Dead 22-Vignette


Mother She Said.

One year and eight months ago, or thereabouts.

Where is she?!” Edith screamed, her voice hollow and raw. “Where?!”

“Boy,” Lisette said wryly, leaning over to him with ease despite their bonds, “you really dove straight into the crazy, huh.”

Standing directly opposite each other like they were, Edith and her mother looked like a funhouse mirror. Add some age lines to Edith, give her mom the skunk stripe, and they’d be almost identical. That was just physical features, though. Edith’s white, shimmery jumpsuit was torn, and stained and spattered with blood, while Sacrament’s strange, robe-like garment was unspoiled. Their expressions, too, couldn’t have been more different, Edith’s contorted, pained rage versus Sacrament’s placid, cold stare.

“Such a waste,” Sacrament said quietly. Even now, it was hard for Flint to think of her like that. In his head, she was still Mrs. Ellis, the strict and distant mother of his girlfriend. It was like finding out that that one super-strict teacher actually was a Nazi.

“A waste?!” Edith demanded, stepping forward. As soon as she did, the two figures behind Sacrament mirrored the motion, stepping in front of her and staring down with blank, empty gazes. They both wore simplified versions of Sacrament’s robes, colored entirely in blood red.

“Do not push me, young lady.” The parental term felt wrong in this environment, out-of-place. “Yes, you’re a waste. You’ve been blessed, blessed with the Lord’s gift, and yet you’re too cowardly to use it properly.”

“Oh, I’ll show you using it properly,” Edith snarled. She raised a hand, but the twins beat her to it. She was blown across the room by an invisible blast of force, hitting the wall and falling into a crumpled heap.

“Edith!” Flint cried out without thinking, jerking forward. The heavy chains he was bound with caught the motion, and sent him tumbling forward onto his face. Lisette made a dry tsk-ing sound.

“But,” Sacrament continued, like nothing had even happened, “wasted potential is still potential. The same could not be said for your sister.” The corner of her lip curled up slightly in distaste.

“Don’t,” Edith hissed from her position on the floor. She held her side with one hand, obviously injured, but the only expression on her face was hatred. “Don’t you dare talk about her like that.”

“Useless,” Sacrament snapped back. “Useless, timid and weak.”

“She’s your daughter!” Flint cried out, awkwardly lifting himself back onto his knees. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

Sacrament turned to stare at him, her gaze flat. She gestured at Crusade, standing behind his shoulder, and the man nodded and swiftly punched Flint in the back of the head, sending him sprawling again. “She is my daughter,” she confirmed coldly. “She should have done better.”

Lisette whistled. “And I thought my family was fucked up.” She seemed oddly unconcerned about… anything that was happening. Then again, Flint thought, she seemed to be experienced with this sort of thing, whatever the hell that meant.

“As should you,” Sacrament continued as Edith struggled to her feet. “Consorting with…” she turned up her nose at Flint, “this, and a godless mercenary. Pathetic.”

“Hey, lady,” Lisette said casually, “I’m a faithful Unitarian, thanks very much. Don’ go throwin’ generalizations around.” Crusade punched her, but she seemed to be expecting it, and leant with the blow.

“Hopefully, once they’ve been dealt with, you’ll begin to be more reasonable.”

“I’m only going to ask one more time,” Edith hissed. “Where. Is. Eve.”

“She proved to be useless as a tool. So I found another way for her to prove useful. Resources, connections. Establishing relationships.”

It took a second for Flint to parse the words. “You…” he trailed off, not believing what he’d come up with.

Edith apparently had a better measure of her mother than him. “You sold her?!” she screamed, voice cracking.

“Certain parties required warm bodies. In return, the promise of future mutual cooperation.” She gestured at the room around them, the six other members of her Cabal standing around. “We are moving up in the world, and it will be important to have allies very soon.” She smiled slightly, a cold mockery of the actual expression. “The threat of her safety also worked wonders as an incentive. The first real progress you’ve ever made came from that. I’d almost be proud.”

As Flint watched, something inside Edith seemed to shift. All the emotion seemed to drain from her face, and she stood up straight, injury seemingly forgotten. “Real progress?” she asked, voice soft, almost tired. “If that’s what you want, then fine. Let’s make progress.”

“No.” Sacrament shook her head. “First, a lesson.” Without any obvious indicator from her, Schism began moving over from the other side of the room, until she was standing directly in front of Flint. “One about the company you keep.” Her hand reached forward for Flint’s face. He tried to lean away, desperately, as images of what her power had done to concrete flashed through his head. Crusade grabbed him from behind, though, and held him steady as-

“Okay, girly, I gave ya yer chance.”

The words were spoken casually, but in the moment, they were enough to catch everyone’s attention.

“What?” Sacrament asked Lisette.

“Not you,” she replied easily. “Yer way ain’t shit.” And then, as if to demonstrate the point, she stood straight up and punched Schism in the throat.

The chains that had been holding her clattered to the ground, with no obvious sign of damage. Schism staggered backwards, clutching at her neck, and Flint took advantage of the brief moment of confusion to do the only thing he could think of, and throw himself backwards into Crusade. With the added weight of the chains, both of them went toppling to the ground, Flint on top. They hit the ground roughly, Crusade expelling a rough whoof as they landed, and before he could recover, Flint whipped his head backwards, slamming his skull into the other man’s nose. There was a gruesome crack, and the Cabalist cried out in pain. Flint rolled off of him and onto his feet, doing his best to stay balanced with the chains, then kicked Crusade a few times in soft places before he could recover. Based on his reactions, he wouldn’t be getting up any time-

A loud crack shocked him, and he spun around to find Lisette standing with a hand outstretched, and Schism slumping to the floor a few feet later. A moment later, he noticed the small pistol in her hand, which she must’ve hidden somewhere on her person before they were captured. Schism hit the ground and lay there, utterly still, as blood began to pool around the perfectly round hole in her forehead. “Ten k in the bag,” Lisette said happily to herself.

“What the fuck!” Flint shouted at her. “What- You just killed her!”

“No shit, Sherlock. I said I had a bounty. Also, pretty hypocritical to get mad about that when your beau is doing that.” She pointed, and Flint followed the finger, just in time to see a whirring cloud of salt cut one of the twins in half.

The two halves collapsed to the ground, leaking blood and organs, as the salt cloud swept over another Cabalist, quickly shredding their skin and muscle as they screamed, seemingly helpless to defend themself. Sacrament backed away, the remaining twin standing in front of her, as Edith tore apart the remaining Cabalist, before rematerialising with a fist through their chest.

The corpse slowly slid off her arm and thumped to the floor. “Is that enough progress for you?” Edith asked her mother, stalking forward. Sacrament didn’t answer, instead quickly reaching forward to touch the remaining twin on the shoulder. They both glowed for a second, and then flames began to coalesce above the twin’s head. A gout shot forward, quickly creating a wall of fire that obscured Edith completely. Sacrament started to smile in satisfaction, until a thin blade of salt shot through the flames and speared the twin through the head.

The flames disappeared as they too dropped to the ground, and Edith reformed in front of her mother, grabbing her by the throat. “Who did you sell her to?” she asked flatly.

Her mother laughed, a weak attempt at sounding in-control. “Do you really-”

“WHO?!” Like a switch had been flipped, all the rage from before flooded back, and then some. Edith’s free hand dissolved into salt, and a whirring blade of it chopped through Sacrament’s arm at the elbow. She screamed, but was abruptly cut off as Edith squeezed tighter. “TELL ME!”

Sacrament laughed again, but now it really was smug. “...they don’t have a name,” she choked. “...i didn’t find them, they found me… ...and now you never will.”

Edith stared into her eyes for a second. “Maybe,” she said at last, and then raised a hand and cut her mother’s head off.

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