Gothschilde shrieked, dropping soon after to the ground onto her knees and after pausing, panting, she fell to the side as if unconscious. Redline rushed to the villain’s side and started to fan her again.
“Wake up!” Redline said, losing composure, “Wakeupwakeuppleasebeokay!”
Gothschilde awakened with a start, surprising Redline enough that she sprang back onto her feet to drop back down just in time to keep Gothschilde from falling again. “Nice work, hero,” Gothschilde sarcastically said.
Gothschilde looked at Aurora with a sigh. “He hitched a ride out on Big Evil when he went. With Coil’s powers cut off, he travelled through my own darkness powers to Big Evil and left for the nether realm that Big Evil’s from. I’ll try to resummon him when we leave this place,” she said with a sullen expression.
“Are… are you okay?” Redline asked.
“I'm FINE!” Gothschilde screamed at Redline. “You two are the only protection I have left, so you’d best take this more seriously!”
Aurora smiled wryly to the gothic princess to kneel and touch her shoulder. “You must trust us a great deal.” The angel sighed. “Though, I know you have little choice at this point, but to rely on us, even so…” Aurora frowned, musing. “How’d someone your age end up like this, anyhow?” Aurora offered Gothschilde a hand up as she rose again.
“As if you actually cared.” Gothschilde hissed. “I’ve always had a tie with the darkness lurking behind this universe. It’s always spoken with me. Always cared for… it’s always protected me when I had no one or nothing else. Nothing has changed,” she said bitterly. “And that’s fine with me,” her tone became firmer.
“Look where depending on anyone but yourself gets you.” She pointed at Crimson Coil’s unconscious form. “Useless.”
Redline let go as Gothschilde climbed to her feet and rose to her own. “Ow…. that guy’s always a pain,” Redline complained, looking at where the Despoiler had vanished. “What bugs me is that somehow he ended up here after the last fight we had with him. I wonder if he got his powers from this shard, somehow?” She sighed and then added, “I wish one of the others was here.” She smiled weakly at Aurora. “No offense, of course. You’re doing great, but… I realized that I’m the senior member here, unless you count Bombshell and she’s still tussling with Onslaught somewhere outside …”
Gothschilde sniggered. “Great, all I have to depend on is Speedy and Sparkles. Well, let’s get moving.”
“Wait a minute,” Redline said, sprinting to the front of Gothschilde. “You know we’re not going to let you have that shard in the end, right?”
“Of course.” Gothschilde sneered. “I expect you to betray me at some point for your heroic ideals. That’s fine with me. It’s how things are. I’ll fight you when it comes to that, but I also know that you’ll exhaust yourselves in this job protecting me, so I figure it’ll be an even fight by then. More than, you can’t hit what you can’t see.”
Aurora chuckled. “I suppose it might be an even fight, at that. But it doesn’t have to come to that. I know you’ll sneer more at this, but you don’t have to be a villain to get what you want in life. It’s easier to make friends than you think. You’ve been doing the villain thing for several years, I know. Just because you’re tied to these dark powers, doesn’t mean you have to be dark, yourself. Judging someone by what they look like and where their powers come from is wrong, so I’ll let your actions define you in my eyes, rather than your reputation or powerset. Even though I have to say, your darkness powers do scare the hell out of me when they’re turned on me.” Aurora grinned disarmingly at Gothschilde.
“Good!” Gothschile returned her grin with a serious expression. “I want you to fear me. I want everyone to. The only person who had no fear of me was my familiar, because we had an ironclad contract, one that he’s now broken.” She stood, her knees wobbly, but quickly straightened out and adjusted her dress. “When I summon him again, he’ll suffer for doing it.”
“That’s sad,” Aurora sadly said. “There are people who like to live in shells that the world creates for them. I could have ended up just like you. My own childhood wasn’t the happiest for a while. For what it’s worth, I won’t personally fear you. The way you conduct yourself is different from the things you say.” Aurora gestured with a sigh. “Shall we press on?”
Gothschilde nodded curtly and even though Aurora knew she could be naive sometimes, she thought she saw the barest hint of a smile on the villainess’ face. After a few more minutes worth walking, the area again started to darken. Aurora glanced at Gothschilde to find that she wasn’t doing anything special this time. The power they were approaching felt different, though it was similar to Gothschilde and Black Angel.
When they rounded the next corner, the hull of the spacecraft they sought came into visibility. There were sliding doors that had been pushed outwards, rendering them useless at some point.
Ahead, there were faint glimmers of light winkling in the darkness. Aurora wasn’t an expert in the matter, but they seemed like the flashing lights of controls or lights set into a wall.
Redline rushed ahead to the door and peeked inside. “Wow… yeah… alien ship inside and out!” she exclaimed as she turned back to grin at the angel and villain. “There’s something about alien ships that’s really extra awesome, you know. And I swear that it’s not just the car geek in me talking, there’s something really cool feeling about--”
“Shut it, speedfreak,” Gothschilde said. “If you keep gushing like that, we’re going to get ambushed. We’re getting very close to the goal. I can feel it tugging at me. Like gravity… pulling me towards it.” She held out a hand to both. “Stay near me. I’ll cover your asses if you do the same for me.”
The two hesitated. Aurora was thinking more about the power signature that she sensed inside the ship more than what Gothschilde said. Redline, however, was growing anxious.
“Tsk, tsk… brave heroes afraid of a little girl… if I let myself go too much, I won’t be thinking either, so I need the two of you to hold onto me, otherwise you’re going to lose me, and then I’ll get the prize and I know you two don’t want that to happen!”
Aurora laughed. “A very tough girl.” She took the proffered hand and squoze it lightly, reassured but hoped her squeeze gave Gothschilde something in return.
She couldn’t help thinking about the energy signature waiting inside.
Angel… is it the shard that you can feel through me, or is it resonating with Gothschilde’s presence?
Black Angel reappeared in Aurora’s vision as Gothschilde started leading them into the ship. “I taught her a few things about shadow-wielding and ultimately, they share the same power source. It’s deeply ingrained in Gothschilde, far more than the last time we saw each other. I can feel it more keenly while you’re holding her hand. This place… as I said is an Empyrean craft.” Black Angel touched a wall in a caressing gesture.
“One of the first that were sent out to scout the Oubliette Nebula from what I can tell. It wasn’t fitted per se for the faster than light drives we developed, rather it looks like one of the sub-light models. It’s amazing to be standing in a piece of the history of our race. I have to admit that it makes me… yes… even me, feel somewhat nostalgic.”
Black Angel blurred and shifted across the corridor to one of the walls and rubbed her back against it in a seductive manner.
Gothschilde stopped suddenly and turned to Aurora. Her eyes widened fractionally and she licked her lip. “Did you… say something? I… you seem… different.”
Aurora blinked and asked wryly, “Do I?”