and it was dark.  Was I blindfolded?

“-kill her-”

“-fun tha-”

More muffled voices.  I could tell them apart.  The rumbling faded consistently.  I was being taken somewhere, quickly.  A car?  A train?  I tried to move my fingers.  No response.  I tried to speak.  No response.  Fuck.

“-ello, Ry-,”  said a familiar voice.  “-at’s your na-”

I let out a groan.

“Wow, -at stu- -as quite a – D-  -ook at -”  I could almost pin it down.

“Sacrifice?” I asked, dragging the ‘a’ and drooling over my chin.  I could feel my fingers, and move them.

“-ats out o- -ag now,”  she said, pulling my hood off.  I could smell the rancid stench of rotting meat.  My vision showed splotches of brown, red, peach, yellow and green, with red and black around me.  I assumed I was in a van, and the brown and peach was Sacrifice.

“Whats that phrase?  Fool me once? Fool me twice?”

Shame on me.

I tried to move my fingers.  Sacrifice grabbed both of my hands and brought them together in her lap.

“Listen here,”  she began.  I moved my head a little.  “you are going to help me and all my little buddies here, you understand?  Now, I’m not going to te-”

I spat on her face, straight through the mouth of the sheep’s head she was wearing.  It was hard not to smirk with my accuracy.

“That’s pretty dirty,”  she said, her tone changed.

“Fuck you,”  I replied.  “You ruined ev-”

I was struck in the face before I could finish.

“That’s dirty,”  she said again.

“Go fu-”

Another punch, harder, twice.  Blood trickled down my nose.  The softness of where I sat softened the blows.  Sacrifice got up, leaving me to realize I’m on the floor of a delivery truck.  I moved my arm to feel my face, but she stood on my hand as I raised it, twisting my fingers into the floor.

“Say that you are sorry,”  She said slowly and sternly.

“Fuck you, bi-”

This time she kicked me in the face.  My head hit the wall harder.  I spat out blood, and thankfully no teeth.  She walked across the van, away from me.

“Bloodwitch, over here,”  she said.  Bloodwitch stood up.

“Fuck you!”  I yelled, blood stopping me from articulating without spraying it everywhere.  “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!”

“When I give the order, kill Trauma.  Make is painful.”  Sacrifice ordered.

“Just when I was getting along, too.”  Bloodwitch remarked, sighing.

My heart sank.  I tugged at the belts tying my torso down.

“What!?  You can’t!”  I yelled in shock.

“Exactly. Say that you are sorry or I will kill her.”  Sacrifice hissed.

I paused, staring into her eyes.  They were a deep blue.

“Ten,”  she began.  “Nine, Eig-”

“Fine,”  I shouted, looking away.  “I-I am”  I hesitated.  Fuck this woman.

“I am what?”

“I’m Sorry.  There, I said it!”

“Not good enough,”  she replied.  “Seven, Si-”

“I’m sorry I spat in your face!”  I yelled, interrupting her.  I’m not losing a friend for this.  Not for her.

“Good,”  she said, smiling.  She brought my face up to look at hers.  “You now understand what your relationship truly is.”

She spat in my face and laughed, turning back to the others.

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He could see his mother.  Her hungry face, covered in fluids.  Vomit.  Blood.  Pus.  He saw her sink her teeth into his sister’s flesh.  He struggled, and a binding broke.  Daisuke could move a single leg.  He struggled again and used it to leverage another leg free, then a third.

After enough struggling, five of his legs were free, and he snapped the webbing holding him up.  Toumei ran for his life.

After seconds that seemed like an eternity, he could hear his mother’s screeching.  “I’m still hungry! I can’t stop it!”

He panicked, tripping over a rock.  Not a single sound left the forest, nor did a single whimper or cry reach any animal.  There was nothing in his mother’s lair.

“Fuck,”  said Daisuke, picking himself up and running again.  He knew that he was going to be next.  He was the only one who was left.

The trees were a bit denser as he pressed on, his mother gaining speed as she thundered through the forest like a wave.  He needed help, he needed something, something that would save him.  Daisuke looked up and saw the canopy.  I could climb up to there,  he thought.

Aoi was behind him, her face still covered in her children.  Daisuke’s siblings.  The sisters and brothers he failed to protect.

 

***

 

“I think we should leave,”  said Hanako.  Daisuke had to admit that she was right;  it’s been a week and their mother was looking ill.  She hadn’t eaten in days.

“Sister,”  said Daisuke with a soothing tone.  “It’s all okay, we are just making sure mom is okay.  We will leave soon, I just want her to be okay.”

“But there is barely any food anywh-”

“I promise you,”  Daisuke put one of his legs to his sister’s mouth.  “We’ll go together.  You, me, Toshiro… everyone.”

Hanako paused, not speaking for what seemed like an eternity.  Then she spoke.  “Okay.”

 

***

 

Daisuke reached the top of the canopy, glancing down to see Aoi behind him.  He jumped from one tree to the other, nearly falling as a crashing sound occurred from below as branches tore away.  Aoi was right behind him.

“I’M STARVING, I HAVEN’T EATEN IN DAYS!”

Daisuke climbed along the canopy.  He had to live.  For Hanako.  For everyone.

Aoi rumbled through the canopy behind Daisuke, knocking branches and what not into the ground below.  She was catching up.

Daisuke continued to scramble through the canopy, approaching a thick line of branches.  There was a small opening, a hint of webbing surrounding it.  It must have been made by one of his brethren.  He had no choice;  Daisuke crawled into the space, hoping it was a tunnel.

“Dammit,”  he said to himself.  His abdomen was too large.  “Fuck!”

Aoi was right behind him.  She stopped moving.  Daisuke knew what was coming.

A pain shot through his heart as his own mother’s fangs sunk through his abdomen.  I don’t want to die,  he thought.  I don’t want to die, not like this.  Tears welled up as the pain pulsed through him.  Another stab to his abdomen, this time dragging Daisuke as his mother pulled him out of the tunnel, away from safety.

“I must eat!  I’m so hungry I must eat, I’m sorry!”

 

***

“Dai?”  asked Hanako.

“Yes?”

“It’s been a month.  She’s been getting worse and she’s started talking in her sleep.  Most of the family is gone.”

“I know. We’ll leave tomorrow.”  said Daisuke, comforting his sister.

 

***

 

Daisuke struggled to crawl away, pain throbbing through him, venom dripping from the hole in his back.

He struggled to speak.  “I… don’t want…”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry but I’m starving and you look so good!”

Aoi was crying.  She was crying as she ate her own child alive.  Crying as she stuck her fangs into his back, chewing on the remains of his abdomen.  Crying as she crunched his chitinous shell between her jaws, pneumatic fluid and silk proteins spraying everywhere.

Everything suddenly turned to an abrupt darkness.  Daisuke was floating within the void, or what could only be approximated as ‘floating’ by Daisuke himself.

“I don’t want to die, not now,”

Daisuke struggled to look where the voice came from.  Was that from behind me?  he guessed.

“Not like this, not like this,”

Another voice, quiet, closer.  He could nearly tell whom the voice belonged to, it was so familiar.

“Let the bitch starve then, she fucking ate them all!”

The voice was Daisuke himself.

His body erupted in pain and white, and he woke up from his unconsciousness.  His mother, dead.  The trees, decayed.  Himself, healed.  The branches couldn’t take his weight and he fell to the earth.

 

***

 

“Awake, Kumo?”  asked Bloodwitch, smiling.

Kumo took a cursory glance then began to move his legs, testing the fluids which gave him locomotion.

“I am now,”  he said, raising his body slowly from the ground.

“You talk in your sleep too often, Kumo.”

“Well I have an excuse to do so, really.”  replied Kumo, pointing a leg at Trauma, who was sleeping soundly.  He began to walk towards the door.

“Where is the boss?”  he asked Bloodwitch.

She only smiled.  “Don’t know where she is, but she’s hanging with the others, Kumo.  Funny how they don’t seem to trust us three as much as the others,”  she said, gesturing to the three inhabitants of the abandoned living room.

“To be fair,”  retorted Kumo,  “Trauma joined us way too easily.”

“Her powers have heavy influence over her.”

“How’d you figure?”  asked Kumo in a quizzical tone.

“I could feel it in her blood.”  said Bloodwitch, pricking her own index finger with a needle.  Kumo watched as the blood slowly moulded into a shape that resembled Bloodwitch in her costume, and then slowly and visibly congealed to a solid mass.  Bloodwitch broke off the blood sculpture and placed it on the couch where Trauma lay sleeping soundly.

“That is always creepy,”  remarked Kumo.

He turned to leave for good.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you ask, he’ll never take those memories away,”  muttered Bloodwitch, looking down on the sleeping trauma.

Kumo couldn’t tell who that advice was truly for.

Quiet.  Silent.  Everything was Nothing and she was alone with her thoughts.  Who would want to talk to you?  It’s all your fault.  You’re going to cause nothing but misery, forever.  It’s all your fault.  You deserve this.

Ellen’s mind raced, and it could only hurt her.  She was not allowed to talk to anyone, not after what she did.  The guards were blocked from even seeing her, she was that horrific.  Confined to a nearly impossible degree, with gags, blindfolds, chains, cuffs and straight-jackets all supported with a complex metal contraption suspending her in place.  All that was was all her thoughts; all her thoughts were all that was.  She waited and hoped for the occasional jolt of the van as it took her to the city kept her awake. Anything to make the Ellen in her mind go away, or be distracted for a moment.

You don’t deserve to live. You killed them.

Ellen couldn’t escape her own thoughts for even a single second.  It hurt.

Did it feel good?  Having her die because you didn’t want to hear me for just a little longer?

A thousand accusations, a thousand spiteful words pierced her with precision that proved to her it was her own mind doing this.  Her very soul was trying to drive her insane.

She loved you, and you said those filthy, evil words.

It was working.

And guess what?  You get to go free.  I’m sure Uncle Jonathon will be proud.

A violent jolt of the van changed her mind for a second.

Oh my.  It appears you’ve caused even more death.

Metal tearing, shouting, screaming, gunshots.  Nothing.

They had kids.  Both of them.

More metal being torn, louder, more pronounced.

And now it’s your turn.  You’ll spread misery forever, without fail.  You disgust me.

“This her?”  a ragged voice asked.

“Yeah, this is the one,”  answered what sounded like a young girl’s.  “Taker, take out the bits we don’t need once I’ve tapped her.”

Pain.

 

***

 

Ellen woke up to find herself alone.

No voice.  It was gone.  She got up and realized he was free.  She was free, and there wasn’t that constant voice in her head telling her how horrible she was every second she wasn’t near Ryan, and she could move and walk and speak and-

“So you took out her will to die?”

Ellen shot around and saw them. Seven Humanoid figures and a giant spider.  She’s seen weirder teams of capes before.  Unlike Ryan she actually bothered with reading cape news and gossip, rather than instinctively sneering and going for the remote.  She recognized them already.  The Hunting Party.  She was back in the clutches of the hunting party.

Sacrifice, Druggie, Fractal, Glutton and Jawbreaker stood in a group.  They were finished off by three of their other members whom the news reported as visiting Asia at the time they attacked Norfolk.  Taker, Bloodwitch and Kumo.

 

“Why are you here?”  she asked.  Or more correctly, that is what she meant to ask.  What she actually said was “Ahh, Munroe.  You think you can save this little girl, too?”

A brief moment of horror crossed Ellen’s face as Bloodwitch slapped her across the face, sending her across the room.

“Taker, she told you to take out all the bits we don’t need,”  Bloodwitch snarled at Taker, her veins visibly popping from her powers.

“Now now, I was only having a joke.  It’s not like you’d kill yourself anyway,”  replied Taker, adjusting his glasses.  “Though if you let me take something of similar value, I’d give you back your death…”

“Back off, you fucking creep,”  Bloodwitch replied, a spear of blood shooting out of her arm and touching Taker’s neck.

Glutton suddenly jumped and bit down on the blood spear, breaking it.  He shot a look at both of them and resumed eating his burger.

“Enough,”  ordered Sacrifice calmly.  “We have many experiments to run in the future.  Taker?  Take these things,” she handed Taker a note of paper.  He smiled while looking at the list and walked over to Ellen, who just managed to stand up.  Ellen turned to run and began to look for a door or a window.

“It’s no use, dear.”  said Taker, slowly walking towards her.  “I took away the exits.”

“Clara, help me!”  Ellen cried.  Bloodwitch clenched her fist and looked away.  “Don’t let it happen!  Don’t just stand there watching again!”

Taker got even closer.  Ellen tried to make another run for it but she froze.  She suddenly fell to her knees and put her hands behind her head.  Bloodwitch was using her powers on her.

Ellen panicked, struggling to speak.  “Clara, please!  I didn’t mean it! You said you’d prote-”

“You aren’t her!”  shouted Bloodwitch, visibly angered.  Ellen shut up, reduced to sobbing.

Taker reached her, and placed his and on her head.

“Loyalty to your friends, family and everyone else bar us.”

A surge of blood rushed through Ellen’s head.

“Please, Danny… It wasn’t their fault,”  she whispered to Taker.

“Your ability to use your power on us.”

Another surge of blood.

Ellen could actually say what she wanted to.  “Please, stop this.”

“Your ability to betray us or rebel against us in any form.”

Another surge of blood, heavier than the last.

“And finally, your will to leave us.”

It was done.  As the last pulses of blood ran through her head and she heard the tinnitus slowly pass by.  Even her thoughts changed.  Ellen was still scared, still frightened, but now she feels no need to escape, to try and run away.  She looked up at Taker as he took his hand away.

“Why?”

“We always take a new member from each experiment,”  smiled Sacrifice.  Ellen remembered a small detail about her; she used to be a well known metahuman researcher.  Her experiments have come to this?  Awful.

“It’s a way to keep on having fun.”

“I see.”  Ellen wasn’t disagreeing.  Only loyalty to the Hunting Party remained.  It pained her to admit so, just a little.

Sacrifice walked closer to her, wearing a bull’s head instead of the goat she last saw.  She placed her hand on Ellen’s shoulder.

“You are now Trauma,”  she said gently.  Ellen got up, allowed to move again.  Sacrifice turned to the rest of the Hunting Party. She clapped her hands and spun around in a mischievous manner.

“Who wants to see the current situation of Texas?” she asked.

Kumo was the first to reply.

“Why go Texas?”   the spider hissed.

“Because, Kumo, I want to study the Effects of Druggie’s formula on a Kingmaker victim.  The King of Texas is conveniently nearby, and he’s going to open up soon anyway.  Kingmakers need to wage wars and Texas hasn’t had one in 15 years,”  she replied.

Kumo didn’t respond.