She Who Reigns
Black smoke rose into the dawn, its red, pink, and gold lights meeting with stillness as the battle came to a crashing halt. The large black beast fell to the ground, shock waves reverberating through the soil, its headless body slowly dissolving in its own green mist. Eight bloody piles of flame represented what was left of the creatures, the spirits that fueled them returned to the island where they would remain forevermore. Faceless lay dead and dying, littering the field like broken paper dolls, both sides sustaining massive losses. There was no cheers of victory, no celebration of joy, the silence of those still standing heart wrenching. The battle still raged out of their sight and away from their protection, worrying them with frantic desperation, wanting the one that they loved above all others.
Ace looked out over the field, searching for those he would call friends. He wrapped an arm around his middle, certain that he had cracked some ribs when stumpy had slammed him into the remains of the clock tower. He had seen the flash of light, but had been too busy at the time to investigate. However, a part of him he was unaware that he possessed felt hollow and emptied out. Aliya was gone from Wonderland, not needing to see their devastated faces to know it. The pain in his chest made it clear to him. He limped his way over to where the clockmaker was bandaging the hatter, muttering the whole time, Vivaldi overseeing the process.
Elliot laid Boris next to Peter who was sitting up, the claw marks in his arm finally stopping its slow seeping of blood. The cat had been knocked out, the wound marking his forehead beginning to close as he began to stir. He had actually been caught with flying stone from the clock tower when Ace had been thrown into it, though none of them were quite sure how it had happened. The Hatter was recovering as well, having been shot high in the chest, nearly missing his clock. His nursemaid apparently was quite pissed about it, temper showing through for the first time in all their history. Julius himself came through well, along with Elliot, the twins, and Gray. Black’s face now bore a scar where the poisoned metal had cut into him, running from low on his cheek bone to just above his eyebrow on the right side of his face. Nightmare was not as lucky. Whites whip had cut deeply into his chest, his stomach horribly bruised from the onslaught of so many blows delivered to the area. Blood leaked from the corner of his mouth.
“You better make it old friend. I’m sure she was serious when she said she would bring you back.” Gray said quietly, wiping the trail of blood off his chin.
Nightmare gave a wheezing laugh, followed by a groan. “As always, my fate sits in her hands. If she comes back and gives me energy, I will live. If she does not, we all will be gone so it doesn’t matter anyway.”
“She will return. She promised me.” Blood said, laying back. “She would never break a promise.” He looked up at the golden sky, each of them focused on what they could not see.
Two bodies stumbled to the ground in an abandoned rose garden. The large oak shading them as she stood, allowing herself to grow accustomed to the heaviness of that world. It weighed upon her as if she was moving through deep water, her body searching for the power that had moments before flowed freely through it. She was back in her mother’s world, a place she had dearly hoped never to set eyes on again. Aliya’s eyes still managed a dull glow as she looked at the man struggling to his feet.
“What is this?” White was finding it hard to breathe even. His strength was leaving him like water rushing over his body starting at his head and moving down, the very soles of his feet hurting from the unfamiliar ground.
“Welcome, White, to the human world.” Her voice was smug and almost cruel sounding. She wanted to do all she had promised, but allowed herself a moment. It was difficult to be there. She recognized the place, the rose garden, the tree, and the small marker made of a garden stone rabbit that marked the placed she had buried her beloved mother. How much time had passed, she could not say, but the pain of being there was unbelievably fresh. Oddly, it seemed the perfect place for ending Whites treachery, where it all had begun with one little white bunny and a girl lost to fantasy.
The same look of cold contempt filled his eyes. “Why bring me here? I will only find my way back and it will keep coming at you until you are mine. The land of wonder is mine by birth, the oldest child of the creator.” The psychotic look of the battle field returned, “You will never be rid of me.”
Aliya smirked, slowly stepping toward him, finely readjusted to the nearly magic less world. “The human world White. Where is it that you cannot die again?” She asked tauntingly. “Still, I will be merciful and explain what your too warped to get. There is beauty in the dark to be sure, but when the light shines through it, it truly becomes exquisite. Your mother saw beauty in Jeremy’s mind because he could accept the dark and added his own joy to it. He gave her light, happiness, and laughter. Was it enough to make her not a bitch? No, but still.” She was storing up the energy for one quick movement, her ring slowly changing in her hand by shear will power alone.
“And what did that joy bring her?” He scoffed, “Death.” He was moving sluggishly. She would have to make her attempt soon.
“And yet she choose to have those moments of joy over living forever without them, but I think the concept is forever out of your grasp. At least the mother died happy, I can’t say the same for you.” She rushed him, bringing her dagger up, it ground against bone as it entered his empty chest, his own blade missing, going into her shoulder.
White shouted with the unfamiliar pain. She jerked the knife back out of him. “By the way, everything hurts worse here too.” Aliya backed away, raising the blade to strike again. It would take more than a few blows to bring him down, even out of his element. She dearly wished she had had the strength to form her gun, which would have sped the process up.
“You may succeed, whore,” he wheezed, fluid filling the lung she had pierced, “But I think I will take your hope away before I go.” He moved, aiming for her stomach where she carried the future of the land of wonder. It may not bring the darkness he wanted, but without them, it would certainly cast a shadow over the land and bring endless grief to the bitch before him.
Seeing his intent, she turned, the metal ripping into her side and hip, but far enough that he missed his intent. Pissed, anger fueling her, she brought her weapon up and drove it into his throat. Kicking his knees out, she followed him to the ground. “Fuckin son of a bitch, die already!” She shrieked, plunging the dagger into his throat, face and chest repeatedly. She did not stop until his body began to slowly fade, disappearing under her hands, her breath heaving from her effort to rid her world of the White joker.
Struggling to her feet once more, the blood loss starting to make her light headed. She could see the light of the portal she had ripped into the mortal world. Aliya knew she would heal soon upon returning to her home. Stumbling a few times, she flung herself back through the glimmering opening.
“Uff.” She landed a lot less gracefully than her first arrival in wonderland. Aliya had not realized just how much power she had gained until it all flooded back to her in one painful wave. She laid on her back, hands protectively covering her precious baby bump as she waited for the discomfort to end, her body glowing in a violet light. It felt like every muscle she had was cramping up, but she smiled. Underneath her hands, there was a small fluttering, gentle as the touch of butterfly wings.
“Aliya!” Twin faces appeared above her. “Are you ok?” Dee and Dum asked together.
The light was beginning to fade and her wounds were closing, but her few test movements still felt like she had just pulled herself from the water after hours at sea. “I will be. Just give me a few.” Grinning, happy she was back with them, they each pressed a gentle kiss against her lips, feeding her a small amount of energy to speed the healing process and just because they wanted to. Remembering the last few moments of the battle before she pushed White into the portal, she sat up despite the pain wringing a gasp from her. “How is Father and Nightmare?”
“Boss is doing good” Dee told her as he held his hand out.
“But we think Nightmare needs your help” Dum followed, taking her other hand as they helped her to her feet.
She was glad that her legs apparently still worked now that the pain was fading. “Take me to him please.” Aliya braced herself between the two of them, just in case, still limping a little where he had cut into her hip. As they drew close to the battleground, a cheer rose up, nearly deafening her as those she loved and the faceless she had freed from bondage celebrated her survival. It seemed those loyal to White had already retreated, Blood already planning to keep a close eye on them in the future.
Julius met her, taking her from the twins and nearly hugging the breath out of her. “Please don’t do that again, ever.” He said against her hair.
“Love you too, Daddy.” She said, hugging him back. Blood smiled at her from where his sister still watched over him even though he was mostly healed. She winked over the clockmakers shoulder, knowing that he knew she loved him as well.
She was captured next by Boris, healed and awake, holding her tight to him and kissing her fiercely. “I love you.” He breathed out, rubbing his face against her neck. She smiled at him before being stolen away by Peter.
“Aliya.” For once her bunny seemed to be at a loss for words, so she cupped his cheek and kissed him, glad to know that he was alright. He rested his forehead on hers, relief making him weak.
Ace was waiting when he released her. She went into his arms, sharing their special grin. “Did you have a good time, my Knight?”
“Uh hu.” He nodded, nipping her lips, “And you, my distressing damsel?”
“The best.” She replied, noticing him wince slightly when she hugged him. She looked up at him questioningly, but he just shook his head and passed her on to Gray.
Thought he was thankful that she was back and well and did kiss her quickly, she could tell he was worried for his life time friend. He helped her down to Nightmare’s side.
“You look like shit, love.” She told the incubus with a smile.
He laughed and coughed at the same time. “Thanks, my darling,” His hand covered hers. “By the way, I want one of those roses.” Nightmare groaned as he tried to sit up.
She gently pushed him back. “Where would you like one?” She asked against his lips, careful not to put pressure on his chest.
“Left hand, ring finger, like the tradition in your mother’s world.” He weakly played with her hair. She drew back, looking at him in surprise. “I know that you are not mine alone, but I am definitely yours.” He tugged on her hair, making her return to him, the kissed they shared soft, sweet, and filled with life giving energy. When they separated, a blue rose wrapped around his finger, the thorny stem trailing down onto his hand. Gray helped them both to their feet.
Aliya looked out across the torn and bloody ground. Like them, it would heal in time and once more be the home she had loved so, that her mother had loved as well. She let her eyes drift over her loved ones, the clockmaker who was blushing, the hatter who was smirking, making her giggle, the twins who were sharing gory details of the battle waged, the cat and the lizard who appeared to be trading fighting techniques, her rabbit and the march hair, who seemed to found a mutual love of flame throwers, and the incubus and the joker, brothers taking a moment to let go of pain held too long inside, their mutual tormenter gone forever. Warm arms wrapped around her, squeezing her. “What now?” Ace asked.
“Hummm,” she pulled away from him grinning. Turning, she smacked him on the arm. “Tag, your it!” she said, taking off through the started group, the knight giving chase as her laughter echoed through the clearing, the sun shining brightly once more.