Authors: Erik Schubach
By Erik Schubach
P.O. Box 523
Nine Mile Falls, WA 99026
Cover Photo © 2015 Captblack76 / ShutterStock.com license
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, blog, or broadcast.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Manufactured in the United States of America
My head snapped up from where I sat curled in my cell. The flames from my jailers newest attempt to torture and kill me, ate away at the mass of writhing briar-bramble and vines that I called forth from the ether. I used them to protect me, against my own will, so that I might suffer this never ending life of mine.
Today's method of choice was plasma jets. Unfortunately, the brambles were absorbing the heat as they were burned and vaporized to keep the heat and flames from damaging my real body. The pain was excruciating as a steady flow of thorny vines and twigs extruded out from within me to form the protective shell.
My curse made this torture, as the black magic tore its way out of my body to ensure I stayed alive in a world that was lost to me. A world where I could never feel the touch of another living being. I was just an observer here on Earth now, never to be part of life as my touch was death to any living thing.
The government of the new world held so much promise for me as they said they could help me end my existence. I had hope that they could finally help me find peace, so I allowed them to take me to this place, a Department of Defense facility at Gig Harbor on the Olympic Peninsula.
It became rapidly apparent that even the United States government had no idea how to end my centuries long torment. They studied, poked, and prodded me for my secrets. The neurotoxin that seeped from my skin and the thorny briar vines that were my jailers. The writing guardians which were tasked to keep me alive for all of time, to kill and destroy anything I might hold dear.
The humans would never be able to duplicate it, it has its root in the black magic that burns in the core of my being. Since they couldn't use that to their benefit, they tried to make good on their promise for a bit. They tried every modern weapon to no effect. Nothing could get through the endless streams of brambles that could painfully tear their way out of my body.
When they realized this, they tried to recruit me to be a weapon for them to use, a weapon of death. I want nothing to do with that. All I was, was a poison to this world, and I did not wish to kill though that is all I am good for.
When I realized they could not grant me release, I opted to stay here, where I couldn't harm any innocents. It would be an easy matter for me to leave this place if I were ever so inclined.
The past few years, which might even be dozens of years, they have taken to coming up with ways to have my own vines torture me. They realized it caused great pain to me for them to tear from my body to protect me. I think they feel I'll agree to work with them if they torture me long enough. I chuckled at the thought, I had endured greater pains in the centuries before their country even existed.
Over the centuries, before being brought here, I had sought out the other Avatars. Sisters in my torment that had the power to end my suffering. The Red Hood, Gretta Snow, and Ella Deathbringer were constructs of evil like me, who had not let the evil consume them. They are the fist of the good and righteous, brought forth to bring balance to the world and destroy evil.
To destroy... me.
But the fates, the Scales, would not allow a meeting and engineered it so that no two of us could be in one place at any given time. That is how I found my way to the Americas. Seeking out whatever cursed soul wore the cloak of the Red Hood in these modern times. But I always missed her by mere days in my hunt.
I have always felt the movements of the darkness around the globe. It is a part of the dark pit that serves as my heart, the origin of the blackened vines and thorns that exude from my very soul. I reveled in every victory the Avatars took over the darkness. I could feel the huge energies that Ella Dethbringer could bring to bear. The steady strength of the Red Hood that was like a fixed point in the streams of energy around us, untouched by anything. And the darkness in the giver of life and Gretta's own balance when she commanded the Wild Hunt as she drew upon the remnants of the power of Perchta.
I have hidden during most of my existence so I could not harm innocents. But the call of the seductive dark magics sometimes calls me out. I knew that seduction and it had to be destroyed. I have had many names over the centuries. Reaper, Mother Death, Thsalias, Queen of the Underworld, Pestilence, the Sleeper, Death's Lady. I relished the times I could snuff out the evils before they could spread, it made me feel that there was still a small ember of my humanity left inside the monster I have become.
I fear my sanity left me so long ago I cannot find my way back to the light. Just as I have forgotten the warmth of human contact... a simple touch.
But I can feel what was prophesied by the Scales. They spoke of a Gathering. Where the evil would descend upon this world in a great walled city and the Aatars would be there to strike the balance. The fate of the world would hang in that same balance.
I looked at the solid concrete wall of my cell, toward the great city of Seattle. I had felt many of the Avatars there in recent days. I prayed for the Gathering so my sisters could rid me of my existence, after we take down the greatest evil in this world, the brothers Marcus, Alphas of the werewolves that plague the Earth. Masters of the lupus curse that has infected nearly a third of the people on Earth. They were coming, I could feel it.
I felt every blow in the recent battles, like a song in my soul. This was it, the Scales were finally allowing us all to meet. I could feel my sisters gathered in the city across the great waters of Puget Sound. They were calling to me and it was time to leave. Time to answer their call.
I looked around and then thrust my arm forward. The mass of thorny vines and black brambles exploded from me in a rush that that overwhelmed the giant plasma burners that the... humans... were trying to destroy me with. They slammed into them and I could hear metal bending against the onslaught. The pain was tremendous as the vines sawed their way out of my flesh.
I felt the vibration of the tanks of whatever liquids they were using to fuel the burners just moments before they exploded. My vines formed an organic wall of black magic infused matter to shield the people manning the observation booths around my cell. More streamed out of me to replace what was destroyed by the blast.
I looked at the observation windows, too bad Pike wasn't here, the worst of the haters of the group who seemed to enjoy watching me in pain. I would love to have knocked him out with the rest with what I was about to do. I used my body as a sponge to pull in the neurotoxins from the vines leaving microscopic trace amounts. I could feel my tissues necrotizing and rotting away under the onslaught of so much poison just to have new tissue replace it.
I smiled up at the windows at the people watching in fear. I hoped I didn't look as insane as I felt as I spoke in my hissing tones, “Thank you for your hospitality, but I will be taking my leave of you now.”
I splayed my fingers wide and the thorny vines obeyed my will. They shot out in all directions, slamming through the bulletproof glass like it were tissue paper and scratching all of the observers in all of the rooms with the thorns containing trace amounts of my toxins.
They all fell unconscious within seconds, and I withdrew my vines. Even with microscopic amounts of my poison, they would be out at least two days. If I had not taken the poison on myself, they would have been dead instantly.
Alarm klaxons and strobing lights were going off everywhere. I looked in the direction of the calling, to Seattle. A straight line would be more efficient than weaving my way through the facility, and I'd have to put less of these assholes to sleep. As much as I longed to do that, I still paid a toll in sickness and pain by holding back my natural poison.
I thrust my hand forward at the three foot thick, reinforced concrete outer wall. My dark enforcers and jailers flowed from me and struck the wall in a churning motion and concrete and steel peeled away under the onslaught, ground up into minuscule pieces of rubble. I stepped through the gaping hole in the wall and took a deep breath of ocean air. It was much more refreshing than the recycled air I had been forced to breath the past couple decades.
I heard howls and growls all around and looked up. It was night... a full moon. Feral wolves were out and Gig Harbor was not a walled city. I glanced at the hole I put in the secure facility's wall. The wolves would get in there and make short work of anyone in there.
I hissed to myself, “Heavens be damned!” I hated them all, but that didn't mean I wanted them dead. I allowed the poison flow back out of me into the writing mass around me, then brought a palm up and spread my fingers. Vines and brambles packed in and sealed the breach, then snapped off from the living mass surrounding me. Any feral that touched them would be dead in moments.
Wolves were hard to kill, true, but not even their metabolisms could counter my poison, as it was infused with dark magics. I turned away as I heard a yelp from the first of the ferals try to attack me from behind, they had seen me and I was food to them, poor dumb animals. The mass of evil surrounding me did its job by keeping me alive so I could suffer this eternal life devoid of contact which the curse demanded.
I started marching across the compound leaving a trail of dead werewolves behind me. My brambles intercepting all the sniper fire from the guard towers around the facility. They annoyed me, not like they could hurt me. So I took on the poison myself again, from a couple of the thorny vines, and sent them writhing and climbing the towers and through the silver Full Moon Bars to put the snipers to sleep.
It was a short walk to the Sound, my vines destroying anything in my path and putting to sleep any humans who tried to stop me. Making sure they were safe behind silver FMBs. I saw no boats that would be easily commandeered. I spread my arms with my palms down and the vines started churning through the water making sure each step I took was like walking across level ground. The vines whirled and slapped the surface of the water, cocooning me on an orb of windmilling brambles.
I could feel the pull of the other Avatars. My sisters. I walked for an hour, around the south end of Vashon Island and started walking north. A U.S. Coastguard Vessel intercepted me on the open water and they sprayed me with automatic weapon's fire. Oooo, a boat I could use to speed up the crossing of the Sound.
I let my vines flow across the vessel, putting the crew to sleep and raised me up to the deck. I got into the control room but couldn't make heads nor tails of the controls. I exhaled in frustration. Looks like I'd have to walk most of the way. I let the boat continue traveling north, over twenty miles up into Elliot Bay. That was going to be the closest I could get to the West Gate of Seattle before the vessel grounded itself somewhere around Magnolia.
I stepped over the railing onto a firm surface of brambles. I could see the flashes of flamethrowers and rifles at the city gates from where I was, and I heard the gunshots and howling in the distance. I was traveling about twenty miles per hour in my windmilling mass of seething vines. Objectively it just felt as if I were simply walking.
I dealt with the men in the port towers and then waded through the expanding chaos of feral wolves as I neared the West Gate. I could see, and feel my sisters and my heart quickened.
The defenders at the gates turned their defensive fire on me and my unwanted protectors absorbed the attacks. It was a simple matter to allow my thorny vines to thread through the main gates and put the defenders to sleep while using a shell of poisonous brambles behind me to shield the city. I hissed out, “Sleep for now children,” as the men and women at the gate, slumped into unconsciousness.
Just then more gunfire erupted from farther away and vines crisscrossed in my vision as they blocked multiple shells aimed for my head.
I'm sure I gave a maniacal laugh when I recognized Special Agent Pike by a group of women who radiated so much magical energy, it was like gazing upon the surface of the sun. I encircled the man with my vines and branches. He looked about ready to wet his pants as my thorns hovered just a fraction of an inch off of his skin.