The Spire

Battles

Cari glanced up from her position facing the hallway to the sound of frantic movement above her. It appeared that their breach of the building's defenses had not gone unnoticed for long. Serna was supposed to be taking care of that, but the way her Utachex was acting up there was not telling what might be happening out there. Cari sighed and let her shoulders slump. She felt incredibly useless just standing here, in front of an abandoned security post waiting for that damn ruby to do what it needed. She wanted to end Talin's reign as much as anyone, but not if it meant her just standing here like some sheep ready for slaughter.

A sound to her left made her entire body tense, her legs bracing themselves for a forward leap. The figure rounded the corner, a green flare coming from the right side of his face. It looked straight towards her, and she felt the tingling sensation of pins and needles all over her body. A very distinctive Utachex, possessed by only one man. Jasin.

Short curly blond hair hung in front of his face, covering the blue ice chip that was his left eyes. The striped tattoo that raced from his brow to his chin stretched as he smiled, his lips revealing a set of perfect white teeth - at least on the side that wasn't blazing fire. He popped his knuckles, moving towards her with a careful gait that implied a predator stalking his prey. He bowed at twenty paces. The majority of the right side of his body was dark emerald flame, though it seemed almost to contain his former shape.

"Cari, you are surely the most beautiful bitch in this building. Not even my prized bloodhounds come close," he said smoothly, the lace at his wrist and throat swaying with a wafting gesture. She bristled.

"Are you prepared to die, Jasin? That's the only reason I can think of for you to come and insult me. Perhaps you think you might win?" She snarled, gripping the handles of her scythe. He merely laughed.

He grinned broadly at her, the green fire in his eyes flaring so bright she had to nearly close her lids. Abruptly, she felt tingly all over, her legs wanting to let her fall, fall into his arms, fall into the strong arms of the man she loved, he was so close, so warm, so...NO! her mind screamed at her, her voice echoing her thoughts. She brought the scythe around blindly, her mind still in a pleasure filled fog, and Jasin screamed like a child. The feeling of helplessness stopped, and she looked up to see him clutching his cheek, where the blade had slashed into him. She hurriedly stood up, praying that the damn ruby was finished by now.

Lasir ducked down the third passageway, jumped over the meter high tracing laser, and grabbed the bar above the pit that opened up beneath her feet. Two precious seconds where wasted as she took a second swing around the bar to pick up momentum, and she cursed. She came down hard, and her feet slid out from under her, leaving her clawing desperately at the floor, digging grooves into the tile with the metal tipped fingernails. They'd been implanted shortly after He'd destroyed her face. The memory threatened to overwhelm her, and she gritted her teeth and slashed in harder, finally finding purchase. She hauled herself up, away from the snapping jaws of disappointed alligators, and panted. She felt the ruby stir. Almost there. She stopped at a door, sneered, and brought out one of her swords. Two slashes and the door gave way, peeling away as if it were afraid of her. She leapt over a series of checkerboard tiles, hissing as sweat began to fall into her eye and blur her vision. A sudden jolt in her mind and a feeling of wholeness told her that her gem was near, and she need only open up the access hatch and grab it for the information that would help her complete the major part of the mission. Well, it was minor in the scheme of things, but important nonetheless. All she needed now was for Herid to catch the ruby and send it along to her.

"You damn bitch! You fucking stupid bitch! You cut me! I'm bleeding!" Jasin ranted, blood spilling down his neck into the soft frills of his white shirt, staining it a bright red.

She drew in a shuddering breath, grinning at him. "I'll do your wash, Jasin. Hell, I'll lick it clean," she laughed, readying her scythe for another swipe, judging the distance between them. She took up a stance, ready to spring, and as he bobbed his head down again, still yelling, she leapt, her scythe brought up above her head, ready to strike, the point aimed at his head. She was nearly upon him, and his eyes widened, his hand going up before him, the fingers splayed. He whirled around at her, pointing his fingers, and he moaned.

She thought it the last gesture of a doomed man, like so many she'd seen before, that last move of supplication before death. Then the blade ripped into her abdomen. She looked at the long cord that ran from Jasin's forearm to her stomach as she collapsed to the floor in front of him, knocked back by the force of the blow and the countered drive she'd built up. The scythe fell beside her with a clatter, and she gasped in air in huge gulped. It suddenly felt as if she couldn't breathe.

He retracted the metal cable quickly, readying for another strike, yanking the lancet from her body, and she growled low in her throat, nearly gurgling. He laughed, and she shivered, becoming cold as she watched her blood spilling out over the floor in a pool around her. She had gotten sloppy.

"Death is so near, Cari! Can't you feel it? It pulses through my veins, waiting for you! Are you ready Cari? It's all for you!" He screamed, and she bit back a sob. She did not face anyone sane. This man was entirely mad.

She pulled herself up and took her stance again, bringing the scythe at an angle, and looked at him with cool eyes, her legs becoming warm as her blood slid down them, making the links of metal cling to her, pinching. He watched her ascent, smiling. "Do you know where Lasir is, Cari?" He asked, his face becoming a mask of sympathy and mocking concern. "Do you know? She's dying, bitch. I wonder if she wears that pretty gold heart I gave her...Do you know? It was such a nice present. I hope that she doesn't get the directions wrong and end up in Garlen's rooms instead. Talin would be sooo disappointed."

"You bastard," she gasped out, "I'll kill you."

He threw the blade out again, lightning fast, and she followed the movement, trapping the edge in a nick of her scythe, whipping it around until she severed the cord in two, and launched herself at him, bringing the scythe up once again to bear, her arched back opening to wound in her belly wide, the blood coursing down her body as she screamed, the life that was contained in her body splattered against the walls. She crooked her arms, bringing the sickle at an angle and delivering a swift slice that ended the slight fuzziness in her head and ruined Jasin's shirt even further. As his head rolled past her feet, she bent down, clutching her side, the hooked edge in her arms slamming against the floor with a clanking sound like a death bell tolling. Jasin's shirt made for a good bandage, holding in her blood as well as anything else, though the slightly rough texture of the lace caused her mild discomfort on top of the intense pain every time she moved.

"I was not meant to die here," she said to no one but herself, hissing as she limped off to the coordinates Lasir was to follow. "And neither was she."

Serna opened her big book of spells and flipped through the pages. So far, she'd all but told Talin exactly where to find Lasir, and she wasn't getting better. She knew it was just a matter of time before she collapsed, and then the few alarms that hadn't already gone off would. She had noticed Cari's wound, and had tried to fix it, but whatever was tampering with her Talents had twisted it so much that she'd managed to nearly mangle her own guts. She sat down and cast a spell of invisibility over herself, the first thing she'd ever learned, and whimpered as a huge neon light pointed directly at her, and Talin's troops began to descend.