Monster in the Mirror

Chapter 32

Once the fun was over, we all watched as Eric placed The Stick back on its pillow under the lamp in the tent as Alex walked over to us. Resting my elbow on his head, we stood at attention as Eric exited the tent and stood at the front of the group. "The Stick of Truth is back where it belongs!" he said as he walked past us and turned to me. "MacManus, for your heroic deeds and valiant self-sacrifice at the great Battle of The Giggling Donkey, I hereby make you an official member of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep. Welcome, to the KKK." he said, making everyone around erupt in applause while Alex and I looked at each other like he was insane.

'Really Eric, you couldn't use different initials for that?' I thought with a sigh as Eric turned his attention to my brother. "As for you Douchebag, your skills still need to be proven, therefore you will act as our spy. Train under Craig in the ways of the Thief, then spy on those gay Drow Elves: find out their plans and report back here so that we may be one step ahead of them in this war." Eric said, surprising my brother with his task before he nodded: accepting his challenge as the sound of someone opening the sliding glass door caught everyone's attention. Looking over to the house, I saw Mrs. Cartman leaning out the door as she called to Eric.

"It's getting late, the Grand Wizard needs to go nite-nite." she said, making me giggle behind my hand at the look of embarrassment on Eric's face before he pinched the bridge of his nose, wincing as he bumped his shiner. "Okay, mom-thanks for pointing out bedtime for everyone." he said as he rolled his eyes in annoyance. "It's a school night hon. You and your little Druid friends need to-" she started, only to have Eric whirl around with an angry look on his face. 'Here we go.' I thought with a smirk as I saw how Eric looked like he was about to explode. "WE'RE NOT DRUIDS MOM! WE'RE FUCKING WARRIORS AND WIZARDS!" he yelled, making my eyebrows reach my hairline at the language he used against his own mother.

"Don't you even think about using that kind of language around mom and dad." I warned Alex as he looked at me with a similar incredulous look on the visible part of his face. "Okay Saphira." he said quietly as Mrs. Cartman angrily stomped out of the house and straight towards Eric. "Oh that's it! You're going to bed, the rest of you better get home too." she said as she grabbed hold of Eric's arm and dragged him across the yard and into the house, leaving the others to quickly say their goodbyes and dash off for home. "C'mon Alex, we're late enough as it is and you know how dad can be." I said as we walked through Eric's house and out the front door. Glancing at Alex as he sneezed, I helped him up the slippery driveway and into the house, where both my parents sat on the couch with pleased looks on their faces.

"Well, there they are! You cut it pretty close this time Saphira." dad said as he glared at me while mom helped Alex get out of his multiple layers of clothing. "I saw you playing with your new friends, today was a good day I hope?" mom said as I nodded while I removed my wet boots and socks and put them in front of the fireplace so they could dry. "Nothing to say huh, what a surprise." dad scoffed at Alex, making me halt halfway up the stairs and glare back at him. "You KNOW why he doesn't talk, leave him alone." I said as he practically jumped from the couch and stormed over to me, breaking out of mom's grip as she tried to hold him back.

"Because his sister's a monster who doesn't deserve to live! How often do you threaten him Saphira?! Every week? Every day? I don't even know why we bothered to sneak you out of Miami: you were under control and out of the way. If it wasn't for you we would be living normal lives without a disgusting, useless, monstrous failure like YOU here to fuck everything up! If Blackwatch were here right now, I'd invite them in for a beer while they took you back to where you belong: in a cage far away from us!" he shouted as he made to take his belt off, making my blood boil in outrage as I glared at him with my burning, orange-tinted eyes from the top of the stairs.

"How dare you say that to me?! You call me all these nasty things when this is all YOUR fault! If you hadn't taken me to be experimented on in the first place, none of this would've ever happened!" I retorted angrily as the biomass consumed my clothes and exposed my body suit, making my father falter in his rage. "You blame all this shit on me, when as far as I'm concerned: you're no better than the people who did this to me." I snarled as several tendrils formed and thrashed aggressively, making the threat crystal clear as I turned around and slammed the door to our room shut, scaring Alex's fish and made Hershey fall off her branch. "Sorry Hershey." I muttered as I stormed over to the window and opened it, ignoring the look of pity my brother sent my way.

"I won't tell." he said as he changed into his Terrance and Phillip PJs and got into bed while I climbed out onto the roof again, letting the sub-zero air and snow cool me off before I felt obligated to introduce my tendrils to my bastard of a father. Wiping my eyes to clear them of snowflakes and tears of rage, I perked up as I spotted a shadow leaning against the chimney. I didn't even have to guess who it was, considering the figure has been practically stalking me ever since I moved to South Park. Turning my back to the visitor, I took a seat on the edge of the roof and stared at the violet, cloudy sky. "Is he always like that?" Mysterion questioned as he approached me from the shadows. "Sorry you had to hear that, it's embarrassing to know when others hear what goes on in my family. But yeah, that happens…a lot." I said as I stared at the clouds and the last glimmer of sunlight that could be seen between the mountains.

"Do you need me to-" he started, only to have me shake my head before he could even finish. "You don't need to get involved in my mess, besides: he's afraid of me and I'd rather not continue this conversation." I said as he crouched next to my spot and stared out at the neighborhood, making sure there wasn't any trouble. "That cave I found you in wasn't there before, and I have lived here all my life. You created it, didn't you?" he asked, making me glance over at him before staring at my feet as they dangled off the edge of the roof. "I didn't want to hurt anybody after what Eric said, so I took it out on what I could. Better a mountain than an innocent, I think." I said quietly as I heard my mom say goodnight to Alex and ask where I went, only to leave a minute later.

"Yes. A mountain is better than an innocent, but I've been wondering something." he said, drawing my attention to him again as he stared intently at me. "Considering you know things about me most people don't, and because I trust that you won't go running your mouth to everyone in sight: I'll answer whatever question you have." I replied, bracing myself for whatever he was about to ask me. "You said you could shapeshift, and after witnessing it myself…I believe it to be true. Those people you change into: what happens to them?" he asked, making me cringe. 'Why couldn't he have picked a better question then that?' I wondered as I sighed, letting a puff of visible air hover in front of my face before disappearing.

"Whoever or whatever I change into, I have to absorb or consume them first. I don't 'eat' them like the word means, what happens is the virus takes them and turns them into a part of me. It's very painful and they die from it: giving me their lives, memories, and form. I feel like the lowest of all scum every time I do it, but I don't have a choice if I want to live. The worst part about it is I constantly hear their cries and screams in my head, and they will never go away." I explained as he paled, moving a bit away from me by the time I finished: it hurt to watch him do that, but I understood why he would.

"How many?" he demanded, making me frown and look away from him in deep personal shame. "Too many." I answered, giving him all he needed to know as I stood up and walked over to the opposite side of the roof. "I saw your shadow on the wall from where I was: what were those things that came out of your suit?" he questioned from the highest point of the roof, making me want to scoff but I didn't. "You're full of questions tonight Mysterion, I didn't know you could talk this much." I joked lightly, trying to lighten the melancholy mood that seemed to hover over us like a dark cloud.

He didn't find the humor in my words though as he narrowed his eyes at me, warning me to stop with the jokes and answer seriously. "I really don't know WHAT they are exactly, but they only show up when I'm really angry or when I want them to." I said, calling up three tendrils to prove my point as well as let him take a closer look. Hearing him hop down and walk over to me, I glanced over my shoulder as he took in the wriggling strands of black-cherry biomass as they moved like the tentacles of an octopus or squid. "You can control them?" he asked as he slowly stretched his hand out to touch one, flinching as all three of them wound themselves loosely around his arm and began exploring him curiously.

"To a point yes, I can control them when reaching for something or attacking something in my defense. But when they're idle like they are now: they do their own thing." I said as the vigilante watched nervously as the tendrils wound themselves around his body and squeezed him: like an octopus with a puzzlebox. I tried not to laugh as one of the tendrils crawled up his arm and kept playing with the question mark on top of his head, making a slight 'boing' sound, to Mysterion's annoyance. "They like you." I said, calling them back as they almost reluctantly retreated from their new playground and vanished back into the body suit. When he didn't reply, I turned my attention to downtown: where several lights remained on in some of the buildings as people made their way out to dinner, or on their way home.

'This is too good of a place to be destroyed by Gentek, I may not have been here long…but its home.' I thought as Mysterion and I watched over the city, with the glowing of my body suit acting as our flashlight. After a few minutes of nothing happening, we both agreed to move to a different spot, which so happened to be the roof of Walgreens. Taking a break as the town seemed to be crime-free tonight, my sensitive ears picked up something I prayed to god every day that would never be heard again. Snatching hold of Mysterion's cape, I yanked him back against a heavily-shadowed wall that wasn't easily seen from anywhere. "What the hell was that for?!" he angrily hissed, only to stop struggling as I put my glove over his mouth to shut him up.

Raising my other hand, I held a finger over my mouth: signaling for him to be quiet and to listen. After a minute or two, nothing was heard: until the rhythmic and constant sound of the blades of a helicopter became louder than the wind. 'Shit! My suit glows!' I thought as I quickly ordered the biomass to change my form into something else, which it complied and turned me into a civilian I accidentally consumed: one of the first people I ever did. Ignoring the shock and confusion on Mysterion's face, I watched with mind-numbing dread as a solid-black helicopter noisily flew above us and toward the center of town. Feeling Mysterion place a gloved hand on my wrist as I tensed up in fear, he followed my terrified gaze to the underbelly of the chopper and spied the large emblem: a black and white star with wings.

But it was what the helicopter was carrying that had my full attention: attached to two thick chains, was a large, metal cargo box that ships sometimes carry. I didn't know what was in that box, but if Blackwatch was carrying it here…could only spell the worst of the worst of possible things. Once the chopper halted and hovered mid-air, I removed my hand from Mysterion's mouth and stared him dead in the eye as the biomass changed my form back into my original self. "Was that-" he started, only to grit his teeth as I nodded and tried not to become gripped in fear.

"Against my efforts, they still came, and whatever THAT is in that box will be the start of many terrible things. I'm so SO sorry they tracked me here Mysterion…and for that, it's my job to get rid of them." I said, not giving him a chance to respond or protest as I took off running and used the virus' biomass to glide from building to building until I reached a spot close to where that dreadful chopper was hovering, preparing to deliver its deadly cargo…and whatever else decided to go along with it.

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