Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chapter 21

—Wonder how many of my 12 followers I’m gonna lose for this one? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you’re all gonna hate me. OwO

God, I love writing death scenes, bwahahahaha.

Oh, and I put the new Condesce in here, too. You know, the two-braided troll? The new one? The awesome one? OwO—

Dave set the last bomb down behind a small pile of rubble, lifting his shades a little to make sure the gray-colored fuse was indiscernible from the ground. Satisfied, he went back to the first of the five or so explosives – the only one with a set timer, connected to the others by the fuse – and laid his finger on the switch to turn it on.

Briefly, his mind flitted back to earlier that night, to his brief exchange of words with Jade before she’d taken Tavros back to the farm. She’d been worried about him, hadn’t wanted him to go. But, hopefully, she’d seen that he needed to do this; if not for the rest of the planet, then for himself, for the loss of one of the people he loved most.

Hopefully she didn’t come after him.

Just before his finger moved, a hand descended on his shoulder, startling him out of his reverie. He jumped and turned to face Gamzee, who now stood behind him. His poker face never broke, however, and he asked flatly, “Things ready on your side?”

“Brother, this buildin’s gonna light up like the motherfuckin’ sun right before it sets. Burn up just as easily, too.”

Dave let a small smirk tug at one corner of his mouth as he flipped the switch deftly. “That’s what I like to hear. Let’s make some fucking fireworks, Gam.”

“Ooh, can I join in?” came an unfamiliar voice. Gamzee and Dave spun, taking defensive stances as a shadowy figure stepped into view, long braids trailing in the dust behind her.

Deepground, Dave thought in dismay, as the glowing trimmings of her uniform took shape into the unfortunately familiar design. Deepground was the caste of the military above SOLDIER in the days of ShinRa, but their existence was completely unknown until three years after Meteorfall, when they were unearthed – quite literally – and became quite a feared force, nearly wiping out the planet yet again.

Judging from the newcomer’s garb, however, she wasn’t just from Deepground; the fact that the glowing lines on her clothes were a dark pink rather than the standard-issue blue, that suggested she was of a higher status than the average thug.

“You’re a Tsviet,” Dave growled, recalling the name for the more elite within Deepground. He took an involuntary step back. “Who are you?”

She tsk’d in response. “Why ask the name of the person who’s gonna kill you?”

“Why not?” Dave replied snidely. “You’re gonna die, too, if you keep us here. I’ve already activated the bombs.”

“I’m not as fragile as you normal humans,” she sneered.

He moved before she did, the sword normally strapped to his back swiftly gripped in his hand, and he rushed forward despite an exclaimed warning from Gamzee. He held the point of his sword pointing down and behind him as he ran, and swung it up and across easily in time with his pace.

The woman was ready for him, however, and remained stock-still until the last moment. Then she brought up the staff Dave hadn’t noticed her carrying – wait, it was a double-headed trident, not a staff – and braced it in the path of his blade, holding it firmly against the force of his sword before it could cut into her.

The two stood like that for a moment, both grinning confidently at one another, both with sparks smoldering behind their eyes. He took note of her irises, a dusky rose that glowed almost as brightly as the trimming of her uniform.

The Tsviet was the first to move. With a deft twist, she maneuvered the blade of Dave’s sword into a well-placed niche along the shaft of her weapon. She spun the trident, turning it in a full circle, and Dave had to keep a firm hold on the hilt of his Zweihänder to prevent it from being wrenched from him.

This turned out to be a mistake, he realized, as with a metallic, grating crunch his sword suddenly became a lot lighter. He had time to see half of the blade spinning through the air, slicing through the single fuse connecting the timed bomb to the others, before e was knocked backward by the golden metal rod wielded by his opponent. He hit the ground, head cracking on a well-sized bit of rubble, and couldn’t stop his eyes from sliding shut.

The last things he was aware of were his name, called by two different, strangely familiar voices, and a violent eruption of noise and heat that threw him again in an entirely different direction.

The ensuing blackness was tinged with red.

Dave woke up several yards away from where he’d blacked out. He shifted, groaning, when he discovered how much he hurt. It took a while for him to convince himself to force his body into a sitting position, straining the scrapes and burns he hadn’t remembered having before. He experimentally moved the fingers and toes on each of his limbs, exhaling in relief when he found nothing was broken. Then he reached up to the aching lump on the back of his head; his fingers came away sticky and bloody, and he felt a steady stream of it flowing down his neck.

The verdict: he was hurt badly, but he’d live.

“Gamzee?” he croaked; his companion had been closer to the bomb than Dave, but then hadn’t been fighting some random-assed antagonist. Dave cringed at how easily he’d gone down. At least the woman seemed to have gone.

He realized his shades had broken in half, and that one half was still danging off an ear; he flicked it away irritably and glanced around. The ground around him was scorched, the result of his homemade explosive. With nothing around being flammable, the entirety of the surroundings being made of stone and concrete, nothing was on fire. The building, apart from being fairly blackened and cracked in places, had no other visible damage, and he remembered the severed fuse. One of his bombs had plenty of bite by itself, but not enough to do much to as big a building as the former headquarters for ShinRa, no matter how old the place was.

He looked around again, trying to catch a glimpse of Gamzee; he finally found the lanky man a few yards away, just starting to push himself from the ground. Dave sighed lightly in relief, his eyes subconsciously drifting to the side just a bit.

His breath caught in his throat when he saw her.

She wasn’t moving, and he couldn’t see her face from this far away, but that black mop of hair was unmistakeable.

He was only vaguely aware of the pain as he practically jumped to his feet and dashed toward her prostrate body on the ground, gathering her in his arms as gently as he could. The throbbing pain in his head went numb, and he brushed singed hair from her blackened face.

“Jade,” he hissed urgently. When she didn’t respond, he repeated her name louder, using the hand on her face to hold her lolling head up. “Jade!”

Please, no…

She stirred faintly, a small, pained smile spreading across her face as she saw him through her cracked glasses. “Oh, hi, Dave,” she murmured softly, weakly.

He was already grasping for his Zweihänder, for the materia embedded in its pommel, before he remembered it wasn’t sheathed at his back. “Hang on, Harley, just hang on and don’t fucking die or your bro’s gonna kill me,” he said, his voice cracking; he didn’t care about “cool” at the moment. “Makara, find the handle of my sword!”

He could barely see her through his blurring eyes now, but he saw one of her hands come up to rest on his scarred face. “It’s okay,” she whispered. “You know materia doesn’t always work, right? It’s not going to help now.”

“Don’t fucking say that,” he croaked. “You’re gonna be okay, Jade. Please don’t die on me.”

“I’m…sorry.” Her voice was barely audible now. “I came back when you told me it’d be dangerous.”

Dave didn’t respond right away; he didn’t trust his own voice at the moment. He settled for stroking Jade’s face gently, regretting every time he’d come close to confessing his feelings for her and ended up remaining silent.

He couldn’t let her die without at least telling her.

He bent over her, gently pressing his chapped lips to Jade’s, trying to convey all he hadn’t said while being careful not to hurt her. He let out a choked sob when he realized she was kissing him back, her hand slipping from his face. He pulled away.

“I’m sorry,” he breathed. And she was still smiling – why was she still smiling? He had technically killed her, and she was smiling at him?

“Shh, it’s okay. It’s not your fault.” Her breathing was more ragged, more shallow; she was slipping away. He gathered her gently to his chest, where she leaned her head against his shoulder.

He held her until she slipped away, and even then he couldn’t let go.