Street Fighter: Lost Shadow
Cammy felt a cold chill against her back. It was a very familiar sensation, though she couldn't quite put a finger to it at first. Letting out a breathless moan, the blonde agent lifted her hand to her head… at least that was what she wanted to do, save for the fact that said hand would not respond. Confused, she turned her head to look at her surroundings… at least that was what she wanted to do, save for the fact that said head also would not respond.
Where am I?
The moment she thought that question, the realization suddenly hit her like a brick. Needless to say, it didn't sit well with her stomach. She'd wretch out dry heaves if she could, but Cammy knew it was pointless, given she was immobilized courtesy of one Shadowloo stasis pod…
…the place of her birth.
Panic-stricken, Cammy mentally lashed out against the cold glass, screaming thoughtfully for her body to move. A lot of good that would accomplish, as all it did was exhaust her mental faculties. That, and perhaps cause an aneurysm.
Move, move, move, move, move!
Her mind froze as she felt an even colder chill tingle against her skin, one that was equally familiar, and a lot more dreadful.
Against the glass surface that was the only window of her proverbial 'home', the blonde saw a pair of pupiless eyes appear before her. Vulnerable, she felt naked as those malevolent eyes studied every inch of her body from head to toe. Her face, she knew, looked emotionless to outside looking in. Her mind, however, was racing aimlessly, her heart beating erratically. A light spark flickered momentarily from those hideous white eyes, as the monster known as Vega wordlessly smirked with approval.
Let… let me out… she thought.
Vega folded his gauntleted forearms across his broad, muscular chest. Words, it seemed, were directed to one of the scientists in the background, though his hollow eyes never left Cammy's sight. She couldn't be quite certain, and given her current state, she didn't quite care. All she cared about at this very moment was to get as far away from that dreadful monster as possible.
Let me out, let me out, let me –
The stasis pod let out a quiet hiss as the glass canopy slid open. A light draft wafted against her skin, giving her goose bumps all over.
"Do not be shy," Vega mused. "Come."
She felt her body slowly begin to stir, though she immediately realized it was not of her own accord. Helpless to do anything, Cammy involuntarily lifted herself upright, and looked the monster in his eyes. Robotically, she grasped the sides of her stasis pod, swung her legs over, and stepped onto the frigid ground. Straightening herself, she barely managed to take her first step when the demon did something quite unexpected: he held her in a tight, dare she might say, brotherly embrace…
Huh… she gasped internally.
Two light pats against the back of her shoulders later, Vega slowly released his embrace and looked her with a grin. "We have been looking for you for a long time."
Cammy involuntarily blinked back in confusion. "Looking for me?" she heard herself ask in a decidedly low baritone. That isn't my voice… she thought. Instinctively, she crooked her head to get a better view of her body… at least that would have been the idea, save that her body would not respond to her thoughts. However, she did manage to catch a small glimpse of her shadow on the wall, and concluded that it was definitely not her body…
"Indeed we have… dear, brother…" Vega replied.
Brother? she blinked again. "Who… who are you?" she found her… himself asking.
Vega smirked at the question and, stepping back, held her… his shoulders with a firm grasp. Under the dim spotlight, Cammy had a better look at the beast standing before her, and soon realized the monster she (or rather he) was speaking to was not Vega at all. Similar in physique, yet noticeably younger, lacking some of the wizened features of the former, though possessing the same sinister aura in his eyes. His skin complexion was noticeably lighter than Vega's, a deathly pale color, and his hair was an unusual shade of cobalt.
"I am Rigel," the man stated.
Cammy felt her eyes involuntarily stare at the man in even more confusion. Vega…or rather… Rigel let out a quiet chuckle at his brother's apprehension.
"You have many questions," he continued. "I can see it in your eyes. Do not worry. All will be answered in time. For now, we have much work to do."
Work you say?
Before Cammy could say anything further, Rigel gave her a quick pat on the shoulders and, taking a few majestic strides, stepped towards an open doorway. Just as he was about to exit out of the lab, Rigel stopped in his tracks, and gestured slightly with his head.
"Come," he said. "We won't bite."
Cammy felt hesitant to follow the man, particularly after hearing the word 'we', and it seemed her body agreed. Curiosity won out, however, and the agent felt compelled to follow. Almost as if in agreement, her body took a few tentative steps before taking full strides out the doorway.
Upon setting foot outside of the lab, the Delta Red agent wanted to let out a gasp. She had seen many strange things throughout her entire life, yet nothing had made her feel in as much unease as the group of people standing before her. To her left, a row of men of equal stature, the same broad shoulders, the same muscular frame. Though varying somewhat in skin tone and hair, all of them possessed the same facial features as Rigel, including those empty, ominous eyes… and by extension, Vega. To her right, and perhaps more disturbing, a row of women, diminutive in stature, decidedly very attractive. Like the row of men, their skin tone and hair varied from one individual to another, and yet their build and their face – especially their face – the small, tiny point of the nose, the slight curve of their cheekbones, their tender chins, the tiny yet suppleness of their lips, and, within that frame of smallness, a pair of large, round, penetrating eyes, eyes belying much strength within a tiny frame…
… exactly the same as Cammy's.
With a light flourish, Rigel spun around and looked his 'brother' in the eye and made a grand gesture with his arms.
"Meet the rest of your family… Antares," he proclaimed.
Shocked at what she saw, Cammy wanted to let out a gasp… and to her surprise, she actually did.
"Hah!" she exhaled, as she felt her whole body suddenly jolt. Her knees buckling underneath, she caught herself with her hands just before she hit the ground. Gasping for breath, the Delta Red agent looked up to where Rigel was standing, yet found nothing but twisted beams and shattered concrete. Blinking twice, it took her several moments for her mind to readjust to the sudden change of her surroundings.
What… was that… her mind reeled, unable to form a proper thought within the rush of emotions. Cammy willed her head to look down at her hands, and thankfully was able to do so. Yes… definitely my hands… she thought. Pulling herself to a kneeling position, she took several quick glances at her body, patting her arms, thighs, torso, and face. Yes… body… definitely mine… she assured herself.
Steadying her breath, she slowly picked herself off the ground, and nearly doubled over as she felt a shot of pain on her back. She suppressed the urge to mutter a curse, though the large bloody laceration made it rather difficult to do so. She was cut, she remembered, and the stitches Antares helped to apply had broke during one of his… episodes.
Eyes widened, Cammy glanced around her surroundings, her fighting instincts kicking in.
"Where the bloody hell are you?" she muttered to herself.
Given the battered condition she was in, she wanted to rest. Doubly more so after that… that… dream? No, not quite a dream. More along the lines of a memory… a fragment of the past.
Piecing her memory together, after that last bout of psycho-meltdown, by all accounts, Cammy should have been dead. Somehow, she survived, perhaps from some divine intervention, perhaps from Antares himself, or perhaps it was just dumb luck.
Regardless, Antares is now missing, and given the danger he posed to both himself and the surroundings, she needed to find him fast. Easier said than done, given the physical state she was in. Her back hurt, her head hurt, her arm hurt, her legs hurt, parts she never knew existed hurt… and yet for all the cuts and bruises she felt, those injuries were the least of her concerns. In fact, much to her surprise, there was one persistent thought that was nagging at her since the whole ordeal began.
"You better still be alive, Lewis," she thought aloud.
For the most part, Avery was indeed still alive. On the other hand, he also hadn't moved from his spot since the last explosion. He took a quick look at his surroundings, and sure enough, the room he was in looked worse than it had been before. More rocks, more debris, more loose cables, and in general, more problems. Since this 'unofficial mission' begun, giant explosions, falling objects, and acts of violence had become a recurring theme, one which he found himself lucky to survive. Rubbing the dirt off his face with his muscular forearm, he gave himself a quick examination. Aside from the fresh new bumps, bruises, and burns, the giant was otherwise in one piece. Movement should be fine, save for the fact that he was being pinned by something… or rather, someone…
The tiny brunette who had attacked him early on laid on top of him unmoving, knocked unconscious when the whole room came falling apart around them. Avery got quite the eyeful when the woman landed on top of him, and probably would have enjoyed it more, save for the fact that she looked every bit like a younger version of Cammy. From the large eyes down to the delicate features of her face, including those soft, tiny lips… He wasn't sure whether he should be afraid or aroused, seeing a petite young woman possessing the face of her (scary) boss, yet the tight rump of a –
Bad thoughts! Bad thoughts!
The giant decided to turn away from the woman and refocus himself on the situation at hand. The room looked to be in greater disarray than before, he was pinned underneath by a woman who had earlier tried to kill him, and Cammy was still missing. One piece of good news, though. The exit to the room was still holding solid, and hopefully so would the rest of the hallways. All he had to do was push the woman off of him and be on his way. Slowly, he lifted his massive hands and placed them on her shoulders. Gingerly, he began to push her… and stopped.
He found himself not wanting to disturb her, and not for the right reasons.
Avery took another peak at the brunette's face. She looked peaceful lying on his chest, much cuter than when she was trying to kill him, he thought to himself. She also looked like Cammy. She had a darker complexion, but she still looked like his commander. She also had nice legs. He also wondered how she could walk with that thong wedged between her –
Ugh, bad thoughts! Bad thoughts!
"Ugh…" he heard a voice groan.
Avery still did not move as the brunette began to stir. He could see her eyes flutter as she slowly began to regain consciousness. Upon opening her brown eyes, she found herself staring straight at the giant's face. All the scarred titan could do was look back. All the brunette could do was gasp.
"Boo," he responded. Smooth, idiot, very smooth, he chided himself.
Without uttering another sound, the woman suddenly pushed herself off the giant and clumsily fell onto her rump. She winced both from the pain of the fall and the sting in her head. She held her hand on her forehead, and felt a viscous fluid against her fingertips.
"Damn it…" she grunted under her breath, as she tried to distance herself further away from the man.
"Hold still," Avery said.
Before the woman could respond, the giant removed the woman's hands away from her face.
"What are you doing!?" she yelped, struggling against the giant's grip.
"I want to know, too," he muttered. "And I told you to… ugh… hold… still…"
The woman still struggled under Avery's grip, firm, yet surprisingly gentle given his massive frame. Finally, she gave him a kick to the chest, and managed to push him away.
"Woman, I'm trying to help!" he growled. Why, I don't know, but I'm trying to help, he thought.
"I don't need your – ngh!" she groaned, holding her forehead again.
The giant let out a sigh and approached the woman carefully. "Hold still… please," he emphasized.
Again, the woman began to struggle, though she noticeably wavered as the giant tried to remove the hand away to get a better look at her bleeding forehead. Deciding that he was not a threat, at least for now, she relented and allowed him to examine her wound. The gash looked rather deep, likely the result of some kind of falling debris, and the bleeding didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon. Ripping a piece of cloth from his shirt, he quickly tied it around her head.
"I said I didn't need help…" the woman muttered.
"You're welcome," he replied, examining the woman for any other injuries.
"Why are you even helping me?" she asked, her annoyance clearly audible from her tone.
'Cause I'm an idiot, 'cause you're hot, 'cause you got nice legs, 'cause you got a nice rack – bad thoughts! Bad thoughts! "'Cause I'm gonna need help getting out of this hellhole," he replied. "We're deep in this facility, and chances of leaving here are getting slimmer by the minute. The explosions don't help, so I thought, as long as you're being a good little girl, we could help each other out."
"That's not the only reason," she pointed out, much to the giant's dismay. "Why are you really helping me?"
Avery opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. His mind raced to find an appropriate answer without coming off as a dirty old man. He could not believe he was having that much difficulty doing so, seeing as this was not the first time he looked at a woman in a tight outfit, and he certainly shouldn't be entertaining such thoughts given that he was more than used to being around the likes of Cammy. Also, Cammy dislocated his head. This one nearly burned him alive.
The woman merely looked at the giant, waiting for him to finish his answer.
"I want to know why the hell you look like my boss," he finally answered.
The brunette's expression of annoyance turned into an expression of confusion. "What did you just say?"
"I want to know why the hell you look like my boss," he repeated.
The woman blinked at the giant, something about those words clicking in her mind. Avery could feel her eyes on him as she examined the scarred man up and down, fixing her eyes on his uniform. Standard military combat fatigues composed of a tight, sleeveless shirt, thick cargos, and combat boots, albeit soiled from wear and tear, likely the result of fighting within the facility, amongst other things. What she focused on was the emblem sewn on his chest, discolored and muddled by dirt, yet still distinct from the rest of his dark uniform: a red triangle flipped upside down.
"Your commander is the Killer Bee?" she asked, though it was more of a statement of fact than an actual question.
"Who are you?" he asked in return.
The brunette ignored the question, but was instead preoccupied with her own thoughts. In a reversal of roles, Avery stared at the woman, beckoning with a few slow gestures with his head while waiting for her to answer him.
"She's here," she said, not quite the answer he was looking for. "She's really here…" she repeated, a smile threatening to escape from the edges of her lips, as though she were, as far as Avery could tell, containing her excitement. That expression evaporated as she came to yet another realization. "She learned of Antares' whereabouts, didn't she?"
The brunette gritted her teeth, her face filled with a sense of dread. "I must find them both before Rigel does," she said with determination, and quickly leapt to her feet.
"Wait a sec – " Avery said in disbelief, as he hopped to his feet and walked towards the woman. "You haven't even answered my question – "
"Deneb," she cut him off, and, hopping over some overturned equipment, strode towards the door.
Stunned, Avery stood in his tracks and found his eyes gradually begin to wander down to her backside –
Again, bad thoughts! Bad thoughts! Refocusing himself, the giant took a few large strides of his own, and followed the woman close behind.
Holding herself against the walls, Cammy ambled through the hall trying her hardest to ignore the pain. She had been through far worse in the past against far greater odds, odds by the names of Juri Han and Vega, amongst others. Even that thrashing from Crimson Viper (that stuck up American… dog, which would be the nicest thing Cammy could think of to describe the CIA agent) was much, much worse. A couple of cuts from and out-of-control clone of her creator was nothing… at least that's what she tried to tell herself.
"Keep it together, Cammy," she murmured, psyching herself to push further.
Groping through the broken corridors, she found herself in a large, empty expanse, the largest area within the underground facility yet. The ground was littered with all kinds of clutter, to the point where she had no idea what this part of the installation was for. Compared to the rest of the facility, however, this place seemed relatively intact. At the very least, Cammy felt she could walk without the floor crumbling beneath her feet at any moment. It was dangerous, but seeing as she had nowhere else to go, she limped forward, attempting to maintain her balance in the process.
As she trudged through the masses of broken machinery and equipment, a faint, pulsating hue of purple light flickered not too far from where she stood. She immediately knew the source of that glow, and felt her heart skip a few beats faster at the thought alone. As anxious as she felt, however, the Delta Red agent had come this far, and, whatever she had to do, she desperately wanted to see this thing through. Steeling her resolve, the wounded blonde crept towards the purple glow of psycho power, preparing herself for the worst.
With sore muscles and painful wounds, the walk felt much longer than it really was, yet she eventually found herself a few feet from the glow. Gritting her teeth, she quietly limped towards a large piece of burnt steel and leaned against the massive debris to keep herself out of sight. Scanning the area for anything, she settled upon a long metal rod with a sharp tip at the end. It wasn't much, but as far as weapons go, it was all she got. Picking it off the ground, she grasped the rod firmly in her small hands, testing the weight, and snuck her way towards the glow.
"You… you finally… made it…"
Startled, Cammy nearly dropped the rod from her hands.
"For… for a moment…" Antares continued, his voice clearly strained, "I thought… you… you were dead…"
Seeing no point in keeping herself hidden, she held the rod tightly and ambled cautiously towards her goal. Antares did not move from his spot, down on his hands and knees as he struggled to contain his psycho powers. Cammy stood in front of him, weapon in hand, yet Antares still made no move towards the agent. There was good reason, as Cammy could see from his expression alone. At the moment, he managed to contain his powers just enough to only emit a purple hue instead of its usual chaotic effigy. With his body quivering, and sweat drenching his body, it was only a matter of time before he would 'erupt' once more, and Cammy had the feeling this one would be the worst.
"Please…" he muttered, the glow around his body growing brighter. "Help… me…"
Cammy felt herself froze, taken aback by his plea. A part of her felt a tinge of pity over the clone and the pathetic state he was in. She even considered, if only briefly, to try and help him. Unfortunately for him, the only way she knew how to help would be to drive that rod through his heart to end his suffering…
Swirls of chaotic energy dance around Antares' body as his hold over his psycho powers continued to wane ever so slowly. "I… I didn't mean… to…" his voice cracked.
Small tendrils of flame lashed outward from his hunched form, beckoning towards Cammy. As the Delta Red agent was about to follow through with the thought of ending the clone's life, something in her made her stop, a kind of feeling… no, more than that, a combination of feeling… and a sensation… something made her stop…
"I didn't want to kill them!" he cried out. "I couldn't… stop myself…" Antares bowed his head low to the ground, his arms entangled around the back of his head as he trembled not just from the strain of holding his powers in check, but from a sudden, overwhelming wave of guilt as he made that confession. "I didn't want to kill anyone… no more killing… it was why I ran away…" he continued.
As he spoke, Cammy suddenly realized what that sensation was. It was that same paralyzing sense she had felt when she had first encountered Antares, all that buried dread and anger erupting to the surface. No, not just that… it was also the feeling she had when she was momentarily 'living out' one of his memories. It was a mix of both, and Cammy, especially in her battered form, wanted none of that. Quickly, she tried to steel her mind from his apparent 'empathy', bracing herself while clumsily raising the rod over her head to finish him off…
…and then, her surroundings suddenly changed. More than that, the setting became, as best as she could put it, a blur, with the images constantly changing. One moment, she found herself in a lab, lying in a Shadoloo stasis pod. The next, she found herself in a town set ablaze, standing next to a group of men and women bearing the faces of both Vega and herself with voices screaming in agony in the background. The image changed again, this one with the cobalt haired clone, the one called 'Rigel', making grand gestures to an apparent audience, the words inaudible, save for 'brothers and sisters' and 'vengeance'. Then the setting shifted again to a dark, dank compound, surrounded by many people while she found herself strapped onto a bed with tubes attached to her body. Then the scene changed, this time in what appeared to be a forest, with images of men and women killed off one by one. Another scene shift, more men and women dying, this one however involved Vega's and Cammy's doppelgangers being surrounded by some unknown force, and finished off execution style. The next image showed one with Rigel again standing over what appeared to be a grave, along with a woman, this one with dark hair and a similar complexion to Vega, yet otherwise possessing Cammy's physical features. Rigel looked to be in rage while the woman looked to be holding back tears. More images flashed, more death, more blood, more darkness. The images kept changing, the scene unable to stay still for long. It wasn't long before Cammy's knees started to buckle, her head pounding mercilessly from the information overload. And then…
"Infusion process stable. Psycho power levels increased to nineteen percent."
"Heart rate steady. Subject Antares showing no signs of rejection."
"Continue the infusion. I want those levels to be at least at twenty five before we continue the next phase."
"Sir, heart rate has elevated."
"Infusion level has suddenly spiked."
"Life signs are fluctuating!"
"Infusion level is going critical!"
"Shut it off, shut it off!"
"I can't! It won't let me!"
"Quarantine the lab, now!"
…the next image was filled with fire… and an uncontrollable rage, literally exploding from within, as men and women all around were killed by her own hands… or rather, Antares' hands. She wasn't certain as the line between her own self and Antares' had been erased. All she knew was this upheaval of anger… which was quickly followed by anguish… a crippling sense of sadness that was both different and familiar at the same time. And then…
Cammy collapsed on the ground, letting out an ear-piercing scream. Then, silence… save for Antares' sobs next to her.
"I didn't want to kill them," he cried. "I didn't want to kill them but I couldn't stop myself, I couldn't… help myself and they all burned, died all around just like what happened to all the other people before when Rigel told us to burn all those villages, those men and women and children, and my brothers and sisters, they all died and I couldn't do anything to stop… to stop…"
Cammy barely understood a word he said. All she wanted to do was to purge those images and emotions from her soul. The pain, the guilt, she felt violated from all of it. The Delta Red agent wanted to cry.
"I'm sorry," Antares whimpered. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm…"
"Stop it!" Cammy shouted with arms bound around her ears and eyes tightly shut. She felt awful, and she wanted with all her might and all her will to hate Antares. However, the most damning thing happened… she felt some sympathy towards him. She actually in some form understood his plight, even though in his case his actions were more of his own than the mind control she was subjected to. That latter point made her less forgiving, yet she still felt a sense of pity towards him. Either that, or perhaps it was a case of emotional transference from his memories to her mind. Now she was totally confused.
Hours seemed to have passed, yet when Cammy lifted her head, Antares was still prostrate on the ground, his condition seemingly remaining unchanged. She still felt like a wreck.
"Sister…" Antares muttered, feebly reaching his hand outward.
"Stop, I'm not your… just stop," she snapped, inching away from the clone. "I get it, you want 'this'," she gestured with one hand, "to go away." Cammy swallowed hard, trying to get rid of that lump in her throat. "What the hell do you want me to do," she muttered hoarsely, her voice starting to trail.
"Not a single thing… 'sister'."
Before anyone could react, a hand enveloped in blue flame grabbed Cammy by the head and yanked her to the air. Legs dangling, Cammy felt her face burn from the fiery group, yet was unable to scream as she felt a surge of malevolent energy burst from the fiery palm explode on her face. The hand promptly dropped a now unconscious Cammy to the ground. Adding insult to injury, a heavy foot stepped on her limp form, claiming superiority over the fallen agent.
"Br-brother!?" Antares stammered.
Snarling at Cammy's broken form, the new intruder slowly, majestically turned his head, soulless white eyes reflecting the owner's cruelty over the shocked clone.
"You have been very bad today, Antares," Rigel said.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Good news, folks. I updated! Bad news. Remember how I kinda mentioned I would need one more chapter to finish this? I lied. With Rigel's introduction, I realized I need another chapter to devote some time to him and round things off. So hopefully the next chapter will truly be the last. Hopefully...