Tameri stops in the doorway leaving the S’nue dorm, the clouds in the sky a grave annoyance. Liamria’s first-ever attack was during a rainstorm, and the power she displayed was only quelled by Neth and Nuria.
Neither of which help us now…
The radio in her hand beeps.
“Tameri, you there?” Lynald’s voice rings through.
She steps outside as she answers, “I’m going to Vanusi first. Everything in order over there?”
“So far, so good. Your end?”
“Are you referring to my house or Officer Roark?”
“It’s been five days. He should’ve made it to Vanis Town by now.”
“Not necessarily. The journey isn’t easy, even without an army to circumnavigate. It was a gamble, anyway.”
Lynald’s silent a moment, then says, “I still think I should’ve gone with him.”
“You’re not a trained cop, Lynald. You’re an entertainer turned professor. You only would’ve doubled the time and danger. Keeping you here was for the best.” Tameri strolls up to the dark wood Vanusi doors. “Stay close to your radio.” Tameri releases the push-to-talk button.
The timer on the reroute has been superimposed in her field of vision since Roark departed. It ends in ten minutes and forty-seven seconds. She assumes the attack to start then since it hasn’t started yet. Tameri’s made certain the security officers still stationed in the tower will contact authorities in Jupiter City and Vanis Town immediately.
If they mobilize swiftly, we’d only need to hold off Liamria’s army for three, maybe four hours.
Tameri walks into the Vanusi dorm and Professors Zathony and Marmagar are standing on opposites sides of a dark metal pedestal. The glass case on top covers a pair of seven-inch fangs. Both men are dressed with addendums to their usual business attire, both instead wearing matching black tank tops. Zathony’s has a wide-open circle above the small of his back while Marmagar’s comes outfitted with his own avian dimension slits. They turn away from the pedestal as she approaches.
“I’m making final rounds before going to the courtyard.”
Zathony smirks sinisterly. “Chomping at the bit to get rid of Liamria, huh?”
“After reviewing the IDs of her army, none pose nearly the level of threat that she does. I intend to keep her in my sights at all times. Take me upstairs.”
As they lead her up the spiraling staircase, Zathony asks, “What of the man who threw Nuria’s ribbon at us?”
Tameri lowers her gaze to Zathony’s fists, both balled up tight. He’s chomping at the bit, too, it seems.
“Nothing probative at all. Not even a name. He’s a ghost.”
Professor Marmagar groans and reaches for his throat scar. Tameri snatches his hand away and lowers it. “Keep your head, dear. Today is not just about protecting our students. I’m going to see to it that everyone survives. You will not experience that hell again!”
Marmagar chuffs softly, then firmly grips Tameri’s hand. He nods, his shaky spirit steady again. His returned confidence bolsters Tameri’s, as it usually does.
Tameri turns to her other colleague. “Anything you need off your chest?”
Zathony cuts his head to the left. “I know I haven’t been your kindest critic but you’ve handled everything since Liamria’s declaration of war as best as you could. I’m behind you all the way, Tameri.”
“Good. Show me your students and I’ll move on to Sulublei. Lynald’s feeling squirrelly.”
Zathony takes her to the second level and leads her to the door with a blue ribbon tied to the knob. He raps twice and waits for Koren to slip outside. “Everything okay in there?”
“Yes, sir,” Koren says with a salute.
“No need to salute. You’re not a soldier. I only put you on guard duty because of your ears.”
“Are the girls with you?”
“Carnya, yes, but Tyra’s been secluded ever since…” Koren shudders, and Tameri can see he’s unable to process the news about Nuria any better.
“The moment you hear loud noises outside, follow the backup plan I laid out.”
Zathony crosses to the door with the pink ribbon tied to the knob. He raps twice more. “Tyra. Front and center. Now!”
Tameri crosses over when the angel disobeys but freezes when a breeze brushes her ankles. “Oh, no…”
Tameri nearly rips the door off its hinges as she throws it open. The draft she felt before now washes over her whole body. Directly opposite her is an open window.
Tyra had her hand aglow to heal the cut above Nuria’s eye but the phoenix’s next boast stunned her.
“Took you long enough, slowpoke,” Nuria fired the tease at Liamria brazenly.
Tyra just saw how Nuria’s powers affect Liamria but the surge in her confidence is still puzzling.
Counter or no counter, Liamria’s still a threat. Stark has the same powers and couldn’t beat her. Nuria’s in over her head. I have to help!
Lia said, “You think me some paltry hydromancer who needs a body of water. You’re mistaken.” She created three swiftly revolving streams of water around Tyra, Nuria, and Koren, trapping them. “Forget ripping you all limb from limb. I’ll just slice you to pieces.”
Tyra shivered but steeled her resolve quickly. I have to act now!
“The hell you will!” Koren argued, but his ram was stopped by the phoenix. “Nuria, what are–”
“Stay calm, Koren,” Nuria said, sounding eerily calm herself. She stared Liamria down with unshakable confidence. Still, however, Tyra couldn’t see why.
She needs my help!
Tyra invited her love for Nuria to stir and her whole body gave off an alabaster aura. She just got her sister back and nobody was going to harm her. She was going to take Liamria down. Until liquid darts lacerated her shoulders and inner thighs, piercing her angelic aura to do so. As Tyra cried out in pain and fell to her knees, she knew now that Nuria alone wouldn’t stand a chance. A force strong enough to bypass her angelic barrier was nothing Nuria could handle.
“The next time I see you glow, I’m taking your eyes!” Liamria threatened with a sinister pleasure. “Just sit there and let me enjoy the end of your lives!” She commanded to streams to begin constricting slowly.
You think me some paltry angel who puts myself above others I love! You’re mistaken!
Tyra prepared to activate her powers again- her eyes be damned- to save Nuria when Koren stretched his body over hers.
“Do it again, Tyra. I’ll cover you while you get ready. Don’t worry, I can take it.”
Tyra already felt guilty over not being helpful to Nuria, but now to be shielded herself… She locked away her negative emotions since they’d only weaken her powers further. She has to get them out of this jam. She starts to prepare when Nuria shouts, “Shut up, both of you!”
The phoenix stepped closer to the bars of their liquid cage. “Do as she says and sit there. I’ll cover both of you!” Nuria broke eye contact with Liamria and whispered to her peers, Cover your ears when I crouch.”
No, Nuria, you can’t do it on your own…can she?
“Speak up! What was that last part?” Liamria barked.
When Nuria crouched and her wings unfurled, Tyra stared in awe as golden flames flew off the coverts and feathers. With her ears covered, she witnessed Nuria’s mezzo-flame takeoff and clash with Laimria in complete silence. The spread of the steam brought sound back as the reveal of the sole silhouette in the plume became clear. Nuria reemerged, her damp hair stuck to her face and shirt. “Told yah I’d cover you both!”
Tyra marches across campus in a white kimono with black cuffs and sash. Red lotus flowers decorate the body. She chose the outfit purposefully, feeling her crimson rage blossoming inside her. After she got tired of feeling furious only at herself for not being there to help Nuria, she decided to aim half at Liamria.
She applies her emotional scrying across the courtyard as she approaches the front gate. She adds one crimson light to the gathering of hundreds on the other side. Tyra doesn’t slow her pace when they all look at her like a victim, especially the stout and muscular woman in the front dressed in a dark sports bra and bike shorts. When she flew down from her dorm, she left behind everything that leaves her soul alabaster.
The stout woman calls for Tyra’s target, and she and her white-haired partner emerge. Her partner may have been the one to toss Nuria’s ribbon but Tyra can’t unsee the hatred Liamria felt for her sister. It feeds the hate Tyra feels now.
“Oh, it’s just the angel. She’s no threat,” Liamria says.
“Then why am I still alive? You had the chance to finish me before, right? So, what’s that say about you?”
“Lia,” her partner warns. “This is a trap.”
“I know,” Liamria says begrudgingly.
“That’s right. Show your army once again that a little girl has you scared,” Tyra taunts. She smirks when Lia crosses onto campus, knowing that she won’t back down now. Tyra took a page from Nuria and started pouring into her training with reckless abandon since the phoenix left. Her powers at The Winding Hills don’t signify anymore. Tyra slides her arms through her sleeves and throws off her kimono to reveal a black bodysuit with carbon fiber plates on her shoulders and knees. Her wrists are covered with gauntlets made of the same material.
Liamria smiles wickedly. “Mommy buy you that suit? She–”
Tyra cuts off Liamria with a blow to her face that splatters her liquid dome apart. She punches through her right leg next, then just pummels the now puddly body. Each punch landed is a shot of cathartic euphoria.
“When will you assassins learn to stop comparing me to my mother? I don’t have her restraint!”
The water that splashes away next wraps around Tyra’s shoulders to interrupt the assault, giving Liamria time to reform her upper body, minus an arm. She wipes the blood from her lip.
“I’ve never been punched by an angel before but I didn’t even think that could make me bleed through my liquefaction.”
“Here comes more!”
Tyra snaps her arms through Liamria’s hold. She misses her next punch but when the overpowered fist hits the ground, the explosion of crimson light slams into Liamria’s side. Tyra spins on her heels and slams her other fist into Liamria’s liquid ribs. Another explosion of crimson light strikes so hard that Tyra’s left gauntlet blows apart, revealing glowing crimson runes on her wrist. She throws away the other gauntlet to unveil the complete set, then chases after Liamria. She grabs her face and slams it into the ground. She brings down her clasped fists and the collision with Liamria’s chest sparks another crimson explosion.
Tyra flies away from the smoking crater to catch her breath, the runes on her wrists losing their glow slightly.
“Come on! Get back up! I’m not done with you yet!”
Tyra growls and the runes’ glow grows stronger again.
A glowing liquid arm stretches from within the smoke. Tyra swiftly generates a crimson barrier around her but Liamria’s hand shatters it like a hot knife through butter and seizes her throat. Tyra is dragged into the smoke, struck in the gut, thrown to the ground, and then stomped down. The angel tries to stand, but even with her crimson runes strengthening her and her nails cracking apart as she grips the earth, she fails.
No. No! This can’t be it! If this is all I can do…then I’d be no help to Nuria…she’d still be dead!
Tyra’s tears pelt the ground as she screams, stuck under Liamria’s hell, soon to be the victim that the army saw.
“Too bad, baby angel. You won’t live long enough to comprehend what your mother has and you lack- foresight.” Liamria morphs both her glowing liquid arms into sickles. “She’ll have to make ano–”
Tyra pushes herself up when the weight leaves, only for someone else to use that momentum to throw her back to the ground. She stands, ready to fight until she sees the backs of the Four Hearts Academy professors gathered between her and Liamria. Both Zathony and Marmagar flash her scolding looks before turning forward.
“I was beginning to wonder if you’d show,” Lia taunts.
Tyra hears Tameri whisper, “Three…two…one…”
Lia snaps her fingers and points forward. “Pure agents, do some damage!”
Tyra shivers as every member along the edge of the front gate vaults the onyx fence, nothing but herself and the professors in their way. She blinks away the tears and sharpens her eyes, her runes turning from crimson to alabaster.
I failed to save Nuria! I won’t fail to save Four Hearts Academy!