Thank you for being patient, getting rid of my relatives was really hard, (luckily, they have retreated for the time being, we won't do battle again till summer), and the restarting of school was brutal, (plus i had to pull a ton of all-nighters to finish my science course!). And so, please enjoy this very late update of After Spartoi!
"Figures those assholes would up and forget us!" Shiro grouched as he ran full tilt through the city, heading towards the ongoing battles that raged around and in Death city.
"Can you blame them? There's so much crap going on, I'd forget us too," Aria replied calmly while her partner seethed. She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Charging head on into battle is not going to help anyone either so stop rushing."
"Hmmf! I'm nor gonna let them hog all the glory! We snuck out too!" Shiro said fiercely. This pissed him off more than anything else, when people forgot him and his partner.
"I know this makes you angry, but we'll be more help by going back to the school and warning everyone who's behind this whole siege," Aria reasoned to her disgruntled partner.
Shiro's sprinting slowed to strides, then steps, and then he stopped. Taking a deep breath, he shouted at the sky, "DAMMNIT!" Then spun around and changed his course for the steps of the school. "I hate it when you're right!"
"I know," Aria said calmly as they made their way back to the school. Despite her calm demeanor, she was worried beyond any other emotion right now. This was a disaster, even more than at the beginning. The adults were gone and the school was unprotected. Jada's impressive army of creatures could only keep so many kishins at bay, there were bound to be ones that slipped through. They needed to inform the other school staff that they needed to be ready.
"Hey, Aria?" Shiro asked as they made the halfway mark up the stairs.
"What should we tell them? About Emmie and everything."
Aria nibbled her lip. Emmie, right. What were they supposed to do with that mess? Should they go and tell the adults that "Hey, not only have most of our forces vanished, but now one our students have gone on a black blood rampage and everyone in the city is on her hit list. Oh and there's definitely witches in the city too."
Oh yeah, that'd go over really well.
"I don't think we should tell just anyone," Aria said, compromising between the two choices; her friend's safety and the safety of everyone else. "We need to tell someone we can trust. Someone who won't want to just kill Emmie."
"Doctor Stein," Shiro said immediately. "He'll know what to do and he probably won't want to kill Emmie."
Aria nodded in agreement from her blade form. Dr Stein was their best bet. Increasing his pace, Shiro sprinted the last half to the school.
Emmie stared for a moment at the boy in front of her; his hand still held out to her. The she skittered away as fast as she could, got to her feet, and took off running. No, not running, scrambling is closer. The multiple ponds, pools, and puddles all over the place that were who knows how deep kept getting in her way, forcing her to vault, leap, and dodge around them in an inconvenient manner.
"Hold up, where are you going?" The fake Jamie asked as he pursued Emmie.
"Away from you! I won't fall for whatever trick your trying to play on me!" Emmie yelled back as she picked up the pace as best she could. Suddenly, the fake Jamie vanished from her peripheral vision and reappeared right in front of her. Emmie yelped despite her intentions to not, and skidded to a halt as fake Jamie approached her.
He held out his hand again, giving a light smile. "I promise I'm not here to play a trick of any kind on you. I came here to help." His hand rose to side of Emmie's face and softly brushed her wild, white hair from her eyes. Emmie shied away from the touch, not only did she not trust this illusion, but she also didn't like the fact that it was doing this like that with her partner's face. Suedo Jamie just smiled more.
"So who are you. There's no way you could be Jamie, he's back in D.C. Fighting-" Emmie cut off, remembering her situation and the situation of her friends.
"Fighting you, that's what you were going to say right?" The copy Jamie grew serious, but kept his casual body language. "That's why I'm here. I'm supposed to help you find your way back into the real world."
"So i did get transported to a different world?" Emmie eyed fake Jamie carefully, keeping close eye on his movements; making sure he didn't try to attack her.
"Not quite, only your conscious mind went anywhere. Your physical body is still in Death City," Jamie smiled and raised his hands skyward. "This place is your inner mindscape. It's where your soul rests, and where the black blood has taken residence."
Emmie looked around confused. Inner mindscape? This guy had to be putting her on. She'd never heard of anything even close to that name. "You didn't answer my question yet. Who are you?"
Fake Jamie smiled again, his eyes twinkling in an inappropriately attractive way. "Technically, i am you. Or your conscious at least. Usually a conscious takes the same form as their person, but i had a feeling you'd attack me right off the bat if i did that. So i took a form that you reflect on the most fondly." Shifting close, Emmie's conscious pulled Emmie into an embrace. "I also took the liberty of adding the actions you desire most of this boy. Thought you'd appreciate it."
Emmie felt a bit of vertigo as her conscious hugged her. Her mind spun, this couldn't be right. She only saw Jamie as a team mate, as a friend. A close friend. But that was it. Wasn't it?
False Jamie took Emmie's moment of stillness to lean in and breathe softly on her ear. Emmie's danger sensors maxed out and she took automatic action. Grabbing the copy's arms, she turned around and flipped him over her shoulder; slamming him against the black/green ground. The grass did little to soften the landing.
"If i had a nervous system, that would have hurt a lot," Fake Jamie said calmly as Emmie retreated to a safer distance. He lay on the ground for a moment and then got back up, brushing the grass blades form his clothes and hair.
"Okay, new rule, touching me is not at all okay," Emmie said as she tried to steady her jack hammering heart. This thing wasn't Jamie! Why was she flipping out?! Why would she flip out even if it was Jamie?!
"Unfortunately, i can only restrain so much of the behaviour this form is wished to perform. But i will try," Emmie's conscience picked itself up of the ground and dusted itself off calmly. Straightening it's shirt, it bowed to Emmie. "Now shall we be on our way? We must hurry; the spell that is causing your black blood to run wild will continue to poison you, lest we stop it."
"Right..." Emmie looked away from the bowing Jamie. Was this really what her mind had been imagining? If so, maybe she really was mad. "Okay not Jamie, show me the way."
"Excellent!" Not Jamie exclaimed brightly. He grabbed Emmie's hand and pulled her into a run. Then, he jumped over the edge of a dark puddle near them. Emmie felt momentary fear as they made the plunge, but she squashed it down; it wasn't like things could get any worse right?
Instead of wiggling away like she really wanted to, she let the dark water pull her in and she vanished from light.
"D.K.?" Jamie asked in a confused voice. He was still lying on the ground, nursing his newly acquired wounds and confusion. "What are you doing here?"
"Like i said, saving your ass," D.K. said, frustrated by his friend's lack of coherency. "Get your back in the game Jamie, or are you gonna just lay down and die for the next kishin that finds you?"
"D.K.! Jamie's injured, give him a break!" Madison said in a clearly appalled voice. "He doesn't a have a weapon, even you'd have had trouble with those shadows!"
D.K. just huffed and tucked his partners back into they're holsters. Extending his hand down to Jamie, he pulled his fellow meister off the ground. "I went through a lot of trouble to get in here you know, show a little gratefulness."
"In here? All you had to was walk down the street right?" Jamie looked around at the street. Though damaged greatly, it still looked like a perfectly ordinary street that happened to have mist and shadow monsters.
"You really didn't notice that you ran into some kind of spell?" D.K. pointed at the sky. "That's not real, we're inside a spell field right now. This place, i think, brings people's nightmares to life. Spend enough time in here and you'll lose your mind. Which is why," D.K. grabbed Jamie's shoulders and turned him back the way they came. "We are getting out of here as quickly as possible."
"Right..." Jamie let himself be ushered towards the exit. He'd thought he recognized those shadows; he'd had a short nightmare when he was younger about shadows chasing him around his parents summer 'home' in Hawaii. In the dream the shadows had been harmless, but the spell field must have amplified them into real monsters rather than just spooks.
"Wait!" Jamie said, suddenly remembering about Emmie. "Emmie went further in! We need to go get her!"
"No need, i saw her exit on the other side before i managed to break in here," D.K. answered as he tugged Jamie back into running. During D.K.'s circling of the spell field, he'd been searching for an opening that wasn't covered in shadows, he'd seen Emmie's emerging figure on the other end of the circular field. He'd also seen Emmie engage in combat with a witch. D.K. quickly explained this all to Jamie. "So if we hurry, we can catch up with her."
"But why are we going the opposite direction?" Jamie and D.K. exited the field at that moment, just as more shadows had begun to gather in the corners of the street.
"It'll be faster and safer if i fly us over," D.K. summoned Beelzebub and they both climbed on. D.K. in the front and Jamie on the edge trying to not fall off.
"This is embarrassing looking," Jamie said, trying to keep a firm grip on D.K. while not touching to much. Hugging his friend from behind was really uncomfortable for Jamie.
"Just deal with it till we reach Emmie," D.K. said coolly, he felt embarrassed as well, but he was hiding it behind a mask of calmness. At least no one was here to see them.
"You guys look so cute!" Madison giggled as they took off, her laughing face could be seen from her reflection on her gun form. Serena's quiet laughter was also heard from the space between Jamie's chest and D.K.'s back, where she was strapped in place.
"Ha, ha," D.K. said dryly as they came around the bend. "I'll make sure you guys have extra training after this, just so you know."
Serena and Madison groaned audibly.
"D.K., how do we stop her?" Jamie asked his friend. "I had an idea to use a Soul Wavelength attack, but i don't think i can pull it off."
"I wouldn't be able to either, wavelength control isn't my strong suit," D.K. said as he pulled Madison's gun form out and shot a small kishin out of the sky. "Our best bet right now is for you to try the attack. My plan is that you'd distract her for me long enough so i could get in there and pin her. And then, Jamie, you'd get in there and shock Emmie."
"And if you can't hold her or i can't use the attack?"
"Then we try to not die."
An explosion of a building from up ahead snapped all of them to attention. Jamie saw blurred movements of white colour and groaned. "Emmie's going to destroy everything if we don't stop her."
"Yeah, not shit," D.K. grumbled back. They descended towards the literal insanity below.
Jump, leap, dodge, duck, responding attack. That was the pattern the two white/silver haired girls had fallen into. Diana would blast some magic at Emmie and she'd jump out of the way, then come back with an equally dangerous attack with her scythe blades.
They were evenly match, locked in a stand still. Well, not really, the area around them certain wasn't still. Building after building was lay to waste as they made a path of destruction through the city. And any roving kishin that got in their way met a painful, but quick fate.
'This is getting boring,' Blackened Emmie thought as she made another slice at Diana. The witch, while fairly young, was strong; but not enough to topple Emmie in her powered up state. Diana would give any experienced meister a run for their money. But her attacks were predictable, easy to dodge once you'd seen them enough. Emmie was unmarked because of this, but so was Diana; Emmie couldn't close enough to deal any real damage. The witch made sure she stayed out of range of the metal claws that Emmie sported.
For split seconds, Emmie would be close enough to get a kick and slice in; but would then have to retreat.
It was quickly becoming a test of endurance, one of the most boring ways to settle things.
If only someone would interfere, distract the witch for a moment, then Emmie would swoop in and kill the bitch quicker than she could defend.
Gun shots rained down on them both and they both leapt apart.
'Speak of the devil and he shall appear,' Black Emmie thought with a giggle as she watched the shinigami and his weapons appear before her. She cackled and stepped into a low battle stance. "Why little death god, to what do we owe your appearance to?"
"I'm here to put a sinner to death," D.K. said as he pointed the rifle at his friend.
"You really going to do that? Kill your friend? How heartless," Blackened Emmie shivered, now her other self would feel even worse; her own friend was going to try to kill them! How awful!
"You're not a sinner Emmie, not yet at least," D.K. said in a low voice.
"I can guarantee that won't last much longer," She said menacingly, scraping her scythe fingers together.
D.K. looked at his friend, taking in her pure black eyes and matching scythes, the feral grin on her features, and felt a twinge inwardly. He felt that this was his fault somehow, it'd been his job to monitor her madness levels after all. And he should have gotten back to them faster, stopped Venom from casting the spell on Emmie.
"Don't ignore me!" Diana shouted as she fired a blast of magic at D.K.
D.K. quickly turned and fired at the oncoming bolt, causing both to explode against each other. The air between them was clouded for a moment. Taking this opportunity, D.K. moved like greased lightning at Diana; using practiced martial arts he'd learned his whole life. Diana had barely a moment to register the reaper before his elbow found her gut and sent her flying backwards.
D.K. gave her no time to recover or even hit the ground for more than a moment before he was on her again; this time shooting her square in the back without mercy. She landed with a heavy thud, struggling greatly to get up again.
D.K. slammed his foot down on her back, pinning her back on the ground. Diana turned her head to the side and sneered at the young reaper. He only responded with aiming the gun at her head. "Witch, you have trespassed into D.W.M.A. territory, broken the law in countless ways, and violated the treaty between us and you witches. I hereby am given the right to execute you on sight."
"Bite me!" Diana hissed back, and exploded into white powder. D.K. reeled back from the dust, trying to not breathe it in. Diana's cackles from above him could be heard. She'd tricked him; the Diana he'd pinned was a copy, an illusion.
"Shit," D.K. rubbed his eyes, feeling the powder sting in them. His lungs felt weak, whatever the powder had been, it was poisonous to him.
"D.K.!" Madison's concerned reflection appeared. "Stop rubbing your making it worse!"
"I know that!" D.K. snapped. He really wanted to stop, but the itching in them was so awful now he couldn't stop.
"What's wrong Shinigami? You seem to have something in your eye," Emmie said as she circled him, only twenty feet away. D.K. new he was in trouble, big trouble. He was impaired, had two threats ready to attack, and Jamie wasn't in position yet. Either he had to think fast, or they would all die.
One way or another.
From Jamie's perspective in the shadows, things weren't going well. He and D.K. had separated when they'd landed a few blocks back. D.K. had told him to try and practice soul force, but not to take long; the reaper would only be able to occupy the attention of the two murderous girls for so long.
Jamie grimaced and took the meditative position Tsubaki had shown in class, something to help him focus his mind and soul. Eyes closed, legs crossed, he breathed in and tried again to bring his soul energy out to his fingers. Reaching for his wavelength, he imagined himself grabbing the energy and pulling it out. His image of a hand grasped the energy and tugged, and his fingers sparked painfully; discharging back into him.
"Ow, ow, ow!" Jamie moaned as he shook his hands; they felt like they'd been touched by a burning hot pot. Gritting his teeth, he tried again; more frantic this time. He was running out of time, and putting D.K. in more danger by the minute.
This time he moved faster in his mind, not giving himself the extra time to be slow anymore. He grabbed the energy and tugged as hard as he could, and forced it out of his body. The result was a spectacular explosion in his hands and a shock wave travelling back into his body.
Jamie panted, holding his burning hands against the cool concrete ground. He'd done it, he'd managed to use soul force; even if he'd hurt himself in the process, it was still progress.
And it'd have to do for now, Jamie couldn't spare anymore time. Ignoring the redness of his fingers and skin, Jamie set off at a run; moving as loud as he dared. It wouldn't do them any good if Emmie heard him coming.
It was easy to locate the fight, he just followed the destruction. When he got close enough to hear voices e slowed down and put his back to a wall; steadying his breathing.
"You're not a sinner Emmie, not yet at least," D.K.'s said.
"I can guarantee that won't last much longer," Jamie heard Emmie respond, accompanied by sounds of metal on metal. Whatever was happening over there, it was definitely a dangerous situation.
"Don't ignore me!" Shouted an unfamiliar voice. There was an explosion, followed by sounds of a fight. Jamie crept closer, keeping to shadows. Then there was a poof noise. Jamie peeked around the corner of the half destroyed wall and caught sight of D.K. in the middle of a cloud of white dust. Jamie watched as his friend scratched at his eyes, Jamie wanted to go out and help, but keeping his element of surprise was more important.
D.K. had told Jamie not to give away his presence no matter what happened to him. Jamie had wanted to disagree, but he knew D.K. was right. So Jamie stayed put, hidden in the dark and waiting for D.K. to give him the signal.
D.K. started coughing. He resisted the urge to drop his weapons and use both his hands to scratch his eyes; but only barely. He couldn't open his eyes any more, the air made them itch worse. As he kept scratching with his free hand, he could feel the skin breaking against his nails.
"What's wrong Shibusen dog? Has the fight gone out of you?" Diana said with an aloof voice. She was floating on her broom about two stories above her two opponents.
"Shut up!" D.K. switched Madison for Serena and fired at Diana. He aimed best he could through his bleary eye sight, and missed. Diana hadn't even moved, the shot had gone right past her no problem. D.K. scrunched his eyes and scratched at them again.
"Madison, I'll change and use you to fight okay?" Serena said as she started to change back into a human. D.K. was going to killed at this rate.
"NO!" D.K. yelled, shocking Serena. His lungs were starting to really hurt, making it even harder to focus. "You will stay in your weapon form Serena, you too Madison! Changing right now will be suicide, stay put!"
"You're going to die! Let us help!" Serena pleaded.
"Absolutely not," D.K. hefted the large rifle over his shoulder and secured it. Settling into his death god Taijutsu stance, 'Punishment', D.K. squinted his eyes, stoning his will against the need to scratch. "I'll fight them myself, you will both be silent and stay in your weapon forms."
"Cute," Emmie said condescendingly. "Let's see you put some meaning behind those words."
They all stood still for a moment, then Emmie made the first move. She was almost too fast for D.K. to see, blurring into a white and black smear in his vision. Emmie lunged at him, scythe blades aiming for his neck. D.K. dipped backwards, flipped back up, and delivered a punch to Emmie's face.
Diana joined the mayhem at that moment, firing more white bolts of magic at both students. Emmie and D.K. broke apart and went to defence against the witch. Emmie jumped into the air, using the rubble of the buildings as a stairway to Diana's height. Emmie flew through the air at Diana, who was preoccupied with sending blasts at D.K..
Diana shrieked as she noticed Emmie's presence, but it was too late. Slamming into Diana and her broom, Emmie grappled with the witch; trying to drag the back down to the ground.
The broom disappeared and they fell, both landing on their feet. Both sneering, Emmie and Diana readied their next attacks.
D.K. was suddenly there behind Diana. He knocked her towards Emmie with a heavy blow from his foot. Emmie, who was more than pleased her prey was coming right at her, attempted to skewer the oncoming witch. Diana moved quickly and grabbed Emmie's outstretched arm, using it as a vaulting point. Emmie knew this was coming, and the moment Diana's hands touched her skin, Emmie created a scythe blade from her arm. Diana was stabbed right in her stomach.
Diana coughed and spat up blood. Her eyes got big and scared as she looked at the blade buried in her flesh. Emmie grinned and twisted the blade, grinding it against the bones inside. Emmie, with her free hand, began stabbing Diana in various places with a single scythe blade. Her legs, her shoulders, anywhere that wouldn't kill her immediately.
Diana screamed and tried to free herself, but only slipped further down onto the blade. Her face was right in front of Emmie's, the two girls staring at each other. In the seemingly soulless black eyes of Emmie, Diana saw her own reflection; beat up, dirty, and blood everywhere.
She spat a glob of blood on Emmie's face, her eyes defiant as life ebbed away from her body. "Stupid bitch, your still looking down on me."
Emmie let the glob of spit and blood drip down her face over one eye. She smirked and hefted Diana high. "Hmmph, insecurity issues huh?" Emmie chuckled. "Too bad i don't care. I have my own problems. Be seeing you next life time right?"
With that, Emmie threw the dying witch to the ground. She rolled a bit and came to rest in front of D.K.'s feet. The young shinigami stared at the dying witch, their eyes met, Diana's silver ones and D.K. redden, but still gold ones; exchanging a sort of apology? A form of respect?
Then Diana died. Her body disintegrated and left only her soul, silvery and light; floating alone.
Emmie started laughing, quiet at first, but it steadily grew louder. Her insane laughter echoed through the destroyed and darkened streets of Death City, sending shivers down both D.K. and Jamie's spines.
"OH MAN! That was great!" Emmie cried as she pretended to wipe tears from her eyes. "It feels so amazing, finally being able to kill something that had feelings. So much more of a rush! Kishins only do so much for me, you know? Yeah, the blood that comes out of humans; that's the stuff." She had transformed her hands back and was rubbing the ruby liquid between her fingers; the red standing stark against her pale skin.
Madison let out a sob, seeing her friend do something so awful had been to much for her and she'd broken down. The attack, the sight of her friend becoming such a monster, the blood. It was too much for her to deal with.
"Oh don't cry pretty girl," Emmie said as she admired the red on her hands. "It's not like anyone'll miss her. That bitch was a witch; hah, that rhymed. Anyhow, justice was served, righteous killing, blah blah blah. You know what i mean. We're paid to kill people like her aren't we? So no harm done."
"While you are correct Emmie, if i can still call you that, killing in such a manner isn't how we do things at D.W.M.A.," D.K. glared at his out of control friend. "We kill in a manner that is swift, just, and clean."
"Ha! That's a laugh! Just? Clean? Fuck that!" Emmie lolled her head back and cast a look at the sky, suddenly serious. "You and i both know, reaper boy, that this place executes what it thinks is justice. Their rules, not anyone else's. My way or the highway kind of thing. Step out of line and you die, that's what i learned."
"And yet i don't remember you having ever followed the rules of this city."
"I needed an outlet, and besides, those were never my fights. Other assholes picked 'em with me," Emmie shrugged her shoulders and slouched. "I can't say i didn't enjoy them, but that doesn't mean i wanted to fight ever cotton pickin' second of the day. I have a life you know?"
The sudden change in behaviour from Emmie was unnerving. But it could also mean she was coming back. D.K. took a step towards her. "Emmie? Is that you?"
"I never left," Emmie said with a familiar grin. Her features softening and her posture back to normal. Her eyes were still black though. She smirked and started towards D.K. "No need to be nervous, I'm fine now."
"You don't look fine," D.K. said, feeling a tight ball of worry in his gut. "Stay where you are, i don't know if you really are normal yet."
Emmie's face showed hurt. She looked down at her feet and kicked the ground. "That's real mean of you to say. Please, your my friend, trust me." She came closer, standing in front of D.K.'s tense form. She looked up into D.K.'s gold eyes, her face open and welcoming. "I promise reaper boy, I'm normal again."
D.K.'s face darkened. "Well I'm sorry Emmie."
"For this, if you truly are back," D.K. drew Madison's gun form from its holster, quick as lightening, and fired into Emmie's chest.
Emmie leapt back, the facade broken. She bared her teeth at him angrily. "What gave me away?"
"Emmie would never call me 'reaper boy', she always addresses people by their names. If you're a part of her, you should know that she hates nick names," D.K. glared fiercely through his blurred vision.
"Tch, what an uncool slip up, huh?" Emmie rubbed the spot where she'd been shot. The black blood running through her veins had harden to minimalize damage, but it still hurt like hell. Her collarbone would be sore for days. "You're a real asshole, you know?"
"Shut up and give us our friend back," D.K. pointed the gun at Emmie and fired. The shots were wild and most struck the ground, sending debree into the air; obscuring vision. D.K. cursed himself for his carelessness. Suddenly a shape came barreling out of the dust at D.K.
He dodged it quickly, landing a safe distance away. He squinted, then widened his eyes as he realized that the shape had been nothing but a piece of dry wood.
"Gotcha," Emmie's voice said from behind him. He turned and tried to defend, block, at least deflect the oncoming blow; but he wasn't fast enough. Emmie's blade went right through him, spraying blood against the ground.
D.K. heard Madison screaming and Serena yelling his name, but they were faint; his vision becoming tunneled. He was in the same position as Diana had been, face to face with Emmie. D.K.'s lungs struggled to inflate themselves, the blade must have punctured one of them. Blood dribbled from his mouth, splattering on his black dress shoes.
"Well shit," He managed to say.
The water filled her ears and lifted her hair from her face, making it float ghost like around her. Not Jamie was still holding her hand, he gave her a reassurance smile and began swimming downwards; tugging Emmie along. Emmie pumped her legs and used her other arm to push herself. She caught sight of light flickering at the bottom.
With renewed vigor, she swam full speed towards the light, passing not Jamie and pulling him behind her. They reached the bottom and broke through the surface. Emmie felt her body flip and the world suddenly rightened itself. She tread water for moment, readjusting to being up right, then swam to shore.
Dragging herself out of the water, she prepared to squeeze her hair out and found that she was completely dry. Weird, but cool. The scenery hadn't changed, they were still on a plain of black grass and puddles.
"We're here," Not Jamie said, pointing at a roiling shape in the distance. Emmie followed his direction, staring at the black floating sphere. It looked like liquid, ink maybe, shimmering in the light as it twisted round and round in itself.
"This is trippy..." Emmie said as she approached it. Watching it closely, Emmie saw black droplets seperate themselves, fly around the whole of the sphere, and reattach themselves again. There was a slight thumping coming from it, a bit like a heartbeat.
"This is the black blood's form inside your soul. Careful, don't touch it!" Not Jamie warned Emmie as a droplet flew near her. "You'll be drawn in before i can explain what to do."
"I'm going inside this thing? Are you mental?" Emmie backed away from the shifting sphere.
"I assure you that it's the only way to escape and regain control of your body. See, the black blood is generally calm and tranquil. It's only doing this because of the poisonous snake the witch Venom inserted into your soul. You need to go inside there and retrieve it. If it's removed, you will regain control."
"Sounds easy enough. What's the catch?"
"The catch is it will be very hard to resist the blood's pull on your sanity. Even your parents had a hard time keeping it in check when they were younger."
"My parents? What do they have to do with this?" Emmie asked, paying rapt attention.
Not Jamie's expression got very sad then. "Yes, although you may not know it, the blood that exist inside you came from your father. He was originally infected when he was about you age. He and you mother struggled with it for a time, trying to keep Soul from having fits of madness. They were in the end successful in repressing the blood, and sealing it deep in his soul," Not Jamie turned his focus to the giant sphere before them. "But the blood found a way out, through the transference of his genes into your mother and you. I know this because the blood knows."
"So my dad..." Emmie felt her eyes get hot. So it was her parents' fault that she had blood inside her? How could they have never told her, about the curse they'd afflicted her with? Her voice was wavering as she spoke. "So my dad, did he know what he was doing? Did my mom?"
"I don't think they did. If they had, they might have taken extra precaution of you awakening the blood within you one day," Not Jamie put a hand on Emmie's shoulder. "They didn't know, and I'm sure they feel very guilty about it. They only want the best for you."
"Then why aren't they here?!" Emmie slapped his hand away. "If they wanted the best for me then why did they abandon me?! How could they leave if they knew this might happen?!"
"They trusted their friends to care for you until they could come back-"
"Did they leave because of this?! Did they leave because they were ashamed of what they'd done?! I never asked for anything more than their presence in my life! But they're not here, they're never here!" Emmie let her pent up rage burst free of the bonds in her heart. She couldn't hold it in anymore. "They left me alone for years, barely showing up even for the holidays! And even when they did show up, all we did was fight! There's so many fucking secrets between us i don't even know where to start! They didn't tell about the blood, i didn't tell them about the fights, they never gave me a good reason for them leaving, i never told them about how fucking sad that made me! Fuck my life! I hate this! I'm done with goddamn secrets! The next time i see them I'm going to punch them both and make them tell me everything!"
Not Jamie gave her a hug, letting her know he was there. Emmie took a shuddering breath, her stress ebbing a little, and hugged not Jamie back. "This is the most awkward hug ever..." She said in a hushed tone.
"I know," Not Jamie said as he rubbed her head.
Emmie let him hug her for a moment more before pulling away. She turned to the black sphere. "Okay, so i just go in and pull a snake out right? And then what?"
"And then you should regain control and leave this part of your soul. The black blood will be in your control again and you'll be normal."
"Right..." Emmie touched her hand to the watery blackness, testing the surface tension, and let herself be pulled in. The black of the sphere was even darker then the water of the puddles, and it had a pull on her arms and legs, making it difficult to move quickly. A moment after Emmie had entered, she started to hear the madness. It whispered and spoke softly in her ears. Shaking her head, Emmie pushed further into the black, searching for the snake.
Emmie's breathing became labored as she pressed on. The black constricting her chest. Her mouth was dry, her tongue felt like sand paper on the inside of her mouth. The voices got louder too, speaking clearer words now. They spoke about her failures, the disappointment of her parents, and how it would be so easy for her to just give up and let the black take her in. They would make her welcome, oh yes. No more fighting, no more staring, it would be so peaceful to slip into oblivion.
Emmie felt herself tiring. Yes, taking a rest would be nice. She would be free, no more worrying about so many annoying problems. The madness would take that all away, she would be at peace.
"No!" Emmie shouted, mentally slapping herself. "Shut up! I'm fine on my own! I am strong enough to deal with those things without your help!"
She looked around, getting frantic. The madness was starting to take hold on her mind, she needed to find the snake and get out quickly.
"This way..." A voice called, it was clear and human sounding. Emmie turned around and saw a little girl, pale as can be with long white locks and no clothes. The little Emmie smiled and moved the hair covering her neck. Circling her neck was a green and black snake, it hissed and spit at the older Emmie. Little Emmie pointed at the snake with her small hand. "Please take it off, it makes me feel sick."
"What are you?" Emmie asked her smaller self.
"I'm a friend," Little Emmie said with a giggle.
Emmie reached for the snake, keeping her eyes on the little girl, and enclosed her hand over it. She tugged on it and it came free, slipping from the little girl's slim neck.
Little Emmie sighed audibly and rubbed her neck. "Thank you, i feel much better now. Are you going to leave now?"
"Yes, i am," Emmie said as she looked at the writhing snake in her hand.
"I'll see you later then," Little Emmie said and she began to fade out of vision. Emmie watched silently as the girl disappeared entirely, then left, making her way to the edge of the sphere.
There was a thin amount of light coming for the spot where she'd entered, and Emmie could see wisps of colour. She touched her hand against the wall between her and outside, pushing to get out. But she couldn't, her way out had become blocked.
The blood had locked her inside.
Emmie panicked and started attacking the barrier. Punching and kicking at the wall. It didn't work, the wall stayed solid and she stayed trapped.
"Shit! I'm so close!" Emmie cursed. She was so near now, freedom and control of her life again. She pounded her fists against the barrier. "Come on! I'm almost there! Let me out!"
Blue light sparked in front of her eyes, lighting up the darkness. It crackled and created cracks in the wall. Emmie took the last of her strength, and rammed her whole body weight against the cracks. It shattered, letting her out into the world again. Emmie tumbled out onto the ground in a roll, clutching the snake to her chest. Not Jamie was there suddenly, helping her up and taking the snake from her hands.
He took that snake in both his hands and pulled it in half. The snake screamed a little before withering and crumbling to grey dust. It was over, Emmie had removed the spell and was free. She felt herself become lighter. Looking at her hands, she saw they'd become transparent. She looked back up and saw not Jamie smiling happily. "I guess i can go back now."
"Yes, it was nice to meet you face to face," Not Jamie said as his own form shimmered. He became shorter and his hair lengthened, complexion paling as he became a she. Emmie's subconscious smiled at her conscious self and gave her a hug. The two of them held each as they both faded into nothingness.
"Goodbye," Emmie said to herself.
"Goodbye," Her other self said back.
And then the world shifted and darkness fell.
Jamie was frozen, watching the horrible scene unfold. He couldn't call out, couldn't make his voice form words, couldn't move his body; it refused to listen.
"No..." He choked out in a whisper. He could see D.K.'s blood clearly from his shadows, it dribbled onto the sidewalk in a constant amount.
Jamie watched as D.K. was dying at the hands of his partner, his closest friend.
Then, D.K.'s sudden movement surprised Jamie and Emmie both. D.K. pushed himself further onto the blade, and grabbed Emmie; pulling them into a lock formation.
"What're you doing reaper?" Emmie gasped as D.K. tightened his hold.
"NOW JAMIE!" D.K. yelled, using the last of his strength to keep Emmie still.
Jamie was moving before he knew it, speeding towards Emmie with his hands ready; energy already beginning to crackle in them.
"NO!" Emmie shrieked and struggled in D.K. arms, twisting and snarling; more feral than ever.
Time slowed as Jamie came at her, his eyes scared and determined. He jumped a meter away and brought his hand down on Emmie's neck, right where the snake had bitten her. The soul wavelength exploded on contact, blue, burning light shocked both Jamie and Emmie. Emmie's scream was tortured and demonic, filling the air with vicious sound.
When Jamie and she broke apart, she dropped D.K. and fell to the ground. Her white hair splayed out, staining the blood on the ground.
Jamie quickly grabbed D.K. and dragged him away; laying him down gently. Jamie tugged Serena off D.K.'s back and armed himself. He aimed the barrel at Emmie's still form, waiting for an attack or movement of any kind.
Emmie's fingers twitched and she groaned, rolling her head to the side. She coughed and sucked in deep breaths. Jamie watch warily as she pulled herself off the ground into a sitting position. He couldn't see her eyes though, her head was turned away.
"Emmie," Jamie said as he put his finger on the trigger. Emmie stiffened at his voice. "Emmie, don't make any sudden movements, okay? Now tell me, are you normal again? Are you... you?"
"Yeah, I'm back," Emmie said, her voice cracking on the end. She turned to him, her eyes clear and brown once more. "I'm back Jamie."
Jamie sagged with relief, dropping the rifles tip to the ground. "Thank god..." He breathed.
Emmie smiled tiredly, but then turned horrified when she caught sight of D.K.'s still body on the ground. She shot a look at her body, finding it covered in blood. "No, no, no, no-!" She felt bile rise to her throat and she threw up. "God, please no. Please say i didn't murder one of my friends. Please, please, oh god no, please!"
She got up and stumble over to where D.K. lay. "Please be alright, i swear to god, please just be alright!"
Madison transformed into a human and put herself between Emmie and her meister. "Stop! You've done enough!"
"Madison, she's alright now," Serena said, changing back herself. "Fighting right now will do nothing. We need to get D.K. help."
"How can you be so calm?! She butchered our meister and you're just going to let her near him again?!" Madison cried.
"I'm sorry, I'm so, so, sorry," Emmie choked out. "I just- just please let me help. I don't want him to die, please...!"
"I believe i can save him," Someone said, coming up the street. Dr. Stein was running towards them, a black and yellow hammer in his hand. He pushed everyone away as he pulled out a portable first aid kit from his lab coat and set it out. "Marie, please help the others."
"Yes Stein," A blonde woman replied, changing from her weapon form. She had a black eye patch with a yellow symbol on it, and a black shirt and skirt on. She took Emmie's hand and sat her down on the curb. "Hi Emmie, I'm not sure if you remember me, but I'm Stein's wife. If you'll hold still, i need to take a look at your inguries."
Dr Stein took a pair of scissors form the kit and slit open D.K.'s shirt, exposing the gaping wound. He ignored the gasp from Madison.
Dr Stein began pulling clean wipes out of his kit and sterilizing D.K.'s stab wound. Swabbing at the grim, he moved efficiently and expertly. When he was done he pulled a needle from the kit and retrieved his lighter from his pocket. Heating the needle in the flame, he then treaded it and began to stitch up D.K..
D.K. didn't make a sound as Stein pulled the needle in and out of him. The stitching was fast, but strong. It would keep the wound closed until D.K. could get surgery. Finally, Stein wrapped gauze around D.K.'s abdomen. Standing up, he rubbed an alcoholic wipe over his hands.
"I've stabilized him, but he won't last long without help. His lung is filling with fluid right now, so we need to move fast," Stein said as he moved to check Jamie over.
"Dr Stein, what are you doing here?" Jamie asked quietly as the doctor checked his arms and legs.
"Shiro came to us, he told us what had happened. Thankfully, Marie had arrived a little earlier by helicopter so i came to find you all. I had a feeling you'd be needing medical attention," Stein wrapped some bandages around Jamie banged up knee.
"Um, are you the death scythe Marie by any chance?" Emmie asked as Marie wiped a particularly large cut on her shoulder, making her wince a little as the alcohol stung.
"Yes, I'm a good friend of your parents too," Marie replied, patching up the cut with a band aid. "There! All fixed!"
"Thanks..." Emmie flexed her shoulders and rotated them. Other than her collarbone hurting a ton, she was physically fine.
"Is everybody ready?" Stein asked as he packed up his medical pack. Everyone nodded. "Good, we need to get back to the school, D.K. doesn't have much time."
And then they ran, Stein carrying D.K.'s limp form, Serena holding Madison's gun form with her finger on the trigger, Jamie with a metal pipe he'd found, and Emmie with her once more green and black blades. They arrived in a matter of minutes, no more than five. Stein broke away from the group, moving up the stairs at his top speed; the rest following as fast as they could.
Once inside, it was a flurry of activity. D.K. was rushed away to a hospital ward that had been set up by medical volunteers and actual doctors, while everyone else was ushered into the school gym. Inside was the remainder of the student body and the few meisters that had escaped the spell fields.
Emmie and the others were given a once over by another adult, then told to go and sit down somewhere. They obeyed, to tired and distraught to think otherwise.
Emmie slumped in her uncomfortable plastic chair, the feelings of sick disgust for what she'd done coming back in full force. People whispered and sent fearful glances at her, seeing the blood that stained her whole body. In no time, there was a circle of space around her. Emmie didn't mind, she needed space. Needed to think. If D.K. died, what would that mean for her?
Jamie came and sat down beside her. He didn't say anything, just sat there, looking miserable.
'Can't blame him, i may have just killed our friend. He's probably ashamed of what his partner did,' Emmie thought darkly, letting her red and white hair fall forwards into her face; creating a shield against the world. She was almost too busy stewing in her self-hate to notice the warmth that encircled her hand. Her eyes flickered to Jamie's hand clasped around her own.
"I'm sorry," Jamie said softly. "I'm sorry i didn't stop Venom. I'm sorry i couldn't save you. I'm sorry i ran away."
Emmie blinked. Why was he apologizing? This was her own fault. She was the one who got bitten; she was the one who let herself lose control.
"What are you saying Jamie? I'm the one who screwed this up, you did everything right," Emmie said bitterly.
"No, I'm the meister. I'm responsible for keeping you, us, safe. I'm the one who's supposed to make sure we don't get in over our heads," Jamie's eyes showed his shame. "I messed up; i should have made sure Venom didn't get close enough to catch you."
"I'm the one who charged in! I'm the one who started this!" Emmie shouted at her partner.
"I'm the meister, it's my responsibility to keep things like this from happening!"
"I'm the one who causes them!"
"You shouldn't be in that position in the first place! I should be able to keep you out of them!"
"It's not your issue!"
"Yes it is!" Jamie yelled. "We're a team, dammnit! Let me help!"
"I don't need help!"
"Yes you do Emmie!" Jamie said, his voice getting louder. "You can't just run off and pretend everything is fine! Because it's not fine! You're not fine! Even you need help sometimes and don't you dare say otherwise! I am your meister, depend on me for once! Stop running away and doing stupid things all by yourself!"
Emmie punched Jamie, hard in the shoulder. Her eyes angry and wet. "I don't run away!"
"Yes you do!" Jamie grabbed her hands and held them tight. "You run away from everyone. You seclude yourself and won't let anyone try to help! You have friends. We're your friends! I'm your friend! We're here, but you never reach out for us!"
"Because i don't want to be hurt anymore!" Emmie screamed. "There, i said it, i don't trust anyone not to hurt me! I don't let people in because I'm scared okay?! You'll all just leave anyway, why should i let myself get attached?!"
"I promise we won't leave. I would never do that, none of us would," Jamie said, his voice falling.
"You will! Everyone does! Didn't you see how Madison looked at me? She looked at me like i was a freak. I am a freak! You just won't see it, you stupid blind idiot!" Emmie wrenched her hands free and slapped Jamie on his cheek.
Jamie made no move to sooth the red spot, he only looked at Emmie. His eyes never leaving. "I'm not blind Emmie, not in the least. Your no more a freak than anyone else. Your you, now let me help."
Emmie let a wet sob escape and let Jamie pull her close. He ran his fingers through her blood stained hair, whispering comforts.
"I'm sorry... so very sorry..." Emmie whispered hoarsely.
"Shhh, it's okay," Jamie said as his partner clung to him. "We're okay, we're okay. And I'm sorry too, but it's okay now."
"Yeah, sure..." Emmie said, pulling away and wiping her tears. She looked up at her partner, his honest blue eyes looking only at her. "I won't keep secrets anymore. No more secrets, ever."
"No more secrets," Jamie repeated back. "And you'll rely on me?"