OOC: Recommended listening - Open Air
IC: Sliver/Exxan – Sibling Rivalries, Part 3
The arrow missed, of course.
She’d just lost an eye, and she was firing into the wind.
But as her arrow shattered weakly against the crags several bio away from me, Sliver let out an incensed screech, staring at me as if I was somehow responsible for her own stupidity.
She drew another arrow, fired, and missed again.
She fired again.
She missed again.
I rose to my feet, snapping off shaft of the arrow she’d stabbed into my arm. My elbow wouldn’t bend, and I could barely make the fingers of that hand move, but the pain of the wound was more distracting than debilitating.
It didn’t hurt as badly as being strangled by the searing hands of a plasma rahk, or being buried alive in a tunnel full of enraged Visorak, enduring the rage of a slighted Makuta, or being abandoned on the beach by someone I thought I might have actually loved.
One of Sliver’s arrows finally fell close enough to be concerning, so I drew one of my daggers and flung it up at her.
She didn’t try to do anything stop it, being either too maddened to care, or operating under the mistaken assumption that if she couldn’t hit me, I couldn’t possibly hit her.
The dagger buried itself firmly in her upraised hand just as she was taking aim at me again, and both bow and arrow sprang out of her grasp as she howled in pain.
I flung another dagger, and this time she summoned a wave of air to swat it aside.
She ripped the other blade from her palm, raised both hands, and suddenly I was no longer on the ground, but being whipped around in the air by a miniature cyclone that had abruptly materialised around me. A cyclone that rose higher and carried me further down the Causeway, adjusting course to fling me towards the most imposing of the pillars. I repelled myself away from the rocks with air blasts of my own, eventually managing to weaken the cyclone enough to break free of it.
I went into freefall and switched to flight mode, landing atop one of the pillars that lined the Causeway. For the first time since this fight had begun, I felt afraid. To be able to control her powers to this extent, Sliver had to be a Level 6… or something even worse. She’d done it. She’d become exactly what this accursed institution had wanted to create.
Unlike me, she had no qualms about killing. If I didn’t stop her here and now, I wasn’t sure anyone would ever be able to.
I drew upon the breeze of the brewing storm, and directed a concussive blast of my own towards my sister. She simply ripped it apart with her own powers before it could reach her, before switching to flight mode and speeding towards me.
I tried throwing another dagger, only for it to be rent asunder by a miniature cyclone that then whipped the fragments back at my head. I raised my wounded arm to shield my eyes, feeling shards of shattered steel pierce my forearm.
When I lowered my arm, it was just in time to see Sliver’s feet flying right at my face.
I stopped on top of the pillar to watch him fall.
Reeling from the impact, he wasn’t able to enter flight mode, and instead ploughed into the rock below with enough force to crack both the stone and his armour.
It was indescribably gratifying to watch him brought low, both literally and figuratively. He’d scraped and struggled, and survived so much, but his luck had finally forsaken him. There was no escape for him this time.
He was mine.
I’d wanted to kill him quickly, but after what he’d done to me, after all the times he’d cheated death before, he didn’t deserve an easy end.
He deserved something exquisite, extravagant, and extremely excruciating.
The last time I’d come this close to killing him, I’d actually regretted it.
I knew what I was.
There was no regret now.
I opened my satchel, and emptied the mirror shards within down towards him. They crashed and shattered on the rocks, a million glinting fragments weakly reflecting my own bloodied visage. I summoned up another cyclone, swallowing up both Exxan and the glass, letting the windstorm rage for a few moments before sending it wafting further down the Causeway to crash and scatter against a pillar.
Spreading my arms wide, I called upon the lashing winds of the brewing stormfront, drawing them towards me, weaving them together into four colossal cyclones, two on either side of the Causeway, mightier than anything I’d ever managed before. They whipped at the water, tearing detritus from the bottom of the bay, shearing sloughs from the rocks of the Causeway.
Robbed of their supports, several of the pillars cracked and crumbled, cascading chaotically into the frothy water below.
With the roar of a thousand crashing waterfalls, the four swirling storms moved as one towards where Exxan lay, tearing asunder all that lay in their path, growing in ferocity as they drew closer.
The cyclones converged, forming together into worst weather event the island had seen since Gorast had annihilated Phantom-on-the-Water.
Nothing, I was certain, could survive in the middle of that.
A common cliché I’d come across in my reading was that people see their whole life flash before their eyes in the moments before death.
For me, struggling to stand, a split-second away from being swallowed up by Sliver’s simultaneous cyclone, it wasn’t my life I saw, but the beings who’d been in it. Faces hovered, wraith-like, within the walls of wind, the faces of friends and foes alike who’d forsaken me. Omega, Mahrika, Vaalku, Squid, Fang, Kat, Phogen, and plenty more besides.
They were all gone, dead or departed.
I was never going to see any of them again.
I was alone, as I always had been.
It was what I deserved.
The cyclones descended upon me, vicious winds tugging in every direction, shrapnel battering me from every side. I couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t fight back.
Back to the wall. No way out. End of the line. I’d been here before, more times than I could count. I supposed, in a sense, I was in my element.
Wait… I’m literally in my element…
As I watched, I imagined all of the ways Exxan would die.
As I watched, I wondered if there would be anything left of him.
As I watched, I felt my joy and jubilation swell at the thought of my triumph.
As I watched, I saw the most savage cyclone I’d ever summoned falter, fail, and fade.
What? The cyclone unravelled. How? The debris fell into the waves. No. A figure stood among the dwindling winds. No! A figure whose black armour bore streaks of orange, and trickles of ichor from innumerable lacerations. NO!
Exxan stood firm, eyes as green as my own staring up at me. He was shaking, his entire body seeming to vibrate as he struggled under an unseen weight. Wisps of wind wove their way around him like wafting steam.
In a moment of soul-chilling clarity, I understood what had happened. My cyclone hadn’t disappeared. He’d absorbed it, siphoned it away as Vacuum Rahkshi did.
But that much power couldn’t be stored indefinitely. It had to be unleashed, and I understood with grim certainty what my brother was going to do with it.
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. But it was happening nonetheless.
I didn’t try to run.
There was no point.
The only victory I could claim was denying him the satisfaction of seeing me afraid.
For a split second, in spite of the searing strain of holding the maelstrom within me at bay, I hesitated. She was my sister, wrought of the same source, the one being in this universe who was most like me.
I wanted to be better than her.
I wanted to show her mercy.
I always offered a choice, a chance to walk away or find a new way.
Omega hadn’t taken it, but so many others – Alpha, Fang, Kat, Phogen, Omicron, and plenty more besides – had seen some semblance of reason.
A part of me wanted nothing more than to offer Sliver that same choice, to release this power harmlessly into the ocean and let my sister walk away.
But she had gone too far astray, beyond reason, beyond rehabilitation.
I already knew what choice she was going to make, so I made it for her.
Raising my uninjured hand, I opened my palm, and set her ending free.
A colossal, cataclysmic column of concentrated cyclonic chaos cascaded from my hand, spearing upwards through the ether and striking Sliver’s pillar with a sound like a thunderclap.
Her obliteration was instantaneous, so swift and complete, that I didn’t even see her die.
In one instant, she was standing atop the pillar, looking down at me with eyes full acceptance and… regret? The next, she and the top of the pillar were gone, reduced to less than dust.
I sunk to my knees, my entire body aching in a way I’d never felt before. The clouds had broken, and cold drops of icy pain were beginning to beat at my back and shoulders. I felt exhausted, not just physically, but psychologically as well. I was tired of it all, of the life the Makuta had forced upon us, an existence of endless servitude that could end only in our annihilation.
It was wrong. All of it, so karzing wrong.
Sliver had been my sister. Everything else aside, she had still been my kin. Kin that had sought to kill me, and kin I had killed in turn. We’d had the same parent, the same upbringing, the same education. We’d gone to the same school, participated in the same assignments, met the same people. How had she gone so wrong? What had made her into such a shallow, shattered thing?
In the end, though, I suppose Sliver finally lived up to her name. As the winds I’d unleashed finally dispersed, the incomprehensively miniscule motes of what had once been her physical form drifted like dust down upon the school she’d hoped to rule.
She was free, one with her element.
If there was a life beyond death for Rahkshi, I hoped she would find peace in it.
There would be no peace for me in this one.