Excalibur ~ World from Ashes

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Chapter 18

Zak led the way to where the hummer was left behind. How he knew where to go was a mystery to me, but then again, he had been around the city limits and other places more than I had. Zak was sure to know those streets like the back of his hand. So, I let him lead and I followed, carrying Tristan with me. The manipulation of air around Tristan to make him light enough for me to carry was easy enough but I was starting to feel a headache creep into the right side of my skull, next to the temple. So, there are limitations… I was beginning to wonder. I wasn’t sure how long I had been using those enhanced abilities, but it seemed that I couldn’t use them forever. I was tempted to see how far I could push it, of course at the same time, I was pretty sure I was about to test that too.

When we found the vehicle, it was indeed covered by concrete. I wasn’t sure how intact it was, but it actually didn’t look too bad from what I could see of it. Had the hummer been one of the smaller cars that had been buried, it most likely would have been a crushed tin can. As we approached the car, I was eyeing the concrete that layered it and not really paying attention to anything else. There was a loud honk behind us. I twisted around quickly, my heart pounding hard. I recognized the black truck immediately; the bulky Toyota pulled up slowly next to us and stopped. The door burst open and Jace cam flying out of the driver side with a handful of other guys with him. I gave a tired smile as he rushed over to us.

“Are you all right? What happened?” Jace’s rapid fire of questions made me sigh as I shifted to hold Tristan better.

“I’m fine, but these two aren’t. Can we save the explanations for later? I want to get them back to Kilia.”

Jace nodded slowly, his gaze narrowing at me as he looked between Tristan and Zak. I was pretty sure I knew what he was thinking, but he didn’t say anything. I frowned a bit and kept my thoughts to myself. I knew I was different, I knew I wasn’t the same anymore. Yet again the one who had caused it was Alik. He was always running things. It was like it was his sole task to utterly destroy me in the worst, painful way possible. This time, he’d really managed to wreck things. I wanted to cry, to scream in frustration, if I had the courage, I probably would take my own life. However, I couldn’t do any of those things, so I forced myself to reign in those emotions.

“Jace, can you take him? I’m going to clear out the hummer,” I said softly and started to hand him Tristan’s unconscious form.

Jace made to take Tristan, but gave me a confused look, “What? Valkyrie… There’s no way!”

I waved my hand at him and he went silent. Turning to the buried hummer, I took a deep breath. I knew the Toyota couldn’t carry us all and I didn’t want anyone left behind either, thus the reason for my insistence to unbury the second vehicle. As I stood there, my concentration slowly beginning to focus in on the layers of rock, I heard Jace and Zak behind me. Because I had expanded my senses by activating more of Excalibur, I could hear them both as they talked some distance behind me. I could hear every soft breath they took in between words. It was such a strange feeling and I almost lost myself to it in fascination.

“What the hell is going on? Did you see his eye? The pale blue one was glowing like a fucking light bulb! Is he all right? I’m not imagining things am I?” Jace sounded worried and confused. The worry startled me a bit. I was sure he would have been put off by my change.

“Alik gave him Excalibur,” Zak said, anger in his tone. Now that I had been expecting, yet his anger didn’t seem to be directed at me, another strange development, “I don’t know if he is all right. I know nothing about that drug. We’ll have to watch him. Maybe Kilia can help him. And no, you weren’t imagining things, his eye was glowing. Alik’s did that too, and so did Dane’s.”

“Shit. All right… Tristan’s going to be pissed.”

“I know.”

As my focus changed, tunneling in on the concrete, I didn’t hear anything else from Jace or Zak. I tried not to let it get to me, telling myself that they were only looking out for me and nothing else. Still I couldn’t shake the feeling of being alienated. This strange new development was making me think differently. Coupled with the fact that Alik had essentially shown me that I could definitely turn into a monster very easily… It just didn’t sit right with me. I wasn’t sure why –although I think over time I realized it better- but I just felt like I didn’t belong anymore. I let out a breath and pushed those thoughts aside to concentrate on the concrete. I would deal with the estranged feeling’s later.

Tilting my head a bit, I narrowed my eyes as I focused the air around us. I forced it to congregate under the concrete, to swirl around and lift each piece off the car. I didn’t lift the pieces entirely up in the air, I couldn’t. So I simply pushed them up and let them slide off the car on their own. It took some time, but eventually the hummer was completely clear. My head pounded hard though. I thought I was going to throw up as I let go of the enhancements, willing my body back to its natural state, or as natural as I could get. Stumbling, I saw the hummer spin before my eyes. My vision darkened and I couldn’t keep my feet. Arms latched around me, a voice shouted my name. It was Jace’s voice; it seemed that he caught me from crumpling to the street. I couldn’t focus on him though, as much as I tried. No, instead I fell into unconsciousness, sucked away unwillingly.

***

There was a sound. An annoying sound.

It woke me from the depths of sweet slumber. A slumber that had no pain, no irritation, no doubts or worries, nothing. I wanted to stay there forever, but it seemed that the annoying noise wouldn’t let me. With a groan I slowly pulled my eyes opened and spotted what was making that noise. It was a slender hand right above my face, the pale slender fingers snapping together rapidly right before my nose. Thankfully the snapping stopped as I opened my eyes and settled my gaze on those fingers.

“Hey, Valkyrie,” Kilia’s voice came through the haze of grogginess.

“Hey…” I answered back and pushed myself up into a sitting position. Kilia allowed me, but adjusted the pillows behind me so that I could lean on them if I wanted. My head seemed to split again and the pounding returned, nearly putting me back under. One of my hands shot up and grasped the side of my head as I moaned in pain.

“Here, for you headache,” her fingers came into view again holding a couple of white pills and in the other hand a small plastic Dixie cup of water. I took both gratefully. The water felt amazing as it slid down my throat and I asked her for more. When she came back with the request, I downed that one too and played with the cup in my hands as I stared at the white bed sheets that I was laid up under.

“How are Tristan and Zak?” I asked as I sat there.

“Fine and resting. Zak will be up and moving around sooner than Tristan though. His wounds are going to take a while to heal. Would you mind telling me what happened? Jace only said that you passed out after… clearing concrete off the hummer,” her voice had stopped momentarily before the last bit.

I cringed as I looked over to her, “I’m… Really sorry. There wasn’t much I could do.”

Kilia shook her head, “Don’t be stupid, Valkyrie. No one here blames you. All I want to know is that you’re all right. In order to know that, I need to know what happened. So, tell me what happened. Everything and don’t you dare leave anything out.”

Her commanding tone that could put even Tristan running for the door sent chills down my spine. I sat there for a moment, wondering how to start or where to start. Kilia was quiet as she waited for me. With a small sigh, I leaned back into the pillows that she’d fixed for me and looked around the room. It was then that I spotted Zak and Tristan laid up on two beds further down the medical room. Both of them looked to be sleeping.

“I was making fun of Jace earlier when it happened. I ran out of the room we were eating in and-”

“I know that much already. Jace came bursting in here frantically after you were taken. He was very upset about it. Now, start with where you were taken.”

“O-oh…” Jace was upset? It warmed me a little bit to know that he had worried, but at the same time it made my chest hurt that he had to worry like that in the first place, “Well… I woke up in this concrete room, there wasn’t much in it, almost like a storage unit really. Zak and Tristan were already there before me. Zak was unconscious and Tristan was in pretty bad shape but awake. He told me that they had been ambushed when they went out to our border.

“He said that Alik had gotten to them, gave them a pretty good beating, especially from what I could see. We didn’t get to talk much because Alik came in and started ranting and raving about the… Excalibur drug. Said that it had ‘opened his mind’,” I rolled my eyes at this and sighed, “He showed us what he meant by that too. He hurt me and Tristan both without ever laying a hand on us.”

“Without touching you? He hurt you? How? What did he do?” Kilia asked, leaning forward on her knees.

I cringed at the memory, especially the part where Tristan had been tortured by Alik. I ground my teeth and Kilia backed up from me briefly. It must have been the look on my face. I was pissed off and it showed. I cleared my throat, trying to calm myself, “Sorry… He just looked at us. It felt awful. Like he’d taken a fucking iron bar, heated it up to a million degrees and stuck it right through my chest, then dragged it all over my body. I’m pretty sure that he did the same thing to Tristan too.”

Kilia cringed visibly as I described it to her. I didn’t stop though, wanting to get done with the explanations as quickly as possible. Even so, I knew I would have to do it again because Jace wasn’t in the room and he would want to know. Zak too, once he woke up. I sighed. I was probably going to have to tell this damned story at least five times over.

“I knocked Alik over as he was tormenting Tristan to stop him. I almost managed to break his neck, but he had his men take me off of him. After that, he injected me… with… Excalibur,” my voice dropped as I explained that last bit, growing softer with each word as I frowned and looked down at the Dixie cup. I crushed the stupid little plastic thing in my hands.

Kilia’s hand reached out and covered mine that shook as I held the crumpled cup, “It’s all right. What happened next?”

I took a breath to help and then started talking again, “I fought with him. I think I could have over powered him. It was strange, trying to get used to the… overwhelming feeling that there was just so much information and other things going on. I really had to concentrate on what I wanted. I could move the air, force it to congregate at any place that I wanted. I made Tristan’s body lighter like that so that I could carry him. I could also enhance my body’s natural electricity to form a powerful charge, which I used against Alik.

“I managed to numb all of my nerves to keep him from attacking me like he had before. I think that’s how it works though. You really have to concentrate on the things that you want to do. Picking out the information from around you, in your body, it’s initially overwhelming because it’s really hard to focus. Then again, you can easily get fascinated by the smallest of things, a terrible distraction but you’re still aware of everything else…” I sighed as I trailed off, “I don’t know. It’s really hard to explain in detail what it is that I was feeling and how I’m able to do things now. Hell, I could even tell what kind of injuries Tristan and Zak had when I first was injected. Everything was such a blur and there was so much information…”

Kilia seemed stunned at first. Her silence made me flinch inwardly and I quickly turned away. She seemed to snap out of it when I moved and she touched my arm with both hands, squeezing gently. It was really odd, I could feel her pulse beneath her skin without really having to try. It was like my body was overly sensitive now, no matter if I had Excalibur active or not.

“Hey, you’re all right, that’s the important part. What I’m worried about is if Excalibur has any side effects when it wears off-”

I shook my head, cutting her off, “It’s not going to wear off. Alik was pretty pleased with the fact that you only needed one dose and you were set for life.”

Her eyes widened, “Really… Incredible. But… there has to be more to it. What else happened? Why did you pass out?”

“There are limitations,” I said slowly, mulling over the words, “I… wanted to test out how much I could do, but I think I may have hit the limit really. The more I use it, the more I do things with it… I feel this awful headache start in the side of my head, right here,” I pointed to my right temple, “From there, well if I push too much it seems I pass out.”

Kilia nodded slowly, her eyebrows pulled down in concentration as she stared at a spot on the linoleum on the other side of my bed. One of her fingers was curled up under her lower lip as she chewed on it for a long while. I watched her carefully. Wanting to know what it was she was thinking, I moved a bit so that she was reminded that I was still sitting there, waiting.

Kilia looked up to me, “We still have one problem.”

“What’s that?”

“I don’t have the drug to examine.”

My eyes grew wide, “You mean… after all of that we didn’t manage to snag any?”

Kilia shook her head. Then I blushed. Shit… the case that was in that room with us… I mentally face-palmed. Fuck. With a groan I let my head fall forward, my jaw tightening as I closed my eyes in frustration, “I’m sorry Kilia, I… there was a case of the drug in that storage unit we were holed up in. I… didn’t think to grab it at the time. I was too worried about Zak and Tristan.”

She patted my arm gently, “It’s all right. You did the right thing, getting them out as quickly as possible. Well,” she slowly got up with a heavy release of air and stretched, “Get some more rest, Valkyrie. I’ll give you more medicine if your headache comes back. Be sure to tell me if it does, all right? And nothing strenuous, doctors orders,” she said waving a finger at me.

“’Kay…” I blushed again as I glanced up at her, “Um… Thank you, Kilia. For everything.”

She only smiled at me as she turned to check up on Tristan and Zak. My thanks wasn’t just for her helping Tristan and Zak, or for helping my headache. It was mostly for listening patiently and not looking at me any differently because of Excalibur. I settled against the pillows and closed my eyes.

I wish you could have seen this, Alik. Just to spit you, you fucking asshole. You’re the only one who is a monster.

Just because you tried to label me as one… like yourself…

It doesn’t make me a monster.

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