Saturday, January 7, 2017

Maywitch Chapter 24: Unleashed

Previous Chapter: City of Brotherly Love
They sprinted nearly a quarter mile up the street, and encountered multiple people heading the opposite direction with panic-stricken faces. "What happened?" Tierra asked one man running toward them.
"Some kind of explosion right by the highway. Cops and firefighters are there, luckily," he said.
Kay swore under her breath. "Lumericite?" she said as soon as the man was out of earshot.
"Could be, but I don't think we have any way to know for sure. Let me see if I can reach our pilot," Tierra said, putting her phone to her ear as she kept running.

To her right, Nadia was visibly struggling, and Kay slowed down to watch her. "You okay?" she murmured.
"I'm fine," Nadia said between heavy breaths. "Just out of shape, and my stitches still hurt a little..."
"Don't push yourself too hard," Holly said. "We have to—"
There was a shriek up ahead, and a woman came running out of a building. "What happened?" Tierra barked as she ran ahead.
"There's someone in there - I don't know what he is, but he's slashing people!" the woman yelled. As she came closer, blood became visible on her orange jacket, and Kay's heart sank.
"Are you okay?" Nadia asked.
"We need to call 911!" the woman said, shaking her head.
"But are you okay?" Nadia repeated, reaching for something in her pocket.
Tierra opened her mouth to say something, but Nadia shook her head to silence her. The woman in the orange jacket nodded. "We'll call 911. You stay here, and if you see any cops, let them know, okay? What did this slasher look like?" Nadia asked.
"Dark hair, and he had something under his jacket, on his back!"
Holly and Kay looked at each other, then at Tierra, who had gone pale. "Let's go," Tierra growled, charging up the street. "Nadia, call the cops!"
"On it," Nadia said as she and the others followed, "But what are we doing? Who is that?"
"I'd bet my next stipend check that it's Wyvern," Tierra said.
"Likewise," Kay muttered, a hand closing around a vial of wormwood in her pocket. "Let's go."
As they reached the tiny bank building the woman had run out of, they heard another scream inside. One of the front windows was broken, and through it, Kay could see a dark-haired, humanoid creature throw something - someone - across the room.
She murmured the words to a fire hex under her breath as she followed the others through the front door. When they entered the bank lobby, though, the only people present were strewn across the room, blood pooling around them. Her hands shook as her eyes darted about, searching for the culprit.
Nadia knelt next to the nearest person and felt for a pulse as she relayed the situation to a 911 operator. "Hold this," she said, handing the phone to Holly.
"Nadia, we have to go," Tierra said as she ran across the room, checking the corners for any sign of danger. "Wyvern must've run out the back—"
"Wyvern's the one you all encountered in the national park, right? If he's airborne by now, though, there's nothing we can do. I can do something here," Nadia said as she pulled a vial from her backpack.
"Don't!" Holly hissed as she covered the receiver of her phone.
"I'm useless in combat anyway!"
"You can't risk exposing..." Holly trailed off, shaking her head furiously. "The paramedics will be here soon!"
Nadia ignored her, rattling off the words to a healing spell. The man before her opened his eyes slightly. Holly whirled around, meeting Tierra's gaze. "She can't!" Holly said.
Tierra's expression was unreadable, and she hesitated for a long moment before turning toward the back of the bank. "I don't have time to deal with this," she said as she darted down the next hallway.
Holly turned to Kay, her expression pleading. "We have to stop Wyvern, or this'll only get worse," Kay said.
"But if she exposes us—"
"Let the cleanup team deal with wiping his memories!" Nadia snapped as her hands glowed faintly.
"You can't just leave it to them!" Holly yelled.
"And I can't just let him die because of this demon bullshit, especially if it's Nina's fault!"
"I'll report you!"
Nadia's eyes widened, and she opened her mouth to reply, but turned her attention to the man in front of her instead.
Kay charged toward the back hallway. "We can't keep arguing about this. Figure it out!" she yelled over her shoulder.
There was no reply as she rounded a corner and climbed through a doorway that had been busted halfway open. Up ahead, she could see Tierra's slender form sprinting outside, toward what looked like a half-completed parking garage. Concrete pillars rose up out of the ground, obscuring much of the view ahead.
She suddenly regretted leaving Nadia and Holly behind, but knew she didn't have much choice, either.
Tierra looked over her shoulder, but didn't slow down when she made eye contact with Kay. She was likely hot on Wyvern's trail, Kay knew.
A man ran into the parking garage ahead, and Kay's heart stopped as he recognized him. He had burns over part of his face, but his tall frame and pale hair were too familiar to ignore.
"Tierra, watch out!" she yelled.
Tierra slowed slightly just as the man noticed her presence. "Who are you?" Tierra shouted.
"I'm your ally, right now, because I think we have a better chance of defeating this guy if we team up," the man said - and once Kay heard his voice, she knew without a doubt that it was Dustin Reyes.
"He's with Nina!" Kay said as she caught up with Tierra.
"But I'm not about to attack you, because I know how strong your people are." Dustin reached out a hand, and white powder fell from it.
"We don't have time for this," Kay muttered, glancing around.
"I'm serious about this, though. I can tell you're just as scared as I am. Wyvern is no joke." Dustin closed his eyes for a moment. "Can we propose a truce, for now? I know I can trust you."
"Too bad that trust is one-sided, since neither of us are readers," Tierra spat.
Something darted past her, toward Dustin, and he dove to the left. Two German Shepherds emerged from the stairwell near him and lunged at the shadowy figure that had appeared.
"Didn't know Wyvern was this fast on the ground," Tierra muttered as she pulled out her gun.
Kay cringed as one of the German Shepherds was swatted away by Wyvern, who had abandoned his jacket and unfurled his wings halfway. His right wing was battered, though - possibly damaged and hindering his ability to fly, Kay thought. "Can I use my flames here?" she asked.
"I don't think we have a choice," Tierra replied.
As Wyvern turned to deal with the other dog, Kay murmured a fresh fire spell, and she felt her fingers grow warm. Nearby, Dustin seemed to be preparing a spell of his own, and as Wyvern fought off the second German Shepherd, a massive blast of wind and dust roared through the parking garage.
Wyvern shut his eyes, and Kay seized her chance. Fire poured from her hands and flew toward Wyvern, who dodged the attack in the nick of time. The flames scorched the concrete and sent the smell of smoke wafting through the air.
Dustin pulled a knife from his backpack, but Tierra raised a hand. "Careful," she said, "Let us handle this—"
Wyvern rose from his crouched position and lunged at Tierra, using his wings to boost his speed. She thrust out a hand, and just as he was about to reach her, vines burst through the concrete floor and knocked him backward.
He let out a hiss of rage - the first noise Kay had ever heard him make, she realized - and he collapsed against the floor. Tierra's vines went limp as she took a few steps forward. "Finish him, Kay," she murmured.
Wyvern sat up halfway, and Kay hurriedly prepared a stronger yet slower fire spell. Lips moving, Dustin took a few steps toward the demon, and Tierra yelled: "Wait, leave it to Kay—"
Wyvern's undamaged left wing shot outward, and its barbed tip caught Dustin in the throat. Blood spattered against the concrete, its volume much louder than the rain outside.
Dustin grabbed at his throat, but the light was already leaving his eyes. Kay yelled the last few words of her spell, and an inferno rolled out from her palms, accelerating toward Wyvern with the power of a freight train.
He rolled to the right, dodging the bulk of her attack. He hissed again as his left wing caught fire, and Kay could tell from his slowed movements that she had done some damage.
She hesitated, though, unwilling to get within striking distance of his wings. Tierra was preparing her next attack, but Wyvern darted away before she could finish. Her vines shot after him, missing their mark by inches as he disappeared into the outside world.
"Check on him and save him if you can," Tierra said before sprinting after Wyvern.
"But—" Kay glanced at Dustin, who was bleeding out, and clearly beyond hope.
"See what he knows, at least!" Tierra yelled over her shoulder.
Kay ran to Dustin, feeling for a pulse on his wrist as she knelt next to him. The left side of his throat was almost completely gone. There was no way he could speak, at this point, and there was little Nadia would be able to do for him now.
She had a sudden, vivid recollection of Meilan's last moments as she bled to death inside the Salt Lake City base.
She shook her head and tried to form words, but Dustin's emotionless face silenced her. He would pass any second. She felt for a pulse again, as if in denial of that basic fact, but it had grown weaker.
She sat there for nearly a minute, unsure of what to do next. Somehow, his death felt unfair - as if things could've been different; as if she could have prevented this.
Eventually, she heard footsteps behind her, and she whirled around, but it was only Tierra. "I lost it. I'm calling in backup, but I'm guessing it'll be gone soon," Tierra said. "We should probably try to get out of here and find Xavier."
Kay nodded, only halfway comprehending her colleague's words. She turned back to Dustin, fumbled for a pulse again, and felt tears well up when she realized it was gone.
"I'm so sorry," she murmured. "I wish I could've figured you out. Did you change your mind about all this? Did you want to do the right thing, in the end?"
There was no reply, other than the drops of rain falling into a puddle somewhere nearby. She laid her fingers gently on his eyelids, closed his eyes, and recited a few lines of a Wiccan prayer her mother had taught her when she was young.
"We should go check on the others. C'mon," Tierra said.
Kay nodded and went to follow her out of the parking garage. As they reached the entrance they had come through, though, she heard something whimper quietly. When she glanced over her shoulder, she saw one of the German Shepherds whining and nudging Dustin's body. She turned back around and followed Tierra, struggling to blink back tears and calm her trembling heart.
Next Chapter: Recovery

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