Relearning to Breath chapter 30
(wow! Big 30!) Act 2
"She needs to be resuscitated."
"I said motherfucking BACK OFF!"
"But she needs…"
"That is her wiggler's job! A fucking lusus lives or dies by her ward's fucking choices! Stop interfering human!"
"I don't care what you guys put her down as in your books. She's fucking human asshole and that's just a child!"
"Want to say that again?"
Hope could hear the argument going on and she opened her eyes. For a moment she saw strange people leaning over her, no one registering, until she registered one face. The only one that mattered. And she arched her body drawing a real lungful of air.
Which made her turn and throw up a small river of water.
Tiny hands stroked back her hair and she could feel damp drops falling on her cheek as her little pupa leaned his head against the side of her face. "I was so scared. I felt you slipping away from me." He whispered.
"I'm here." She rasped and tried to sit up, instead all she could manage was rolling to her back. Slowly she started to focus. There was the Grand Highblood, holding back some human EMTs. She could see ruins around them, it took a moment for her to place what the destroyed building was.
The egg hive. She could see to the side a growing pile of tiny bodies. At least the ones that were not immediately squished to jelly. Tony hands stroked back her hair and she looked up at Tavros. "Hey jinglebutt" she said softly. Reaching up to touch the face of the little one bent over her. He was balanced on his knees. Suddenly the little boy seemed to break into tears. "You nearly died!" he cried.
She reached up pulling his little head down to touch her forehead to his. "Not as long as you are here." She said softly to him.
He hiccupped. His little hands closing around the sides of her face. She didn't really know what was going on, only that her pupa was upset and she was trying to comfort him.
After a moment she got him settled enough that with his help she was able to sit up, slowly. When she wrapped her arms securely around Tavros, only then did the Highblood let the meddling humans close to her.
There wasn't much they could do. She glanced around seeing military guys and juggelos searching the debris.
She glanced up at the highblood "What changed?" she asked him.
"When we had to stretch our resources thin" he responded "I was able to get the humans to.. understand, that in this case, this place, is my jurisdiction, and if they don't want to end up a smear they gotta follow my orders." he just glared at the rescue people "They on the other hand, are just a pain in my ass."
He knelt and held out a large hand to take her's and haul her to her feet. Then he supported her to a spot to sit. Tavros staying at her side like a small burr. Sirius was being properly bandaged and Ana sat on his back giving death glares to anyone coming too close to her Lusus. Even the fellow bandaging her lusus for her.
The other three children were sitting together. Feferi in the middle with both boys flanking her. They stared out over the water as if watching for something.
Hope looked around "Where's the others? I know that Gamzee and the others were behind us, but they should have gotten to a boat to follow."
The Highblood shook his head. "I haven't seen them" he told her.
Hope bit her lip and stared over the water. Next to her Tavros hugged her tighter "They got Gamzee and Momma Jade" he told her. "They will make sure they all get back." He tried to sound confident, Hope smiled at him and gave him a tight hug.
There was a shout, it was Eridan "From the water!" the boy screamed pointing with his rifle, he started to fire off shots.
Out of the water came dark dressed figures. Most armed, some with horns, some with scuba gear.
"YOU AIN'T FIGHTING MOTHERFUCKING MOVE!" the highblood shouted and then started an odd war cry, it sounded almost as if he was singing, or rather rapping, and the other juggelos picked up the rift giving loud woops and cries of their own, diving past the humans an crashing into the attackers.
Shots from behind and Hope could see that another wave came from land as well.
Hope was about to see about finding a spot to hide when she felt a large hand close over her shoulder and with a yank the Highblood stuffed her in a spot between slabs. "Stay there!" he told her and grabbing up his clubs he gave a cry and dove into battle, darkness and fear gathering around him and chuckling like a demented cluster of birds.
Hope kept herself down and out of the way. Her head started to feel, funny, again.
"What are you doing?" the female voice as harsh, and very annoyed sounding.
"You have to choose, me or her!" the voice was authoritative, condescending and male. A hint of a watery accent that one who is familiar with trolls associates with sea dwellers.
"You are an idiot! WHY did I ever think we could work anything out?" the frustration in her voice was almost grieving.
"Then you choose a slave, over a prince?"there was a plaintive sound, as if he deflated and wasn't sure what to do.
"I choose to protect something precious over letting you ruin shit you don't know anything about!"
Who were these voices? One sounded familiar, the male voice, like one she'd heard in recent memory. The other she didn't know at all, other than something inside her knew it.
A sudden feeling, as if shot. She doubled over, clutching her chest.
"Can you do anything for her? We have to save her!" it was that unfamiliar female voice again. She was talking to someone.
There was a rumble and it was one that didn't just feel familiar to the owner of the memory, but to Hope as well, "We'll have to push her transformation, it's the only motherfucking way." The way the voice spoke was not how she was use to hearing it now, this was younger, more authoritive.
But Hope knew the Grand Highblood when she heard him.
There was a pause and the last thing the owner of the memory heard was a soft "do it. I just can't let her die."
Hope came to herself when she hear Tavros' growl. Looking up she saw a figure standing there. Her eyes didn't fully focus. For a moment she thought she was on the deck of a ship seeing her doom come at her.
"Leave us alone!" Tavros screamed making a swing with his club.
The figure grabbed the club and lifted the little pupa "If you are good little one, I'll bring you along, otherwise you'll be a smear."
She knew that voice. She knew that voice! Hope leapt out fast and her arms wrapped around the pupa and she pulled him back against her into the area they had been sheltered in. The sound that emanated from her throat hardly sounded human. A long dreadful growling hiss.
"Still defiant." The Orphaner chuckled "We'll break you of that." He promised her and reached for her.
"I suggest sea dweller you back the motherfuck off." The Grand Highblood's voice sang out from behind the other troll. "You don't have Condense's protection anymore 'Prince' Orphaner Dualscar."
"The same can be said for you. How old are you 'Highblood'?" the troll turned "She's not here to heal ye and keep ye young anymore is she?" he half purred "How fast ye rotting mmm?"
"I have no regrets." The Highblood said pointing his club at the other troll "What about you?" he said suddenly smiling very widely "Hope told me everything you told her." He said "So, you yet again kill the very thing you loved most, because you were just too greedy to share."
Hope couldn't see the other's face as his back was too her. But she began looking for an avenue of escape.
The Orphaner lifted his gun silently and shot. "I'm through talking" he said his voice completely dead sounding.
The Highblood managed to dodge the shot. Then he charged in like a raging bull his club coming up to swing at the other troll. Who lept backwards and managed to avoid the hit, though the club caught on his cape and pulled the material ripping it from his back.
But close seemed to be what the Orphaner wanted. Hope was making Tavros duck down into a hallow shelter created by fallen rubble. It looked like it might go a little ways and open up again. She knew the pupa would fit, it would be a tight squeeze for her but she was confident she could make it too.
She glanced back at the fighting trolls in time to see the Orphaner drop his rifle, and pulled a small hand gun.
Which he held right to the Highblood's chest. The other had his great arms around the other troll digging his claws into flesh.
"Good bye old 'friend'" The Orphaner said and pulled the trigger.
Hope stared with huge eyes as the troll fell backwards. She stood there precious seconds trying to register what just happened.
For Orphaner to turn and see her. She ducked down and started to crawl after Tavros, but felt the hand close around her ankle. She was pulled back out, rubble scraping along her belly. The troll lifted her up and grinned at her "All your protectors will be gone." He hissed at her "And this world will burn. All for you."
A sinking horror filled her belly and she hissed at him. He chuckled "Sounding more like a god damn mothergrub you are. So you get that bitch's memories? This would make things all the sweeter. Mindfang and Highblood tried to hide that traitorous slave bitch from me, but I still killed her in the end. Centuries later, but she is dead now, beneath that rubble. The Dolorosa is fucking dead." He laughed "And a few floating memories in a human's head just makes my revenge so much sweeter." His grin was so wide, so completely insane. "Happy Rosa?" he said nose to nose with Hope. "You raised that red blooded filthy mutant, and set the whole thing into motion. You destroyed our world selfish bitch!" he shook the girl who could only hang onto his arms and feel such a sinking feeling of horror and sick confusion. She had no clue what the crazy troll was talking about. "And no human is ever going to be a match for a troll. You are lower than us, and I will make sure you know your place!" Hope stared into his mad eyes and was trying to focus on the here and now. She was flung over the Orphaner's shoulder and the troll marched through the battle, shooting a few targets. He didn't seem to care who he shot. Just clearing his path for his escape.
"Orphaner!" Hope found herself shifted to the ground, but as a shield. A hand closed with choking strength around her throat. She found that Gamzee was standing there. Somewhere behind Karkat and Jade could be seen coming from the bank.
Gamzee's eyes blazed a strange reddish color, the centers so incredibly purple. Hope found herself feeling more than a little panicked. He did not look sane.
"I'M going To motherFUCKING rip YOU to PIECES!" Gamzee said dangerously.
"And risk damage to your precious human?"
Gamzee's smile only grew wider. Inhuman Hope would call it. From his hunched position he launched himself at the troll holding Hope.
And Hope found herself flung INTO Gamzee. The other troll half turned in midair and wrapped his arms around her. He crashed into the other troll and then kicked himself off him. Teeth bared Hope expected to be put down. Instead he tighten one arm around her and charged right back in.
The girl felt her eyes go huge. Gun fire blasted around her and Gamzee did not release his hold. Holding two of his clubs in one hand he flung one at the Orphaner and while the other ducked that one he came smashing in with the other he still held. Striking the troll who half crumpled under the strike.
And Hope got herself a front row seat to the fall of the club into the water dweller's skull. She could hear the crazed rumbling laughter in Gamzee's chest as he brought his weapon down again and again. She turned her face away from the scene. Tried not to think about what fell on her when he dropped the weapon and grabbed the now very dead troll and lifted him. Stepping on his legs he literately twisted the other's head off his body laughing.
His arm around her tightened to the point she could feel her bones creak. Fearing he would crush her she got one arm free and reached up to grab his face.
He turned that crazed gaze on her. Water dweller purple smeared along his face with his makeup. Crazed eyes turned their attention to her and his grin twisted. He dropped the corpse and that bloody hand came up his thumb circling down her cheek. He seemed to like the effect of the color and drew another line of blood on her face. She gulped not sure about the odd expression he wore.
"Gamzee… " she started but before she could try and say more, or even just try and calm him down his lips closed upon her's. The kiss was intense. Enough so that her lip caught on one of his teeth and she got the taste of her own blood mixed a bit with the blood of the troll Gamzee just killed.
He just pulled her closer kissing her deeper as if trying to suck her soul out through her mouth. Her fingers closed on his vest top and she could only clutch on. Her head swam with so much, but at the moment she was completely in the terrifying now.
He pulled back staring at her with red tinged eyes. She shook in his hold and just tried to get her head together. To figure out how to react to this. So far he wasn't trying to hurt her, but he was scaring her. They were in the middle of a battle field.
At least the answer to her shock came in the form of Karkat climbing up Gamzee's back, his hands wrapped around his friend's horns and with a toss backwards he pulled the taller troll to the ground. On top of him, which seemed to knock the air from him "Calm the fuck down!" the smaller troll shouted and kept hold of Gamzee as the larger troll struggled. But Karkat's legs were wrapped around his shoulders and arms, and his hands firmly had the other by the horns, forcibly keeping him from struggling.
Tavros had gotten hold of Hope's legs and gave a tug as Gamzee been falling, the young troll managed to pull the girl free and she fell back to her rump with an expelling of air.
She curled up wrapping her arms around her head. Something inside suddenly snapping. She felt Tav throw his tiny form over her and was attempting to calm her down.
Jade set up with her gun, the other children and Sirius with her, keeping a parameter around the four figures. She knelt by the grand Highblood and managed to turn him over.
She checked for a pulse and sighed when she found one. He was bleeding badly and she wasn't sure how long he'd last without help.
At least though, with the rather spectacular death of Orphaner the word began to spread and a retreat began to be called. Masked figures disappearing into the water or around buildings. A chase (mainly by angry subjuggulators) was conducted, but the fighting seemed to be done for the time being.
Jade though knew this wasn't the end. This, was the first such violent conflict, and there would be more. The line was struck and even with cooler heads, the extremists were going to be screaming for blood. Humans for the trolls over the loss of human lives and the defiance of human authority in a troll matter. Trolls for the fact it was humans who in their view initiated the attack. Killed one of their Mother Grubs and destroyed thousands of young grubs, let alone the archive and whatever other targets were involved.
She glanced back and saw Karkat shushing the crazed troll who was laying against the other, who cradled him like a small child. And Hope, who whimpered from pain that no one but her pupa seemed to be able to calm, but he could not fix what was wrong.
"This is, so messed up" Feferi said softly. Leaning against Eric's shoulder. The human boy placed a hand on Eridan's arm. The young troll reaching up to squeeze the other boy's hand back. Eridan was looking down at the remains of the Orphaner. His face was still and contemplative.
Jade looked up at the smoky destruction of the hive and the hundreds of bodies littering the ground around it.
What would be the cost of peace?
End of act/book 2
Continues in the story "Still Breathing"
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