B1 — 7. Changed

Rachel listened to the conversations around the base as Maria looked at her expectantly.  She frowned as she heard Scarlet begin to stir in the opposite room, sitting up, she paused for a moment before humming.  She tensed as Scarlet’s sounds vanished; Scarlet appeared on the bed from shadows, a bright smile showing her fangs.

“Hey, Rachel.  What’s up with the snowflake next to you?”

Maria jumped, looking at Scarlet with panic as she caught sight of the girl’s black and red eyes.  “¿que demonios?”

Rachel sighed.  “Hey, Scarlet, did you get enough sleep?”

“No,” she said with a frown.  “There was a bunch of noise that woke me up.  There are so many people running around, and I smell a lot of fear.”  She hummed, licking her blood red lips.

“Liebre blanca,” Maria snapped her fingers in front of Rachel’s face.  “Oye, who’s this chica demonio?”

Scarlet’s head tilted slightly.  “Oh, is she Hispanic?”

Pulling her hair around her front, Rachel sat against the wall with a groan, adjusting the end of her medical gown.  “Maria, the Unicorn, meet Scarlet, the Vampire.”

“Ah,” Scarlet nodded.  “I see; so, she’s Mythickin, like us.  Unicorn, huh, pretty cool, but where’s her horn?”

“Mande?  This chica is a Vampire?  En serio, a vampiro?”

Rachel nodded.  “Yup, she’s a Vampire … I was wondering the same thing; do you have a horn, Maria?”

Maria huffed.  “It glows when I use my powers; it’s like a bright light that appears on my head.”

Crossing her legs, Scarlet sucked on her lower lip.  “Cool, you know, I wonder what Unicorn tastes like…”

Maria recoiled.  “¿Qué dijiste? ¡Aléjate de mí, demonio!”

Giggling, Scarlet winked, eyes returning to normal.  “I’m only kidding with you! Lighten up—besides; your blood doesn’t smell that appealing, to be honest.”

Chuckling a little, Rachel’s features darkened.  “It doesn’t look so good, Scarlet.”

Lips turning to a slight frown, Scarlet cocked her head.  “Oh—what happened?”

“My little hermano was kidnapped by some hijo de puta!”  Maria spat.

“I see,” Scarlet’s tongue played with one of her fangs.  “This all happened while I was sleeping?”

Rachel grimaced.  “Yeah, I pushed them into a corner, but they were able to get away.”

Scarlet nodded with an interested hum.  “So—what’s the plan?” She yawned. “I’m still really tired, by the way.”

Nodding, Rachel took a deep breath.  “Right,” she glanced over at Maria with pursed lips.

“What?”  She snapped.

“You aren’t going to like this … I think we should wait ‘till nightfall.”

“Mande?  You know my hermano is in the follando hands of those el burro locos, and you want to espera hasta más tarde?”

“Hear me out,” Rachel groaned.  “You always jump to conclusions!  Look, I need to test out how my powers are affected by sunlight.  Not only that, but Scarlet, a super powerful Vampire,” she pointed as Scarlet grinned, waving at Maria, “can’t function during the day and is exhausted.  If we go into their base, that they think they’re basically invincible in, half-cocked, we’ll be eaten alive—you can’t even fight.”

Maria’s nose twisted in disgust as she glared at the floor.  “You think I’m happy about that? Tons of people get all sorts of strong powers, and I get a useless ability that can’t help my block at all!  I can’t even stop my little harmeno from being kidnapped.” Her face flushed with frustration. “I don’t want to rely on you—I don’t!” She yelled.

Rachel frowned as her shout caught the attention of a few of the soldiers, but they ignored it as nothing followed.  “I hate it,” Maria whispered, “but I know I have to put my trust in you. Why couldn’t I get your kind of powers?” She muttered bitterly.

Scarlet’s cheeks brightened.  “Wait, does that mean you’re going to storm some kidnappers’ base tonight, and you want me to come?”

“I don’t want to put you in danger,” Rachel looked down, tone low.

Shaking her head, Scarlet hummed with interest.  “You know, ever since that Ice-man, I’ve had this feeling in my chest … I know it doesn’t sound flattering, but I felt so excited scaring him.  Ever since I changed; all I’ve felt was scared, hungry, and depressed, but that feeling … I want to feel that again!”

Groaning a little, Rachel’s head leaned back against the wall.  “By the way, how old are all of you? I’m nineteen; I was starting my third term of college when all this happened.”

“Oh,” Maria sniffed.  “A college girl, okay.  I’m twenty-two, I’m the leader of my block; make sure everyone’s fed and got enough to get by.”

Rachel smiled a little.  “I guess you aren’t so bad.”

Maria looked away.  “No necesito tu aprobación.”

Her vision shifted to Scarlet as she smiled.  “I’m eighteen; no job after finishing high school.”

Rachel’s brow rose.  Not ashamed in the least … her parents are okay with that?

“Who needs high school,” Maria huffed.  “Las instituciones están ahí para mantenerte deprimido.”

“Right,” Rachel breathed.  “Okay, so, here’s my thoughts; first, Scarlet and I need new clothes … every time I move I fear this gown’s going to rip right off me … I’m glad these new medical gowns are a lot more secure than the ones I’ve seen in movies.  After that, I need to get quite a few blood bags for Scarlet.”

Scarlet’s eyes lit up.  “For real! I like that part,” she nodded licking her lips with anticipation.  “I wonder what it’ll be like with multiple people’s blood in me?”

Rachel breathed through her teeth.  “Yeah, that might be bad … I didn’t think about that part.  Umm, we’ll have to test that out. Next, I think we need rest…”

“And you could use a shower,” Scarlet said, holding her nose.  “That chemical bath did you no favors.”

Chuckling a little, Rachel nodded.  “Alright, that might be good. We also need to get some food … I’m feeling a bit famished right now.”

“Already ate,” Maria said, sitting back in a chair with a grunt.

“Okay, well, I think that’s a good start.  Once we get that done, then we can sneak out and rescue your little brother.  I’ve already heard a lot about his gang; I’m pretty sure I can locate his hideout.”

They both nodded, and Scarlet stretched.  “Wonderful. I’ll go back and sleep then,” she winked at Rachel.  “Just put those blood bags under my bed, and I’ll feast when I wake-up.”  When she nodded, Scarlet vanished in shadows; she heard her appear in her previous room, throwing back the blankets to snuggle into bed.

“She can just do that whenever?”  Maria asked with an impressed expression, looking at where Scarlet had been.

Rachel shook her head.  “Not a clue; it certainly seems that way … as long as she has the energy.”

Maria was silent for a moment as she studied Rachel.  “Why are you helping me? We just met, and I know I’m not the most likable person.  Sé que puedo ser una perra.”

Cracking her neck, Rachel hummed lowly before pressing a hand against her chest.  “Honestly, I don’t know; I have this feeling in my chest … how do I explain it? Maybe it has to do with my change, but I feel different—it’s like a sense of pride.  When did it start?”

She was silent for a moment as she examined her memories.  “From the moment I saw Scarlet subdue that guy with the ice powers … when she passed out, it grew a little while protecting her.  It was like; I felt the drive to measure up to her—her casual ease at dominating a situation—now I find out she wasn’t serious about life before becoming a Vampire—I was always serious.”  Maybe it’s because I’ve always been trying to measure up to Nam.  “It was the strongest right after Daran and Marcus escaped … frustration—failure…”  Everything I’ve felt from my family just exploded in me—now that I think back.  “I guess I’m just pissed they got away … I don’t know how to feel about that—about myself.”

She was a little surprised to find Maria’s smile grow.  “I can accept that—I’m pissed too. Don’t overthink it. Joder a esos wey; el karma es una el burro.”  Stretching, she frowned. “Know what my gang’s doing?”

Listening for a moment, Rachel lifted to her feet.  “Most of them are still knocked out; some staff found them and are trying to treat their injuries.”

“They’re hurt,” she said with a deep frown.  “I guess I’ll go over and heal them.” She huffed, looking back as she reached the door.  “Thanks,” looking down with narrowed eyes. “Fine, I’ll try and help out a bit with the injured … but I’m not going to strain myself.”  She growled before walking off.

“Ma’am,” one of the soldiers said, running after her.  “I’ll be escorting you around the facility.”

“¡Chale!  I said I wouldn’t run off—fine, wey molestos.”

Brushing her hair back over her shoulders, Rachel eased the tension in her neck.  I don’t feel bad at all about nearly killing Marcus … I’m actually pissed I didn’t kill him.  This has to be a part of my change—it has to be. I wasn’t like that before The Oscillation … is it some kind of Lunar Hare pride or something?  I actually want a rematch … I want to win.

Stretching out her back and chest muscles, she got into her Muay Thai stance, springing on her lead and back foot; keeping her back heel up.  She began alternating, pushing the air from her lungs in sharp hisses, swapping to a knee, roundhouse kick, block, back elbow, block, uppercut, punch.  She could feel the force of her attacks shift the air around the room, utensils and paper shifting and blowing around. Roger peeked into the room as Rachel began to slow down, taking a deep breath as she flexed her fingers.

He chuckled as he leaned up against the wall.  “That’s quite something; you move faster than anything I’ve ever seen.  It’s like I was watching a hurricane just now.”

Rachel sighed before rotating her arm.  “My body feels a little strained … I was afraid of that.”

“Huh,” Roger clicked his tongue.  “What do you mean?”

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“I met someone that helped me understand a bit more about my abilities; a cat Beastkin.  I found out that I’m agility based; I have massive burst potential, but my stamina won’t last long … I need to train; Muay Thai’s good for that.”  She smiled a little. “I don’t think I can train with someone though; going at a human’s pace, I could last forever. I’ll have to think of something.”

“I see,” Roger muttered.  “So, you do practice a martial art.  No wonder you can pack so much punch; you know the techniques to maximize your power.”

She heard Richard and Julia exit the room; studying the scene.  “Thanks for the support,” Rachel said, passing Roger.

“Of course,” he muttered, looking after her as she went to join the scientists.

“Richard,” Julia said, studying the mess of papers and medical supplies lying all across the floor.  “All of this happened in like three minutes.”

Richard nodded.  “Indeed—oh, Ms. Park.  Thank you for repelling those terrorists.  I heard that they ended up kidnapping the poor brother of Ms. Espinar.  Are you okay?”

Grimacing at the mess her whirlwind had created, she nodded.  “Yeah, I think I’m okay. My body is starting to feel a little strained, but nothing I’m not used to.  I actually had some thoughts I wanted to run by you. Mind sitting down with me?”

They both looked at each other.  “Umm, sure,” Julia said with a bright smile.  “It’s what we’re here for, anyway.”

“Great,” Rachel said with a small smile.  “Why don’t we go into one of these other rooms down the hall.”  They followed her to a room. Shutting the door to minimize all the noise from the soldiers talking.  They sat before Rachel began, shifting her hair over her shoulder. “I’d like to test a few things and run some thoughts by you.”

“Okay,” Richard hummed, taking out his tablet PC.  “Shoot.”

“I think it would be a good idea to gather quite a few blood bags for Scarlet to test her personality changes.”

“What do you mean?”  Julia asked, leaning forward.

Richard cleared his throat.  “Can I deviate a little?” Sitting back, Rachel nodded.  “Wonderful.” He paused for a moment. “Rachel, how are you feeling?”

“Excuse me?”  Rachel asked. “I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“I mean—after the confrontation.  I heard that one of the terrorists had some kind of shielding ability and that you smashed it, and just before almost crushing him, his brother teleported them away.  How are you feeling after that incident?”

“I see,” she muttered.  He’s wondering about my mental state after committing to the kill.  He is an MD at psychiatry; he must be tasked with figuring out our state of mind and determine if we’re a threat.  Should I be truthful about my feelings? He’s probably well trained in detecting lies.

“I’ve trained in Muay Thai since I was in eighth grade; I’m no stranger to confrontations, but I was a little surprised that I didn’t hesitate in trying to rescue Felix.  Even by deadly force; I heard quite a few things about them from the Military transmission. They were terrorists and had killed a lot of people; I didn’t want that to happen to the boy in front of me.  It is true that since changing into a Lunar Hare, I have noticed a change in my personality. I’m calmer … a girl I know said I was more composed.” It wasn’t the full truth but wasn’t a lie.

He nodded, writing down what she’d said.  “How do you feel about almost killing him, though?”

Rachel kept her features reflective.  “Honestly, I don’t know what to think of it—I’m surprised by my transformation.  I wasn’t thinking about it at that moment. I do remember the slap that Daran gave Felix; that triggered me to action, I didn’t want him to get hurt anymore—and seeing Maria’s desperation.”

“Alright,” Richard said with a frown.  “I—Rachel, don’t take this the wrong way, but something’s bugging me.”

Head tilting slightly, Rachel hummed.  “What’s that?”

“Your composure—the way you talk—it’s hard to read … especially your eyes.  There’s something there, but it’s just out of reach. I’ve sat with a great many people, but there’s something—unnerving in you.  Not necessarily in a bad way, but something burning underneath. I want to say there’s rage, but I don’t see it.”

“Hmm,” Rachel said, brow furrowing.  “I was angry at Daran and Marcus for what they were doing to Felix.  Is that what you see? I hate that they were hurting someone in front of me.”

“See,” Richard muttered.  “Right there … you say that, but I don’t see it, yet I can feel something.  I’ve never experienced this before. It’s just perplexing.” He sighed. It would be best to deflect the conversation, but how to do it inconspicuously?  I do feel rage; now that he mentions it. I feel like I should have been able to do better; I failed, and that eats at me.  She had to focus to not let her feelings show.

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She sighed, releasing some of her tension.  “Richard, Julia, I know you probably have a lot of questions, but I’m really starting to feel like this medical gown … just won’t do.”

Richard’s frown deepened.  “What do you mean?”

“Oh,” Julia said, face dawning with understanding.  “You’ve had to fight in it twice within such a short amount of time … you don’t even have any undergarments, do you?  I’m so sorry!” She rose, “Why don’t we go look at some of the clothing some of the churches and relief parties have brought.”

“Ah,” Richard breathed a sigh.  “That’s what you meant. It certainly would feel uncomfortable; I can see you feeling a bit tense about being so exposed.  You wanted to talk about Scarlet and a few tests though?”

Rachel nodded as she lifted from her chair.  “Yes,” she flushed a little. “Scarlet also mentioned I smelled of chemicals and suggested a shower.”

“Of course,” Julia nodded with an understanding smile.

“Right,” Richard mumbled.

“For the tests,” Rachel continued.  “I think I’d like to see how my strength compares in sunlight, in comparison to the moonlight and without sun or moonlight.”

He nodded.  “That’s a good question to consider.  Okay,” he rose. “You go get freshened up, and we can begin some tests; we can discuss your thoughts on bringing multiple blood packs for Scarlet as well.”

“Thank you,” Rachel said, following Julia as she beckoned.

“Let’s see what clothes we can find to match you!”  Julia hummed as she studied her. “I wish we could find a Japanese sailor outfit for you—oh, with a red tie!  You’d look so cute,” she fantasized.

Rachel giggled a little as she followed.  “As long as it fits me.” I really have changed a lot … I’m manipulating them to get what I want, but I don’t care.  It’s not like I’m hurting them or anyone else, but I know that they’ll try to stop me if they heard my plan.  They’d be a lot more cautious of me if I let them know about this burning passion in my chest … I can’t let it go.  I didn’t start this fight, but I will finish it…

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