I narrow my eyes and steady my harsh breathing.
Come at me.
The crowd is deafening, the lights and exploding fireworks to my left are all just distractions to throw off my concentration.
I look like Wonder Woman, but now it is time to perform like her.
I take another breath that reverberates in my head and I glance to my left, seeing my team screaming, cheering with the crowd. My heart squeezes as I see Aaron hold up his fist then points to me.
I start moving my arms and legs as I look as Ajax.
His intense stare is zoned in on me, pointing to his eyes then to mine. Focus. Ajax then points to his eyes again then to the sky.
Ajax is asking about my spirit animals.
I nod, and start doing my practiced hand movements, sending out the biggest distress signal I could muster. I close my eyes, putting everything I had into it, my anger, regret, fear, and determination. I keep moving my arms as I hear the crowd still chanting my name, the cameras zooming around me. My long hair is down, and it thrashes around my head as I move.
I look back to Ajax and I see him nod at me, giving me confidence.
You can do this.
I hear him loud and clear.
I see him close his eyes then glances to my opponent who is currently swinging his long sword around with speed and accuracy. He is large and muscular, with a bald head and a long braded beard. He is terrifying, like a God of War vibe. He is grinning as he swings his sword around, his eyes glowing yellow. I watch him on the large screen and shiver, I need one bad-ass animal.
“Red, I am here if you need me, remember your life-lines,” Flix says. “this guy is enjoying this shit, thinking you are no threat! What a cock! Look at that grin?!”
I see my spirit animals flying around me and I look at each one, heart pounding.
I, 2, 3, 4... I count.
I love my falcon, but I need more.
I need lethal.
I don’t have much time. Desperately I push out another distress signal as I feel the ground rumble. Clear walls, almost like a forcefield move up and block out the outside world. I can still hear the crowd and see perfectly, but there is now a forcefield around us.
I know why they’re doing this.
I look around as my pulse accelerates, hearing a loud, pressurized locking sound up top.
“Shit. Looks like we are on our own Red!”
They do not want Ajax jumping into the ring to save me, they want him to see me get my throat slit, as he helplessly watches. I shoot a glance to Ajax and he is cursing and pointing at the cameras, Leon holding him back.
Three men are now holding Ajax back.
I have never seen him look this crazed, Ajax thinks I am going to die right here in front of him. He does not know that I have life-lines. I can’t imagine what emotions is firing off in his brain. It’s like watching the love of your life walk up to the hanging noose. I watch as they try and get a hold of Ajax, Aaron stepping in. I feel my eyes sting and my heart clenches so tight I want to weep from the pain; I must look away and focus. I bet Ajax secretly felt safe because he could step in and break the rules if things got bad.
Not happening now.
They didn’t even permit us having a mic. This is all by design, they want this to be as painful as possible for Ajax. They want to break him in front of the entire world.
Especially after that kiss he gave me.
I have but minutes before that light switches to green. I send out another signal, wanting something so dark that the cocky bastard will shit himself. I can feel my anger and rage overcome me, feeling it fuel my soul.
The chanting starts up again, Red, RED RED!
I freeze, something is coming, I can feel it.
Relief floods me.
I look around and zone out the announcer saying that it’s about to start. “Come on, show yourself,” I whisper, feeling beads of perspiration, I am running out of damn time. I will not panic, stay calm.
I sense a shift in my vision.
Like the world tilted then righted itself.
I gasp as I see a dark animal-like figure on all fours, it’s large and terrifying. Its black mist body prowls towards me in a stalking way, reminding me of an alpha panther on the hunt. My heart is pounding as I stare at it, trying to see it through the dark matter that surrounds it. I cannot make out much of what this shadowy creature is, but I feel it’s forceful and powerful energy. I can feel its strength and murderous intent.
This is more monster than animal, I realize. I am Spirit Valkyrie. They wont attack me, they are attracted to me. This dark creature responded to my cry for help, it’s here for me.
I am like the, Mother of Dragons.
I reach out my hand, “Come on,” I whisper with a prayer.
Suddenly it stands and is now in human form, surrounded by black mist. I swallow, trying to tap down my fear. I scream as it jumps into me and all I see is a flash of white light, my body surging with power and strength. White rays flow off me followed by my appearance changing drastically. I am now a dark version of myself, I can feel my sharpened teeth that is not mine but this shape-shifter animal.
A surge of confidence explodes through me.
I am breathing hard as I look at my long razor-sharp nails, wolverine has nothing on me with these black slick blades. Holy shit. I am magnificent, my whole body is vibrating. I know I can’t hold onto this strange power for long, but what a thrill. I’m way taller and dressed in gleaming black armor so sleek only an alien life-form could possess such material. Every inch of my body is covering in the dark matter except parts of my face. I smile.
I laugh and it laughs to, the sound dark and taunting.
“Red! You are freaking scary looking! What the hell are you?!” Flix yells. ” Where’s the cute butterflies and birds?!”
No butterflies today.
I look like a human hybrid of an alien and a panther. I can hear tons of gasps and then loud chanting and screaming. I wish I could see Ajax’s expression, but the thirty second count down has started.
Eye for an eye.
This man would have killed me if it were not for F.G.I. I can feel the power of this dark force like a rabid dog chomping at the bit, saliva dripping in anticipation. It wants blood, it can feel my pain and wants revenge. It wants to protect me, quite heartwarming in a twisted way. Being a Spirit Valkyrie, they immediately connect with me on a personal level.
The light turns GREEN.
With reflexes beyond human comprehension I break out in a dead sprint to the coin. The power of the dark matter guides me, giving me knowledge of its abilities.
We are strangely, one.
Onas is pale and tries to throw a deadly spear which is only caught by this creature’s quick reflexes and tossed away like nothing. The fighter yells in the air and sprints towards us swinging his glowing blade like a mighty gladiator.
I reach the coin, being too fast for this Feno gladiator. But I keep running towards him, knowing now this creature wants revenge for almost killing me. It’s not about the coin for this dark entity. It jumps and so does Onas, two colliding forces meeting in the middle.
When events happen so fast, time slows.
Onas swings his blade colliding with the dark matter of my armor. I feel immediate pressure from the impact, but the blade ricochets back right as my long gleaming nails swipes at his neck.
I did not miss.
Or it didn’t.
When I land on my side, I know that man is decapitated, or close to it.
I stand, breathing hard, head dizzy.
This intense energy fades as soon as it arrived. I fall in a heap on the ground, my body tenses and this strange, dark creature leaves as fast as it came.
I am breathing hard when I notice the crowd is silent. I pull myself up and look up, seeing camera’s all around me and flashing lights. I try and catch my breath as I walk back to the middle, jumping up to grab the virtual coin. A loud siren rings and I shiver.
I win, bitch.
Don’t F with a Spirit Valkyrie, especially when I have some dark friends in dark places.
The crowd erupts and screams their praises. I take another shaky breath as I glance to Ajax’s shocked expression. I can see Aaron and the rest of my team fist pounding the air and jumping up and down. Ajax’s expression turns from mystified to a slow grin as Leon grabs him on the shoulders in relief.
I bet the Fey are bursting at the seams.
“Red! Pierce says you pissed them off! They are going to give it to you hard time on the next round! They are cheating Red, keep your life-lines ready! Nothing we can do about it!”
“Shit,” I say and take in a large breath as I hear loud wailing buzzers.
I look to Ajax and he is mouthing me to be to be ready, focused. He puts his hand to his heart, and I know what he is saying, I can see his pain and desperation. I want to tell him I love him, but it was lost.
I feel the ground start to crack and I scream, the sound is mixed with the splitting ground as I seem to fall fifty feet down into a dark tunnel system. It happens so fast that I didn’t have time to grab a spirit, I cough and sputter, feeling pain in my leg.
“Red! Run! As fast as you can! This will be one epic sprint for your life, girl! Get your ass moving, the ground will start breaking!” Flix Yells.
I cough through the wreckage and get up doing my hand signals, praying a boulder would not smash me in the head. Run. I start sprinting right as my falcon dives into me making me gasp. I am lit with blue light and I sprint even faster. The falcon lights up the dark tunnel I am sprinting down as fast as she can carry me.
I hear a cracking sound.
Its wing deflects a spear that was shot at my head that would have killed me on the spot. Fuck! I buckle down and keep sprinting, taking a sharp left that lowers me down deeper into the tunnel system of Hell. My falcon screeches and it makes me run even faster. That’s it, girl.
“You’re doing great Red! Up ahead is a cliff! You must jump to the landing and go through the door! The ground is falling away!”
I hear a loud explosion behind me, making hit the rock wall to my left, pain erupts though my shoulder as I get my footing. I am breathing hard as I turn to see a massive fire cloud desperately wanting to eat me up in its smoldering embrace. “Shit!” I yell and turn to run, sprinting my hardest.
I am not fast enough.
This is insanely hard.
I am about to yell a life- line when I feel a shift in my animal.
My falcon leaves my body as I am sprinting, I turn to see its ghost form as it screeches into the quickly approaching explosion. The vibration impact bought me some time; the flames being halted by the invisible force for a short time.
I feel the ground shake under my feet, and I see the landing I am supposed to jump to. I take off in a sprint, desperately doing my hand signs. The gap is too big! There is no way I am making this! My mind is in a whirl, looking around for my spirits. I have no choice but to try.
The ground falls away right as I jump.
I scream as I start to fall into the black abyss under me, at least three feet too short from the landing. Fuck this! “Life line—”
I am hit hard with two spirits, birds of prey. I gasp as they enter my body, feeling their power. I now have wings, their mighty flapping halting my fall and thrusting me upward, then dropping me on the edge of the landing.
I land with a thud, heart racing.
I try and get up, but the edge of the landing gives out making my lung forward, my hands grasping for anything that I can grab onto. I am able to grab onto a jagged shard of rock sticking up, my body hanging off the ledge.
“Come on!” I gasp as I try and pull myself up, screaming in my efforts, noticing my bleeding arm. Perfect.
“Red! Hurry! Get up!” Flix yells.
I pull myself up and manage to roll my eyes. “You serious?!” I yell breathlessly as I pull my weight up even further. “What the F do you think I am doing?! Enjoying the scenery!?”
I stand and run to the door, pulling the heavy steal door open, revealing a massive cavern. I put my hand on my hips and I breathe, gazing around in horror. This is not good.
I immediately use my hand signals, feeling my anger boil. I wipe the hair out of my sweaty face and take another breath.
F this death game.
Be strong, don’t cry.
“Red this is bad! Here’s comes the big bad wolf! You have to turn it off through the mouth to end the game!”
I wish my dark animal would show up. My adrenaline is pounding now as I see a massive fire monster rise out of virtual nothing.
I feel the blood drain from my face.
The Fey are sick people.
I gasp, seeing the dominance of this monster, this fire demon. It roars, blowing my hair back with intense heat waves. I feel tears of shock stream down my face, knowing that there is no way I am surviving this. The Fey made that possible. “Flix! It does not have a freaking mouth!”
Just glowing fire-orange eyes.
The sound it produces must come out of its ass for all I know. I start my hand movements but it’s too late, I look to my left and I am impaled with a spear.
I look down a see red blood starting to spill out of me. No way, not again. I look up and see a zombie-like creature standing in front of me, sneering with dripping saliva.
“Red!” Flix screams in horror. “Life-line!”
I cough, feeling numb. I look up at the orb camera that is filming me, loving this. “Fuck you,” I whisper as I taste coper in my mouth. “Life-line Activate.”
“Stop the bleeding in the pod, damn it! Get Pierce!”
I wake to the flashing lights of Fairy Godmother Inc.’s medical pod. I see dozens of faces above me with pink and blue flickering lights.
“I closed the wound! We will be ready for extraction in ten!”
I am lifted right as I come into eye contact with Pierce’s intense ones. “Pierce!” I yell, in shock. “I am not dead?!” I am in heaven?!
I look around wide-eyed, no, shit.
His crystal blue gaze narrows on me. “Red, you are going to give me a heart attack this mission.” He points to a man standing with a glowing headset. “Get her ready. Thirty seconds before she gets hit and give her a damn weapon!”
“Ready for extraction Pierce!”
“What?” I gasp as I am led to the pod. “So soon?” I look down and see my cobalt suit is in perfect shape.
Pierce looks at his watch. “Be smart, you only have one life-line left before game ejection. Please do not get hit by the same spear, you and spears do not mix. We will put you back far enough to see him... or it.”
I nod. “The beast has no mouth.”
“How am I supposed to end this?”
He sighs. “I will be in touch.”
Blackness overcomes me.
“Red! Are you with me?” Flix yells.
I moan, feeling intense heat and the unmistakable roar of the fire demon that echoes in my head. I blink rapidly as I take in the hell that I am in, again. “Shit, shit, shit,” I hiss then my eyes widen. I can see the walking dead sprinting towards me. It’s frightening. “Flix!”
I look to the ground and see a gleaming sword with F.G.I. on it. I bend down and grab it right as the arrow that impaled me before, barley misses me, yet again.
“Red! Too close! Move!” Flix is freaking out.
I only have one more life-line. I stand and swing my sword left and right, feeling a random spirit fly into me, giving me speed and accuracy. I am slaughtering zombies with my powerful strokes and I notice the fire demon just watches me.
It’s creepy eyes almost curious as it observes me fight.
These things are not real, right?
My raven screeches blowing several zombies to their death, fire engulfing them. “Ahh!” I yell as I stab another disgusting body in the chest, hearing the gurgling of its throat. I am getting exhausted, swinging with this heavy metal with all my might for hours it feels like. Zombies slain everywhere. It’s like I am almost outside my body.
I am slowing.
This went on which felt like forever, my body being pushed to the absolute limit.
I fall to my knees, unable to catch my breath. They are all dead. But the fire demon still stares at me and I want to cry, scream, but I have not the energy.
“Red! Get up!” Flix yells, “I am so sorry, Red! I am so sorry!”
I do more hand movements to call for help but I cannot get anything good with little energy. I need a louder call out, which I can’t do. This is when I feel tears stream down my cheeks. “Flix! I can’t!” My muscles are burning and on fire, a deep sorrow spreading through my soul. I have not even faced the big boss yet, how is this possible?
They made it impossible.
“Red! I might have good news!” he says. “Talking to Pierce!”
“What?” I whisper as I see little butterflies fluttering around me.
Butterflies will do nothing.
I hear a roar that rumbles the ground. I force myself to look up right as the monster swipes it’s fiery hand. Blinding white light assaults me. I fly backwards and my vision flickers in and out...
Am I screaming or crying? The sound is too far away to tell.
I roll to my side, coughing up black blood.
“F-fuck.” It’s playing with me, it will just do it again once I come back. I spit more blood out, knowing I have to use a F-ing life-line or I am dead. My world tilts and my vision spins.
“Holy shit! LOOK!”
I hear something big next to me and I look up, my raspy breathing halted. What I am seeing is the most magnificent sight to behold.
I make a sound.
I am crying.
Ajax stands next to me in all his glory. A mighty bow that is pulled tight. The glowing bow is almost the size of him, aimed at the fire giant with murderous intent. Ajax is larger, almost eight feet tall, his body emitting a faint cobalt glow. He looks like an archangel that has just landed from a different majestic realm, and is about to send this demon back to the fiery pits of Hell. This must be Ajax’s full power, and it’s a sight I will never forget.
He fires off arrows so fast my vision can’t keep up.
These arrows are like some mean hybrid of the scariest weapon you could ever imagine sailing through the air at you. Ajax hits a spot on the beast’s chest, and it roars in fury, pounding it’s fist into the ground.
Ajax walks closer to it, hitting the same spot over and over with precision and accuracy. It’s roars one last time before the thing flickers away in a cloud of smoke and flickers of light.
I am breathing hard as he turns towards me, gaze glowing.
“Ajax,” I breathe.
His eyes travel over me and meets my stare. “Red, sorry I am late.”