B1 — 13. Tainted

They walked downstairs; the hallways were lined with pictures of a four-person family.  “They aren’t home?” Maria asked, examining the well-decorated walls.

“Nope,” Scarlet and Rachel said in unison.

“Huh, guess it would be safer to be near the hospital.”

Unlocking the front door, they walked out; the moonlight struck Rachel with a wave of energy.  It’s always such a rush!  Scarlet smiled as she appraised her, watching her glow intensify.

“Nice neighborhood,” Maria looked up and down the street.

Scarlet looked down the street.  “The sign says … we’re on Shore Drive East.  Where do we need to go, Rachel?”

Rachel took a deep breath as she continued to scan through information around her.  “Umm, we need to go North for a bit…”

“Wait!”  Scarlet’s eyes grew big.  “I see a big van on the main road—it’s like five-hundred meters away; there’s a bunch of blood bags in it and other medical stuff.”

Brow furrowing, Rachel looked in the direction Scarlet was staring.  “Well then … that’s convenient. I guess there would be a sanitation van that got stuck in traffic when all the chaos hit.  All the conversations I listened to … with your x-ray-like eyes, I should have known it would have been a lot easier to just look along the way.”

Scarlet’s tone was bright.  “It’ll only take me a moment!  I can find you guys on the way if you want to go on ahead.”

“How can you find us?”  Maria asked. “Wouldn’t it take a while for you to look around blindly?”

She shook her head.  “You both have unique blood signatures; it’s really interesting to look at.  You’re both super white; you’re a lot brighter than Rachel, but she has a bigger pulse around her.”

Maria cocked her head.  “Am I just a big white blur to you then?”

“Oh, no, not at all.  It’s just if I’m looking at your blood.  I can change my vision to look for different things.  Like, just looking through walls or looking at people’s muscles or blood.  It’s really sophisticated actually. I can look like, a mile away!”

Rachel hummed.  “That’s cool. Okay, we’ll see you in a bit.”

Crossing her arms, Maria smirked.  “But what happens if those blood bags are a dud?  Could you still find us?”

“Oh—yeah, that could be a problem.”  Scarlet frowned. “I think it’ll be okay though—I can tell how long the blood has been outside a human body by how bright it is … it changes the taste too.  I mean, they look old, but I don’t feel like it would be a problem.”

“Huh,” Rachel looked to the Northeast.  “You could be a detective … Scarlet, real quick, before you go…”  She listened to a conversation with a frown.

The girl’s tone sounded young.  “Raven, you want to go help at Miami Beach?  It sounds pretty dangerous though … the Military is having a tough time.”

Scarlet hummed with interest.  “What is it? Need me to look at something!”

Raven responded with a sure voice.  “Of course, we have superpowers now!  If it gets bad, then Image can make an illusion for us to escape.”

“I hate that superhero name,” a boy muttered.  “I should…”

“Could you look that way … I hear a group that’s helping people.  I heard them yesterday stop a few looting parties. They have powers, but I just heard they’re planning on heading to Miami Beach next.”

“Why’s that a problem?”  Maria questioned. “They can cause a distraction.”

“Well—they sound like teens…”

“Tch, they should be helping their family then,” Maria stated with disapproval.

Scarlet frowned as she looked to the Northeast, head moving slightly as she scanned through objects.  “Umm, how far away are they?”

“About a mile and a half in that direction—which you can’t see that far, right?”

Her brow creased.  “Sorry, nope … that’s a bit disappointing.  I couldn’t help you out.”

Sighing, Rachel nodded.  “It’s alright. They’re over by Mary Brickell Village; they’ve been protecting the shops down there.”

“It’s on the way, right?”  Maria asked. At Rachel’s nod, she huffed.  “Well, if you’re worried about them getting hurt, then I guess we can check them out, but I’m really getting concerned about my brother … Marcus isn’t patient, and he’s mad at you…”

“I understand,” Rachel took a deep breath.  “From their conversation … they’re making light of the situation down there.  They think that Marcus’ gang will be easy since they handled the looters.”

Scarlet’s eyes lit up.  “Oh, what kind of powers do they have?”

Rachel smiled.  Julia’s curious personality affecting her again.  “There are four of them; their real names are Greg, David, Laura, and Thomas, but they chose fake names to call each other by.  Greg has some kind of Clairvoyance ability that lets him see things around a mile away. It’s not like your vision though; he can’t see through objects—it’s like he can project his mind to a spot and look around.  He can’t see well in the dark either. David can make illusions…”

“Like, mess with people’s minds?”  Maria asked with a deep frown. “That could actually be pretty useful.”

Rachel shook her head.  “No, they’re only optical illusions.  He can bend the light around to make something appear real, but if someone looks hard, they can tell it isn’t.  I’ve heard Laura say she can use magic; mainly she’s been able to shoot fireballs and ice blasts that freeze things.”

“Magic!”  Scarlet breathed with excitement.

Chuckling, Rachel shrugged.  “Well, aren’t we sort of magical?”

“Hmm, I guess you’re right,” Scarlet muttered.  “Magic seems kind of dull when you’re an actual magical creature, but it would still be pretty cool to see.”

“The last guy?”  Maria’s tone was becoming impatient.

“I know we need to hurry,” Rachel’s face pacified.  “Thomas is a Bull type Beastkin. I think we should talk to them real fast before heading over.  Let them know that we’ll handle it. Scarlet, you should get going.”

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She nodded and waved as shadows enveloped her.  “See you in a bit!”

“Okay, let’s go then!”  Maria growled as she looked east along the street.  “We using 95th or another road?”

“South Miami Avenue seems like the clearest route.”

“Okay, lead the way!”  Rachel’s eyes widened as Maria’s glow intensified and her thin spiral horn appeared.  “What are you gawking at?” She huffed.

“Huh, it’s just … it’s pretty.”  Rachel pulled her eyes away and began running down the street, picking up her pace as Maria matched it.  She’s pretty fast starting off for human standards, but she keeps accelerating.  We just passed about twenty miles an hour … there’s forty. I wonder how long I can last if we keep accelerating like this…

They branched at Samana Drive then at South Miami Avenue; Rachel smirked as she listened to Scarlet enter the van, sucking on the blood packs.

“Blah … they taste terrible, Rachel!  It’s like I’m drinking vomit … there has to be a faster way to … oh?”

Rachel frowned as she heard an odd sound come from the van and then Scarlet went silent.  What’s going on?  She must have found a faster way to drink all the blood; was that sound all the blood bags exploding?  Why would she go silent after that?

After a few more seconds, there was the sound of cutting metal as the van door fell to the ground and Scarlet stepped out.  “Hmm, interesting,” Scarlet said in an oddly curious way; she hadn’t heard Scarlet take that tone before.

Rachel listened, but Scarlet seemed to be sitting on the back lip of the van, not making a sound.  Did something happen to her when she drank all that blood?  She said it was gross … maybe all those personalities had an effect on her?  They’d reached over two hundred miles an hour as they quickly neared their destination, effortlessly darting around obstacles; she wasn’t feeling tired yet, it seemed effortless in the light of the moon.

Rachel quickly stopped by the east entrance of the shopping district, but Maria kept going, taking a good thirty feet to stop.  “Joder, ¿cómo te detienes tan rápido?” She muttered.

“What was that?”  Rachel asked, moving to join her.

“How do you stop so fast?”  She repeated.

She shrugged.  “No, clue. I just stop or shift when I need to; it’s just natural.  I move my body in a certain way to put the right pressure in the right places.”

Maria huffed.  “Whatever, is Scarlet done?”

Rachel made a low tone in her throat as she looked back in her direction.  “She finished, I think, but she’s just sitting on the back of the van.”

“Why?”

She shook her head.  “No clue. She seemed to figure something out, and I think she drank all the blood at once.  She might be processing it or thinking about another ability. We haven’t tested what happens when she drinks a lot of blood.”

Maria grunted.  “Anyway, where are these kids?”

“Inside, there are a lot of people in one of the restaurants; they’re all holed up in the back.”

Smirking, Maria walked into the shopping area, glancing at the district clock.  “Eleven-thirty? Not as bad as I thought.” The area was littered with trash and people’s belongings; a lot of windows were broken, glass scattered around.  “Really let the place go.”

Rachel walked toward the stairs leading to the second level, Maria following.  “What did you expect; people turning into monsters and strange powers started flying everywhere.”

“My neighborhood took it well.”  Maria huffed. “A few people changed into Beastkin, but I left them back to help keep all the gente vieja safe.”

Rachel stopped at the top of the stairs, looking toward the grill restaurant further down the walkway.  “Oh, looks like Greg noticed us.” She smiled as she watched them slowly leave the building, using illusions.

“Why are they moving like that?”  Maria chuckled. “Do they think we can’t see them?”

“They don’t,” Rachel shook her head.  “They think their illusions are keeping them hidden.”

“I don’t even see any illusion?”  Maria muttered.

“Same … which is odd.  Maybe it’s a Mythickin thing, or it’s just too weak.  It was working on the robbers from what I heard.”

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“Well, at least they’re not running away; saves us the trouble of looking for them.”  She stepped forward. “Hey!” They froze behind the rails across the downstairs gap. “Quit creeping around and come over here.”

“What?  How did they know where we were?”  Laura whispered.

“It doesn’t matter,” Greg muttered.  “They know about us; so let’s go with C-Formation.”

Rachel sighed as Thomas straightened and ran across the balcony to face them, several meters away.  “You have some nerve attacking a place we’re protecting!” He was extremely muscular with black, sharp bull horns atop his head, and tall, at least seven inches taller than Rachel at the head; her ears made her taller though.  How old is he?  They don’t sound that old.  I’d say Laura, and the rest are fifteen, but who knows these days.

Maria lifted an eyebrow as Laura jumped up from behind the steel railing, she muttered a spell and shot a blast of bluish energy that struck the guard to Maria’s left, freezing the rods with an inch of ice.

Maria’s mouth dropped open for a moment as she glared at Laura.  “Heck’s wrong with these kids?”

“No joke,” Rachel crossed her arms.  “When did we say we were attacking?”

“Huh?”  Thomas shifted nervously.  “What—are you doing here then?”

“What, we can’t walk around?”  Maria sniffed. “¿Qué chingados les pasa a los jóvenes hoy en día?”

“They knew who we were though,” Greg muttered.

“Look,” Maria growled.  “We’re in a hurry—we know you plan on storming Miami Beach like some heroes or something.  We’re here to tell you—don’t. ¿Entender?”

“Eh, how did you know,” Greg cut off, moving to the balcony with Laura.  “Why do you want to stop us? We’re going to go help them! Someone has to stop those evil guys from hurting people!  We can do it; we’ve got powers.”

“¡Sólo malgastando mi tiempo!  How about this—you beat Rachel, here,” she pointed, “and we’ll let you do whatever you want.”

“Wait, what?”  Rachel asked, moving to Maria’s right.  “I don’t want to beat up kids.”

“This’ll be the fastest way,” Maria stated with annoyance.  “You think these kids are just going to listen to us? They’re teenagers; I wouldn’t, would you?”  Well … she has a point.

“You serious?  We could hurt you.”  Laura muttered. Maria chuckled at her statement.

Thomas’ eyes narrowed.  “Hey, we really could hurt you, and I don’t want to hurt girls!”

“Niños ignorantes,” Maria muttered.

Rachel sighed while stretching out her back.  “Okay, I guess this would be the fastest route.”  She looked over at Greg. “You heard about Mythickin?”

“You mean…”  Greg’s face paled.

“Yes,” Rachel stated patiently.  “I’m a Lunar Hare, and the girl beside me is a Unicorn; we’re both Mythickin and…”

Maria cut in, “We’re going to go kick Marcus’ butt, and beat the crap out of the rest of his gang for kidnapping my hermanito.  ¿Consíguelo? So, be useful, stay here and help these people.”

Laura’s eyes widened.  “What? You’re a Unicorn?”

Maria seemed dumbfounded.  “Hey, liebre blanca … is my horn hidden right now?”

Rachel chuckled before shaking her head.  “Clear as day.”

“Are they just idiots?  They hear what we’re saying?”

“That’s mean,” Thomas huffed.

“They must be…”  Maria cut off as a flat disk of dark red liquid seemed to appear out of thin air; expanding into a large oval like shape, it shifted between dark shades of red.

“What the … what is that?”  Thomas screamed as he scrambled back.

Rachel took a deep breath.  “Blood.” She muttered. She heard Scarlet walk back toward the transport van.  “I think Scarlet…”

Scarlet emerged through the portal, glowing eyes entirely crimson.  The portal enveloped her, absorbing into her skin. “Ah, Rachel, Maria, it seems you have found the children.”  Rachel frowned at her tone. That’s not the peppy Julia tone from before … this is cold, calculative, dark…

Blood Corrupted Scarlet

Maria took a step back; Rachel grew alert at Maria’s sudden change in demeanor.  “What’s wrong?”

Scarlet chuckled as her crimson eyes shifted to Maria.  “Yes, Maria, what’s wrong?”

“Why,” Maria cut off for a moment.  “I sense a corruption inside you—blood corruption.”

“Of course you do, dear,” Scarlet shook her head with a light giggle.  “I drank a bunch of corrupted blood. What did you think would happen?”

Greg was having a hard time getting his words out.  “It’s—I—Demon—Vampire—it’s a Vampire Mythickin—Seattle!”

Scarlet hummed at his statement.  “You know, I am mildly insulted by that comparison.  From everything I have heard, the Seattle incident was amateur work.”

“What do we do?”  Thomas asked, ashen-faced.

Laura was trembling.  “We—we can’t let that—that thing kill everyone!”

Greg’s muscles tightened.  “You’re right—David, give us some cover!  Formation G!” Crap!  These kids are going to get themselves killed!  We don’t know what’s going on with Scarlet … if she drank corrupted blood … Maria said it’s an actual corruption.  It’s all my fault!

Rachel’s eyes widened as time slowed.  Scarlet smirked as her eyes darted to her before returning to the group.  She began to shrug as blood began expelling from beneath her skin, surrounding her.  Crap!  I need to stop this.  Maria should be able to purify Scarlet, but I first need to stop these kids from committing suicide!

Thomas had begun charging Scarlet, head down as Laura cast a fireball.  Rachel accelerated instantly, she rushed to the fireball as it moved in slow motion toward Scarlet’s encircling blood.  Swatting at it, Rachel felt the massive burst of wind her swipe generated explode into life as she shifted to intercept Thomas.  Slowing before reaching him, she grabbed his waist from behind and tossed him through a restaurant door. A massive gust of wind extinguished the fire and sent both Laura and Greg stumbling backward as Thomas screamed, smashing through the doors to tumble across the ground.

The blood receded into Scarlet’s body; she began clapping with an elated smile.  “Wonderfully executed; I always enjoy watching you dash about. What was David’s job again?  His execution seemed rather lacking.” She clicked her tongue. “Ah, hiding further in the building … his ability is rather ill-equipped to handle Mythickin.  The beginning stages of True Sight; of course, Maria’s is a bit more advanced.”

The three groaned on the floor as Rachel took a deep breath, turning to Maria.  “Can you purify the corruption?”

Scarlet looked at Maria with an innocent smile.  “Oh, yes! I am most interested in this; can you purify me?”

Maria swallowed nervously.  “There’s—it’s too much. Not right now, no—I’ve never felt anything like it.  It’s so—dark.”

“I figured as much,” Scarlet sighed.

“What do you mean by that?”  Rachel asked carefully, keeping Scarlet in sight as she took up position between the kids and Scarlet.

“Both of you are adorable,” Scarlet said with a slight smile.  “You both know so little about what you are; it’s the same for Scarlet though, the poor girl has no clue what she is capable of.”

“Why,” Rachel licked her lips before continuing.  “You just talked about yourself … was that in the third person?”

“Indeed,” Scarlet praised.  “I am mildly surprised you caught on to that.  People tend to glaze over the details, but I suppose your mind works at a much different pace during stressful moments.”

Maria wore a deep frown.  “You’re not Scarlet?”

“Oh, darlings, of course, I am Scarlet.  Who else would I be?”




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