Chapter 12: Ash Rains Down on the Frost Lily
Flora and Krysta had approached the Slums of Evo City. It had been three days since the fire. Three days had passed until Flora finally mustered the courage to leave her home. While she was out in the city she liked to wear rather revealing clothing. Her cleavage was proudly displayed by a loose fitting floral top that exposed her midriff. At her waist she wore extremely short jeans that barely covered her thighs. It was a stark contrast to Krysta’s more punk influenced business casual attire.
The two girls walked through the streets of a ruined ghost town. The air was far too still and eerie. The very essence of this ruined district was one of death. Countless people must have died in the battles that erupted on every street. The destruction of one fourth of a city usually is an event that is hard to go unnoticed, yet somehow the powers that be were able to cover it all up. No one even remembers how the Slums became they way they were, some even think they always used to be a sprawling ruin.
“How are we supposed to find her in this mess?” Flora asked with irritation.
“She usually frequents the old shipyard. Our Second Personalities should be able to pinpoint the exact location.” Krysta responded.
Flora sighed to herself as she stood motionless in thought. She still hadn’t completely accepted Fauna. It was still a difficult choice for her to make, one that she was slowly easing herself into as she drew closer to Nina. Krysta approached Flora from behind and patted her on the shoulder.
“If you’re still nervous about using it, I’ll take care of it for you. Don’t force yourself to accept her. You have to come to that naturally. Okay?”
Flora nodded and began to pick up her pace. Krysta followed closely behind, guiding Flora closer to the shipyard. As their destination grew ever closer, Krysta began to feel anxiety swelling up inside her. She wanted desperately to help Flora, but as they searched the Slums for Nina, Krysta began to question whether this was the right thing to do. She was beginning to have her doubts about Flora’s desires.
“You sure you want to do this Flora?” Krysta asked with caution.
“She burned the Gardens to the ground. That place was my home, the one thing that made this life worth living.”
Krysta frowned slightly as traces of a familiar tale began to trickle into her mind, clouding her view of Nina.
“You sound a lot like another Demon I heard about. He lost his father to Nina and is on a warpath because of it.”
“I don’t care about the others. None of them would understand.”
Those words pierced Krysta like a dagger in the back. Doubt began to seep into Krysta’s thoughts. Did Flora truly trust her. Did Flora believe that Krysta was like the others? The rest of the journey was carried out in silence as Krysta led Flora to the shipyard. She wanted to see this struggle end. She wanted to see Flora smile again, and in the end that was all that mattered. Flora was going through a difficult time, she felt truly alienated from the world. She was a Demon who wanted to live the life of a normal human. By definition Flora was destined to be secluded on a path between two sides.
Nina sat alone in an empty warehouse. Her back was leaned up against an old rusted shipping crate. It had been three days, yet she still struggled to recover from the haunting memories of her battle with Vixen. Part of her was too terrified to move, while the other was seething with anger. The very notion that someone could lay a hand on her let alone bring her to scream out in agony. That notion drove her mad. She had to maintain her superiority. She was granted these powers for one purpose and it was a purpose she had to stay true to. There was a lot she had left to accomplish and if she was to accomplish it she would need more power. She would have to get stronger.
Nina’s thoughts were interrupted when she heard the sound of the warehouse door cracking and bending. She turned to see that the door was gradually encasing itself in a sheet of ice before it was shattered to pieces. The door crumbled to dust to reveal Flora and Krysta standing in the doorway. Flora’s eyes immediately went wild as she laid them upon Nina. Rage consumed her and she began to concentrate on her power for the first time. Nina stared indifferently as she watched Flora begin to channel her energy and create a massive field of rose petals surrounding her. The petals glided around her gracefully. Many of them flowed towards her back and began to settle in place, forming the shape of wings. Flora had taken on the semblance of an angel of Nature.
“You!” Flora growled as she pointed an accusing finger at Nina.
Nina simply sighed and stood up from the floor and watched as Flora prepared to attack.
“You’re going to pay for what you did!”
A barrage of petals propelled itself towards Nina. Many of the petals missed their mark and found themselves burrowing into the metal of shipping containers. Others however, found themselves hurtling towards Nina with perfect precision. Within a split second Nina raised a barrier of flame that shattered the petals like glass.Pink fractals of light scattered throughout and danced with the embers emitted from Nina’s flames. Nina swiftly launched a trio of fireballs with one swipe of her hand. Within seconds the three fireballs were frozen by a blast of ice. They collapsed to the ground and shattered as Krysta dashed in wielding a sword and shield, both made of ice.
“Don’t you dare hurt Flora!”
Krysta ran towards Nina with blinding speed. With one swift motion her sword of ice glided towards Nina’s throat. A loud clash of metal rang throughout the warehouse as Krysta’s blade came crashing down onto the cold steel frame of an M16 rifle. Krysta clenched her teeth in anger as she leapt back from Reaver. Reaver swiftly returned the rifle to its Mind Gate and replaced it with a black revolver. The long barrel of Reaver’s pistol stared down at Krysta as Reaver spoke to his enemy.
“I will be your opponent.” Reaver said softly.
Krysta nodded and looked at Flora as she backed up into Krysta. Flora glared at Nina with her own flames consuming her gaze. Krysta and Flora broke their stance without warning and dashed at their foes with immense speed. Flora threw a flurry of petals towards Nina, who struggled to defend. Several of Flora’s projectiles found their way into Nina’s soft flesh and cut deep into it. Krysta blocked Reaver’s hail of gunfire with her shield and rushed him. Once she drew close enough she slashed at him only to be blocked by the body of a rifle and blasted into Flora by shotgun fire. Flora was knocked down by Krysta’s numbed body. Krysta reacted swiftly and raised a wall of ice in front of her as Reaver opened fire. Bullets and shotgun pellets embedded themselves in the thick ice wall in a feeble attempt to gnaw at the flesh of their foes. Nina growled in frustration and set the wall ablaze. When the wall melted into a massive puddle Nina saw what had been lying behind it. Krysta grinned as several large spires of ice floated around her in mid-air pointing directly at Nina. The spires launched of their own volition like rockets. Nina ran towards the hurtling projectiles with her hands burning white. She swiftly burned down two of the spires as she slid underneath them. Reaver opened up a flood of Mind Gates and provided covering fire. Flora reacted just as swiftly and fired off a barrage of petals to meet Reaver’s bullets head on. Each projectile collided with one another violently in between Kysta and Nina’s battle. Nina finally drew closer to Krysta only to be bashed in the face by an frigid shield. Krysta took the opportunity to slice into Nina a view times. This got Reaver’s attention as he dove onto Nina to prevent any further damage. Reaver’s arm was cut into and was frostbitten by Krysta’s blade. He descended to the ground with Nina in tow and quickly fired a few rounds from a hastily summoned revolver. Flora quickly fired two petals to intercept the bullets in seconds. Reaver stood up from the ground and stared down the other two Demons.
“Yet another one of us misguided by vengeance.”
Flora clenched her fists tight with rage. With a flick of her wrists, chains of her steel like flower petals wrapped themselves around her arms. Flora charged towards Reaver and lashed her chains at him in a deadly dance. Her body flipped and twirled gracefully as her arms swung out and dragged the chains towards her foe. Reaver did his best to dodge and weave through Flora’s fatal elegance. Krysta ran up from behind Reaver to try and keep him on his toes. Reaver dodged as many strikes as he could while still receiving a few knicks across his body. Reaver finally leapt up above the two women and summoned forth several Mind Gates. Gun barrels emerged from the Gates and aimed down upon Reaver’s foes. Krysta leapt in front of Flora as the bullets came raining down. Several hot slugs of lead embedded themselves into Krysta’s back as she threw up a barrier of ice to shield the two from further gunfire. Krysta leaned against her own barrier as blood began to paint it red. Flora crouched in front of her friend and looked at her with worry.
“Can you still stand?”
Krysta nodded and looked up at Flora with a gentle smile.
“It’s gonna take a lot more than that to kill us.”
The encasing barrier melted into the ground adding to the frigid puddle that the Demons stood in. Krysta got back on her feet and forged an ice shield from the water in the very atmosphere. Krysta shielded herself from Reaver’s hail of gunfire, only to feel her shield begin to heat up. Krysta quickly dashed behind cover as her shield fell to the ground in a melted heap. Had Nina melted her shield? She peered from her cover as Flora engaged Reaver. Nina was nowhere to be found, she must have fled while Reaver distracted the two of them. Krysta clenched her fists tightly and slammed them against the shipping crate she hid behind.
Flora did her best to keep Reaver locked in combat with her. Flaming projectiles rained down on her as Reaver continued his relentless barrage. Her petals burned to ashes with every bullet that collided with them. Flora swiftly created a barrier of petals to hold back to assault and readied herself. Once the barrier shattered she unleashed a storm of petals as she dashed forward with her flowery wings. She lashed her chains out at Reaver and caught him in her grasp. She reeled him in and pierced him with an unfathomable amount of razor sharp rose petals. Reaver was unraveled by Flora’s chains. His cut up body was exposed as blood dripped from his shallow wounds and mixed in with the sweat coating his body in a sheen. Reaver was breathing heavy as he looked at Flora. She seemed very confident, but her attacks were sloppy. None of her strikes had cut Reaver’s body deep. Reaver spat out a wad of his own blood onto the wet floor as his wounds swiftly healed.
“To hell with this.”
Reaver summoned a pistol to his hand with instantaneous speed. The gun barrel was pointed at Flora who continued to stand her ground. She was mislead. As she watched Reaver aim his gun at her, she watched as he swiftly moved the gun elsewhere and fired several rounds into Krysta’s chest. Flora’s eyes widened in horror as she watched blood escape the burrowing holes the bullets made as they dug their way to Krysta’s ribs and heart.
Flora ran up to her friend and held her up in her arms. Krysta stared blankly into Flora’s eyes as blood poured down along Flora’s wrists. Fauna’s voice rang out in Flora’s head as she held Krysta close to her chest.
“She is only unconcious! Get her out of here!”
Flora picked up Krysta’s limp body and stared at Reaver with a sorrow drenched in malice filling her eyes. Reaver nodded to her and recalled his Mind Gates. He still did not wish to kill anyone. He only promised to protect Nina, If he were to attack Flora in this state, he would view it as dishonorable. He let her go without a fuss.
Flora walked out of the warehouse with Krysta bleeding all over her shirt and exposed midriff. A trail of scarlet trickled and splattered on the pavement behind Flora. Dried blood clung to the skin of Flora’s stomach as fresh coats of warm life dripped over top. Flora kept walking blindly. One thought consumed her damaged mind as she carried Krysta through the ruinous Slums of Evo City. She had to get Krysta out. Guilt began to wash over Flora like a tidal wave as she slowly began to realize more and more that she was responsible for the terrible wounds Krysta had suffered. The sound of lead rounds falling to the floor after being pushed from Krysta’s bosom echoed in Flora’s ears. Tears were slowly trickling from Flora’s eyes as she held the unconscious body of her best friend closer to her soft bloodstained chest. How could she have been so selfish? She let Krysta get involved in this desperate struggle for revenge. She dragged someone she cared about into a conflict that had little to do with her, let alone had any true purpose. Flora’s only motive was revenge and redemption. But what would be redeemed if Nina died. What would be corrected. Would Flora’s life return to normal?
Flora made her way into an abandoned apartment and laid Krysta’s body on a dusty old couch. She knelt down in front of her comatose friend and rested her head on Krysta’s bloody chest. The bullets had already been forced out by Krysta’s regenerated flesh. But Krysta would still take quite a lot of time to wake up again. Flora knew this, and even if she had survived the fight against Reaver, guilt was there waiting to claim Flora for his own. Guilt had dragged his long bony fingers along the contours of Flora’s face and wrapped his fragile old hands around her throat. Guilt was choking at Flora now and she couldn’t help but cry into the red tinted chest of her friend. Guilt had coaxed tears from a faerie.
Terra and I had searched the Slums for hours. We both knew that Nina was hiding out in the forgotten district, and if Flora was looking for her than this was the place she would be. Terra looked around at the empty streets littered with the lingering whispers of the dead. The wind howled through the ruined streets of the Slums as the two of us wandered through its empty depths. I thought I would have been used to the place after I had been there once. But even during the second visit, the silent cries of the dead still drove me to sorrow as I wandered through what was once a thriving Industrial District.
“Still not used to the place huh?” asked Terra as we walked.
“Not at all… This place is so macabre.” I replied.
“That’s a fancy word to use, but you’re right. This place still gives me the creeps.”
Only a few more minutes of walking brought us to a fresh trail of blood carving its path through the overgrown pavement. Terra motioned me forward towards the wet crimson and pointed in the direction it was heading.
“Assuming that this blood trail belongs to Flora, she more than likely lost a fight with Nina and retreated from the shipyards.” Terra spoke softly.
Terra and I looked around and followed the trail of blood with our eyes. It had crept into the ruins of a small apartment. The two of us cautiously approached the building. Terra peered into the darkness of the ruin and through the shadow she saw long locks of pink hair draping down a feminine back and onto a blood soaked floor. Sobs resonated around the torn apart shelter the girl had occupied. Terra looked to me and nodded as the sobbing grew closer.
“Its her.” Terra spoke in a whisper.”
I nodded and cautiously approached Flora as she wept over an assumed dead body. I took careful steps as I crept towards Flora hoping not to startle her. Despite such stealthy efforts, my feet kicked away rubble with every step. Flora immediately turned and shot a glare at me with her amethyst eyes. Her whole torso was draped in a darkened shade of scarlet. Within seconds she growled at me and unleashed a surge of projectiles upon me. I reacted without even thinking and absorbed every petal that hurtled towards me with my dark matter.
“Flora calm down it’s just us!” Terra shouted.”
“Exactly…” Flora murmured before clenching her fists and raising her voice to a frantic shout.
“You act is if I can trust any one of you monsters!”
A sickened grin stretched across Flora’s face as Guilt and Grief strangled her and raped her mind with their tormenting thoughts. Everything that had happened to her pushed her closer and closer to snapping in half. Abraxas had come for this woman. But in this instance she had created the egg herself. The egg was her own world, a world she had crafted to suit her interests. Did Abraxas truly bring her salvation or was this a cruel joke to punish the ignorance she harbored? I stared into eyes of violet with a perplexed fixation as she threw a barrage of petals towards me and Terra. Terra immediately dove at me and pushed me away from the blast.
“Stay focused Hev!” Terra shouted as she slammed her fist into the ground and launched Flora into the air on a pillar of stone that ascended into the sky.
Flora fought with all her strength to regain control but the force was too great for her to repel. Terra stood back up on her feet and stomped her foot into the ground causing magma to shoot up the large pillar and burn at Flora’s flesh. Flora screamed in terrible pain as she was thrown off the stone pillar and hurtled towards the ground.
Another female voice rang out as Terra and I saw a blonde haired girl dash up to catch Flora as she descended. It was Krysta, the Demon of Frostbite. Terra ran at Krysta letting loose a fierce battle cry. Krysta brought Flora to the ground just in time to block Terra’s rock entombed fists. Krysta pushed Terra back and shouted to her before she could retaliate.
“Why are you attacking us!?”
Terra froze in place as I approached her from behind. Terra sighed to herself before shattering the armor of stone encasing her fists. She glared at Krysta as she sheltered the broken Flora.
“Lockhart wants both of you back at the Cocoon. Flora is not strong enough to take on Nina and you and I both know that! What were you thinking Krysta!?” Terra growled.
“I’m her only friend! What choice did I have!?” Krysta shouted back.
Just as Krysta began to explain herself I watched as her body suddenly collapsed along with Flora’s. I watched with a shocked expression as I turned to see a whole squad of heavily armed men lined up in formation at the entrance to Flora’s temporary shanty. They were soldiers through and through. They wielded tranq rifles and wore a bizarre kind of armor. It was black and glossy and reminded me a bit of a knight with a more futuristic touch. Terra nodded to one of the soldiers as the others moved into collect the unconscious Demons. Questions floated about in my head as I watched the soldiers collect Flora and Krysta. One thing was clear at this point and it shone within the center of a vortex of inquiries. I truly had become a soldier.