Silent Night, Holy Night #3
Everything was black.
It had been so dark in the warehouse that Jaime couldn't see his hand in front of his face, but this...this was different. He could feel
this darkness. It weighed heavy on his shoulders like an invisible thumb pressing against his back, moments away from squashing him like the insect he was. The shadows around him were thick enough that he felt slow pushing through them; it took considerable effort just to blink
."Where the hell am I?"
He muttered, his breath ragged. He was growing tired just trying to remain standing."That's a good word for it."
Another voice echoed through the dark, bouncing around on the streams of shadow like the bang of a gunshot echoing through a canyon. Jaime couldn't tell where it was coming from; like it was sounding from everywhere yet nowhere all at once.
Something sharp pressed into the small of his back, slashing through layers of chitin and living metal until it kissed his flesh and drew a drop of blood. Jaime spun around, swinging his arm like a baseball bat to strike at whatever had stabbed him, but his arm found nothing but empty, noxious air."Hell."
The sharpness slipped along Reyes's cheek as the voice called out in a taunting tone, dragging the unseen blade down his jawline, retreating a moment before the Blue Beetle could land a counter blow of his own.
Reyes felt heat rising in his cheeks. "Sorry, but I've met the devil and he is so much more intimidating than you."
He held his hands up in front of his chest, listening carefully for even the slightest sound around him. The blaring static from his malfunctioning helmet made that quite difficult. Jaime waited, keeping perfectly still right up until he felt another strike land on his back. It tore through his armor with disturbing ease, taking another long chunk from his back and sending a spray of blood through the blackness.
He was struggling to keep it together. Every cut and stab caused him immense pain. Khaji Da had gone silent save for the obnoxious ringing in his ear, and the armor was doing next to nothing to protect him. Reyes felt exposed. And he felt alone."You're not like the other one."
The shadows hissed again, menace and rage laced into every reverberating word. "Barely putting up a fight!"'Other one?'
Jaime furrowed his brow, his mind racing with questions even as he felt another agonizing slash race across his chest. He buried his concerns and swallowed his panic. He couldn't die here. Not after everything else he'd gone through. If the Silver Surfer couldn't kill Jaime Reyes then this two-bit phantom didn't stand a chance. He counted out the seconds in his head, his body turned slightly and his elbow locked in preparation. 'One. Two. Three-'
Then he let it loose like a rocket, flinging it back just as he felt the knife touch his back. The elbow struck true against something solid. Something that audibly cried out at the contact."Ha!"
Jaime celebrated, spinning around to throw another wide punch in the hopes of following up on his success. It went wide, but it did little to impede his reinforced morale. "Knew you weren't a fuckin' ghost!"
It was a person- maybe a metahuman. If he could hit them, and if he could hurt them, that meant he could win
His celebration was cut short when he felt a weight land on his back, forcing Jaime to stumble forward and nearly fall. Limbs wrapped around his waist and another around his throat. A moment later he felt something impale through his shoulder, slicing up muscle and sinew with ruthless efficiency. "DIE YOU BASTARD!"
The shadow roared right in Reyes's ear as it pulled out the knife and plunged it right back in a few inches to the left. "Won't- won't let you hurt me again-"
Reyes took hold of the arm around his throat, squeezing down on it with all of his strength. Even if the armor wasn't doing much to protect him it still offered him the overwhelming physical prowess needed to snap bone between his fingers. The shadow let out a pained, almost pathetic yelp as Jaime broke its wrist and dragged it from his back. He threw it to the floor, an audible CRACK!
sounding as it made impact. "You came at me!"
Reyes snarled between panted breaths, holding steadfast to the broken arm to keep his attacker from scrambling away. He shuffled forward, his hand moving through the dark until he found something solid to take a hold of. Now he had...whoever
it was pinned to the ground. All they could do was flail and thrash uselessly against the infinitely stronger Reyes. "Now who the hell are you?! Where'd you take me, and where'd my friends go?!"
He demanded, ignoring the pain that stretched across his body.
The metahuman wasn't speaking anymore. All it gave were anguished whimpers as it continued to fling itself around in a desperate and useless bid to escape from Beetle."What 'other one' were you talking about? Another person-""Another MONSTER!"
The shadow person screamed. Now that the fighting had stopped and Jaime was close enough to it to hear, the voice sounded feminine. And it sounded angry. And scared. "Let me go, damn it- LET ME FUCKING GO!"
Jaime felt his heart drop into his stomach. He'd been called a lot of things over the last few months. Criminal, terrorist, murderer- but that was a new one, and it hurt a great deal more than all the rest. Jaime loosed his grip, only holding on enough to ensure she couldn't slip away without causing the metahuman too much unnecessary pain. After a moment's hesitation, he willed his helmet to peel away, exposing his sweat-soaked face. His human
Struggling to keep his voice even, Reyes spoke as calmly and quietly as he could. "I don't want to hurt you."
He promised. "I didn't come here to hurt you. I just wanna talk."
She stopped thrashing, though she still refused to speak. The static that once clogged his hearing left with the helmet. Now all he could hear was their shared ragged and pained breathing. Silence otherwise hung with the same weight as the darkness. Minutes passed before the other metahuman finally spoke, her throat raw and her voice ragged with pain. "The other one would've killed me by now."
She muttered hoarsely. Again she went quiet, and again she waited a few moments before coming to a decision. "Okay. I...trust you."
Then Jaime felt the floor give out from underneath him.
He fell through the black, emerging to the blinding light of the moon and the stink of old fish in the air. He was back in Metropolis, standing over a woman perhaps only a few years his elder. Her dark flesh and curly, black locks were as slicked with sweat as his own, and her eyes were glazed over with pain and exhaustion. Reyes slipped his hands off of her only to slip them underneath her arms to keep the taller metahuman from falling over- it took a great deal of effort for Reyes not to collapse with the extra weight placed upon his torn and cut shoulders. "You really did a number on me, chica."
He groaned, stumbling toward a nearby stack of crates that they could rest upon.
She just laughed, practically throwing herself at the first box they came upon. Despite the questionable quality of the wood, it looked like the most comfortable thing she'd ever sat on at the moment. "Expected more from you, to be honest."
She rasped, a hint of an Indochinese accent peeking through."Hurtful."
Reyes chortled. He took a second to catch his breath, casting his gaze around their lonely surroundings. Tall, abandoned warehouses stretched on for miles all around then. The one he, Paco and Brenda had entered was just on the other side of the street, yet there was no sign of their of his companions. "Where'd they go?"
He asked, casting his gaze over toward the unnamed metahuman."...I don't know."
She answered, a hint of fear in her voice. "I didn't take them with me. Just you."
Jaime was relatively sure she was telling the truth- which made him all the more worried. They should've been there. "Guys? GUYS?"
He called out as loudly as he could, listening to the sound of his voice echo through the warehouse district. No reply came, save for the returning reverb of his own cry."GUYS?"
He asked again, shoving himself off of his resting point. Jaime only made it a few feet forward before he tripped and stumbled, landing on his knees. "Where the hell did they go?"
The only answer the night had for him was silence.