B1 — 18. Overconfident

Fiona studied Scarlet with reserve.  “Who’s this Reaper of Blood?”

Rachel frowned; both Fiona and Scarlet were in her line of sight.  “Scarlet has something inside her; we don’t know if it’s a split personality or another being altogether, but you don’t need to worry about Scarlet.  She has it under control.”

“That right…”  Fiona muttered.

“If it wasn’t for her, you’d all be trapped still.  She can also safely transport everyone off South Beach.  We all have our issues; I’m sure you have your own from The Oscillation.”

Fiona’s brow creased as she looked down at the floor.  “Yeah—I guess I’m different too.”

“What do you mean?”  Erica folded her arms uncomfortably.

Sighing, Fiona glanced over at her with concern.  “I was seriously going to torch that guy that locked you in the freezer.”  She rose a little to Erica’s eye level. “I don’t even feel bad about it … that doesn’t even feel odd.  I meanmentally, I know that I should feel something.  It was like a fire in me that just sparked the moment I started eating that sugar … everything seemed to change; like something flipped in me.”

“Now that you mention it…” Scarlet trailed off.

“What?”  Maria asked, dropping back in her seat with a huff.  “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m different; I can’t believe how calm I’ve become.”

“You’re right,” Scarlet muttered.  “When I woke up from the Blood Corruption … it was super confusing because of all the emotions that hit me, but it was the joy that freaked me out.  Once I calmed down; I don’t feel bad about killing people like that, but mentally, I hate enjoying it. That only happened after drinking their blood.”

“They don’t deserve crap,” Maria huffed.

“That’s you being calm?”  Scarlet smiled a little, scratching the back of her neck.

“Tch, better believe it,” Maria chuckled.  “I would have been right up there with the fairy before my change.  Someone took my brother or someone I cared about; I’d be up in their face with a gun in hand.  It’s war—malditas consecuencias. I used to let my hot head get the best of me, and I couldn’t think, just act … me tryin’ to calm everyone down … not my old self.”

Rachel smirked as she moved to put a hand on Scarlet’s shoulder.  “Don’t worry about it too much Scarlet; let’s focus on one thing at a time.  We’ll stand and fight when push comes to shove; they started the fight, right?  Karma bites, just like Maria.” She tilted her head to grin at her.

Maria shrugged.  “Can’t deny it. Wish I could have turned into a Lunar Hare instead of a Unicorn—I…”  She paused, causing everyone to turn to her. “Mierda Unicornio miente! There’s no way—I guess…”

“What’s up?”  Fiona flew over to the couch, snacking on a bit more sugar.

“II like healing bones more than breaking them—if I have a choice—I wish that wasn’t right…”  She groaned, puffing out her cheeks as she leaned against the back of the chair. “Has me questioning my own morals now … this change sucks!”

Scarlet shook with soft laughter, looking between Rachel and Maria.  “We make a funny little team; I don’t think you’re anything close to passive, Maria—maybe you like a more peaceful and fun time, but you aren’t shy about throwing a punch.”

“I’d agree with that,” Rachel removed her hand from Scarlet’s shoulder and sat across from Coral.  “You’re one…” She grimaced as Marcus finally got in contact with his dad.

“Sup?”  Maria pulled her long shimmering white hair over her shoulder as it seemed to catch on something.  “Joder cabello largo…”

“Looks like Marcus is getting everyone together.  He just met with his dad; give me a sec to figure out what they’re up to.”

“Dad!  Where the heck have you been?”

“Don’t shout at me, boy,” a gruff voice growled.  “Where’s it look like I’ve been? What’s up?  Something’s got you shook.”

“The boy, Maria’s little brother, he—he vanished in a pool of red water that appeared out of nowhere; swallowed the couch with Tony and Pete with him!”

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He swore.  “Tch … I gave you one job—you high?”

“What—no, we just—we need to find him … he’s the key to getting you healed.”

“No, you don’t say, and are you ordering me?”  His voice dropped dangerously.

“No—really, dad, look—we need him…”  I guess Marcus isn’t the leader … their dad’s the real thing.

“Are you saying, you can’t keep track of one teenage kid,” Marcus’ dad dropped into a couch, breathing out an audible sigh.  “Where’s your brother?”

“He’s looking around for them.”

“Have you told everyone to get out and hit the streets?”

“No—we need to keep control of the crowds…”

His dad leaned forward.  “It doesn’t take fifteen people to keep cowards in line, think smart, micromanage.”  He snapped. “Have Tina and James gather a bunch of the groups together and get everyone else on it.”

“Yeah, yeah, got it,” Marcus muttered, activating his radio to give orders; he told his men to search around their areas, but paused when someone didn’t answer.  “Harris, I need you to keep an eye out for anything by the bridge—Harris, hey—Harris, if you’re playing with one of those women when I’m talking—I’m gonna cut off your … Harris!”

He swore.  “Antonio—Rodney—anyone at the supermarket?  Hey, Anthony, get over there and figure out what’s going on!”

“Got it,” Anthony stated; Rachel heard him a block away from them.

Daran appeared out of thin air beside Marcus.  “Where the—oh, dad, what’s up?”

“Give me a radio.”  Their dad cursed before snatching one from a man beside Marcus.  “Scratch that, Anthony; don’t bother. You get with Elis and start patrolling the streets; get in the tank and kill anyone who doesn’t get inside.”  Crap, they have a tank?  Where the heck did they get that?  From the military raid?

“Got it, Terrell.”

“Daran, Marcus, let’s**** the supermarket.  Remember, Marcus, defense when we get there, then, Daran, be ready to jump us back—something happened to Harris and his boys, so prepare to kill someone.  Let’s get this over with; could be another SEAL team.”

Daran and Marcus breathed out sharply.  “If it’s that rabbit … we’ll need to retreat fast.  She hits like a literal truck.”

“Don’t be a pansy,” Terrell growled.  “If she’s there, then we’ll back off and prepare the group to take her out, but don’t piss your pants.”

“I ain’t-a pansy!”  Marcus grumbled.

“Then man-up!  Daran, let’s go.”  Rachel clicked her tongue, making the Beastkin shift nervously.

“What’s up?”  Fiona rose with a serious expression.

“Terrell, Marcus and Daran’s dad, is taking control.  He just teleported over to the supermarket with Daran.  They also have a tank they’re getting set up to patrol the streets.”

“¿Tienen un puto tanque del ejército?”  Maria’s nose twisted.

Scarlet breathed a sharp breath through her teeth.  “Where’d they get a tank?”

“Probably from the army raid,” Rachel sighed.  “They plan to check out the supermarket and then retreat if I’m there; they have a plan to gather a few people to deal with me, but I don’t know what it is.  What did you do to the guys there, Scarlet?”

Scarlet sucked on her lip for a moment, looking at the wall.  “Honestly … I don’t really know what I did. Like I said, it was a bit of a release to get the influence of the Reaper out; it was like I redirected the energy she was feeding me at them.”

Rachel’s ears twitched for a moment as she listened to Terrell curse at the scene.  “What happened here? Smells like piss and…”

“Harris?”  Daran asked, walking over to where he’d fallen.

“What’s wrong with them?”  Marcus muttered. “They’re just sitting there, drooling all over themselves … it’s like they’re brain dead or something.  Hey!” He smacked Harris.

A shiver ran down Rachel’s spine as they started mumbling Scarlet’s song in unison.  “I have a tale that time has lost; sins of judgment born of blood.  She took a name from the one profaned; the chosen—know the dark but let it rest…  

Terrell cursed with a low growl.

“They’re singing your song, Scarlet?”  Rachel muttered.

“Whatwhy?  It’s not my song…”

Rachel breathed a heavy sigh.  “I don’t have a clue. The moment they tried talking to them, they started singing.”

Daran sounded a little creeped out as they continued, repeating it soon after finishing.  “What—are they singing? Blood of gods and men—what are they mumbling?”

“This isn’t right,” Terrell clicked his tongue for a moment.  “Was there any strange stuff happening a bit ago? Did they say anything over the radio?”

“No…” Marcus cut off as Daran breathed through his teeth.  “What?”

“A bunch of the Beastkin in one of the buildings were acting really strange; they were scared enough to—in their pants?  There’s some kind of evil feeling … wait, we did have the Fairy Mythickin here…”

“She’s not here, and neither are the hostages,” Terrell cursed, spitting on the ground.  “Doesn’t feel right … Harris, Antonio—Rodney, all of them … they’re all singing at the same time.  Gotta be some kind of Fairy magic at play … she had some chick with her, right?”

“Yeah, some fox chick in business clothes, I think,” Daran muttered.

“Alright, get ready…”

Rachel pursed her lips as she turned back to the group.  “I think it’ll be good to get all of you out of here. We’ve spent too much time here anyway.  They think Fiona did that to their men. Scarlet, can you start getting them…” A shiver ran up her spine as she felt something unseen watching them.  Time slowed as she looked around, senses scanning. Scarlet seemed to have the same feeling; she grew alert as she looked around. I don’t see anything, but I have this creepy feeling of being watched.

Her eyes widened, and her ears twitched as she heard Terrell curse; his voice slowed with her advanced mental activity.  “There’s some big group with the rabbit Mythickin … you see them, Daran, the Fairy’s there—grab the fox girl since the boy’s not there.”

“Erica!”  Rachel shouted, moving to intercept.

Everyone stiffened at her quick response and sharp tone; eyes moving from Rachel to Erica as Daran appeared with Marcus behind the woman.  Rachel raced to the honeycomb shell that appeared around the four, separating Erica from the group as the other Beastkin and children shrank away in shock.  The shell was much more consolidated this time, only forming around the four of them in a tight circle. Erica stiffened with shock as Terrell’s large hands closed around her front; Rachel’s fist struck the barrier, causing cracks to break across the dome, but it was much more resilient this time, only making Marcus wince and expel a gasp of air.

“Hey!”  Rachel yelled, but she paused as Terrell took out a long blade; Erica’s body quivered as her breath caught, the knife pressing against her left breast.

“Ah, ah, ah—so, little Ms. Rabbit…”

“Erica!”  Fiona darted toward the edge of the barrier in moments.  “Let her go!”

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Marcus and Daran surveyed the scene with discomfort.  “There’s some new faces, Maria,” Marcus muttered. “What’d you do with your brother?”

Maria rose to her feet.  “Tch, Scarlet?”

Scarlet whispered so only they could hear.  “I can’t teleport in with shadows; they’re too close.  Maybe blood to move them out of the shield, but he could stab her while falling.”

“Please…”  Erica pleaded

“Hey, hey—shhh,” Terrell grinned, pressing the knife a little deeper to draw a sliver of blood as his arm tightened around her throat, making Erica quake and suck in her breath.  “Maria—just wondering, but you can’t raise the dead, right? That would be unfortunate … if I just—slid this into her heart and twisted it around a few times … how long could you heal her before breaking down my son’s barrier?”

Rachel’s eyes were cold as she glared at them, not a foot away behind the barrier; Fiona’s white aura turned light blue as she lifted her arm; sharp cracking radiated around them as two six foot long ice shards appeared above her.  “And I’ll kill your sons then; you want that trade?” She growled, features fierce.

Marcus’ face turned ashen as he stared at the massive spikes of ice, mist frothing off the thin spear-like bodies.

“Heh,” Terrell smirked.  “Don’t piss yourself, Marcus; they won’t make a move.  Maria, I know you’ve got some decent healing magic; just look at that bunny-girl on the couch.”  Coral ducked behind the back, quivering. “If you can heal that kind of damage…” He breathed a hearty chuckle.  “I’m glad this little threat worked; seems your healing gifts aren’t infinite.”

Scarlet shifted a little.  “What about my fear aura?” She whispered.  Maria shook her head, glancing around at all the people in the room.  Crap!  I was too relaxed, reckless … we should have cleared them out a long time ago.  If they weren’t keeping their barrier so tight then Scarlet could just go in and paralyze them … I didn’t think they could constrict their barrier.  I was stupid and naive.

Terrell’s eyes slid to her.  “Alright, Bunny-girl, go ahead and step back.  You too, Fairy, and get rid of that ice.” Fiona ground her teeth together as he twirled the knife hilt a little, causing Erica to cry out, tears falling down her cheeks.

“Fine!”  Fiona growled.  Her light blue aura faded; the ice seemed to disperse into shimmering crystals before vanishing.  Rachel followed her back toward Maria and Scarlet as the women ushered the wide-eyed children into the corner beside the reception desk.  There has to be something I can do to help her … this is the exact situation we were in with Felix.  They probably don’t know about Scarlet’s teleportation abilities … you’re probably restricting the barrier to strengthen it against me.

“Everything will be alright,” Terrell soothed.  “We’ll let everyone go; I’ve got pretty simple demands.  I want the Fairy, Rabbit, and Maria to heal my cancer. That’s it, and everyone else can go free.  The Fairy messed with my men, the Rabbit hurt my son, and I need to get this cancer cured; I’m a simple man.”  This could work.  Scarlet can … what?

Terrell’s eyes opened wide as his hands lifted off Erica’s quivering form, knife still clutched in his hand.  “Wait, what? Where the … the fox vanished! Marcus…” She’s right in front of him?  Time slowed again as Rachel’s eyes quickly darted to the other Beastkin; they stared at Erica, but their expressions told her that they were as shocked as Terrell.  Illusion Magic?  Scarlet said we have True Sight … Erica must be using Illusion Magic to trick everyone.

Making a split second decision as everyone froze, Rachel dashed forward, whirlwind exploding behind her.  They think they’ve lost their advantage.  If I can make them panic, they might retreat; they were already planning on that if things went south.  Twisting as she reached the barrier, she slammed her foot against the shell.

Marcus doubled over, face sliding across his barrier as it cracked; he was gasping, legs shaking.  Terrell, backed into the shield, eyes wide as he locked vision with her pinkish-red eyes. He couldn’t even get his curse out before Daran grabbed his father and brother, vanishing from view.  Yes!

Erica’s knees gave way; Rachel quickly supported her, easing her to her butt.  She quaked in her arms, breathing sharply. “Hey, it’s okay. You did it,” Rachel soothed.  She broke down into tears as Fiona darted over to hug her neck, crying with her.

Rachel’s ears picked up their destination soon after they vanished; they were down the street, back in the resort.  “What was that?” Terrell yelled.

“What happened?”  Daran asked, taking a calming breath.

Marcus coughed a few times before kicking an object nearby, something shattered across the ground.  He wheezed a curse. “Where…”

His father cut him off.  “Where the—where’d the fox go?  She was right in my arms!”

Daran swallowed with a bit of difficulty.  “I don’t—no clue, but they’ll be coming after us now.”

“I don’t care about the other hostages in the area,” Terrell seethed.  “They have some kind of messed-up powers. Get everyone together and bring several dozen hostages; we need to bunker down.”  Daran tried saying something, but his dad grabbed him by the collar. “I want you to bring Conner and Relica here, now! I’m going to keep an eye on them, so don’t bother me until everything’s set up.  I need to understand their powers!”

Scarlet breathed a sigh of relief.  “Wow … I felt so helpless…”

“Cowards,” Maria huffed.  She walked over to them, her horn appearing as she healed Erica’s cut.  “What are they up to, Rachel?”

“They teleported back to the resort they were at before,” she got up, looking over at the kids and women.  “Before that, can we get everyone else out of here, Scarlet?”

“Yeah,” Scarlet moved over to the group, huddling in the corner.  “Are you guys ready to go to safety?”

They were pale-faced, and a few of the children had begun to cry, but the woman nodded reluctantly.  The Bird-woman swallowed reflexively before looking down at the little girl clinging to her torn pants.  “What—is it going to feel like before?”

Scarlet breathed through her teeth.  “Yeah, there’s nothing I can really do about that feeling—but you’ll be safe in the military base.”  All the women took shuddering breaths before nodding and Scarlet’s blood pooled under them; once it spread below the entire group, they fell through with sharp gasps.

Rachel clicked her tongue with annoyance as the unnerving feeling of being watched pricked her skin.  “Terrell has some kind of ability to observe us … I don’t know if it’ll be good to discuss our different abilities; he’s watching us right now.”

“Friggin … I just…”  Fiona growled as she released Erica.  “Are you okay, Erica?” Erica shook her head, sniffing back tears.  Fiona’s teeth were locked as she grasped her head. “I really … I want to kill him—I do!  I never—how can I feel this much…”

Scarlet moved over to them; her blood flowing around her body.  She bent down to touch Erica’s shoulder, making her flinch. “Hey, it’s okay, Erica.  Are you ready to get out of this place?”

It took a moment for her to answer.  “Yeah,” she said hoarsely.

“Will you be joining her?”  Scarlet looked up at Fiona with a frown.

“I—I want to make him pay…”  Fiona muttered in confusion.

Humming, Scarlet rose to her level.  “I can sense your emotions … they really are violent.”

“Fiona?”  Erica whispered.  “We should—we should just go…”

“I know,” Fiona groaned.  “I know—but I just—I feel so angry … I want to burn—break—I want to hurt him for everything—the kids, men, you—I was bottling everything up when it was happening, but—it all happened—right in front of me…”

Erica’s brow furrowed with concern as she began to get control of herself.  “But … what—I don’t…”

Maria puffed out a breath as she looked at Coral, trembling on the sofa.  “Scarlet.”

“Yeah.”  Her blood quickly moved to transport the entire couch with Coral on it; she vanished without a sound, her blood returning to her side.

Rachel cracked her neck.  “Alright, honestlyI don’t mind you tagging along, Fiona.  We all have our own beef with Marcus and his gang; we have a few priorities though.  You could go off on your own; I won’t stop you, but if you want to join us, then that’s fine too—you’re more than strong enough to hold your own.”

Everyone was silent as Fiona thought, hovering several more feet into the air; it almost seemed like she was unconscious of the action.  “I—ever since I ate that sugar—something’s different—in me—I just feel different. I mean, I’m Irish—I’m not scared of a fight or anything; we grew up tough—it’s different though … I just—I feel like I need to do something…”

Maria chuckled, drawing everyone’s attention.  “We’ve all changed, Niña de hadas. If you’re feeling like throwing a punch, don’t fight it, just throw it—deal with the consequences later.”

“That’s terrible advice,” Scarlet sighed.

“It is what it is,” Maria grinned as she leaned up against a pillar.  “Give an inch, they take the barrio—gotta react fast, chica; gotta set an example.  You need to do something, do it. Same thing with friends; don’t hide crap, always be real.”

Rachel nodded.  “I’m with you, Maria, but we have other priorities right now.”  She looked up at Fiona. “Like I said, Fiona, if you want to join us then I’m fine with it, but we have priorities.”

“You’ll get to them though … right?”  Fiona asked with heat back in her tone.

Rachel’s features turned cold.  “Yes.” I can’t tell if this change in me is a blessing or a curse…

“Alright,” Fiona folded her arms as she floated down to Erica.  “I’m going to stay with them and make sure they can’t hurt anyone else.”

“But…”

“I feel like I need to do this,” Fiona pressed.  “After all I’ve seen…”

Erica looked down, fingers intertwined.  “I still don’t—you shouldn’t go … I guess I can’t make you change your mind though.  I’m not okay with it, but … just make sure you’re safe…”

Fiona smiled encouragingly.  “Don’t worry about me, look!”  She lifted her arms; her aura lit red as a massive fireball blazed into existence, expelling hot air around the area.  “I’ve got all these new powers. I’ll be fine.”

Taking a shuddering breath, Erica shook her head mournfully.  “Rachel—was that your name?” She nodded, watching Fiona’s aura fade with the inferno.  “Rachel, please make sure nothing happens to Fiona … I…” She sniffed back tears. “She’s not a gangster or anything—she’s a singer, a streamer…”

“I can take care of myself…”  Fiona grumbled.

Rachel smiled.  “Don’t worry about it, Erica.”  She turned, “Scarlet.”

Scarlet’s blood quickly spread out below Erica, and she dropped through it, staring at Fiona with concern.  “Be careful…”

Scarlet’s blood returned to her as she folded her arms, looking at Rachel.  “What’s next?”

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