I rubbed at my arm a bit as I rolled down the sleeve. Kilia rolled away from me, a vial of my blood in her hands. It was three days after being allowed to walk around the manor again. I was still under strict orders not to use Excalibur, and I was sure to heed that. As I sat there on the chair, I watched Kilia for a long time as she worked the vial into some kind of machine and hit a few buttons. It whirred to life, vibrating insanely loudly to the point that I thought the white box would just fall off the desk.
Kilia worked on the computer rapidly, her fingers making it sound like miniature gunshots going off in the room with how quickly she hit the keyboard. When she stopped typing in commands or whatever it was she was doing, she eyed the screen, rolling the wheel on the mouse to scroll through the information. Her lips pulled into a frown and her eyes narrowed before she sighed and pulled away from the computer.
“And?” I asked softly, not sure if I was ready to hear her report.
“I don’t know.”
I groaned inwardly and tried not to sigh. I wasn’t sure if her saying she didn’t know was worse than hearing any sort of solid information. Kilia heaved a heavier sigh as she pushed away from the desk and rolled over to me. Taking my hands in her cool ones, she rubbed her thumbs along the backs of my hands lightly.
“I’m sorry Valkyrie. I’m trying everything I can. It’s just going to take some time. I’m working as quickly as I can. For the moment, your body seems to be all right, the deterioration doesn’t look like it’s going too quickly, in fact, I think it’s slowed down so that’s good. The problem is that it’s still happening. What are your symptoms so far?”
I shrugged a bit, “Headache sometimes. It only gets really bad when I use Excalibur. I got a terrible migraine from it and then I had a nose bleed and felt like I was going to be sick. Then when I fought Alik,” I swallowed hard, trying not to say anything about Ahmeil, “I actually threw up as I had the nose bleed and then passed out.”
Kilia nodded slowly as she took in this information, “All right, so for now it’s just a headache mostly. If you get a nosebleed at any time, you come and tell me. That will let me know how far the deterioration is. I don’t have anything solid yet, but I’m working on something that will at least slow down the process considerably for you. Once I get that done, I will move from that to hopefully creating something that will reverse the process.”
I smiled at her and tightened my hands around hers, “You’re amazing Kilia.”
For the first time, I saw a light blush dust her cheeks and she quickly looked away, huffing as she closed her eyes, puffing out her cheeks a bit, “Whatever. I’m just doing what I’m good at, which is science. It’s nothing special.”
“Yes it is. You’re going to save my life, Kilia. That is definitely special. Thank you.”
Her blush darkened and she rolled away from me to bury herself in her computer again, “Don’t thank me just yet. You’re free to go, Valkyrie.”
I stood up and quietly left the medical room. It was perfect timing anyway, I had to go meet with Tristan, Zak and Jace. For the past few days we’d been discussing what we were going to do about Excalibur and Alik. I tried my best to follow the conversations, but every time I found myself eyeing Ahmeil like a rabid dog that wanted to chew her face off. I wasn’t sure if anyone had noticed, but this meeting was just the four of us. It was nice, but a little strange too because none of the other right hands were going to be present.
Shrugging, I just headed up the stairs that were on the left of the hall that led down to Kilia’s medical room. I took the steps two at a time, but slowly. I knew that Excalibur was the problem, breaking down my body, but I also felt that if I did too much I would be aiding in its progression. It was a scary feeling to say the least. Once at the second floor, I turned right and headed down the hall to the study room that Tristan used almost always. I knocked once before I opened the door and entered.
“Lock it, please,” Tristan’s voice asked me from across the room.
I did as I was asked before I moved and took a seat in one of the chairs, across from Zak and Jace. Tristan laced his fingers on the desk, leaning forward as he eyed the three of us. I felt a lump in my throat as I briefly wondered why it was only the four of us again. My voice didn’t ask the burning question though, instead I stayed silent.
“We need to find out where Alik got that drug.”
I sighed in relief, grateful that he hadn’t mentioned Ahmeil, “I still think that it wasn’t just some drug dealer.”
“I agree,” Jace said, glancing at me before he turned to Tristan, “It feels more like some crazed scientist shit that went wrong, or got out somehow.”
“How do we find a crazed scientist these days?”
“Maybe it’s easier than we think,” I offered. All eyes turned on me and I felt my face heating at the sudden attention, “W-well… I mean, it’s a rather large city, right? There has to be some kind of facility out here somewhere. There’s always something. The government used to have their paws on everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something out here to.”
“It’s a good point,” Zak said softly, “I think we should grab Alik though. He’s sure to know where he got the damn drug in the first place.”
Tristan nodded, “So it comes back to Alik. If we want to know where the drug came from, we need to take him alive.”
“He’s not going to tell us,” I said with a frown, leaning on the arm of the chair as I gazed at Tristan.
His hazel eyes landed on me and watched me for a very long time before he said anything, “If he’s running on Excalibur, then he’s got to have the same problems.”
“So… What you’re saying is we bluff him?” Jace asked, dragging out his words a bit as if he weren’t sure about the situation.
Tristan shrugged, “In a way. We can tell him that we’ve found a way to slow the deterioration process.”
I pondered that for a second, my eyebrows coming together in thought and a bit of confusion, “But… Why would that… Oh. Oh, I see.”
Tristan nodded, a smile on his lips, “He’s pretty easy to figure out, Valkyrie. If we offer him a way to slow the process, it means he gets to live longer, which means more chances for him to try to get at you. If we dangle that in his face, we’re essentially dangling you right before him. He’s sure to talk then.”
As much as I hated the idea, I nodded though a cold shiver ran down my spine, “That… Well that really sucks, but it is true. What do you plan to do with him though?”
Tristan’s hazel gaze darkened and I felt my heart skip a beat, “Once he’s given me what I want, he’ll enjoy the last few seconds of his life staring down the barrel of my gun,” Tristan’s voice was so cold and heavy that I wasn’t sure I liked that side. I knew he was pissed off at Alik for more than one reason, but still the anger and the cold malice in his voice were a little scary to hear.
At least they’re not going to let the bastard live… I was honestly a little worried there for a second. I sighed a bit as I sat there, calmed by the fact that we were indeed going to get rid of the bastard finally. Crossing my leg over the top of the other, I tapped my lip gently as we sat there in silence for a while. The next part of that conversation was to figure out how exactly we were going to snatch Alik this time. Especially since the last time didn’t go as planned, well… It would have gone smoothly if that bitch hadn’t interfered as she did.
I narrowed my gaze at the floor, trying to think of a plan and not think of Ahmeil. It was getting increasingly harder to do as the silence stretched for a little while. Jace shifted a bit and caught my attention. I glanced up at him as he was watching me carefully. Arching an eyebrow I tilted my head, “Yeah?”
“Well… I was just thinking… You know Alik’s territory don’t you?”
I shrugged lightly, “Not really. Well, I know some of it, mostly I know the area closer to the hotel he’s using. He never really let me wander around when I was with him. Why, what are you getting at?”
“You’ve studied the maps before with Zak, right? Would you know the streets and the hotel from that?”
“Yeah, I suppose I would,” I answered slowly, I was so confused at what Jace was trying to get at.
“Good, where’s our maps for the underground system?” Jace asked, turning to Tristan now.
“The other room. You want to try to sneak up on him by using the tunnels?”
“Tunnels?” I asked sharply. There are tunnels under the city? The hell?! I didn’t know that!
“Yeah, old train tunnels. They were built a long time ago and made traveling through the city a thousand times easier than being up on the crowded streets, especially during the weekdays when it was rush hour or something,” Tristan answered me, “If we can get close enough to the hotel through the tunnels, we can avoid most of Titan’s patrols. Hell, if we get lucky we could probably come up right behind or underneath the hotel.”
“Then we can just sneak in, drop him and bring him back…” I finished the idea myself as I stared at the desk. That could work… Why didn’t we think of this sooner! I sighed and rolled my eyes.
“What? Don’t think it’ll work?” Jace asked me, catching my sigh.
“N-no. I think it’ll work just fine. I’m just… Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
Zak smiled warmly, “Just didn’t think of it until now. Plus, this plan is a little bit harder than the original one was. We have to map out the tunnels simply by old blue-prints and try to make a route that will take us where we want to go. We could very easily miss our mark down there.”
“Things are different in the actual place than on a map, and many things get changed that don’t make it onto blue-prints,” Jace added.
I lifted an eyebrow and bobbed my head up and down slowly, “Ah, I see…”
“Well, we’ll get all of the plans put together tonight then. See what maps you two can find for us, we’ll go from there. It might take us a few days to actually come up with a solid route.”
“That’ll be fine; Kilia said she’s working on that medicine for me to slow the deterioration process. She’ll need me for that.”
Tristan cleared his throat a bit and I glanced over to him, “Valkyrie. I want you to stay here for this.”
I opened and closed my mouth several times, shocked and upset at the fact that he was keeping me in the manor again, “Tristan…”
He held up his hand, “No, no arguing with me. If you go, you’re going to strain your body too much and I don’t want you to do that. Besides, you just said it. Kilia needs you here to keep working on her medicines. Not to mention keeping tabs on your health.”
I gave a sigh as I started to pout a bit at him, but relented anyway. He had a good point. My only problem was being stuck in the manor with Ahmeil. She would certainly kill me once they were all gone. When that thought struck, I felt a wave of terror in my system. I had to get Tristan to agree to let me go. With a surge of energy, I leaned forward in the chair and started to talk, to ask him to reconsider when there was a click behind us.
Turning in my seat, the door opened up. I felt my stomach twist tightly. Didn’t I lock that?! Why is it opening?! All four of us went silent, my eyes watched as the door slowly swung open to allow the one in the hall to enter. Jace’s movement caught my attention from the corner of my eye. Glancing over to him, I noted that he’d stood and drew his weapon, aiming at the door. Zak was tense too, but he hadn’t moved from his place as he eyed the hall. The familiar sound of boot heels against the floor filled the room.
Ahmeil strode into the room, her gray gaze sweeping all of us. Behind me, I heard Tristan’s chair slowly push back and looked over my shoulder. He stood up, leaning against the desk and watching her carefully, “Ahmeil.”
She lifted up her hand and wiggled around a key, “So, which one of them told you?”
“Told me what?”
She turned her gray gaze one him, the eye narrowing slightly, “To start leaving me out of things,” her eye landed on me, “Your little mewling puppy?”
“Ahmeil,” Tristan’s voice growled and I shuddered at the sound.
“It doesn’t matter really. I was trying to wait for Excalibur to do the job for me, but it seems your puppy just listens to you and no one else.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Ahmeil?” Jace asked, he hadn’t lowered his gun from her and that surprised me. Why was he holding her at gunpoint?
“I want to heal Tristan of his sickness,” she responded evenly, her voice never wavering as she looked to Jace instead of me, “His sickness started when the puppy showed up. I’ve always healed him of his problems, helped him, kept him safe, and I will continue to do so. Including from this little thing.”
“Sickness? The fuck are you on, Ahmeil? Something’s been really off about you for a while now,” Jace shot back.
No shit… Wait… Jace?! He-he noticed?! I gasped as I turned sharply to look up at him. With a quick glance over to Tristan, I noted that Tristan was also watching Jace curiously, wonder in his eyes as he then looked back to Ahmeil in confusion.
Ahmeil seemed to ignore him as she dropped the key and withdrew from her pocket a vial of green liquid. I shot to my feet, “Excalibur!”
Jace hissed sharply next to me and took several steps forward, pushing me behind him and toward Tristan.
“Ahmeil! You don’t know what you’re doing with that, put it down,” Tristan called out, “Put it down and let’s talk, all right? You don’t want to do that. Please don’t do that. You’re like a sister to me, I’m not going to watch you destroy yourself.”
“Sister?” Ahmeil tilted her head a bit, “No. We were in love. We always were. You’re sick. I will heal you of it,” she continued.
She’s lost her mind. God she’s fucking crazy! What the hell happened to her?! I stared in disbelief as she opened the vial of green liquid and downed it in one go. A gasp filled my throat as I watched her. At first, nothing happened and I thought that maybe it wasn’t going to do anything to her. However, a few seconds later and she took in a sharp, pain filled gasp of air. The glass vial broke in her hand as she crushed it.
Tristan moved, “Ahmeil!”
Jace turned on his heel and brushed past me so quickly I didn’t even realize he’d moved. He crashed into Tristan, holding him in place next to me. I couldn’t concentrate on their struggle as Ahmeil slowly dropped to the floor. Time slowed down for me as I watched her. The room did a sort of tunnel in my eyes, my focus only on her and nothing else.
I vaguely recalled Alik’s voice saying that some people that he’d forced the drug on simply died from it. My heart was in my throat as I realized that she was going to be one of those people. Ahmeil let out a horrid scream that chilled my body, my blood ran icy cold. Her skin was starting to blacken and bubble in a very grotesque way. She dropped onto the ground where she slowly rolled back and forth, screaming in pain.
My breathing was erratic as I stood there, watching. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling. It wasn’t happiness, which was definitely not it. I was scared, unsure of how to feel really. For the many times that I had wished her death upon her, or something to that extent, I hadn’t really thought it to be like this. Honestly, I supposed I hadn’t really thought of actually killing her, kicking her ass yes, but killing her… I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t figure it out. All I knew was that there was nothing I could do for her now, it was her choice and she had been dealt the wrong hand.
Her body bubbled; the blackened skin looking as if it were being eaten away and it made me feel sick to my stomach. Essentially that was what was happening to me, except on a much slower rate. I reached up and covered my mouth with my hand, trying not to be sick right there. Eventually her screams died, but it took an agonizingly long time for the sound to stop. As her body fell still on the floor, my heart pounded hard in my chest. Everyone stood stock still, silent, staring at her. I took a tentative step forward and Ahmeil’s entire frame suddenly collapsed inward. The skin, bone and anything else turned to nothing but blackened dust.
I turned away then. Ducking to the side of Tristan’s desk, I dropped to my knees and got sick. The sight of her body crumpling like that frightened me, and made my stomach twist in the most nauseating way possible. Once I finished coughing up the contents of my stomach, I panted heavily and leaned away from the trash can. Blood had laced what I threw up, which made me grimace.
A hand on my shoulder had me turning slightly to see who it was. Zak leaned over me, a worried look on his face. I nodded to him slightly, “I’m all right…”
He helped me up and I turned to see Tristan leaning against the chair that I had occupied a moment ago. He was staring at the pile of blackened mass, eyes wide and his face without color in his shock. As much as I hated her, I also realized that she had been close to Tristan at one time. Seeing her suddenly die so violently… I wasn’t sure how Tristan was going to take it.
Jace took Tristan’s arm and pulled him from the room, “Come on,” he ushered softly.
I watched them leave, Zak staying at my side as I fell back against the desk, bracing myself heavily on my hands. My gaze was locked on the mass that was once Ahmeil. It had happened so quickly that I was still trying to wrap my mind around it. She’d definitely lost her mind at some point. Or maybe she’d always been like that and no one really paid attention or noticed.
Zak’s heavy hand patted my head gently, “We will talk to Tristan. It’s a very long story with her, Valkyrie.”
“S-so… You mean? She really wasn’t in her right mind, was she?”
Zak shook his head, “Not really no. Like I said it’s a long story. There was a lot that happened and a lot of things that made her the way she is- or… was. For now, go rest. I’m sure you need it after that,” he said, a grimace on his face.
I nodded slowly and with his help, left the room. My body was still in a state of shock and I was still unsure as to how I felt about the incident. I knew that I would get the full story later though. At that moment, I just needed to figure my own thoughts out.