Fall 6.22

What was Olivia doing here? How did she know what was going on with me?  Why was she wearing what I had to presume was her old costume? How did she just deflect one of The Devil’s…my blasts?

I didn’t know and right now, I didn’t care. I wasn’t alone here now, and more importantly she’d saved a lot of people.

The Devil snickered.

“No matter,” they said. I could hear them speaking in two voices simultaneously. Both the feminine one they’d been using and a more growly, beast like one. “Killing one of your friends might actually be better for us.”

In a rare sight, Olivia laughed. In a less unusual sight for her, she performed a sizable leap from near the rubble of the mansion to over near us.

“Come on Olivia!” I shouted. “All the times you’ve kicked my ass before, I really need you to do it again!”

She can not hear you, the feminine voice sounded.

I didn’t see my hulking body’s massive jaw moving, so that must have meant that when she was just talking to me, she only used her original voice, but when she was using the body to talk, I could hear both voices.

Their gigantic scythe rested on their shoulder, Olivia continued to smile.

“I am not frightened of you. If you’re any more intelligent than Carter, you should be able to deduce why.”

The two voices groaned.

“Of course,” she said. “Your wife is an expert on magic and you can see all threats before you.” She paused. “You’ve known I was in here all along.”

“That’s ridiculous!” I screamed. “Sure she and Eve have kept a ton of secrets, but they’re still my friends, and I think they’d tell me if they knew…”

Olivia snickered.

“My apologies. I’m sure that right about now, Carter has begun ranting about how we absolutely would have told him about this no matter what we were planning, because friendship,” she mocked me, twirling her scythe.  “But yes, we knew.”

I wanted to be angry about this. Angry about just how much these two had kept from me. But there was something else I was feeling that overtook that: Shock.

Being trapped inside my own body which had been taken over by the Devil? That was weird, but I guess I’d never seen anything that meant it couldn’t happen. Looking at Olivia right now though, it was like she was an entirely different person.

No, she wasn’t always completely serious and stoic. I’d seen her be more relaxed. But this was different. Right now, she looked and sounded to be genuinely enjoying herself.

“Truthfully, this was one thing I actually wanted to tell you about, Carter,” she continued. “But Eve had managed to already figure it out the day you met, and before you and I were on speaking terms, asked me not to tell you. She was worried that with how “wimpy” you appeared to her, if you believed what we told you, it’d cause a panic attack massive enough for this peasant here to take you over.”

“Olivia, this is no “peasant,” I said, despite knowing she couldn’t hear me. “She’s the queen of Hell!”

“Even Carter knows your insult is empty,” the two voices said. “I am the Devil. Before me, you are but a termite.”

“Ooh, ominous,” Olivia mocked in a way that seemed more like Raina would have said it. “Carter may be gullible, but take it from someone married to the queen of lying: You’re not very good at it.”

“What does she mean?” I asked.

Nothing, the feminine voice said. She knows not what she’s dealing with,

“You’re not the Devil,” Olivia pronounced, pointing her scythe at me…us. “Now release Carter or I’ll be forced to kick you back into the dirt where you belong, Sa…”

My body rushed Olivia, cutting her off. I’d never moved so fast before, but it wasn’t like I was the one doing the moving.

Olivia leaped towards us as the same time, managing to duck her head out of the way of my body’s punch, and landing a slash with her scythe across my chest.

“Ahh,” I grunted, feeling a little pain as the feminine voice growled much louder.

“With her strength and Earth’s available metals…she should not have been able to hurt us,” the voices said.

We turned back around to face Olivia, who was now surrounded by a teal aura.

She spun around as well, once again meeting us face to face.

“As I’m sure Carter could tell you,” she paused, her scythe getting enveloped in the aura as well. “I’m full of surprises.”

*

I wasn’t ready to give up hope.

Sure, Joey had just gone off to meet Smog. But he’d come out of it. Him, Malcolm and even Shay. No matter how banged up or maimed they were, they’d all come out of this alive. We always did.

Other people we knew had died. Some more tragically than others. But not us. Team Lightning Bee always pulled through, and today would be no different.

Should check on Troyan, I thought, departing from the bus through the emergency exit.

He’d crawled over to the dirty sidewalk and was sitting against the side of an old building, his eyes red and puffy.

For a grown man, he looked pretty pathetic. Still wasn’t exactly sure what had triggered him so much. The presence of an angel? It wasn’t like Gordon had demonstrated any abilities that plenty of Demigods didn’t have.

“You alright?” I asked.

Shaking, he just kept softly mumbling to himself. He seemed to keep repeating, “She was right, she was right, she was right.”

“Anything you want to tell me?” I asked.

His increasingly annoying ramblings continued on, completely ignoring me.

“Well, this isn’t going anywhere,” I said, quickly reaching into his bulging pocket, and grabbing his phone.

“Ugh,” I moaned. “Not even a smartphone.” Alongside the dirt and dried blood coating my body, holding this was yet another reason I needed to shower. Maybe a bath would be better; help soothe my muscles. All of my products had been lost alongside everything else I had in the manor, but they weren’t essential.

I hoped they weren’t at least. I did not need my skin looking like Shay’s.

Sighing, I finally turned on the thankfully still working, though partially cracked, phone. I was distracting myself. Didn’t want to think about what was going on. But I couldn’t lose my head. I needed to do the little I still could here.

All I could think to do for Troyan though was call 911. I didn’t have any money on me to pay for a cab and I didn’t even know where he lived. I’d let the cops take care of their captain and get him whatever help he needed.

But ‘911’ isn’t what I dialed.

“I shouldn’t be doing this,” I said before the first dial tone. “This can wait until Troyan is safe.” Another dial tone. “Fuck, I’m not ready for this.”

“OH MY GOD, RAINA!” Ally shouted with relief upon picking up.  “YOU’RE OKAY!”

*

Naked. Cold. Exhausted.

Not the ideal conditions under which I’d have liked to fight  four of the most skilled and powerful people I knew, but I wasn’t being given much of a choice. They needed to be stopped.

I’d already beaten five of them, several of whom were more dangerous than anyone in this bunch. Of course, when I’d done that, I still had plenty of energy and a full arsenal of gadgets. Now all I had were my wits and a blood-powered device I’d implanted in myself which could transfer my pain into others with twice the intensity.

Along with getting dressed and getting more gadgets, the main reason I’d come back to Bluejay was to stock up on sugar, primarily so I would be less tired, but also to lower the chances of killing myself using the tech again. At this point, it was possibly my only chance at stopping Max and Carter. With how much blood I’d lost in my last fight though, there was still a solid chance it would kill me not matter what.

“Alright,” I said, standing on the opposite side of a street fountain from them. “Who’s first?”

Valeria and Xander shook their heads, while Alexi maintained his firm expression and Trent smiled sinisterly.

“We don’t need to fight, @#$%,” Xander said.

“I already got the sales pitch from the last group of you that tried to kill me,” I replied. “Still not interested.”

“Just give the order Alexi,” Trent hissed. “I’ll have his limbs off in seconds.”

Trent was the only one of us who’d joined after Max. He was strong, but save Danny, not on everyone else’s level. I was half-sure his sadism and off-kilter nature were the actual reasons Carter recruited him.

“For Christ’s sake @#$%, you’re supposedly smarter than all of us so please listen to reason!” Valeria shouted. “I don’t care what clever plans or fancy toys you’ve got up your sleeve, you’re not beating Max. Simple as. It doesn’t matter if you get past us, most of humanity will be erased.” Lowering her head, she exhaled. “Would you even be attempting this if Brianna was still with us?”

Brianna, I thought, gasping at just the mention of her.

“That’s low bringing her up,” I said with far less bravado than I’d been using previously. “Do you even care?”

“Of course I do! I was her nanny for years!” She was getting emotional. I could potentially use that to my advantage…but Alexi would probably use my own emotions against me. “And Christian, you know, your best friend who you just beat the crap out of? He’s the one who made sure The Syringe Family paid.” I did appreciate what he’d done. But the revenge wasn’t over. Once I’d saved the world, I was going to make that Saxon bitch truly pay for what she’d done. “Isn’t the simple fact that we live in a world where someone as pure as Brianna…doesn’t it just show why it all needs to burn?”

I tightened my fists, realizing what was actually going on. She was stalling. Once Max and Carter performed the ceremony, it was all over.

Maybe she wasn’t. Maybe she really did still care about me. But somehow I doubted it.

“Enough,” Alexi finally spoke, his Russian accent as heavy as ever, stepping forward. “You and I have never been close. But you do have my sympathy regarding Brianna. And the idealism you have on display is commendable. You do deserve to see the new world.” He paused. “Disable him. No lethal strikes.”

Following his order, Valeria charged toward me and Trent began vomiting up his green slime all over the area. No point in trying to fight Valeria head on. She was one of two people on the face of the Earth I could say with a straight face were a better martial artist than me.

Fortunately, Xander seemed to be hesitant to make a move, his hands shaking, and Trent was about as intelligent as a rabid squirrel. Gears were already turning.

Performing a shoulder roll out of Valeria’s path, and careful to avoid Trent’s slime, I got right back up to my feet and started running away from them.

If this was training, this would have been a foolish move as Xander could easily cut off all potential escape routes, but with him basically in a daze, it was just a matter of speed. And while Valeria could move faster than me in a fight, the only one who could match my running speed was…

“Don’t worry, I’ll catch him and tear him to pieces!” Trent screamed, spitting his slime on himself.

Despite the odds and the stakes, I couldn’t help but smirk. Much like Mandy, I’d wanted to teach him a lesson for awhile.

It was probably around 4AM so there weren’t too many people out on the streets, but there were still some, and while appeared to be drunk or high, there were a few unintoxicated folks who shouted at me to put some clothes on and a few who just reacted with shock.

Turning my head around, Trent wasn’t too far behind, and from the bulges in his cheeks, looked to be building up more slime in his mouth.

Trent’s slime was unique as far as powers went because of just how much he could do with it. By putting the slime on himself, it sped him up, by getting it on others, it slowed them down, by making a large enough puddle of it, he would create a path to slide on, and if fire touched the slime, any surface it was on, besides anti-Demigod metal, would instantly dissolved.

Considering what he’d been saying about my limbs, I was fairly certain he had a book of matches on him.

He spat a glob at me, bits and pieces dripping as it flew through the air, but I got out of the way by jumping and crashing through the window display of the store nearest to me, landing on a wooden display which I sent falling to the ground, and something else covering my body instead.

“The Hell?” I asked myself, dragging some of the substance off my arm with two of my fingers and sniffing it. “Heh. Maybe my luck is starting to turn around”

I’d jumped into a bakery.

Before Trent arrived at the store, I quickly made my way to the kitchen to hide, tripping over myself a few times because I couldn’t see very much, and I ate the cake frosting on my fingers.

The door to the kitchen was locked though, so I quickly busted it open, and locked it behind me. Way I figured it, he’d tear the rest of this place apart looking for me before even thinking to look in here, all the while, I could gorge on carbs and sugar.

Naturally, I’d pay the store owners back and cover the damages once this was all over.

Once I was re-energized and he’d gotten himself frustrated, I’m pick him off. Then, I’d head back over to my base, get dressed, get my gear, and pick off the remaining three. After that, it was a crapshoot if I could take out Max and Carter.

“It’s not a fully-baked plan,” I whispered to myself, opening up the fridge. “But I can make this work.”

“Afraid not old friend.” The voice wasn’t Trent’s.

“Ahh!” I gagged, coughing up blood, a sword have gone through my stomach.

The sword pulled out, I fell over. And looking up, there was Christian.

“Sorry, but justice will always prevail,” he said.

“No,” I said. Everything was fading…and yet getting clearer. “This isn’t how it happened. You…weren’t hear. I beat Trent. Beat them all. Carter…Carter killed me.”

“Starting to remember, eh?” Carter asked, now standing in Christian’s place. “We can’t have that now.”

My eyes suddenly started burning, the pain more intense than in my chest, as a rainbow of colors flashed before me.

“AHHHHHHHH!” I howled, Smog pulling his fingers out of my eyes, returning them to their normal state as he let go of my neck and dropped me to the floor. My whole body was shaking. My eyes were still burning. And Shay hadn’t moved from the spot she was in when Smog stuck those icicles in my eyes.

What did I just see?

*

Carter, the demon who apparently wasn’t the Devil said to me. There are several blind spots in my knowledge of your life and its going on’s. Has Eve ever displayed the ability to enhance one’s physical abilities with magic?

“You see I could tell you, but I really don’t see why I would,” I snarked. “Kick my ass, Olivia!”

I didn’t have any idea if Eve really did have that kind of power, but at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised.

We’ll have to work on making you more cooperative, she hissed.

Wait, I thought. Now that I’m the one trapped in here, can she only hear me when I speak? Better remember that.

Olivia was slowly circling us, dragging her scythe across the ground, the magic aura on it causing a thin trail of fire to form.

“Whenever you want to take another crack at that,” she mocked.

I really had no idea what was making Olivia act like this…but I really dug it.

“It doesn’t matter what enhancements you’ve been given,” the voices said. “With Carter’s soul, I have enough power to face Adam himself. Maybe not alone, but with Smog’s aid, we shall triumph.”

Olivia did the stereotypical rich woman laugh, raising her hand to her mouth. I guess Shay did mention she came from old money, I thought.

“Oh honey,” she said. “You know how I work. I see threats. Analyze them in a heartbeat. If you think you and Smog are on Adam’s level then you’re even more foolish than I imagined. And considering you two lived in a hut in the desert…”

The voices growled.

Whoever this really was possessing me was getting pissed, and Olivia’s confidence, even if I didn’t entirely understand what was going on, was just spreading to me more and more.

She’s got this, I thought, the screen I was watching through expanding a little.

“Still not moving, huh?” Olivia asked rhetorically. “Alright then.”

Olivia dashed toward us, a path of teal energy following her, and repeatedly swung her scythe at us at a rapid rate. With each swing, we blocked with one of our arms, causing both myself and the demon some pain, but she didn’t seem to be doing any actual damage.

As Olivia went for her next swing, my right arm started growing, and while blocking with my left arm, the demon punched Olivia in the face, sending her flying back in silence.

She didn’t touch the ground though, instead, flipping through the air, she dug her scythe into one of the tightly packed pillars of dirt leftover from Raina’s fight, and, spinning herself around, launched it at our face.

It quickly made its way over to us, the demon casually knocking it aside, breaking it apart, but blinded for a moment, wasn’t able to react as Olivia followed the projectile’s path, coming in and slashing our face.

“Yaah,” I moaned in pain, although managing to laugh a little. “So was she right about you actually being weak or are you just really rusty?”

Both voices roared in frustration, my field of vision once again widening.

I was starting to get curious how much of what Olivia was doing was all her, and how much of it was magic. Or maybe the magic was actually her’s. Either way, I was curious just what the limits of her normal strength and skill were.

My body turned around and without wasting a moment fired another massive electrical blast. I was worried for a second, but once I could see, it was clear that Olivia hadn’t even been phased by the attack.

“You know,” Olivia said, stretching. “When my wife asks me to hit her harder, I’m always able to oblige. If I made the same request of you, would you able to?”

“I don’t know how you awakened so much power,” the voices said. “But once you’re dead, I intend to find out.”

OK, she’s got to be planning something now, I thought as Olivia tossed her scythe aside.

“Truthfully, it’s not even that much,” Olivia said. “Far as I can tell, you just can’t use Carter’s soul as well as he could. I mean, he recently took me down in one hit, but, with just a little magic protecting me, you couldn’t even hurt me.”

“Preposterous,” they said. “What you see before you is this body’s highest potential.”

“Eeeeeeeh,” Olivia mockingly breathed in sharply. “I still believe Carter could do far more. Or Hell, maybe if your ex had fused with him…”

I was taken aback as my setting changed, the blackness surrounding me turning red. Black lightning was bursting off my body in large quantities, and the roars of the voices were now distorted.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

She. Dies. Now, a squeaky version of the feminine voice declared.

“I’m so scared,” Olivia said sarcastically. Come on, take this seriously. Something feels different now. “I wonder if this will go the same way as…”

Cutting her off,  the demon blitzed her, punching her downward so hard that upon impact with the ground, a crater formed around us.

“OLIVIA!” I screamed.

For a few moments, we stood over her. And she didn’t move at all.

No.

*

“Are you okay?!” Shay shouted, rushing to my side. “What did you do to him?” she turned around to ask Smog.

“Very interesting,” Smog said, standing over us. All the joviality and all the sadism were gone. The simply dressed, different skin-toned Smog before just appeared cold and dead inside. “They truly did destroy your mind.”

Still breathing on every word from the pain, I asked, “What… are… you… talking… about?”

“I never really thought of it this way, but killing you really would be a mercy.”

“Not a chance!” Shay shouted, shoving me aside and flipping over Smog’s head, shooting down at him from the air.

Turning around to face her, Smog asked, “Is the reason you continue to think those weapons will do anything to me because you still don’t fully understand the situation, or because you’re desperate?”

Shay couldn’t do anything, but grit her teeth and keep her guns aimed at him.

This had all gone wrong. Talking had failed, and now there was nothing we could do. Hell, I couldn’t even stand; I was capable of less than nothing.

There was the option of using the remaining grenades to bring the building down on us, but while that wouldn’t be a bad way to go if it worked, it wouldn’t kill Smog. Probably wouldn’t even hurt him.

Shay, hands shaking, looked to me, the fear in her eyes plain as day even with her fierce expression.

“Don’t worry Malcolm,” she breathed. “I won’t lose!”

She threw down her desert eagles and quickly drew her M16 from her back. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she unloading a full clip into his face.

Of course, the bullets all just phased through him.

Hands trembling, the rifle just slid out of her hands.

“Perhaps you really are just desperate,” Smog said. “It makes sense. You came here with no Carter, and seemingly, your only plan was to talk to me. Well I’m sorry, but a few words and some insight doesn’t change what needs to be done.”

Her face turning red and her teeth clenched tight, Shay charged at Smog, swinging her baton at at him in a rage, the baton phasing through him with each strike.

“WHY CAN’T YOU JUST TELL US WHAT YOU’RE AFTER, YOU BASTARD?! YOU DIVERTED THE TOPIC TO MALCOLM BEFORE, AND YOU’RE STILL NOT TELLING US ANYTHING! WHY?! WHY STILL ALL THE MYSTERIOUS BULL CRAP?!”

On her next swing, Smog didn’t phase through the attack, instead, the baton breaking on impact.

“Of course it’s just as possible that you truly have no idea what you’re up against,” Smog said. “I’m sure beating Salaran gave you confidence. But she is a vampire. And yes, while I do care for her, vampires are still the lowest form of life in Hell.” Shay was slowly backing away, but at this point, she looked to be just as out of ideas as me. I needed to get us out of here. “ I may not be the strongest, but I am most certainly the highest form of life you will ever meet. And it is for that reason that no human could ever hope to stand against me.”

“SHAY!” I screamed, as Smog just tapped her with his pointer finger, sending her flying into the plaster wall, making an indent in it before falling over.

“The reason that you can’t win…the reason that I’m the only one who can save this world…the reason Carter Myers is the only who could face me and suit my needs is because I am the archangel Abraham, seventh son of!…”

Cutting off his big dramatic reveal, I jumped at him from behind and hit his head with my knuckles with all the strength I could muster, managing to knock him back a bit. I’d have loved to mock ruining his moment, but I didn’t have any time to waste.

I grabbed Shay, who was thankfully still halfway conscious, by the hand and the two of us dashed out of the room.

He was only momentarily stalled and even if we got out of the building, there was still no where else to run. And yet somehow, it felt like these weren’t the worst odds I’d ever faced. Somehow it still felt like I could win.

Abraham, I thought. The archangel.

*

“Olivia! Get up Olivia!” I screamed.

The walls returned to being black, and the screen I saw through was smaller than ever.

“How does it feel to be a killer, Carter?” the demon asked, continuing to stare down at Olivia’s lifeless body.

“You…monster,” i muttered, dropping to my knees. “You…you made me…”

“Well, yes, I did make you,” she mocked. “Without me, you’d just be at home right now, watching some stupid anime. Don’t you feel so much more accomplished?”

Tears came down my face, but no lightning came from me at all. The screen became even smaller.

“I’ll make you pay,” I sniffled.

“No, no you won’t,” the demon said confidently, turning around and stepping out of the crater. “Should we go to City Hall? Perhaps Malcolm and Shay’s corpses are recognizable,” they said, continuing to walk away.

“Shut up,” I said.  “Just shut up. They’re fine.”

“Maybe we should go pay Eve a visit. If it turns out it was her magic that allowed the pig to hurt us, I’m thinking we should make her death extra painful. Agreed?”

“I SAID SHUT UP!”

The screen disappeared completely, and everything became pitch black. I couldn’t see a thing.

“Ooh, or maybe we go track down Raina. She should certainly be easy to put dow..”

“Yaah!” we both screamed, something having slashed our back. My eyes popped and the screen returned.

“NO! The voices shouted as I softly said, “Yes.”

Having just dashed past and slashed us, standing just a few yards away with their scythe held out, was Olivia, turning around and smirking.

That…that isn’t possible, the feminine voice said to me as I grinned, my tears becoming ones of joy. More light started shining through the room. That’s not possible!

I didn’t kill her, I thought.

“Ouch,” Olivia said casually, shaking her arm which wasn’t holding the scythe. “Landed on my arm. Can hardly feel it.”

Wait, I thought.

“Funny story,” Olivia started. “When I was a little girl, my life was more awful than your worst nightmares. I’d have rather spent those years in Hell. And it wasn’t even like there was a new hardship every day. Some of the time, yes. But most days? Just the same torture. Truly, it felt endless.”

My body was shaking. The demon was pissed…and maybe a little scared.

“One of the few comforts I had was the Bible. I couldn’t read very well, but I did my best. And every night, in my dark, small closet, I would pray. Up until my time in prison, I was actually very religious, and yes, I am aware of the irony of that. But I didn’t just pray to God. No, I also prayed to Death. Prayed that they’d come and end my miserable excuse for a life. And a few times, they actually appeared before me. They’d offer to take me. But I would always chicken out and not go with them.”

“Where are you going with this?” the voices growled.

Olivia briefly shut her eyes as she laughed.

“You’d think a being that’s thousands of years old would have patience. For what it’s worth, I hope you’re enjoying this Carter.”

It wasn’t exactly a happy story, but I was as interested in what she was saying as the demon. And the confidence she was continuing to exhume? It really was like she was Raina or Shay all of a sudden!

The screen enlarged, and a single, small white spark popped out of my hand.

Hold on, I thought, standing up, starting to realize what might be going on here, also noticing something else about Olivia.

“Once I’d escaped my Hell and started on my path toward becoming the woman I am today, I continued to see Death for a time. Only now, they would come to praise me for how I was helping them.”

Did that mean she was killing, even as a kid? I thought. What could have driven her to that? Not important right now. If I’m right about what she’s doing, I just need to stay focused.

“As I grew up, Death stopped appearing, and I assumed they had merely been either my childish imagination or hallucinations brought on by trauma. And I moved on. But, many years later, I found myself in solitary confinement. You lose the ability to keep track of time when you’re completely isolated from everyone and everything so I’m not sure when in my 14 years of imprisonment it happened, but one day, Death appeared before me again.”

Where is she going with this?! The demon asked me.  Tell me!

“Sorry, not happening,” I said, pumping my arms. “Keep going Olivia! I’m real interested.”

It had taken me longer than Olivia probably would have liked, but I knew what she was doing.

“It turned out I really had seen them as a child. Death offered one last time to take me, but once more, I told him no. That I would get out one day, and make up for the horrible things I’d done.”

I smirked. Now she was just laying it on thick. Though maybe, hopefully, there was some truth to that last part.

“So instead, I got Death to make a deal with me.”

“You what?!” the voices screamed. “Death makes no “deals” with mortals. And certainly not without my knowing.”

“Still trying to play Devil? How unbefitting,” Olivia mocked.

Now that I was thinking clearly, I finally remembered something Eve had once said.

“Lucifer?” I asked. “As in…the devil?”

“The one and only,” Eve answered.

“The Devil” wasn’t a title. And just like all the demon’s other lies, I’d been an idiot to fall for that. But things would be turning around real soon.

“I’ve killed more people than you can count,” Olivia continued. “Death appreciated that. And so the deal we made was this: If I ever got free of prison, I’d continue to kill. And in exchange…” Olivia laughed again. “Well, how sure were you that that punch should have killed me?”

No, the feminine voice said. “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” they whined, jumping up and down. “You…you can’t be.”

She’d taken advantage of my fears. Of how much I care. Of my lack of brains.

She’d tried to make me into a killer. Tried to kill innocents. My friends. I didn’t know what would happen to my powers once this was done, but even if I could never be useful as a hero again, she was getting stopped.

And the final blow had to come from me.

“Huh,” I said. “Olivia’s immortal. Ain’t that a bitch?”

“NOOOOOOOOOO!” the voices screamed, shooting yet another massive blast of black lightning at Olivia, this time from out of our mouth, but just as she had when she’d arrived, Olivia knocked the blast away, redirecting it into the air.

“I would make the cliche  joke about the definition of insanity, but A) that’s beneath me, and B) things aren’t exactly the same. Are they?”

The demon gasped, it finally dawning on them what I’d realized before: the aura around Olivia was gone. I’d been taken aback by her even being alive that I didn’t realize it at first, and the demon was just too angry and confused to realize it until just now.

And she’d just deflected the demon’s attack without any magic.

“Carter’s power comes from his fear. But it seems the more scared you get, the weaker you become.”

“You’re just a mortal! I have no reason to be scared of you!”

Olivia cracked her neck.

“Call me a hypocrite, Sarah, but much as I tell lies, I really don’t care for being lied to.” She took a fighting stance, bending her knees and holding her scythe out, and grinned ferociously. “Carter! Let’s end this!”

“Right!” I shouted back with great energy, the demon, whose name was apparently Sarah, making panicked noises.

Olivia charged at us, moving at a fast, but no longer crazy speed, as I pulled my arm back, thinking not just about everything and everyone I had to fight for, but, like always, the fear.

Everything around me started shaking as Sarah ran away from Olivia.

I feel…so weak, she breathed. What are you doing to me?

“Nothing you aren’t doing to yourself,” I said, vibrating my hand. “You see…”

No! She screamed. I am not getting a speech from you too!

“Try and stop me,” I smiled, shaking my arm up and down as Olivia got a hit in on us, causing the body to stumble. “See, you’ve been seeing my life, watching closely, but you definitely haven’t understood it.” Olivia put her scythe in the way of our ankle, causing us to stumble over and fall. “I’m not good at a lot of things. Even with all this craziness, I even still think Raina is gonna be a better hero than I ever will be. But the reason I think that is because of what I am good at. I’m a people person.”

The demon was repeatedly howling in pain, Olivia now just whaling on us from the outside.

“You?” I continued. “You’re all high and mighty, acting all above everyone, but if I had to guess, you only really have a little power. And if I had to bet, Sarah, that power is only a courtesy of your ex, the one you’re working with, Abe, right?”

Going to church as a kid had made that connection pretty easy to make…even if I still didn’t have any idea how it made sense.

“Please stop,” both voices said in agony, meaning they were probably talking to both of us.

“So you tried to use me! I don’t know if Shay was ever really your target or if you actually did know how strong my soul was. But either way, you sought to take advantage of my insecurities. My fears. Make them the only way I could be strong, and then use them against me to take over. It might have worked too. But without you even realizing it, this entire time, Olivia has been helping me. Acting like the people I love most. Reminding me of them in little ways. Reminding me why I can’t ever give up. And you didn’t even catch on.”

Please…please I’m begging you, she said. Giving in to the darkness…to despair…to fear…it is the only way we can kill Adam.

The screen had been spreading, and it now encompassed half of the void.

“I’m not killing anyone,” I said. “Ever. Not even Adam. And I’m definitely not going to be doing anything with you. My friends and I though? We’re gonna save the world.”

No, no you won’t, she said, her voice softening. Think about it Carter. Your friends will all die. You will fail. Your sister could be getting killed as we speak because you swatted me that day! Don’t these things fill you with fear? Doesn’t so much else?!

Lowering my head, I closed my eyes and smiled.

“Of course they do. They’d scare anyone. Those are awful things and only a crazy person feels no fear.” I paused, raising my head and opening my eyes to see the screen, my view of the world, having now taken over my entire soul. But what’s important…is to be able to overcome it!”

As Olivia punched down at us one last time, brilliant white lightning engulfed my hand. The screen was everywhere, so I jumped up and with as much force as I could, came down releasing the swing at the floor, thinking back one more time to everything I had to be scared of, and with full force, smashing it, lightning spreading out from the floor to destroy the rest of the screen.

I didn’t know what I was doing exactly,  but I just had a gut feeling this is what I needed to do.

There was a flash of white light and then…

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