3.2: Rise And Shine

The woman’s dark sails hold her stationary in the air as if she were a winged specter, come to carry Nuria to her death. Nuria feels her fright boil beneath her skin, simmering under the heat of her assailant’s crimson eyes. In her heart, she feels tonight could be her last. Or worse- the first of her last.

     “W-w-what d-di-did you c-call m-me?” Nuria stutters, her mouth trying to shut itself over each syllable, seized by the same tension as the rest of her body.

     “Bigene. Scum.” The night specter enunciates each syllable venomously.

     No longer willing to risk biting her tongue, Nuria resorts to her thoughts. What’s Bye-jean?

     The specter looks over her shoulder, taking a look at the fire. She whirls on Nuria with a sinister grin. “Nobody knows you’re out here, do they?”

     Nuria tries to lift her leg to step back, but it jerks and she slips off the branch. She screams as she falls, the new terror of crashing dead to the ground overwriting her muscle tension. She coughs violently when she’s blasted out of free fall.

     The specter drags Nuria by her shoulders through the woods, gracefully weaving through the trees. She finds a clearing and rears upright, tossing Nuria to the ground below.

     Nuria rolls onto her back and moans as she grips her shoulder, an acute burning sensation concentrated there.

     “Thanks for making it easy, short stuff.”

     “If you think I’m going down, think again,” Nuria boasts. She manages to rise, her left shoulder throbbing painfully, then breaks into a full charge. I punched an alligator unconscious, so what’s one woman!

     Nuria’s fist heads right for the specter’s face, still blanketed by night when one finger rises in defense of it. Nuria’s knuckles stop against the finger, and from the complete stop of momentum, the finger is made of steel.

     “What?” Nuria’s voice breaks as she says, “H-How? What are you?”

     “A specimen higher up on the evolutionary chain,” the specter taunts. “Bigene individuals such as yourself are abominations. A contamination for Avinian to be cured of. Permanently.”

     The specter flicks her finger down and alone that forces Nuria’s arm to lower, taking her whole body with it. Before she reaches the ground, the specter jams that same finger into Nuria’s shoulder. Even as Nuria hollers in protest and tries to wrest the finger from her flesh, the specter forces her to stand upright.

     “You’re a refreshing victim. None of my recent marks ever fought back. Just ran. For the brief moment of entertainment, I’ll torture you for an entire minute before dispensing with you.”

     Nuria hollers over and over as the specter stabs her with her sharp nails. Each puncture sends a terrible reminder of the brief life she’ll leave behind. No more time with her family. No more silly arguments or goofing off with Rum. No more concerts. Her song will go unfinished. She’ll never taste carrot hash again.

     When the specter finishes, Nuria has small circular wounds on both shoulders, three down her right arm and one in her left thigh. She falls on her back, body trembling violently, on the verge of going into shock from the pain.

     “I’ve had my fun with you. As promised, here’s your death.”

     Nuria closes her eyes while her body continues jerking about. The first of many.

     Red light shines at the tip of the specter’s fingertips, and the ambient glow illuminates her features. Ghastly pale skin hidden beneath a skintight dark outfit. Her dark leathery wings sprout from her back. The light darkens to match the crimson in her eyes as she molds it into an orb.

     The orb soars toward Nuria swiftly, bathing her body in red light. Before the energy ball makes contact with Nuria, a hand takes hold of it. The red energy clashes with the white outline of light on the hand grasping it. Tiny sparks flare to life as the orb is squeezed until it pops. The short flash of light that results from the conflict reveals the newcomer.

     It takes time for the clones to combine. When they do, Nuria weakly says, “Tyra, is…that…you?” Nuria blinks and finds Tyra right beside her, holding a flashlight in her face. She feels heat swell in her stab wounds. It increases to a degree so high she whimpers. With a rough exhale, she falls unconscious.


     White smoke wafts down the sides of the Vanusi dorm, the flames nearly extinguished. Groups of security officers invade the building with fire extinguishers fastened to their backs, marching together in threes. Stark issues commands to her officers as they ascend the floors to spray the last remnants of the fire. When they lock down the building and report back to her, they mention how the fire only damaged the rear of the building. The restrooms and half the dorms remain intact.

     “Good work. Now, corral the students in the auditorium for the night.”

     “Is that really the next step?” Zathony barks as he storms over to her. “The culprit is still at large. Shouldn’t you find her first?”

     “Are all your other students accounted for?”

     He nods.

     “Then I will. My men will handle the relocation. As a matter of fact,” Stark turns and points, “Officer Roark.”


     “I am placing you in charge of detailing the damage done in the dorm. Take ten officers with you. You, you, and you, with me. We have a young lady to find.” She turns back to Zathony. “You and I are going to have a talk after this, Professor Zathony.”

     “I look forward to it,” he says bluntly.


     Tyra backs away from Nuria’s body, inspecting it. The holes that once existed no longer do, just little spherical tears in her clothing. Glad that worked.

     “My, my,” the specter says silkily. “Does your mother know where you are?”

     Tyra spins around while at the same time slipping her arms out from the sleeves of her kimono. She unfastens the sash and lets it drop to reveal a skintight, sleeveless spandex tunic underneath. It also has the metallic slits over her shoulder blades.

     “My mother will find out eventually. I have no intention of letting that be tonight, however,” Tyra replies with an icy tone.

     “How will you do–”

     Tyra silences the specter with a blow to her face, at the same spot Nuria aimed for. Unlike last time, the specter is completely unable to stop it, and blood gushes from her nose. She looks from her broken nose to Tyra, a deep rage swirling in her eyes.

     “Seems you got all the same gifts as mommy dearest.” The specter lifts off the ground with one beat of leathery wings, hovering parallel to the canopy behind her.

     “And then some.” Tyra unveils a set of wings herself. The white feathers slip through the slits on her back and faintly glow in the night. She mirrors the wing beat that the specter performed and joins her in the sky.

     The specter narrows her eyes. “You are not my target. Simply stand aside and leave the abomination to my mercy.”

     “Didn’t see a lot of that when I arrived.”

     “I wish no quarrel with your family, but if you deny my request to vacate this area again, I will not hesitate to murder you, too.”

     “Think you can?”

     The specter sighs. “Leave it to a child to think themselves invincible.”

     Without warning, the specter crosses the distance between her and Tyra in one smooth glide. She wraps her fingers around Tyra’s throat and squeezes tightly. Tyra tries mightily to remove her hand, but the specter appears unaffected.

     “Choking you to death leaves little evidence of myself. Still…” The specter raises her free hand, nails lengthening as she proudly gazes upon them. “I have a calling card for a reason.”

     She thrusts her talons for Tyra’s yet unmarked face. Tyra shields her face with her forearm. She screams as the nails pierce all the way through to the other side of her arm. The woman glides around behind Tyra and grabs her wings. She yanks them back at the same time as she kicks Tyra squarely between them. Like with Nuria, the specter tackles her out of free fall and drags her further away from the clearing and the campus. She whirls and tosses Tyra to the ground, then stomps on the same spot between her wings before she can rise.

     “Damn Heaven’s class,” the specter moans.

     Tyra turns her head with her eye closed so the blood from the cut above it doesn’t get inside. The shut-eyed smirk unnerves the specter. “Damn Hell’s class,” she says scathingly.

     “When your mother comes for me, I hope you don’t mind I color you as a coward.”

     The specter’s right hand is severed before it can impale Tyra’s face, the ends of the disconnected flesh red hot and smoking. She clutches her burning stump of a wrist, hollering as she backs off of Tyra. She chars her left hand as she swats the loose embers away. She and Tyra are blinded by a miniature sun blazing between them.

     The specter can only see the silhouette of Nuria behind the sun while Tyra gets the full detail from her angle. Nuria’s face is tight with rage, but none of that reflects in her eyes. The corneas exist as blank fields of white.

     “What in the hell are you?” the specter roars.

     Nuria lifts the fiery sphere above her head and casts imitation sunlight over the vicinity. For the moment the three of them exist in an entirely different time, night encompassing their circle, but unable to invade.

     The specter turns to flee into her right element. That is when Nuria hurls the sun at the assassin. The instant it strikes her in the back, she’s swallowed by the sun. Her screams are deafening as her silhouette inside the sun withers to nothing. Shortly after that, the night returns to stitch the wound Nuria made.

     As Tyra sits up on her knees, she watches Nuria wobble sideways before abruptly falling forward. She scoots over there and presses an ear to Nuria’s back. She hears her breathing an instant before her heart beats.

     Thank Drijad she made it.

     Tyra turns Nuria over just as nearby bushes rustle. Tyra immediately takes a protective stance over Nuria, her arms and wings extended as barriers. Beams from flashlights arrive before Stark and her officers. Stark orders her officers to form a perimeter as she sprints to the girls.

     “What on earth happened here?” Her voice is bold and authoritative.

     “Can we get into that later?” Tyra says, gesturing to hers and Nuria’s conditions.

     After a moment of silence Stark nods her head tightly. “Can you walk?”

     “I’ll be fine.” Tyra rises with Nuria in her arms. She groans as she absorbs her wings into her back. The feathers slip back through the metal slits, lowering into the quicksand of her flesh.

     “Sir, we have something,” one of the officers calls out. He jogs over and shows the specter’s severed hand.

     Stark turns a demanding look at Tyra. “And what is this?”

“I’ll talk once we have Nuria in the infirmary. Not a moment before,” Tyra fires back.

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