Chapter 11: A Rose Bears its Thorns
It was late at night. From a mass of writhing flesh arose the naked body of a woman basking in the shadows. A cell phone had been ringing, prompting the woman to reach passed one of her lovers and grab her phone. Upon answering her call she felt herself become overwhelmed with fear. Quickly she switched on the bedside lamp, exposing her bare flesh to the light. Lucky for her, her lovers were knocked out from exhaustion. Their pleasurable evening left them drained of any will to remain conscious. The woman left her bed and quickly put on whatever clothes she could find.
The woman’s figure was slim and curved in all the right places. Her skin was fair, healthy and complimented her alluring face. Her violet eyes shined in the light as she pulled a white shirt over her ample breasts. She reached behind her body to pull up her long pink hair out from inside her shirt. Her rosy locks were long and flowed beautifully down her whole back. Her soft bangs draped gently above her glaring eyes. She quickly pulled a pair of skinny jeans over her slim thighs before running out the door of her apartment. Something had greatly upset this beautiful creature. Something that would turn a graceful smile into a blood-thirsty snarl.
The woman ran with fear clutching at her very heart. Fleeing from her Center City apartment she made haste towards the scene. Every footstep carried an immense emotional weight. Every second the woman could breathe she found herself hoping and praying. Praying that the news she was given wasn’t true. That what she had worked so hard to keep hadn’t been destroyed.
“Please. Please still be there…”
The woman kept running. Block after block she felt the cruel fingers of fear grip tighter and tighter at her very heart. She had to fight the urge to stop and rest. Her body couldn’t keep up with her mind. Her mind kept pushing her body to keep moving. She had to make it. She had to see it with her own eyes. What lie at the end of her sorrowful journey. The Center City Gardens.
The rain was getting heavier. The woman’s clothes were drenched and clung to her skin. She continued to run with immense determination as the rain continued to assault her. Finally she began to get closer to the Gardens, but her fears only worsened as the smell of smoke invaded her nostrils. Soon she began to see the faint glow of embers fluttering on the rainy air before being snuffed out by heavenly water. At last she rounded the block and came to a stunning halt. Before her was the road leading to the Gardens. Before her was the place she called her home away from home. Before her was a raging hellfire that consumed the one thing she held dear in this world. Several more wounded steps were taken by the woman as she trudged forward through heavy waters that flooded the streets up to the curb of the sidewalk. Her eyes widened with disbelief, yet she couldn’t find the strength to rub her eyes or pinch her cheek. She knew deep inside that this wasn’t a dream. She was staring into cruel reality’s grimace. It would only take a few more seconds before that terrible reality broke the poor woman. Finally she fell to her knees before the burning spectacle. A visceral scream of sorrow was unleashed from the woman as the sadness became too much to bare. That night would be the worst night in her life as she struggled to face the cold hard truth that the life she had worked to keep was no more. In the blink of an eye, her work was destroyed.
Two whole days had gone by. The woman sat alone at her small dining table. The loss of her garden was still weighing down on her. She had done as much as she could to aid in the repairs of the Gardens, but unfortunately seeing such natural beauty reduced to ash left a sour impression upon her. As the woman sat at the table she heard her answering machine sound off. A familiar voice spoke from the machine as the woman sulked.
“Fiona… It’s Mark. I hate to have to been the one to tell you this, especially given how much you loved the Gardens, but due to the increasing repair costs we are going to have to let some people go. I am terribly sorry Fiona, but you are among those being let go...”
The woman felt her heart descend deeper into the pit of her troubles as the message concluded. Tears welled up in her eyes as the realization that her career was gone. The life that this woman had worked so hard to build and preserve and shattered in mere moment.
Another message followed, this one was from an even more familiar voice.
“Flora. Its Lockhart. You haven’t answered any of my calls. I do hope you are okay. Remember if you need anything, you will always be welcome at the Cocoon.”
Flora was the woman’s name. She was a Demon created by Professor Lockhart, but unlike her counterparts she chose to live outside the Cocoon. When Flora was created she thought she couldn’t bear the thought of being locked away within the confines of the Cocoon for the rest of her life. She loved living, she loved the Earth. To her Nature was her closest friend, one she would dedicate her life too. Flora requested that she be allowed to live life as she once did. While her motivations to undergo a rebirth were understandable, she wanted no part in the battles that would inevitably occur. She joined the project to be a shining beacon of progress, not to be made into a soldier. She couldn’t understand how so many of the others so willingly threw themselves into the chaos of battle. To Flora, warfare was Nature’s cancer. A tumor that had to be cut out if progress was to be attained. Flora disagreed with idea that the Director presented. The idea that the worst scenarios must be observed in order for humanity to create proper precautions. Flora didn’t like the idea that the only way forward to the future was paved in blood.
Those ideas still rung true in Flora’s mind as she struggled to hold back the oncoming torrent of tears filling up in her eyes. Those ideas were still true to her. But they were waning like the moon. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold on to her ideals as the world she struggled to build around her began to fall to pieces. Finally Flora couldn’t hold anything back anymore as the memory of her good life was slowly flashing in her head. She knew deep down that it was all over. She knew she would have to face the Demon she was. But she was scared to do it. She was scared that she would have to fight one day. But part of her knew that she had the strength. She couldn’t avoid it any longer and that was what broke her in the end.
“So… Are you finally going to let me in?” spoke a foreign voice inside Flora’s mind.
Flora knew the voice quite well. It was the voice of her Second Personality, Fauna. For the longest time Fauna had been shut away deep within Flora’s mind. But in that desperate hour she lowered her guard and the voice of the thing she feared most had come crawling back from the depths.
“Flora?” Fauna said concerningly.
“Why did you come back?”
“I never left.”
Flora sighed and did her best to wipe her tears as she leaned back into her rickety chair, lifting it up off its two front legs. She couldn’t believe what she was doing. Her life’s work was destroyed before her very eyes and now she was talking to a voice in her head. But even after all the doubt, Flora still gave in and finally spoke to her other half.
“What do you want Fauna?”
“I want in. We both know who is responsible for this. If you let me in you will have the strength to fight back.” Fauna spoke with her deep, tempting, voice.
“No! I am not a weapon!” Flora screamed as she stood up from her seat, knocking it to the floor.
“You’re right. You are not a weapon, but you are a weapon wielder. Every human in this pitiful world has the power to wield weapons and every object has the potential to be lethal. Even gravity kills people every day.”
“You just want me to accept you so you can take over my body!”
“That’s not how it works. I can control your body whenever I wish, but that request must be accepted by your subconscious. All this time your subconscious has been trying to force me out because you refuse to accept what you have become. Because you have been pushing me away all this time, the life you have been avoiding has been trying to catch up with you. I hate to break it to you, but you’ve been caught.”
“You chose to become the next step in humanity. Time you took up the mantle. Now look alive, you have a visitor.”
Fauna’s voice faded into the back of Flora’s mind as a simple knock emerged from the door.
“Flora? You in?”
Only seconds passed before the girl knocking at the door entered the apartment. Much to the guest’s surprise she found Flora leaning against her kitchen window in a sorry state. The girl rushed to Flora upon seeing her succumb to her fears. Flora immediately fell into the girls embrace and spoke to her in sobs.
“I’m so glad you’re here Krysta.”
Krysta was another Demon, and the only one who Flora truly related to. Their relationship walked a strange line between lovers and sisters. The two even wore their hair the same way, long and flowing like a river of grace. Though while Flora’s hair was a vibrant shade of pink, Krysta’s was a light shade of platinum blonde. Krysta herself was a pale, graceful, and resolute young woman. She held her head high at all times and carried herself with honor. She held the values of a knight of old times close to her heart. While her very figure was that of a petite lady, the gaze in her emerald eyes was unyielding. Her face was angular and sharp like a sword. Her whole look was the perfect blend of maiden and warrior.
Krysta’s clothes were surprisingly simple for someone who’s attitude boasts such chivalrous character. Her slim torso wore a simple white collar shirt with the sleeves rolled up. A blue and white striped tie draped down the curve of her perky chest. Krysta’s slim arms were wrapped by long fingerless gloves that wore horizontal blue and white stripes. At her feet, Kyrsta worse simple blue sneakers with black trousers over her legs. A simple garb for a noble woman.
“I haven’t seen you lately. I thought you might have been killed in the fire.” Krysta said softly as she comforted her weeping friend.
“I’ve been here by myself.” responded Flora.
“I guess things haven’t been so good for you since the Gardens burned down.”
“Krysta… I lost my job…”
Krysta felt the weight of Flora’s words fall onto her heart as she held the poor girl tighter in her embrace.
“I’m so sorry Flora… Is there anything I can do to help you?”
Flora stepped away from Krysta and rubbed the tears from her eyes. Krysta offered a tissue which Flora accepted and used to blow her stuffy nose. After finally collecting herself, a new air began to emerge from Flora. One of anger and hatred.
“Tell me where she is Krysta.”
“Tell me where Nina is hiding.”
Lockhart had called Terra, Genesis, and I to his office. Apparently he had some assignments for us to take care of. There was a lot happening in the city and ever since the battle with CAPRA we began to realize just how careful we had to be with our movements. Thoug there were some issues that could not be ignored.
“I’m glad you all came. Let’s get right to business.” Lockhart said as we stood before his desk.
“Two days ago, Nina attacked Heaven and Terra in the Center City Gardens. The battle resulted in the Gardens being burned to the ground. Ever since I have lost contact with a certain Demon.”
“Which one?” Genesis immediately asked.
“Flora the Demon Scattered Roses.”
“Flora?” I asked, seeing as my knowledge of the other Demons was very limited.
Lockhart took a second before nodding to me. Finally he began to clue me in on who Flora was.
“Flora was an interesting case. She voluntarily accepted becoming part of the project on the condition that she be allowed to live life as she once did. I had no problem with her conditions and provided her as much support as I could. I gave her the necessary funding to get her life back on her feet and helped her to get involved with the Center City Gardens. It was the job she always wanted due to her appeal to plants. But her hidden life would come at a great cost. We all knew that some day the responsibilities of a Demon would catch up with her. Though I never wished for her to be dragged into the fight against Nina. Now that she lost her old life to Nina I fear she may take the same path Heaven did.”
“Has Krysta been in contact with her?” Terra interjected.
“It is possible. Sorry Heaven, Krysta is another Demon. She is the Demon of Frostbite, and a close friend of Flora’s. I need you and Terra to keep an eye on those two and keep them from facing Nina. As for you Genesis, CAPRA has been quiet and I want you to watch their movements. Things are only going to get rough here on out. Do your best to come home alive.”