Posts Tagged ‘Kumo’

7 | 1 : Ambush

Posted: 08/02/2014 in Ambush
Tags: , , , ,

I ran, I ran as fast as I could, charging into the crowd that began to gather, following Sacrifice.  She reached an alley and we ducked into it, taking chaotic turns as the sounds of rubble being made and the booming voice of the King sounded.  I ran out of breath before sacrifice did, placing my hand on a wall when nobody was around.

Sacrifice turned around, catching her breath, too.

“This is the worst possible situation,”  she said, before correcting herself.  “No, this is better.  The King knows now, so we might be able to beat Taker while he’s distracted.”

I finally managed to speak.  “We are going to die, aren’t we?”

“Yes, we probably are.”

This did nothing for my confidence.  I didn’t want to die, not so soon.

Sacrifice continued.  “Best case scenario is we hide and let Taker and the King wear each oth-”

She didn’t get to finish as the King charged through the wall and struck her in the gut with his scepter.  I heard and felt the impact, and saw Sacrifice get launched down the alleyway away from me, creating a resounding thud as she crashed against a wall.

The King had his cape torn, and was covered by webbing across his arm.  He turned to face me, and I saw his furious expression, and the upper half of Jawbreaker, ripped in two.

“Oh fuck,”  was all I could say as he hurled the torso at me, knocking me down and winding me.

“How dare you,”  he said, a vile expression is his tone.  “You insult the King with a cheap attack?”  His slow hovering was ominous.  Even more so when he approached me.

I scrambled to buy time.  “Hey, I’m totally not with them,”  I said, raising my bandaged hand.  I saw the three fingers and remembered about Sacrifice as he looked bemused.  I pushed Jawbreaker’s corpse off of me and pointed in her direction.  She was starting to get up.  “She was with me, we are third parties in this thing that’s happening.  We aren’t enemies, please listen.”

Just as I finished, he turned around to see Kumo tackle Sacrifice out of view as she managed to stand upright.

“That beast killed my Royal Guard!”  he yelled, furious at the sight of Kumo.  The King pulled a parchment out.  “Merly!  Out now!”

Merly was dead wasn’t he? I thought to myself.  A pause as nothing happened.  “Merly!”

Nothing.  The sounds of crashing were distant.  An inhuman scream.  Kumo was hurt.

“Merly too?”  Asked the King rhetorically, throwing the parchment it away for another in his clothing.

“Corvus! I summon you!”  he boomed.

Darkness shot out from the corners of the alley, from the edges of my peripheral vision.  Even more from the corners facing away from me, the ledges of windows, underneath rubble and trash.  It gathered into a rough, barely-human shape.

“I’m here, my King,”  it said, kneeling.

“Kill all intruders except the naked girl and the wounded boy,”  demanded the King.  “Imprison them for later.”

Out of all possible outcomes, this was the worst.  I picked myself up and ran as Corvus made pursuit, creating space around me that filled the alley.  I needed to protect myself.

Corvus screeched, touching my safe zone and retreated, dissipating into every corner I couldn’t see, and every nook I’d never check.  He was looking for Kumo and Sacrifice.  The King left, more parchments in hand.  “Oculus,”  he said, reading one parchment out of view from me.

I was still in the open, I thought, looking around.  I bashed a window with my good hand, and crawled inside, making sure I was in the safe confines of my own ability.  I couldn’t trust my personal sphere, but the active space I could create works wonders.

Inside, there were cowering townspeople.  The mother held a kitchen knife, terrified.  I was too, but for different reasons.

“Upstairs, now!”  I barked, pointing at the staircase.  They backed away, slowly before rushing up  to the bedrooms.

I walked through the kitchen where I entered via window, looking for weapons.  My baton was lost at some point and my shield was a hindrance in travelling, I tossed that without thinking.

A frying pan and a steak knife came to me.  I didn’t want to linger about in a house filled with foreign sci-fi toys for too long.  I opened the front door, and saw Corvus waiting, fully fleshed out in a black robe with his effeminate, white face showing.  Maybe he was elsewhere when summoned and his powers make clones of shadow?  Why in person?

My thoughts were cut short as he pulled out a gun with way too many buttons.  I threw the Frying pan and dived back into the house, covering my ears as I heard a nothing and splinters scattered everywhere.  Fuck, I can’t stop that gun.  My safety was flawed.

Corvus walked into the house as I ran from the hallway to the living room to the kitchen, dodging blasts of energy as they ripped the building apart.  I could hear screaming from upstairs as the family felt the house shake.

“Stay still,”  he whispered, irritated at my luck in avoiding death.

I dived through the window I came in, one last shot barely grazing me as I scrambled down the alley.  I turned and didn’t see him.  He must be heading me off.

I put the knife into my good hand and stopped at a corner, expanding my space some more to give me decent cover.  Well, as much cover as could help, given the fact my opponent has gone to the ‘just shoot the fucker’ school of super powered combat.

His shadow paced around the corner, bursting into nothing as he hit the wall of my power.  He was testing it, looking to see if he could find me or lure me out.  I snaked further into the side alley, cautious of being caught or seen by Corvus and his gun.

I could probably fake a surrender and tackle him, I thought.  No, he’d make me drop my knife, and I’ve already fuzzed up the ‘innocent don’t attack’ bluff.

I scratched my head looking for a solution.  Maybe Corvus was attacking from elsewhere?

I doubled back, running as silently I could while taking a detour.  I was right, he was slowly walking to where I was,  In my space.  I waited for him to pass and ran at him, knife in hand.  He turned and I dived to the side, stabbing his stomach as I fell short.  He shot nothing and hit nothing, crying out in pain as I pulled down, gutting him alive.  He fell backwards and dropped the gun, and in the frantic rush I stabbed him again before he could grab the gun and shoot.

Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.

Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.  Again.

I was out of breath.

***

I saw Sacrifice and Kumo, after wandering about in a blood soaked daze, not seeing anybody as the townspeople hid from me.  It felt awful.  I’m the bad guy.  I’m a murderer.

Kumo was being held up against a wall as the blood drenched Sacrifice held a leg she ripped off his body.  He was regrowing limbs as she stood there, in the street.

I called out.  “Sac-”

She drove the leg through the wall, nailing Kumo against it.  Legging go, she snapped off another leg, and nailed Kumo more securely with that one, too.

“Stay down, Kumo,”  she ordered calmly.  How could she be?  She just casually ripped her former teammate apart and nailed him to the wall with his own legs.

“Daddy,”  muttered Kumo silently, barely struggling.

Sacrifice turned and saw me.  “Make a space or I’ll kill you.”

What?  She charged, nearly too quick for me to react.  I put my hands up and made a space as close to me as possible, covering my stomach and face. I felt a normal punch to the gut.

It still hurt, and I nearly threw up.

“Good, you are you,”  she said, uncaring about the fact she just hit me.  “That means I killed her, too.”

“Her?”  I just barely said, looking sick.

“Nevermind, just another delay.  Did you get attacked?”

I gave pause, dry heaving and winded.  “Corvus.  Shadow guy.  Big Gun.  Dead,”  I huffed out, confused and alone.

She smiled, standing me straight and patting me on the back.  “Good Job,”  she said, smiling.

I felt like I could understand her better.

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More wandering, but this time pointless.  I was told to walk ahead of Sacrifice, and she directed me where to go.  I turned around and caught a glance of her as she ordered me down a side corridor.

Killing Bloodwitch took more out of her than I thought.

“Stay,”  she said.  I heard a thump and knew she finally collapsed.

I turned to look at her.  She was a wreck.

“Christ,”  she muttered, tears streaming from her eyes.  “He did that.”

I had nothing to say.

“I think I know how you feel about Ellen,”  Sacrifice said.  Those words hurt me as she said them.  “I loved her like a daughter and he did things to her!  He forced his way into her life like that.”

She clenched her fists, shaking with rage.

“I have to stop him.”

I smirked a little, at the irony.  She deserves to know how I feel.  How I felt when she took everything important away from me.

“You think you’ll ever get your old life back?”  I recklessly asked.

“The answer will cost you a thumb,”  she said, looking right at me.

I was okay with that, I spoke out of turn, I thought as I held out my hand.  She came over and bit down on my thumb, hard.  My thumb was severed in one bite as bone crunched and I screamed in pain.

She swallowed it whole like the last time, and looked at me.

“No.  I was with them for too long,”  she said, blood dripping down her chin.  My blood dripping down her chin.

She was so different in person than the articles from the National Heroes Network said.  Sacrifice, the former vigilante who took her teammates and two local super villains on a cross country trip to cause inhuman acts on unwitting victims in the name of “science”.

This was the Sacrifice I knew.  She kidnapped me, does horrific acts and still turns around to save me over and over again.  It was confusing.

 

***

 

We continued to wander aimlessly.  I stuck close, hoping I wouldn’t have to deal with Trauma.  Ellen was gone, unless I could stop Taker, and even then it would be difficult; Everyone was more experienced with me, and my powers were surprisingly useless unless I concentrated.

“I’ve figured it out,”  said Sacrifice, jovially.  “This is a barracks.”

I gestured to my mouth.  “Can I-”

“Yes, I’m allowing it,” she cut in, turning to look at me.

“Why would a barracks become a labyrinth?”  I asked.

“Defenses.  Most people don’t plow through buildings, so having your city walls turn into a maze is a great solution for defense.”

I shrugged, accepting the explanation.

“They probably used Kumo to climb up.”

“Kumo,”  I repeated to myself.  “He’s the spider, right?”

She nodded.

“We can break out of here,” she finally said, getting up off the wall.  She punched through the hallway with her bloody hand after a few tries, and turned to me once she pulled at the wall enough to widen it.

“Close your eyes and turn around, Ryan.”

I did so, and yet again I was sent into slumber again.  I wonder what power she uses to do that?

 

***

 

I woke as I soared through the abyss.  It was dark, loud machines at work.  This was the true inside of the wall.  Texan technology.

“Sacrifice?”  I asked, rousing awake.

She was busy, landing on a room with a thud.  She put me down in a swift motion, letting me fall on my back.

“I was busy,”  she said.  “We need to get out.”

“I’m sorry, Sacrifice,”  I said, apologetic.

“It’s good,”  she replied, sitting down.  “We should talk again.  It keeps us sane.  My dad taught me that.”

“Okay,”  I said, nervous, looking away from her naked body.  “Sure.”

“Ask a question, go ahead.”

“How did you get your powers?”

Sacrifice rubbed her neck.  “Most people get them when they are exited,”  she said.  “Not in the good way, too.  It could be during a mugging, or in a panic attack, or anything, really.”

She looked at me, shrugging.

“I was lucky.  Mine was because of a discovery.”

“Discovery?”

“I was doing research on the medicinal properties of dried animal blood applied directly to the skin and well,”  she gestured at her body. “I got powers.”

“And you became a villain because of that?”

“No, I got my powers because of that.  The villain came later.  I think I started out as one.  Me, Jawbreaker, Taker, Druggie, Glutton and Fractal.  Kumo came later on and I picked up Bloodwitch when I and the others became famous.  I tried to be a hero but they didn’t think powers like mine were ‘Family Friendly’  I think,”  she meandered.

Lies.  You were a hero.  A good one, too.

“So, you are looking for a way out?”  I said once she finished.

She pointed behind me and I turned around.  There was a wall in the way, large and vast.  The wall to the outside.

I heard loud thumping as metal dented, Sacrifice working away at the room as she sat, legs crossed.  As she did so, I realized I could have escaped at any point.  I could have run away.  I chose to stay, for some inexplicable reason.

Sacrifice wasn’t quick enough.  She ducked as a room nearby swung low, missing her by inches.  The room we stood on was getting away from the wall, the labyrinth re-adjusting itself again as we sat.

“Fuck,”  Sacrifice muttered to herself.  She came over and picked me up, throwing me over her shoulder like a child and ran, jumping for a room.

We made the roof again, but barely.  She dropped me, and climbed onto the edge.  I heard a thud and crashing noise, and her hands fell away from the edge where I was.

“Ryan, climb down!”  she yelled after a moment of silence as I crept to per over the side into the deep darkness below.  “Hurry!”

I could jump, die and ruin her plans, I thought, climbing down.  She grabbed my waist and slowly pulled me in.  I thought for a moment about Trauma, trapped in there.  I felt relaxed knowing she was pre-occupied.

Sacrifice walked out and opened the door to the other side of the wall.

“Oh, this is just perfect,”  she spat, venomous sarcasm oozing out from her tone.

I followed behind her, wondering what she meant.  Kumo, Jawbreaker and Druggie stood at the door.

“You look sick,”  joked Druggie, fishing through his coat for syringes.  “Taken your shots?”

Kumo strafed to our left, I backed against the wall instinctively.

Jawbreaker cracked his knuckles.

“Ryan, I’ll need you to cooperate this time,”  said Sacrifice, slowly.  “We might die if we don’t work together, as a team.”

“Yeah,” I replied, noticing something in the sky far off.

Whatever it was, it approached, fast.  I caught a glimpse of the crown as it came close to us, stopping in the air as the backdraft swept over us.

“Halt, Spies!”  said the King of Texas.  He wore royal garbs, a red cape and crown.  His boots glowed at the soles; hoverboots.  He had a beard, and most obvious of all; he had many parchments of paper on him.

Jawbreaker, Druggie and Sacrifice turned up to look at him.  We were in the worst situation, outnumbered and under powered.

The King slowly reached for a scroll, unravelin-

Kumo show out a web, and Sacrifice pulled my arm away from him.  She ran, beckoning me to follow.

I turned tail and ran for the city as the King of Texas fought with the Hunting Party.

 

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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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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.