From the ashes – Episode 4

Sorry for the tardiness of Episode 4, but here she goes!

(Trigger Warning:  Contains depictions of violence, transphobic violence. real world and fictional slurs, religious bigotry, and discrimination)

Her face disappeared from me, and I was encased in darkness.  I was weightless and the air rushed by me.  My stomach felt as though it had leaped into my throat, and I frantically clawed at the air seeking anything I could grab onto.  I couldn’t think, my body flailed in panic and fear that consumed my every thought.  I started to hear a humming sensation, and see a cool blue glow inside the tunnel.  My decent started to decelerate, and I could feel the sensation similar to that of having your hand on a Van DeGraff Generator.  My descent slowed to the point that the wind was little more than a dull whisper around my ears.  Then, I heard it…  A loud arcing of electricity.  The charges were starting to build up, and as I started to feel concerned about it a large arch jumped from the wall of the shaft through my leg, up my back and out through and across my hair.  It stung a little.  Another charge jumped from the wall above me, through my hand, across the back of my arm, and out my back through my hair again.  This time it really hurt.  As I was slowing down slightly more the charges began to become more frequent.  ZAPP!  POP, hmmm, POP POP!  zzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZ  POP POP POP,  zzzzzz  POP… Don’t get me wrong, I was happy that I wouldn’t plummet to my death, but now I was being assaulted by my savior.

Plasma was building up in the long vertical shaft at an alarming rate.  The clothing I was wearing apparently was helping to direct the current away from my vital organs, but it hurt.  ZAAAAAAAPPPAPOP!  “AHHHH! FUCK SHIT!”, I screamed as I felt the first charge with enough power to burn flesh.  I could smell my hair and clothing burning a little.  I could see the fibers of my clothing floating through the air in the chamber around me as embers.  “How in the fucking hell do children play in this… Oh my…!”, I shout to myself in disbelief.  It was then that it occurred to me… They may be controlling the system to make it arch like this… I felt in falling for nearly 25 meter, that it was just little more than static.  “POP, paPAP…. SSZZZAZZATTATAATAT!”  “AHAAAAAAAHAAAAHOWWWOOOW,  OW, OW!”, I screamed as I could now feel severe burns from the charge that burned both the entry point at the tip of my middle finger, and my knee cap and toe where it exited.  I was starting to shake from the shock of the pain.  It hurt so bad I began sweating, and getting that salty taste in my mouth.  I dreaded what the next assault from this “tunnel of death” would bring, when it occurred to me.  I ignited my power overwhelming the plasma with the greenish tinge of my power.  The charges began violently attacking my energy field, instead of me.  The pain in my dermal burns subsided dramatically, and I felt more at ease with my energy redirecting the plasma.  I began to fall a little faster, but not as fast as it was at the beginning.  My field was resisting the energy of the chamber which was designed to slow my descent, but not enough to make me plummet at record speed.

“Where the hell does this tunnel end”, I shouted at the metal walls itself.  I could hear my voice reverberate as though I was in a tin can, and warble in the plasma dance of violence as the charges attempted to penetrate my field.  Thinking about it in that way made me giggle a little… Yes, I am an odd bird I realize as I mumble, “Penetrate”.  My life is still in danger and I am giggling because I thought about how the arcs of electricity were trying to “penetrate” my “field”…  Of course, considering the endorphin like surge I get from using my power, it sort of makes sense.  I can occasionally hear alarms modulating through the walls as I pass each floor… First one floor, then five, then 25.  31 floors down, as I count aloud, all sounds in the tunnel accept the tug-of-war between my field and the plasma stop.

I can feel air blowing up from underneath me… I must be in the basement.  The plasma stops, and I plummet the last 15′ into a pile of papers, shredded paper, empty envelopes, and sticky notes.  Climbing up, I also realize I am in a clear plastic bin that apparently catches these items.  I can’t really see through the walls of it because of the paper dust is statically clinging to its walls.  I reach up for the ledge, but I can’t reach.  I feel a little like a gerbil trying to climb out of its cage by piling shredded and unshredded paper at my feet.  I finally get enough paper, but I have to do a small hop, while hoping that the paper pile doesn’t collapse causing me to fall back into in.  I finally climb to the edge but the distance to the floor is greater than expected so I cling to the lip like a terrified kitten.

Carefully sliding down the side trying to find ground with my feet.  My grip slips and I fall to the floor, making contact with my feet to only fall back onto my ass.   A sticky note dislodges from my clothing and floats up and over my face planting itself on my forehead, as plumes of paper dust, finely, and coarse shredded paper ‘poofs’ out of my clothing.  Laying on my back still I pull the note off my face, allowing me to see the Mercury Halogen lamps hanging from the sterile, and pipe-laden ceiling.  Sitting up by kicking my feet, I look down to read the sticky note… “Mr. Osan 불고기.  만지지 마!”  I couldn’t read the Korean writing, but the suggestion of the note was quite clear to me.  I could smell sweet beef and kimchi seasoning on the note, though I couldn’t really see any spilled on it.  I’d eaten Korean food before, these smells I recognized well.  The beef smell was appetizing, but as always the smell of kimchi turned my appetite off.  My stomach and kimchi do not agree, and it burns my insides from entrance to exit, trust me on this.

Turning my eyes to my surroundings and brushing off my coveralls style outfit I realize just how much the cloth protected me.  My clothing is splotched rather generously with burn marks.  I felt like I only got hit a couple dozen times, but there were hundreds of burn marks of various size on them.  The tips of my boots were melted a little, and the charge that leapt through my toe had blown a small hole in the toe of the shoe, revealing the metal beneath.  My fingernails were still charred on the outside of my left hand, but all I had to do was wipe it away.  My surroundings revealed lots of large pipes beyond this little fenced in area, some with valves on them going into a wall in the room beyond the fences.  Behind me there was a dark, red light illuminated hallway with smaller pipes, and wires trailing down the wall.  I curled over a bit and felt a piece of paper in the large front pocket of my coveralls crinkling.  I reached for it, and the front of the pocket was blown out a little.  I pulled out the paper, and unfolded it…. It was a schematic of the basement, accept that it had a burned hole in the outermost layer and brown spots on the layers beneath it.

The map to my escape was virtually indiscernible as 65% of its surface was partially charred.  Not only that, but I attempted to look at the paper at an angle in the light, hoping that the shine of the toner was still there.  To my dismay, the map was still unreadable via this method.  It dawned on me that this paper was made of some sort of composite fiber, and the fact that the blown out section stopped at the paper meant that the paper most likely acted to prevent the charge from reaching my heart.  Even with my power, I am not immortal.  I can’t restart my heart, or at least, not that I know of.  “Well, that is that, sigh”, I say as I place the paper gently against the fence, as if to say ‘thank you for saving my hide’. I still have to escape though, and my guide was struck down in my defense.  At least this part of my escape was straight forward, there was only way out of the area I was in which I could get access to.  I hopped up from the ground like a ninja, much to my shock.  I didn’t know I had such agility.  I ran down the hallway guiding myself via red light.  I could hear the shallow echos of my tiny feet hitting the floor, and occasionally a puddle of water splash beneath them.  I came to a large, tall interchange room with many ladders and concrete tunnels leading away in every direction accept up.  I realized how deep under ground I was… About 65 feet above me, I could see a grate that appeared to be at street level.  I could hear a gentle whistle from it, and there was water dripping down from it.  I looked around the room in the reddish light for a clue about which way to go.  The light from above through the grate was too far away to be of any help.

In the reddish tinge I could see one tunnel that stuck out, as it had a spray painted white X on it.  I was hesitant about this revelation, as I touched it and carefully inspected it.  The bottom right corner of the X was still wet through the skin of dried paint over it.  Which still meant in this moisture rich atmosphere, that it was likely done recently.  But by who… I didn’t have the details on the map to know with certainty.  Being a suspicious person by nature, I can’t help but think about these things… But I’d made it this far, and I was starting to feel confident about my escape.  I’d seen no one, not a soul.  Which meant one of two things… Either, they hadn’t realized my escape route, or they were diabolically adept at capturing escapees and it was only a matter of time until I encountered them.  “Occam’s Razor”, I mumble to myself.  The tunnel has easy access, and it’s quite apparent to me that the railings are wet, which poses a hazard.  The X tunnel is up a short ladder with only 3 rungs, but the others are many stories up above me.  One by one I shake the various ladders.  They aren’t fastened down very well, not well at all.  This is… “disconcerting”.  Rickety, wet, metal ladders to tunnels to who knows where…

I didn’t like the prospects of that one bit.  One ladder even inverted a bit against the wall.  I shuddered just thinking about it.  There was one other tunnel that was about the same height leading straight out of the hallway I came from.  But as much as I didn’t like the mysterious X, I didn’t like the “Direct Path” approach option either.  Climbing up the three rungs, I look at the X one last time before going inside.  This tunnel also had lighting, verses complete darkness in the other… I am afraid of the dark, I won’t lie.  “Alira, you’re a chicken shit, you know that”, I whisper to myself.  25 meters down I can see gentle blue light and hear white noise.  As I approach I can see a grated vent, and a 45 degree  tunnel angled down to the right and upwards to the left and light of the same color, but different angle at the bottom of the 10 foot shaft.  The shaft goes up at this angle for 50′ uphill on the left, with light shining through grating every 10 feet or so.

I sit on my butt and place myself on the slope.  The surface is slick, and a small flow of water is going down it.  I slide down the 10 feet quickly enough that I let out a surprised squeak.  Now at the bottom it looks like this vent had grating, but had it cut away, and recently.  I can hear what sounds like tens of thousands of gallons of water rushing down a smooth stone surface.  I can occasionally feel the sprays of water that are blowing around in the air hit my face.  I climb out and stand.  I don’t see anything.  I look up and I can see the giant structures above me, even more terrifyingly monstrous than anything I’d seen in my entire life.  It makes me dizzy looking up at them.  I look towards the water sound, and I see a long channel with a spill way for flood water.  Water is rushing down this channel like rapids, and I can see elaborate bridges crossing the channel down it as far as I can see.  I can occasionally see flying crafts landing on the bridges, even one close to me lands and I can hear the squeak of its tires, then hear the engine change and the car like craft drive off.  I am at the top of an auxilary overflow control point about 7 stories lower than the bridges and streets.  There is only one safe way out, and that is up the long stairs up the generator station.  Above my head I can hear street cars driving across a road at the top of the spillway.  As I climb, I am starting to tire.  I used a lot of power, and I am starting to feel the effects.  My feet hurt, and my eyes burn of fatigue.  My ascent slows to a near crawl as I approach street level.  The blue lights at the top of this artificial dam on an artificial river of sorts are behind me now.  It’s dark.  At the top there is boxes a crates in this little alley space.  I can see cars go by above the crates and a fence.  I crouch walk down the alley, looking for people, and listening to my environment as though my life depended on it… Which it felt like it did.

There is bulky, unrecognizable vehicles cluttering the opening to the alley way, and an unlatched chain-link gate at the end of it.  I creep forward slowly.  A car flies by about 10 feet above street level and it scares me thoroughly with the roar of its turbines.

I can see streets and sidewalks and the front-side street level of the building I escaped from.  It was a menacing Gothic building at this level, lacking all the charm of the upper levels.  If heaven and hell where a skyscraper with stark Gothic style then this is what it would look like.  I didn’t recognize any of the vehicles or equipment near the chain-link gate.  I was crouched by a crate, trying to make out my dark, dreary surroundings.  Fatigue was really starting to get to me as I slump back against the crate a little causing the metal to make a noise as I depressed it inwards against its previously bowed-out position.  I held still and stifled my breath and waited for any sound or movement.  Nothing happened.  I let out a quiet sigh.  The chain-link fence is a security fence, so unless I stand on something I can’t see over.  Further up the alley it was high enough that I could see the street.  The world seems so, normal.  I can still hear cars, and feet hitting puddles on the sidewalks, and their dulled footsteps against metal grating in the sidewalks.  The sounds, and smell is almost familiar.  Still leaning against the crate I feel a little relief, so I decide to roll forward slowly enough so that the metal doesn’t return to its original position.  I walk crouched towards the gate when I hear a sound.  A dreadful sound.

It’s a thump, and a click like the metal latch of a door.  My heart is beating fast, I place my left foot forward…

The moment froze in time, in terror, and in shock… Dread builds as my perceptual plane is breached by a feeling like an instinct…  I sense something near-by.

… I freeze solid, and begin to tremble…

In a split second after twisting my foot to find what tripped my perceptual plane, I am blinded and startled by bright artificial lights from the vehicles cluttering the alleyway.  First one, then two, then six.  From outside the security fence, I can hear two more wheeled vehicles pull up and irk to a stop.  Something like a flying motorcycle to my right, a large troop transport immediately to it’s right, and a flying car, like the one I was with Patrick in, on my left.  I was surrounded, and I could hear the clomping of many men in SWAT gear shuffle out from behind the vehicles completely surrounding me.  All accept the exit.  Looking at the men, then at the exit I begin to dash for it.  It’s not blocked, I can almost feel the metal near my fingertips as reach out to push it out of my way, when a sharp pain suddenly pulsates through my entire body emanating from two points in my neck.  My body topples to the ground in this violent vibration and pain, like that of a stun gun.  But no one touched me, I think.  Now lying in the puddle by the gate, my whole body tingled of the shock, and I can’t seem to get my muscles to move for a second.  I ignite my hands with what energy I have left, and it allows me to pull my legs under myself and to climb to my hands and knees.  I look to my right and see the gate open and a pair of feet come through it.  One of the suddenly feet disappears.

“OOOOOOOOOPPPPPHHHH”, escapes from my lungs without my initiative as an armor clad leg throttles my abdomen sending me flying about 9 feet back from the gate and back into a deeper puddle.  My face falls into the water and I quickly inhale, getting water inside my throat.  Pulling my torso up I cough painfully, wheezing and struggling to get the dirty water out of my throat and mouth.  My head is buzzing and throbbing now, and I can’t catch my breath.  There is a heavy deep ache in my belly and every cough is painful.  My body is shaking and I am quickly losing any strength I had.  I can see the laser pointers of assault weapons glowing red and wiggling on my skin as my vision clears a little and I rock back sitting on my feet.  Sitting back a little more, but still doubled over, I look around.  I see a man in that “Knights of Templar” like modern body armor by the gate, the one who kicked me, it would seem.  He holds up a tablet and a wait icon appears on the screen.

After a moment, the screen flickers and I can see The Bishop on it, “Recovery Team Beta to Bishop Francis, reporting.  We found this girl escaping through the spillway power-plant area.  From the description, she appears to be the reason for the Condition: Yellow.  Please confirm.”

“Yes, Captain, good work.  Execute EXILE procedure”, says Bishop Francis with a smile on his face like he is watching his favorite TV show.  Pain, shame, horror fill my chest.  I can’t help but cry.  Tears stream down my face, and the pain gives way to anger.  A man comes from behind, and grabs me around the neck with one hand, slamming me against the wall behind me.  But the rage welling up inside me numbs the pain significantly.  I do a roundhouse like kick at the man with my opposing leg, and the force causes a sound like cracking plastic against his ribs as the man lets out a yelp.  He doubles over releasing his grip, as the other man grabs my right arm.  Without even thinking I grab his hand with such force that it unlatches his grip, then turning I shove my hand upwards into his elbow with the heel of my hand.  With a crackling snap, the mans elbow bends 90 degrees the other way, and he screams as loudly and as shrilly as I’d ever heard a man scream.  A few of the men open fire, and time seems to stop for a moment.  With my left hand I sweep the 210 degrees needed to erect a wall of green fire immediate deflecting the short volley of bullets back at their users, immediately causing them to take cover.  Dropping the flames I look defiantly and enraged at the tablet with the image of the bishop on it, both the Bishop and Templar with looks of shock on their face.  The bishop raises his hand pressing a button on a strange grip its attached to.  A jolt of electricity surges through my body, and the pain, and burning sensation makes the world seem to disappear for a moment.  My whole body vibrates and shakes for a moment after the discharge ceases, and I limply fall to the ground.  The burning came from something in my neck, and with my very numbed body it’s the primary sensation I can feel.

Out of my bleary left eye I can see one of the men picking up the man I kicked, and another man reaching down, and grabbing me by the collar and picking me up.  He holds me against the wall as my flesh begins to tingle again, and I can feel the cold droplets of rain beginning to hit my skin from the orange and grey night sky. My skin hurts, and I am just barely able to move as though my entire body is awaking from sleep.  I see a man come up with a weird orange and black box with a reddish panel on the inside of it, kind of like a bar-code scanner.  The man holding me forces the right side of my face against the wall, but I am too weak to struggle.  Second man presses the device against my left cheek, and presses a button, I can feel a warm light scan across my face.  Then I can feel the burn like a tattoo machine or laser burning a pattern into my face… “AHHHHAHAHAAAH!”, I scream and tremble still unable to move most of my body.  My whole cheek feels like it’s on fire, and tears well up in my eyes from the pain, and I shake even more.   I let out wails of pain as it injects something into my skin.  I can feel sharp vibrating needle like pulsations hitting my cheek-bone, and I flail a bit and kick my feet.  The sensation stops and the men pull away, taking the device with them, and sending me collapsing to the ground.  My face hits the water puddle sending even more surges of pain through my face, “Ahhhh, oww…” and then I am only able to moan.

I am only strong enough to lift my head, to see Bishop Francis laughing, “May God have mercy on your soul, should such a thing be possible.”  He stops laughing, “Did you really think you could just slip through the cracks?  Did you think a Stain like you could escape on my watch?  Abominations don’t deserve to live.  The church may forbid me from doing more than branding you and exiling you, but the world is far less forgiving to your kind.  No one will take you in, you are marked for death.  Only God can save you now.  That is a fate much worse than anything I could ever do to you.  You shall find you sanctuary, no respite.  The world will hate you, and most likely you’ll be dead within a year.  You could have been a gifted member of the church, but you defiled your own body before going into breach.  Transsexuals are  abominations in the eyes of the church, and I believe that you knew it.  We could have been merciful on you if you’d confessed your sins and thrown yourself on the mercy of the council, but you did not.  I pray that you have a guardian angel, because you’re going to need it”.

He chuckles again as he finishes, “May your soul rest in peace.”

The tablet display goes black, but I can hear the bishop on the Templar Guard’s radio, “Leave her… A healer type is no threat, and she has no real defensive or offensive capability.”  “What about her earlier display, sir”, the man asks.  “It’s a fluke.  The frail little being stands no chance of becoming more than a stain.  That’s all stains are good for… Spilling their blood as a reminder to their sins”, the bishop says, “Leave her to her fate like the rest of those of her lot.”

“Rodger! Move out!” is said as my strength leaves me and my face plunges back into the mud puddle.  I hear the vehicle engines spring to life and their turbine engines begin to spray water and rain into my face and the downpour really begins to chill my skin, now just starting to really regain sensation.  I only have enough strength to turn my brand away from the puddle.  The lights fade as the whistles of their engines turn to roars as they fly away.  I don’t know how long a laid there.  My face 1/4 in a puddle and left side of my face pulsating and burning with pain so intense it was as if my face had been burned off.  But pain was good I guess, because no pain would mean the brand was more severe.  I lay there in shock, and disbelief unable to move.  This airy, strange, numb, disheartening calm existed in this strange moment.  The rain was coming harder now, and my skin was beginning to go numb from the cold now.  I started trying to move but I was dizzy, and the weight of my wet clothing seemed to weigh more than I did now.  I struggled for a moment in the hopelessness of my limp almost lifeless body, only budging slightly.  I turned my face more into the water a little and whimpered, and broke into tears.  My whole body racked by loneliness, and an ache in my heart that felt as though someone was squeezing my chest and heart tightly.  “Why… ” I mumbled through my tears… “Why”… My cries began to tremble as hypothermia began to make every muscle in my body shake.  I could see my breath in the darkness.  I could only hear the cars and the rain, sometimes the clicking of footsteps.  I was utterly defeated inside.  My heart ached so much… I would have done anything to feel the warm hand of Danielle, or the strong shoulders of Ed carrying me.  I spaced out, despair started to take hold and I couldn’t move, so I floated in between consciousness and unconsciousness.  My vision was blurry.  The world was spinning.  My body wracked with pain, pain of loss, and pain from electrical shock.

I heard some footsteps… light… as the heels of a woman’s shoe would sound.  As I lose control over my consciousness, I believed for a moment that Danielle was there.  In and out of consciousness I could hear screams in my mind, sometimes noises… nothing made sense… I couldn’t move, couldn’t think.  My mouth felt like it was full of rocks.

A car door closes… I feel pressure on my stomach, and on my face.

I see a flicker of light go past my eye.

I feel as though I am shaking, or being shaken.  I few more times a light shines in my eye.  I hear murmuring… I have this dream… I am standing in a field, and that flashing lite I see sometimes is the sun.  The sun looks dim, but when it flashes I can feel warmth, and as if someone is touching or holding me.  “I’m going to die, I think”, I say to myself in my dream.  And my ears start to ring… and the ringing, it sounds like someone saying “no… “… “Don’t say that.”  “No, no, you aren’t”, you hear as the murmuring trails off.  The light flashes as you feel like your body is floating, then spinning, then floating again.  You hear noises like an engine, and your mind contrives them into the last plane ride you can remember.  In the dream the noise, and the sensation of floating and falling transforms it into a nightmare.  The plane is crashing, and all you can do is ball up in your seat wrapped in a blanket.  You feel a jolt, and the plane crashes and all is black.  Sometimes you hear voices in the dark silence.  They seem to be talking about you, but you don’t know what they are saying.

You feel as though your body is shaking, and you feel as though someone turned you on your side just then.  My feeling of breath returns, it’s warm here.  I can start to sense the world again.  I feel something bumpy but soft against my skin, and a bandage against the burning sensation on my face.  My head moves and I hear the rustle of the pillow beneath my ear.  I begin to wake, and I am lying on a floor on a futon style mattress, and there is candles all around me.  I am wrapped in a single white sheet with a wool knit blanket around it.  I am laying on my side.  My lungs hurt, and it feels as though my rib cage was punched a little.  My stomach still hurts, but it’s a dull throb now.

Rolling onto my back, I see a pair of knees sitting next to me.  It looks like I am in a Buddhist temple, or something.  I am in a room with paper wall near my feet, and a gazebo-like see through fence wall on the other side of the knees…  I turn onto my other side to get a better look at the person sitting next to me.  It’s Danielle, and seeing her sleeping face makes me cry a little.  There is a white box with a tapered front top corner and LCD displays on it.  There are wires trailing from its top, going behind Danielle, and connecting to me.  I touch Danielle’s leg to wake her, but she does not wake, when suddenly I hear foot steps coming from the direction of my feet.  I see a strangely familiar silhouette coming through the candlelit corridor outside this minimalist little room I am in.  As the form gets closer, I can see who it is… It’s Ed.  He is carrying wooden bowl with a wet rag hanging over the side.  I can hear a beep from the machine next to Danielle as I puffs oxygen through to the tubes under my nose.

“Ed”, I say as I try to speak but only to squeak the sounds as an after effect of being asleep, inhaling water, and the oxygen.  He quickens his step and falls to his knees by the bed.  Quickly placing the bowl aside he crawls closer to me while trying not to disturb Danielle.  “Ed, Ed, Ed, Ed”, I squeak at him, as I feel emotion well up in me and tears form.  “Menina bonita, você está bem”, he says while I hold his thumb with his hand around mine.  The sound of his voice wakes Danielle, “Pastor, you’re back”.  She mumbles a bit while wiping the sleep from her eyes, “I am not the only one”, he says with a smile.  Danielle looks down at me, and I look up at her and she covers her mouth with her hands and begins to cry.  She shuffles to her side pushing her feet towards Ed, forcing him to move as she lays next to me.  Placing her right hand under my neck, and bending her left arm around to my right side she pulls me into her and presses her face against mine.  She accidentally touched my brand with her right hand causing me to flinch, and she moves her hands where she is cupping my ear with her hand.  I wrap my arms around her, and when I do she pulls me completely into her, and completely wraps her arms around me.  I whimper and cry into her chest, and I can hear her moan as she cries.  Ed pats her calf reassuringly, as the room is too small for him to move.  She scoots up to a semi sitting position against the wall, while still holding me in her arms.  It accidentally unplugs some of the sensors causing the alarm on the white medical box to go off.  Ed quickly reaches for the power button and silences the alarm.

“Well, now that the danger appears to be over for the moment”, Ed says then trails off when Danielle looks at him.

“Kitten, you are such a handful”, Danielle whispers into my ear, which seems unusually familiar to me.  Ed clears his throat, “I read the report over the intercom, then saw this one make a mad dash for the street side lobby.  Menina tola”, now looking directly at Danielle.  I look up at Danielle and she has an annoyed look on her face, and I see her stick her tongue out at Ed.  Eduardo sighs.

“You’re going to be the death of me, filha.  Little one, they did a number on you.  We almost lost you several times.  You passed out from pain, injury and hypothermia and swallowed a lot of water.  They beat the hell out of you.  Primitivo babaca!  You’re little more than a child, and they beat you like you were an adult.  Of course, in their eyes you’re less than human.  That is what the brand is for.  They can’t harm you as much directly, that wouldn’t be Godly, but the don’t have to save you…  So, they brand you and let the hyenas pick at your corpse.  Bishop Francis, esse e um cachorro!”  “Ed!”, Danielle says in an admonishing tone.  “Forgive me”, he says as he closes his eyes and clutches is rosary.  He then speaks a prayer inaudibly to himself and does the cross gesture across his chest.  I stop to think to myself about how he looks like a character from a military science fiction show I used to watch with wormholes, or portals or something… I can’t remember now.  A true nerd, constantly comparing people I know to science fiction characters that stuck out in my mind.

“There is more to you than meets the eye.  Right after you ran out, filha, the blotter they ran mentioned that somehow you broke one man’s ribcage in 10 places and another man who you shattered his elbow.  Mind explaining how you did that, menina?”, Ed says to me contorted into a gentle but interrogative posture. Now sitting in Danielle’s lap facing Ed, I just shrug at him.  “Well, I can’t say I blame you, I’d have hurt them a little more to because of the carnage and pain those men have inflicted”.  Anger flows into me again, as I touch the sore spot on my cheek now covered in a bandage.  The fury inside me makes me rip away the bandage, and it hurts enough that my left eye tears up.  “Don’t mess with it, you can’t take it…” and she stops abruptly as I ignite my whole body.  I touch my hand to it, as the pain and emotion surges through me.  The pain stops, but my hand still shakes against the wound as I stop producing the green flames.  I close my eyes.  I let the rage calm, and breathe deeply.  Something starts to change inside me, and it feels euphoric, strange and also somehow familiar.  I open my eyes, and Ed is taken back by my expression and I sense that Danielle feels the same.  You can see something glowing brightly through my blanket and clothing.  There is a gentle light aura around my body, and seeing Ed’s face makes me realize the impact my behavior is having, and I relax.  Eduardo, leans forward and stands, then looking at Danielle he nods his head, and she nods back….