Chapter Forty Five: Family Ties

"You stupid or something?" She growled at me. I stared at the girl crouching before me. She had cropped black hair and hard brown eyes that glittered in the darkness. Her skin was tanned from the sunlight, and her body lean and muscled. Like the other girl, her clothing had no back. Between her teeth, she bite down on a dagger

"Hand me that boy"

Sunny wrapped his fingers around my throat tighter, trembling as he whispered "No no no no no"

Maneuvering so that he was in my arms, I offered up Sunny's little body to her. He wailed louder than any Arachnid. Clawing at the girl, he clung to me

"I-It's ok" I said "You can trust her"

At least, I had to trust her. She had the same lithe movements, and deadly weapon wielding that these new Gypsy's held. Behind her, there were still tiny outbursts of fighting. Now that most of the Arachnids had been driven off, these new Gypsy's were roaming in packs, ganging up on an unlucky Arachnid. The girl held her arms out with an exasperated sigh, grabbing Sunny roughly, and pulling him

"Let go" she grunted

"No!" he screamed, tightening his death grip on me. I didn't know what to do. I was still lost, battling the new hope and dread that was pumping through me. The Burns clan was here. Which filled me with dread; could it have been possible that they'd seen my powers. I had a sour taste on my tongue. I didn't like these Gypsy's, who obviously belonged to the Burns. They were cold like marble. They each had a fierce, merciless look on their faces. They acted like statues. They showed little emotion but hungry bloodlust and cold, deadly determination. Much like their Masters who stood on the sidelines still, watching coolly, doing nothing. My eyes settled on the man who was obviously Sage Burns; he, by far, was the coldest. He looked almost inhuman, the way his eyes showed nothing but boredom, and lack of emotion. A lack of life, actually. His gaze held a supreme authority, over everything; he made me shiver, shiver with cowardice and fear. This was not a man I wanted to yak my mouth off too. If I did, I was afraid of what would happen. Compared to Sage Burns, Angel Burns was infinitely kind and loving.

The girl gave up on the reluctant boy. I didn't try offering him up anymore; I held him tightly, hugging his small body to my chest. He wept into my filthy shirt, crying and moaning, and trembling. The girl stood with a huff, grumbling nonsense. Turning on her heels, she hollered

"Marigold! Get over here! We need some healing!"

Healing? Of all the people that stood on the wrecked Institute Campus, Sunny and I were the ones who needed the least healing. Probably, because I was crusted in so much blood, and the boy's clothing was coated in it too, we looked like we needed help. And, the look on my face, and the broken down state I was in, probably said that I needed help

"N-no" I protested "We're fine"

I did not want a foreign Gypsy touching me. I didn't want their hands gliding over my skin, feeling all up on me. What if they stumbled upon the truth? What if they told Sage Burns, with his terrible omnipresent powers, and hollow body? I'd be doomed. I was already breathing shallowly, hating the the thought of Sage Burns ever getting his hands on me. Terror filled me, pushed throughout my entire body at the thought of what he'd do to me. kill me, cast my soul into Hell. Surely, I'd meet my immolation at the hands of the head of the Burn's Clan

The girl with the cropped hair gave me a scathing glare "Shut up" she said "You listen to what I tell you to do and that's that"

Gripping Sunny tightly, I struggled to my feet. Cradling him like I'd cradle a baby, I began to walk. The world swayed; I'd overdone it. I'd pushed myself way too far. A crushing hand landed on my shoulder; whirling me around, the girl thrust her face into mines

"Listen here. You don't move. You don't go anywhere. You stay here, and wait for orders!"

I spit in her face. Blood, and spit is a nasty mixture; it landed on her cheek, dripping down the side of her face. Her eyes widened, and then narrowed to slits. She lunged foreword, shoving me hard

"What's the matter with you?!"

Staggering with the extra weight in my arms, I struggled with my footing "Leave me alone" I croaked

Her cheeks brightened "Stand down, Gypsy. Your job is done."

I spit at her again, this time missing. Her face blazed with anger, ad she lunged foreword again, this time, tightening her hands into fists and pummeling me until I was on the ground. I didn't care that she was hitting me; I could barely feel it. But Sunny was gasping and groaning, taking some of the hits this stupid, untamed girl was throwing. Anger blazed in me, mixing in with the desire to protect Sunny. I slammed my legs into her gut, sending her flying back. I staggered to my feet again, turning my back on her. The Gypsy girl jumped to her feet, growling furiously. Placing Sunny on the ground, I mumbled a quick apology and turned back to the girl. She was looking for a fight. She was hyped up by the bloodlust, the cold look in her eyes still there. I waited, standing my ground

She wiped at her jaw, cussing as she stood

"Why are you so stupid?!" she demanded, lunging foreword. I noticed something about this girl. Unlike the rest of her graceful brethren, she was actually sloppy. If I watched her closely, I would see that her footing was slower than the rest, her punches sloppier and harder, and her control less than tamed. Unlike her brethren, she was a hot head. I smirked a little, realizing that I was like that too.

Dodging her attack, I caught her by the shoulder, turning her back around, and punching her in the face. The dagger she had had in her teeth was now in her hand, and she bellowed, taking jagged, quick shots at me. I dodged easily, trying to remain cool in front of her. She was sloppy, but she was quick, and wielded her blade with effective aim. I missed each swipe by the skin of my teeth.

"You stupid, idiot!" she screamed at me, swiping again. She missed, but, before I could recover, her fist shot out, and punched me in the eye. I staggered, holding my eye. With one eye, I saw her swing again

Her dagger moved again, aiming for my torso, right over where my womb was. She wasn't aiming to kill me, but she was aiming to maim me. She was untamed and ruthless

Sparks clanged

"Dammit, Gypsy, why must you always be in a fight? I feel every injury you receive"

It was Caster, with his own weapons stretched out before him, fending off the girls attack. He glared at me through the corner of his eye, and then, with little energy, parried her halted attack, sending her settling on her ass.

"C-Caster" she gasped; he ignored her, turning to me briskly and grabbing me by my shirt front "Stop it" he ordered "Stop being a bonehead and listen. Stay by my side Gypsy, or Master Burn-"

"Electra!"

Caster rolled his eyes, letting my shirt go. Angel was running towards us, his eyes serious. He really did look like Sage Burns. His eyes were filled with worry, though, and compared to his icy father, he was almost human. He stopped, then, drew me into a tight embrace. I regretted recoiling at his touch, because the sound of his heartbeat, the frantic drumming, calmed me down. I sniffed, and he hugged me tighter

"I'm sorry" I whispered. He said nothing, growling softly instead

"Master Burns! You've returned"

We pulled apart. The girl, who had so willingly been ready to cut out a part of me, now was bowing before Angel, her head down, her voice robotic. She held her dagger close, and didn't move.

"Angela"

She lifted her head; her eyes were completely filled with brewing anger. They were black with the ugly emotion behind them. She cast me a quick, angry glare, and I knew, her hatred was directed at me. She then turned back to Angel

"Master" she said, then to Caster "Familiar"

"Angela" Angel said "Thank you. You can go help the others now"

Angela voice was venomous as she replied "But Master, I-"

"Nothing" Angel interrupted "Go, now"

She stood, without hesitation, and turned. She didn't look back as she hurried away from us, but, by the stiffness of her bare shoulders, I saw how angry and humiliated she was. The girl she'd been fighting, rescued by Angel Burns. That must've made her feel stupid. I also noticed that she had a similar tattoo on her back, the same one I'd seen before. But the only difference was, her number was higher than 506. Her number was 666.

Caster frowned bitterly, as he knelt down besides Sunny. The boy looked up at Caster with his big wet eyes and sniffed

Caster hissed. Which was strange, since, in this form, I thought Caster was above hissing; He stood, taking a few good steps away from Sunny

"Bring that boy back to the others" he ordered "We're not taking in any strays"

I wrinkled my nose "He's not some dog that I found. I'm not going to leave him just like that…not after…not after what he's been through"

Caster waved his hand in a shooing motion "No" he said with finality "You are not keeping a boy with you."

I scowled. I'd never intended to keep Sunny with me. Being affiliated with me would bring the child nothing more than sorrow. He didn't need to know me

I sighed in defeat "Ok"

"No!" Sunny screamed "No, please" he was on his hands and knees, his face the incarnation of desperate fear, "Electra…don't leave me…again. Don't let me go"

My breath hitched. The desperation on his little face was beyond anything I knew. For a brief moment, he reminded me of Dodge, my Dodge, and the world wavered again. I slumped against Angel's chest, trying to slow my breathing

Caster hissed again. What was up with him? Looking at Sunny, he almost looked like he…was…well unsettled. As if, something about Sunny was wrong. Searching his open, vulnerable face, I saw nothing. Caster was just a bitter old Faerie who had an aversion to children. And the world.

Angel's grip tightened on me

"He's here" I spoke his words for him

He nodded solemnly, his lips set together

"What do we do now?"

He met my eyes; I'd expected to see some sort of determination within them, the will to defy

"We should've left earlier." He said "We should've left so long ago. There's no escaping him now. He knows about you now. He knows about everything"

I shook; casting a quick glance at Sage Burns, who hadn't moved an inch since my last glimpse at his cold, detached face, I knew Angel was telling the truth. Suddenly, his stare was on me. his eyes narrowed. I stopped breathing altogether; mercifully, his stare turned onto his son sluggishly

He cocked an eyebrow

"He wouldn't have come here if he hadn't had a reason too. Even an Arachnid invasion would've had no interest to him." Angel's voice was grim, solemn. I saw that he was staring right back at his father, and that his hold on me was too tight. I realized now that, he wasn't just holding me. He was asserting his claim; I was his. This irked me. It made me feel like I was his pet dog or something and that he was trying to say this is my girl. You can't have her. It wasn't cute or sweet; it was bordering on oppressive. I untangled myself from him, trying to convey to Sage Burns that I was my own person, and that no male, no matter whom it was, owned me. Still, being away from Angel had my legs shaking. My hands hungrily searched for his, and wrapped around his own fingers.

Sage Burns did something I didn't think his granite face could do. He smiled.

Then he lifted his hand, flicked his fingers, and a dozen or so Guardians were upon us.

They grabbed me with strong arms, twisting my arms behind my back and forcing me to bow.

"On orders of Master Burns himself, you, Electra Mc'Leary, are sentenced to death" one spoke

"No!" This was Angel, held back by six Guardians "No, please! Father, please, listen to me. Let me explain! Don't do it! Don't kill her!"

I didn't feel fear or shock or anything. The moment was happening to quick, the change within things were too fast for my mind to grasp. Only then, with my head bowed, and the first sound of something sharp being unsheathed, did I begin grasp that I was going to die

A cold blade was pressed near the center of my back. They were going to pierce my heart.

"Go back unto the depths in which your soul was called. You, Gypsy, have served your Master well. Live forever in peace, knowing that, you helped change the world" the words were ironic, compared to how I was about to be mercilessly killed

"Stop!" this was Caster, his voice straining

They didn't stop. The cold blade moved away, then, came back with frightening speed.

It ran right through my body, piercing me through

Only, it wasn't my heart.

There was a yelp of sharp pain, and the force holding the blade disappeared. As I collapsed on the ground, heat and pain clashing with each other, as my magic fought against the blade sticking through my lower gut,

"What did that?"

"Hey, it's that little kid!"

"What? A kid did that?!"

Blood leaked from my cut. I could not heal if the sword wasn't removed. Lying on the ground, I heard the most pitiful cry in my life. It was Angel, screaming my name, piercing my heart with his pain.

Another person collapsed besides me. I was not going to die alone

I was just beginning to wonder how long death took, when; the sword was yanked out of me. I screeched a blood curling scream. Heat engulfed me, sealing my wound, healing it

My body shook. Standing above me, with his hands shaking with the sword, was Sunny. His eyes blazed with defiance, with the protective look I'd seen in only one person.

He threw the sword away, leaving his back wide open. A Guardian grabbed it, and slapped him away. He groaned, holding his little face. Above me, the Guardian wielded the sword, already crusted in my own blood. I was too weak to defend myself. I was too weak to defend Sunny

"Electra!"

My eyes met Angel's. They were filled with pitiful tears. He was stacked underneath several Guardians. Golden chains wrapped around his body. They were constricting his body and magic

The sword came down

And then, the little crumbling masses that had once been the Institute blew up.

[***]

When I came too, I was laying on my back, spread eagle, staring at the sky. When the world stopped spinning, the memories came back, and with that, so did the pain.

Jack knifing to my feet brought on a wave of vertigo. Underneath the black sky, the Institute was gone. Ruined completely. The black hulking safe house, the home of my Gypsies, was destroyed. And littered across the Campus, the dead unable to be told from the living.

My home had met its immolation, despite my preventions

Across the lawn, where I had once lain, stabbed by the sword, were several bodies. I began to stagger to them. Then, I heard his voice

"It's a treat really, Sage" it was Mel. High, happy, gloating. "I get to kill you and begin to tear down the Witches reign, all in one night!"

He stood opposite any opposing force. There, Guardians were swarmed around Sage Burns and his other Witches. And Mel, unscathed by the fire, stood, flanked by Emilia Savage and Brock. They were each poised, ready to do battle

"Tonight, I send a message to you, Sage Burns! Tonight, I declare freedom! You are no longer king!"

Sage Burns, hidden behind his shield of bodies, stared at him coolly. He said nothing. I saw him flick his fingers. His Guardians rushed towards Mel. Emilia Savage and Brock met them head on; they slashed and hacked, killing without hesitation. A dozen Gypsies against two teenaged looking Arachnids; and the Gypsies were losing.

The Arachnids killed, easily carving a slow but steady path towards the Witches. Mel stood back, a villain, moving his pawns towards the destruction he desired.

His gaze flickered towards me, and he smiled a wolfish grin. He held out his hand, beckoning me to him. I didn't move. He laughed, then turned away

"Stop" he ordered. Emilia and Brock were back at his side

"See the power I have, Sage? See how strong I am? I have an army, an army of these beautiful Arachnids, just waiting for me. They will tear you apart! You don't stand a chance, old man"

"Old man" This was the first time I'd heard Sage Burns talk. His voice was deep and reverberating, commanding authority, and capturing it. "That is funny"

His face was not amused

He flicked his fingers again, and the Guardians went into action

"Yes" Mel cackled "The more they kill, the easier it is!"

Sage said nothing

"Don't you want to know, old man?" Mel asked, "Don't you want to know why I'm condoning such a brutal bloodbath?"

There were outraged cries from Sage's entourage

He said nothing, watching the cocky boy with no interest

"I'll tell you, old man. I'll tell you why, I let so many die. because you will join the dead in seconds!"

With his words, Emilia slashed through two Guardians.

Mel waved his arms out, caressing the world with his blood smudged finger tips

"The more that dies, the easier the gate way is to open. And once the gate way is opened, she can be released. The Mother. My mother. Our Mother. The world's savior!"

Mother?

Mel laughed "So kill, Emilia! Kill, my beasts! I didn't need this Institute. I have an army, an army ready for carnage. This Institute, was my gate way!"

And with that, the ground trembled. I fell to my brittle hands and held the ground. Above the world shook, paled, and groaned. The sound was mighty and monstrous. There were pathetic screams from the survivors of the Institute. Right where the Institute used to stand, a beam of light shot forward, penetrating the sky with its painful glare. I shielded my eyes against it. Wind, fast and vicious, spurred, picking up rocks, blades, and dead bodies. I hung onto the ground, my eyes watering, the world shaking.

"She's being freed!" Mel's voice was dim against the almighty roar of the light. I closed my eyes, unable to lay my eyes upon the white beacon of light

The night illuminated. The sky ripped open

It ended abruptly. It simply was and then wasn't. I stopped, lifting my head, thinking that it was over.

It was just the quiet before the storm

The earth split open, spewing forth a massive chasm that was filled with the dark abyss. It open wide, stopping only at the bare fringes of the Institute campus. I sat on the empty chasm, paralyzed by fear. The unknown was great. The unknown was terrible. Struck by dumbness, shocked by what I was seeing, I could do nothing

"Hell!"Mel cackled "It's the opening to Hell!"

Bodies flew into the chasm, falling into oblivion. My eyes were glued, glued on the bodies that fell, and then, ebb away into the unknown. It was only the bodies that had no inhabitant. The ones who had died, and it was so many. The Gate sucked it up, hungrily, ravenously eating the bodies

Above the howl of the hungry Gate, there came chanting. No one stopped Mel, no one lunged foreword to hurt him.

When the chanting was over, the bodies stopped too.

Slowly, a small twinkle of light emerged from the dark chasm. It floated up slowly, beautiful in its softness. The tenderness of the light against the harsh blackness was a miracle. A lovely, beautiful light. I begged for this light to be good, to be pure. It lifted into the air. Glaring against its pulse, I saw a curvy outline. Golden hair. It was a woman

The light faded. With another great mighty trembling, the Gate to Hell closed.

The light faded away, and her body touched the ground.

Blinking, because I was sure I was seeing things, I saw her. She wore a simple white dress, hugging her soft curves. Her skin was the color of the silver moan. She had a slender neck; her lips were full. Her hair, platinum blonde now, fell down her back, touching the ground gently. She lifted her head, and opened her eyes

She looked like me

She was my mother

I'd fantasized about this woman, this lovely woman I'd yearned for. I'd wanted to see her so badly. She didn't even look up at me. her gaze turned to the two fighting groups. She walked towards them, calm, serene, peaceful.

Mel stood, his eyes filled with awe and wonder. He welcomed her with open arms. His smile was pure ecstasy.

He hugged my mother tight "Mother" I heard him say

She hugged him back, her body showing no sign of affection. She stood in his arms, arms wrapped crookedly around him.

"We will rule!" I heard him say, proudly,

He pulled away, staring at my Mother's face. Joy, happiness, determination; all of this was written on his face. It was a mother and her son reconnecting. But she wasn't his mother. She was my mother

Why?

Why was she doing this?

To further prove that something's were terribly wrong, Mel doubled over, gasping suddenly. Her fist was in his heart. She met his gaze coolly, with his blood dripping onto her silver skin

She smiled "Thank you" she said "You are of no use to me, anymore, my boy. You've served your purpose"