If they did it right, it would take only about six minutes. Nariah peered around the corner again. They had thirty minutes before the guard would return to his post. Fifteen before he noticed his radio was out. And there was Talih’s annoying habit of checking in. One wrong timed phone call and the whole place would know there was a breach.
“Ready?” Kai poked his head out of the air vent. “We only hav-”
“Six minutes,” she finished. “And you’re wasting one.” She turned her back to him and secured the gun’s silencer. With one final nod, she stood and walked out into the hall. He had his own mission to handle; one she thought to ask about once they were both clear of the facility.
Finding door 505, she pulled out a flashlight and went in. “Twenty eight,” she whispered under her breath. The crackle in her ear was the only sign Kai heard her. She smiled to herself as she moved through the rows of research stations, shining her light on each. Kai had a wagging tongue. He talked non-stop since they met and yet she couldn’t coax so much as an insult out of him since they broke into the facility.
A soft whirring echoed in the silence of the dark room. Edging closer to the side of the room, Nariah tucked the gun into the holster that hung at her waist. She followed the whirring to the machines lining a table. Unlike the other stations, there was no clutter. She shined the light down along the table. Where there was one machine, there were always many. They didn’t have to be the same type. No, all they had to have in common was the need for power. She turned in place till the light hit the very thing she came in for.
“Codes.” She walked over to the stand and pressed a series of buttons to get the right screen to shine on the wall. “Kai. The Codes.” She hissed louder.
Her fingers hovered impatiently over the small dimly lit display. Of all days for him to go silent, it had to be the day she needed him in her ear. “Kai.” She called again but nothing came. Cursing under her breath, she put two shots into the stand. She waited till she saw the heat and melted remains run out before running out of the room.
“Sixteen,” she murmured as she raced through the maze of halls. Kai didn’t have an Spirit Essence to follow but he did have a mark of death. When it happened, she felt somewhat guilty for almost killing him, but it turned into the best tracking chip that saved his ass more times than he knew. Grumbling under her breath, she made a promise to tell him just how many times he stupidly put himself in danger.
Nariah stopped mid-step and whirled around. “Talih.”
The voice laughed in her ear and she cursed again. He had Kai. “Don’t you have enough pets?” She started moving again but this time she was careful in her steps as she switched from tracking Kai to Talih.
“You weren’t a pet, Raven. You were my prize.”
She gritted her teeth. A prize meant the massacre of innocence was a game. His search for enhanced souls was a large scale version of hide-and-seek. All the unnecessary pieces were discarded and the others who were misfortunate enough to have what he wanted, they became part of his army. She was part of his army.
She heard a slow tick in the ear piece. She knew the facility better than that guards. She knew the rooms, the secrets, the horrors, everything. And the one thing she knew Talih hated was the sound of analog clocks. He considered them primitive in design and function. Thinking about it, she rolled her eyes. They were in the one room she hated most of all. A room she once called sanctuary. Hers.
– – – – – –
Despite the ticking at her ear, she moved slowly. It earned her patronizing encouragement but she shook it off. If it was a trap, she wanted to be ready. That meant sure steps, patience, and a cool head. She holstered both her dagger and gun. They were useless if she was going to go up against Talih. Pointless and cumbersome, she thought as she removed her gloves and flexed her fingers. She didn’t need the extra weapons. If Kai was as annoyingly unkillable as he went on about, she could focus on Talih. All she needed was one touch, and then she could watch every layer of life he stole from others fade away.
“Raven? Is that you I hear?”
Her eyes narrowed reflexively at the nickname. “Come out and see,” she called back. She stopped just outside the metal door. He designed it to keep her younger self from killing the entire floor. She placed a hand on the cool metal. There was a slight shock under her palm but it wasn’t enough to suppress her power or her.
“I did some remodeling…as a welcome home.”
The door slid open and her narrowed eyes met his. His grin grew colder the longer she stared at him. Time had been his friend in more ways than one. He had yet to age a day over twenty eight. His skin was taut yet flawless. Whatever Souls he fused with his own worked in his favor. Even his hair looked longer.
His grin spread when he caught her staring at his feet. “We have been waiting for you.” Talih placed his foot on the shoulder of a woman and used it to force her to her back. Her entire body was charred. Even her face but it was her blackened hands that gave her away.
“Renee…” Nariah looked up and Talih nodded.
“You were always perceptive.” He placed his foot on her again as he spoke. “I had hopes that we would be the perfect father-daughter regime this world needed. Of course I would be the true leader, as I am now, but you were to be at my shining jewel.”
“I was to be your weapon,” she spat back, “nothing more.”
She watched him frown and place a hand on his chest. “I only want what’s best.” He stretched out his hand. His long fingers that used to fascinate her only made her gaze harden. “Come now, all I ask is one talk and then I shall return your…” he paused then grinned again, “…pet.”
Nariah peered past him. Kai wasn’t there. Not even his essence lingered behind. “Where is he?” She asked cooly.
“The garden.” Clenching her teeth together, she placed her hand in his waiting one. “Good girl.”
Her vision blurred as soon as his fingers wrapped firmly around her hand. “You found it.” She tried to pull back from him but her knees buckled. “Do you plan to kill me now?” A surge of heat rushed through her body, burning her from the inside out. With what little vision she had left, she looked down at her hands. There wasn’t a trace of a burn but she felt it.
“Shh, shh, shh…” he whispered, pulling her to him. She felt his other hand stroking her hair but she was too tired to fight him. “I wanted to test the rumors and it appears they were right. When a Life Spirit and a Death Spirit touch, the more powerful one will overpower the other.”
“Just kill me,” she breathed out. Her throat burned more as soon as she said it.
“We have more plans, Raven. For now, all you need to do is sleep.”
A new wave of heat washed over her. Her mouth opened to let out a scream but nothing came. It died in her throat as her vision darkened and her consciousness slipped away.
“What a good girl,” Talih mused. He lifted her limp body into his arms, stepped over the charred remains of his last prize, and ordered for a clean up crew. The first thing he wanted his Raven to see when she woke was a clean room.