The moment Mephistopheles had mentioned magnets Titanium had known she was in definite trouble; the creep had witnessed her earlier experience in the centre of town. She could barely make out anything as the two magnets attached to her arms wreaked havoc on her cellular structure, displacing the tiny metal molecules present in her build. Like millions of tiny white hot needles, the pain clouded her vision and made her slip in and out of consciousness as it engulfed her mind completely. The place she was in seemed to be a yard of some sort but she could not be a hundred percent sure; her senses were completely inactive as wave upon wave of nausea and pain washed over her.
"Not so fearsome now, hey?" his voice was far off and sounded as though Titanium was submerged in water. She could not bring herself to reply and instead just let him lead her to wherever it was he was taking her. Something worse was waiting for her at the end of her journey, that much she knew just from all her experiences with Mephistopheles. They came to a stop and he ripped the magnets of from her skin. Titanium screamed out as she collapsed to the floor, her legs refusing to carry her another step further. Hot tears spilled from her eyes and she rolled onto her back hoping to somehow ease the worst feeling she had ever experienced in her lifetime. A shadow enclosed her and Titanium attempted to make out what it was but her vision was even more blurred from both the unbearable pain and the unending tears.
"You thought that was bad?" Mephistopheles' voice floated towards her, "Let's see how much you like this." There was a moment of absolute calm and Titanium knew it was the deadly peace before the storm, what was coming would probably rip her to shreds mentally and emotionally if not physically too. A light breeze tickled her blistering skin and she revelled in it, hoping it would last but it ended soon after. The slow throbbing pain in every inch in her body became magnified by approximately a hundred times as an even greater force of magnetism was exerted on her already worn out figure. Instead of having the tiny metal molecules displaced, it felt as though they were all being ripped from her body as the rest of her cells were slowly torn to shreds. She knew she was screaming but she could not hear it, she saw nothing but white and felt nothing other than the excruciating pain which enwrapped her body which was being broken apart at molecular level. How long would she last? The torture seemed to go on for years before something cool washed over her extinguishing the flames of agony and soothing her burnt and blistering skin. Titanium knew she had died, there was no other explanation for the state of complete peace and numbness she was experiencing.
'Death,' she whispered into the white nothingness which surrounded her. It was completely different from what she had expected it to be like but still she thought she liked it. What would happen next though? Titanium watched as darkness slowly started to infiltrated her bright white surroundings. She wanted to run from the foreboding blackness which was rapidly approaching her but she could not move and instead just shut her eyes and waited for whatever was going to happen. Titanium suddenly felt as though she was falling and, at the same time, stretching out and growing longer. Both feelings came to an abrupt end leaving her feeling numb once more and Titanium willed herself to open her eyes but she found they were as heavy as lead weights. Her entire body felt like a complete dead weight, only slowly becoming lighter and lighter as time stretched passed her. Eventually she felt like she could open her eyes and she did just that, wrenching them open with as much power as she could muster. What Titanium saw, however, was something she least expected.
Different sections of hell appeared and disappeared as Blackheart teleported from one place to the next hoping desperately to either find Titanium or some clue to where she could be.
"Boss?" Gressel watched as the black smoke barely made an appearance before it vanished again. There was a brief pause before Blackheart reappeared, a look of utter impatience on his face.
"What?" he demanded coldly knowing he had little time to converse with a brainless goon who could probably not be of any help to his search.
"Boss," Gressel repeated daftly, grinning like a baboon, "I thought you wouldn't come back."
"What do you want?" already he was being surrounded by darkness as he prepared to teleport to his next destination.
"Where's that metal girl? Titanium or something like that?" Gressel scratched his chin trying to look intelligent but Blackheart saw and heard none of it. Realization had just hit him and he felt like bashing his head against the wall; how could he not have remembered?
Obviously, Titanium's weakness had to be magnetism! Magnets were attracted to metal and Blackheart could only imagine what sort of effect they would have on someone made of metal. Where were there lots of magnets? Or maybe a single large magnet? If he could only answer those two questions then he would probably be able to hunt her down, there were, after all, only a few places that contained either enough magnets or a large enough magnet to satisfy his father.
"Gressel?" Blackheart turned to the earth elemental before him. Gressel ignored his boss's call, continuously scratching his chin as he attempted to figure something out. He was muttering under his breath and Blackheart let out a sigh of utter annoyance.
"Gressel!" his voice distorted as his temper flared, effectively catching Gressel's attention and he swung to face Blackheart, "Glad I finally have your attention, idiot."
"Sorry, boss," Gressel failed to make eye-contact and Blackheart guessed he was probably thanking his lucky stars that he had not been incinerated.
"Where can I find large magnets?" Blackheart tried to enquire nonchalantly.
"A scrap yard, why?" he looked confused by Blackheart's enquiry, "Do you think that metal girl will be attracted to the magnets?" Gressel snickered at his own little joke but he did not join the elemental. The way he called Titanium 'metal girl' annoyed him beyond compare but he did not stay to correct Gressel, after all; he had given Blackheart the perfect place to start looking for her. Without anymore delay, he teleported to the nearest scrap yard where his ears were immediately met with a shrill scream which echoed eerily through the night.
"Titanium," Blackheart muttered in disdain, he had probably arrived not a moment too soon. He started to move in the direction of the screaming with more haste than he had ever shown. Tall towers of metal became coloured blurs as he sped through the scrap yard, his eyes searching everywhere for Titanium. Finally, Blackheart came to the source of the noise and what he saw brought a deep frown to his face as he came to an abrupt halt. Squirming in the dirt, Titanium's face was a picture of pure agony, her skin had gone blood red and blisters covered the exposed parts of her body. Hanging above her was a heavy duty magnet with lighter pieces of metal plastered to it, little bits still randomly flying toward it. Blackheart noticed that Titanium was suspended slightly and underneath her, littering the ground, were patches of blood which screamed out at him almost as loudly as her own voice did.
"You bastard," Blackheart hissed as his eyes settled on Mephistopheles, who was standing right next to the machine which securely held the oversized magnet. It was time to end his father's sadistic actions, he had seen and heard enough. He merely glanced at the cover over the machine's motor and immediately it groaned before spluttering once and shutting down. Mephistopheles turned to glare at the machine, cursing it profusely but before he had time to realize it had been Blackheart who had sabotaged his plan, a bright light appeared above the scrap yard.
"What the-?" Mephistopheles shouted over the loud humming which had appeared seconds after the blinding light. Blackheart kept his eyes trained on as much of the light as he could and was rewarded with a glimpse of a descending male silhouette. The figure shot directly toward where Titanium was and he followed it; there was no way in hell that he was letting her out of his sight again. The light engulfed Blackheart and he found it difficult to see where he was going, there was also no sight of the mysterious silhouette or even of Titanium. The humming suddenly became louder as a gale force wind struck the earth and threatened to whip him off his feet, numerous metal towers collapsing in its wake. As quickly as it had come, the light disappeared in a single flash taking with it the wind and noise leaving the night strangely dark and eerily quiet. Little colourful spots danced around Blackheart's vision and he blinked numerous times in quick succession to see if he could get rid of them. Once he could clearly see again he allowed his eyes to scan the ground surrounding him but, where Titanium had been, there was nothing to be found but the patches of blood.
"What the hell did you do this time?" Mephistopheles was suddenly beside Blackheart, anger surrounding him like a thick protective cover.
"Are you sure it's not what YOU did?" Blackheart replied vehemently.
"Am I supposed to believe that?" Mephistopheles was quick to reply and his anger convinced Blackheart that his father might actually have been innocent. He wondered if Titanium had been under so much strain that she had just disintegrated. Was that how extra-terrestrial beings died? Blackheart was reminded of the male silhouette he had seen and immediately scrapped the idea of death. Someone had come to rescue Titanium and he could not help but wonder who it was and what they wanted with her. Blackheart did not even notice his father's absence beside him as he looked into the clear night sky with despair present deep within his chest. Titanium was gone again and this time he had absolutely no idea where she was or even where she could be. Blackheart did not even know if she was in any actual trouble or what this unknown hero wanted. For the first time in ages, he did not know what to do or where to start. How could he if there were just too many unanswered questions?
Everyone in the Rider's residence was awake unnaturally late as Blackheart related the story in as much detail as he could. When he finished speaking, Joanne was quick to speak from her spot on the sofa.
"You saw the light?" she snickered mockingly but stopped abruptly when the Rider elbowed her. Blackheart wondered if she was petty enough to still be sulking before shrugging it off, he honestly did not need or want her friendship anyway.
"So what does this mean?" Johnny looked away from his daughter.
"I don't know," was all Blackheart could say in reply.
"Do you have no idea who could have pulled such a stunt? Maybe someone with a helicopter, Johnny?" Roxanne added, entering from the kitchen.
"Yeah? What about a helicopter?" he looked at Blackheart with sparkling eyes.
"It couldn't have been," Blackheart shook his head as he turned his back on them, "the wind only came just before the thing left. If it was a helicopter you would have felt the wind, seen the light and heard it all at once before the thing even arrived. Plus, no helicopter could carry a light that bright." Silence followed as each person searched through their own minds for a possible solution but none could think of any logical explanation.
"What are we going to do?" Roxanne asked in a small voice. Blackheart did nothing to reply as he approached the window feeling, for the first time, a deep sadness welling in his chest. When had he started seeing Titanium as anything but an enemy? He could not answer that question but he did know that he did not look lightly upon failure. Blackheart felt as though it was his responsibility to keep her out of harm's way and by letting a complete stranger take her, he had failed. He lay one hand on the window and clenched the other at his side as he stared at his reflection in the window; somehow Titanium had changed him. It pained Blackheart that he had been so blind to it over the years, she had always had that effect on him and he had never recognized it.
'I can see now but is it too late?' Blackheart thought solemnly. World domination did not matter to him anymore, neither did taking over his father's kingdom and destroying the Rider. All he wanted to do was find Titanium. Once he found her, however, how would he be able to reveal his discovery to her? Would she laugh it off? Would she use it to her advantage? Somehow he doubted the very idea; her intense need to get revenge on the Rider had some effect on his decision. Would he allow himself the hope that she might have seen the same thing? No...the risk of disappointment was just too great. Blackheart could not let himself be distracted by his current emotional state, that was something he could sort out after he had found Titanium. Only afterward would he allow himself to think of a possible solution. If he ever managed to find her...
After blinking numerous times, splotches of colour infiltrated the infinite blackness which made up all that Titanium could see. She could feel the softness of a mattress beneath her and silk sheets covered her burning body. Where was she and how did she get there? Titanium doubted that Mephistopheles would have willingly let her go unless Blackheart had come to rescue her. She felt her heart jump at the thought but immediately crushed the hope that he felt something more for her; it was ridiculous and impossible. Movement to her right caught her attention and she attempted to focus so she could gather some information on her rescuer.
"Close the window," said a velvety male voice, "it seems to be irritating her." Someone immediately reacted to the male's instruction and she felt them reach over the bed to quickly shut the window to her left. The breeze she had been oblivious to suddenly disappeared and she heard the whoosh of the curtains falling back into place. Titanium guessed that she was in an unfamiliar place; she knew nowhere that had proper windows, curtains and such a comfortable bed.
"Sire, I think she is waking," the person who had closed the window was also a male and she could feel him staring. She had the greatest urge to tell him off but restrained herself, she knew too little about her rescuers to assess her situation. Had their intention even been rescuing her or were they an even greater threat than Mephistopheles?
"Let her wake then," the first male purred, "the quicker she does the quicker we can complete our business in this forsaken place!" Titanium flinched inwardly, immediately distrusting her 'rescuers'. They could keep their business, she needed to get away from them as quickly as possible so she could begin her recovery. Slowly, carefully, she opened her eyes and took in the darkened room around her. Titanium quickly decided that her best escape option would be the window. After all, what was the chance that they could fly?
"Do you think she will accept, sire?" the second male enquired as he stepped away from the bed and into the darkness which infested the room.
"She may," his voice was now a little louder, more excited, "what else does she have to live for on this planet?" Titanium gulped as she took in their conversation; it was time to get moving before she completely lost her nerve. As quickly as she could, Titanium flung herself out of the bed and reached for the window but before she could wrench it open she was lying on her back on the carpeted floor. Two shadowed faces peered down at her and she immediately went into defensive, flinging two short diamond daggers at them as she sprung up once more.
"Calm down, princess!" the first male commanded and Titanium paused briefly, his velvety voice held a certain authority that made her automatically want to obey him.
"How dare you order me around and call me pet names? I do not know you and you do not know me!" Titanium snarled in return as her anger flared.
"It is not a pet name, it is your title," he stepped into the light and immediately Titanium's breath was knocked from her body. The male was tall with broad shoulders, had platinum blond hair with the deepest mossy green eyes she come across and full pink lips. He was clothed in a royal blue sleeveless trench coat type thing which left his torso exposed but tied at the waist a single white button. The tail of the jacket hung all the way to his feet and barely exposed the fitted black pants and pointed black boots underneath. His torso glimmered in the dim light and Titanium had to admit that he was well built with a perfect six pack.
"Who the hell are you?" Titanium demanded as she returned to her defensive state, guessing that he was trying to distract her by bedazzling her.
"King Chrysos of the kingdom Polytima on the Planet Metallo ," he said with dignity before adding in a gentler voice, "your home."
"My-?" Titanium broke off, she had been waiting for this day to come since she had first appeared on earth. Even when she was accepted into hell she had always dreamt of going home, of returning to her people.
"Yes, and you are Princess Titanio of the kingdom Ischyros, neighbouring state to my own and also my rightful queen," Chrysos took a step toward her but Titanium took no notice, she was too overwhelmed by the information she had just received. She was a princess?
"Your parents had to send you away all those years ago because of your unique gift. Being able to control a metal and precious stone is unheard of and the people wanted you destroyed," Chrysos continued in a voice that was just above a mere whisper, "but now there is a new law and unique beings such as yourself are being rightfully accepted. So I have come to fetch you, to take you home where you will become my queen." He was now standing behind her with both hands on her shoulders, speaking directly into her right ear. Titanium knew she was getting gooseflesh from his touch as she imagined herself going home, being royalty and never having another worry in her life. It was the perfect escape. Flashes of her life on earth managed to intervene with her fantasy and immediately she felt a stab of guilt; earth was all she knew and trusted. She did not know this 'King Chrysos' so how could she believe his story? How did she know that he was telling the truth? If Blackheart had taught her anything it was to trust in what she knew she could believe. And still, she had a duty to fulfil. How could she leave before she had completed it?
"How can I trust you? I do not know you or know what your true intentions are," Titanium whirled around and shoved the hilt of her trusty diamond sword into his lower abdomen before springing back and putting distance between them.
"I healed you, princess," Chrysos took a single deep breath as he straightened himself out, "I also knew you would ask me such a question and that is why I brought you a long lost childhood memory." He extended his hand and the other male in the room handed him a small golden box which he held out to her. Titanium glared at him, distrust planted deep in her eyes, and did not take a single step forward. Chrysos, sensing her hesitance, instead put the box on the bedside table along with a smaller silver cube.
"I will give you a day to consider my offer, princess," he smiled tentatively, "If you accept, place your thumb and index finger in the grooves present on the small silver cube. I will then return to fetch you but if you decline, command the cube to self-destruct. Tomorrow night at this time the cube will automatically self-destruct. I must warn you, however, that once you have declined you will never be able to return. You will not be welcome. Think carefully about what you plan to do, princess." In a bright flash, the two men disappeared leaving the room eerily silent and empty. Long after they had left, Titanium remained in her defensive position merely staring at the two foreign objects on table. Slowly she took a single step toward them before she froze, scanning her surroundings. When she was certain nothing was going to happen, Titanium put away her swords and walked to the bedside table.
"The gold one first," she muttered as she reached out for it, her hand sweating. Titanium slipped the lid off and it fell to the floor as her eyes connected with what was in the box. With shaking hands she lifted the delicate chain from the velvety cushion. It could easily have been mistaken for a necklace but, the two shiny clips on either side convinced her that it was actually some sort of head wear, probably a crown on her home planet. The pattern, shaped as a triangle, included numerous silver spirals which ended in either a small diamond or sapphire. Surprisingly it was very light and when Titanium held it to her forehead and looked in the mirror she immediately knew that she recognised it. In her minds eyes she saw a younger version of herself standing in full-length mirror with the very same crown on her head while a woman, her mother, applauded her from behind. As the picture faded before her eyes Titanium knew that Chrysos was speaking the truth.
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
Titanium glanced down at her black number, the type of clothes she had always prided herself in since she had, so long ago, taken a liking to Blackheart. Why should she wear it now? There was no point anymore. Slowly, almost hoping that something would stop her, she started to peel the layers of clothing off merely dropping them on the floor like forgotten rags. She began to wipe off her heavy make-up, the only mask she had ever been able to hide behind and looked at herself in the mirror once more. Her cold and hating exterior had melted away to reveal a different person; someone who was soft, caring and feminine. Her hair flowed freely down her shoulders in golden waves, her eyes were placid, laced with emotions making them seem like a calm yet deep body of water. Her expression was sombre and her peaches in cream complexion now looked completely natural, not an eerie contrast to the rest of her features.
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile happy your days
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness is
Let the memory live again
She looked back at the garments scattered on the floor as she wrapped a fluffy bathrobe around her and for a moment let the memories of the past overwhelm her. The day she had met Blackheart, become rivals with him, fighting him, loving him... The pictures danced before her as hot tears flowed down her cheeks and she collapsed to the floor where she stayed for a countless amount of time. Titanium was not meant to be like the other demons in hell, it was not who she was and that was why she had been weak enough to fall for someone so unattainable. It was time now though to find her strength and to grasp that which was attainable to her with both hands. With her body still shaking from the sobs, Titanium lifted herself off the ground and crawled toward the little silver cube which stood glimmering on the table, beckoning her.
Every streetlamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the streetlamp gutters
And soon it will be morning
Titanium picked the cube up as she lifted herself completely off the floor. Unknowingly she had already made-up her mind when she had seem them together, even if she did not know that her people had been searching for her. The picture of them kissing appeared in her mind; a wispy, faded form of its former self and she felt the dagger, which had pierced her heart earlier, twist. Titanium grasped her chest with her free hand as she let out a little gasp; the wound was still so raw and painful. She gently caressed each side of the cube and, when she found the two indents, she placed the designated fingers on them. It was time to go home where she would hopefully heal, where she could start all over again.
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Titanium pressed her fingers into the indents. The effect was immediate; the cube shot out of her hand as a line of light separated it into two different halves. It split along the line and opened up so that two perfect squares of light faced her. Titanium watched as the light surrounded her, lifting her off the ground, and engulfed her completely. After a moment there was a bright flash and the two empty halves of the former cube clattered to the ground. She stepped over them and stared at herself in the full-length mirror, completely in awe of what she was seeing. The bathrobe had disappeared and in its place was a white tight fitting dress which stopped just above the knee. Over it was a white trench coat which came down to her ankles and on her feet was a set of white knee-high boots. On the ends of the sleeves and tail of the trench coat were silver spirals which mimicked the ones on the crown. Slowly, Titanium put the crown on and clipped it into place before she looked at her new self, her real self.
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The still cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning
Chrysos appeared behind her in another flash of dazzling light, taking only a moment to admire her before he approached.
"I'm glad you decided to come," he murmured in his seductively velvety voice, "you look beautiful." Titanium ignored his compliment, Blackheart kept intruding in her thoughts of a new beginning so she decided she needed to see him before she could properly say goodbye to her old life.
"Is something wrong, princess?" Chrysos purred as he flicked the hair out of her face.
"I need to say goodbye to someone first," she replied with a steady voice, surprising herself. Titanium felt anything but steady and confident. He merely nodded and opened the window for them, allowing her to take off first. Her wings were still black but already they were starting to fade, becoming lighter and lighter as each moment passed. Titanium attempted to concentrate on flying to the one place she knew Blackheart would be; the Rider's residence. Chrysos flew silently by her side and in a matter of minutes they arrived, landing with grace in the garden.
"She's here! Blackheart!" someone screamed from inside the house but he was already outside, taking in her new appearance with confusion. She attempted to smile, her naturally pink lips parting ever so slightly.
"They've come to fetch me," Titanium whispered as a breeze blew around them, "I'm finally going home." Blackheart's eyes searched hers and she was shocked to see a number of emotions pass through them. Already the sun was starting to rise, splattering the horizon with a number of reds, oranges, pinks and purples.
"Princess, the portal is ready to take us to the ship," Chrysos commented from behind and they both glanced at him before looking back at each other. This was both the end and the beginning for them both even if, secretly, they did not want it to be so. Titanium looked over her shoulder and nodded for Chrysos to go, hesitantly he obeyed. As he stepped through the invisible portal, ripples spread throughout the air around him and he was gone.
"Titanium-," Blackheart had finally worked up the nerve to speak but she interrupted him, singing softly:
It is so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me,
You'll understand what happiness is" he attempted to reach out for her but she backed up slowly, stopping a step away when she whispered, "Look, a new day has begun..." and with that Titanium disappeared into the portal and exited his life, leaving no trace of her existence behind.