The girl that was no longer a girl but a monster made of nightmares and feathers strode along the dark streets of the capital. No one dared approach her, and if someone did, she would send them away with the flick of her wrist. The sound of their skulls cracking against the walls didn’t disturb her. Human lives were insignificant to a creature that had lived for as long as she had.
The monster was struggling, for within itself, the girl called Scarlet continued to fight against the chains that kept her locked up. The monster was so much stronger, but sometimes, just sometimes, it felt the girl’s strength slash and tear at the barriers the monster had created.
It would find a way to silence her forever, but until then, it continued its slow path of destruction through the streets of Capital One.
Terra woke up, startled. It took her a few minutes to remember where she was or why she was strapped into a chair. For just a moment, she thought she was back at home.
Her head felt as though someone had stuffed it with cotton. Her eyes wouldn’t focus, her tongue was bloated and her lips dry.
The door to the room opened and a guard marched in, carrying a tray. His face was hidden beneath the helmet, which reflected her horrified look of despair.
Terra glanced at the bowl on the tray and recoiled at the sight; porridge. She was starving, her stomach growling but the thought of being fed made her sweat in panic. The guard gripped her face, trying to force her mouth open.
The white leather glove twisted, the fingers digging deeper and deeper into her flesh. The guard didn’t even bother using a spoon. The edge of the bowl was placed by her lips, the porridge making its way down her throat, her eyes watering as she fought against choking, her legs and arms thrashing against the straps keeping her in place.
The guard finished his torture and left, not even bothering to wipe Terra’s mouth which was full of porridge. She tried licking it away, but to no use. It didn’t matter, she was thankful for the solitude.
Time passed, and Terra’s body slowly relaxed. It seemed as though no one else was coming to torture her and she calmed down against the straps that held her in place. It took her some time to get her breathing back to normal, but once she did, she settled down.
Terra couldn’t help but wonder where her father was and whether he knew his only daughter was missing. Had Petra done something to him? Did he even know he had a daughter? And what about her cousins? Petra had killed their mother, Terra’s aunt Diane, and no one had informed them of what had happened. Surely Petra had done something about it, and Terra hoped that whatever she had done, it hadn’t required killing any of them.
Being locked up and restrained made Terra have nothing else to do but think. Which led her to memories of her grandmother and her best friend Sasha. She didn’t want to remember them, especially knowing that she would never get to see them again. This was a far worse torture than whatever Petra could do.
She missed her grandmother so much. She hadn’t been the best of granddaughters, and that thought brought tears to her eyes. If only she’d been better. If only she had appreciated the moments together a little bit more. Maybe then she wouldn’t feel as bad as she did.
If only she hadn’t allowed her selfishness to get Sasha killed. If she had stayed away from the Pits and cyborgs, Sasha would still be alive. And what about Damien? She prayed that he was okay and safe at home. She would go to him if she ever got out of this. He deserved to know what had happened to Sasha. He deserved an explanation, if only that.
‘You look sad.’
Petra’s voice startled Terra. She’d been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn’t even heard the door opening. Fear began to make its way through her body, settling in the pit of her stomach at the sight of the X-Prototype in front of her.
‘I’m sure my company will make you feel so much better,’ Petra said. ’Scarlet is taking way too much time in rescuing you. It makes me wonder how important you are to her. Not much from what I can tell.’ Petra waited, one golden eyebrow raised, waiting for a reaction. ‘Not in the mood for a chat?’ Petra leaned in closer, those cold blue eyes sharp. ‘Oh? Why are you shaking like that? Are you scared? You shouldn’t be. I’d never hurt you.’
An excruciating burning sensation shot through Terra’s right leg at that precise instant. She didn’t want to look down to see what it was that was causing such pain, but not knowing seemed even worse. The room began to spin as she glanced down and saw Petra’s long slender fingers that had twisted and turned into claws and were embedded in Terra’s flesh. Blood gushed out of the wound and Petra dug her claws further in.
‘I missed the smell of your blood,’ the X-Prototype said, sniffing the air. She pulled her hand out and proceeded to lick her now human fingers which were smeared in crimson liquid. ‘The taste is even better.’
‘Why don’t you just kill me and get it over with? Scarlet won’t come. The Destroyer took over her body. Scarlet isn’t there.’ The words that left Terra’s mouth hurt more than her wound, but she knew them to be true. Scarlet wasn’t there anymore. She’d allowed the monster to take over to save everyone, and there was no going back now.
‘She’ll come,’ Petra said. ‘The Destroyer will come. I have a part of it, as well as you. It’ll come for us.’
‘Then I’m dead anyway. The Destroyer will take what it claims and we’ll die.’
‘You’ll die in any case. But don’t worry. I won’t let mean Scarlet hurt you.’
‘Why are you so obsessed with her?’
Sweat rolled down Terra’s face and her neck itched. She wasn’t about to ask Petra to scratch the itch away, but the thought almost made her laugh. It was good to know she could feel such an emotion after everything that had happened.
‘I am not obsessed with her.’
‘What did she do for you to hate her so much?’
Petra stared at the wall, lost in thought. It was odd to see her do such a thing, almost human. It was confusing and Terra felt immediately sorry for having asked such a thing. She didn’t want to see Petra as anything but inhuman.
For a moment Terra thought Petra would start talking, but instead those cold blue eyes slit to razors and her mouth curled into a nasty snarl. ‘You talk too much,’ she said.
Petra’s fingers began to transform into claws and before Terra could even open her mouth to scream, the claws vanished into her leg, twisted and turning within the open wound. The pain was so intolerable, Terra was pretty sure that she lost consciousness throughout her screams. As soon as the claws vanished, relief took over and Terra’s body relaxed. It didn’t last long. Petra tightened her claws around Terra’s neck, the sharp edge of them digging into her flesh, drawing blood.
Tensing against the seat, Terra kicked out against the straps as her lungs fought for air. She could feel the life being drained out of her as her face began to burn, her skin began to stretch and her features bloated as the blood in her veins cried out, almost exploding.
‘Fascinating how your life is so fragile,’ Petra said, leaning in closer. ‘If I squeeze just a tiny bit more you will die.’ Fascination swirled in those eyes. ‘And I can choose to save you.’ She let go, stepping away from Terra as the human girl slumped against the chair, gasping for air, spitting drool out as she coughed.
‘Never forget how powerful I am, Terra Underwood. I could end whenever I please, and each day that you breathe is because I allow it. Because I’ve chosen to grant you one more day.’
Petra leaned in close and kissed Terra’s sweaty forehead, freezing her to the spot. Her chest rose and fell erratically and the more she tried to control it, the worse it got. Every inch of her body shook violently and her throat was badly bruised.
Petra’s mouth was mere inches from Terra’s ear. ‘You’re not special,’ the X-Prototype whispered. ‘Never forget that, Terra Underwood. You’re not special.’