1.6: The Camp

The door to a dark office opens. Reddic enters first and holds it open a few moments after Gordon enters on his heels. Seated in the rear of the room is Darla, handcuffs chained to the floor, a recistene patch- a power muting instrument- implanted in her left shoulder. She leers defiantly at the two men. Reddic approaches her with a grin and a key. He unlocks the chain holding her handcuffs, allowing her to sit up straight.

     “We have some questions for you. But first, my friend has to explain the nature of his powers,” Reddic says, retreating behind Gordon.

     “You see, Ms. Darla, my power is reactionary by design. My dark fog only appears in the presence of fear. When it spawned so much earlier, well, you can do the math,” Gordon explains.

     Darla snorts. “I don’t fear you.”

     “It doesn’t matter whom or what you fear. If you feel it, my fog comes. When young Master Rum revealed he was holding back, you felt afraid of him.”

     Darla smirks boastfully. “And there’s none now. So, you can do the math.”

     “Where’s Liamria?” Reddic asks point-blank.

     Darla flinches and Gordon’s right ring finger leaks thick, black fog.

     “As if I’d tell you!”

     Reddic steps forward. “You will tell me what I need to know by the time we’re done.”

     “I’m not speaking without a lawyer present.”

     Both Reddic and Gordon giggle beneath their breath.

     “I didn’t intend for that to be a joke!” Darla snaps.

     “Oh, but Ms. Darla, it is,” Gordon says.

     “You and your partner, Tamara, are confirmed members of The Pure caught in Springspell, an Ibri haven and a city devoted to Drijad, whom you openly slandered,” Reddic adds. He moves behind Darla and places a hand on her shoulder. His nails lengthen. “There is no record of your arrest. See that camera in the corner? Notice a red light or no?” Reddic feels her shoulder tense when she turns her head to the camera, then he winks at Gordon. The club attendant’s entire right hand produces black fog. “Take solace. Your friend Tamara is taking the fall for this. You’re going free, once you tell me where Liamria is hiding, that is.”

     Darla sweats as more black fog rolls from Gordon’s hand. Reddic’s hand lowers and runs along her back. “I…I don’t–” She nearly bites her tongue to keep from screaming when Reddic’s claws rip her shirt. Now, both of Gordon’s hands produce fog.

     “My apologies. I don’t allow myself to transform very often, so I’m never truly aware of how sharp my claws are. You were saying where Liamria’s made her base?”

     “I don’t know,” she says with a shaky voice. “I–”

     Darla chokes when Reddic blindsides her with incredible celerity, hoisting her against the wall by her throat, her seat clattering as it tumbles away. Her toes dangle just above a plume of fog that carpets the entire room.

     “I am going to give you one more chance to tell me where Liamria is, or you won’t have to worry about my claws,” Reddic says with a bowed head, his voice becoming guttural by the end. He raises his head to reveal fangs distending, much too large for his mouth. “Our teeth will be your worst nightmare!”

     Darla manages to squeeze out, “‘Our’?”

     Fanger roars before making himself visible, padding through the fog as if Darla’s fear conjured him. She shivers greatly in Reddic’s grasp.

     “Last chance! Where is Liamria?”

     “I swear I don’t know! Tamara, Liamria, and I were in Jupiter City this morning. She came to take us to her standby base, but then she received a call and brought us here for this mission! I don’t where she’s gone! I swear! I swear! I–”

     Reddic slams her head against the wall and drops her unconscious body. His teeth return to normal swiftly. “I believe you.” He takes a deep breath. “Thank you, Gordon. You played your part well.”

     “As always, I aim to please, Master Reddic. However, do you truly recommend setting Ms. Darla loose?” Gordon absorbs the black fog into his body as he awaits an answer.

     “She won’t be able to cross state lines. I have authorities in place to arrest her when that time comes. Once the news breaks, not if, that she’s free, Liamria will hunt her down. Her kind leaves no loose ends.”

     “Not their kind, sir?”

     Reddic shakes his head. “If she wanted it, Rum and Shuri would be dead. In today’s society, being a member of The Pure is an instant stigma. Only the most brazen members expose their tattoos on their arms or legs. Most new initiates have their tattoos implanted on their backs, which is why I ripped her shirt. However terrible Ms. Darla is, she’s no true monster.” Reddic shuts his yellow eye, its hostility inherited by his white eye. “I’ve seen what those look like, what they’re capable of, and who they…”

     “Master Reddic?” Gordon asks, his tone laced with concern.

     “Let her wake up on the side of a road outside the city,” Reddic orders. He whips around sharply and barges down the corridor outside, Fanger padding behind him. The feral energy in his white eye matches the intensity of Fanger’s.

     When I find you, Liamria, you will regret crossing me a second time!


     Liamria tramples through a field of dry, wilted grass. The length of the blades suggests they were once taller than the woman herself. She crosses onto a section cut down by a lawnmower, soon amidst a sea of tents. Many of the tent owners and occupants cut a wide berth for her, half in awe, half out of fear. Liamria regards both expressions as annoyances, continuing to her true destination.

     A short hike up a stony incline places her at the mouth of a cave. Liamria fearlessly enters the cave, her brisk strides carrying her past numerous horseshoe bat corpses. She detects a few shadows as she reaches for the curtain entrance of a white tent before illuminated by lanterns suspended on thin poles.  She whirls to scare them off, only to be apprehended by two white-haired men striking from inside the tent. The two shadows, identical to her captors, place knives at her throat. As she’s forced to her knees, knives lowered appropriately, Victa emerges.

     The four men detaining Liamria are spitting images of Victa. Clones. His white hair, eyes of jade, muscled figure, sleeveless white shirt, dark pants, and boots, are shared by all five. Each of them brandishes a white heart tattoo on their left shoulder.

     “Victa, what is–”

     Both knives are pressed against her throat, silencing her.

     The only version of Victa not making contact with Liamria looms over her, a look of tired rage directed at her. “You cannot help yourself sometimes, Liamria. I know this. But you have erred greatly two times too many to be blindly forgiven. Our original plan to bomb Jupiter Mall as a distraction the day we attacked Four Hearts Academy is no longer viable. You’ve lost two of our more valuable warriors. And for what net value? Not only does your progeny still breathe, but so do Reddic, that pestilent phoenix, and the two Ohaida boys! Your petty games end here!”

     Liamria glares up at Victa truculently as the knives pierce her neck. Streams of water leak down both knives, dripping onto the ground. Victa keeps her cowed with a furious countenance as the knives are slowly removed.

     “You know that had I endeavored to end your life, my trap would’ve succeeded. Should you fail to earn my trust back, next time it will. I have no need for proven hindrances. I won’t hesitate to lean on Evic more if that’s what it takes to succeed here.”

     The four Victa clones release Liamria. They vibrate at an irregular frequency as they march into the original’s body, setting like a jacket with a perfect fit. Victa takes a casual step back, allowing Liamria to rise.

     “I know you have a proposal planned. Out with it,” Liamria barks, barely controlling her rage.

     “Watch your tone, Lia. Ever since we committed to the idea of destroying FHA, you’ve let your emotions run the ship. You’ll need your wits about you to survive this next mission.”

     “That won’t be a problem. Just lend me–”

     “No. You are done losing our resources and manpower. You will infiltrate FHA alone.”

     Liamria can’t help but glare at Victa. “Are you stupid? Those five professors and that pesky headmaster will kill me if I get caught without backup.”

     “I have another mission underway, but it’ll need the staff distracted to work properly. Your failure- death- or your success- distraction- both work for me. Should you return, you’ll be informed of my primary scheme.”

     Liamria finally manages to bank her wrath, aware there’s no room to negotiate anymore. Besides, spilling the professors’ blood gets her excited. “Timeline?”

     “You have one day to plan and enact your infiltration.”


     “Cause a ruckus. Leave them furious. Those are your specialties, after all.”

     Liamria replays the incident in her head of the last time she attacked the school with the professors present, and one interaction stands out to her above the others. She grins wickedly. “I know just the trick.”

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