Brushing The Sky

Lt. Commander Richie

Disclaimer: I don't even own Tina. Does that tell you anything?

Chapter 5

It had started as a mission to find and retrieve General Cloud Nine.

When they had begun it was easy, just three friends in a carriage in the middle of California being drawn by four horses and driven by a Finder. Barnum and Bailey had set up their circus tents in the next town, and their star attraction was an animal tamer with a monstrous monkey. Sol had the windows open and was getting a tan from the desert sun, Gwen was fanning herself with a white fan she had pulled from somewhere in her uniform, and Tina slept across two seats with her feet sticking out another open window. There wasn't much to do when surrounded on all sides by dust, hills, scrubgrass and the occasional cactus.

"Weren't you raised in this country? You're used to the heat." Sol pulled her head inside the carriage and brushed a hand through her hair, the gold spikes of her crown quickly put back into place just above her forehead.

"I'm from de bayou o' Louisiana, mon ami. Dis 'eat be de dry kind o' 'eat an' I'm used t' tha wet'n muggy kin'." Gwen fanned herself harder, taking her glasses off and sticking them between her breasts since they kept sliding down her nose. "Y'got any way t' make de trip a li'l cooler? 'M all ears."

"Stick your head out the window, swamp rat." Gwen promptly smacked the Spanish woman on the arm with her now-closed fan.

"'M a bayou gator an' y' know it!" She said indignantly, and the two burst into peals of laughter like only a close-knit group could do. Across from them, their companion Exorcist awoke with a start and nearly fell off the seats she laid across.

Just past twenty-nine, Tina Spark was just a smidgen angry for being woken up. She wiped a sweaty palm across her face, makeup smearing slightly since it was melting in the heat. She was a right frightful sight, her eyeliner becoming a puddle despite the fact that her uniform consisted of a top with only the left sleeve and a pair of black shorts with white lines up the sides. Curse that dry heat, even if the wind felt good against her feet. The black leather studded with gold stars of the brunette's belt stuck to the slightly exposed skin of her stomach, though all three of them fairly glistened and Gwen's glasses were sliding out of the bottom of her cleavage.

"Are we there yet?" Tina pulled her feet back inside the carriage and slipped her thin flimsy shoes on, wiping a hand across her brow in an attempt to wipe sweat away. It didn't really work.

"Non. De circus is in de next town, an' it shouldn' be long 'fore we git dere." The blond fished for her glasses before they fell down into her lap and wiped the sweat off the lenses onto the fabric of her pants. With a sleeve the Frenchwoman wiped her nose off, and put the glasses back on to look out one of the windows at the scenery passing by. A longhorn bull, its hide a solid black, grazed contentedly on a patch of scrubgrass. It had probably escaped from a nearby ranch. Tina laid back down and stuck her once again shoeless feet out the window, and Sol stuck her head back out the window.

Easy. Right.

It was a few more minutes before the carriage jerked to a stop, Tina falling to the floor with a yell and Gwen's glasses falling from her nose. Sol had a puzzled look on her face, her attention focused out in front of their ride. In the scramble Gwen picked up her glasses and put them back on, sticking her own head out a window so as to get a good look. Tina quickly joined her. Two boys stood in front of the horses, only about fifty feet away. One had black hair, the other had long wavy blond tresses. They both dressed in black and held something in their hands, though from the distance none of the Exorcists could tell what they were.

All three of them definitely knew one thing, though. The boys were gray. They were Noah.

Sol flung herself out of the window she hung from, hitting the dusty ground in a roll before springing to her feet. A few stems of grass stuck out of her curly black hair and out of the short dress of a uniform she wore, and at a command her Sun Armor extended into its helmet, gauntlets and boots. Green fire lit up at her fists and ankles, and she slid into a stance. On the other side of the carriage, Tina and Gwen exited carefully and with skeptic's eyes. Tina slipped on her shoes, adamantly attempting to ignore the steadily-growing burn that encircled her ankles.

"Holy shit!" The black-haired Noah was the first to speak, leaning forward to get a better look at the three women and then snapping backwards. "Hot chicks! Fucking sweet!" He shouldered his blond companion, and the hunched teen stumbled before pushing back.

"Don't push 'Dero, hii!" The two grabbed each other's coats and pointed the things in their hands- guns, a pair of golden Colt .45's -at each other's heads. The blond one, the apparently more limber of the two, quickly had the black-haired one in a chokehold with his gun pointed at his head.

"An' dese ah s'posed t' be de Noah we should be fearin'?" Gwen was slowly unraveling her Rose Chain from around her waist, the thorned end splitting into the end of a cat-o-ninetails. Tina shrugged, her Hermes Anklets still going unactivated as she padded her way towards the front of the carriage. The Finder, a rather unlucky man by the name of Toma, looked scared out of his mind. He had seen what the Noah could do firsthand apparently, since he had been part of the Rewinding Town incident in Germany.

"You high-tail it out of here and get General Nine, you got it? Explain the situation to her if someone else hasn't already, and get her back to Headquarters." The Finder looked down at her, bandages across the lower part of his face obscuring everything but his eyes.

"I'm not allowed to do that, Madam Exorcist." He said, his tone just a bit defiant. Tina smiled at him, the gesture disarming in its own way.

"You gotta." She said, and gestured towards the two boys that were now tussling in the middle of the road. "If they get to General Nine, and she's the Heart, then just how screwed do you think the world is going to be?" The Finder nodded, his gaze resolute from what the brunette woman could tell. He snapped the reins and drove the carriage towards the two boys, who didn't even really notice until it was right on top of them and they could do no more than jump out of the way.

The three-woman Exorcist team watched the dust cloud fade off into the distance until the two Noah boys pulled themselves back onto the road. Their coats and corset-laced pants were dusty, and they had grass sticking out of their hair. The blond one quickly began to finger-comb the offending bits of nature out, whereas the black-haired one only shook his head a few times.

"Hey babe!" He yelled, even though he watched carefully as Sol jumped the span between herself and the other two women on her team. When none of them answered, he tried again. "Hey blondie!" Gwen pointed at herself, feigning innocence as she reaffirmed her grip on the Rose Chain's handle. "Ditch the uniform and come hang with us!"

"'Kin mon amis come?" The blond woman asked, crossing her arms under her bust and blatantly ignoring the part where the boy had told her to ditch her uniform. Both boys immediately stopped looking at the women's faces.

"'Dero has no idea what she just said, but it sounded hot, hii!" The blond grinned and twirled his gold Colt around one finger, watching with interest as the three women promptly slapped hands to faces or simply rolled their eyes.

"Can we help you boys with something?" Sol asked, the helmet of her Sun Armor tipping back to reveal her face but not deactivating. The one with the black hair grinned, and took the blond by the neck. The two aimed their guns at each other's heads again. The blond, the little light curling above his head bobbing like that of a deep-sea fish's, dug into his pants with his free hand and pulled out a playing card with a black and white diamond-pattern back.

"Is one of you Sol Galen, hii?" Immediately, all three of the Exorcists were on the offensive. Sol's Sun Armor once again flipped over her face, and Gwen wrapped the business end of the whip-form Rose Chain around her knuckles. Metal crept out and encased Tina's feet in her pair of razorbladed sandals, her feet forced into a pointed position. With a flap of the wings at her ankles, the brunette began to float.

"We'll take that as a yes, then." The black-haired teen grinned, though not in the same way that little Allen had described the Noah girl named Road as doing. This smile was lecherous, whereas hers had apparently been full of saccharine sweetness that just barely masked a rotting core. In a sudden movement, both teens had their golden Colts pointed at the Exorcists. "Red Bomb!" They shouted, firing.

The fireball that shot down the dusty California road towards the three women was far too large to have come from the two guns, but it seemed as though it had. Sol jumped out of the way and hit the dirt in the scrubland, and Tina grabbed Gwen and the two flitted up into the air. Another fireball flew into the air after the two, but they flew out of the way. With a nod from the blond, Tina let her friend go. The Rose Chain flicked outward as she plummeted towards the two on the ground, and she tucked herself into a flip.

"Rose Mace! Gian' size!" with a final flip the rosebud at the end of the Innocence she held whipped around with growing momentum as it grew and gained a massive set of spikes. With a mighty crunch the mace impacted the dusty road. The Noah managed to roll out of the way in time, and now had their guns pointed at Sol. She bounced towards them in a swift push of her legs, headed forward gauntlets-first in an attempt to land a solid punch to either body. In unison the two leveled their guns at her and pulled the triggers.

"Blue Bomb!" The ice that flared out from their guns managed to catch Sol on the arm, knocking off her balance and sending her head-over-heels into the dusty California ground. She struggled to her feet as she held onto her shoulder, where her arm turned to a lump of hard ice that looked as though it would take a while to melt. The Sun Armor fired a few times inside, but nothing more than sparks appeared and created the smallest of spaces to maneuver.

"Sol!" Tina performed a tight flip in the air and dropped straight down at the two, the Hermes Anklets seeking fleshy targets. The twin Noah laughed and just barely jumped out of the way, the black-haired one dragging the blond away from the impact crater Tina had created. With twin grins, they turned their attentions onto the Spanish woman who was frantically firing and re-firing the gauntlet that was still trapped in the ice in an attempt to get enough room to flex and break it.

"You're Sol Galen, hii?" The blond cocked his head to one side, his stitched-up grin still present. Behind the two of them, Gwen just barely finished the transformation time it took to turn the Rose Chain back into its whip form. She began to spin it above her, taking a ready stance as she began her attack. Hot air whistled through the links in the Rose Chain in a high pitch, but nobody paid it any heed.

"What of it?" With a flex, the Sun Armor's gauntlet shattered the ice encasing Sol's arm. Tina flitted up into the air, her legs tucked carefully under her as she assessed the situation. The Hermes Anklets burned angrily at her hesitance, penetrating deeper with their heat than the deadened nerves they usually contacted.

Tina Spark, Sol Galen and Gwen Frere were almost outnumbered. They all knew it. None of them cared.

"See, now, we get to kill you." Sol's eyes widened just as the two leveled their guns at her once again. "Shame, since you're hot." With a synchronized yell of 'Green Bomb!' the two fired, and the Spanish woman made a stance to destroy the projectile coming for her. When she punched it, though, she was quickly pulled into the massive glob of green goo that then rolled a few times and stuck in place on the dusty ground. Inside, Sol quickly grasped for her throat as small bubbles permeated the goo around her mouth. She couldn't breathe, couldn't move quite right, couldn't do much more than suffocate.

Without hesitation Tina Spark flipped around several times in the air while the Hermes Anklets burst into flames, ending finally in a feet-first dive that quickly turned the goop into a raging inferno. Sol bounced forward almost immediately and landed a punch to the face of the blond teen, sending him flying quite a ways into the scrubland. Without any warning, the gun was suddenly snatched from the black-haired teen's hand by a thorned whip. All of a sudden, the odds looked better. Tina took her place back in the sky, watching carefully. At her stillness, the Hermes Anklets seethed.

"Y' chances don' look so good, mis amis." Gwen spun the golden Colt .45 she had stolen around one finger, her eyes heavily lidded and an eyebrow sardonically raised. "S' git back ta de Millennium Earl an tell'im dat de Black Order don' take shit from filles lahk y'self." The blond with the little light on his headband picked himself up out of the broken brown grass, pawing at the stalks and twigs entwined in his curly locks. He picked up the card with the diamond-printed back, turning it to one side and then the next as he forgot the twigs and things in his curls.

"Devit, hii! Deviiiiiiit!" He yelled, running at a crazy lope with his golden gun trailing behind him in a loose grip. "We gotta get Tina Spark and Gwen Frere too, hii! Hurry and get your gun back so we can kill her and go find them!" Immediately, the Exorcists steeled themselves for a fight much larger than they anticipated. Tina dropped to the ground next to Sol, the tips of her metal sandals just barely brushing the dirt. Gwen took her time walking to her teammates, though she never stopped twirling the steadily-growing mace-form Rose Chain. The blond and his companion faced them, and it was silent for a moment. In about seventy five or so years, the scene could be cataloged as one that was straight out of a Western.

A voice cried out in Tina Spark's head, the metal around her legs slowly but surely heating up as almost a warning. Destroy, destroy, kill the Hermes Anklets hissed, seething at her inactivity while in the face of two Noah. The brunette shook her head, wing-shaped earrings jingling merrily in stark contrast to the situation. In full view of the black-haired teen it had been stolen from, Gwen slid the golden Colt .45 into her top in a way that made both boys wolf whistle.

"Throw me." Tina said, her teeth gritted against the slight sizzle of hot metal against her skin. Sol nodded, and held out a hand to her teammate. "Gwen, hit them hard and fast as a distraction." Gwen nodded as well, swinging her mace as it began to steadily grow. Tina held out a hand, and Sol grabbed it in one gauntlet. The wings at the brunette's ankles began to flap, and the Spanish woman she held onto crouched low before springing into the air. The two of them shot off in a flurry of dust and feathers into the air, just as Gwen swung her Rose Chain mace around a final time and pounded it into the ground where the two teens were. As she snapped the mace back to safety, Sol twirled around twice and then shot Tina at the Noah like a bullet, feet-first. The Hermes Anklets burst into flames, leaving a trail of fire behind the Exorcist as she shot through the air. Thoroughly dazed, the Noah didn't realize she was coming until they were thrown through the air in a massive explosion of dirt, fire and concussive force equal to that of a thousand pounds of TNT.

"Gerroff, 'Dero!" The two had landed on top of each other, the blond face-first in the dirt over his companion's torso. The black-haired boy shoved the blond off and scrambled to his feet, madder than a hornet. "You bitches think you're all that?! We're Jasdebi! We've got bigger fish to fry!"

"Like who, exactly?" Tina asked, alighting on the ground with her teammates once again. Sol flexed her gauntlets and Gwen wrapped one end of the now whip-form Rose Chain around one hand, holding it tight between her fists.

"Cross Marian." Jasdebi spoke in unison, their voices suddenly resigned-sounding as they made faces at even the notorious General's name. Again the blond held up the diamond-patterned playing card, then shook it a few times and held it next to his ear. "Really, hii?" He said after a moment, cocking his head to one side as he looked over at the group of Exorcists they faced. "Devit, hii!" The blond yelled again, stuffing the card back in his pants as it made something that sounded almost like an indignant squeak. The black haired half of Jasdebi, the one named Devit, smacked the other one over the head.

"What?" He snapped, only to get punched back and a Colt .45 stuck in his face. His assaulter pointed to the three Exorcists they faced, waving the gun with his other hand.

"They're Tina Spark and Gwen Frere and Sol Galen, hii! We have them all right here, hii!" Devit smacked the blond back, but they didn't tussle any longer. The wind blew once in a gust down the road the fighting had moved from, making the scrubgrass and tumbleweeds all bend the same way in a single wave as the gust passed.

"Fuck." Devit finally said, his eyebrows furrowing together as his back straightened into almost a businesslike pose. 'Dero gave him a questioning, if not slightly cross-eyed, look, but didn't straighten up. "Fuck! I really don't wanna kill the fucking hot chicks!" But the black-haired Noah held out his hand towards the group of three Exorcists, who tensed into battle positions with flares of energy and sparks of fire. Gwen suddenly yelped and put her hands to her chest as the golden Colt .45 she had stashed there popped out and zipped back to its owner's hand. In the process her chest nearly popped out of her shirt, and she held her uniform closed for a moment with one hand as she fixed the wardrobe malfunction.

"Get ready to fly, Tina." Sol hissed, and the brunette nodded with a jingle of her earrings. With a flap and a few feathers falling to the dusty ground, the woman rose a bit higher from the ground. But the strangest thing began to happen: the Noah boys didn't attack or even train their guns on the trio of Exorcists. The dry air of the desert, already musty and hard to breathe, became almost cloying as another ripple seemed to pass across the landscape. This time, though, it wasn't the wind that flattened the grass.

In unison, if not a little bit off key, the two boys began to sing.

"Long long time ago, there was a cradle," they began, deadpan and still off-key. The beat was almost circus-like, the kind you would hear come from an organ grinder's box for his monkey to dance to. "And in the cradle, there was another cradle, and one cradle has become a twin now. And one of the cradles gets lots in the fog by itself." The two Noah suddenly moved, and the Exorcists tensed in expectation for a fight. But the guns weren't lowered at the trio, but instead both boys aimed their weapons at the other's head. "A star is shining brightly at the sacred place, and disappeared." Suddenly and in unison, they both fired. Instead of blood and ocher and bits and pieces of all sorts caused by bullets or by fire, the two Noah's heads exploded into bursts of multicolored light so bright that the Exorcists had to shield their eyes or look away. The first to look back was Gwen, who quickly pulled both her comrades to look as well.

The bodies of the two Noah had frozen in time it seemed, still halfway reeled backwards with guns falling from slack dead grips. Light still flowed from their heads, but this time it was less and at a more bearable level. With a sigh, Gwen lowered her Rose Chain and straightened up. Squinting through the dust and smoke blown up from the blast, she looked for any sort of sign as to trickery.

"Dis won' end too well, mis amis." She said, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose from where they had slid. "Dere's gotta be some kin'a catch. All'a sudden dem boys'll be comin' outta de smoke wit'a fireball ah sum-"

In a sudden movement and a spray of gore, a massive yellow barb burst through Gwen's chest and sent her hurtling backwards. Sol screamed and immediately fired up a gauntlet, punching the yellow strands that were still attached to the barb. It gave, splintering into so many strands that suddenly hung limp like... Like hair. Tina flitted quickly over to Gwen's side, sinking to armored knees next to her friend's head. Her glasses were broken and the Rose Chain was knotted, blood foaming around the wound in a pink froth. One, if not both, of her lungs had been punctured and judging by the massive amount of blood there was no real chance she would survive.

"I should'a seen it coming, Gwen!" Tina said, picking up her friend's head from the ground and brushing hair from the Frenchwoman's face. "I'm sorry! I don't wanna loose you!"

"Don' worry-" she choked out, blood falling from the edges of her lips. "Take de Rose Chain an' help Sol." Tina looked quickly over to where Sol was frantically punching at every barb that came her way out of the dust and fog.

"No! I'm not letting another Exorcist die on me! Not right in front of me!" Gwen smiled and shrugged, then grimaced as the motion hurt her. "How can you be so calm?! I've lost too many people already!" Tina screamed, falling down across her dying comrade and sobbing. The white parts of her single-sleeved uniform began to run through with blood. "You can't leave me!"

"Fly, mon ami." Gwen ordered, before the eyes behind cracked and shattered glasses fogged over and closed ever-so slightly. Slowly, Tina picked herself up from over her friend's still-warm body. She flitted to her feet with a burst of feathers and movement from her winged ankles, and then shot into the sky. Below her, Sol jumped as well.

"Sun Armor, Level Two activation!" The Spanish woman yelled, bringing her gauntlets together. The golden armor spread across the rest of her body in a jointed shell, and with the added weight the woman plummeted back towards the ground to make a crater in the California landscape.

"Anklets." Tina began, looking down at the cruel steel sandals that encased her feet. The wings beat at a steady pace, the metal slowly becoming an angry orangey red that would have burned the Exorcist long before if it hadn't been for the repeated burnings before that had destroyed the nerves in her feet. "I know you don't like me. You only want to use me so as to destroy those Noah." Tina's attention turned suddenly from the sandals to the woman below on the ground whose movements were creating small explosions every time she hit something. The sandals glowed brighter, and the sizzle and smell of burning skin began to reach the Exorcist's nostrils. Long ago it would have made her gag, but she was so frightfully used to it now that she paid it no mind. "Let's blow away the dust and find them."

With a mighty sound and explosion of feathers, the wings at Tina Spark's ankles grew to four times her size and began to beat much harder. The dust on the ground quickly blew away in the maelstrom she created, tendril upon tendril upon tendril of yellow tipped with barbs exposed to the bright and hot sunlight. The bodies of the two Noah boys were gone completely, not a single sign they had been in a fight with Exorcists anywhere. Instead there stood a figure cloaked in red, each and every barbed tendril leading back to its head. Every barbed tendril was the Noah's hair.

"Ugh, you found us." The voice the Noah in red spoke in was deep, possessing an echo. It seemed almost like two people were speaking at once. "At least now Jasdebi can see you too!" The barbed hair jumped up into the air like so many snakes, headed straight for the woman floating in the sky. Without hesitation Tina tucked into a tight spin, the Hermes Anklets lighting up into fire as the excess feathers from the larger wings exploded into a smokescreen of sorts. The tendrils of hair pierced through the screen and headed straight for the Exorcist, only to sizzle and warp into horrible-smelling burnt ashes on the wind. Before Jasdebi could renew its attack, however, the Noah suddenly went flying backwards from the force of the punch delivered to its face. Sol bounced forward, creating a shockwave with her armor that sent rocks and dust and plants flying, and delivered another punch that forced Jasdebi's head into the ground. Again she punched, and then a third and fourth time.

"Sol, move!" Tina yelled, coming out of her spin with her sandals glowing red-hot. With a flap of her smaller and quickly burning wings, the Exorcist began a steep descent towards the body of the Noah that had killed their teammate. Sol jumped just in time to avoid the slices into flesh and coat and hair that the Exorcist created, the sizzle of burning flesh assaulting the Spaish woman's nostrils even from a distance as the Noah screamed in pain and its hair writhed all around on the ground.

A curious feeling began to envelop Sol's arms. A tight sensation, like the squeezing of a python almost. The Sun Armor gave a sudden creak and groan, and the woman looked down at the golden plating of her suit of armor in confusion that quickly turned to shock. Her Hermes Anklets deactivated though still glowing with heat, Tina made her shaky way towards her teammate with freshly-oozing blackened burns all up and down her legs.

"What is it?" She asked, trying to blink tears out of her eyes because of the deep pain that was just beginning to take root in her mind. Not the physical kind, since she had been burned far too many times to feel her newest ones. She had just lost yet another of her closest friends. Since she was young, she had been told to protect the lives of Exorcists. Now she herself was an Exorcist, but she herself couldn't protect them.

"I don't know- agh!" Sol suddenly screamed in pain as one of the armor plates of the Sun Armor suit buckled inward and impacted her forearm in such a way that the crack and snap of bones was audible even through the slowly-growing wildfire that was beginning to gobble up the California desert. "What in the world?!"

What looked like a yellow snake had wound its way around her armor in every crack and across every plate like a web, nearly invisible because of the size of the strands and the color. Another plate buckled inwards, impacting the bruises across the Spanish woman's sides and making her cry out. She fired every joint in her armor, green flames licking across the surface to no avail. Tina scrabbled at the golden surface with her short fingernails, ripping and tearing at the gold-colored web that was beginning to crush yet another of her friends like so many Sardines in a can. Faster, now, more plates of armor began to buckle inwards. One of the leg pieces went with a pop, and then the knee guard of the same piece buckled inward with a crack and a snap and a scream of pain from the woman trapped inside the Innocence.

"I can't deactivate!" The Exorcist screamed, sinking to one knee in an attempt to take the weight off of her probably shattered kneecap. The chest plate of the Sun Armor buckled inward with a crunch of ribs and flesh, and Sol hacked and coughed and screamed. "Tina! Tina, run! Get out of here and go get help! Go find General Ni-" With a massive crunch, the helmet of the Sun Armor suddenly buckled inward. Tina couldn't help but scream as blood began to ooze out of the neck joints of the plated armor. Behind her she could hear a duo-toned laugh, and she stumbled in a turn to look at the Noah that had just murdered both her teammates.

"Isn't that just great?" Jasdebi asked, idly picking at the holes in his coat that were suspended over cauterized pink scars across seamless gray flesh. "No matter what you do, no matter how much of my hair you cut, no matter how far away it gets..." The Noah gestured to the Sun Armor Innocence, which was still buckling inward like it was put under high pressure but accompanied by the cracking and snapping and crunching of bones inside as even more blood oozed out of every joint in every plate. "I can still control it."

"You're a sick son of a bitch." Tina spat, clenching her fists and leveling a glare at the monster that was Jasdebi. "You're no true human, you're a monster! A disgusting sick monster!" It seemed like in a flash the tendril of hair was wrapped around the brunette's torso, and with a jingle of her earrings and her anklets she was drug through the air to come face-to-face with the undeniably pretty if not gray and marred by a sneer face of Jasdebi.

"You wound me. You really do." He said, the sneer turning to the same lecherous grin that the black-haired Devit had worn. "Too bad I had to kill the blond. And the Spanish chick. And I still have to kill you." The Noah seemed to ponder a moment, crossing one arm across his chest and rubbing his chin with the other hand. "You're still pretty, though." Tina promptly spat in the Noah's face with enough accuracy and surprise behind her attack that the hair she was wrapped in dropped her on the ground. She scrambled to her feet with curses spewing from her lips at the sorry state her lower legs were becoming, scraped and rolled through the dirt and crusting with bloody and burnt skin and mud.

"There's a special circle in Hell reserved for people like you, you freak!" The brunette yelled at the Noah as she scrambled away from him across the scrubland. Jasdebi yelled in anger and wiped furiously at the spit in his eyes before tendrils of barbed hair shot towards the Exorcist. She yelped and dodged, sustaining a cut across the shoulder bared by her uniform. "You and all of your Noah family!"

Tina Spark had to run. She couldn't stop, she couldn't stay to take the pieces of buckled armor or the knotted and broken chain whip that her dead teammates had possessed, she couldn't do what she had been trained to do from the get-go of her life in the Order. Tina stumbled once, twice, her burnt and bloody legs oozing plasma and dark red that made a trail in the California desert behind her. More of the tendrils of blond hair, wicked sharp barbs at the end seeking fleshy targets, slammed into the ground around her. In a final bid for freedom she jumped as high as she could into the air, and in a burst of heat and the telltale shink sound of unfolding steel and the whoosh of feathers unfolding she took to the sky. The Hermes Anklets knew that if they didn't run, they wouldn't have a new host with which they could destroy the current problem. They only had to get away, to fly fast enough and high enough that the barbs and the golden strands couldn't catch them.

Tina Spark couldn't fly high enough.

When I first began this, I didn't even know how I was going to go from the beginning to this part. From the very beginning, when I knew that she would have an Innocence that would allow flight, I knew what the last line of the last chapter would be. Eventually I figured I would have a chapter for major points in her life, but that was about it.

When I decided on Sol Galen's Innocence, I actually looked through my DC Comics encyclopedia in search of something that was Innocence-y and interesting enough that people wouldn't think it was lame. I eventually found a Justice League member named Aztek, who fights with a set of golden armor with a spiked helmet. The gauntlets and boots were subsequent additions of coolness. While Sol can't actually fly, she can jump to high altitudes and across long distances. If you think of the Hulk in the first Hulk movie, and how he jumped, you have a pretty good idea.

Gwen Frere actually came about from a doodle in Math. It was of a woman in a very seventies one-piece disco power suit with cleavage down to her navel and large lapels. The design actually stuck, and eventually my most recent design was formed, which keeps the top and gives her flared bellbottoms and high-heeled ankle boots. her accent was mostly formed from my extreme want to write an accent like Remy LeBeau's from X-Men. I probably failed spectacularly, but I actually don't care now.

This chapter was a bit more gruesome than most. But its death, and more importantly the death of three Exorcists. When I gave Sol an all-encompassing suit of armor to fight in as her second activation, I didn't think of crushing her under pressure until I actually started writing it. But Gwen was going to be the first to die from the get-go.

As always, if you read please review. I hope you enjoyed this little ride.