A Cat's Curiosity
"Death is not something we choose," Sephiria said quietly, her hands twisting around the hilt of her sword. "It is something that we bring upon ourselves through our action and thoughts. It comes in the tides of our decisions."
That was when I felt the heat rising behind me, crawling across my skin and rippling in the air.
I turned and looked over my shoulder to see Charden standing still, his hands spread wide where blood was bubbling out of the cuts as if it were boiling. Steam rose from it and within that steam I could see pinpricks of blood rising in the air towards the ceiling.
"What are you doing?" I turned to face him, taking a step back at the same time.
Charden didn't respond, he only seemed to concentrate harder as the steam thickened as did the pinpricks of blood.
I backed towards Sephiria until I felt my shoulder bump into hers. The room was sweltering and what had once been pinpricks of blood rising in the air had now turned into small, marble-sized spheres.
"Charden, please stop!" Kyōko's voice rang out from where she sat against the wall, her eyes wide as she focused on the rising blood.
I watched as the spheres of blood rose upward, high above our heads, until they collided with the ceiling. There was a sizzling sound as they hit the ceiling and were replaced by burnt holes. Tiny droplets fell from the ceiling, hitting the ground and filling the room with the smell of burnt carpet.
"Charden, stop!" Kyōko cried again as a droplet hit her arm, leaving behind a red welt.
"My blood is like acid," Charden spoke suddenly, a strange grimace on his face as his powers increased and more and more blood rose to the ceiling until it was coated red. "But only when I feel as much hatred as I do for Chronos. It is only beaten by the hated I feel for Creed and his Apostles of the Stars."
"Charden, don't do this," I cautioned him. "You'll kill yourself."
"If it means I'm able to eliminate the head of Chronos then that is fine," Charden responded, his voice labored from his efforts. "Cut off the head and the body will scatter if not die."
I took one last look at his determined expression before diving forward, ducking under his outstretched arm and reaching for Kyōko. With a fearful look she stood and reached out for my hand, wrapping her fingers tightly around it. I pulled her against me before looking back the way I had come.
Sephiria backed out of the room, her sword sheathed and her eyes trained on Charden. I looked for other exits, wanting to escape without falling right into Chronos' waiting arms. My eyes locked on the one window in the room, it's glass covered in splatters of acidic blood.
"C'mon," I said to Kyōko, grabbing her tightly by the wrist before spinning towards the window, dragging her behind me.
We dashed across the room, past Charden and his blood drenched hands. I winced as the tiny droplets of blood burned my skin, sizzling through my clothes. I raced forward and fumbled with the latch on the window.
"Why the hell won't it open?" I snarled as I rammed my hand against the latch.
"It's-it's nailed shut." Kyōko whimpered from behind me, her voice quiet.
"Fine," I growled. "Step back."
I wound my arm back before slamming my elbow into the glass and shattering it. I used Hades to break any remaining shards away from the frame before turning and grabbing Kyōko by the wrist, yanking her forward.
The room rumbled beneath our feet, the shards of glass tinkling as they skittered across the floor. I faltered for a second, looking up to see Chardens hands raised above his head. The blood was spouting out now, slamming into the ceiling and really raining down. A hole was forming in the ceiling where the blood hit it, drilling its way upward through the building. Right where Chronos would be standing.
" Kyōko, go!" I yelled, tuning back to her and shoving her towards the window.
She stumbled forward before gripping the window sill and hoisting herself up, disappearing through the opening. I turned back to look at Charden one last time, guilt wracking me as I knew he was about to destroy himself.
"Charden, don't do this!" I pleaded one more time. "You don't have to kill yourself to prove your point!"
He looked at me with a sad smile, his head bent forward.
"Of all people you should understand, Black Cat," His eyes filled with sadness. "Chronos won't stop until Kyōko and I are dead. There's no other way to escape."
"But you won't escape this," I motioned to the room around us, the blood raining down heavier than before. "You're going to kill yourself whether it's because this building collapses on you or you drain every bit of blood you have from your body."
"I'm not interested in saving myself, Black Cat." He responded, finally looking away.
"You're doing this to save Kyōko..." I realized.
"We have to protect the innocent, right?" He smiled one more time.
"Right..." I muttered.
"Now go, Black Cat. I wouldn't want you to go down with me." He replied before turning his back to me.
With one last look at him I turned to the window and pulled myself up onto the sill before jumping down to a balcony just beneath where Kyōko waited. I grabbed her and pulled her against me before vaulting over the railing and swinging around until I could grab hold of the fire escape that was build into it.
"Hold on." I called to Kyōko who quickly wrapped her arms around my shoulders and pressed her knees into my hips.
I climbed upward quickly, her extra weight putting a strain on my hands but not enough to slow me down. I could hear the building creaking and groaning as Charden continued to weaken it. Eventually the blood would break through the roof and hit Chronos, like a vat of concentrated acid. I had to warn them, Chronos or not.
I climbed another several feet before reaching a landing right before the top of the building. I pulled us up and gave her time to slide off my back before jumping up, gripping the edge of the roof with my fingers and pulling myself up so that I crouched right above Kyōko.
"Don't leave me, Black Cat!" She called from below. "Where are you going?"
"Don't worry," I looked down at her and gave her a reassuring smile. "I'll be right back."
I turned and stood, looking across the roof to see Chronos standing beneath the blades of their helicopter as she waved for the rest to gather. I could see Xiao Lee and Anubis standing in front of the door, obviously waiting for Sephiria to appear.
I dashed across the roof, feeling the vibrations from Charden's blood as I did so.
"You have to get out of here!" I yelled, waving my arm.
"Black Cat," Xiao Lee sighed, giving me a dissaproving look. "I told you not to interfere."
"Fuck interfering," I yelled. "You have to get off this roof right now. The whole buildings about to come down!"
"What are you talking about?" Naizer asked, stepping back out of the helicopter and looking down at me.
"Charden's using his blood power to bring the building down," I yelled over the sound of the spinning helicopter blades. "When that blood makes it through the building and gets up here it's going to deep fry anyone who's still standing on this roof."
"Interesting as that is, Black Cat, we have to wait for our leader." Xiao Lee responded, crossing his arms.
I turned back to the door we'd originally gone through, wondering how Sephiria hadn't made it back yet. What was she doing?
The roof gave a violent shudder as a large crack fissured through the center of it. I glanced back the way I had come, worrying for Kyōko's safety. Where was Sephiria? Chronos had to get off this roof and if she was still inside they weren't going anywhere.
With another groan the roof shifted beneath our feet, a cloud of dust rising in the air making the sunlight murky as if clouds had just moved in. Chronos shifted uneasily, glancing from the helicopter to the door.
"Xiao Lee," Naizer turned to him, his look grave. "We have to get the rest of the Chronos members to safety. We cannot sacrifice them for one."
"Do as you please," Xiao Lee glared at him. "Get the rest of them on the helicopter, leave if you have to. I'm going to retrieve our leader."
"I'll go with you." I gave him a reassuring look before turning and running towards the door.
"I don't need your help, Black Cat." Xiao Lee yelled after me.
"Well, it's too late for that." I yelled over my shoulder as I jumped over a crack in the roof and slid down a large portion of it, catching myself on the door frame.
I heard the sound of the helicopter blades spinning and turned back to see Chronos lifting several feet off the roof. Blood had begun to seep through the cracks of the roof, spurting up like geysers and melting small holes in the body of the helicopter.
Xiao Lee slid down next to me, using my shoulder to catch himself before launching into the dark stairwell beyond. I rushed after him, feeling the building shake beneath my feet as I pulled Hades from its holster, ready for anything.
I skid to a halt, almost slamming into Xiao Lee's back. He knelt down in front of me and I looked over him to see Sephiria lying on the ground, a large portion of the wall pinning her leg to the ground.
"Get out of here!" She yelled back to us as she struggled to pull her leg free. "Go back and get the rest of Chronos out of here."
"The rest of the members are safe," Xiao Lee said as he examined the rock that held her down. "We're here to save you."
"Why am I not surprised," She said and I looked down to see she was looking at me. "The Black Cat risks his own life for mine. Will you ever learn to take care of yourself?"
"Not anytime soon." I shook my head with the hint of a smile.
Xiao Li stood and slid his mantle from his arms, whipping it downward and cutting the large slab of rock in half. I ran around him and with his help pulled one half of the slab away until she pulled her leg free. We let go, letting the rock fall into a cloud of dust.
Xiao Lee knelt down, looping his arm under Sephiria's before standing and pulling her with him. He gave me a look that told me to follow before they moved up the stairs. I looked up as blood began to run down the walls, raining down on us. I threw my arm up to protect my face, the blood burning and as I did I heard the building give a loud groan.
I looked up to see Sephiria and Xiao Lee pass through the doorway above. I dashed forward just as a slab of the ceiling slamming into the ground where I had been standing. I pushed forward as the walls on either side of me cracked and began to crumble, parts of the ceiling raining down on me as blood made the stairs slick.
The light from the doorway grew brighter as I climbed higher, but so did the groan and shaking of the building. My foot slipped in a puddle of blood and I fell, catching myself hard on the step ahead of me. The palms of my hands burned in the blood and I quickly recoiled, kneeling as the stairwell gave a sudden lurch and the ceiling above me came crashing down, sending me into darkness.