The shock of seeing my lovely Taryn hurt was almost enough to bring tears to my eyes. Everything that I had learned in the last few minutes had suddenly vanished. My every emotion was quickly being devoured by feelings of outrage. Like a fire, burning through my insides and leaving nothing but black smoke and ash behind.
Darkness swept through me, and despite my attempts to focus and fight against it...it began to take over...and my eyes turned deep red as I prepared to rip through anyone who dared to stand between me and my love.
The guard stood their ground and prepared to deal with the full fury of a vampire mimic for the first time. Even Brooklyn and Haze took a cautious stand. They knew what might be coming their way.
Trust me, they had no idea how bad things could get for them.
I began to step forward...my eyes aglow, fangs now fully extended...my ears filled with the sound of warrior drums. I turned to look at the Jeweler, who waited to see what I would do. With an inhuman voice, I told him, "You should have left my sire out of this, Lockheart..."
The air became still. Silent. And as my eyes looked up at Taryn...I prepared to move forward.
The guards began to back away from me as I approached. They should just step aside. Whatever the Jeweler promised them in terms of reward for this little sparring session gone wrong...it won't be worth the world of pain I'm about to put them through. I can guarantee them that. However, they eventually made the mistake of trying to hold me back. And I found it hard not to kill them were they stood.
With a burst of speed, I circled around the first two...grabbing them by the necks and spinning them to the ground on either side of me. Don't lose it, Justin. Get to Taryn, but keep yourself under control. Remember the circles. Plan your way around them. Fight the darkness for as long as you can. As one of the others lashed out with a punch...I saw it coming as if he were moving in slow motion, and I shifted my position to move my shoulder back and have him miss me completely. I could see the main artery in the side of his neck. I could practically feel it pulsing and throbbing with fresh blood. And it took everything I had to not sink my fangs deep in to the meat of him and drink from his life giving fountain. Instead, I chose another circle...and followed that one to completion instead.
I tripped him up by extending my leg and forcing his own momentum to send him stumbling forward, but not before delivering a harsh punch of my own between his exposed shoulder blades. He cried out in agony, and I knew that if I had hit him any harder...he would have been paralyzed for sure.
They have a chance to walk away from this. They should take it.
"Justin..." Taryn coughed weakly. "...I'm...I'm sorry..." As I saw a tear roll down his cheek, the black fury began to creep up within me again. I needed Taryn to be safe. nothing else matters. Nothing!
I hurried forward, but found myself surrounded. They all attacked in unison, coordinating their movements in ways that would easily dispatch any other enemy. But I could see the patterns before they happened. I could dodge and block every blow. Simultaneously maneuvering and striking out in all directions. And as they fought harder to restrain me, my extras began to activate all on their own. An automatic reflex that had suddenly been awakened on a level that I have never felt before. My right hand crackled with sparks of electricity as it connected to one of the guard's ribs, while my left shot long webs out of my fingertips to bind the ankles of the guard behind me. I spun around to sweep the legs from the third, and my eyes flashed with a bright light to blind the fourth. I brought an elbow deep into the stomach of whoever was behind me, and when I touched him with my palm...all of the fabric of his clothes shrank around him until it was so tight that he could barely breathe, much less continue fighting. He fell backwards, stiff as a board, just as my free hand touched the chest of the guard next to me, suddenly building up a giant block of ice that quickly spread out and crept up to his neck. The moment I let him go, I jumped up to kick the ice block...shattering it to pieces as he went flying backwards and sliding to the wall!
I noticed Taryn using what little strength he had to struggle with the people holding him up, and I did my best to send him mental messages to help him out. But he didn't respond like last time. I kept trying to telegraph enough fight moves for him to protect himself, but something must have been blocking me. Why wasn't he receiving the message???
I need to get to him! NOW!
I sped forward to see if I could reach him and the people holding him, but suddenly felt something latch on to my wrist. As fast as I was moving, I was surprised that anyone human would even be able to visually track me, much less be able to pinpoint me well enough to aim something at me. A wire. A yo-yo...
With a spin and a harsh yank, Strings was able to pull me down to the ground and then pull the yo-yo back to his hand, looking up innocently and whistling as if he could deny that it was him. I swear, one of these days I'm going to smear that obnoxious grin all over his annoying FACE!
Now it was time for Brooklyn and Haze to step in. The human attackers weren't going to be able to handle me anymore. There was no point in them even trying. Brooklyn looked at his partner, and said, "Party time..."
They rushed forward, with Haze jumping high with a spin kick that I was able to roll under...but the moment I got my footing back, Brooklyn was using his massive size to dig his shoulder deep into my gut, lifting me off my feet and running me back ten feet before slamming me to the ground. I had the wind knocked out of me, and remained on my knees as fought to stretch out the immediate cramp that he had just put in my abdomen. I tried to catch my breath as he walked forward to stand over me. "You've got learn to expected the unexpected, boy..." He said, his deep voice practically quaking the floor beneath me.
"So should you." I huffed...and reached my hand out to touch his leg. Using Bryson's power in reverse to transfer the pain in my stomach to his instead. Brooklyn stumbled backward and felt the agony twist his muscles up into a tight knot as I felt the relief of it leaving me. If nothing else, it should keep him off my ass for a few seconds.
Haze was quick to jump back into battle mode, his every movement like a complex dance played at double the speed. The way he fought, it was difficult to figure out which circles to follow and which ones to avoid. By the time I had made a choice, he was already landing the blows and moving on to the next flurry. I was going to have to let my reflexes take care of this on their own. I simply couldn't think fast enough to match him, punch for punch. It was a losing battle. So I relaxed. I allowed Comicality's fighting style take over...the moves I picked up from Soren's arena...the moves I absorbed while fighting Natpea, or the hunters in the IceZone club. I stopped trying to control them and let them fly unrestricted.
It made me faster. Tougher to hit. Stronger and more precise. Haze was still a skilled combatant, but I was at least keeping in step with him now. We traded blows that were almost too quick to catch with the human eye, our footwork a blur as we zig-zagged across the floor. And as I speed things up even faster...I could feel myself tapping into another source of energy entirely. Something deep within myself that I was hoping to keep suppressed. The darkness within, the madness...it was waiting for me. It was feeding me. I didn't want to give into it...but it was the only way for me to acquire the edge I needed to get to Taryn in time. It was the only part of me that was strong enough to win this fight.
I won't let it consume me. I swear! I only need a little bit. JUST enough to protect the boy I love!
I could feel the cold sensations of shadows building up around my hands and feet, leaving visible trails of darkness in the air as I swung wildly at Haze...forcing him to move backward in order to protect himself. I began to sneak in a few extra punches, a few speedy kicks, and when I lashed out with a powerful strike to the center of his chest, he coughed up a small spatter of blood, and triggered his extra to give him the advantage.
A thick cloud of 'fog' spread out on all sides of him, and he quickly jumped backwards into it to conceal himself from me. Haze was blind, and he didn't need to see anything to continue fighting. I wasn't so lucky. I couldn't find him anywhere, the fog following him around as he circled me to step back in to continue the brawl. Meanwhile, Brooklyn was back on his feet, triggering an extra of his own. His body's fat cells began to swell up to pad him from any physical attack that I could possibly launch in his direction. I, literally, watched him grow in size in front of me, his body ballooning to nearly epic proportions...slowing him down, but making him nearly invulnerable at the same time. This was going to take a bit of finesse to work out...but the more I let go, the more confident that I was about having the power to completely destroy every single person in that room...no matter HOW hard they fought back to protect themselves. I am a phenomenon that they've never dealt with before. It's about time I showed them why the legend is what it is.
Haze attempted to get closer to me...his movements a mystery in the fog. I would see a quick flash of a fist, or a kick that would either aim high or sweep low. I didn't have enough time to respond. By the time I saw his attack, it was already too late. Brooklyn's fists swung hard and wide, the air blowing against my face with every missed punch. It was enough to blow my blond hair back as I narrowly dodged a strike that was sure to knock me clear across the room, if not completely unconscious if I let him connect. Even once.
Haze's fog spread out to envelop me in his disorienting prison of white mist, allowing him to wear me down with one secret attack after another. But every time I tried to step out of his cloud, Brooklyn was right there to chase me back in with intense haymaker punches that put holes in the wall and floor as I did my best to avoid getting busted up!
Two enemies, two different fighting styles, two different strategies. Got it...
Punching and kicking way at Brooklyn wasn't going to do me any good. I might as well have been pounding away at a dead slab of beef in a slaughterhouse somewhere. No effect at all. And trying to fight Haze inside of his protective fog wasn't going to end well for me either. He was much too sneaky for me to get around the fact that I was fighting blind, and he was already more than a match for me when I could actually see what I was doing. I relaxed a bit more...and I taped into a bit more of that dark energy within. Just a little bit more! I'll get to Taryn, I'll back us both into a corner where I could properly defend him...and then I won't need as much of the shadows as I was using now. I'll stuff it back in the bottle where it belongs. I can control it. I CAN!!!
I dived out of Haze's deceptive cloud and rolled between Brooklyn's legs, causing him to spin around, knuckles cracking as he balled up his humongous fists and began to swing at me again. I could feel my muscles pulling me out of the way, involuntarily. Left, and right, and duck, and jump, and dodge. Never block! Brooklyn was too much of a heavy hitter for me to take the damage it would cause to block one of those punches. I'd be lucky if he didn't break both of my arms, trying to take on the impact of that monstrous swing. No way!
Instead...I tried to search the situation for circles that somehow intersected. But not in a favorable way. At least not for them.
I was so inexperienced with Erick's extra from the warehouse. It was a dizzying experience to even attempt to pull off his fighting style in any, shape, or form. But, with Doc's memory lessons, I tried to remember what I could, and apply it to what I was doing. I moved away from Brooklyn and jumped back into the fog with Haze...but this time, I began spinning until I was almost out of control. My ankles began to ache from the action, but the rapid spinning of my body began to blow some of the blinding fog out of my vision, and it was just enough for me to catch glimpses of Haze's silhouette within the wall of smoke. Enough to at least catch his position. There you are!
I stopped spinning just moments before I started to make myself nauseous...and just as he jumped forward to attack me, I connected the 'circles' in my mind, my awareness guiding me the whole way...and I jumped backwards out of the fog barrier, where Brooklyn was undoubtedly waiting for me to reappear! However, this time...I squatted down, spinning out of the way on both knees as Brooklyn's furious fist soared right over my head...and into the cloud of fog, ust as Haze was completing his lunge forward.
The sickening 'thud' that I heard as Brooklyn nailed Haze in his chest was one of the most satisfying sounds that I believe I've ever heard in my entire life! Haze's extra was cut off, and the mist vanished as he was knocked halfway across the room! Rolling, ass over elbows, as he coughed and wheezed from the harsh collision!
I, honestly, can't believe that worked! But the circles presented themselves clearly to me. If I can keep Brooklyn blinded by the fog, and Haze wounded by his partner's wild bruiser attacks...then I can get them to take care of each other and simply stay out of the way. I just have to make sure that I stay between them.
All while keeping the shadows at bay...
I noticed that my fists, once surrounded by light wisps of shadows when I began to use them...were now dark, all the way up to my elbow and beyond. I could feel them...churning inside of me. A turbulent mass of anger and regret. Vengeance and wrath. And those shadows fought against my sensibilities as I saw Taryn being dropped to the floor by the guards who had brought him in here to begin with. He looked so wounded. He could barely lift his head, and sat weeping at their feet as the soldiers prepared to be the last line of defense between me and my boyfriend. The insult of them thinking that they could keep me from him was enough to cause my blood to boil with a rancor that was hard for me to swallow.
The shadows began to crawl up to my shoulders, the shadows on my feet were now past the knee. A 'voice' in my mind kept urging me..."Let me out!" I tried to tune it out. I needed my wits about me as I danced between Brooklyn and Haze and had them fighting each other more than they were fighting me. But the voice persisted. An angry voice. MY voice.
"Use me, Justin! It's the only way to get to Taryn and keep him safe! You can't protect him on your own!" It said. USE ME!!!"
Shut it out, Justin. This is exactly what the Jeweler was talking about. This is why he hurt him. This is why he used my baby to get to me! Fight it! Stay on task! Don't react...CONCENTRATE!!!
I nearly had Brooklyn take my head off while I was focusing on my inner conflicts, and managed to dodge just in time...leaning back so far that I lost balance and stumbled backwards until I fell on my ass. Haze took the opportunity to move on me and wrap a cloud of mist just around my head as he hit me from all sides, eventually flipping backwards to kick me in my chin and lift me off of the floor as I began to fly back on my shoulders. However, Brooklyn caught a hold of my ankle in mid air and swung me around to slam me into the wall before I could even touch the ground.
I felt some of the cracked tile and plaster fall down on my head and shoulders as I fell to the floor. I could taste the acidic bitterness of blood as it drained from my nose and crawled over my lips. And as my eyes fought to focus on Taryn at the other end of the room, looking so helpless and alone without me there to fight for him...I struggled to get back up to my feet.
At first, my body wouldn't listen to me. It wouldn't obey my commands at all. Sore, dizzy, fatigued, and battered beyond belief...my strength couldn't match my determination. And yet...I slowly rose to my feet regardless.
My sense of 'choice'...it wasn't enough. My honor, my dignity, my 'control'...they weren't enough either. Taryn was in danger, and I was clearly going to fail if I kept trying to hold back. I tried to do it the Jeweler's way...now...let's see what a beast I can truly be when the gloves are off.
I surrendered to the voice. I surrendered to the shadows...
I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, allowing them to fuel my most murderous instincts from within. The ache of defeat left me. The burden of choice faded away. The only thing left...was what had to be done to save Taryn.
The darkness flooded into my system, the shadows covered my entire body, and it felt...GOOD! So good, in fact, that I allowed the insanity build up until an insane SCREAM was released from the very core of my being! I had been transformed. Reborn. And my mind went blank as I permitted the rage to radiate from me in all directions...and a set of dark wings...black as night...shot out from both of my shoulders and made me whole again.
For once...my pain and suffering was going to be channeled into something that would benefit me, instead of corrupting me and making me weaker by holding on to it.
Fate gave me this life of unfathomable pain for a reason... And the only thing that can possibly quench the shadows' thirst and keep me from my rapid descent into madness...needs the power of that madness to save his life!
I can only hope that Taryn will find a way to forgive me later.
Because the way I feel right now? I don't know what I'm about to do to them. And I don't know how long it will take for me to cage the beast that I'm prepared to unleash in order to ensure his safety.
If this is what madness feels like...let me tell you...
...It's not so bad.
Not once you've learn to enjoy it...like I have.