Chapter 46: Edwin
“Candy!” I called out above the incessant yelling and screaming, “Candy!"
“Edwin!” she replied, straining her neck to find me through the chaos.
“What’s going on!?” I asked frantically. She said something in return, but it was drowned out by the sound of the first soldiers shooting guns into the clusters of rampaging citizens. All around me ordinary half-starved people were gathering what objects they could to use as a weapon, anything to inflict damage. Most were going after the mutants, yelling curses at them and throwing knives and bricks at them, despite knowing they couldn’t be killed. But some were just fighting for the sake of fighting, totally without a real purpose. But the worst was the soldiers; they seemed to be coming from everywhere at once, striking people down with whatever weapon they had. A cloud of dark smoke billowed out into the air as someone attempted to repeat what James had done.
The sound of Candy’s scream broke me out of my trance. I whipped around and saw a man in a dark uniform standing over Candy, who had been thrown on the ground and was now staring up at her attacker with wide, terrified eyes. The man raised a whip over his head and didn’t hesitated to bring it down on her. Candy screamed again as the leather lashed her skin in a millisecond and left a long, jagged line of red across her chest and arm. I cried out in rage and threw myself at the man, performing a jarring body slam that sent both of us tumbling to the ground. My heart skipped a beat when I lifted my head and saw that he hadn’t dropped his whip. I screamed in agony as it wound itself around my neck like a snake and squeezed hard. Blood started to trickle down into my shirt and I could barely see anything as my vision started to blur.
Wait, I thought to myself, remembering my recent mutation. I closed my eyes and tried to block out the pain. I stuck my hands out in front of me on the ground and pushed myself back. When I opened my eyes I was relieved to see both the shock on my attacker’s face and the whip that was no longer cutting into my flesh. My hand began to reach up tentatively to feel my wound, but I thought better of it. “Edwin, look out!” I looked up at the sound of Candy’s warning to see the man with the whip crack it in the air, preparing to strike me again. I rolled out of the way and got to my feet.
I ran in Candy’s direction with an outstretched hand, “Get up and run!” She grabbed onto my hand and hoisted herself up. Without looking back, the two of us sprinted through the thronging crowds as fast as we could. “Where’s Violet?” I asked in between breaths.
“I don’t know!” Candy replied, her face flushed, “Why?”
“We need her to protect you!” I called back, “You’re a girl without any mutant power, you can’t fight!”
“Excuse me?” She stopped running and grabbed onto my arm, pulling me back, “What do you mean I can’t fight? What do you mean I need to be protected?” I was feeling too frantic and scared to really get into this discussion, so I said the first thing that came into my mind.
“Are you kidding?” I exclaimed, “Look at you!” I gestured toward her freshly wounded chest and arm, both of which were bleeding freely. “You would’ve died if it wasn’t for me! And I just got lucky, my power’s more of a defense than a weapon.”
Candy looked at me, shocked, but her shock quickly morphed into anger, “Seriously? Look at me? Look at you!” She pointed to my neck, her finger getting dangerously close to my wound, “A few more seconds and he would’ve flung your head from your body!”
“It’s not that deep,” I replied, “And besides, I can’t die, remember?” Candy slapped me across the face with so much force that I stumbled to the left. I was glad she did, for at that moment a knife flew directly through the spot where I was standing and embedded itself in Candy’s shoulder instead. Her face turned white and she screamed as she looked down at it, the blade so far in you could barely see it. I grabbed onto the knife harder than I should’ve and concentrated as hard as I could, making myself and the knife as solid as air. I took a step back and removed the blade painlessly from the wound. Once we were solid again, I dropped the knife on the ground and tried not to look at the dark red puddle that formed around it.
Candy stood rigid as a stone as I tore off my shirt and did my best to wrap it around her shoulder to try to stop the bleeding. I began to run again and she wordlessly followed me, not complaining even when she could only use one of her arms. We got to the more outskirts of the skirmish and my eyes darted from left to right as I scanned the citizens, trying to pick out Violet. Bodies lay strewn here and there, but Violet was not among them. I spotted Chaz a few yards away, lying on the ground at an awkward angle, pretending to be dead. The fact that I could tell he was still alive despite all the other chaos that was ensuing wasn’t a ringing endorsement for him.
“What about Rosalie?” I asked myself after seeing no sign of Violet. The last time I’d seen the pink haired girl she had been taken away by Esma and Skip, therefore I didn’t have much confidence in finding her. I realized then that we had been standing on the stage the whole time, which explained the slightly elevated view we were getting. Candy had collapsed next to Claire’s charred body, but neither of us had noticed the still lingering smell of burnt flesh. Candy’s chest was still rising and falling, albeit a little faster than it should, but at least she was still alive. My once yellow shirt was now soaked with blood, but I couldn’t find anything else that could serve as a bandage.
I knelt down beside her and prayed that her glassy eyes would focus on me, “Candy?” I waved my hand in front of her face, but she didn’t respond. I sighed and held onto her arm as I made us as solid as ghosts. We dropped down a foot below the ground and lay together on the hard pavement, hoping nothing would crush us under the stage while we waited for the riots to stop.
“For the love of Jesus, Flameheart, do something!” Dragomir shouted at me over the sound of the screaming victim he had just shot. Two young children were clinging to my arms, trying to drag me down, as a third one punched me repeatedly in the abdomen. It didn’t hurt that much, but it was still annoying. A fourth grabbed onto my hair, yanking my head back sharply.
“I’m not going to prove Walker’s point more by using my powers against otherwise innocent civilians!” I yelled back at him while I tried to pry the little ones’ hands off of me. An icy wind blew across my face and I suddenly felt three of the children fall away from me. The one who had been punching me suddenly stopped, staring at something behind me, then took off running.
“She will,” Dragomir muttered bitterly, turning away from the body of his victim. I whipped around and found myself practically face to face with Rosalie.
“Where have you been?” I called out to her. The younger girl just stared back at me with empty eyes and a slightly narrowed brow. In one quick motion she swept her hands back elegantly and through them forward, slicing the air as two icicles flew in my direction. I had no time to react and winced in pain as they slit my arms as they passed by leaving two smoking cuts. I went from calm and frustrated to enraged in under a second. Without missing a beat I leapt into the air with fire in my fists and didn’t hesitate to throw the balls of flame. Rosalie jumped back just in time, but she was still off balance. I used this to my advantage and cast another ball of fire aimed right for her stomach. She screamed as it connected with her body, leaving a burning ring in her abdomen as she fell to the ground. I ran forward, grabbed her collar, and lifted her off the ground, about to deliver a death blow. Our eyes met and something flashed in hers’ that made me hesitate: a combination of fear, surprise, and confusion.
But the look left as soon as it had come and while I was distracted she encased my arms and torso in ice. I screamed in agony as the cold tore at my skin and the rest of my body that was still free began to sizzle. Despite her burns, Rosalie stood back up, albeit clenching her teeth in pain. She took a few steps back, raised her hands, and before I knew what hit me I was completely covered in a block of ice. I could feel my entire body go numb and I could barely think, barely see. Through what was left of my awareness I saw Rosalie stare at me in my icy coffin, as if curious to know if I was alive or dead. Rosalie was my opposite, she was the only one who could kill me- as far as I knew.
Anger bubbled up inside me as I stared back at her with what little energy I had left. My vision was starting to get blurry and I didn’t know how I was still breathing, but never the less I closed my eyes, tightened every available muscle in my body, and took in one last breath before every inch of my skin began to glow red. The next thing I knew the ice had flown apart and I was left lying on the ground, gasping in a pool of boiling water. I hadn’t realized how quite it had been in the ice until I was free and the torrents of shouting and screaming flooded back into my ears, making me flinch away. I looked up through my soaked hair just in time to see Rosalie running away and disappearing into the crowd, followed by a rabid Dragomir, gun in hand.
“Dragomir!” I tried to yell out, but my voice was strained. I rolled over onto my chest and lifted myself up. Suddenly, someone grabbed my from behind. It was Skip Rogers, his knuckles pure white as he desperately groped around the slits on my arms. Despite my fatigue, I made a shield of fire around my body and listened in satisfaction as he screamed in pain. As soon as his hands dropped away I turned around, smiling, suddenly feeling more powerful than before. I was pleasantly surprised to find all of my energy coursing through my veins again, seemingly more so now. “Rogers, what are you doing?” I asked the red haired man as he stared down at his fleshy hands.
He looked up at me with bloodshot eyes as he replied through clenched teeth, “Mutants are a disgrace to this city! Mutants don’t deserve to live!” This second statement came out more like a sob, but I felt no pity at this point. I remembered how he had turned the city against us, been responsible for the sudden attack on me and Kyra when we had returned from the city after seeing Dr. Everett- Dr. Everett! Where was he? Why didn’t we go back to see him? Did he know this was going to happen? In my thoughts, I hadn’t noticed Skip as he reached into his coat pocket, his whole body quivering. The gun he pulled out drew my attention back to the present and that point it didn’t matter that guns couldn’t kill me. I grabbed his face with one hand and let the fire pour out of my palms as if I was finally letting go of all my anger.