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 Voices

While it had only taken Amadhay a day and a half to become proficient in Hand, it took five more days for her to get a decent grip on the mute brothers’ version of the language.

Unlike with the tutorials, she couldn’t speed through it and get to the meat of it. She couldn’t rewind them if she missed something. They weren’t patient and neither was she, so quite a bit of the four days was the three of them taking breaks so that she could work on the hand signs they’d taught her already that she wasn’t doing correctly. The breaks were also so none of them got hurt, because she had refused a break the first day and it had nearly ended with her smashing a chair on Prillo’s head when he gave her an exasperated look for the fifth time in one clack.

It was during such a break that it happened.

One moment, she had been lounging on her bed, too frustrated to even consider working on Mute Hands—as she liked to call the new language—and the next, she felt her everything being pulled in Tenshu’s direction. She barely had time to look to him before she found herself moving to lay beside the necromancer. The moment their skin touched, she felt drained. There was a throbbing in the back of her head and she could only draw in shallow breaths. She pressed closer until there was no space between them and was gratified to feel that his body was already relaxing.

It was lucky, she mused, that this stage had come while she could still claim travel-sickness. Harpess had implied that they wouldn’t bother her for up to a week while she got used to the equilibrium difference of space. That gave her three days to deal with this before she had to answer to anyone or chance a clandestine meeting with Christein and Benjy. If the books were correct, it was likely this would only take a day or two, which would give her an extra one to be rid of any evidence of whatever happened to Tenshu in the dreamscape.

Turning her attention fully to the man beside her, she noted that he wasn’t much warmer than before, but his limbs weren’t like marble anymore. Somehow just knowing that he needed her closer, she maneuvered his arm until it was around her so that she was pressed against his side. She looked up at his face just in time to see a quick frown before his face smoothed back to the expressionless canvas it had been the past few days. Something in her, a foreign voice, told her not to touch his head, but she dismissed it and brushed her fingertips across his forehead, feeling for a fever.

She hadn’t expected for the world to disappear into a swirl of their auras.

She quickly pulled back, unsure what she should do. While that same voice in the back of her mind was being very vocal about her leaving the necromancer to fight his own battles, another voice, Ribbon’s voice told her to do all she could to help him. The last voice, the only one she really felt was her own, didn’t really agree with either of the voices, but she was curious about the swirling auras. None of the books had really described what she had to do, other than stay close, to help him in this stage.

Either way, she wanted to know what the swirling of their auras was doing, so she was more firm with her touch to his forehead this time, pressing her palm rather than her fingertips, to his forehead. The reaction was instantaneous. Once again, she was floating in a swirl of their auras. In the distance, she could see figures moving, but all of them were blurry and she found that she couldn’t move.

Closer, Ribbon’s voice whispered ad she could feel the voice in every fiber of her being. It made her jerk away, holding her hand to her chest as if she had been burned. It took all of her willpower to sit up and away from Tenshu’s body, especially when he seemed to become paler, less lively, the moment she did. The foreign voice made noises of appreciating her choice and for the first time, she wondered where that voice was coming from. It was new.

Help him, Ribbon’s voice insisted, making Amadhay look back at Tenshu’s body. He looked stiff again, as if her tiny bit of distance completely cut him off from her power. She scooted closer to him, but he didn’t look any better until she touched his hand.

But the moment she touched his hand, she lost all vision. She heard labored breathing, could feel it coming from her own lungs. Tenshu’s voice gave a vicious curse and in response some other creature gave a hungry cry. She felt something hit her head and hard, and in surprise, she dragged her hand away from Tenshu’s, though it felt like she was lifting a wolf feral rather than just her hand.

Once she was no longer touching him, her vision returned. Her breathing came easier. Her head no longer throbbed. Everything was fine with her, but a single glance at Tenshu told her that he was doing worse. There was a strange pallor to his paling skin. She could feel his aura thinning by the way it felt on her mind as it reached for her. He was becoming stiff again and she had a feeling that it she let him, he would go further than deadshock this time. He would die.

Ribbon would want me to save him, she thought before the voice could say anything. The darker one was strangely silent and she associated that with her making up her mind. She was going to save him even if it felt strange. She had decided to save him the moment she picked him up from the fountain. She couldn’t change her mind now that it was something that would affect her.

She took a deep, steadying breath, and slowly leaned back down. Heads together, palms together, Ribbon’s voice instructed. She closed her eyes and, forcing herself to move the last few inches, she pressed her forehead to his and her palms against his. It wasn’t as instantaneous this time, in fact, she had the time to take five breaths before she felt a pull start at her navel and pull her, it felt, inside of Tenshu.


Next Chapter

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 in which Christein deserved it

 

 

“What is going on?” Christein demanded, gripping the arm of a new, young member as a loud sound of an explosion came from the medical bay.

“Someone is destroying the med bay!” the red haired girl squeaked. She quivered, frightened out of her mind and he gave her arm a hard squeeze to get her attention.

“Is anyone down there?”

“Rea for sure, but I was the only one there with her when the woman started attacking.” She flinched, glancing back toward the medical wings as another loud boom came from that direction.

Christein’s eyes narrowed. “You abandoned her?”

“She told me to!” she squealed. “She told me to go find Red Robin. To tell her that her cyborg woke up.”

Christein nodded and let go of the girl. “Good. Go find her then. Get Ghost Sparrow too.”

The moment he was no longer holding her, she ran off like a frightened rabbit, which irritated him. She would be useless to them if she panicked at the first sign of danger. He mentally made note to look into her training.

But not this moment.

He continued to di Carlime’s medical wing, taking care to be as silent as possible so that he didn’t give away his position until he was ready. He could still hear the sounds that, now that he knew it was a cyborg, could associate with lasers. That was a good sign. If the cyborg had already killed di Carlime, there would be no reason for her to continue wasting energy shooting with no target. Reaching for his pistol holster, he became aware that he had come into a cyborg-dragon fight without his own weapons. That was incredibly stupid.

Cursing himself, he began to retreat, but didn’t make it far when the sound of a laser boomed right next to him and the wall crumbled. Luckily, he was able to dodge out of the way and wasn’t hurt. Unfortunately, he was now out in the open and the cyborg was standing right on the other side of the debris.

He stayed still as she moved through the hole of the wall, watching her as she strode forward. She almost passed right by him, but for some reason her attention jerked from her intended path down the hallway and to him.

“Hakinato,” she spat, focusing on him.

Weaponless, he couldn’t think of anything to do but kick at her, so he did. The moment his foot made contact with her body, pain blossomed. The metal grafts cyborgs used in place of skin were, without any doubt, superior to his fleshy foot, even when covered by his thick soled, metal-toed boots.

She scoffed, grabbing him by the throat and pulling him up from the ground. “I’m not supposed to kill anyone, but I’m sure Atlas will make an exception for one of the Hakinato’s,” she mused, a cruel smirk on her lips.

He listened as her lasers warmed up. A standard cyborg laser modification took four clicks to warm up. One click. Two clicks. Three clicks. Fo—the cyborg was hit from behind and dropped Christein, turning her laser at the last click to a new target. She missed. Instead, di Carlime came rushing at her, fire blowing from her mouth even as she ran forward.

Christein watched the cyborg move almost as fast as Amadhay could when using her Gift, but even that wasn’t fast enough to avoid the dragon’s fire when it was going as wide as it was. Christein thought he was lucky not to be hit by the fire, himself. While the cyborg was busy fighting di Carlime, Christein made it back to his feet and backed away from the fight. There was nothing he could do, pistol-less and taser-less. He had loaned Amadhay his taser earlier and now was regretting doing that without knowing when and where she was going to drop the Palnokian cyborg. All of this could have been avoided if Amadhay had followed proper procedure for capture of more powerful people, especially when said person was Atlas Palnoki’s own bodyguard.

Speaking of Amadhay, Christein thought, where on Resor is she? The scared girl had run off to find her nearly five clacks ago, definitely enough time for Amadhay to have heard that something was going on down here and come to check it out. This was her specialty, taking down more difficult creatures that were altered from natural in some way. She was good at taking them apart, most likely from all the time she spent with Ben and di Carlime. For that matter, where was Ben? He would have been just as good as Amadhay in this situation, having more knowledge from his extended life than most of the rest of the Phoegani put together (with the possible exception of Darach. Darach probably knew more than Ben).

Regardless, neither of them were there to back him up, so he needed to think up a game plan because di Carlime was running out of air. He could see it, and if he could see it, he was sure the cyborg could too. The moment di Carlime was out of breath, she’d stop spewing fire, and the moment that happened, she would be at the mercy of the cyborg. If the cyborg took out di Carlime, he could be sure that he was a dead man.

He looked around him for something to use against the cyborg, but only saw debris of the walls and medical supplies like bandages, gauze, and syringes. None of those would help him, he decided, though he did linger on the syringes. He assumed that somewhere on the cyborg, she had normal skin instead of metal grafts covered by fake flesh. All cyborgs did; he assumed it reminded them of a time when they weren’t more machine than Goddess-bodied creatures. It didn’t matter, though, because not only would it be a guessing game trying to determine where her skin was real flesh, but he had to find something to put into the syringe and he didn’t like his odds. Christein felt that he had no other choice. He ran at the cyborg, expecting that the surprise attack would work best.

He was right. He slammed into the cyborg just in time, because di Carlime finally had to take a breath, and the cyborg had been so focused on the dragon that she hadn’t been expecting him to knock her down. But he did. The force of his body slamming into hers made them fall into the debris of the wall.

There was one problem though: Christein was on fire. Even though he knew that he would regenerate, the fact the he was on fire was an all-consuming thought. He writhed on top of the cyborg, who was trying to push him off, but for every inch she gained from him, his struggles kept her down. The fire was burning his flesh, but it was only burning her clothes and hair until finally, she tossed him off of her and he was able to roll to extinguish the flames.

“Did you really think that would hurt me?” she taunted, getting to her feet.

“Not,” he panted, “Really.” His body was already growing new skin to replace the burned one.

“Then what did you really think that would accomplish?” the cyborg demanded.

“This,” the seemingly forgotten di Carlime stated before jamming a syringe into the cyborg’s exposed real flesh side, where there were slight burns. She emptied the liquid into her body. Almost immediately, the red-haired woman began to seize, falling back down to her knees and then to her face. She shook for a few clicks before all movement ceased.

Christein sat up slowly, wincing at the tightness of his new skin. “Is she down?” he asked.

“She should be. I just put enough tranquilizers in her to take down a Feral six times her size,” di Carlime responded blandly, her eyes already moving to discern the damage done to her wing. “Where is Amadhay?”

“I don’t know,” Christein immediately responded, which was his automatic response to that question. At the look the dragon gave him, a look that said she would rip him a new one if he didn’t answer her seriously, he held his hands up. “I honestly don’t know. Last I heard from her, she was going after her,” he jerked his thumb at the fallen woman. “That was zoots ago.”

“I don’t like this,” di Carlime muttered, eyeing the body thoughtfully.

Christein snickered disdainfully. “What is there to like? Your wing is trashed. We have a drugged, incredibly dangerous cyborg out for only Goddess knows how long. And who knows where Ben or Amadhay are. They should have been here if they were on base, but obviously they aren’t.”

“Well I don’t know how true all that is,” a male voice drawled from behind him. By the time Christein had turned full circle, di Carlime was being tasered. He watched her go down before looking to the man who had done it.

He was obviously a dead-vampire, if his iris-less, black eyes and the blood drying on the side of his mouth were anything to go by. The blonde hair and high-crowned hat fit the description Ben had given of the vampire Amadhay was supposed to be bringing in. For the moment they stared at each other, Christein couldn’t help but to wonder if any of the captives Amadhay had brought in today had been properly detained. He was going to guess not.

“How’s that reboot going, Scarlet?” the vampire asked, looking to the cyborg but not making a move toward Christein. Christein didn’t make any moves either. He knew when he was outclassed. He had no weapons on him and his body was already hurting from its last healing. Even at his peak and with his pistol, he doubted he would have been a match for a dead-vampire, especially one who had recently eaten.

“Slow,” the cyborg slurred.

“Are you going to need help getting up or is it going faster than that? Atlas just called us all in to the gate.”

“Di’n’t get whad I needed,” she muttered.

“Then what the Water were you doing? Playing peek-a-boo?” the vampire demanded in irritation. “I’ll have Tenshu grab it on his way out.”

Grab what? Christein thought. He started to back away, thinking that the attention was off of him enough that he might be able to get out.

“Tsk, tsk. Where do you think you’re going?” the vampire asked Christein, turning his unsettling, large-pupiled eyes back to him. He playfully squeezed the taser, making it light up menacingly. “I still have plans for you.”


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November 2016

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