GLENWOOD SPRINGS, COLORADO
The Inquisitor stood tall and proud in shining armor of platinum, eyes aglow, luminous greatsword resting on his pauldrons. Glorious violence in the name of the Lord stretched to the horizon, and it all served to make him stronger. He could feel the conviction of his flock flowing into him from near and far, for as the doubters fell away, the faithful grew emboldened. What would be setbacks for a softer shepherd— excommunication, condemnation, vendettas and global outrage—all served only to raise his power.
Paul Schuster watched blood stain the soil of his lifelong hometown, and he smiled.
“Paul,” his White Knight said from behind him. “This is too much, too… out there, too fast, too…” She shook her head. Her blade was unstained; she had stood back and watched the carnage.
“Suddenly hesitant, faithful sister?” Paul’s voice seemed calm enough. “Squeamish? It is too late to reverse our course, surely you understand that.”
“For you, maybe.” Esther’s voice was low. “I’m getting out. There’s no way you can win this. And you know what? The piles of bodies and endless carnage is… boring. No, I’m done.”
Esther turned away and took a few steps, then raised her voice — nice and loud, so it’d carry to the onlookers. “Just stay away from me, Paul!”
Paul’s glowing eyes narrowed, thin slits of light cutting across Esther’s shiny plate armor. The clumps of cultists nearby turned to stare.
“Betraying me will not absolve you, Esther. You have supported the Tribunal. It is too late to wash your hands clean of the blood already on them.”
Esther laughed softly, shaking her head. “You don’t get it, do you, Inquisitor? It’s not about clean hands, not really. You know what? Have fun with your little freak show. I’m going to bounce.”
She turned and took a few steps, a pool of solid light appearing next to her.
“Inquisitor! Inquisitor!” A bloodied woman in a sundress limped toward them, a triumphant grin on her face. “We found the Prodigal! It took twenty of us and several hostages, but we caught him!”
The cheering crowd parted as several cultists dragged a beaten and bleeding form, bound in heavy chains, before the Inquisitor and his Knight. The figure’s orange hair was matted and filthy, clothes torn and stained with blood.
But when the Damselfly raised eir head, those emerald eyes were clear and filled with rage.
“Well,” Paul said softly, “an opportunity for your redemption appears, sister.”
“It does.” Esther agreed, turning and drawing that long blade. There was a pause in which the only sound was the soft scuff of her white armour against the ground, and then she turned with grace and arced the blade towards Paul’s eye, stabbing through the lightly armoured helm.
That unnaturally sharp blade hit its mark immediately, piercing through Paul’s eye and deep into his head. The Tribunal cultists lapsed into a shocked silence.
The seconds stretched on like ages, the silence finally broken by the Inquisitor’s clarion-bell chuckle. “I see.”
In a flash, that platinum gauntlet rose and clamped like a vise over Esther’s gauntlet and the sword it held, crumpling the sword’s basket hilt and her hand.
Esther screamed – half from pain, and half from surprise. She clearly thought her armour unbreakable and herself invulnerable. She wrenched away to the best of her ability, unable to quite escape from Paul’s grasp. The blade broke, snapped, the white blade vanishing before it hit the ground. “Paul, stop!”
“Just like you, little Judas,” Paul laughed, lifting his platinum greatsword in one hand, “to strike first and then ask for clemency.”
Paul released her just as he struck with the flat of his sword, swatting her away like a beetle. Before she could even fall, he appeared behind her and struck with the sword’s flat again, sending her sprawling the other way.
Esther was a masterful actress, but she couldn’t fake the impact of those blows. She lay sprawled against the floor, and her white armour flickered and then died. Her hands grasped in the dirt briefly, and then she groaned in pain and curled up, lying still.
“Esther!” Nat yelled, struggling to fly toward her in spite of injury and restraint.
Lily broke from the crowd and rushed to Esther’s side, cradling her body. Only then did she seem to notice the restrained Damselfly.
“Oh Peter,” she sobbed. “Oh no. I thought—I thought at least you—”
“On this day,” Paul took slow strides toward Nat, reversing the greatsword in his hand. He reached down and grabbed Nat by the head, lifting em effortlessly. “My first and last betrayers fall together.”
<Current Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G15btlaZR_k
Ryos (Feat. Allisa Rose) – Eclipse>
At that moment, Pandora burst from the crowd with a look of absolute rage burning within her eyes as she blew three sharp whistles upon her fingers to get Paul’s attention. How dare he! How dare this asshole even think to raise a weapon with the intent to harm Nat. Pandora knew she was probably going to lose… But she did not care. She did not care that she was outmatched in terms of power. She did not care that she was exhausted. She did not care that he had armor and she did not. No… She cared too much for Nat to care about any of that.
She stared the Inquisitor straight in the eyes as she bounced back and forth on the balls of her feet in time to the beat echoing through her ears. There were bruises all over her exposed abdomen as she raised up arms that were covered in scrapes where the elbow-length gloves had not protected her skin. Her expression was one of pure defiance.
Alex walked up next to her, his face grim. Serious. Sad. “What’s the point of all of this Paul?” His voice was not defiant, though it did demand an answer. “I read the bible yesterday, before I came here. I knew nothing about christianity before then. If this is what that is? People murdering each other in the streets for a man who killed his own father…well. I have to be honest. You make your religion look like a sham.” His fists grew wooden, branches tangling about them as he took a defensive stance. “I’ve killed no-one on my path here today. And now that I am here, I’m not going to let you murder anyone else. No more deaths Paul Schuster. You can still put your sword down.” There was conviction in his eyes that a man like Paul should recognize. Heroics were Alex’s religion. His belief. Too bad Paul was more of a tyrant than a man of faith.
Paul turned to face them. The eye that had taken a wound spilled a glowing ichor, luminous fluid running down his face that he didn’t even seem to notice. The other eye still glowed brightly all on its own, and it fixed on the two Legionnaires.
“Is this all?” He asked. “Are these profligate misfits the best that the Legion could send against me? I expected to snuff some candles before I put out the Oathkeeper’s flame, but this… is disappointing. Come. I will kill you both while holding my filthy brother in one hand.”
Alex turned to the mob of cultists. “You should be ashamed of yourselves.” He told them quietly, sternly. Without fear. And he walked right up to Paul, slowly and non-violently. Unphased by the threat. “Do your worst.” As he reached for the hand gripping Nat, his fingertips and body already beginning to grow out into as massive a tree as Alex could manage. He knew they didn’t stand a chance. The least he could do was buy Nat as much time as possible.
Pandora’s fists soon had a glowing aura of black and red flame swirling around them as she turned to look at Alex. A tiny smile formed on her lips as she gave him a thumbs-up. Fear was plain in her scarlet eyes but there was a fire burning there as well. If they were going to die, at least it would be alongside the man she loved. With a nod, she turned back to face Paul and began to think of how to hold him off for as long as possible.
“Guys… no…” Nat croaked between Paul’s fingers. “You can’t… beat him. Please run…”
“Silence.” Paul squeezed the Damselfly’s head, eliciting a cry of pain from Nat as he stared Alex down. He hadn’t yet moved to strike or otherwise hurt him. “Do you recall chapter three of the book of Exodus, profligate?”
There was pain in Alex’s eyes as he saw Nat gasp for air, but his face remained stoic. He didn’t look at Paul when he answered. “When god appeared to Moses. To tell him of a paradise. A place free of problems. Milk and honey.” His fingers pressed against Paul’s gauntlet, little tendrils of vine seeping between the cracks. Pulling softly but to no avail. The bark had grown over his arms now, encroaching over his neck and down his chest as his feet began to root into the ground. “Did god tell you to do this?” He kept his voice unnervingly neutral, his eyes telling Nat everything they needed to know. He was there for em. Till the end.
Pandora was strafing along the outside of the crowd whilst Alex distracted their powerful opponent, looking for an opening through which to strike. She had no idea how fast or how powerful Paul really was and that was worrying to her. All she knew was what others had told her to do and what she was ignoring right now. All she knew was that she was supposed to run but there was no way that would happen now.
“Please…” Nat’s voice cracked. “Please…”
“Yes he did, little bush. And he has a message for me to pass along—”
A blinding light suddenly wreathed the inquisitor, white flames leaping up his body, down his arm. Nat screamed in pain and Alex felt an intense heat roar around his wood-wrapped hands. Paul turned and swung his greatsword in a long arc around his body, straight at Vin.
Alex gritted his teeth through the intense pain, but did not move. He stood his ground, bark growing around him more rapidly now. Vin felt vines growing and burning simultaneously, helping open the vice just enough to keep them from passing out from asphyxiation. His body was growing thicker, heavier as his coating spread over his chin. He almost looked like a statue now. He knew Vin knew how to handle herself. He believed in them. “If this is your god’s will, he’s no better than a common villain. No better than you Paul Schuster. An abusive, hateful, tyrant of a creature.” The bark began covering his face, but before it did. “You will be stopped.” Suddenly the vines, the bark, the branches. Everything began growing much quicker. The vines in his gauntlet hand expanded quickly, surprisingly, with great force. It was beginning to be hard to make out Alex’s form at all, as it grew and grew and grew, fighting against Paul’s grip. He would not let this monster have the satisfaction. If it was the last thing he did, he would free Nat. He had to.
Paul snarled, and the fire intensified. Alex could feel his arm weakening, becoming brittle, the char spreading outward. It wouldn’t be long before the damage was too much, and his arm would be gone. Paul burned so brightly that Vin could scarcely see him. But his hand did seem to be loosening its deathgrip on Nat’s face, and the fire wasn’t burning the Damselfly the way it burned Alex.
<Current Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlTspWZOIdA
Lindsey Stirling – Master of Tides>
Pandora thanked God for watching over her as she raised her hand and fired a jet of water into the flame roaring towards her. She walked forwards slowly, straining her eyes and clenching her teeth against the heated steam around her as she made it close enough to raise her second hand and direct another stream towards Alex to cool him off a little. There was a part of her mind – a part which sounded a lot like Emi – which was yelling at her for disobeying orders. Once again, the dancer pushed it and the pain aside as she started to come up with a new plan.
The steam in the air was so thick, so intense that it wasn’t until the huge gauntlet was right in Vin’s face that she was able to see it. The massive fingers encircled her shoulder and gripped it—hard, painfully—and lifted her off the ground. The wind went out of her as Paul hurled her body against Alex’s wooden frame, smashing and splintering the wood, using her as a human club. She caught glimpses of his face, eyes glowing, teeth clenched in frustration as he did his level best to beat them both to death with one another.
He failed. A large patch of leaves, that continued to regrow much faster than Alex could safely manage began forming wherever Paul attempted to hit him, cushioning Vin in as soft an embrace as Alex could manage. Wherever damage was done, the tree was regrowing around him as quickly as he harmed it. Defying him as long as he could manage. His arm was completely gone now, but that was fine. He could grow a new one. Had to. He had to keep trying as he sent wave after wave of his life force against the flames, forcing their way into his grip desperately. He could feel himself slipping, wrapped in a cocoon of his powers. He didn’t know how much more he could manage.
Finally realizing that this tactic was doing little, Paul’s grip tightened for a moment, and Vin felt something in her shoulder pop before he threw her to the ground, drawing that hand back. When his hand swung forward again, that platinum greatsword was in it. A single strike hewed enough wood for him to gain some distance, and then he tore the rest of the way back, dropping Nat on the ground. He lunged forward to cleave Alex in two—
And his sword bounced off of a great domed shield made of hexagonal panels of energy that now separated Nat and Vin from the tyrant.
“I can’t!” Tortoise cried. “I can’t let you! I’m sorry! Petey, I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
Nat looked up from the ground on the other side of the hex wall. “N… n-noah?”
“I’m so sorry, Petey. I wanted to get you in the shield but I fucked it up. I have to save my new friends. I’m sorry!”
“Aw,” Nat rasped. “You… look good in that mask, bro.”
Roaring, Paul swung his sword again. A crack appeared in the hex wall, but it held firm still.
Pandora screamed in primal pain as her shoulder was crushed, her right arm going completely limp as blood pooled from where the gauntlet had cut into her flesh. Despite this, however, Vin crawled forward using her remaining hand and her legs as she kneeled at the edge of the shield in front of her and placed her good hand upon it. She looked to Nat and her eyes were watering as she attempted to push her way through. [I… Won’t leave you behind. Tell him to let me out.] She headbutted the shield in an attempt to break through. [Please. Please tell him to let me out, Nat. He cannot understand me.] Nat weakly lifted one hand and tapped eir index finger, middle finger, and thumb together twice. [No.]
The lot cracked on both sides of Paul as two new bundles of branch and vine struggled their way towards him, gripping at his arms desperately, staving off the inevitable. The area behind the shield was slowly growing darker as the huge tree that was Alex slowly wrapped around them and the outside of the shield, making it more of a window. Reinforcing it, protecting Noah and Vin inside. Feebly attempting to cover Nat too, though Alex knew it wouldn’t be enough once Paul decided to redirect his rage. The branches felt weak upon eir skin, holding em as close as they could. Holding out for the inevitable.
“Noah!” An inhuman screech split the air. “Not you! My children—my children!!”
Lily Schuster was changing as she charged Paul. Her skin grew shiny and red, blackened wings bursting through the back of her dress and her hands turning to wicked chitinous claws. Her eyes burned with an orange fire as she screamed from her newly-fanged maw.
“You are no son of mine! Leave my children alone!!!”
She leapt upon Paul, rending and tearing with her claws as best she could. Paul snarled and struggled, hindered by the vines and branches gripping him, but finally tore both them and his mother off of his body, throwing her to the ground.
Lily tumbled and leapt again, wings wide, claws extended—
And Paul beheaded her with a single strike.
“Moooooooom!” Noah screamed, tears streaking his face, even as the hex shield glowed more fiercely, the cracks in it pulling away and in. “Mooooooom! Noooooo!”
[No…] Pandora watched as the woman’s body fell limply to the ground in front of her and her eyes were wide with a mix of rage and horror. [No… ] She looked up at Paul and her eyes were filled with pure disgust. [You are a monster. A heartless monster.] The dancer pushed herself shakily onto her feet as she made certain Paul’s eyes met hers. Even if he couldn’t understand sign language, that look said it all. There was no way Vin was going to let him hurt anyone else. There was no way she would stay inside while others got hurt. Not again. Never again.
The frail branches pulled at Nat futilely. Trying to drag them away from the death that was her brother. To do anything to give em a little more time. A minute. Half a minute. Even a few more seconds before the person he loved was snuffed out forever. This man killed his own mother. His own father. Two things Alex had never even had the choice to experience, and he erased them forever. The twigs snapped against Nat with the effort, little pieces falling to the asphalt as he tried. Ey had barely moved an inch. He had nothing left. Tears streaked down his face for nobody to see inside his wooden coffin, he curled up tightly. Feeling cold, and empty. “I’m sorry.”
Paul turned and met Vin’s eyes, then smiled a little. “So angry. You are not just a Legionnaire, are you? This is… personal, for you. One of my degenerate brother’s consorts, perhaps.” He lifted the sword, point toward the ground, and positioned it directly above Nat’s prone form. “Well, watch what happens next—”
“Stop.” The voice was clear and familiar.
Paul turned and smiled broadly. “At last. It’s you.”
The Oathkeeper’s golden armor glinted in the sunlight, her jaw set, deep rage already dancing in her eyes as in Vin’s. She held that huge golden hammer aloft as she strode toward Paul, menacing.
“Are you sure you want to come closer?” Paul warned, glancing down at Nat.
“Ffffuck you,” Nat managed a hacking laugh. “She made a promise to me. If… this ever happened again. She’d let me die. I’m not your hostage.”
“And yet she hesitates,” Paul observed, eyes fixed on the Oathkeeper, sword point hovering inches above the Damselfly.
“Selfish…” The tree ached the words. “Coward.” Nats body reverberated with the sound.
“Vin, Alex…” Nat sighed quietly. “I’m sorry. Hey. Paul.”
Paul glanced down briefly.
“Remember when I was little… and I told you. That someday I was. Gonna be famous and everyone was gonna love me. And you’d… you’d just be. Remembered as a shitty bully.”
Ey smiled peacefully. “I was right.”
Paul’s face twisted into a snarl, and with a blurry-fast movement, he drove the point of the sword down. It pierced straight through Nat’s body and into the asphalt, and the Damselfly’s eyes went wide as ey felt the blade run em through.
There was a moment of stark silence as the blade sunk through. The eyes of a killer, looking into the eyes of a victim. Or rather, that’s what Paul expected. What he saw looking back up at him though, were very different. Alex’s leaves rustled softly as a lone summer wind made its way through Glenwood Springs.
Then, everything happened quickly.
A blur whirred by. It struck Paul, stuck something to him. There was a flash of blue light, and Paul was gone. With an anguished cry, Alice vanished too. Moments later, two flying figures clashed in silhouette against the moon, at the peak of the Colorado mountains. The battle had been joined, but it had been taken elsewhere.
Weeping bitterly, Noah finally dropped the shield and crawled toward the Damselfly, who lay still against the ground, the Inquisitor’s blade still pinning em there.
All the branches. The roots. The vines. The tree. They all lay still. Nothing new grew, nothing new moved. Alex wept silently inside that big willow tree. He had tried his hardest. He had tried everything. HIs body was so weak. Emaciated from his efforts. He felt a rib crack as he shuddered. It wasn’t enough. And now nothing he could do would be enough. His leaves withered and began falling in the cool Colorado breeze.
<Current Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yv6Gn911uc
The Album Leaf: Twenty Two Fourteen>
Pandora fell to her knees and stared at Nat’s limp body as her eyes shifted color to a hazy shade of blue that was like that of a storm. No tears fell from her eyes as she watched the body in silent horror with her useless right arm swinging limply by her side. It had happened again. Just like when Mom died. She was still that weak little girl in the backseat of the car.
Looking up into the sky, Pandora’s eyes watched the battle up ahead but no longer felt any desire to fight. Her body hurt. Her head hurt. Her very soul hurt. Despite the beat in her ears, Pandora could have sworn the music died in that moment.
Noah crawled forward and put both hands on Nat’s shoulder. “Petey,” he sobbed. “Petey don’t go. Please. I love you. I missed you so much.”
Erin limped over, holding a minor wound on her arm. Her face showed helplessness, looking between Nat’s body with Noah over it, looking over to the tree encasing Alex, looking at Vin.
“You loved ’em too, didn’t you,” she asked, voice soft.
Pandora nodded, her eyes still wide and lost as her brain scrambled to protect itself from what it had just witnessed. It was not working. Vin knew that the pain wouldn’t ever really go away.
Something went thump in their chests, collectively, like a single bass beat at a crowded club. Once, at first, then again. Thump.
The strange feeling in her chest was what finally caused Vin to break down into tears as the tall woman curled up on the ground and sobbed loudly.
Alex curled tighter at the feeling. Wanting nothing more than to just hide there. Where he felt safe. He couldn’t bear the thought of seeing it. His eyes felt like they might split from how hard he shut them.
There it was again. Thump.
“Pull it out”
Pandora looked up, certain that her mind was playing tricks on her. Eyes wide and puffy with sorrow, she stared at her lover and rubbed her good arm across her nose as she sniffled.
“Pull… the sword out.” Thump thump.
“Did…” Noah blinked away his own tears. “Did you…”
[Yeah… I think ey did…] Vin shakily stood on her feet and walked over to lean against Alex’s trunk as she placed a hand on the hilt of the Inquisitor’s sword. She tugged but could not seem to muster up enough strength with one arm despite all of her efforts.
Alex was too far to hear, but something else did. The branches that clung to Nat tightened, constricting around the blade. Pushing. Pushing it out as Vin pulled. Wrapping tight with all its strength to save the Damselfly, Alex felt its need. The pulse in his heart. And with what strength he had left, he bit down on his teeth and focused all his might to push it.
Noah scrambled to his feet and assisted Vin, pushing upward on the hilt of the blade from below. Getting the picture, Erin and Achilles joined in. It was rough; the blade was buried several feet into the asphalt and the hard-packed earth below. But gradually, it was moving. Slowly, it budged. They were making progress, and the thump, thump, thump in their chests became more resonant, starting to feel less unpleasant or painful and more right.
Keeping her back against Alex’s trunk, Vin pulled harder and harder on the blade that was stuck within her lover. She grunted with effort before it slowly but surely became a yell as she used Alex’s roots as a means to help remove the vile blade.
There’s a shadow that suddenly appears above the group, winged and dark. A mournful roar as it descends, a dragon in pain, the first that anyone’s ever heard of that, as George, wings fully spread, lands near the group.
There were cultists, angry and weapons drawn, drawing closer to the group, until the Beast described in the Book descended upon them. The great horned beast, among them at last. Too much for their beliefs. Too much without their Inquisitor to save them. Before the mourning roar, they fled, as George bowed his head, letting a small, petite ginger woman off his back. The dragon’s tail and body curled around the group to protect them from any further harm, a sibilant hiss issuing from the dragon’s mouth as green gold eyes stared at any further possible people with anger and despair.
Scrambling down from George’s back was, as mentioned, a red-headed woman who didn’t appear to be able to decide if she was furious, or wanted to cry; both emotions flickered across her face rapidly. She eventually settled on livid, stuffed her hands in her hoodie and glanced around in turn. “Th’ hell happened,” she finally asked – no, demanded, in a way that was very much unlike her. She didn’t appear to be asking anyone in particular, but kept looking expectantly at those present.
Lightning flashed overhead in the clear sky. With an earth rattling boom, Jupiter Strike appeared. She sped down from the skies.
The retreating cultist screamed as there was a large armoured figure amongst them. They scrambled back, and away from the Red Knight, his two handed sword resting on his shoulder as he moved towards the group. He ignored them.
Only a tiny bit later than the rest, a jet of bright black appeared at the front of the fleeing scum, and dismounted, showing itself to be nothing more than a tiny blonde girl in a floral dress. With a gun. And a broomstick. She ignored the scum as well, and silently swore about something as she wandered to the gathering.
Th-thump. Th-thump. Th-thump. It was cresting, so strong that everyone moved with it.
“Oh…” Noah only just seemed to realize that more people had arrived. “Oh wow. This is—”
And then the sword came free and there was a blinding flash of light that had no color anyone could identify, that you couldn’t get away from even when you looked away, that didn’t hurt your eyes or hurt anything but what was this buzzing in your body and mind, oh my god is this really what I—I’m—
When the light cleared, Nat was up, and floating in the center of rings of eir friends. Eir body was the same kind of indistinct color not-light that had pierced the sky moments before, curled into the fetal position in midair.
And everyone… could feel everything… that everyone else … felt. The air was saturated with empathic resonance pulsing out from the center, delivering shared feeling and sensation in ripples. Pain from the injured, but combined with relief, and care, and healing light, all blended together into a bittersweet melange. With those feelings came one known fact:
The Avatar of Love had chosen a candidate.
As the feels rushed into him, Alex let out a soft smile between sniffles and teardrops, eyes closing into a dreamless sleep.
<Current Song: None>
The sword of the Inquisitor whipping backwards with the force of all those assisting her, Pandora finally fell backwards against the tree behind her that held her boyfriend and a sudden flash of pain ran through everyone’s right shoulder as the woman’s crushed shoulder struck the thick trunk. The dancer planted the massive broadsword in the ground beside her, breathing heavily as her headphones fell off, her eyes faded to pale-white, and she looked as if she were about to pass out as she lay broken, burned, bruised, and exhausted on the ground.
Fi’s fury had been interrupted by Nat’s. … Actually, she wasn’t real clear on how to define what just happened. She squinted, though, peering at Nat and trying to figure out what was going on. There’s not a good frame of reference she has for this, after all. Finally, after a few moments, she called out cautiously. “U-..uh. N…Nnnnnat?”
“For fuck’s sake.” Callister sounded disgusted. And relieved. He pulled out a phone and held it against his helmeted head. “Babe, Nat’s safe…and you’re not gonna believe this…”
“Believe it or not… I somehow already know??”
With feelings of relief pushed upon her, and the clear vision of Nat not having a gigantic fucking sword jammed through her, one might almost forget, or fail to mind, what they just saw. But there was something disconcerting about the whole thing, clear on Lili’s face. It certainly wasn’t an emergence, nor did it fit into any category she had recorded. She was calm, and relieved, but deeply uncomfortable with feeling that way.
Nat’s curled form managed to unclench slightly as if waking up from a deep sleep. Eir voice seemed to be coming from all around rather than eir body. “This is… wow… all of you…”
Vin looked up at her lover, her gaze not looking entirely relieved as the blood-loss, pain, and trauma of the night seemed to have done her in for the most part. She did, however, managed a tiny thumbs-up before leaning against the flat of the blade planted by her side and looking back down at her blood-covered shoulder, shuddered, and nearly passed out again.
“You know, I think I actually was having a heart attack. I feel way too nice to still be not-dead,” Fi mutters to herself. Also, that would probably make sense. She knew first-hand that Other Places were just full of weird shit, and this definitely qualified. …Wait. Where’s the tiny witch fit in? No, no, she’ll figure that out later. She probably has eternity after all. “Unlikely. This does not fit with my present records of death.” “you got a better explanation, Ms. Hogwarts?” “Shockingly not. I said death was unlikely. Not impossible. We’ll need further data.” “This is upsetting. I am upset.” ”Have you tried not being?” “Not very hard, no.”
“Babe! Babes!” Jess hovered, trying to stop herself from grabbing all her cuties in a huge hug.
George hissed in quiet tones, “Get em to a hospital, now. This is still a combat zone. And there is revenge to be had. Teleporter markers, someone should have them, somewhere.” “Good. They put one of yours in the hospital, you put ten of theirs in the morgue.” George’s tail knocked an ultra brave cultist flying into the air, with a wilhelm scream. His wings stretched, newly formed but still wide and far too massive for anything on this earth to lift a creature like that, and flapped, lifting off slowly.
“HEY! Not without me!” Fi sounded mildly offended that the Dragon even considered such a course of action.
“I actually… feel perfectly fine,” Nat sounded understandably surprised as ey uncurled the rest of the way, an alpha-channel patch of light hovering over a pool of eir own blood. “But please. Alex and Vin need medical attention immediately. I need to … we. Need to go assist Alice and Faith. Dominance has gone too far.”
“Oh my gosh,” Noah whispered.
Pandora’s head swam with as she nodded, picked her headphones up, put them atop her head a touch loosely, and hit the play button on the MP3 player at her side.
<Current Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HAy1U9cziY
Skrux – If You>
The heroine pushed herself up very shakily onto her feet and pulled the massive blade out of the ground beside her with a single arm. While this was certainly an impressive feat, the trauma-stricken Pandora took one step forward, stumbled backwards, and then collapsed backwards to hit her head with a sickening thunk on Alex’s trunk as her limp right arm crumpled beneath her while the Inquisitor’s blade remained clutched in her other hand.
Silently noting Nat’s… terminology, Lili made her way towards Vin as soon as she saw her trying to get up on her own. She wasn’t particularly strong, but she was probably at least stronger than her right now. She gripped the right wrist firmly, and offered her the other hand to see if she’d be able to take it.
The woman’s right hand is completely limp and covered in blood as the arm buckled and swings rather sickeningly as the bones in her shoulder seemed to have been turned to powder. Her left hand continues to clutch the hilt of the blade, however, and she does not seem willing to let it go for some reason. Her gaze is very distant.
Callister is half turned away from the group, his head pointed in the direction of the cultists. Even with a phone to his helmet, he’s an imposing and threatening figure. He hasn’t yet noticed what’s going on in the group.
Lili drops her weapon to the ground, and crouches down, trying to get an arm under Vin’s back – ultimately, she just isn’t strong enough to lift her for more than a few seconds, and yells out for assistance and a firm, extremely threatening tone.
“I need to go,” Nat said, floating upwards, the light clearing enough that eir body started to become visible again, still covered in glowing, mottled color all over eir torso. “Please take care of the people who are hurt, and get people to the teleporters. I’m going to… help end this.”
Ey streaked away, leaving a trail of pinkish light behind em.
“I AM BLOODY TRYING TO!”
[Alex…] The mute woman signed as tears rolled down her cheeks whilst her horrified thousand-yard-stare continued. [He’s in the tree… Nat… Ey died… We failed em… We didn’t even stand a chance…]
Lili continues attempting to pull her up and not doing a brilliant job of the whole thing. “I’m really sorry, I know I should’ve learned ASL by now, but I haven’t, so.”
[Ey died… I saw em die… Right in front of me…] Pandora did not seem to hear Lili as she continued to sign with her one good hand. [Alex… Oh God… Ey died in his arms…]
“Please stop with the hands this is hard enough already.”
Jess swooped low and gathered Vin in her arms. “Hey there, cutie. You’re gonna be alright, Nat’s fine, ey’s just’ flown off. We’re gonna get you to the med bay.” It was a little awkward, they were both tall women, but Vin was taller than she was. Jess managed, though.
Lili was not very tall. Both of them were bigger than her. She seemed like Vin might even be taller than her lying flat, actually.
[Alex!] Vin turned towards the tree she was being flown away from with an even greater look of horror as she continued to hold onto the sword she had pulled from Nat’s body with the help of her love and the Paradox crew. [No! I can’t leave him too! Please! Please! Someone get him!]
The withered tree stood silent.
Sighing, exhausted from even trying to lift Vin, Lili turned her attention to the tree, and drew her wand, swinging it whilst shouting in pig-latin.
Yes she has a dedicated lumberjacking spell.
Why would she not?
The tree cracked, then splintered, then exploded to reveal the hollowed out center. An infinitely skinny Alex was inside, eyes closed and curled up into a ball. He slooooowly tilted forward and fell to the ground, armless and burnt.
If Vin was not scarred already, seeing that image as she was flown away hurt even more as another pang of fear shot through her whole system. “Alex…” She mouthed wordlessly as her vision began to fade to black. “Please be okay, Hero… Please…“ With that, she passed out.
Callister turned at the sound of the tree cutting. “Hey, babe, I gotta call you back. There’s this burnt guy that fell from a tree or sumthin. Yeah, I’m sure he’s fine. Yeah, love you, babe.”
He put the phone away and wandered up to toe Alex. “So…yeah. Evac out?”
He is unconscious so one would assume that’s a yes. He is very light and easy to pick up.
Callister shrugged, bent and easily lifted Alex over his shoulder, carrying him to the medics.
…Once it seems everything is dealt with, Lili vanishes as quickly as she arrived. To do god knows what.