Astra

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39.) Defeat

The pouring rain stabbed my skin as we climbed onto the top of the column, the wind somehow even harsher out here.

“Let them go, Parallax!” I yelled to him over the wind, he turned to me with a smile, his eyes pleasantly surprised.

“Ah, Astra! I was wondering where you had gone, I guess it had been too hopeful to assume you’d been brutally murdered?” His voice, always so calm, echoed in my head and made my skin crawl.

“Let’s cut the formalities, I’ve always hated a villain’s monologue.” I mocked, making his smile falter slightly.

“But we have all of the time in the world…” he whispered into my mind, and I tried to push him out.

I pointed out into the field where people I love fought for their life, “they do not have the time!” Behind him, on the farthest column from me, I saw River, my uncle, and Beckett watching me with wide eyes.

The electricity that coursed through me now was painful, in a reminiscent way of what once was. For them, I would be brave.

“Let my brother go, you jackass!” Ember called to him, and Parallax’s eyes flicked to her as if just now noticing her there.

“Sweet girl, such a dirty mouth...you’re mother knew when to shut it-”, Ember jerked forward to attack, but I grabbed her arm quickly and kept her at my side.

“Don’t, that’s what he wants.” I whispered to her, and she gripped her sword tightly in hatred.

“This will be the blade that kills that asshole,” she vowed to me under her breath. I looked back at Beckett, who’s eyes begged for this to be over.

“Since you and my son seem to want this reunion so badly, I’ll just let you.” Parallax called to me, having noticed my staring. Time seemed to freeze, my heart dropped into my gut, the clanging swords below me silenced, the rain slicing my skin slowed...Parallax raised his clawed hand and waved it. Our faces all dropped, the manacles holding Beckett’s wrists clanged to the stone, and as I watched Beckett’s eyes go from terrified to a fiery glowing blue I grabbed Ember and shoved her behind me.

He exploded, his hands lighting up in electric blue flame, his eyes glowed, and with gritted teeth he succumbed to his power. Beckett stood, his power shooting from his hands and flying it’s way towards me.

I didn’t even have a chance to breathe, to throw up a shield, I’d only just put Ember behind me when the fire encased me and brought me to my knees.

The pain is instantly unbearable, it shatters me from my core. My skin aches, burns, my bones rattle. I scream, dropping to my knees, clenching my eyes shut. The blue flames dance around me, scorching my skin, burning me so that even the rain that pours around me cannot help.

Parallax laughed maniacally, through tear streamed eyes I see Beckett standing there still, his power pouring from him. Behind him I see River and my uncle move, pushing towards Beckett- “No!”

The scream came from me, though I hadn’t meant to. Parallax turned, saw them moving to attack, and through the searing pain I saw the black mist that wrapped itself around them.

I try to move, but moving my body makes me feel like my bones will break, even moving a finger results in a scream.

I heard Ember scream the moment they died, that’s how I knew it had happened. Her sword flashed, and I heard her feet sprint past me, her war cry echoed in my mind. Though, I’m not sure she got far, because I heard her body hit the stone only moments later.

The blue fire that encased me, took me out, was joined by black mist. It filled my senses, took the breath from my lungs, I couldn’t even scream.

The pain is unbearable, how quickly I was taken down. The great weapon of the stars...how easy it was to kill me. In the distance I could hear Ember’s screams, and without meaning to I stepped out my own agony for a moment into her own.

Through her eyes I saw myself, my body small and dull, as blue fire shoots into my chest and takes my very being, and black smoke takes away my life.

I felt that her leg was broken, but still she crawled and tried to reach for me, her eyes streamed with tears. No, she screamed, no, not her. Not Astra.

I reached again, stretching myself, I pushed with my remaining power and stepped back into my mind. The pain sears back over my body, I have no air left in my lungs.

With clenched eyes, I say goodbye. I DreamWalk, pushing my psyche outwards into their minds, as I felt myself drift. Let them, Ember and Beckett, see what I felt. What they’d given me. How they had saved me.

My Aunt Amelia cooked my breakfast on my eighteenth birthday, then her body was lowered into the ground. Uncle Steven reading the paper, then being chained beside me and tortured. Ember walked over to me sweetly in the library, her body lying unconscious on the sitting room floor after being poisoned. Nova brought me tea with a soft smile, then her scream as River was taken from her. Alatar sipped tea, wiggling his eyebrows at me over the mug, then slamming the door in my face as he sacrificed himself. River and Ashton being held by the vamps, River’s dead body...and Ashton bellowing to the troops. Theodore, his inviting smile, him covering my back in war.

Beckett. Everything then, all of those memories crushing onto me. Him glaring at me in the library, mocking me in the alley, rolling his eyes at me in the nightclub. His sad eyes at my aunt’s funeral, fighting in the simulation, guiding my hand with knives. Then, his smile at my success, his laugh at something I’d said, his cocky eyes over the titanium shield, the way his eyes softened at his sister. Beckett’s fingers tucking my hair behind my ear, once in his room, once surrounded by vamps. His hand on my back as he taught me to dance…

I felt a snap, the fire lessened on my skin. My eyes opened to meet him, they dulled, but not completely, his fire lingered on me though as I watched him fight.

Now was my chance, I pushed everything out of me, releasing what I’d had left. My power reaches over their power and trails down it, attacking them. Finally I could breathe, I could see, and even though my skin ached I was able to stand.

“Beckett!” I yelled, as I watched him and Parallax struggle to their feet. His eyes weren’t glowing anymore, and his face was covered in regret.

“Astra, oh my god kill him!” Ember wailed from the ground by me, I glanced at her quickly, she held herself up on a weak arm; her left leg twisting in an unappealing way.

Right, kill him. I released an orb and threw it, he deflected, I threw another, but he kept deflecting.

“You really think you’re more powerful than me?” Parallax asked incredulously, sending a whip of smoke my way, which I managed to dodge by the skin of my teeth. I’m slower, weaker, than him after being attacked as I had.

I shot a beacon at him, but my exhaustion got the better of me, so he was able to easily dissipate it with his mist. My arms feel like jelly, as though my bones had shattered, and I can hardly stay on my own two feet.

With a laugh he sent out a tendril, it shot at me faster than I could move, it wrapped itself around my throat and heaved me into the air. The pressure of the smoke made it so that even as I tried to scream in pain, in shock, I was not able.

He lifted me, pulling me in the air closer to the middle column, dangling me like a treat over everyone. If he were to drop me, I’d die simply from impact. I grapple with the black smoke around my throat, and I kick my feet wildly, with no prevail.

Gasping, I looked down, my feet dangling over the army that fights below me. Don’t drop me, I silently plead, please don’t drop me. I don’t think I have enough power in me to prevent my fall.

“Everyone can take a gander at the super powerful weapon! So weak, she was! So easy to kill-” he taunted, I glared into his eyes defiantly. What a bastard.

With a smile, so smug, he dropped me. I felt myself plummet, a scream catching itself in my throat. Ember’s scream was loud, so was Beckett’s.

I felt something sharp, hot, stab me in my side; and then I was flying not downwards, but to the right. My beaten body smashed onto the stone near Ember, my skull cracking against it harshly. Landing on my side, my skin bleeding where it skidded against stone, I was able to see the remains of fire in Beckett’s hand, the fire he had used to shoot me out of the air.

He pushed off the ground with his flames, flying through the air towards me, his father’s black smoke chasing him. Through the ringing in my head I could hear Parallax yelling in anger, and I could hear Ember crying for me to get up.

Beckett’s eyes, wide with worry, are the only thing I see. He landed, reached a hand towards me, black smoke reached for him- I stretched for him with a shaking hand...

My hand wrapped around his wrist in an explosion of electricity and lime green energy. It poured from Beckett, channeled through him, and standing in front of me he shot a beacon of our power.

When the power connected with Parallax his mist disappeared instantly, he cried out in surprise, his eyes wide with fear. There it was, our chance. What he didn’t want happening, the truth of it all.

Gasping, struggling, Beckett pulled me to my feet. The part of me, that was him, felt whole again as I held his hand tightly. Our power, vibrant green, coursed through us and out his hand. I raised my own, aimed it at that evil bastard, and I shot a beacon of my own. Together we shot at him, a power that flamed like his own, and flowed like the northern lights like mine.

Whole.

Parallax stumbled at the impact, his arms shook as he struggled against us, but we pushed him harder. I peeked at Beckett briefly, the intense power made his dark hair fly back off his face, and when he peeked back at me I understood what it was that he’d been showing me in his eyes this whole time. It was acceptance.

Our hands shook, he smiled at me, real and genuine. When I looked back at Parallax, stumbling against our power, his eyes looked back at us terrified.

Then everything snapped, our power collapsed as the world shook. We all fell to the ground, as an explosion of power speared to the sky. Parallax screamed with terror, and I watched as parts of him began to disintegrate; the darkness.

The rain stopped, and as I looked below us, I watched the vamps turn to ash and disappear. The darkness in the land melted away, the clouds parted, Parallax yelled again.

I laughed in relief, success, shock. Had we really done it? Was the darkness destroyed? Both of us mostly unharmed? Only, I heard Ember’s wail, and saw her crawling towards us frantically. That’s when I noticed it, the emptiness, the calmness, the lack of electricity coursing through me. I looked, Beckett had not opened his eyes.

‘Do you feel it too?’ Beckett had asked me, the shocks that repelled us, that in the end connected us.

‘Could you kill Parallax if it meant I would die?’, I’d told him no. I’d meant it.

Ember grabbed him, my hand still holding his, and she pulled his head into her lap.

“No, no no!” She cried the her chest. I felt empty, as though a part of me was missing. He looked so peaceful, like maybe he was sleeping. The bruises, blood, and dirt, was the only thing that gave it away.

Below me I heard cheers, everyone joyous. The vamps were gone, they cried, they had won.

Personally, I only felt loss. The part of me that was him, gone.

I heard Parallax’s angry cry before I even looked up to see him, in his hand was River’s sword, and his face was twisted with rage. I don’t know how he had gotten over to us, how I hadn’t heard him; everything feels like it’s blurred. The darkness may have been gone, but he was still a man capable of murder.

I flinched, holding an arm out in protection, but his hand flew back and he cried out in pain. An arrow, one of Nova’s arrows, pierced through his wrist and stopped him.

“Bitches!” Parallax yelled, and I finally let go of Beckett’s cold hand. With the rage of loss I scrambled to my feet, I raised a shield to surround the people I love, and grabbed Ember’s sword tightly in my hands.

“This is the blade that will kill you.” I vowed to him, and he smiled at me despite having the lower ground.

“You’re nothing.” He spat out, trying to circle me, but I kept him in front of me. Without showing me any pain he pulled the arrow from his arm and tossed it to the ground, Nova I noticed, still stood on the ground with her bow raised. Men stood around her, gaping at her aim, and waiting to see what happens next.

“I’m stronger than you.” I pointed out, and he laughed.

“You may have taken my powers from me, destroyed all of my creation, my weapon, but you do not have what it takes to kill me.” He said it loudly, but I don’t think he believed it, his tone didn’t read as such. His already dead skin somehow sunk more, and his once perfect suit now was wrinkled and torn.

“Are you willing to bet on that?” I asked him, leaping towards him and swinging my sword towards him. He deflected it only just barely, my rage strengthening my blow. I’d lost more than him, and that alone made me stronger.

I twisted my sword, dipping it under his and landing a slash along his side. “For my parents.” He tried to swipe at me, but I turned away from it easily, and stabbed him in the shoulder. “For my aunt, and uncle.”

“No-” he tried to say, but I dodged another blow and cut him harshly on his arm, so he could barely even hold his sword.

I mimic the way I’d watched my best friend fight with her sword, dancing along the stones swiftly and fighting fast. I knew I would not use my power against him, no. This, I would do myself.

“For Macy,” I told him, kicking him harshly in the chest so he stumbled on his feet, dropping the sword of the soldier he had killed. I dove with the sword once more so he tumbled to the ground, grasping his wounded abdomen.

I stood above the man, the one who had ruined my life, and looked at how far he had fallen. One of his arms barely held on, and he was bleeding very badly. The dark red pooled around him, as he tried to sit up.

“Please-” he begged, his black eyes dripping with blood. The loss of his power, and my attacks too much for him.

“This one? Is for Beckett.” I told him, before rearing my sword back and slashing it across his throat as deeply as I could. It gushed with blood, and he gasped only for a moment, his lips moving but making no words, before he slumped to the ground in a dead heap.

Chest heaving I pulled one of the throwing knives from my thigh holster, knelt down beside him, and cut his head off.

Weak, tired, but glorious, I picked his head up by his thin hair and looked at his body-and watched it turn into nothing; just as the rest of his darkness had.

On trembling legs I walked to the edge of the column, looked over the army of men, now dwindled down to only a few hundred. They looked up at me expectantly, in one hand I held Ember’s sword, and in the other, the head of Parallax.

Nova was smiling proudly, her cat eyes gleamed with success. Theodore and Ashton held each other up, both bleeding badly. I found Erran in the crowd, his mouth was slightly agape in shock. Out of all of the things he had planned for, my winning was not it.

“I have a gift for you, King Erran.” I yelled out, reminiscent of the ball where he’d paraded me about, my voice echoing over the waves of people. Then I held out Parallax’s head, it dangled in the air above the people. After a pause, where I let guilt cover the face of the former king, before dropped the head and letting it fall down, down, down.

Everyone cheered, success, pride, joy. None of it reached me, I turned and walked to the boy who laid on the ground, who I needed to say goodbye to.

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