Excalibur ~ World from Ashes

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Chapter 21

Zak pulled the hummer under an overhanging piece of concrete that was attached to a large building. It was a small shelter, serving only to keep the car from view and out of the rain that had begun to pour outside. I was thankful for the rather large vehicle as Jace, Tristan and I were in the back with Ahmeil up front with Zak. I kept an eye out for any signs of Titan, but so far there hadn’t been any. I was thankful for that much. Then again, Tristan had begun to keep a tight lid on things, especially when the groups were sent out on reconnaissance.

“Looking good so far,” I commented lightly as I turned to look out my window as I had been gazing out the front windshield.

“Let’s hope it stays that way,” Jace replied with a huff.

I sighed and popped the door handle back, opening the door, and hopping down into the muddy dirt. The rain was pretty heavy, it wasn’t a torrent, but it was heavy regardless. My hand dropped down to the silver gun at my side, my fingers tracing along the handle of the weapon as I waited for the others to get out of the car. Moving to the right side of the hummer, I peered out into the distance, the street and the area where the storage room was. It was hazy, thick gray clouds hung low in the sky and the rain didn’t make it any easier to see.

“That’s the storage room,” Tristan’s voice came from my left as he pointed over my shoulder to show Ahmeil where.

“Looks clear for the moment,” she said softly, crossing her arms, “Let’s hope that case is still there.”

“We won’t find out if we stay here,” as I said that, I took a step out into the rain and glanced back. Giving a nod at them, I grinned at them and watched as Tristan gave me a very sultry look. Biting my lower lip, I fought to keep from blushing as I wondered why he was looking at me like that. Maybe it’s the rain… making me see things. I shook my head a bit as the water seeped down my forehead and into my eyes. Reaching up, I ran my hands through my soaking hair and started toward the storage room. Behind me I heard the others follow me into the rain.

It wasn’t too far of a walk from the hummer to the storage unit. Reaching out I pulled on the handle and was relieved to feel it give way to me as I dragged the handle down and pulled to open the heavy door. It scraped and ground across the concrete and I winced at every little sound that damned door made. It echoed into the empty area, bouncing along the rain drops almost as if the rain had amplified the sound three-fold. As I finished opening the damn door, I peered inside to see that it was just as dark as it had been when Alik had taken us captive. My lips pulled into a frown as I looked around in the dark, my eyes adjusting rather quickly.

“I see it,” I called over my shoulder and left to grab the case that was still sitting on the table. I could hear the others gather in the doorway behind me as I rushed over to the case to snatch it up and then be on our way. I didn’t like staying there for too long anyway and wanted to be back at the manor as soon as possible. Coming out into Alik’s territory gave me the chills every time, no matter what.

My hand wrapped around the handle of the box and I pulled it off the table. There was a sharp click and as I turned to head for the door there was a loud explosion all around me. I let out a sharp cry, reaching up to cover my face. I heard Tristan scream my name and Jace right after. The dust was too hard to see through. Beneath my feet, the concrete cracked and I stumbled, suddenly losing my balance for some strange reason. Then I realized that the floor had just crumbled beneath me and I was falling.

“Tristan!”

***

I coughed hard, my head pounding terribly and feeling like I weighed a thousand pounds. What the hell just happened? I shifted my body, trying to move as I coughed again with the following deep breath that I had taken. The dust clogged my throat, choking me as I tried to breathe. It felt like someone had taken sandpaper and shoved it down my throat. It burned painfully. I winced, trying to get past that sharp, dragging pain and wet my throat enough to get air to my lungs properly. As I moved, I felt rocks and other debris move with me to accommodate. Also, there was a sharp pain in my stomach and I winced again, grinding my teeth.

“Valkyrie!?”

Tristan’s voice cut through the dust and the dark. I looked up to see a couple of flashlights flicking around the hole that I had fallen through. Their yellow shine illuminated the gray rocks of concrete and twisted scraps of metal. Their light flashed in my eyes and I lifted up a hand to block it out.

“Here,” I tried to yell back, my voice cracking though as I spoke.

“There, he just moved,” Jace’s voice filtered through and what I assumed was his flashlight lingered over my body, blinding me with its bright yellow light.

“Yeah, you’re blinding me with that damn light, Jace.”

The light moved away from my face and I let my arm drop from over my eyes. The dust was beginning to clear. I must have blacked out for only a few seconds, I thought, recalling the explosion and falling down into the hole. I was covered in rocks, most of them small enough to move on my own, however, the one thing that worried me was the pain I felt in my stomach.

“Are you all right?” Tristan asked from above, his voice thick with worry.

Oh boy… how the hell do I answer this one? I took a moment to assess myself and reached my hand down to where I felt the pain to try to figure out what it was. I had only been expecting a small scratch, perhaps a bruise if I was lucky, but none of that was correct. My fingers ran along something solid, a twisted piece of metal that was buried deep in my stomach. Blood drained from my face as I lay there, awkwardly propped up by the debris. A tremble flooded my system.

“Valkyrie?” Tristan called again, his voice strange, shaking a lot as he called my name.

“I-I’m… fine… I think.”

“Idiot child,” it was Ahmeil’s voice that had said that. I rolled my eyes, happy at least that she wasn’t right next to me to see that I’d done so.

“Are you hurt?” Zak asked, calling down from another part of the hole. I wished I could see them properly.

The yellow flashlight came over my body again. It was probably Jace since he’d flashed it on me last time. With the dust clear by that point, they were sure to see that I wasn’t all right. Which I was absolutely sure of because as Jace pointed the light at me there was a sharp intake of air from a couple of them.

“I’m going down there,” Tristan said and there was a lot of shuffling from above me.

“Stay here, I’ll do it,” Ahmeil’s voice was sharp as she cut off Tristan. The movement on the floor over me stopped and I waited with my heart in my throat, trying to hear what else was being said and what was being done.

The voices were hard to make out as they had stopped talking loudly. Not to mention that I was several feet under the floor of the storage room. I took a deep breath to try to settle myself. My fingers traced the metal object that was embedded in my flesh and I winced as I accidentally moved it a bit. I wasn’t sure how deep it was, I could only hope that it was a shallow wound and I would be able to remove it without making it worse. Taking a deep breath, I concentrated a bit and felt Excalibur fuel my body. The strange sensation that I always got took over.

The underground that I had fallen into was easier to see now. I could see the rough walls that surrounded me. There was a tunnel to my right that was partially covered by the rocks that had fallen into the little cave. The twisted rebar and metal poles that were shoved through the concrete were easier to see now. I stared at them for a long while, fascinated with how I could feel how conducive they were to heat, electricity and other elements. After that, I was fascinated with the dust that floated around, the particles of dirt that glittered in the flashlights.

Shaking my head, I pulled myself together and concentrated on what I wanted. I wasn’t really sure if it would work, but I was going to try anyway. Closing my eyes, I pulled my focus to my body. I needed to feel everything that was a part of my body. Slowly I moved my senses to where the pain was in my stomach. The nerves were flaring, sending pulsing signals throughout my body. Knitting my eyebrows, I tried to focus on the torn skin, the blood vessels that were broken, the tissue and muscle that was severed.

I think… I think I could heal this… It’s a little deep though, fuck. That’s going to hurt. I’ll have to remove the metal first. As I was going over the wound in my mind, I heard someone crunching through dirt and rocks not too far from me. Opening my eyes, I looked over to Ahmeil as she moved to kneel down next to me. Her gray eye widened slightly as she knelt down.

“Your eye…”

“Yeah I know,” I said with a huff and waved my hand at her, “I need you to pull that out,” I pointed at the piece of metal stuck in my stomach.

Ahmeil turned to what I had pointed at and reached out without question to grasp it. Really?! She’s not even going to ask why? Or like… say no and make me wait till we go see Kilia? God she’s fucking scary… I bit my lip as I sat there, preparing myself as she took a good hold of the metal. As she pulled it, I cried out in pain. My voice echoed through the dark hole, and up above I heard Tristan shout. Grinding my teeth, I tried to keep my screaming to a minimum, groaning and huffing as she pulled.

Finally the metal was free of my body and I turned my attention to the wound. I fought through the burning, agony that tore through my abdomen and forced myself to concentrate on the wound. Breathing heavily, my chest heaved as I closed my eyes and forced my energy to congregate around the wound. I could feel the blood pouring, and I could feel the vessels throbbing. I could also feel my body’s natural healing cycle starting to slowly kick in, clotting and trying to stop the bleeding.

Focusing on that, I enhanced the healing process. Forcing my body to quicken the pace of its inherit healing, I could feel the blood vessels stretching to meet ends with each other, the skin pulling together, knitting back to the way it was. It was slightly sickening to feel, especially with my senses so high like they were. A few times I almost got sick and threw up, losing my concentration for just a moment only to force myself to continue until it was completely healed. I had never experienced anything like it before. To feel my own flesh pulling together, knitting, squishing, and twisting back to how it was before.

When it finally finished, I released Excalibur and panted as I lay there. My energy was low, I could feel a slight headache beginning to form at the side of my head. Healing was probably the most difficult thing I had ever done and I honestly hadn’t thought about it until that moment. It was new, another development in what I could do with Excalibur. It was also something that I was going to have to practice to perfect because that had been very strenuous. More so than it should have been.

“Do you have the case?”

I rolled my eyes, “I’m fine thanks for asking, Jesus. Yes I have the fucking case, seriously? You’re one cold woman,” I turned to her and frowned, I had almost said ‘bitch’ but decided that I valued life a lot more than that.

Ahmeil huffed at me as she reached out a hand. I eyed it carefully before I took it and she hauled me up to my feet non too gently. I swayed, dizzy from the use of Excalibur and for the fact that I’d most likely hit my head. I almost couldn’t keep my feet as I stood there. Turning, I picked up the silver case and dusted it off. It had somehow survived the fall with only a few small dents and dings along the outer metal wrapping. I reached out and handed the damned thing to her so that she could hold it.

“There, happy?”

“You could lose the attitude boy.”

“You know what, I really don’t think I like you. I just fucking fell down at least ten feet with concrete blown up around, had a fucking piece of metal stuck in my stomach, I was damned lucky to not have been skewered by it! And you’re being a fucking bitch, so no, I’m not going to lose my ‘attitude’. Fuck you,” I seethed. Then I blushed… Fuck… me and my damned impulsiveness.

Ahmeil stared at me for a long while, my eyes narrowing at her. Despite the fact that my heart was pounding heavily, I didn’t back down from her. I certainly wasn’t going to take back what I said either. Ahmeil moved, the case at her side. My body went tense as she walked up to me and then passed me without a word. I let out a breath of air, only to tense up again and growl in irritation as she said something else to me.

“If you weren’t such an idiot, then you wouldn’t have gotten yourself blown up in the first place, now would you?”

I whirled around, flipping on my heel and clenching my fists as I glared at her, “Really? Now how the fuck would I know that the God damned case was rigged!?”

“Valkyrie!” Tristan’s voice cut through our bickering, well my bickering because all Ahmeil did was stare at me and throw out an insult or two in her cold voice. Tristan’s yell held that authoritative tone again, the commanding one that was really hard to ignore. I flinched a bit as I looked up, catching his outline as he leaned down over us. Next to him was a rope ladder that they’d tossed down probably for Ahmeil to come down and get me. I was pouting as I stood there and wishing that it had been Tristan instead of her that had come down to me.

Ahmeil reached up and took hold of the rope with one hand, leaned back and gave me a look that I couldn’t quite figure out. Was she trying to tempt me further? I really didn’t like that at all. I glowered at her as she glanced up to where Tristan and the others were.

“You do everything he tells you? Well aren’t you just the whipped little puppy,” she said, her tone like acid before she pulled herself up the ladder to the room above.

I felt my blood pressure rise. My face grew hot with my rage. Bitch! Fucking bitch! I swear to God, I could seriously punch her in the face and not care. God, who the hell does she think she is?!

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