B1 — 24. Welcome


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Fiona’s POV 1/3



Fiona was swallowed by Scarlet’s shadows.  They appeared in a dark room. She looked around curiously; there was a man in front of them.  It looked like they were on the second floor of a liquor store; there was aisle of bottles around them, showing different types of alcohol.  The overhead lights were off; nonetheless, her eyes penetrated the darkness.

Two feet in front of them was a light-skinned man, dressed in baggy black pants and a red t-shirt; the window he sat at was open, a large rifle in his hands.  A kid was sitting next to him, staring at them blankly. Scarlet quickly put a finger to her lips, but the small girl didn’t respond.

Fiona’s brow furrowed as the guy shifted a little, head turning to glance a bit further down the street.  I thought the kids would be tied up or something, but I guess not?

Scarlet reached out, touching the man’s back as Fiona rose into the air; she quickly activated Wind Shield, surrounding the kid with a protective bubble, her green aura brightening the dark store.  Wait!  We have the element of…

He stiffened as Scarlet’s blood quickly exited from around her arm and pierced the man’s heart.  She let go of his back, and without a grunt, the man draped across his rifle, then collapsed to the floor.  The girl didn’t make a sound or turn away from them as Scarlet murdered the man beside her.

“What the—why didn’t he move or—he didn’t even moan or anything?”

Scarlet frowned as she studied the blood flowing down the gun and onto the floor.  “I can paralyze people I touch—should I drink their blood though? I mean, I do need blood to survive, and it would help to have more energy.”

Floating over to the kid, Fiona passed through the wind shield, it formed around her body.  “Umm—sure, why not—what about this kid though? She looks…”

She shook her head quickly.  “No! I can’t get distracted.  We’re on a clock. Let’s go get the rest first.  Fast! We’ll come back for the kids and teleport them after I kill the gangsters.”

Fiona nodded as she lowered back to Scarlet’s shoulder.  “Sounds good.” She’s pretty chill at killing people … wait, I guess I am too.  Huh…

They quickly teleported between different locations, Scarlet making quick work of the gang members.  The radio check didn’t come as they seemed to kill the last one; Scarlet moved back from her victim with pursed lips, studying the boy they’d just saved.

Fiona was beginning to worry about the kids; none of the hostages made a sound as they emerged from the shadows, killed their captors, and left.  She placed a shield around each one as they moved between targets, but they didn’t show any indication of being held against their will, just stared at them blankly.  What’s up with them?

Their last stop was on the fifth level balcony of some restaurant that overlooked 5th and Ocean Drive; the tank was below with several men, a child hostage with every gang member, and again they seemed completely passive.  They must have done something to the kids.  I guess that Unicorn … why am I having such a hard time remembering her name?  She can probably heal them though, right?

Her brow creased with concern.  What about Brion?  He must think I abandoned him … he hasn’t eaten anything since … and I left my stream … where’s my mind taking me!  There are hostages! Focus!  

Fiona turned to Scarlet as studying the scene below.  “The night’s too dark for them to see us up here; there’s not enough light.  They must be trying to use that as an advantage to catch us off guard … they really don’t know much about us.”

“Yeah,” Fiona hummed.  “It’s broad daylight for me.”

Scarlet was silent another second as she scanned the area, looking at a few buildings and back down the street.  “Rachel’s coming. Let’s get the kids back to the military base.” She frowned, turning to the motionless boy as he stared up at them.  “I’m a little worried about just dropping him through the portal though.”

Fiona scratched behind her long right ear.  She’s right … when she used her portals before, they just drop people out of the sky.  Can I levitate them … no way! She grinned.  “Oh, I can help with that!  Watch this…” She activated the spell Levitate as she released Wind Shield; the boy rose as a tight film of air lifted him up, hair rising with the current.

Scarlet’s eyes widened.  “You have some awesome powers!  Making the wind carry the kids so they’ll gently go through the blood portal is pretty cool.”  She quickly made the portal and Fiona lowered him through. Me?  She has amazing powers!

“Oh, I’m super impressed with that paralysis touch!  They can’t do a thing the moment you appear behind them.  You’re a real assassin! Your blood just sticks through them like butter too; super fast kills.”  Fiona punched the air with a sharp pow sound.

Scarlet’s lips dropped into a line as she looked down the street.  “Hmm, think we should head down and join Rachel now?”

“Umm—probably not,” Fiona growled lowly, trying to follow her gaze.  “She’s drawing the attention. We can wait for a good chance to strike Terrell and the others.  Rachel seemed pretty confident; I think she can handle the front.” Fiona hummed thoughtfully. “So, should we go into the hotel and take out the bosses?  I mean, if we take out the leader then it’ll be over, right? The gang will just run and hide?”

“I don’t know,” Scarlet muttered.  “Rachel said their boss is putting a lot of faith in those two contractors … I’d rather not just jump in and get killed or even worse, captured and used as hostages ourselves.”

“Seriously?”  Fiona huffed, floating over to study the skewered man to their left, blood pooling under him.  “I thought a Vampire wouldn’t think about that crap. I mean, I get it, but you could just teleport out, right?”

“I could … but what if they can block teleporting or something?  Maybe that’s why they’re sticking around the boss.”

Fiona’s eyes widened.  Wow … I didn’t even think of that.  Have I turned into an airhead or something?  Did that sugar… The knowledge struck her mind like a blow to the face.  Granulated sugar gives me energy but addles me a bit if taken in excess.  Thanks for the heads up … Fart-sticks… “Oh, hmm, yeah, that would be a problem,” Fiona whispered.

Tapping the rail atop the edge guard with her blackened fingernail, Scarlet sighed.  “Yeah, and I really don’t want to cause problems for Rachel or Maria … they trusted me—well, us, to take out the snipers, but we didn’t really plan beyond that…”  I get that, and maybe my mind is addled, but I mean, we could jump in super fast!

“See!  That’s what I’m saying.  We can just pop in and take them out before they even know what hit them … what’s she doing?”  She floated up to get a better look at the street. “Did she take care of the guys out front…” She trailed off as a massive boom shook her entire body.  Her mind went blank as she momentarily lost focus; wings dispersing, she plummeted, landing atop the warm corpse below her. Seeing stars, she shook her head a few times, hair whipping around her face, her whole body tingled.  “Wow—holy crap, that was a loud noise.”

Scarlet didn’t seem phased in the least as she looked down at the scene, biting her lower lip softly, left fang showing.  “Yeah—they fired the tank.”

Fiona rubbed her arms at the lingering tingles before rising to view the street by Scarlet’s head.  Scarlet’s eyes widened. “Oh, wow—Rachel just slaughtered them. Like, she literally splattered them all over the street.”

When she got a clear view of the carnage, Fiona whistled.  She’s not kidding.  She’s freaking destroying everything!  Snap, that tank’s a goner.

She turned toward Scarlet as she muttered, “Oh, no…”  Her halo-like irises stared down 5th. “That one tank round—it blew up a building with a few people inside.  Eight dead, mostly elderly, but there was a teenager with them … two are still alive. Let’s go save them real fast.”  Wait, really?  Aren’t we … my flipping brain!  I forgot something … what am I forgetting?

She let the thought go as shadows enveloped them.  They seemed to be in what once was an office space on the second story of a building.  There were cubicles, computers, and desks that were blown back. A massive hole showed part of the floor above them; dust still hung in the air as cries and screams sounded around them.  A section of the roof that collapsed was near the windows, overlooking the street.

Wide-eyed, Fiona studied the destroyed concrete, metal, sheet wall, and wood that littered the area.  Tanks are no joke … that was just one shell, and it destroyed so much of this floor.  The wall ahead of them was damaged; the destruction went further into the building, fragments of the walls and ceiling still crumbling around them.  I gotta have magic that can help us … every time I wanted to use magic before…

“Oh, I think I got this…”  Fiona muttered. “Just need to—there we go, earth magic … where are they inside here?”  She asked as she began to glow a light brown and green; she swept away the dust that lingered around them and forced the unstable sections of the walls and ceilings to collapse, piling them against the opposite wall.

Scarlet watched her move the materials with a raised brow, giving her the locations.  “There, and there.”

“Got it.”  Alright … just gotta be careful; don’t want to push down and crush them…  “Dang, displacing earth costs a lot more energy than wind.  I wonder why each element energy-cost differs so much?” Oh, well then, I guess it’s more complicated since it’s not plain dirt.  I’m using the earth to move the other materials … that makes a bit more sense.  Thanks, knowledge guy!

She slowed her progress as the ragged breathing of two women caught her ear.  Scarlet’s blood seeped out of her body and flowed underneath them, raising them out of the devastation.  Once they were clear, Fiona let go of the magic, causing the pile to fold back in on itself.

Scarlet breathed a sigh of relief as her vampiric eyes shifted to the wall before returning to the two women.  “There we go—two men are rushing up the stairs; they should be able to take care of it from here. They have some fractures, but there’s no internal bleeding.”  Man, Scarlet, Rachel, Maria, they have such cool powers!  I know we can take care of this gang … I have crazy elemental powers too, so we should be more than good!  I can create shields and stuff … we can totally take them!

“Cool.  Back to that one room then?”

“That works.”

Shadows surrounded them, and they were back in the first room they’d entered, the girl still in the exact same place.  Fiona felt it hit her like a truck. No!  I totally forgot about all the kids … that was the main objective!  I’m so stupid! Stupid sugar…

Scarlet breathed out a heavy sigh as she stared at the girl.  “I feel really bad about just leaving the kids with … well, dead bodies.  I killed them right in front of…” She cut off with a depressed hum.

Fiona copied her long breath.  “I’m with you, but what choice did we have?  There were a few kids we needed to save. What do you think is wrong with them?”  She hovered over to the girl. “Hey, can you hear me?” The girl nodded, making Fiona’s brow furrow.  “Oh…”

Scarlet used her blood to move the corpse of the gang member over a few feet as she knelt to the girl’s level.  “Hey, what’s your name?”

“Anna.”  She responded in a monotone voice.

“Alright, Anna, you’re safe now.  Just hold on a second, and we’ll get you taken care of.”  She turned, “Hey, Fiona.”

“Yes?”

“Can you make one of those wind beds, or whatever it is, under my blood portal?”

“Uh, yeah—oh, you want to bring all the kids here?”

Scarlet nodded.  “Yeah. So, if you could make it so they aren’t hurt when they drop down, that would be awesome.”

Smiling, Fiona rose a little.  “No problem! Just make the portal, and I’ll put it up.”

Scarlet’s blood pooled a few feet above the ground, forming into a circular disk.  Fiona’s color hued green as she activated Levitation. Kids began dropping out of the portal, one after the other as Scarlet located them.  The portal broke as the eighth kid exited, not one making a sound as they fell; Fiona moved him over to sit with the other kids along the wall.

“What about the other kids?”  Fiona asked, rising to look out of the window.  “Oh … Rachel really did freaking massacre those guys … there’s blood everywhere.”  Why am I not freaked out about that?

“Maria’s gathering the kids together and they’re retreating a bit; I should probably save as much energy as I can.  I haven’t scanned the entire area. There may be emergency cases where I need to transport people out. I think she can handle the kids—but, she’s not looking that great, actually.  Her muscles are showing signs of strain, and she’s not glowing that much anymore.”

“Do you know why?  Did someone do something to her?”

Scarlet shook her head.  “No, I don’t think so … well, maybe she’s low on energy.  I think she recharges in the sun—she hasn’t recharged at all, and she’s been healing a lot.”

Fiona’s mind flashed back to Maria healing all the people they’d rescued, including Erica.  The condition of the people Scarlet and Maria had rescued burned in her chest again, angry flaring inside her mind.  All the horrible experiments and things they’d forced her to watch as their pet insect. It fueled the hate compressing her heart.

“See!  That’s why we should go in and take them out!  Maria’s getting tired, we can’t keep letting them hurt people.  She can’t heal everyone!”

Scarlet pushed her cheeks to the side in a slight frown as she turned to look back at the hotel.  “I get that—but a bit too … a big guy is coming out to meet Rachel. I think he’s one of those contractor people—the ones Rachel mentioned; she’s waiting for him.  She’s probably trying to distract him from us.”

“Great!”  Fiona cheered.  “That means we have one less person to worry about.  Send the kids back to the base, and let’s go end this!”

Scarlet hesitated for a moment as she studied the man’s approach.  “I don’t know—we may need to help Rachel. His muscles are odd … kind of like Rachel’s, but a lot bulkier.”  She shook her head lightly, black hair shifting. “Okay, we could be short on time. Let’s do it!” Pulling a stray lock behind her long left ear, Scarlet made the portal, and Fiona quickly dropped them through it.  I feel like I forgot something again … this stupid sugar…

Fiona moved back to Scarlet’s shoulder as her blood returned, and they vanished in shadow.  She launched off her shoulder as the shadows left, rising a few feet. They were in a long branching hallway that led to rooms; now that they were inside, it looked more like her condominium, than a hotel.  There were stairs behind them with two elevators. The hall was lavishly decorated with paintings, tiled floor, plants, and rugs. The lights were out, but her eyes instantly adjusted. What floor are we on?  Is he in one of these condos?

Fiona turned to Scarlet as she hummed ominously.  “Hey, Fiona, there’s some really strange shadows lurking ahead of us.”

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“Shadows?”  Fiona looked down the hall but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, besides a terrible picture of fruit.  Really?  You have all these great pictures of the sea and beaches, but some random picture of fruit?  “I don’t see any strange shadows … only normal shadows, and what’s up with that fruit picture?”

Scarlet shifted to the wall edge; she glared at a particular spot at the end of the hall.  “They’re moving; two shadows. I also see some strange things in with the hostages. Marcus and—I forgot his brother’s name, but they’re like … animal people with them?”

Still confused, Fiona kept scanning the hall, but she didn’t see any moving shadows.  “Beastkin? Like Erica?”

“No … these animal people are—different.”  She hesitated. “Quick, behind here, a shadow’s coming!”  She ushered her to hide in the branching hallway with the stairs and elevators.

Frowning, Fiona quickly complied.  Why’s she acting like this?  She’s so cautious for being a vampire that can teleport and fear people with just her presence.  We’re taking forever! Glancing at Scarlet’s serious demeanor, Fiona breathed out a long breath.  I mean, we’re whispering, but still, it’s super quiet; a human would probably be able to hear us.

“Here,” Fiona huffed.  “Let’s try this!”

Scarlet’s eyes widened.  “Wait…”

Darting around the corner, Fiona held out her hand as a dark red aura burst around her; the hallway illuminated with the light as she held up her hand, a massive fire igniting as she cast Inferno.  “Hey! Get out here, whatever you are!” There was silence for several seconds as she hovered in the hallway, blazing fireball above her that took up half the space, waves of heat radiating; the bright glow casting deep shadows from the furnishing.  C’mon!  Nothing?  This fireball takes energy you know…

Her thoughts shifted as a dark umbra emerged out of the carpet several feet in front of her, rising to form into a jagged looking creature; the light of the fire cast an even longer shadow behind it.  Its head tilted slightly as the two-dimensional figure shifted to her left; the shadows where its eyes should have been vanished, and a jagged, wicked smile appeared, showing the background behind it.

“The crap are you?”  Fiona muttered. “Hey…”

A woman’s voice seemed to emanate from the umbra, tone lush and sophisticated.  “Oh, my—welcome, my dear. I thought I sensed something enter this side of the building.  You must be the Fairy; I heard your name was Fiona. Is that correct?”

“Wait—you’re a talking shadow?  Do you control shadows or something—are you a person?”  Fiona frowned as Scarlet kept hidden behind the corner. This is an enemy, right?  Then shouldn’t we just kill her … it?

“You could say that,” the shadow seemed to be amused as a massive crash sounded around them; it was like an enormous piece of metal grating against something.  Fiona winced, fireball disappearing as her hands flew over her ears. What in the…  Her eyes widened with panic as another umbra appeared to her right, just at the edge of her vision, two-dimensional jagged claw-like hand slashing.

Her vision was obscured as blood encircled her, a moment later the blood shot forward, sharp spikes chasing the shadow as it melded around the crystalline liquid, retreating back to the first umbra; Scarlet’s blood molded into hundreds of shapes as it gave chase, but the creature reformed every strike to evade the barbs.  The blood reached halfway down the hall before returning, Scarlet stepping out beside Fiona as her blood encircled them. I could have died … I froze.  The sound, then that thing…

Both shadows wore sinister grins as they stood against opposite walls; Fiona couldn’t tell from which the voice came as the sound of a tongue popping was heard.  “The Vampire … quite the lively blood you have. Fascinating, is that your blood or someone else’s, I wonder?”

“What are you?”  Scarlet’s tone was wary.  “Those shadows aren’t you,” her halo-like red irises shifted down to their right.  “You’re that woman with Terrell … I see you talking when your shadows speak.”

“Oh,” the left umbra’s smile broadened as the eyes enlarged slightly, edges jagged for a moment.  “You have unique eyes, my dear. I hear you have blood portals. Is that how you got in? Conner is sure having fun outside, but he would have been able to detect anyone coming in through the front.”

Fiona swallowed, body tingling with her near death encounter.  Pull it together!  She slapped her cheeks, the pain bringing her focus back.  Right!  I’m a powerful Fairy with magic.  I can do anything!

The shadow to their left tilted its head to the right.  “Slapping yourself? Oh, are you beating yourself up for freezing?  Losing control of your magic? I must admit, that fireball was quite impressive—but, I can’t help but question your intelligence.”

Fiona felt her cheeks flush.  “What? I’m not stupid!”

“I never said you were,” she chuckled.  “Yet, what purpose would be fulfilled, setting the north wing ablaze?  From the magic I sensed within, that inferno would have exploded into quite the brilliant firework.  It would have most definitely roared out of control in a blaze of glory.” The left umbra shifted to the right a bit.  “What about the hostages in the room behind me? Did you plan for that, my darling little hero? No? How wonderfully naive.”

A pit dropped in her stomach.  Wait … there’s hostages behind her?  Scarlet told me to wait … was she planning on rescuing them before going to fight the shadows, and I just rushed in without letting her explain.  Stupid! Why am I not thinking at all? The knowledge of granulated sugar jabbed at her mind again.  I’m addled still … great, freaking sugar addict!  How long does it last? Five more minutes … okay, I guess it’s not that much longer.  Wait, is that … I lost the thought … dang it…

Scarlet moved forward a bit, causing the shadows to shift a little at her advance.  “Will you surrender, or do you want me to kill you, Relica?”

Relica giggled softly.  “Oh, I am enjoying this—you are adorable.  Why would I surrender? I’m excited to see how this plays out.  Are you as strong as they say? Some nameless demon that causes men to lose all hope of survival?  I wonder how much a myth compares to a legend?”

“A legend?”  Scarlet muttered.  “A high opinion of yourself.”

“We shall see,” Relica cooed.  “Why don’t you come to me? I think you already know that Terrell gathered all of his men by the back lounge of the neighboring building.  It’s quite savory,” she chuckled. “The wine is to die for, but I wonder if you’re of age. Can a vampire even drink wine? Well then, come, and I hope you don’t disappoint.”  The shadows dropped to the floor before dispersing.

“She’s gone,” Scarlet ran her hand through her hair, securing it behind her ears.

Swallowing, Fiona’s head drooped.  “I’m sorry, Scarlet … the sugar’s affecting my judgment.  I’m—that knowledge thing—it told me I’m in an addled state because I ate too much granulated sugar … sorry,” she rubbed her left shoulder, vision downcast.  “I think it also made me freeze up … maybe … I forgot you said there were two of them, wow…”

Scarlet took a deep breath before smiling at her.  “Hey, it’s okay. I’m just glad you’re safe. I saw her creeping up on you.  I hoped I’d be able to surprise her, but her shadow was so flexible … I kept missing.”  It’s not okay though…

Bunching her right cheek, Fiona shook her head.  “Thanks for saving me.” She looked up at the room across the hall.  “So, are you going to help those hostages?”

Her blood continued to circle around them as Scarlet tilted her head.  “Me? It’s we, and c’mon, they look lifeless, like the kids. Let’s go save them, and then we’ll go take Relica head on.  I’m confident that you can back me up!” Scarlet said with a beaming smile.

Fiona’s nose burned.  She still believes in me?  I don’t … I don’t even know why I’m here in the first place.  I mean, I was mad, but … but Erica’s right. I’m not a crazy warrior or gangster.  She looked up, sniffing as Scarlet moved closer to glare at her.

“Hey!  I can sense those emotions!”

“Wait,” Fiona swallowed the lump in her throat.  “Didn’t you say you locked that away?”

“The powerful poky one that absorbs emotion, but not the light sensing emotion ability; there are a few levels to it.”  Scarlet winked. “So, don’t feel bad. You’ve done great so far!”

“Thanks,” Fiona smiled, balling her fists, she pumped her hands.  “Right, let’s take this war to them! The law of escalation; they want to cause pain and death then we’ll return it right back!  Wait … did I actually say that? It doesn’t sound like me, but it feels like me…”

Scarlet chuckled, expression darkening.  “Oh, no, I totally get that … let’s show them what horror is!”  The blood parted, closing into a tight circle around Scarlet’s body as she moved toward the door, Fiona in-tow.

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