Kitten pushed my sword a little deeper into the ground while I struggled for screams that my body couldn’t give. The humiliation and frustration were worse than the physical pain. I wasn’t strong enough to avenge Erica, and I wasn’t brave enough to do what I needed to become strong enough.
I stopped my struggles to push her off of me or pull myself off of the ground. There wasn’t any point. Instead, I struggled to speak. Without lungs, that was impossible, but maybe Kitten knew how to read lips?
Kitten relaxed, leaning in close. “Trying to say something?”
I nodded, and this time when I screamed, I made noise. Kitten had shoved the blade sideways, clearing the path of one of my lungs to regenerate back to my mouth. I gasped for the air my body didn’t know I didn’t need. The bitter dust we’d kicked out of the gravel was the sweetest smell I’d ever known.
She tapped the handle of my sword; I wouldn’t have long before she got impatient. I struggled to get the words out while using only one lung. “H-how. How can you help him? Don’t you know what he’s done to all those girls?”
She laughed, a short and cheerful sound. “Flux? He doesn’t do anything to girls.”
What? Rex swore up and down to Laura that he was certain. As desperate as that asshole was to get in my sister’s pants, I trusted him on this. If he fucked up… damn it, now what am I supposed to do? Do I apologize to the supervillains for breaking into their home?
She wriggled her hips back and forth on my back, acting for all the world a like a child showing off that she knows more than an adult. “He’s gayer than Hawaiian night at Bruno’s. No girls allowed, except for me. I’m the special exception.”
The fuck? Kitten was, like, thirteen or fourteen at the most. I looked straight toward Flux. He seemed interested in studying his feet, managing to look uncomfortable despite the black and yellow body armor of his features. At least now I didn’t feel like I owed him an apology.
She leaned down against me, the full length of her slender torso resting on my back. She whispered softly in my ear. “Besides, there’s no way he could have done any of it.” Her young voice had no business being that soft and sultry. “Because I did.”
Time slowed as I reached for that power again, knowing full well I would accept any and all consequences. I needed a way to break free from the sword pinning me to the ground, I needed a way to catch a monster that was faster than human, and I needed a way to hurt her, to kill her.
This time when I changed, there was no surprise. I knew what was coming and was prepared for it to suck. If it turned me into a freak of nature, I could live with that. Not like my time in front of the mirror was spent in rapturous joy to begin with. There was nothing I could lose that meant more to me than killing this monster in a little girl’s body.
An eyeblink was all it took, and for a moment I was beside myself literally. I got to see a copy of my own body laying face down in the gravel with Kitten resting on top of it as it exploded into yellow, blue and green dust.
I struck backward with my elbow, catching Kitten hard in the face. Her teeth breaking against the bone in my arm was the most wonderful pain I’d ever felt.
Now I was standing my feet next to her and two disintegrating copies of myself. I kicked her square in the rib and was treated to the beautiful sound of her bones cracking from my steel toed boots.
She rolled away as my copy-bodies finished disintegrated into particles of yellow, blue and green. They rushed to meet me, absorbed back into body a lot like my old power worked. I, meanwhile, fell upon Kitten with the full weight of my body. One knee hard into her stomach, and the other pinning one of her arms.
I wrapped my hands around her neck, digging my fingers into her throat. Some strange new sense came alive, telling me things about her body. I had an idea of her weight, as if I was carrying her. I had a sense of her physical health, kinda. I knew I knocked out her top front tooth and broke her nose, and I could feel that one of her lower ribs was bent inward.
Her heart was beating wildly as she struggled for breath. I felt her leg move almost like it was my own, and brought mine up to block it, locking her back down on the ground. Her deep blue eyes gazed up at me, and she smiled up at me like I was her closest friend rather than trying to strangle her.
I was choking the life out of her, and she looked so happy. Then the smile turned to anger and a deep purple light flushed out of her eyes, across both our bodies. My arms went numb, and I found myself next to my half-frozen copy. My own light blended with Kitten’s, reflected off the thick layers of ice that her power created.
I looked back at my saber, and somehow I remembered it, how I’d sensed it the way I had sensed Kitten when strangling her. The streamline, uniform material confirmed it came from a cast mold.
I reached for it with my mind, and it appeared in my hands. The original copy melted into dust and flew toward the copy in my hand.
I turned back on the monster that took Erica from me, had taken so many women from their families and loved ones. I didn’t care if she was just a little girl, she didn’t get to live after all the horrible things she’d done. I brought the sword, still covered in the colored fog of my power, down on where she was trapped in her own frozen cage.
Blue and red sprayed from where my sword struck. Kitten rolled away and was up on her feet, blood squirting from her arm. I wasn’t fast enough to kill her, but her hand remained on the ground next to my blade. I rose to my feet as she backed off.
“You surged!” She sounded so thrilled by the realization. “I made you surge! You should be just perfect for countering my powers now! This will be so much fun!”
As much as she was pretending to be happy and confident, I noticed she was backing away from me. For that matter, Flux had taken a few steps back. Maybe Flux wasn’t a rapist and serial killer, but he was still a rat bastard and I was going to make him pay. After dealing with Kitten.
“You seem awful cheerful about this.” I walked forward, happy enough to draw this out a bit longer. After all, I wasn’t the one bleeding out. Every time her heart beat, it spilled a little bit more of her strength on the ground. I could afford to save my trump card for a little while longer.
“Of course!” Her smile was so goddamn genuine, even covered in dirt and blood. “I gave you your powers, right? You got them to kill me, even if you didn’t know it was me. And now you got more just to fight me! That means it’s your destiny to be the one who finally takes me down!” She held her hands- well, hand and stub- up to her chest. Blood squirted out, covering her chest. “Isn’t it just the most romantic thing?”
I wondered just how long was it going to take her to run. To say nothing about everything else that was terrible what she just said. “Are you insane?” What the fuck is wrong with her?
She simply shrugged. “Probably. But you still can’t beat me.”
Yeah, she’s definitely crazy. “I cut off your arm you crazy bitch!”
“It’s just a flesh wound.”
Flux cleared his throat. “Kitten, I think it’s been made clear that you can’t beat him. As fun as watching you kids play has been, we have to get going before the authorities show up.”
I gripped my sword as she turned toward him. “Flux! I’m having fun!”
Now! I reached out to her, the same way that I reached out to my sword before. She must have sensed what I was about to do, because her head started turning toward me, and then she was in front of me, right on the perfect path for my swing.
She leapt away, but not fast enough to keep my sword from carving through her stomach. The shimmer of light followed, as her copy dissolved and returned to her body. Much to my surprise, her dismembered arm and a lot of lost blood started returning to her as well, but the bruising on her face remained.
I then realized she was nude as she stood there, clutching her stomach and locking her eyes on mine. Blood poured around her hands and coated her from the waist down. “Well, if that’s what you wanted, you could have just asked.”
I rushed at her. So it turned out my power didn’t work on clothes, that just made them easier to disarm. So what if I restored her arm when I teleported her? That slice across her stomach was deep enough that it could kill on its own. All that mattered was pressing the attack so she couldn’t get away. I wouldn’t allow her to escape.
Her body glowed red as she moved, evading my next attack. Either she was slower or I was faster, or some combination of both, because this time I caught her shoulder.
The blood spray caught my face, and I found myself once again standing to a dissolving copy of myself. Wait, her blood’s dangerous, too?
Kitten’s foot planted itself hard against my knee, and a another copy of me started breaking down.
She grinned through the shimmer of the ‘other me’ dissolving into light. “You’re still not strong enough.”
“I’m not the one holding my stomach to keep from bleeding to death.” I reached out with my power, summoning her to me again, and she manifested with the sword inches from going through her chest.
She was far ready this time, and caught my sword with her bare hands. Before I knew what was happening, I was standing beside a copy of myself with my sword sticking out of his head. The sword fell a heartbeat later as the body disintegrated.
She wiped her hand over the wound I’d made, and there was nothing more than a jagged pink line. “I’m fine. My regeneration may not be as good as yours, but I can heal anything short of death in a few minutes.”
I was supposed to have the power to kill her! There was no response, no new offer of even more power so I could win this battle. Meanwhile, Kitten just stood there watching.
I smirked a little. “Well, just means I’ll have to try harder next time.” My saber manifested itself, and I rushed forward. What I needed was to figure out a way around her agility and those combat instincts. Wait, the last time I surprised her it was when I just died. That’s the ticket.
She sidestepped, and I brought the sword low, stabbing myself in the shin. Then, without giving myself time to think I sliced upward from my new position. A long, sweeping arc.
The blade collided with something hard, and Kitten rolled back across the ground with blood spraying everywhere. I moved to press the advantage while I had it. So far, the same trick never worked on her twice.
Then I was moving sideways; I wasn’t hit, but my body decided that it should be traveling sideways without warning or reason. I found myself standing next to the mechanics shop, my telltale colors flowing from the person shaped dent in the wall.
A yellow and light orange glow came from where Flux was standing. Oh, right, there are two of them and I have no damn clue what his powers are. Turning me into a human projectile was at least part of it.
“Flux! This is my fight!” Kitten’s screeching reminded me of nothing more than a five year old in the Walmart whose mother wouldn’t let her have a toy. “I’m the one who gets to beat him!”
“I said we don’t have time!” And now Flux was acting like an angry father, as if this whole situation wasn’t fucked up enough already. “If you’re not done in five minutes, we’re leaving you behind. Now stop goofing around!”
She looked at me, and I swear her smile was apologetic. “Promise me you’ll find me to play again?”
I gripped the my sword. I still had a shot at this, even with the two of them. All I needed was one lucky shot, and my power guaranteed I could keep going until I got that shot. I just had to stay alert and ready.
Kitten charged me, swirls of indigo concealing her from view. I readied myself, the plan was to take the hit and then retaliate after I reformed. She didn’t seem to be able to anticipate it when I did that.
She stopped, but the storm of light around her kept coming. I was frozen solid, reformed, and frozen again. The storm calmed, and I was left standing in a frozen, jagged ice bowl.
Kitten waved from the edge of the arena she created for us, then jumped inside. I slipped and fell on my ass, reforming still on my ass. A dagger of ice struck me in the chest, and I reappeared for the dozenth or so time this fight.
I shoved the sword into the ground and used it to climb to my feet, but she kicked the blade, dislodged it, and sent me back to the ground. She threw another frozen dagger into me, and then another.
My eyes blurred a little. At first, I was afraid I was about to cry, but it turned out it was fog from the ice mixed with the constant glow of both our powers. I called for my sword, but it didn’t come; I couldn’t find my power’s copy of it.
I edged closer to where the sword was laying, and then found myself slightly to the left. Several slivers of ice stuck out of my dead copy.
“Wow, it doesn’t take a lot to set you off, does it?” I managed a lucky dodge of another thrown dagger. “None of those penetrated deep enough to send you to the hospital, let alone kill. Your power is really, really afraid of letting you get hurt. You must be a real coward deep down in order to get a power like that.”
Fuck it. I charged forward, and she rolled, grabbing the handle of my sword before coming back up. She hopped back as I slipped and fell on the slick frozen ground. “Nope, you’ve lost pointy stick privileges. Tell you what, I’ll keep it around until the next time we fight. We don’t have much time before someone jumps in and ruins all the fun.”
The ice bowl shattered into every color of the rainbow, like watching a fireworks going off from the inside. Several spears of white light had pierced through, and a voice carried across the cacophony of crunching ice. “Do you have any fucking clue what time I have to wake up in the morning?”