I awoke three hours later. Something kept bugging me, even in my sleep. I slipped out of bed. If I stayed in bed and tried to sort out my thoughts, Kevin would distract me. I needed to concentrate.
I shuffled around on the floor, and came up with Kevin's boxers. I quickly put them on and went to my second favourite place to think. I walked out onto the veranda facing the woods. It was unseasonably warm for early spring, and I appreciated the warmth. The sun was just starting to rise, its light spearing through a clear blue sky. The temperature would probably rise to 30 degrees, Celsius, if I was lucky.
The smell of eucalyptus, wafted over me in a pleasant haze, and I sighed. I loved Australian weather. I sat down and put my chin on my knees. Wrapping my hands around my legs, I watched as the sun's rays turned the leaves of the trees golden around the edges.
Something was bothering me about my new allies. No, not about my new allies, but the way I had accepted them. That was one train of thought I put to the side, for the meantime. Another nagging question that kept poking its head up at me was this: when Grams was in trouble, why had my allies not offered their services? I mean, they were literally begging me to become allies. Yet, if they had offered their help to Grams, then most of this would not have occurred. That thought left me feeling depressed, but it was something I needed to know. I put that thought to the side, also.
Yesterday, things had happened too fast. To find out that I wasn't totally human was just one issue. I still felt numb about the idea, and wondered, when the shock wore off would I still be okay? All these threads needed to be addressed.
But it was the last question that had me feeling uncomfortable, and bordering on shame. During the last four days, I had not felt proper remorse or true worry for my sister. Yes, I was concerned, but it didn't burn, or consume me to find her, the way I know it would have if it was Kevin. If I was being brutally honest, I had put my sister's rescue down at the bottom of my list.
It was a heavy blow to realise that my compassion was a limited thing and not the unlimited emotion it was supposed to be. Yet, why was I self-analysing? I nodded my head; I knew why.
I needed to be strong and make sure the foundation of my beliefs held steady. I also needed to know that the allies I brought with me were going to be there for me, one hundred percent. Therefore, I needed to talk to grams. I closed my eyes and summoned her.
"Hello James, what seems to be the problem now?"
I stared at Grams, well, more like stared through her. "How long have you known about the New Zealanders?"
"Well, since the first time I touched Pounamu, which would have been when I was twelve. He took me to meet them."
"So why has the family never heard of them? And why did you not ask them to help earlier?" I gripped my legs tighter. "You could still be alive, if you had asked them. Or were they not your allies?"
"They were my allies, but timing was crucial. They remained in New Zealand until they got the call. You were the calling card."
"But why grams? I needed you. I still need you."
"You don't need me, grandson. Besides, I sacrificed myself knowing that my end was coming anyway. If the Maori people had arrived earlier, there would have been more than a 75% chance that none of them would have survived the attack that killed me. I couldn't take the risk of losing any of Mother Nature's children."
I kept shaking my head. "So you knew you were gonna die, and you still went ahead with your plan!"
"I did what was necessary, just as, one day, you may have to face that same choice. If it meant saving your family, wouldn't you pick it too?" grams asked me.
I avoided the issue by thinking about those who were our allies, and those very same allies that she had refused to call. "But they are volunteers. Jay told me so himself," I protested.
"Grandson, you don't understand their culture very well. Just because they volunteer, it doesn't mean that you have the right to end their lives needlessly. Especially, if you know the outcome might not turn out to be what you want. Those that came with you, did so because they knew that you would be the best candidate to protect them. They consider the preservation of those within a team unit to be of utmost importance. You must have shown them that, when you went to New Zealand yesterday."
It dawned on me why Pounamu had demanded that my three cousins come along. It was to show the Maori that I would protect those under my care to the utmost of my ability.
"So why did you never tell the family about the Maori people in New Zealand?" I asked.
"It was part of the agreement. I was sworn never to speak of them, even to our own family. I kept my end of the bargain until the day I died."
"So what was the full agreement that you had?"
"It was basically a promise to help each other in times of great need. I also told them that, if I didn't come, but another person of my lineage came instead, they should offer their services to that person. I left them in New Zealand for so long, because I knew they would be one of your greatest strengths in the upcoming battle. My time was over. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, James."
I sighed, frustrated. I still couldn't see why Grams refused their offer before now. But explaining her actions had never been something she was very keen on. Being dead had not changed that.
I watched as the sunlight slid up my arm. My skin tone had changed over the past few months. It had a luminescence that had never been there before. And that wasn't the only thing that had changed. Now that I had time to reflect, I realised that my body was stronger. I needed less sleep. All the fighting that I had done had built up stamina within my power structure, and within me.
"I need to ask you another question, Gram's."
"And that would be?"
"Who was our ancestor who was born from Chaos?"
"Ah, so Pounamu told you."
We both looked out towards the woods. The sun had risen higher. I had been sitting outside for over an hour.
"His name was Melchezadek. I won't go into his titles; there were too many to count. Suffice it to say, he was a powerful entity. The story goes that he became fascinated with an Atlantean woman."
"So we also have Atlantean blood within us?" I asked.
Grams looked at me, amused at the interruption. "Any one with a small amount of psychic power is descended from the Atlanteans."
"And the New Zealanders?"
"Grandson, stop interrupting." She gave me a quelling glare. Even dead, it was still effective. I remained silent and listened to what she had to say. "I will answer your question, and then I will finish the first one you asked."
I looked down at my lap, embarrassed by my impatience. "No, they are not Atlantean," she said. "Their lineage is much more primordial. You may have seen their first ancestor in the elemental chamber."
I frowned, before my jaw dropped to the ground. "That big monolith of Clear quartz was their ancestor?!?!"
"Like I said, grandson, their lineage is much more primordial. Now, can I get back to talking about our history, or shall we leave it there?"
I smiled ruefully at Grams.
"James, who are you talking to?" a voice behind me asked.
I turned to see a rumpled, naked Kevin walking towards me...did I mention naked!? I turned to see Grams ogling him, and I glared at her. She chuckled, and disappeared. "I see why you like him so much. We will talk more, later," she whispered in my head.
"You know, you look hot with my boxer shorts on," he said in a sexy, sleepy voice.
I stood up and walked into his embrace. I could smell the evidence of our recent exploits on his body. "We need to shower, and then head back to Uncle George's."
"You still didn't answer my question. Who were you talking to?"
"Grams was helping me sort out a few things." I watched as goose bumps rose on his skin. "Don't tell me you're scared of Grams???"
He rubbed his hands up and down my body. "Babe, knowing that you talk to...ghosts, that's pretty freaky, ya know."
I wanted to ask him if that was the only thing that seemed to scare him more than what he had seen previously. Instead, I smiled up at him, rose on tiptoes, and pulled his head down for a kiss. "My poor baby," I whispered.
He growled, and put his nose into the side of my neck. "I'll give you `poor baby' in a minute," he warned. He shoved his body against mine, and I felt his cock grow against my stomach.
I shivered at the sensation. I heard him chuckle at my reaction. "I love the fact that you're so responsive to my touch," he said possessively. He slid his hands down my back and inside his, now my, boxer shorts and cupped my ass. "Your skin feels fucking fantastic in my hands." Our breathing began getting heavier. The sun shinning on my body felt exhilarating. The hands on my ass, and the body pressed into my front, felt ten times better. The look on his face? Priceless. There was love, and need, and happiness. Great happiness.
"The look on your face," he said. "I don't deserve it." He hugged me tighter. "But, I sure as hell won't allow anyone else to have it." I smiled, and pulled my face into his shoulder. His skin felt smooth, firm, and warm against my face.
"If my look is anywhere near the look you, were giving me...then, right back at you," I said against his skin.
"Do you really mean that?" he asked. There was uncertainty in his voice.
I pulled back and stared at his face. Vulnerability shone there. My heart lurched. "Why wouldn't I?" I said with sincerity.
He looked at my face, as if memorising it, before replying. "Because, I hurt you, and I fucked up. I have played the scenario over and over in my head, and..."
"Don't," I said. I cupped his face in my hands, refusing to let him look away. "Looking back at the past is only good for remembering the lessons we went through, and learning from them. But, we're in the here and now. Live in the now, Kevin. I know that you regret what you did."
Remembering what Pounamu had said, that all these lessons I had to go through were necessary for a brighter future, I held Kevin's face tighter. Grams had sacrificed twenty years. I had nearly died from my first `true' experience because my heart broke. I looked back at that memory. It seemed so very long ago, yet it had only been five months. The pain I had gone through, watching Kevin and Leila, seemed to pale in my memory. Too much had happened to me since that time. I was a different person. Sometimes I didn't like who I saw in the mirror, but I was only human, after all. Because of my transformation, I had grown into a person with hidden strengths I had no idea I possessed.
Zoning in on Kevin, I continued, "But don't regret anything, Kevin. Your trials have made you into the person that I love, who is holding me in his arms." I traced a finger over his nose. "We've both learned things about ourselves; some of them not so good, others not so bad. Through it all, I've grown into a confident person. If, I had not gone through the things I have, I would have remained the needy person I was before. Relying on you, needing your constant presence, and smothering you."
Kevin smiled at that idea. "I think I would have liked the smothering part," he said, waggling his eyebrows up and down.
I laughed. "I bet you would." I winked at him. "But, in the long run, if we are to make something of this having me constantly following in your shadow would not have been healthy."
He lifted me, so we were at eye level. I put my forehead against his. "Don't regret anything, Kevin. Live for the now, with me. I have always loved you." I smiled ruefully. "Pretty much from the first time I met you. Although I didn't know it for what it was, at the time."
"Good," he said, smiling wickedly, "because I'm not letting you go, ever! I get carte blanche over you. Your all mine," he declared.
"Possessive, aren't we?" I said, archly.
He held me and swung me around. "Like you said, my trials have made me into the person holding you in his arms. And you love me the way I am," he said smugly. He put me over his shoulder, fireman style, and strode back into the house.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"I'm doing as you said. I am living in the now, by taking you back to your room, and fucking you, NOW."
My laughter rang through the house, as he did just that.
We got back to Uncle George's much later than expected. Everyone was sitting outside in the sunshine, cheering, and watching the four Maori women. They had long leather strings with balls attached on the ends. They were swinging them in intricate patterns. I looked carefully, and took note that the balls were made of some sort of metal. They had spikes that could be seen as they swung them around their bodies. The balls came very close, but did not actually touch anyone. I shuddered to think about how much damage those spikes would cause if they actually did come in contact, especially at the speeds they were swinging.
They sang in a language that sounded both musical and foreign. It was a four part harmony, and I was astounded at the pitch and blend that created such amazing notes. I was spellbound, just like the rest of my family, as I sank down on the grass to watch. The dance they were performing seemed graceful, and yet very easy. My warrior noted the complexities of their movements. It involved timing, eye and hand co-ordination, and the ability to perform the dance while singing. It was beautiful to behold. It was also, potentially, deadly.
I glanced at the rest of my family, particularly Uncle George. He was smitten. Dad watched the show, but there seemed to be no life in his face, and my sudden bout of happiness died. I walked up to him, and bumped his side. I told him, with my eyes, that Leila would be coming back. He put his arms around my shoulders and hugged me. We watched for another ten minutes, and then the four ladies completed their dance with a flourish.
Everyone cheered, and the performers bowed. I took in all the laughter with my eyes. I wanted to store this memory for the trial ahead. I looked at Kevin, and he stared back at me. There was contentment there, but also hunger. It stirred my own desire, and I winked at him. He smirked, seemingly able to read my mind, and then turned to catch the last sentence Leon was saying.
"Pounamu," I spoke mentally. "It's time."
The four Maori women came up to me without being told. They looked at me and bowed. Weapons appeared in their hands. Gasps and murmurs spread through the family as they looked on. Kevin and Leon walked up to us, Pounamu beside them. Henry and the twins, Theresa, and Jessie, came forward with the chalice between their hands.
I walked up to the chalice to see how Pounamu was able to be in two places at once. It was disconcerting. I placed my hand on the chalice, and sensed the essence that made Pounamu, him, pulsing under my fingertips. I went towards the human figure of Pounamu and touched him. It was the same essence under that flesh. I shrugged my shoulders, realising I wouldn't discover how he did it, and understood this was a delaying tactic on my part.
"Open a portal through the barrier, please," I said.
He nodded his head and I felt, more than saw, something swirling in front of us. I switched on my inner vision, and watched as the fabric of this universe twisted and produced waves, like a raindrop falling into a pond. The vibrations rippled outwards. But it was the centre that opened. The hole at the centre got bigger until it became a door, six feet wide and seven feet high.
"Be careful," Kevin said.
Leon nodded his head in agreement; he pulled me to the side. "I couldn't find Sam Hutton; no one has seen him at school. Sorry, bro." I nodded my head. My heart was sinking.
Dad looked on, with worry and fear clouding his eyes, but he attempted to smile bravely. Everyone said goodbye and good luck as we all turned and walked through the portal.
Lights swirled around us in a kaleidoscope of colours. To those watching' we seemed to disappear in mid air.
We ended up in a dark and grotty back alley. There was barely any light, and it was Maria who conjured a spark of fire in her hand. She gasped, and it fizzled out. She drew her power from our universe, which was in another dimension from where we were now. I came prepared.
I turned toward Pounamu and commanded him to wrap a barrier around us. By turning the barrier inside out, we had chaos energy on the outside, and cosmic energy on the inside, around us. Pounamu had explained all this, last night. It was the only way the Maori women's talents would work on this side. Because of my bloodline, that was irrelevant. I had chaos within my soul, and I could convert negative energy into my talents. That's how the barrier was created in the first place.
I had asked Pounamu about this. If the nether realms were made of chaos, wouldn't anyone taken from our realm be destroyed? He had smiled and explained that, just like rocks, they have energy inside them. A nether realm creature can touch and even destroy one of our rocks, because the energy is contained within a physical form. The physical form acts as a barrier; otherwise, everything in our universe would be pure energy, without physical substance. The same rules apply here in the nether realms. The building blocks are made up of chaos energy, but they have a physical shell over the chaos energy that prevents us from being destroyed by it. The only time any danger could occur, was when energy in its purest form was being used; such as my ability to tap into the cosmos and convert it into pure energy.
I had shivered, because the three denizens we had searched for, in our world, were powerful. That meant they had, in their inner cores, enough tremendous power that they didn't need to tap into the source, as I and my companions had to do.
"Try your fire now," I suggested to Maria.
She opened her palm, concentrated for a second, and fire bloomed. I sent out psychic tendrils. I didn't want to be caught unawares. We walked quietly and stealthily, eyes searching above and around us. Too many amateurs had died, by not looking up. Mum's experiences warned me. I was happy to take note that the ladies had the same idea. It made for a more professional unit to work with.
Dark alleys, and cobblestone roads, were things that I had not expected. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. There were even oil lamps, evenly spaced along the pavement. It looked like London, except a London of the early 1900's. A dank fog rolled off the river that flowed on our left. I could smell sewage and offal floating in the water, and curled my nose in distaste.
"Are you sure Leila's signature is close?" I asked Pounamu.
He closed his eyes, and turned in a circle. His hand rose, and he pointed toward the north. "That is where her soul scent is emanating."
I looked into the distance and a large tower, that could almost be a caricature of Big Ben, pulsed a dull blue. The hands of the clock were twisted and warped, as if fire had twisted the metal. It chimed, with an off tune melody, as it rang out the hour.
"Can you teleport and get us closer?" I asked.
Pounamu shook his head in the negative. "Something is blocking me from getting too close to Leila and, whatever it is, it lies within that structure," he said, pointing to `Big Ben.'
We moved on, keeping a wary eye out. I felt something fly above us; a dark shadow covered the stars above. Its presence seemed to dwarf us. Maria and Tini were in defensive postures. I threw up an empathic bubble, one that screamed badass; one that promised a challenge to any newcomer. The flying...thing, flew past. We all sighed with relief. We huddled, moving from one wall to the next, ever vigilant for the flying presence.
My Precognitive talent had saved us three times, so far. It seemed that the denizens of this realm went in groups. They scanned and checked the areas like soldiers. I was able to predict, with a ten minute lead, all the future possibilities and tread the path that would take us to safety. My precognitive talent had never been this active, or explicit, in helping me. It seemed to feed on the chaos energy I was transmuting. In a way, I understood how my precognitive talent was much more effective here.
Foreseeing the future is a chaotic talent. It stood to reason that, in a world where chaos ruled, this talent would work more effectively. That's how I saw it, anyway.
I sent psychic tendrils outwards. As soon as they brushed against a threat, my precognitive skill would leap to the fore, showing me all the pitfalls that could happen. I could practise each scenario in my head, and know instantly which one would work.
The night was void of all the nocturnal insects and animals that we had come to know so well in our own world. It was unnerving to realise how much we relied on every day noises. Our footsteps seemed to echo through the quiet streets. The closer we got, the harder it became to avoid detection from the sentries of denizens, even with my precog working over time. Soon, we would have to take some of them out. Security was getting tighter, the closer we were to `Big Ben.'
A vision flashed into my head. It showed us being ambushed from our left, ten feet ahead. The spot was perfect for it. The alley we had walked down narrowed to a bottleneck, with two buildings on either side acting as barriers. I had no option but to expose us. Any other alternative had us dying. I didn't see faces, just shadow figures. The one thing my precog warned me about was a single and powerful shadow figure. To me, he looked like a `General.' He loomed above the rest of the horde in height and energy. He would destroy us all, if we weren't prepared. I couldn't avoid killing, this time around.
"Prepare yourself, guys. There are sentries to our left, ten feet down, just past the exit to this alley. We have to hit them hard and fast. Make quick kills."
Everyone nodded, and gripped their chosen weapons. I didn't have a weapon. My talents, and my hands, were weapons enough. I wrapped a second barrier around us. This time, it had the pure essence of our universe swirling outside it. Anything in this dimension that touched it would turn to dust. Well, that was the theory.
We sprinted towards the end of the alley, and turned toward our left. Something large and fast came crashing into us. It screamed, and immediately turned to dust, before any of us could register what it had been. My barrier flared, briefly, before settling back down.
Watching its comrade turn to dust, the others behind it halted. That was our cue to attack, hard and fast. My vision had foreseen a dark shadow that I thought of as the `general' coming to the rescue and, if we didn't kill everyone else before he arrived, our number was up.
There were no lamps near this section, and it was hard to see our enemies. I pushed the barrier out, and heard creatures squeal before turning to dust. My pure energy barrier was proving very effective.
"Maria, more light!" I shouted, as I sensed things above us, diving. I pushed them away with a telekinetic/empathic combo. I felt them fade into dust as I turned my attention to the enemies in front of us. My team was evenly spaced out in a triangular formation, with me at its head.
I pushed outwards with the barrier once more. It lashed out in a semicircle, burning more creatures, as Maria's light flared behind me. I saw the faces of the enemy and gasped. They were beautiful. Alabaster skin, high cheek bones, and almond shaped eyes. But it was their bodies that gave me pause. It was like some mad scientist had stitched them together with spare parts. Some walked on legs that were almost stilts. Others had serpent's tails; more had a cross between fleshy looking wheels, and motorbike frames. Yet, they had faces that were supremely beautiful, and that made it more grotesque.
Even in my precog visions, I had only seen them as shadowy figures. To see them in the `flesh' was something entirely different. I pushed everything else aside and started eliminating them. We had exactly two minutes to destroy the remaining forty, before the `general,' came to find out what his minions were doing.
Pounamu was impressive. He blurred in and out of focus as we waded through the remaining horde. One moment a denizen would be standing there, the next, gone. Tini was fearsome in her ability. I watched as she raised a whistle to her mouth and blew. On silent wings, fierce looking dragons that I had not seen before, rose out of mid air and attacked. They were serpentine, with wings, but that's where the similarities to any dragon I had seen on TV ended. They looked metallic, and they had curlicues on each arm and leg joint. Horns curled around their heads, spiralling inwards. Their faces looked demonic, with curlicues spiralling over the entire face. Oddly, they were beautiful in their animalistic splendour. I was surprised to realise they were astral entities, their appearance so clear that they almost seemed real.
However, the damage they caused wasn't anything less than catastrophic. They glided through the bodies in front of them, and passed out the other side, leaving nothing but corpses in their wake. Aroha wasn't to be outdone. She threw bags of powder that ignited and flared like a fiery dust cloud. The cloud swirled around Aroha, before zooming off, and ripped flesh off the enemies. In her left hand, her ball and string swung with amazing speed. I could sense small bursts of energy flare from her weapon as she struck. I watched as denizen after denizen fell to the ground with each sweep of the ball.
Maria had a long wooden staff. Lightning and fire trailed up and down its length as she swung it around her body. Her staff seemed to slice through the enemy like soft butter. She was just as impressive to watch, as she swung her staff with remarkable skill. My warrior assessed her skill and found her a mighty challenge, but one he felt we could overcome.
I gave one last spurt of power with the energy barrier and dead, or disintegrated, enemies lay strewn around me. Moana, the last of the Maori women, killed the remaining five. I watched as a black hole opened beneath the five and swallowed them whole. If these women were anything to go by, the Maori would make very dangerous enemies. I had to keep that in mind. That's when he came; the shadow General.
He landed in the middle of us, just as Moana eliminated her enemies.
"Regroup!" I shouted, as he back handed Moana into the side of a building. Aroha screamed, but I held her firmly with telekinesis. I telepathically screamed at everyone to regroup, I must have pushed too hard as I saw everyone shake their heads in pain.
I wrapped a barrier around Moana, as she lay unconscious and out for the count. My healing colours flowed to her, as I kept my eye on the danger. I gripped the General telekinetically, and gave everyone the small amount of time to obey and regroup behind me.
He was a giant man, well over seven feet tall, with six muscular arms that held axes and swords. He wove them in a deadly dance around him. His torso and legs were covered in some sort of leather armour, and I sensed ancient power in it. His arms were bare and his face was hidden behind a metal and bone helm. The upper part was made out of, what looked like, polished silver. The lower half was made up of bone or ivory. Yet, the two joined seamlessly, one flowing into the other, as if they were made from the same material.
My warrior watched those weaving weapons with wary caution. There was something about them that made me want to back away from this denizen. His weapons made my teeth ache, and I could feel them grinding against my senses with each graceful swing.
I held the General in a telekinetic lock, as firmly as I could. He growled, and shrugged with his shoulders. Just like that, my grip broke and he was on us. I telepathically linked us together. We attacked as one unit. We all knew each other's position and could act accordingly, without fouling anyone's shots or movements. It became a synchronised dance. But, as graceful as we appeared, I realised we were still loosing ground. I was the unofficial anchor for the group. I watched for any holes in our defences and shored them up. If some one was tired, or ready to tumble, I would slide in until they could recover.
I was trying to conserve energy for when we found Leila. I maintained everyone's flow, and kept up a protective barrier. My body felt that familiar drain from channelling so much energy. Each member of the group was drawing heavily from the inverted barrier. I was the vessel that funnelled power to them, and it was taking its toll, the longer we fought the general.
For every move we made to attack, he was there to counter attack. No matter how many of us attacked from different positions around him, he was there to block us. His arms moved rapidly around him, an effective barrier against physical attacks. I watched as Maria threw bag after bag of flesh eating dust at him. A flaming sword swung up and disintegrated them all. The dust turned to ash and then disappeared. Tini summoned an astral dragon, and we all gasped, as a linked group, when one of the General's swords swallowed the dragon whole. It never returned, and Tini refused to send out anymore. Instead, she used ninja stars, imbued with her power, and threw them. None of them got anywhere near the general's body; all were deflected. I gave hard bursts of barrier energy, in hope one of them would hit him, but he was far too fast, even for me.
Pounamu and Maria took on the task of engaging the General in direct combat. They were two blurs, but even these two were barely holding their own against the impressive speed of the General. I was doing double duty with the barrier. I was converting the energy around us to make sure that we could harness it. And I was holding onto this side of the barrier while Pounamu concentrated on the General. It effectively kept me on channelling mode. I had to think of something, quick.
My precog went into overdrive, as I saw all the future possibilities flowing from this standpoint. The odds were overwhelmingly stacked against us. I tested each scenario, using the many varied abilities I had tried in the past. The statistics altered, slowly but surely. One scenario showed a small chance of success, but it meant taking the barrier away from the group and sacrificing part of me. I had to time it right, and if Pounamu wasn't ready for his part, everyone would die. I told my plan to the group, as we moved and fought around the General. There were concerns, but it was the only option left to us. It was time to tip the scales.
I mentally told them to run for cover. I refused to let up on healing and the barrier around Moana, but I had taken that into consideration. I rushed in to take up the slack from Pounamu and Maria, attacking with a telekinetic sword. I pulled out of time, to slow his speed down and keep up. But time flowed very different here, and I could only maintain that state for seconds at a time. It was enough, barely, to keep up with the General's ability.
Everyone scattered, while I took on the General. Pounamu told me it was all clear, and I gave up holding the barrier. Pounamu took over. He quickly wrapped it around the others and teleported everyone out of the vicinity. What I was about to do was dangerous, but an extreme problem called for extreme solutions.
I sucked up energy, hard and fast. I wrapped myself within it. This wasn't the energy that I was used to. I was pulling chaos into me. It was too much for me to convert easily and, therefore, I felt my empathy wither away. After all, empathy came from my connection to our universe; chaos was anathema to my `proper' power source. However, I wasn't using chaos to power my talents; I was going to act as a channel.
I pulled more and more chaos energy into me. My telekinesis fed directly from it, just as my warrior did. Here was the danger. I felt my warrior take on battle rage. My telekinesis became much more powerful, but less controllable. It felt as if it was a wild horse, ready to buck me off. I couldn't tap into the full potential of my empathic skill the way I could back in my universe. I just couldn't convert enough chaos energy to do that. Therefore, I had to do the next best thing. I embraced the part of me that had chaos running through my veins. This was the reason our power was twofold and why we constantly had to keep our warrior in check. It was why healing could end up killing the healer. My empathy and, therefore, my power source had buffered me from the effects of having such a powerful warrior and healer, within.
Now, that buffer was gone, and I felt rage and blood lust course through me. I snarled, and began attacking with ferocious intensity. My speed quadrupled, and I felt the General stumble slightly as I put him on the defensive. I knew I had to end this quickly, before I succumbed to the rage and, in turn, destroyed my humanity permanently.
Invisible telekinetic knives surrounded my body, and I went in for the kill. I pushed all my knives against his weapons, and shoved inside his guard. He roared with surprise, but I snarled and struck. I shoved a telekinetic knife into his neck, under his jaw. More went into his torso, and three went to sever his head off his shoulders. He fell down, his body in spasms.
His blood was as red as my own, and a haze of lust consumed me. It was here that my humanity was suddenly ripped from my grasp. I tried to stop it, but my warrior craved blood. He won the struggle, and my human self sank into the abyss.
I wallowed in the blood, my warrior purring his contentment. Blood pumped solidly from the neck of my enemy, and I lapped at it like a gleeful child. The potent taste had me in a delirium of joy. I lost all time, sitting in my pool of blood, lapping and swallowing.
I saw Pounamu walking slowly towards me. My lip curled into a snarl as I stared at him. This was my blood, and if he wanted a fight I was willing to give him one. I pushed my hand into the neck of the General and pulled out viscera. I shoved them into my mouth and chewed happily.
Pounamu swallowed, looking pale. "James, are you in there?" I stared at Pounamu and continued to rip flesh off the General. He walked a few more steps towards me. I snarled a warning. I bunched my body, ready to attack. He remained where he was, and sat down. I watched him, and continued eating.
"I met your Kevin, for the first time, when you were fighting," Pounamu said. "It was shortly before you defeated Simon and Kate."
I looked at him blankly, and licked blood off my hands.
"He was very nearly in a full bore panic," Pounamu said. "George and I had teleported to Ilene's house, where you were fighting. We bumped into your dad, Leon and, of course, your Kevin."
I paused in licking my hand, and stared at him intently. My head tilted to the side, and I licked my lips.
Pounamu continued talking. "He was nearly in tears, and kept screaming that he needed a gun to shoot Simon's head off." I felt something spark inside, and then fade. "When I told him that I was the cavalry, he dragged me back into the kitchen. We both watched you turn into this kind of supernova, and disintegrate Simon."
I continued grooming with my tongue. "Kevin took care of you for the two days that you were comatose. He wanted to rush you to the hospital, but I convinced him to keep you in your own home. I told him that I would be able to read your vital signs without the hassle of doctors. Besides, if things got too bad, I could have always asked Grandmother to heal you. He even managed to persuade your father that he would be the better person to bring you back to health. Your Kevin can be very persuasive, when he puts his mind to it."
I watched as Pounamu flicked the finger of one hand and someone walked out from behind him. Something jolted inside me as Kevin walked into view. I snarled, and glared at him. My heart started to pump hard and it hurt inside me. I felt rage fill me as Kevin walked steadily towards me.
"Hey, baby," he said to me. He had his hands out, trying to look inoffensive.
I didn't want him near me. My chest was burning, and I feared what that meant. I snarled at him, and backed away. He kept up his slow, steady pace. I felt my body shaking as he got closer. Part of me wanted to bolt into the night, but the other part told me to stand my ground. I ran from no one, or thing. This was no exception.
Kevin got down on one knee, directly in front of me. There were tears in his eyes as he stared at me. "Talk to me, baby. I know you're somewhere in there. Come back to me," he said.
I began to mewl like a wounded animal, and screamed as I felt his hand rest on my head. Now that the warrior was sated, I felt him recede, and my empathy came back online as the chaos energy slowly left me. Then, full awareness hit me. I scrabbled on hands and knees, and moved away from Kevin, to vomit.
I felt the taste of blood and flesh regurgitate back up my throat, and tears flooded my eyes, as I choked. I spat, vomited up more gobs of flesh, and screamed inside my head. Kevin was beside me, holding onto me. I felt degraded and defiled. Kevin's touch was torture. I didn't deserve to have his arms around me. I was soiled, and unfit to be touched. I tried to shrug his hands off me, but he refused and dug his hands in deeper.
"I'm not letting you go!" he said fiercely. "I see blood and gore on you, but you did this to save lives. I won't condemn you for doing what you had to do. Let me in, and allow me to love you."
I folded over and sobbed. I had endured rape, killings, and the deaths of Sam and Grams. But this act seemed to affect me more than any of the things I had done in the past. I couldn't understand it and my mental state was not good. I think the accumulation of events had broken something inside me. I turned and clung onto Kevin, holding tightly. His arms held me just as fiercely as I was holding him.
Maria came up to us from behind. "I brought you some clothes, to replace your old ones, and I can conjure water to help you clean up."
I looked back at her gratefully. Cool and calm was the right approach to take with me, and I thanked her sincerely. I put a reverse barrier around her, hesitantly. She nodded her head and conjured water. I discarded my clothes in a rush, shuddering, as the clothes had stuck to me in some places. The blood had dried, and I very nearly went back to screaming as I saw my entire arm caked with it.
Kevin dragged my face back up to his. "Keep your eyes on me," he said firmly.
I swallowed, and nodded my head nervously. Without losing eye contact, he removed my clothes for me. I felt warm water flow over us, but Kevin refused to look away, as he used parts of my clothing to wipe me down. His movements were slow and soothing. As the blood ran down in trickles of red, the shivering began to diminish and I felt my healing flow through me, assessing my mental and physical damage. It felt sluggish and slow. Kevin helped reclothe me.
For a split second, I was scared to scan my warrior. There was a part of me that now feared the other side of my heritage. But, I had to do this; I had to stand up to my fears. I was too close to getting Leila out to fail under all the pressure. My empathy blossomed, and I sighed as it flushed any remnants of chaos energy out of my system.
I felt clean, and I was clean. I looked into Kevin's concerned eyes with love. He gave me one more searching look, must have liked what he saw, and turned towards Pounamu. "I think its time I went back."
I grabbed his hand gratefully. I couldn't afford distractions right now, and he knew it. I was too scared to kiss him, because I wasn't sure if I would let him go. I had to continue onwards, to save Leila. He sensed that too, gripped my hand tightly, and then left without a backward glance.
It was time to take care of myself. I sank inside, to my core, and examined my tree. Black spots had appeared on my telekinesis branch, my warrior branch looked shrivelled and rotten, and my healing branch was faded.
I drew energy, slowly, from the environment around me. I felt that same taint of chaos and fear hit me. I wasn't sure if my body could convert the chaos energy into its positive form the way it had before I immersed myself in it. I waited, with pounding heart and bated breath, as the energy swirled inside. But, then, it did start changing.
I sighed with relief, and channelled it into the trunk of my tree, and my power source. Gold energy flowed from the roots, up the tree, and into the branches. My healing branch was the first to shine and revitalise. My body felt healthier and my mind clearer. I was in a more positive frame of mind; I was going to be okay.
My telepathy needed more concentration, but the black spots faded and disappeared when precise bursts of energy were directed at them. I mentally stretched my shoulders as I stared at my warrior branch. This was going to be a trial. I pushed energy into the branch. It resisted. I pushed harder, and felt the blockage give way. The smell of rot assaulted my senses, and I nearly gagged on it.
I could still feel that colder, alien, perception of the warrior lurking within the rot. It huddled, ready to pounce. It snarled, the closer I came with my healing energy. A chill ran up my spine, but I was going to do this. I had to; too many people were depending on me. I lanced the rot with my power. The warrior attacked. I smacked him down with a burst of empathic energy. He snarled, and retreated. I pushed forward along the branch, battling that presence every step of the way.
I was determined. I had had too many things come up against me to allow my own warrior to get the better of me. A similar snarl curled my lips, as I pushed forward; he was getting weaker and trying to draw on the chaos that was no longer within his reach. With one last burst of energy, I burned the rot and alien presence out of my warrior.