Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
(Few minor changes and proofreading.)
The sky flashed for an instant and loud rumbles shook the old structure that is the orphanage. Plip, plop, plip, plop. Ren, Nanny, and all of the other kids were busy placing pots and buckets underneath leaks and cracks. Cecilia on the other hand, lay wasted on her bed.
It had been a month since the Cattle Raid of Cooley ended and she still has not shown any signs of recovering from her trauma. Quite honestly, how do you comfort someone that just saw their skinless body? Apparently there’s a first for everything, but normal people die of blood loss or shock before the sight of seeing your own body skinless is processed through the brain. Ren couldn’t help but feel sorry for the kids that fought Cecilia as well. They were forced to watch Cecilia regenerate from nothing but her ashes and witness her skinless body whole. Luckily, they fled in fear and nobody else was able to make it up the stairs that Ren had created for the Cattle Raid of Cooley.
"And for tonight's story, the mystery behind the Island-wide blackout last month has finally been resolved."
Ren's eyes elevated for a bit, curious as to what the news had to say and returned to his book on the element table.
"Evidence suggests that the A.I in the Mitchon was hacked and programmed to shut down the facility and itself until six pm as shown in its last order of operations."
"And, what about the plateau that prevented people from storming the Mitchon? According to the poor kids that made it to the top, there was a monster up there that stopped them from turning the electricity back on."
Ren reached for his vitamin drink and took a sip from it.
"Unfortunately, with the black-out and even with our current level of technology, there are no suspects in question. As for the witness’s in question, it’s hard to pinpoint who the kids are talking about when they look like they’re suffering from PTSD."
Ren folded his legs and put his book down. He interlaced his fingers and made himself comfy on the couch.
"Well, Sandy, from the way I see it, what can we say except that there’s an extremely powerful child with the power to bend the Earth is here in Hawaii.”
“But didn’t the children say there were tw--”
Ren turned the T.V. off. He picked up his book, but his fingers went numb and dropped everything in hand. His fingers twitched uncontrollably as if trying to rip themselves off of his hand, then went numb and limp. One month since he made that plateau, yet he still lost feeling in his limbs. That or they wriggled violently every now and then. Was this the consequences of using too much magic? If so, then there must be a limit to how much magic he can use. But what is the limit? Ren reached for the book and tried to pick it up with the hand that went numb on him. No matter how much he tried to force himself, his finger just wouldn't budge. It was no use, he had no choice but to wait it out.
Another month had passed. The usual Honolulu, Hawaii weather. Hot, bright and sunny with occasional drizzles that brought false hope to those who love rain and cold weather. Cecilia was still traumatized and refused to do anything but eat, and lay in her bed.
Recently, Ren had been pondering as to whether or not Cecilia has a magical gauge to her regeneration magic. It doesn't seem like she has the luxury to decide when to use it or not. That said, it seems to take effect as soon as she's injured or expend her energy. However, if Cecilia does have a limit, then it'd be bad if she became too reliant on her regeneration. Or even worse, if she began to suffer these nasty seizure aftermaths.
Ren went upstairs and nudged at Cecilia who seemed to be a vegetable on her bed. He asked himself the same question from a month ago. What was he supposed to do to cheer up someone who witnessed their own flayed body and lived to remember it?
Cecilia's rolled away from Ren’s direction and buried herself underneath her pillow and blanket. With a defeated sigh, Ren took his leave for lunch. He normally ate in the living room, reading a book on the element table or minerals, or watching T.V. Nanny never liked the siblings after all. Either way, there’s barely any space in the kitchen with all the kids.
"Ren, go answer the door please," Nanny snapped.
* * *
Another month had passed. Something felt off, it was quiet, too quiet. Cecilia scanned the room. All of the other beds were there. The screaming of children playing downstairs. Nanny getting angry at someone for breaking something. The birds on the tree outside chirping away as always. She was alone. Where’s Ren? Now that she thought about it, he didn't bother her yesterday, nor the day before yesterday, and all of last week too.
She shifted her pillow aside so that she could examine the room with one eye, empty. She sat up, complete mess of a bed hair, and disgusting stench of not showering for the past few months. The kids seemed excited when Cecilia finally decided to leave her bed. They were as gay and adorable as they’ve always been. But..they seemed a bit...reserved..compared to how they usually talked to her. They usually ask Cecilia to do flips and tricks. This time however, they were quieter. When Cecilia questioned the kids about Ren, they merely shrugged. Only a couple of them spoke up about his whereabouts and even then, the last they saw of him was a little more than two weeks back. When inquired for more info, the children knew nothing about Ren's activities. Her stomach let out a mighty growl that lasted almost ten seconds. She hadn't eaten anything in the past three month. Apparently her regeneration magic prevents her from starving to death as well. She would have to inquire Ren about it later as that made absolutely no sense to her.
She opened the fridge and found a half-filled liter of water and a slice of fruit cake. What manner of deceit could this possibly be? When did the orphanage find the time and money to bring home cake? A delicious one at that too. Since she had been a vegetable for the past three months, clearly nobody else is going to eat this cake right? She took the cake and water upstairs to her bed. Before she dug into her sustenance, she had to take care of nature first.
She flushed the toilet and washed her hand. In front of her was a mirror and she couldn't help but look at it. She touched her cheek with her drenched hand staring intently at her skin. She poked at her bicep, then lifted her shirt to look at her stomach. Three months of absolutely no training and no nutriment, yet her muscles have not fattened or drooped a bit. Perhaps Ren has an explanation to this too. Supposedly human bones and muscles are supposed to soften if not maintained properly, right?
When she returned to her bed where she left her cake and water bottle, she found a bird on the plate, pecking at the fruit cake. Pissed, Cecilia swung her arm at it to shoo it away. The bird was courageous enough to continue eating the cake. Cecilia swung her arm again, this time with much greater force. It was enough to blow away the cake and the water bottle out of the window. The bird flew a bit from the draft that she created but then stood on the bed. She stared at it. This was no ordinary bird. That was when she realized there was something tied to it's leg.
Cecilia reached at the bird and untied what appears to be a tiny device with a single red square button. As soon as it was removed, the bird flew out the window.
She pressed the center of the button and a holographic projector appeared from it. Right in front of her eyes was a bloody Ren crucified to a cross. He faced the ground unconscious; unmoving. Blood dripped down his arms as if he had been nailed recently. Even more blood leaving his body from the dozens of whip lashes on his torso. This was a video though, it could have been a recording from some time ago. Cecilia looked around for the date only to find it was done today. But why? The screen panned away from Ren to a cloaked figure.
"Come to the roof of the Mitchon," the cloaked figure’s voice was altered. "Or he dies."
The cloaked figure drew a dagger and threw it. The camera had already panned away from Ren, but his cry of pain was heard off-screen.
Cecilia's eyes slowly sharpened and her mouth unconditionally grit. Next thing she knew, she had crushed the tiny red device in her hand to pieces. She jumped out of the window in the bedroom and pushed off as soon as her feet touched the ground. The Mitchon was two miles away from the orphanage. At the speed that Cecilia was going, it would take her at least half an hour if she were to wait for traffic. That is, if she actually waited for traffic.
Cecilia was running so fast, the wind began to hurt her eyes and her skin felt like it was getting cut too. Even if the lights said to stop, she ignored it completely. Everything around her was moving extremely slowly. The covers that hovered nearby were nothing but a blur of colors. Thanks to technology, the cars had a security program where any life form larger than six inch in any measurement would prompt the car to make an emergency break. That wasn’t enough though. At one crosswalk in particular, a car was inches away from flying into Cecilia because of a corner. It indeed did run into her, but instead of taking a broken bone and mangled body, it was the car that was left with a huge dent and an imprint of Cecilia’s body.
Nothing was going to get in the way of Cecilia’s rampage.
As soon as the Mitchon was in sight, she jumped up and bounced back and forth between buildings walls of a nearby alleyway and onto a roof. She continued to run and leap rooftop to rooftop. She could see them. A crucified Ren and cloaked figure on the roof of the Mitchon two buildings away. This jump, however, she propelled herself directly at the cloaked figure so she can land her strongest punch on whoever this person was.
Accelerating, she just kept soaring through the sky towards the cloaked figure. The sound of her punch making contact echoed in the sky as if a nuke just detonated. Her face slowly changed as she fell back to the ground from a terrifying fury into an unthinkable baffle.
The cloaked figure blocked her punch. No...it grabbed it.
The next thing Cecilia knew, she was back in the air, and everything was upside down. The cloaked figure spun in a circle and heel kicked Cecilia in the cheek in mid-fall. Something sharp impaled her cheek and tore up the inside of her mouth. She tumbled across the ground until finally the roof wall stopped her momentum. Cecilia pushed herself off the ground, still wide-eyed and at an absolute lost as to what happened. She raised her hand and touched her cheek. It stung so bad that she had to remove her hand the instant she came in contact. One thing was certain though, there was a hole on her cheek and her tongue was also skewered. Stilettos? The fighter is a woman?
The entire left side of her mouth was covered in blood. Just looking at her own blood made her freeze. Her blood-soaked fingers, flashing back and forth between her memory of the Cattle Raid of Cooley and her present hands. Her head shook unconditionally as she raised her hand over her head and covering her ears with her palms. The words playing over and over again in her head; monster. As well as horrific screams of terror.
“C...Ce…Ceci...lia…” Ren uttered weakly.
Just from hearing Ren’s weak voice snapped her out of her trauma. Without a doubt, there was some level of fear, but Ren needed her help. Help? That’s right, this was the reason why she learned martial art to begin with. So that she would never have to see him injured ever again. To protect Ren, her brother, Daigo . . . family.
Cecilia clenched her fist and gave a nasty glare at the cloaked figure. She charged at her once more. The cloaked figure whipped her arms’ around and slowly entered into a stance, ready to fight back.
Cecilia threw the first punch but was misdirected by the fighters’ front forearm. Cecilia threw a second punch with her other hand, but the fighter grabbed her fist putting the both of them in a lock.
The fighter kicked downward to step on Cecilia’s feet, but Cecilia reacted by pulling her foot back. The cloaked figures' leg missed and was straightened forward. Cecilia then lowered her leg on the fighters’ straightened leg, wrapped it around as much as possible and pulled it back. Whoever this person was, their strength was amazing. Cecilia had to tug this person's’ leg two-three times to forcibly misplace her footwork and even then, she only managed to make this person do a partial split.
The height of this mysterious fighter also told Cecilia that this person had to be an adult. The size difference between them was definitely in favor of Cecilia. In terms of strength, she'd have to estimate that this person was slight, no, much stronger than her. This person took her punch head-on, and footing was incredibly firm. Which meant that Cecilia needed to rely on skill and speed to win this fight.
Cecilia unwinded her leg around the other fighters' leg and dropped her heel on top of the fighters' knee. She had to keep her advantage up, if she broke the knee, then her speed advantage would be secured. The fighter willingly spread her legs apart though doing the split. This made Cecilia's heel drop a wasted movement and left her out of position. The fighter pushed Cecilia away then shot back up to standing with the space she created. With minimal effort, the fighter hopped and flipped once in the air, and dropped her heel on of Cecilia's head.
Cecilia fell flat onto the ground. She had a splitting headache, both physically and mentally. There was a fine line where all of the pain came from. Most likely from the stiletto. But the biggest issue at hand is that Cecilia failed to see this fighter recover from the split and received a hit on the head. It was almost instant, she may have lost balanced for a little bit but her eyes were focused on the other person.
Speed and strength? She was outmatched in both categories. All she could rely on now was skill. No....she was outmatched in skill as well. Cecilia could tell just from her recent injuries that this person is predicting her every move and leading her on. Cecilia pushed off the ground to all-fours, her face in distraught.
I can't win.
This was completely different than the tournament three months ago. At the tournament, her strength, skill and speed were unmatched against all the teens. She had no choice but to hold back in order to even try to enjoy a fight. Now...it was her turn to be completely outmatched in all three categories. Her hands and shoulder shuddered. Heart beat rose at an insane rate. She couldn't move, much less budge from her spot. Scared, she was scared. How do you fight against something when you're completely outmatched? Her vision gradually transitioned red, hair soaked wet. She was scared, yes, most certainly.
Yet for some reason, Cecilia could not hide her deranged, blissful smile.
For the first time in all of her life, she could fight at her full potential without fear of killing the other person or causing permanent damage.
Cecilia giggled freakishly and leaped forward. She side-stepped to get around this mysterious fighter to get behind her. Due to the height difference, she had to jump to attack the fighters’ head. A knuckle sandwich to the temple should give her an advantage if she hit it hard enough. Before the fighter could even turn her head, her attack landed cleanly. Though it wasn’t much, the attack was able to produce results The fighter was reeling away from the blow to her head. Cecilia pushed off once her toe touched the ground and threw a punch at the fighter’s face.
For a second time, her attack landed cleanly.
From the very beginning of the fight, it was so obvious. Why didn't I just go all-out in the beginning? Why did I hold back?
Things weren’t entirely going Cecilia’s way just yet. As expected of this mysterious fighter, even when Cecilia put all her muscle into that punch, she recovered immediately and punched Cecilia back in the face. Half of her vision disappeared, this time, it was much worse than just a splitting headache. It felt, and probably was, half of her face demolished. At the same time, she could feel her regeneration at work trying to keep her body from shutting down from the pain.
Cecilia's turn, without any word or signals, both of them knew that there was only way one way settle this fight. Cecilia threw another punch, then the fighter, then Cecilia. It was a storm of punches being thrown back and forth against each other. Unfortunately, Cecilia was on the losing end. Her blood decorated the scene as her body was punched to smithereens. If it weren't for her regeneration magic, her entire body would have vanished from the face of the Earth. Her punches were probably getting weaker too due to the loss of muscles and nerves that failed to regenerate in time for her punches.
As painful as it was, Cecilia couldn't bring herself to stop. It was now or never, ignore the pain, keep going, press forward and surpass the limits of her body.
Cecilia braced herself and met the next punch with a headbutt, ending the storm of punches. The fighter herself seemed surprise by this sudden display of vigor. Cecilia pushed forward, fist still on her forehead. She knocked away the fighters' fist with her hand then leapt from the ground, successfully landing a uppercut to the chin. Then, she grabbed the fighter by the neck, or head, and judo flipped her into the air. Cecilia jumped once more with all her might at the fighter and kneed her in the abdomen. Just from being in the moment, Cecilia knew that she had a little bit of time left before she began to fall back to the ground. Using her remaining time in the air, Cecilia lunged her lower-half backward to rotate upside down. Using the small amount of momentum from the rotation, she kicked down on the fighters' spine. Although, due to Cecilia's height, her legs weren't long enough to pull off what she wanted to do. She missed. Both Cecilia and the cloaked figure fell back down onto the roof of the Mitchon with a revolting splash of Cecilia’s blood that flooded the rooftop.
Cecilia couldn’t even move, she put all her energy into that last-ditch attempt to end the fight. The cloaked fighter however, stood up as if nothing happened. From how quickly she stood up, it didn’t seem like her attacks did any real damage. If this fighter was determined to keep fighting, then the only thing Cecilia should do is to get back up. Grunting and groaning, yet no matter how much she told her body to move, they refused to obey. She examined her own body. Bruises from the trade of punches were still there, blood continued to leak from her forehead, and numb legs. Her regeneration magic, what happened to it? These wounds should have healed within seconds. Just what?
"Don't you think you went a bit too far?" Ren asked.
Cecilia's face sparked with relief and guilt at the same time. She had completely forgotten about Ren. After seeing Ren crucified and injured, she had forgotten all about rescuing him and wanted to beat up the person who did that to him. Then suddenly...then suddenly...
Then again, Cecilia turned her head to look at Ren. The nails and scars were still embedded in his body and dried blood trails. But that wasn't the important part. Now that Ren was closer, he smelled like . . . Strawberry? Cecilia continued staring at the dried blood trails and noticed that it's not as thick and dark. In fact, it was more wet and light.
"Sorry," the fighter's voice was rather ghostly and hollow. As if she was completely devoid of sanity. "I got so excited in the middle of the fight, I just couldn't bare to let it end with only two hits."
"Ren....what...what's going on?" Cecilia asked with a hint of fear.
Ren plucked the nails and off of his body and took the dagger out that had impaled him in the video out of his body. He tossed them in front of Cecilia's face. Apparently the nails and dagger were all retractable props.
"Oh, and if you're still wondering, the bruises are all make-up."
Cecilia's face began to wrinkle, especially her chin.
"Look you can even peel it off," Ren grabbed at the bruise and just like a sticker, pulled it off.
He was okay. Not hurt, injured, or harmed. He was safe. Miraculously, Cecilia’s body now obeyed her when she decided to throw herself into and hug him. She whined and complained, but everything she said were muffled from her face planted into Ren's chest. That’s right, whenever something bad happened, hugging him would always make her feel better. More specifically, the warmth of his chest and the sound of his heart beat.
"Oh by the way," Ren pulled Cecilia off his chest. All of her injuries had completely recovered now. He pointed at the cloaked figure in which Cecilia's eyes followed.
The hooded figure took her hood off revealing a familiar blonde woman that she had idolized. The woman that inspired her to learn martial art, the origin to all the morals she took to heart, and mimicked every single day since she was five. There she was, Jennifer Reese, standing before Cecilia's eyes.
Cecilia's eyes rolled back and she squealed with a sharp "eeeee" for a few seconds before she went limp and unconscious in Ren's arm.
"Cecilia?" Ren asked worriedly.