New 25-II

FLINT
All The Times That You Beat Me Unconscious.

I clawed my way back up out of the darkness, and shot upright with a gasp.

I spun around frantically, heart pounding as adrenaline rushed through my system. Where was he, I needed to-

I froze, then sucked in a deep, slow breath. Calm, Flint. It’s over.

It’s over.

“Holy shit, I survived,” I said out loud. On some level, I honestly hadn’t expected to. Which was… worrying.

I hadn’t been out for more than a few minutes, I was pretty sure. The moon overhead was in pretty much the same place, and the all the blood had only just begun to congeal. That was good; if I’d been unconscious for longer than that it was probably a pretty good sign of lasting brain damage.

I let myself flop back onto the ground, and immediately regretted it as the motion made my ribs flare with pain. Oh right, I’m seriously injured. As if the thought had flicked a switch, awareness of all the places my body was fucked up came rushing back, including some I hadn’t been aware of before then. For example, my legs ached like a bitch, probably from the fall, and… I flicked my tongue around a bit inside my mouth experimentally. Yep, one of my teeth was wiggling around. Fuck me, that was gonna be hard to explain away.

I sighed, staring up at the stars. I really should get up and destroy the datapad, I thought tiredly. I should do that right now.

I continued to lie there.

Until, that is, the corpse next to me began to move.

“NO!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, shooting awkwardly to my feet. It was shaking and shivering, jolting around, and the fragments of head lying on the ground were too. “NO! YOU CAN NOT! I AM SO FUCKING DONE WITH ALL YOUR GODDAMN BULLSHIT-”

With a wet, gristly noise, the body came apart. The fragments that had previously spun in a vortex fell limply onto the ground, forming a bizarre pile of skin, meat and bone. I stared at it for a second, then sagged. Okay, so. Weird and gross, but better than the alternative. I resolved to come back with Lis and set fire to the pile, just in case.

I was about to turn towards the datapad, when a glimmer in the pile caught my eye. I frowned, turning back. Was that-

White crystals rose slowly out of the meat, streaming together, and then Edith reformed from them and dropped down to the ground.

I stared at her, frozen in shock. “H- you- how?!” I stammered.

She ignored me, straightening up and looking around. She must have shifted just before getting… absorbed, I guessed. It couldn’t have been pleasant or easy; she was so emaciated now that I was pretty sure I could actually see the white of her bones through her skin.

“Where is it?” she said flatly.

I glanced around, and spotted it in the corner of my eye, almost directly behind me. My body must’ve been blocking it from her. “Edith,” I said slowly. “It’s not going to help.”

“Where,” she repeated, “Is. It.”

“E,” I said softly. She froze. “It’s too dangerous. You know that. You can’t even look at the fucking thing without turning into an M.C. Escher painting.”

“You seemed to have managed.”

“Exceptional circumstances.” Ones that I was still pretty fuzzy on. “And trust me, you really don’t want to try and replicate them.”

“So what do you want me to do, then? Just… give up?

Yes. “No. But, just. Drop this one. Find another lead.”

“I have spent a year and a half looking, and this has been the only one. But sure, I’ll just find another one under a rock.”

“Edith, it’s not a lead, it’s a weapon.” I clenched my fists. “I want her to be found too, you know that, right? But this… no-one can have it. It’s too dangerous.”

“I won’t use it.”

“You don’t have to. Someone else just has to hear you have it, and come and take it. Like we did when we set this whole mess off in the first place.”

“It would be worth it.”

“...would Eve agree?” I asked softly.

It was like I’d punched her in the gut. For a second, I almost thought she was going to collapse. Then the moment passed, and she recovered. She growled wordlessly at me, then disintegrated into a stream of salt and disappeared over the edge of the building.

I sighed, limped over to where the datapad lay, and carefully and methodically smashed it into a thousand tiny pieces.

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