Rogue stared, unseeing up at the massive window that overlooked the forest above the steel gate. Her unabashed tears carved valleys through the caked dirt and blood that clung to her skin.
She could smell Seraph looming above. Despite the residual hundreds of yellow colors that burrowed into her pores and clawed at her flesh, his aura shone like a beacon. He was deep blue, and tiny squares of sloshing color bounced around him. Beside him, Nakir bolted away, doubtlessly coming to comfort Rogue.
Rogue parked the vehicle and headed for the stairs. She took each step slowly and shakily. Each time her shoulder bumped into the wall of the narrow passage, it left a smear of her victims essence. A reminder of a sin she couldn’t bring herself to feel shame for.
“That was fun,” Azrael slurped in Rogue’s ear. Rogue’s lip curled immediatly. Turning, she slammed her fist where Azrael should have been, but only found wall.
“Fuck off! Fuck off!” Rogue screamed into the air.
“Rogue?” Nakir’s worried query called out. Rogue’s head whipped to look at Nakir, shame in her eyes.
“I-I um, I’m losing my mind...” Rogue choked out against the knot in her throat. Fresh, hot tears boiled over and she sank to the ground.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Nakir crooned. She stumbled down the steps and wrapped her arms around Rogue’s quivering shoulders.
“She’s gone...” Rogue wept.
“I know sweetie... I’m so sorry,” Nakir whispered. She gently stroked the side of Rogue’s head, unsure of how to comfort her mourning sister.
“It’s all my fault. If I hadn’t brought her to them, she never would have been taught to fight. Would never have been put in danger,” Rogue continued berating herself.
“You couldn’t have known what would happen. You were trying to keep her safe,” Nakir defended. Her sister, so confident and so powerful, yet with loss of a single soul had become a shell of self doubt and anger.
“No. I could have,” Rogue started, taking a deep inhale. “But I didn’t care. I just wanted her close. Because I was selfish. Because I was running from who I really am and she made me want to be better. But I can’t be better, there’s no reason to be better. Father is right.”
Rogue pushed Nakir lightly away and rose to her feet.
“Is he though...” Nakir pondered aloud. Rogue stared down her nose at her little sister.
“He has to be. Or all of my sins are meaningless,” Rogue stated. She looked over her shoulder where the somber aura of her father now stood, watching and listening in silence.
“Come with me,” Seraph ordered. Rogue cocked her head and met Nakir’s knowing gaze.
“You’ve both been waiting for this,” Rogue deduced. Nakir shook her head violently.
“No! We just... we’ve been waiting for you to see,” Nakir explained. Rogue closed her eyes and when they reopened, their yellow color sent a wash of fear through Nakir. “Rogue?”
I do see. I just wish it didn’t cost the only good soul I’ve ever met,” Rogue sighed. Nakir felt a pang of hurt at the words, but said nothing as her elder sister marched up the stairs after their father.
Rogue followed Seraph’s color down various hallways and along a familiar path. She passed by freshly cleaned lockers and entered another stairwell leading to a room she could smell residual fear within.
“This is where I first realized my daughter’s anger was still present. That Azrael still lay dormant within,” Seraph said as Rogue entered the training facility.
“And is that when you confirmed your plan to kill them?” Rogue asked.
“No. That was when I confirmed that I could bring you home. I’d hoped that Zaria would be able to-“
“Don’t. Don’t say her name,” Rogue spat. “This is as much your fault as mine or theirs.”
Seraph nodded, considering her words with a furrowed brow.
“Then what is it that you hope to obtain by taking my side?”
“Peace. Or some disturbing variation of it. You once threatened to kill Zaria if I let myself die. That guillotine is obviously gone. If I’m going to die, I intend to at least make half of the guilty pay.”
“I won’t let you die my child,” Seraph whispered. Rogue felt her veins fill with murk and she lunged for Seraph. His eyes opened wide at the demonic woman before him, her talons frozen millimeters from his throat and her teeth bared like a feral dog. She gnashed her teeth together and snarled before backing down, her breath coming in sharp bursts.
“I have no reason to stay alive beyond revenge... She would hate me, for everything I’ve done for you, she would hate me. For everything we’re going to do, she would despise me. But for me to be able to go, Tanner and Virus have to die because I can’t kill you. No one else can suffer for what we are. So please, father, let me go. Please let me die so that my suffering can end.”
Seraph opened his lips to speak, closed them and shut his eyes. The words he wanted to say so terribly could never escape him. Like his eldest child, he didn’t deserve forgiveness. Seraph opened his eyes as a single tear trickled down his ancient face.
Rogue had her answer.
Seraph marched over to the intercom at the side of the room and pressed the call button.
“All Unit Commanders, prepare your squadrons. We march for New Kennedy in two hours.”