"Hey hey hey, you're fine now.
" Marcus said, trying to calm Lily down from whatever it was that she was dealing with. He ran his hand through his already tussled hair, the sweat cooling slightly across his forehead.
They'd won. They'd done it. A part of him wanted to cheer and laugh, but it was stopped by the part that reminded him of the cost. Savannah, the old man, the soldier, they were all gone. Not to mention all the people that had nearly
been killed. Too close for comfort, in his mind.He'd killed them
He shook his head, as if trying to force the thought out of his mind. It hadn't been his fault; it had been the group of Abberations that had killed them. He wasn't to blame just because he got careless and let the gargoyle in. It wasn't his fault that she'd been in the perfect position to take Savannah out of the truck.
It wasn't his fault. No matter how much he tried to tell himself that, he couldn't force his own mind to believe it.
The much needed moment of peace was brought to an abrupt halt when the horizon exploded, sending shockwaves through the ground. The cuff crackled to life, ordering a welcome retreat. They couldn't handle something like Cat's Cradle. Not without more...
He rose to his feet, offering Lily a hand. They needed to get loaded up.
" he asked, looking to the motley little group. He brought his gaze to Kusari last, deliberatly avoiding Dean's gaze as he searched for a healer in the APC.
Lily's mind was still a mess of voices egging her to do damage, to find a way to hurt someone...anyone. Having passed the injuries she took to Kusari had calmed the voices down a bit but they knew that she was capable of a lot more damage, a lot more hurt and they were furious that she didn't give in to that desire. Live up to what you are. Stop pretending to be someone good when you're a monster inside.
She looked at Marcus, who was trying to calm her down. The boy she almost killed in that first battle. What was his name? She furrowed her brows and focused on drowning out the voices as she tried to think and remember. You're a MONSTER.Was I always like this? Forgetful?Hurt them. KILL them all!Or was it because of that head wound I had when they found me near USARILN East? You can ignore us all you want. But at one point, you will find yourself giving in.Name name name name. What's his name? What's his name?
The boy's hand appeared in front of her. She looked at it for a few seconds before she reached out and took it, pulling herself up, all the while running all her memories of the boy in her mind.
Emma’s eyes had been directed at the ground. Don’t look.
Instead, she directed her gaze at Marcus. She almost couldn’t believe that he had dared ask that, as clearly things were anything but alright. She wanted… a part of her wanted to yell at him. To blame him. To blame someone. To tell him it was his
fault. But she didn’t say that. She said nothing.
As soon as she was up, she rememberd. "Marcus!"
she exclaimed triumphantly, her golden eyes shining with delight at successfully remembering. When he gave her a quizzical look, she just flashed him a bright smile and squeezed his hand before she let go and turned her attention somewhere else. The first person that caught her eye was the pretty girl standing a few feet away from them, staring at something in the concrete rubble.
She looked back at Marcus for a brief second before she took a stepped away. "I'll just..."
she started but didn't bother finishing as she headed towards Emma.Don’t look at her.
She couldn’t help herself. She had to. It didn’t take her long to pick out where the body of Savannah was, buried in concrete, twisted and broken. Wordlessly she walked towards it, glancing down at the girl’s face, frozen in agony. She was just a child, she had no place out here. Emma searched for someone to blame, but she already knew who was at fault. Why didn’t I come to the APC sooner? Why couldn’t I do anything?
Of course the answer was 'no'. It'd take a long while before everyone was anything close to alright. But they were alive...most of them were at least. Marcus smiled back to Lily as she stood up, giving a small sigh as she followed Emma. He watched as the stopped at a pile of rubble, his curious glance turning to a roiling pit in his stomach when he spotted the blonde locks snaked through the stones.
Emma had walked off, Lily had walked off, and even Kusari in her heavily damaged state had walked off. All he could do was look around, sighing sadly at the scene.Hurt her.
The voice in Lily's head insisted for the nth time.Oh, just shut up,
she thought savagely and turned ran her memories of this girl in her head. Name name name name.
she chanted the same way she did for Marcus.
And just like earlier, she grinned and said her name out loud. "Emma!"
Maybe it was because she was trying harder than usual that she could actually remembered. "Are you---"
the question died on her lips as she let her gaze drift towards what the other girl was staring at.
A dead body. A small girl with blonde hair with a look of horror frozen on her face, her eyes wide but unseeing.
The small blonde teenager stared at the dead girl for the longest moment. She didn't even know her name. She never really interacted with her despite seeing her around campus. Now she laid dead and there was no way she could try to get to know her even if she wanted to.
Strangely enough, the voices in her head had quieted down. Her golden eyes turned into a dark amber shade. Is it possible? Won't it be useful if I could?
she asked silently in her head, questions that was left unanswered by the strangely silent voices.
Staring at the girl, she willed for her power to activate. The black thread appeared on her wrist. But the other end remained floating uselessly in front of her. Lily glared at the thread then at the dead body, wordlessly commanding it to do what was impossible. For a moment, the black strand floated towards Savannah's unmoving body. But like earlier, it remained floating above it uselessly. You can't bring the dead back to life. You can only kill,
the voice in her head explained.
The black thread quivered for a few seconds before it disappeared.
Emma’s face was blank, expressionless, as she turned back to the APC. She walked towards the vehicle, sparing Marcus a glance as she passed ”We should go.”
It took Lily a few minutes before she turned and walked towards the APC after Emma. She was silent but a dark look was on her face.
Marcus kept his eyes averted, only daring to make contact with Emma as she got closer. His guilt continued to bore the hole in his gut, and he waited for her to yell at him; to tear into him for his mistakes, but it never came. Only a single sentance, it's lack of emotion telling him everything he needed to know.
" Marcus said, looking out over the cracked asphalt that marked their fight. He didn't want to get on the APC yet, not with so many of the civilain survivors there. "I should...go help get some of the people get on board.
A nobel course of action driven by a selfish motive.
As though she was acting on auto-pilot, Lily turned and followed after Marcus, not really registering the tiredness and the slight lightheadedness from the blood loss she experienced earlier. "I'll help,"
she said in a quiet voice.
Emma gave a small nod. "Right. I'm... just going to wait here."
she realized it was selfish to wait while the others helped, but she wasn't exactly in the state of mind to care.
With Lily following him, Marcus made his way over to the slumped form of Callan. Even with her arm reattached to her body, she still looked worse for the wear. Dirt and blood seemed to mute the usual vibrant streak in her hair, her skin seemed much paler than usual. Not surprising considering the cirumstances, but it was almost frightening to see their resident Supergirl, one of his roommates, in such a state.
He knelt down to her, grabbing one of her arms and pulling her into a sitting position. She was far too cold, just as Lily had been previously. Ducking down to gain some leverage, he pulled her arm across his shoulder, aiming to support her. Even without her entire body weight on him, he could already tell that she was heavier than she looked.
As he struggled, he could feel her moving slightly, presumably beginning to rouse herself.
"Hey Cal, we're getting you to the APC now.
" he said, the light tone in his voice similar to the one a parent would use for a sleeping child. "Lily, can you get her other side?
Lily nodded and silently obeyed Marcus' request. She grabbed Cal's other arm, the one she had healed and draped it across her shoulder the way Marcus did. Come on, Cal. Get up.
Get up, get up.
Get up, walk it off. C’mon Cal!
The stolen words plagued her will to sleep. Though the memory of who'd said them was well associated with a sharp, pulsing pain in her ankle, Callan felt nothing but the uncomfortable dirt under her fingernails as she came to. All the pain from before was gone. Someone was moving her. Another familiar voice.
Marcus. It was Marcus.
” She found herself less inclined to focus on that fact as the world came back in pieces. First, her arm. Her arm? She clenched and unclenched her fist as the appendage came into view. Her eyelids felt heavy, but she had to look.Get up! Walk it off!
Her father’s old command echoed around in her head every time sleep prodded her eyes to flutter closed again. A constant tug-o-war, but she couldn’t quite decide which side she was on.
Why was her arm so important? Remembering, muted panic at recalling it was Zoe and tentative relief washed over her expression beneath the layer of blood and dirt that obscured her features. As Marcus mentioned moving her to the APC, she forced coherent words into her mouth while trying to pull herself up.
” she grimaced. Everything was coming back to her now, but she asked anyway. Perchance it was just a bad dream. “What… what happened?”
She looked to Marcus pleadingly, begging for good news. Was everyone okay? Siena? Ernie? Lawrence?
…Savannah? No, she knew better. She felt a lump rise in her throat, tears threatening to well up before she commanded herself not to cry. You’re okay. You’re fine.
Well-- you're not dead anyway.
Now wasn’t the time to lose it. She had to keep it together. Others might be hurt. Others might need help. She had
"C'mon, let's get you up.
" Marcus said, trying to help Callan pull herself to her feet. "It's okay. We...beat them.
He tried to give Callan a warm smile as she stood, but it was far less genuine than usual. They'd won, but there had been a high cost. Too high, in his mind.
Lily emulated what Marcus was doing and how he was supporting Callan. As soon as the supergirl was up, the small blonde teeterd on her feet for a few seconds, Cal's weight, height and the dizziness from her earlier blood loss making her a little unsteady. But she bit her lip and didn't complain. She remained silent, just like the silence in her head. There were no voices in her mind for once. But in its place was Savannah's face and the thought that she could have done more to prevent her death from happening.
Callan frowned at his answer, the hesitation in his voice and lukewarm attempt at a smile igniting her suspicions. In search of answers, she sluggishly lifted her head to survey the battlefield. It was utter chaos— littered with blood, rubble, and corpses she barely recognized. Surrounded by so much stillness, her eyes were drawn to the form of Allison as she clumsily rushed by.
Callan heard the repeatedly muttered word as Allison came across Savannah's corpse: broken, dead and unceremoniously left face down on the asphalt.
Unable to look away, Callan froze and her breath stuck in her throat. She'd never said more than two words to the kid, but of course Savannah had had people who cared about her. Maybe parents that loved her. Maybe siblings. Friends. She didn't know, but it didn't matter. She was too young. She shouldn't have had to die like that. And it was all my fault.
Her breath was shaky when she finally exhaled. I'm sorry.
She couldn't keep the tears back any longer. They pooled and ran down her cheeks, pushing past the layer of grime and leaving streaks. She knew if she spoke, it'd be nothing but a sob, so she kept quiet and put her head down, internally repeating her apology as if somehow Savannah could hear.
"Savannah is dead." Allison Revel's voice came out weak, as she attempted to choke back tears. Her grip on the body only tightened as she collapsed onto the ground next to the APC. Close enough.
Lily noticed Callan put her head down and heard Allison's words. Savannah. That's her name,
she thought briefly. Was there a different path? Why do I have an X mark instead of the white marks the others have? Why did I choose this path if I can't even be helpful enough to prevent death? Benediction can bring back the dead. Why can't I? Do I really just bring death and destruction? Why can't I remember anything?
But no matter how much she asked, the voices remained silent.
Emma grimaced. Allison, she remembered, part of her oppisition during the flag game. A small glance towards Marcus and Cal before she started walking towards the collapsed girl. She knelt down, carefully extending a hand towards her shoulder."Allison... we have to go. Cat's Cradle is here, remember? You... you don't have to worry about her. The school will take care of it. I'll help you take her in if you want, but we should be quick. I don't need to tell you how dangerous Cat's Cradle is, right?"
Emma's voice was even- at the very least it didn't betray her.
Really, all Emma wanted was to get the hell out of here.
Allison cradled the corpse in her arms, staring at the ground as Emma spoke. Emma was wrong, so very, very wrong. Of course Allison had to worry about Savannah, no one else would. The child didn't need to die, and if there's a chance to bring her back someone needed to take it. The school wasn't going do it, that Allison was sure of.
Cat's Cradle, yes, the reason they were retreating. Allison remembered now. Her tired legs hadn't carried her far enough, had they? There was a little further to go for the girl and the corpse. Allison stood up slowly, her legs still unwilling to carry the weight of both her and the body, and silently turned to enter the APC.
Marcus said nothing as the tears began to roll down Callan's face. Nothing as Allison collapsed, nothing as Emma helped her up, and nothing as they began carrying a shattered corpse onto the APC. There was nothing to say, nothing he could possibly say that would help. For once, no amount of joking and grinning would make things better.
He'd learned long ago that it was best to stay quiet in these situations.
Was it truly for the best though? That they take Savannah back to the campus? They all knew what would happen to her. Hell, it'd probably happen no matter what they did, but at least burying her in the middle of nowhere would be better than sending her to be eaten
But it wasn't his place to suggest that. Instead, he continued to say nothing.
Head down, repeating a useless mantra of an apology, Callan noticed Lawrence a short distance away. He didn't seem to be bleeding anymore, but was that because he was dead or had he been healed too? She lifted her head and shifted towards him, still using Marcus for support. She paused. He was still breathing. A small sigh of relief accompanied by a different sting of guilt that bit at the back of her conscience upon realizing how happy she was that he hadn't been the one who died. Or Marcus or Siena or anyone she knew at all for that matter. The thought made her feel nauseous. It was like the first day all over again. Only this time, she'd practically pulled the trigger.
Callan ran the back of her hand across her cheek, back to forcing some composure. She wasn't exactly sure what had happened while she was knocked out, but if what Emma said was true, they needed to get out of here quickly. Cat's Cradle was no joke and she didn't want to see anyone else die today. "I'll get Lawrence--
" she started, but as she moved away from Marcus to step towards him, her feet simply couldn't keep up and she immediately staggered.
Marcus moved to stop Callan as she attempted to go to Lawrence, nearly getting thrown off his feet as he did so. Even in her weakened state, trying to hold Callan back was like trying to stop a bulldozer from moving with only his body. Still, he braced against the fall, keeping her supported on her own two legs.
"Nono, you need to rest. You got hit pretty hard back there.
" he said, trying to direct her back towards the APC. He could see that Brent and Siena and the dragon seemed to have Lawrence with them, so that situation was under control. Pretty hard
of course being a bit of an understatement; she'd lost the entirety of her arm in that whole mess. He didn't even want to think of what would have happened had Lily not been there...
Lily stepped back when Callan staggered, leaving Marcus to support her alone. She stood a few steps away, thinking if she should continue helping out the obviously exhausted supergirl. But then it looked like Marcus would be enough to help her out. She wasn't needed and so she slipped away.
"I wanna help,
" she persisted, though she stayed in place. She was the strongest-- it'd be easy for her to carry Lawrence and anyone else who was injured back to the truck. At least it should've been easy. Callan felt a rising irritation at the way her legs refused to properly support her weight, furrowing her brow in confusion.
Emma’s eyes followed Allison into the APC. Allison and Savannah. She sighed, glancing inside, prepared to follow the girl in… but what she saw placed a distinct scowl on her face. It seemed Sander and Ernie’s little feud extended even here. She couldn’t help but shake her head, Is this really the time to be doing this?
Despite herself she held her tongue. She stepped back, watching passively as Sander shook Ernie down like some kind of thug. She wanted to say something, but she was too tired. Couldn’t they just… not? It was over before she worked up the courage to say something. Ernie tumbled past her out of the APC before he took off running. ”Ernie! ERNIE!”
She called after him, but he was already gone. A frustrated glance was given to the others, save Sander, who she willfully ignored. A long sigh followed, before she approached Marcus. ”I’ll go get him. We need to leave. Make sure all the injured get on the truck.”
If her look didn’t betray her mounting frustration, her tone would. She lingered for a moment, looking at the Callan and Marcus. They must be feeling the same things she did, she realized. And for a moment, she wanted to tell them that she was sorry. That it wasn’t their fault. That she could’ve saved everyone. But now wasn’t the time for that conversation. It was just a moment, though. A small nod, and then she jogged after Ernie. To think, she’d be going out of her way to go help Ernie, of all people.
It wasn’t for his sake, it was so they could leave.
" Marcus's voice was firm now, almost scolding. "You lost a lot of blood; if you over-exert yourself and pass out, you're not going to be helping anybody.
He sighed once, his voice readjusting back into a friendlier tone. "You did it. You helped. Let the rest of us help a little bit now, okay?
He gave the APC an angry glance as the shouting commenced. This was certainly not the time or place for them to be having pissing contests about who did what, and while he would have loved to jump in and tell the two to button their flaps, it would have equally not been the time or place. He nodded to Emma as she jogged off; she'd get him back.
Or she'd get killed by a surprise attack from Cradle.
Still, as much as he desperately wanted to go after her, she was right; first priority was getting everyone on the transport. Brent seemed to have a pretty good handle on Lawrence, Lily had healed Siena, and he had Callan. Besides the few stragglers who were either already on board, or close behind, everyone was pretty much accounted for.
Callan seemed slightly taken aback by his stern tone. She winced and looked down at her shoes as Marcus tried to reassure her that she'd helped. She'd helped?
Helped who exaclty? Sander practically took down Factory all on his own. He'd known exactly what to do while she just mindlessly followed orders like a brain-dead moron. If it wasn't for him, she would've been fried to a crisp by that laser, too.
Then there was the fight with the rogue mages. Marcus told her to go for the gargoyle lady and what did she do? She charged at her carelessly. Perhaps if she hadn't been quite so eager to get there. Perhaps if she hadn't hurried quite so much. Perhaps if, in that millisecond before it happened, she hadn't allowed herself to think about how much she
wanted to be the one who saved everyone. Who fixed everything. She
and not Emma. Like it was some sort of competition.
She thought back to the evaluation forms and, just when she thought she couldn't feel any worse, the guilt she felt seemed to hit its peak. Specifically she remembered the only evaluation that hadn't been anonymous-- the one given by Lawrence."Brawn doesn't exclude you from using brains as well..."
That's what he'd said. He'd suggested mental exercises, but what did that mean? And why had she brushed those evaluations off so quickly? Because she was embarrassed about how she lost? Too good for their advice? But what could she do about it now?
It was a question she couldn't bring herself to find an answer to as another wave of exhaustion washed over her. She nodded and muttered a weak "Okay,
" in response to Marcus.