Salutations! Welcome to the first joint fanfiction between Pennatus and Schizzar. This Infamous fanfic will be detailing life after the Evil Ending of Infamous 2. That means there will be rampant spoilers, and whatnot. There are also OCs. While sometimes OCs bug people, I urge you to keep reading, for there will be plenty of Cole and Kuo to make up for it.
Without further ado, please enjoy the first chapter!
"Any man can overcome adversity. If you truly want to test a man's character, give him power."
— Abraham Lincoln
The night was hot, humid. The fire crackled and popped as I stirred the stew in front of me. There wasn't much in it; potatoes, chunks of rabbit meat Connie had caught earlier that evening. It's a bland meal, but then nothing tastes good with the smell of burning flesh in your nose. We burned the dead. Those inflicted with the plague. Connie said burying them risks contaminating our only source of water out here, not that it matters, because at this point we're all sick; it's just a matter of who shows the symptoms next.
I heard the bigger cities still have access to clean water, that the electricity and water systems still work. Out here, in the middle of nowhere, there's no such luck. We catch our food, build fires from scratch, and hope that the well holds out, all while slowly wasting away into nothing.
"Kovi, hurry up in there," Connie yelled. "We're all hungry."
Connie's my sister. When the plague got really bad, she took control, kept people isolated. Funny. She was only 22 years old, and taking care of a town who's population now numbered 31. Sure, there are people around here older than her, but none of them are as smart, and they don't know how to be leaders like her.
Well, I didn't either. With Connie around to overshadow me, I never bothered to try. If she wanted to take the spotlight, more power to her. That's not to say I wasn't jealous; of course I was. I wanted to be the special one, the one who always knew what to do.
I finished the stew a few minutes later and carried it out to the table Connie had set up in front of our house. 29 people were lined up, armed with their bowls and spoons, ready for the small meal that would barely keep them sated. It was better than nothing though. Better than being dead.
Once everyone had been fed, Connie and I split the remainder. It wasn't much, but Connie wanted the others to have as much as possible. Sometimes she would give me her share too, and it always left me feeling guilty. Until my stomach roared from hunger.
I was just putting the meal away when a man came tearing down the street. Dirt and hunger made us all look the same and I couldn't be bothered to remember his name.
"There's a group moving through. Rose spotted them when she was out picking berries. They're moving slow, but she says they'll be here soon," the man said, the words spilling out in a rush.
"Thank you, Dean. Kovi, go get Kellen and Dad's gun. Meet me at the edge of the town by the woods," Connie ordered.
I nodded and darted back in the house. Connie kept our Dad's gun in her room, fully loaded with the safety off. It was only a pistol, but it was the only thing we really had to defend ourselves. Kellen lived two houses down from us, and helped Connie with the overall organization of the remaining citizens, so it was only natural that Connie wanted her to come. Even if I thought I was more than enough support.
Kellen was eager to help, blond ponytail bouncing as we ran to join Connie. I always liked Kellen; she was beautiful, all long legs and powerful muscle, the fittest of us all. Not that she ever looked twice at me.
We arrived at Connie's side just as the party Dean had spoke of stepped out of the woods. I swung the gun up, aiming like Connie had taught me, at the apparent leader of the group. When his eyes met mine, my limbs turned to jello. They were red, a feral gleam in them that made my blood pump hot with fear. His hair was shaved close to his head, and a ragged scar cut its way up through his right eye. Tattoos littered his arms, but he was too far away for me to really see what they were. Something was on his back, its rusted handle jutting out over his shoulder.
Standing next to him was a woman whose appearance chilled me as much as his burned. Misty ice crawled up her forearms, black hair sweeping over one of her bright blue eyes. We were dealing with Conduits, something people in my town spoke of often but had never seen. I fired.
The shot went wide, and the man didn't even flinch, instead breaking into a crooked grin.
"Kovi!" Connie shouted, jerking my arm down and wrenching the gun away.
"I-I'm sorry." My voice cracked. The man's grin widened and I felt my face heat.
"It's alright. We understand if you're scared," the man said. "I'm Cole. And this is Kuo."
"Why are you here?" Connie's voice was more firm, and her hand didn't shake as she leveled the gun at Cole.
"Let's talk in town," Cole said, his voice not open at all for argument.
"Just you," Connie said. "Forgive my suspicions."
I glanced past Cole to the group of ten or so people gathered behind them. My eyes met those of a tall boy, possibly my age. They were green, and impossibly large as he stared at me, almost through me. Then, just the smallest twitch. Shaking his head.
"Connie...maybe we should just send them on their way," I murmured.
"I insist," Cole said, already walking forward.
Connie just rolled her eyes at me and walked after Cole, keeping the gun pressed to the back of his head as we walked. He strode confidently, all strong grace and power, like a tiger in human form. Kellen and I trailed after them, and I shot a hurried glance behind me, looking for the boy who I had thought was warning me. He was gone.
As we entered the town, people began to emerge, staring at our odd procession with wide eyes; it had been awhile since Connie had allowed anyone to come inside. People began to gather, and Cole came to a halt, his body relaxed. Then, before anyone could move, he whirled, grabbing Connie's arm and kicking her in the stomach. The gun fell and Connie's body hit the ground. A sharp pain arched through my head and my vision spun away from me, screams echoing in my ears.
When I woke, Cole was standing above me. His eyes still glowed, and he still wore that smile. "I had a feeling you'd be one of them."
I jolted up. "Connie! Where is she?" My head exploded from pain but I ignored it, glancing this way and that, looking for a sign of...anything. But there was nothing. I was surrounded by charred bones, and yet the houses still stood, untouched by the fire that had burned the remains of...were they people I knew? Was that what I was seeing? "What did you-"
My question was cut off as I was kicked to the ground. "Stop squealing. You have a choice, right now." Cole ground his boot into the small of my back as I writhed, trying to break free of the unshakable grip. "You're a Conduit now. Either you come with me, or I kill you."
"Fuck! I'll go with you, Jesus Christ!" I shouted, the effort splitting my skull with pain. "Just...tell me what you did."
The pressure left my back and I rolled over, propping myself up on my elbows as I looked up at Cole. His expression was grim as he folded his arms across his chest, as if he was weighing the words in his mind. "I got rid of anyone who didn't carry the Conduit gene. Anyone who didn't deserve to live is now gone. It's survival of the fittest now. And you're one of the fittest."
"That's...that's crazy! Kellen was way more athletic than me..." I was aware that I wasn't making much sense, it's not like he knew who Kellen was, but at that point I didn't care. All I wanted was for everything else to make sense. Cole didn't seem to be interested in enlightening me though. "Please...just. I don't know what's going on. I don't even know who you are!"
"I'm the Beast. The plague either kills you or I awaken the Conduit gene. The plague would kill you all, but my powers can save the Conduits. I'm saving mankind from its own destruction and creating a race that will survive."
"But I can't be a Conduit! I'm not special! Connie's the important one. Why am I alive when she's..." I trailed off, staring at one of the skeletons with their charred bones and fragmented bits.
"That's just it." At some point, Cole had leaned to crouch down over me, his face inches from my own. Up close, his red eyes are painful to look at. Emotions were at war within them: pain, excitement, agony, sorrow, glee. His veins arched through every line of his face; it was frightening and fascinating all at the same time, and I wanted to get closer. "Now, you are special. You're the one who's important. You're the one with...power."
He leaned back and stood up once more, extending his hand. Those words were all I needed to hear. Words I had always been denied. And now this man...this...superhuman, had told me that I meant something. That I was more than all of those people who had put me down and kicked me to the side, telling me I was insignificant and worthless. That I was the one meant to survive.
I took his hand. It was scalding hot but I kept my grip firm as I stood, unable to look away form his hypnotizing gaze.
"Can you feel the power, Kovi? Do you feel it?" He released my hand to grab my forearm, and I gasped, head bowing down as pain shot up my arm. "It's under there, deep within you. I've activated it, now you need to show me what you can do."
He shoved me back, and a bolt of electricity raced down his arm and stabbed at my chest. I cried out, body convulsing at the shock. It felt like my heart was stopping and starting all over again, but all at once, my feet planted themselves firmly on the ground. With a shout, I brought my arms up and then something happened. The shock stopped and when my mind finally started working again, vines were protruding from my arms, just beneath my elbow, and were wrapped tightly around Cole's wrists, locking them together. I stared in awe at the seamless blend of plant and skin, marveling at how I felt no pain, marveling at the sense of power that rushed through me.
When my eyes met Cole's, I could see my delight mirrored in his eyes. "Yes. You'll do. You have amazing instincts. Now retract them."
He flexed his hands and my vines snapped, falling limp to the ground. "How?"
"Just think about what you want to happen," he said, his voice surprisingly patient.
I did as he ordered, and just like that, the vines began to slither in, slipping beneath my skin and vanishing without a single flash of pain. "Is...is this what a Conduit is?"
"We all have control over something. It's what sets us apart from the others," Cole said, moving towards me. "Now tell me, Kovi. Can you leave your old life behind? We have work to do, and if you're going to get caught up in all of this-" He gestured around him at the barren wasteland "-you better tell me now."
My mind was still numb from the shock of everything, but when he asked me that question, I knew my answer. Life had been pointless and meaningless before. This man had restored my hope, my desire to be alive. I met his eyes. "I'll join you. And I won't look back."
He turned and began to walk, confident that I would follow. I glanced around quickly, and spotted what I wanted. Dad's pistol, shining in the setting sun. I checked to see that Cole wasn't looking, then snatched it off the ground, clicking the safety back on before following after him.
Cole pushed us hard. Kuo worked to train some of the other Conduits Cole had gathered. We numbered in the hundreds, and for an hour each morning and each night, we would work together at mastering our new found powers. I found that I didn't often talk with my comrades. They didn't interest me. I knew that in order to become worthy of Cole's attention, I would have to work harder than the rest to prove myself. For hree days, I didn't think about that boy I had seen just before Cole had been led into town.
And then I figured out what had happened to him without asking.
We were settling down for the night, unrolling our blankets and getting ready for sleep. The sound of hand smacking flesh echoed across the clearing, and all heads turned to see a girl slapping Cole across the face. He seized her wrist, nearly lifting her off the ground. She glared at him with defiant gray eyes, ice slithering off her free hand to stab at the man. It exploded and a bolt of lightning struck her side.
Her cry screeched through our ears, and while we all flinched, Cole remained unmoved.
"Do you mean to say you don't want to be a part of this?" Cole asked, voice soft. In the silence that her cry has created, we could all hear him crystal clear.
"If it means we're killing more innocent people, then no," she said. "Let me go. I'll leave, and I won't bother any of you. You can go on killing, but I refuse to be a part of it!"
With a shout of rage, Cole threw her away, hard enough to make her fly through the air like a rag doll, all flailing limbs. A moment later, a bolt of lightning struck her body to the ground. When the smoke drifted away, there was nothing left at all. As I looked around, I saw only fear in the gazes around me. Fear that they would be next. Didn't any of them see that they were just like him? They were strong, powerful, we all were. We deserved to live! The others would've died out anyways, so what did it matter? We were just...speeding up the process.
A ragged sob split the air and a girl beside me fell to her knees. "Why? Why my sister? She was just-"
Kuo shoved me aside and knelt beside the girl, a hand moving to silence her. "Cole. Leave it. I'll take care of this. Give her a chance."
She looked up at Cole, who had at some point moved closer, looming over them, hands clenched tight, sparking with lightning as he glowered down at them. Her blue eyes were full of something I couldn't identify, and for a moment, Cole's gaze seems to soften, a moment of stable emotion before the torrent took over once more.
"She has until morning. If she runs, I won't chase," he said, so quiet I think I was the only one that heard. The rest of them had distanced themselves from the trio.
Kuo nodded and helped the weeping girl to her feet before walking off into the woods. Cole turned once to look at all of us.
"Practice. No slacking. You all need to adjust to your powers. Those who are more experienced, help the newest." He glanced around again then moved to disappear into the woods opposite of Kuo.
"Come on, newbie. I wanna see what you can do," a voice said.
I turned to see a tall boy looking down at me. His eyes were a deep blue, skin pale, with near white blond hair. His face was all angles, his nose turned up a little, as if he spent so much time sniffing down at the people beneath him that it got stuck like that. He was the epitome of all my bullies from before.
"Yeah, alright," I agreed.
He led me off deeper into the woods, and I could already tell that this wasn't going somewhere I wanted it to. I shook myself out of that fear of getting my ass kicked, reminding myself that I was better now, I was stronger. I wasn't going to let anyone tear me down, especially not some no-name shit head.
"So you're new, aren't you? Picked you up in that hick town," he said, cracking his knuckles. "I've been with Cole's group for awhile, so I have a lot of things I could teach you, if you're willing to listen."
He whirled, and the sound of a tree branch cracking rent the air. Moments later, the branch flew towards my head. I ducked, just barely managing to dodge as adrenaline kicked in and started pumping through me. The kid's expression grew angry, eyes narrowing before he pointed his hand towards a small tree, clenching his fist tight and then releasing it. I stared in awe as the tree uprooted itself, dirt shaking loose as he moved his hand up and down.
He grinned as he looked back at me. A flick of his wrist and the tree spun in the air, parts of it breaking off as it hit other, bigger trees. With a grunt he made a throwing motion. I was ready for it this time, planting my feet and holding my hands out in front of me, letting the power roar through me. Vines shot forward, springing from my arms like so much rope, wrapping tight around the trunk and holding it aloft. The effort made my arms shake but I just grit my teeth and bore down on the power and forced the vines to pull the heavy weight up higher. Once it was out of the way, I could see his eyes, see the glee turn to wonder, then fear.
That look was delicious. With a shout, I hurled the tree forward. The force brought me to my knees and my breath whooshed out in one big rush. My stomach rolled. The boy managed to escape the blow just barely, and he lay panting on the ground across from me and beyond him were four felled trees, the smaller tree resting on top of them. Their roots were twisted and gnarled, out of place out in the open as they were. I held my hand out, digging deep as I called them forward. They lengthened and stretched, trying to obey my command, but my concentration was sketchy at best. But it was enough.
The boy began to struggle as the roots wound around his limbs, sinking into the ground and holding him down. I pushed myself up onto my hands and knees, vomiting as my vision spun from the exertion of keeping him held down, but I knew I couldn't let him up. If I did, he'd take me out with another tree, and I knew I wouldn't be able to avoid him this time. Wiping my hands on the ground, I stood up, keenly aware of how much I wobbled and wavered.
A moment later, ice shot past me, cutting the ties I had worked so strenuously to create. Cold washed over me, and then Kuo was standing between us, her back to me.
"Are you insane, Davin? You know he's not strong enough to handle that sort of power yet!" she shouted.
"He seemed fine enough to me," Cole's voice said.
I tried to turn around but stumbled forward. Right before I face planted, he caught me, arm wrapped tight around my middle and pushing me back upright. The touch seared and I turned my head to look up at him only to see he was staring at Kuo, the twisted, crooked smile on his lips. I wished for a moment that he was grinning at me.
"What are you talking about?" Kuo asked.
"He managed to stop that tree from bashing his brains out. Pretty impressive, I'd say," Cole said.
"Cole, that isn't the point!"
"You're right. Davin, you're not allowed to use your powers this week. Think twice before trying to kill someone," Cole said.
"It's not like you do."
The air turned cold at Davin's words, but Cole didn't attack him as both Kuo and I expected him to. "Don't make me angry, Davin. Go back to camp and start getting the food rationed out appropriately. Kuo, you take over Kovi's training for the day."
"He seemed fine enough to me," Cole's voice said.
I tried to turn around but stumbled forward. Right before I face planted, he caught me, arm wrapped tight around my middle and pushing me back up right. The touch seared and I turned my head to look up at him only to see he was staring at Kuo, the twisted, crooked smile on his lips. I wished for a moment that he was grinning at me.
"What are you talking about?" Kuo asked.
"He managed to stop that tree from bashing his brains out. Pretty impressive, I'd say," Cole said.
"Cole, that isn't the point!"
"You're right. Davin, you're not allowed to use your powers this week. Think twice before trying to kill someone," Cole said.
"It's not like you do."
The air turned cold at Davin's words, but Cole didn't attack him as both Kuo and I expected him to. "Don't make me angry Davin. Go back to camp and start getting the food rationed out appropriately. Kuo, you take over Kovi's training for the day."
"Cole, look at him. Does he look like he's ready to fight?"
Cole looked down at me and I was unable to suppress my shudder at his harsh gaze. "Perhaps you're right. Can you walk?"
"Y-Yeah." I hated how weak my voice sounded, but it couldn't be helped.
I tried, only to end up leaning on Cole. From the way he shifted away as much as possible from my weight, I could tell he didn't want to help me, but I was thankful anyways. Perhaps I had pleased him enough for him to make for this small allowance.
If I had thought my display of power would win me any points, I was proven wrong. In the next week, my food was poisoned twice. The only reason I lived through it was one of the Conduits noticed the symptoms and was able to purge my system. Her name was Sedona. When I had stumbled on my way to my bedroll, she checked on me to see if I was alright. As soon as she touched me, she shoved me to the ground and shoved her hand under my shirt to touch my stomach.
It felt like small shocks of lightning were coursing through me and after awhile, she pulled away. "There was poison within you. A few more minutes and you would've slipped into a coma."
I had stared at her wide brown eyes, framed by thick locks of red hair, unsure of how to deal with what she was telling me, unsure of how she even knew. She didn't elaborate though, instead leaving for her own bedroll. The next day, she found an excuse to brush up against me after every meal, never saying a word. We seemed to be in a mutual agreement not to tell anyone, but the second time it happened, we had no choice.
I collapsed during training. I wasn't aware of what happened then, but afterwards, Sedona informed me that I had been convulsing on the ground and she had to once more cure my body of the poison within it. That time though, we couldn't avoid telling someone. That time, Cole had forced us to talk.
He dragged us away from the others. They were all bedding down after it had been determined that I would live, and I had a feeling Cole was going to rip us both apart for my being weak and her helping me. It was survival of the fittest after all.
"So, you have one chance to tell me what happened. If you walk away, and it happens again, I will get rid of you both. I do not want any disruptions," Cole said. His eyes let us know that he was not joking.
Sedona's hand reached over to lightly grab my wrist, her small, pale hand wrapping tightly around my tan one. "Nothing is wrong. We'll deal with it."
I wanted to tell her to shut up, wanted to tell Cole someone was out to get me, someone wanted me dead and it was probably Davin. But instead I just nodded my agreement. "We'll deal with the problem ourselves. I can't guarantee there won't be any disruptions though. I'll be more careful."
Cole's eyes were unreadable as he trained them on me. I was getting used to that gaze after all of this time, so I didn't feel like my knees were going to give out. "I appreciate that you are both willing to take care of yourselves. This should be an interesting string of events. Carry on then."
He walked away, back to camp, and when I moved to follow after him, Sedona stopped me with a light pressure on my wrist. I turned towards her, surprised to see the timid look from her eyes gone.
"We have to be careful, Kovi. Maybe you should get your own meals," she said.
"Why do you even care? I don't even really know you," I said. "I don't even know what your power is."
She shrugged. "I'm a Conduit for energy. Cole was angry when he found out I couldn't fight, but it turns out I'm able to tell when someone is sick, and I can cure...a lot of things. We don't know the actual limits yet, and to be honest, a part of me doesn't want to figure out what those limits are. Anyways...that's how I knew what was wrong with you."
"So I guess we should just stick close to each other," I said. "You think you could detect the poison in my food before I eat it? Do you think they'll try again?"
"Who knows? Just because we're a higher evolution doesn't mean we don't have our fair share of idiots too."
I laughed, for the first time in awhile, at her words. It had been lonely these past few days, not making any friends, and generally avoiding people. I had shoved all thoughts of my past life out of my mind, and it was really for the best. I had seen what Cole had done when someone protested, but in a strange, twisted way, I approved of what he was doing. In this world, he couldn't allow dissent to grow.
Part of me, the old part, protested. But during the week, I had already changed in ways I didn't think were possible, forgotten who had once mattered. Which begged the question of whether or not those people had ever truly been important at all. Which just led to more thoughts I didn't really care to think at this point.
"It's hard making friends like this," Sedona said quietly as we meandered our way back to camp. "There's so many of us, but we're pushing so hard that it's like we never have time to socialize with each other. Isn't that a little...strange?"
"I guess I haven't noticed. I've only been here a week." I didn't mentioned how nervous I was by how I had adapted to the change as if it were nothing. I couldn't admit I was scared, not to anyone.
"And isn't it odd that only teenagers and young adults are with us? You don't see anyone over 40 in the group," she added.
"Would you stop?" I asked. "You're just jumping at shadows."
She raised a slim red eyebrow at my words but just shrugged again. "Okay."
She headed back and I trailed after her, trying to ignore her observations. I didn't want to break the illusion I had managed to build for myself these past few days. Perhaps it was immature, but if ignorance was bliss, I wanted to stay ignorant.
My first experience with how deadly Cole's quest was came the next day. Kuo had mentioned that morning to me during training that we were leaving the backwater land I was born in and were approaching a major city, and where there were major cities, there was opposition to their mission. I don't know what it was that made me want to be on their side. Was it because Cole had saved me? Was it because I wanted to destroy anyone weaker than myself?
Those questions weren't relevant, so I learned later. The reason I fought with Cole and the others, is because when a fighter jet is trying to shoot you down, you fight with whoever isn't fighting you.
It started a few miles outside of Mayfield. The forest opened up to wide fields, split by a large interstate highway. My first instinct would be to go around the city, but Cole led us all right up onto the empty highway, his stride not faltering as he headed down the hot pavement, hand on the odd weapon he carried on his back. I found myself next to Kuo as we followed after him and couldn't help but ask what was going on. There hadn't been much time for questions, and really, it seemed like I was only following them because it was the only thing that was really offered to me at the time.
"What exactly are we doing?" I asked.
"The bigger cities know about us," Kuo said. "We've been moving west for months, and the army has been mobilized against us. In your town it was easy to just walk in because you didn't know anything. This city will be well prepared." As she spoke, the sound of planes taking off reached my ears, and I watched as they shot up into the air over the towering skyscrapers, their metal glinting in the sunlight as they streaked towards us. Cole drew his weapon, lightning sparking off its tips as he did so. The lightning stretched to the sky, blowing up one of the planes before it could fire off any shots. A moment later, a girl ran past me, streaking straight into the air towards the next one. She flipped once, blond hair flying about her. For a moment, I thought I was looking at Kellen, but I shoved that thought away, buried it deep. Her feet slammed into the next jet and it careened out of control, crashing into the ground, still a good ways off from us.
"That's Naomi. She can fly and has better than average strength, as you can see. She's one of the ones that's been with us since New Marias," Kuo said. "Just leave this fight to the experienced ones. You can join in later."
With that, she vanished in a spray of cold air, appearing next to Cole. Their arms brushed and then they vanished together, Naomi following soon after. They appeared once more further down the road. The other Conduits and I just stood by and watched as jet fighter after jet fighter fell to their power, crashing into a burning heap in the fields surrounding the highway. A hand brushed mine and I turned to see Sedona beside me, a curious expression on her face.
"Cole always travels to the center of the city before he unleashes his power. I don't know why. Maybe that's the way to affect the most people or something. I just...don't understand why all this killing has to happen," she said.
I didn't respond. The words were too close to what that other girl had said before Cole had destroyed her, and I didn't want to be overheard agreeing, or even talking about it. "So what do we do? Just sit here and wait?"
Cryptic as it was, there wasn't much more I could do. I could follow after them but it probably wouldn't end very well; I'd probably end up pissing myself out of fear. I hadn't forgotten my incident with Davin, and a jet fighter was a hell of a lot heavier than a tree, that was for sure. So instead we waited, watching as Cole, Kuo, and Naomi disappeared within the city. We could hear the gunfire, the sirens, and the screech of metal. The occasional explosion would rock the earth beneath us, but no one seemed disturbed by it, as if this were all routine. Maybe that's because it was.
And that's when it happened. An explosion bigger than the rest, something that engulfed the whole of the city in it's flames, and yet at the same time, the buildings did not crumble, did not even waver. Everyone looked on with blank expressions as screams, thousands of screams rose up into the air, piercing my mind. Sedona's hand wrapped around my wrist as the screams went on and on, never ceasing, for what felt like hours. Eventually, the sphere of fire collapsed back inwards.
"How...what just happened?" I asked.
"That explosion was Cole sending out a whole bunch of energy. It stimulates the Conduits and kills everyone else. If they're close enough to the blast they'll...they'll be burned away. The rest...well, it just looks like they're sleeping," Sedona said, her hand slipping down to thread through my own.
In my old life, my heart would be thudding that such a beautiful girl was holding my hand, but right now, I needed all the reassurance I could get that this was real, that what I was living was real, so I just clutched her hand.
"Come on, they're going to need help in the aftermath," she said as the other Conduits began to walk down the road.
"They say every 1 in 1000 people is a Conduit. In all honesty, Cole didn't expect to see a single Conduit come out of your town. And then you did. Well in a city this big, there's going to be quite a few new ones, and they'll need help adjusting. Not everyone just accepts their fate like you did," Sedona said. "And those that protest too much...you'll see."
When we entered the city, the group split up like a well oiled machine, sweeping out into the surrounding buildings to begin the search for surviving Conduits. Sedona dragged me straight through, past the abandoned cars, the wreckage, until finally we reached Cole and Kuo, standing in the middle of the street. A few people were staggering to their feet around them, clutching their heads and gazing around with confused expressions.
"Cole," Sedona said, waving her hand as she released mine. "What are we to do with Kovi?"
Cole held up his hand for silence, turning towards the people approaching him. There were four in all. One was a young girl, around 11 or 12 I would say. Tears streaked her face as she looked up at him, expression almost like that of a puppy in it's naivety. Cole's gaze softened for a moment and he reached out to place a soot streaked hand on her head. She stiffened and then fell to the ground, dirty blond hair spreading out like a fan around her head. Her eyes were wide, staring into nothing.
"What did you do!" a woman cried. Her hair was the same shade of blond, dirt and soot matting it into tangled locks as she fell to her knees beside the small girl. "Why would you...kill anyone, let alone a child?"
Cole brought his amp down from where it had been resting across his shoulder. "The young are weak. They'll only drag humanity down in the end. She wouldn't survive these harsh conditions we now live in. It is a mercy to her."
Sedona's hand found mine once more as a shiny tear made it's way down Cole's cheek. He didn't pay it any mind, and his eyes were still the torrent of mixed emotions. He licked his lips, then raised the amp high above his head, bringing it down over the woman's head. Bright light flared, and when I could finally see again, the four conduits were dead, limp on the ground. He turned his back to us, and Kuo stepped forward, an icy hand touching his shoulder. I started forward, but Sedona's hand stopped me.
"I can't...can't let them know I killed her. I don't want them to see what I've-" His voice grew too quiet for us to hear. "Zeke wouldn't...I just..."
"We're doing the right thing," Kuo murmured, arm looping around his waist as she rested her head on his shoulder.
Sedona coughed, and the pair turned to look at us. Cole's expression hardened at once.
"Take him to the outskirts. Check the houses around there, then wait at the edge of the city," Cole said. "We'll meet there with the new Conduits in two hours."
"Cole," I began, stepping forward. "I...I don't understand. Could you-"
"Now is not the time," Kuo cut in, blue eyes flashing.
I wanted to be angry at her, but when I met her eyes, I could see a deep pain reflected in them, and thought better of it. So I nodded instead and let Sedona drag me away. It was difficult, seeing all that destruction, seeing all the corpses that littered the street. The further out we went, the worse it became. People were slumped against the wall, eyes wide but seeing nothing at all. It was better just seeing the skeletons; skeletons didn't have a face.
Near the outer edge of the city, Sedona began to lead me through alleyways. There we found people hunkered over, hands laced over their heads, but from the smell we could tell they were dead. Near the end of an alleyway, we paused at an odd sight. There was a girl, and a young boy. The girl was clutching the boy, but the boy didn't appear to have died from Cole's blast. His leg was broken and held at an awkward angle, his head bloody and bruised in such a manner that I couldn't look for longer than a moment. Tears streaked the girl's face and on closer examination, we could tell that she was still breathing.
Her brown hair was cropped short, just barely covering the tips of her ears, and her face was streaked with dirt, but so was everyone else's at this point, so it wasn't that odd to see. She had an odd face, neither ugly nor pretty, a strange mix of feminine and masculine. Androgynous almost.
"Is she a Conduit?" I asked. "The others are already awake at this point, so shouldn't she?"
"Not everyone awakens immediately," Sedona said, kneeling beside her. She pressed her hands to the girl's arm, eyes closing. A soft green glow came from her finger tips before slipping away from my vision. "She's a Conduit alright. I can feel it."
"So do we wake her up?" I asked.
Sedona bit her lip, tucking a lock of red hair behind her ear. "Can't we just leave her Kovi? Just...let her make her own choice, without the threat of death looming over her head. I don't...I don't want to wake her only to have another incident like before happen. I can't...I can't watch Cole kill anyone else like he did that girl."
Her brown eyes overflowed with tears and she covered her face, shoulders shaking. "She shouldn't have slapped him, I get that, okay? It's just...why can't he just let us go if we want to go!"
I glanced around, hoping there weren't any Conduits nearby to hear what she was saying. I'd never had to deal with a crying girl in my life. To be honest, I never had to deal with girls ever. I patted her on the shoulder, unsure of what she wanted me to do. A few moments later she pulled herself together.
"Okay. Let's go. We'll leave her here, alright?" I grabbed her elbow and began tugging her out of the alleyway. "Just...remember not to say anything to Cole."
She nodded, moving in to lean on me. I fought the urge to kiss her forehead. Trust me, it wasn't something romantic at all. Kind've like...that brotherly love. I had to stop that thought because it made me think of the girl we had just left behind. The two had looked like siblings. And he was dead now. What would she do when she awoke?