An explosion sounded above them; looking up, Helena barely made out shapes falling through her tears. Energy burst around the zone as tendrils of lightning danced across the ground; a black haze lifted from the dirt and shot into the air to create a massive black cloud. Booker rushed to Fatchna’s side as Kara dropped down from the sky, pieces of the broken dome falling around her. The dust cloud condensed as it neared them and Kara appeared as the mass of iron particles piled into a dune. A small portion of the metal scattered as she landed atop it.
Kara stood atop the mound, surveying the scene. Her eyes moved from Helena to Belesis, Klen, Booker, and finally Fatchna. She rose into the air, hovering slightly as she descended her iron platform. Her foot touched dirt as she reached the bottom, and she moved to Belesis. Magnetic fields pulsed around her as she examined everything in the area and identifying Belesis’ condition.
Kara breathed deeply. “I’ve been monitoring the situation through your HCID.” She knelt beside Belesis, keeping a distance from her blood. “Fine cut, too refined for a normal blade, and her muscular system is in shambles … she used far too much Focus. There’s a chance she’ll survive if we can get her to another Biokinetic in time. Her brain is in a critical state … she’s nearing FFD.” Her vision shifted to Klen, the melting fragments of his ice around him.
Tears began welling up in Helena’s eyes again as her body trembled, chest seizing with fits, and her heart throbbed. “No need for words,” Kara whispered. “I’m here.” Focus shifting to Booker; her eyes showed pity. “I never once suspected him. He hid his purple taint well.” How could she not know? She seems to know everything … why didn’t she know...
Helena’s vision fuzzed. Kara sighed before moving to a branch, picking it up and returning to her side. “Bite down on this and close your eyes.”
Numbly, Helena did as she was told; her tongue experienced the earthen taste of the bark as she bit down. Her eyes snapped open as Kara’s fingers sparked with electricity and began moving down the gash in her leg, cauterizing the wound as powerful electromagnetic fields kept her from squirming. It was over within moments; Helena collapsed on the ground, breathing sharply as Kara released her fields. The cool breeze stung her cheeks as more tears fell. There was the taste of blood in her mouth; one of her baby teeth had broken from the pressure.
Kara’s arms wrapped around her body, pulling her in. “Don’t worry; it’ll take more than this to kill Belesis … I’m here now.” Helena bawled into her shirt front; she couldn’t stop herself, guilt strangling her heart with all the emotion she’d bottled up.
Fatchna clapped his hands together. “Kara, I’ve been waiting...” He cut off as Kara’s head slowly turned to stare in his direction. His pitch changed, his throat constricting. “Oh—well, I can be mannered and wait for you to finish.”
“No! This is the best time to strike … when the girl is next to her!” Booker exclaimed.
Fatchna huffed with disgust. “Please, I’m not some desperate esper with no class. I am a Prime—though, Phantasm sullies that reputation, I suppose.”
His fearful voice cut as Kara spoke, grip tightening around Helena’s quivering frame. “Good, let all the fear, anguish, and frustration out. After that—there are lingering feelings that must be expressed...” Helena felt it, a burning that replaced the gash in her chest. An inferno that billowed up to consume the darkness. An odious sensation lit her face red.
Kara’s grip loosened and Helena broke away to glare at Booker. In her eyes, she pictured everything she hated; Booker, Phantasm, Drake, her father, mother, Ventre, herself, everything wrong around her—the combined embodiment of all her grief, animosity, and fear.
Kara’s tone was cold. “Break past that barrier and release those emotions in the rawest form you known.”
“No! Fatchna stop her!” Booker screamed.
Fatchna vanished instantly as sections of the iron dust pile lifted from the ground and surrounded Booker, enclosing him. Helena felt her body light with energy as she closed her eyes and expelled every ounce of Focus she could grasp, the hollowness burning in her chest. She didn’t need to see, everything in front of her would be destroyed. It wasn’t a possibility, but a fact.
“Why can’t I control any sound waves—what are you doing, Kara? Please, what about all I’ve done for you—does that mean nothing? I can tell you about Phantasm—his plans! Don’t halt my movements—at least give me a fighting chan...” Booker screamed out in frustration and fear.
Bubbling up from somewhere deep inside her, she felt the energy that came with emotion. The power surged up the sand soaked pit to fill her Focus pool. Energy beyond her comprehension spilled out of her body. Uncontrolled, she let it gush out like a tsunami. An external force took control of that raw lightning and guided it.
Her hearing dampened as Kara blocked the deafening roar, shockwaves coursing through her small frame; she let the energy flow until it was gone. Her chest heaved, the smell of ozone heavy as she opened her eyes; it was potent in the air, making her dizzy, and hot, thick humidity pressed against her skin.
Her vision slowly came clear of spots, and she observed where Booker had been. A blackened scar was carved into the ground, three meters across and half a meter topsoil had been eradicated, the earth blistering. The charred path led to the lake and continued into the murky surface as it steamed and waves expelled from the point of impact.
“Booker’s no more,” Kara stated softly, wrapping her arm around Helena’s shoulder and draw her in. Helena stared at the torrid ground for several seconds in numb awe as sparks of energy flashed across its surface. I would have been vaporized with Booker if Kara hadn’t taken control.
A clap resounded around the area as Fatchna appeared four meters to her left, still sitting in his chair. “Now that—that was electrifying. Quite the intense power you produced there, little pup—no, lion! Very impressive.”
“Don’t be threatened—yet,” Kara’s demeanor flipped to cold fire. “All of that energy you saw was Phantasm’s Focus that was transferred to her during his invasion.”
“Fascinating—but to be able to not only carry but to expel it in such a torrent—it’s mind-bending. I can’t wrap my head around it. To think a child of eight would have that much Force Capacity, Width, and Pressure; not only that, but you have yet to reach your Second Awakening.” He clapped emphatically. “Brilliant … she’s a true protégé for you, Kara.”
Kara didn’t answer him as she examined Belesis’ weak condition and Klen corpse again. Fatchna put his left hand to his forehead. “Oh—of course! Would you like me to transport Belesis back to the base and take us to a new area? Perhaps the General could be saved, she’s earned that, and I don’t care much for whatever Phantasm’s goal was. Would you also like Klen’s corpse out of the way?” Kara’s eyes burned, but she nodded.
A devious smile lit his lips. “Then you’ll allow me to teleport you and stop that pesky disruptive electronic shift that makes it impossible for me to get a clear spatial fix on you?” His comment in the arena, Kara’s unable to be teleported. She truly is amazing. How does Fatchna think he can win if he can’t affix on her location?
“You didn’t go through all this for a dirty match,” Kara said with a hard tone. “I’ll trust you as far as this goes.”
Fatchna bowed slightly in his seat. “I’m honored.”
Kara’s eyes shifted to the horizon. “Transport Belesis and Klen to the medical bay in the Northern Base; I’ve already sent them instructions.”
Both Belesis and Klen vanished. “It would be a shame if you lost such a capable General as Belesis; Biokinetics of her skill are rare to come by, but it makes sense, being from the Branch Family of a Great House.” If only I had noticed sooner … what then? She can’t do anything for me, and she’s much higher ranked than I am. She may be my cousin, but our skill and abilities are worlds apart, Belesis has gained real power … not just in title.
Kara looked up at the morning sky. “What’s your reasoning, Fatchna? You aren’t stupid enough to make deals with Phantasm; so, what’s your goal?”
He nodded. “I’m only using Phantasm’s maneuvering to execute a desire of mine.”
“You honestly want to fight me … why not test yourself against the Alpha?”
Fatchna chuckled. “I’m sure the rest of you would love that. To be able to see the Alpha in action without the risk. Before that, I need a gauge of my limits, and you’re the perfect candidate.”
Kara closed her eyes. “Did you really have to bring my faction into this? I would have agreed without you working with Phantasm.”
“Right, but I never understood that about you. You care so deeply for your members; Booker’s betrayal must be difficult to swallow, it’ll hit the moral of your faction even harder. Why do you care so much, Kara? You stand close to the pinnacle of all espers; they are but atoms for us to use.”
Drawing in a deep breath, Kara let it out in a slow stream as her eyes opened. “Let’s begin.”