Chapter 52: Seeing Red, Part II

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 672


"They're more advanced than anything humans have come in contact with. If we're not careful, this can definitely go bad. This isn't like a virus, even though I think it had an incubation period." He glanced up. "What's the last date you remember?"

Images came back, lightly pulling the breath from his lungs. That last morning—spending it fighting with his mom, counting down the days until he could move out. A horrible emotion rose up, whether it was fury or anger or sadness, he didn't know. He swept it away, focusing on the question Zidane had asked him. "November Fifth."

The crossbreed hesitated, looking up from the markings he was drawing in the dirt. "What year?"

Equally hesitant, Lance repeated the year he remembered and Zidane nodded, relieved. He straightened, sitting up. "Okay, good. It's only been a few months then."

Lance swallowed back the tightness in his throat, remembering all the plans he had made. Plans to move out, plans to get his life going in the right direction.

Everything should still be there, just as it was.

He pulled himself out of the spiral, focusing in on what Zidane was saying. He was talking about whatever the heck he was drawing in the dirt.

"—Catalyst. It'll give us the extra energy I don't have to teleport us both."

Lance blinked, focusing. "Teleport where?"

"To the Razalek territory." These words were spoken as a tired sigh. Zidane straightened, pulling away from the drawing again with his eyes brightening a little, energy coming to him. "You remember Yittek, right? The physician that helped me back in Lanquim?"

The memory came back instantly as Lance nodded. The guy whose skin flaked off, he remembered.

Zidane continued, widening the book's pages again and studying something. "I'm kind of at the end of the road with how much I can help, so I figure it's a good time to get Yittek's opinion." He tucked the book downward and reached out again, engraving a curved line near his foot. "He'd know way more about this than I do."

"But he's Razalek, right?"

"Yeah," Zidane flashed him a grin as he stood up. "Still saved my life."

Lance also got to his feet, wondering what the incredibly intricate marking between them was for and why Zidane was taking a few steps back.

Noticing the caution, Zidane smiled again. "Not a hundred-percent sure I made the right marking. Could've been an explosive insignia instead." He motioned to something near Lance. "Go ahead and place that rock in the center."

Lance looked to where he motioned, a perfect skipping stone catching his gaze. He hesitated. The rock disappeared.

"I'm joking," Zidane said, catching the stone as it fell into his grasp. He crouched down, in front of the symbol again. "Explosions are much quicker to draw."

Carefully, he placed the rock in the center of the symbol, in the middle of the smallest circle where four lines curved in like small teeth. He stood, both of them watching as the marking glowed. The rock—along with the symbol—disappeared. A heavy vibration rippled outward, a deep feeling that reminded Lance of a bass turned up too loud.

He briefly looked around for the rock. "Where'd it go?"

"Wait for it..."

A moment later, the stone fell from the sky, landing on the ground with a cloud of dust and a small crater.

Zidane looked back to the book. "It should've been a few more inches to the right..."

Lance nearly asked how it was possible that he could even tell, but instead watched as Zidane extended a hand towards the spot where the marking had been. An immense wave of energy came from him, a power that pushed out along the earth for just a moment. When Lance looked down again, the marking had finished drawing itself.

Zidane bent down. "I need to make some changes to this, keep testing until it's right. You don't have to wait around."

"What're you talking about?"

Zidane's hesitation was only a fraction of a second. "We're not coming back here for a while. I figure you might wanna... Relax a bit." He briefly looked up to the trees overhead. "It's a nice place."

His implication sunk in: they weren't coming back. A feeling creeped into Lance but he pushed it away, focusing on the marking again.

"The distance matters that much?"

Zidane gave a small shrug. "Unless you like getting fused into trees."

That made sense. Lance turned away, walking to his left. "Yeah, just let me know when you're finished."

A barely audible sound of agreement answered him. Lance kept his ears open as he walked away, expecting Zidane to say something. He let his guard down as he walked further into the trees, the impact of where he was hitting him again.

Lance ducked his head, staring down to avoid looking up.

It's just a forest, he told himself. Just a bunch of trees.

Memories started flickering into his consciousness; this wasn't just a forest. This was a sanctuary for both him and Lisa. This was a huge part of his childhood.

Will I ever see them again?

Sunlight warmed him, and Lance opened his eyes to see himself approaching the edge of the forest's ground. He looked up, stopping a few feet from the end. He'd forgotten about the lake, and from the five years he'd been gone it hadn't changed. Grey geese flew by, a feather or two descending from their flapping wings. Lance caught the sight as nothing more than thin shapes in the distance, and he was thankful he couldn't tell exactly what they were. He was still human; his eyes hadn't changed that much.

He looked down, the still water casting a mirror image of himself. On sudden impulse, Lance dove into the lake. The weight of the water tugged on his clothes instantly, filling his shoes and saturating his socks. He fought against the pressure, surfacing and feeling a smile on his face. It'd been a long time since he'd done this.

Lisa's voice spoke from the back of his mind, scolding from the edge of the lake with a bottle of sunscreen waving in her hand. He nearly smiled at the memory before submerging back into the water, allowing it to tug against him and allowing him to fight back.



Lance floated on his back, fingers skimming the water's surface, fingertips parting the water, creating tiny ripples. These ripples added to the ones his body was creating, a small piece of the larger whole. Soon, he stopped moving, floating still and feeling the sunlight on his face. He was burnt by now; he was sure of it.

Opening his eyes, Lance stared at the sky, a seemingly endless expanse of blue. Just the sight moved him into a deeper plane of relaxation. He smiled a little, letting out a content breath and allowing his eyes to droop closed. Just before his lids shut, however, instinct came.

Spots of dark pink were in the sky now, the two of them wide apart from one another. Quickly, they were bleeding to a red color, more of them appearing. Lance shifted his eyes the spots followed. He blinked, panic setting in as the sky's blue became mostly red. In the next moment, all brain function stopped—snapping away from Lance like a wire being cut. His body folded, sinking form collapsing as water infiltrated his lungs.


Zidane stopped running, sliding across the water at an angle. He released the breath he was holding, diving in and allowing the lake to submerge him. He waited for a split second, floating up just enough for his feet to touch the hardening surface of the water. He pushed off, rocketing himself towards Lance's sinking form. With a few kicks and strokes, he embraced the human, releasing oxygen to the surface with a small exhale.

When the largest bubble popped, they were both submerged in fire.

Zidane's knees hit solid ground, water falling around them like rain. He set Lance down, carefully but quickly laying him on the grass. As his hand left Lance's shoulder, he tried not to think of how much the human was shaking.

This is what I look like...

"You're like a fish out of water, sometimes..." she had said, wringing a cloth into the bucket on her lap. "It's violent."

He didn't know what to say to that, so he said nothing. Continuing to lie down, immobile from the toll his muscles had taken.

Lance's shaking didn't seem as violent—nothing like how Zidane imagined these attacks to be. The mildness Lance was experiencing was probably a good sign. With another breath, a medical Epi-Pen dropped into Zidane's hand and he pulled the tab before slamming the object against Lance's leg, puncturing his skin.

Zidane stayed bowed, eyes closed, his hand gripping the pen so hard he couldn't feel his fingers anymore.

This has to work... The thought repeated over and over. For ten long, painful seconds, those four words were his existence.

Beneath him, the shaking lessened. The tremors settled into quivers that shook the grass below Lance's hands, and then those quivers turned to stillness. Zidane relaxed, feeling gravity press against him once again. He breathed, straightening and puling the pen out of Lance's leg. Habit set in; he shook the small amount of blood off the needle and teleported the device away. His mind formed thoughts again, and the first thing he thought of was Zooka.

"It's hard to see you like that." She gently wrenched the cloth, dampening it and letting the excess water fall into the bowl on her lap. Her eyes didn't meet his, staying down as she folded the cloth against his forehead. "It's always so hard to watch you..."

He understood what she meant now. He had seen it firsthand with Lance.

I should have told him about the reaction. A poisonous feeling came to his chest. I didn't think it would come yet... I didn't think there was enough cells to even trigger a reaction yet...

He looked to Lance, eyes raising but mind withdrawing, unwilling to recognize what he was seeing. Zidane let out a breath, pointed fingertips spreading apart. A burst of wind blew into Lance, flapping through his clothes, drying him off and healing any damage the sun had caused to his skin. Zidane moved his weight backwards, lifting his knees off the ground and rocking his feet onto the earth again. He picked Lance up as he stood, carrying the human over his shoulder and forcing himself to feel the weight. It wasn't much, but each step reinforced what was happening. What was going to happen if Zidane didn't hurry...

They needed to get to Yittek.

Submitted: December 04, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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