Hive 18-IX

More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine.

Nietzsche said a lot of things, not all of them gems. But if there was ever a moment I'd identified with gazing long into the abyss, it was looking into Green Cloak’s eyes.

Her breathing was unsteady, panting, ragged; teetering on the edge of desperate, but not quite there. Her nose, long, flared like a horse about to charge with each breath. Her lips, thin and pale, were drawn back, exposing teeth that would have been remarkable if they weren't covered in blood. She must have bit her tongue. It wasn't like she'd been dark-skinned before, but now she was pale like curdled milk, lacking the slight olive edge she'd had before. Her eyes, though…

Hate. Hate and rage, and a cold, hard emptiness. It was one of the most terrifying things I'd ever seen.

I shivered involuntarily, stepping back. Blood dripped from her… remaining hand, her left, and the blades I'd noticed there earlier. I didn't feel particularly happy about being right when I’d guessed how she used them. Schaus was face down, head out of the water (thankfully? I wasn't sure. He was trying to… kill me, but he'd been, nice, I guess), blood diluting the sewage from a dark, wet spot on his side. I couldn't see the details, but there was a lot of blood, almost up to the end of Green Cloak’s fingers. Were there vital organs on the left side below the ribcage? Something from the digestive system for sure, but my grasp on biology is… sparse. Mostly esoteric facts from articles on the internet. So I knew that there was a nerve that went all the way up from the heart to the neck then loops around and goes almost all the way back down, but not which organs were where.

“In fairness, it's not ever been relevant before.”

Green Cloak took another step towards me, jerkily. Like a puppet with some broken strings. I went to move, but… I didn't know what to do.

Get her, you idiot. She's effing out of it, knock her out and take her to the Tower.

“Are you kidding me?! Run! Look at her? I don't even think knocking her out would stop her right now! She. Wants. To. Kill. Us. So RUN.”

She's wanted to kill us from the beginning! And hey, it wasn't completely one-sided.

“You're disgusting. And we chopped off her arm! We've effed this up enough already. Cut our losses, get back there and make sure Kai’s okay, then go and warn the Outliers.”

Kai can take care of herself.

“Do you even REMEMBER HOW WE BLOODY MET HER? NO, SHE CAN'T!”

You're just-

Green Cloak didn't seem to have much regard for my internal conflict. There was that same devastatingly loud noise as before, knocking me out of my thoughts and back against the wall. A slow numbness washed over my… right arm.

Oh goddammit.

In what she'd probably thought was oh so clever, my right arm had been blown clean off just below the elbow. The hand and a little above it flopped to the ground, but a decent chunk of it had been obliterated and splattered against the wall by the sheer strength of those bullets.

Green Cloak laughed, but it wasn't the light, clear sound I'd heard back at school, what felt like years ago. No, now it was low, rough and guttural. Raspy. “Now we’re even,” she snarled.

I stood up and punched her in the face. Not heavy, though in the state I was in I'd being lying if I said I didn't consider it. I didn't really know how to throw a punch, and I'm not left-handed, but it didn't really matter. She staggered backwards, hand flying to her face and other arm jerking up like it wanted to too, dropping the gun in the process we. “Not exactly,” I said, with a certain grim satisfaction.

Okay, see, this I can get behind. Some guilt-free whaling.

“...yeah, she deserves it.”

She turned her head to the side and spat, a thick, bloody globule. “Why,” she rasped, “are you even here?” I don't think she was echoing Schaus intentionally. “Why do you keep following me around-” she vanished, and I didn't manage to turn in time to avoid her kicking me in the back of the knee, “-and f***ing everything up!”

The kick was painful, but not debilitating, and I snarled right back at her and swung around to hit her again. I got nothing but empty air, though; partially because she teleported away and partially because I'd swung my right arm, and couldn't have hit her with it even if she hadn't. It sent a spray of blood flying in a low arc, and I realized for the first time that it was actually bleeding quite heavily. I didn't feel any different, but that could have just been adrenaline.

She was a few feet away now, leaning against the wall, her hand clutching her gut and panting. “You think… you're so high and mighty.” I reached her and swung again, with the correct arm this time, and she didn't teleport, but she did just sort of slide down the wall out of the way. “Putting all this energy into running me down, and just ignoring everything else going on. Good work, kid, you're a real hero.”

Seeing as she was down already, I kicked her. She grunted, rolling to one side and curling around her core to protect it. So I kicked her again, and then again, and then one more time for good measure, and I probably would have kept going if she hadn't pulled Schaus's gun out from where she’d curled around it and shot me with it.

I took a step back, looking down at the brand-new hole in my midsection. It had the same sort of blank numbness as the arm, but I could see a little bit of something purple and fleshy hanging out.

“Hah!” she crowed, pushing herself to her feet, wobbling slightly on the way up. “Don't mess with me, f***er, or I'll f*** you up.” Evidently not satisfied with ventilating my stomach, she raised the gun at my head and pulled the trigger again.

It clicked. She looked at it in confusion, and so I hit her again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And then I fell over on top of her body, unable to keep myself upright. After an indeterminate amount of time spent bleeding out, some boots appeared in my vision. Their wearer bent down, revealing her to be Nimbus. She said something, but I couldn't hear it. It didn't seem terribly important.

She sighed, then punched me in the head with one of her glowing fists, and everything went black.

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