Clothing is a very important issue, considering how things are going today. I would go so far as to suggest the level of clothes would denote the level of hope a situation has.
“We can’t waste a lot of time figuring out what we need to do next, because I’m already late going back. We won’t be able to trick them into thinking I’m still enslaved.” Maybe I should form some kind of hypnotic justice squad, because I am getting really good at taking charge in situations like this – I think. “Alyssa, no offence, but you’re really not cut out for this sort of thing and I don’t think you want to be. So unless you just want to run screaming, it would be great if you could take Aurora and Sylvia somewhere way far from here, but I can’t know where or else you may as well just baby sit here.”
Alyssa doesn’t say anything, but the light blush on her cheeks and her lack of eye contact says everything. She’s not mad at us, but she’s probably not very happy that, once again, simply being within our vicinity had her wind up naked and mindless – albeit not in that order. This might be the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of being unclothed as a cure for being mind fucked.
Then again, being naked would have at least made me not quite as mentally twisted after my first run in with the Slut Squad.
Curled up close to Sarah is Valerie, and seeing how adorable they look together makes me worry about Olivia. There’s something very strange about seeing myself look so contented snuggling up to someone that isn’t Olivia. It’s not really me, and her hair is even up at the moment in a way that makes me realize that part of Patina’s look was likely borrowed, but it is me. The sooner this is over, the better. Once it’s over, we can figure out what to do in a world with two Silver Girls.
“Valerie, I would ask you to stay with Alyssa to give her backup, but your abilities are pretty useful in addition to the fact that we just got a demonstration of your capacity to resist a good sparking.” Valerie nods and kisses Sarah’s cheek. Good, everyone seems to like my idea so far. “So that means that the three of us need to use my one way ticket to get back to the Nesatealia.”
“Sounds great to me. Show me the way and I’ll start zappin’ us some Nesatealia. Yanuka on rye sounds good about now.” Sarah cracks her knuckles and grins. Her eyes sparkle again, and I don’t know why but it makes me blush. I really need to get over this mirror thing.
My own knuckles resonate with a loud crack as I reflect the motion. “Good. If it’s at all possible we should try to tear Quillspawn out of Silhouette’s head. I don’t even know how that would work, but my bet is that if either of us can get a hold on her we can make that same link you made with me. I’m betting that Lida taught you already how to unseal an inked up mind, and if so, that might come in handy too. They do have Lida, Yana, and Olivia . . .”
It’s my fault that she’s off in that temple. Morning Frost appeared to be the one who captured her, from what I remember, but Olivia was only there because of me. If I’d been quicker in Alice’s office then she might not be there right now. This whole situation would be a million tomes better if I could learn to act a little more than reacting.
Then again, these are the Nesatealia. Yanta said she’d been doing what she did for . . . five hundred years? Yeah, five hundred years. Yanuka seems like her older sister, and I can only imagine how much older. They might not actually be literal sisters, but the resemblance . . .
Focus, Sarah, Lida, Silver Girl, whoever you are. Focus. You need to focus or your wife is going to stay in the hands of those redheaded witches forever, and so will you.
Sooner or later I need to stop talking to myself, too.
“Spark first, ask questions later. Unless you really try, it’s pretty hard to do much permanent damage. I think Yanta ended up fried because of the rage we threw at her as much as the sparks . . .” Sarah has a point. We can try to fix everyone up after they’re helplessly melted onto the floor.
Alyssa stands up and starts to move for Aurora’s room. “I’ll take them some place safe, promise. If anyone knows a safe place to hide with a couple of kids it’s me. What exactly do the little tykes eat?”
Valerie follows behind Alyssa, motioning for us Silver Girls to follow too. “Still all natural breast milk. I have some back at home – I would swing by with you but that seems about as smart as plugging my heart into the wall instead of eating. Here, take my keys, grab it up, and then go wherever you need to. In a pinch formula won’t kill them but hopefully it won’t come to that . . . but how are we supposed to find them after everything wraps up?”
Looking down at Aurora, it hurts to imagine that I was going to happily deliver her to the Nesatealia. I wasn’t so keen on delivering her to an orphanage, but they were able to twist me up so I wouldn’t care about giving her to my worst enemies? They really are more dangerous than I’ve ever given them credit for. The Lady just had Dust, Pink, and her machines. They have magic and a lot more experience.
Alyssa barely has her mouth open before Sarah interrupts her. “We can’t be able to find them . . . So we’ll have to wait for Alyssa to bring them back. Set up some kind of surveillance, something . . . and then bring them back. Like Val said, if anyone can do it, it’s her. Some of the information she found out about the Argentum Project was not the information I intended her to find, if that tells you anything.”
Oddly, being reminded about her role in that whole debacle doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Even Alyssa seems unfazed. I guess after Sarah patched up her mind she must have earned some trust.
After Alyssa tucks the keys into a pocket, Valerie hands her Sylvia and I hand her Aurora. In my mind I whisper that I’ll be back soon, and that no one is ever going to take her away from me. I don’t know how to give her the message that Lida gave Susan, or I would. Then again, if she knew how to do that to a child, I might have had a message to remember too. This won’t be like that, though. This will be different.
“You better get a little head start before I open up the portal way, just in case they come through or something else goes wrong. I have less than a clue how this is going to work. I owe you so much Alyssa, I know you won’t let me down.” I smile and wiggle my fingers at her and she nods with a sad smile.
Before she leaves, Sarah gives Sylvia’s forehead one last kiss and chokes back her tears. “I’ll be back a lot sooner this time . . . We’re going to get to know each other a lot better, I promise . . .”
Valerie hugs Sarah tightly and helps her turn away as Alyssa leaves. There would probably be more words exchanged if this were any other situation, but every second we take feels like another second we give them to prepare. No sense in having a long goodbye that makes it permanent.
As soon as I can’t hear her footsteps anymore I reach into my belt and grab out the orb. It doesn’t draw me in like it did before and for some reason that’s disappointing. I should be glad about that.
The lovebirds are still hugging. If that were Olivia and I, Olivia would say something like “Now can the mushy stuff, we have some witches to bewitch!” or “I love you so much, let’s make Aurora proud!” or something else that would make me laugh or nearly cry. She’s been here for so long to make me smile in situations like this, I hadn’t realized how much I’d grown to depend on her little bits of comic relief.
Soon after we first met, I remember her being playfully disappointed that my bike wasn’t all that special, or even called the Patinacycle. We laughed over it, but I never told her that was when I started to really want to know her better.
That just never came up. That shouldn’t feel so important, now. It really shouldn’t. I absolutely loathe these feelings of impending dread. They don’t always happen before things go wrong, and happen just as often before things go right, but I still hate them. They’re hard to shake off, and it’s even harder seeing how tightly Sarah is holding onto Valerie. They’re whispering, but I have no clue what.
I look away and roll the orb between my thumb and pointer finger to watch the flames swirl. All I have to do is squeeze and we’ll be at their doorstep – well, their foyer. Maybe someday I’ll be able to make things like this.
“Come on Lucia, let’s get Olivia back.” Sarah kisses the back of my head before I even realize how close she is. I must have really zoned out. “We both have a witchy favor or two to repay . . .”
With a nod, I hold it up in front of me and take a very deep breath. “You all ready, Valerie? Lida said you had witch blood too, so I guess in a way you have as much stake in this too. We might have to ask her about that some time.”
“I’m ready! I’d love it if we had the time to pick up my staff first, but my mist is all I’ll end up using anyway. Let’s go and show them that you don’t try to mess with the LaSilvases!” Her tone reminds me so much of how Olivia would sound, and I see yet another reason that Sarah loves her so much.
“Here goes!” My thumb presses the orb up against my finger as hard as I can, and it fizzles out of existence with a warm burst of energy. The air in front of me ripples like the distance can seem to on a hot day, but it’s a translucent red instead of clear transparency. Slowly, the center of the red turns thicker and darker before that color slowly expands and within it forms a view much like the one I was glancing at before I left.
Quillspawn isn’t visible and neither is Yanuka. It would be far too nice of them to be there so we could send some sparked up mist through first, wouldn’t it? I never needed a clear advantage to win before, and I don’t think that’s changed.
Stepping through only feels strange for the change in surroundings. I’ve never stepped through a door where the other side was this different than my side. Like going from day to night, my apartment melts into the Nesatealian shrine. White walls are replaced by the glow of red from the wall torches, and the carpet melts away to stone.
I hear the click of Valerie and Sarah close behind me, and I spin around to see if I can catch a glimpse of our enemies standing behind the portal. They’re nowhere to be seen, but I do get a lovely view of the portal slowly closing back into that line of thick energy before it sprinkles down to the floor.
The room looks empty. I do not like that at all. It’s a fairly big room, and there’s only one door that leads out. It’s at the other side of the room, too, and I think this is the same room I saw after leaving behind the room of oil and ink, but I can’t be sure. I remember everything that happened, but I was way too out of it to care about my surroundings. Besides, there could be a thousand rooms that look like this . . .
I am quite disappointed, Silver Girl. Even following thorough explanation regarding your tattoo you neglected any attempt at removal preceding a conflict. This oversight will cost you dearly, little ancilla.
Without even thinking, I tear off my top. Quillspawn’s voice was in my head. I felt it, but it wasn’t so much in my head as in my ears while not being real. It didn’t feel like she was inside of me, it more felt like she was controlling my ears to make me hear her speak. That’s almost worse. Right now, it’s as bad as worse.
“Val, Silver . . . We may have the tiniest little problem here.” They already look worried before I speak, and I’m sure that has nothing to do with my voluntary disrobing. “Quillspawn put a present in my-“
Between my lips, a thin flow of the same black inky goo she laced into my back spreads to seal them tight. I struggle to pull them apart, but my lips don’t respond. At least from the looks in their eyes they see the ink, too. I turn around and try to motion to my back, but my hands only get halfway through the motion before I feel them fall limply at my sides. Shit. This is so not good. She did tell me about this, that stupid ink soaked witch.
It would be great if Silhouette’s shadow had some property not unlike my inner light, but I’m not counting on it. I try to walk, to run, to fall, anything, but my body won’t respond. Goddess, I am so thoroughly and completely screwed. My body won’t work, and my mind can’t exactly do much on its own.
I feel my lips curl into a grin as my body turns to face them against all of my desires to do otherwise. The ink melts over my lips, and my mouth moves on its own. “Our argent avenger possesses simply the most resilient psyche one is likely to ever see. A fine insurance, therefore, was to grasp a hold of her body as well. Luckily, I have experience working her ‘sparks’ from when my reservoir filled her pale and peach body she had as Patina. The two of you were both invited of course, but I’m afraid you hardly followed the mental dress code detailed in the RSVP.”
My voice isn’t the one they hear. I don’t know how she does it (besides that it’s obviously magic) but Quillspawn’s voice erupts from my own lips. It’s more than a little disturbing. I’m a passenger in my own body, and someone else’s voice is speaking for me.
Next time I have one of my feelings of impending dread, I’m going to ask myself why.
“Sorry Quillspawn, but things aren’t going to be that easy! Even with Lucia under your control, you’ve still got another LaSilvas and a Raine to deal with and we’re just as used to those sparks. Think fast!” Sarah flicks her wrist, and five sparks shoot towards me before I even see a flash of light in her hand.
I try to wrest control from her, but Quillspawn makes my body weave to miss the sparks just narrowly enough. They burst only far enough for me to only feel the faintest sizzles in the surrounding air. I still feel how much I would prefer to be wearing a bra, but I can’t force her to take a good sparking so we can fall to the flow. I try to make my body spark itself, but my silver doesn’t respond. They might be magical and something that requires concentration, but my sparks are still something my body produces.
My own hand comes out and five points of silver arc towards Sarah. Her body glows brightly as she rises up into the air, gracefully flipping in the air before gracefully landing with the tips of her boots touching the floor. Damn she makes that look good.
“Hope you didn’t forget about me!” Valerie’s hands are both held out, her thumbs and pointer fingers pressed together, creating a diamond shape between her hands. It’s from that diamond a flood of mist flows towards Quillspawn. It’s a much stronger gust than I’ve ever seen her make, even when she was Quillspawn’s toy. Her hair flutters from the back draft, and all of her clothes billow with a light glow of mist. Her eyes are that gorgeous obscured shade of amethyst.
It’s so very precious to gaze upon your friends’ parlor tricks, isn’t it? Let’s reveal some of ours, shall we?
If she would hear me I would yell mentally as loudly as I can. She’s not rooted this deeply; if she were, it would have all been washed away. That stupid, arrogant little author bitch. I try again to spark and sizzle, but all it does is make me feel a headache on the horizon.
Just as the mist reaches us, she matches Valerie’s pose and a pure flow of silver energy fires forth and arcs across the amethyst mist. How she’s channeling so much energy from my hands at once, I have no idea. It’s such a strong feeling of silver flowing that it almost feels like blood being drawn by a syringe. I feel fainter every moment it flows, and Valerie’s conductive mist only draws it out faster.
When I felt her mist before it made me feel sleepy like I was being wrapped up in a warm blanket of tender, cradling air, but this time it feels like it’s being dissipated before it can actually effect me. Valerie does not look quite so lucky, and soon her fingers start to clench and her body shakes.
“You see my little Raine storm, your mist can be reactive to the LaSilvas spark, or with a very careful recalibration . . . it can be canceled. Lucia lacks the focus to achieve such a state. I, however, do not. All that I am, is focus. Now Raine . . . it is your time to fall.” My lips feel twisted in the most wicked grin ever. Her voice sounds even more pleased. She must not be feeling how much my body is being drained to keep up this current.
Recalibrated? I’ve never thought of recalibrating my sparks. They do what they do and I’ve never controlled their goal or their power, or – shit. My sparks don’t always have to feel good. Dust learned that.
Valerie lets out a howling scream that thankfully sounds like she’s quite enjoying herself instead of withering in agony as her body is covered with silver. All of her must be misting just enough, because she’s almost impossible to see through the silver light clinging to her tightly like electric plastic wrap. Her eyes pulse a brighter silver with my heartbeat.
A moment later the flow of mist stops, and so does the flow of silver. If I were in control of my body I would fall to my knees exactly like Valerie does. She groans helplessly as she falls onto her face. Her lips are curled in a smile as her body shakes with aftershocks and her thighs clench. I don’t know what she’s done to her, but there was so much silver, I hope she’s okay . . .
“Valerie! Quillspawn . . . You just made a very, very bad mistake.” Sarah’s whole body tenses as she growls, and continues to shine. Her eyes flash, and I would hardly call it cute.
My body laughs in response. At least it’s not my voice laughing like a jerk. To be honest, I have absolutely no clue how Sarah can hope to stop her. Anything that she can do, my body can do, and Quillspawn knows both of us pretty damned well. Does she have any secrets still up my sleeves, or in my back? I would say there’s nothing left for her to pull, but I haven’t even used my sparks painfully much at all since I got them back.
She could be bluffing, but she doesn’t strike me as the bluffing sort. She certainly never bluffed before, but that could have been Yana’s influence. I wonder if Silhouette has any influence over her right now . . .
Sarah dashes towards us, hovering just a half inch above the ground like Aureus does when dashing at the bad guys. Quillspawn deftly moves us to the side, and I feel all of my body glowing before she makes us hover. Damn it. At least Sarah doesn’t seem surprised or upset. What does she have up her sleeve?
“I know this is usually the part where the villain reveals some new trick and creams the poor heroine into submission, but you forget one little detail.” Sarah holds her hands up above her head and one by one her fingertips start to glow.
“And what, pray tell, have I forgotten? Your duplicate is a vessel. Your lover is incapacitated. You, are next.” Quillspawn makes me smirk, and I internally snarl.
Smirking, Sarah snaps her fingers and disappears in a bright flash of silver light. It’s so bright it’s almost painful to look at directly, even for me. I think I’m still the tiniest bit light shy from having that year without my silver eyes. I looked into far too many lights only to be blinded. After the light clears, she’s nowhere.
Escape isn’t exactly the same as victory. I really hope her plan was more than that, or Valerie and I are going to be very upset. She’s shuddering madly on the floor, but I’m helplessly under the control of Quillspawn. If only I could reach out with my light and force it into my back, but I can’t. It’s too physical.
Legs wrap around me from behind, and I feel hands wrapping around me soon after. I don’t have much time to try determining whose they are before light starts to surge through me. “Lucia might be the better Silver Girl, the better heroine . . . but I’m the better LaSilvas, the better witch. Light is faster than the eye. Let’s . . . see . . . if you can see anything at all once I’m done with you.”
Sizzling bright light surges through all of my senses at once. I wouldn’t have thought silver light has a taste, but it definitely does. It’s a very sharp taste, almost like lime, but it’s much richer. It’s impossible to describe, but it tastes really, really good.
“You won’t stop me that . . . easily . . . you’re just disabling one of your own allies . . .” My body tries to struggle and pull her off, but it’s too busy clenching and shuddering to be of much use and I think Quillspawn knows it. I hope the ink in my back is channeling the sparks to her, wherever she is. I can only hope that somehow this is going to help us pull out of this spiral, because all I can see is the bright eternity at the very end. I know it so well by now. We’re old friends.
“You keep right on talking, Quillspawn . . . I’ll keep on sparking. We’ll see which of us stops first. How’s that sound?” Sarah sounds so confident, but she really deserves to. Everything is getting brighter and harder to focus on, but at least I know that much.
My knees hit the ground, and I reunite with my old pal oblivion.