The VI4C members lunged out of their hiding places, and as they did so the CAMM agents raised their guns and aimed, then shot at the attackers. Val pushed at the air, and the bullets reversed their courses. About half of the CAMM agents realized what was happening and they ducked or hid behind their comrades, who took the bullets.
Then the VI4C members surrounded the car and two of the remaining CAMM members were killed quickly. Then Gin pulled out his matches, and ran for the gas tank. Septi saw what he was doing and screamed a warning.
“Bet back! Everyone, get back!” she yelled, changing directions. Val looked up from the chain she was relooping just as Gin struck the match and, using his power, he opened the gas tank. Smoothly he threw the match, and Septi watched it fly through the air as she glanced over her shoulder, still running.
She felt the force of the explosion, the hot rush of fire as the car flew to bits. A piece of metal hit and cut her shoulder, and Septi fell facedown in the dirt. She could hear nothing but the roar of the fire, and she was afraid to look up.
Finally the warmth faded a little, and the noise too. Septi’s ears were ringing and she knew that she had to get to her feet. Trembling she sat up, looking around, dazed. Carefully she stood, not trusting her sore legs to hold her up.
Gin was pretty burnt up, but was moving around. Mes and Raram had made it away from the explosion safely, and Ferinequell and Ryan had both taken some hard knocks, but were okay. The only person she didn’t see was Val, and she glanced around frantically, worried sick. She was mildly nausious from the explosion, and the realization that Val must not have gotten away in time was too much.
Someone put their hand on her shoulder, and she looked up to see Ryan, pointing to something lying on the ground a bit away from the burning wreckage. Smoke was rising from it, and Septi knew what- who- it was. Who it had to be. The ground seemed to pitch as Septi jerked into a run, kneeling at Val’s side.
The look of shock was still on her burnt face, and the chain had partially melted onto her hand. Blood trickled from Val’s head, where she’d hit it against the tree trunk, when she’d gone flying. Her neck was tilted in an unnatural possition, and Septi knew the horrible truth.
Hot tears of sadness and anger streamed down her face as she fought the fierce wave of emotions that threatened to choke her. Septi felt a hand around her upper arm, pulling her to her feet, and through her blurry vision she saw Mes’s sad and concerned face mere inches from her own.
“Septi!” a girl’s scream brought her back to reality, and she looked at Raram, who was pointing in the direction of the hideout. Smoke was rising and Septi knew that CAMM had done something else.
Quickly she broke into a run, shouting out orders. “Ryan, Ferinequell, take care of Gin and Val. Raram and Mes and I will go see what the problem in.” She heard people running with her, and she caught sight of Raram;s purple clothes and red and black hair out of the corner of her eye.
The smell of smoke hit Septi’s nose while she was still a bit a way from the house. She could see the flames now, flickering above the treeline. Suddenly something or someone, only shoulder height hit Septi, running in the opposite direction.
Septi found herself on the ground again, this time on her backside. Looking around, she saw Kin,. who had run into her, also on her backside, and Kane, who had tripped over Kin and gone sprawling across the ground. Mes and Raram had skidded to a halt, and were looking around nervously.
“They exploded the garage,” Kin panted. “It’s spread to the house.” Frantically her hands patted the ground, in search of the lockbox she had brought with her. Finally she found it, and offered it to Septi.
“Hold on to it,” Septi said, gently pushing it back into Kin’s hands. “You’ve done a good job of keeping it safe so far.” Kin brought the box in close to her body, hugging it tightly.
“What happened to the people who set the house on fire?” Mes asked, worry on her face. Kin frantically shook her head, and Kane answered.
“The plants,” he said, standing up and brushing the dirt off his shirt. “They caccooned him completely.” Septi glanced at Raram, who was staring in awe at Kin.
“Wow,” Mes murmured, offering Septi a hand up. Septi looked at Kin with respect.
“We’ll talk about this later. Where did you leave them?”
“By the sewer exit,” Kin said shakily. “They left a fuse, lit, and then tried to make their escape. The plants caught them.”
“But we were too late to put out the fuse,” Kane finished. “There was too much to try to put out, then we saw the smoke from the alley, so we knew where to findyou.”
Septi looked in the direction of the hideout, and realized that she had lost a ton of things today. This loss hit her hard as she realized that she no longer had a home. She’d have to replace everything, but at least she’d be able to stay with her mom.
Her mind was racing as she tried to process the events that had taken place in the last couple of hours. The VI4C was homeless, and Val had died. After they burried Val, they’d have to find a way to get a place to stay until they could find a permenant home.
It was Raram who voiced the question they all had on their minds. Septi shook her head, at a loss for any answer. Suddenly it dawned on her.
“The VI4C school,” she whispered, looking at Mes, then Raram, both of whom nodded in understanding. “We still own that property. We can live there until more permenant arrangements are made.”
“What kind of- like, how was it closed up?” Mes asekd. “Steppe shut it down so suddenly-”
“It should be in alright condition,” Septi said. “We turned off the water and the electricity, and made sure that it was locked up.” With that she began to walk toward the hideout, knowing it would be too late to save it.
When she had stepped into the opening that surrounded the house, she gasped. The fire had already spread to the upper stories, and Septi knew that there was no hope for the building. She heard Mes and Raram gasp, and she fought the rising shock and horror.
The loss and everything that had happened hit her all over again, and Septi turned away fro mthe burning wreckage. Walking briskly toward the sewer exit, Septi spoke to the Saha kids.
“Where’s the CAMM agent?” she asked, her voice cold. She was livid at CAMM for doing all of this to her, and she didn’t have any clue what she’d do to the CAMM agent, but she knew that she wanted them to know the pain they’d caused her. It was pure animal-like rage, far beyond control.
“We rolled him into the sewer,” Kin said, struggling to keep up with Septi.
“Mes, Raram, as soon as Kin releases him, I want you to keep them, Kin and Kane, away from the sewer,” Septi said, her voice strained as she tried to conceal her anger, seeing red the whole time. “I don’t want them to see this. None of it.”
“Yes, Septi,” Mes said, looking at her. Then she glanced at Kin, who was outraged. “Don’t fight her,” she whispered. “She’s only trying to protect you.”
Septi dropped into the sewer, looking around in the darkness. Finally she saw the bound CAMM agent, whose entire body, from the neck down, was tightly caccooned with vines. There was some kind of plant wrapped tightly around his mouth, and he was staring at Septi in terror.
Kin leaned into the sewers, and the vines loosened, then fell off of him, and Septi pulled out two of her daggers, both of which were coated in dried blood. The CAMM agent scooted away from Septi as she offered him a dagger, handle first.
“We’re going to play a version of Russian Roulette,” Septi said to him, her tone icy. “Take the knife, now. The winner is the one who lives.”
“What-?” he asked, completely terrrified and confused.
“I swear, I won’t use my powers,” Septi said, glaring down at him before smiling sarcastically. “Though why you’d trust a monster like me…” He reached out and took the blade, and stood shakily.
“What do you want with me?” he asked, his eyes darting around frantically, looking for an exit. Septi laughed coldly, her rage building up into hysteria.
“What do I want?” she asked, amused by his stupidity. “Let me think, you’re on my property, you burned my home and everything I owned to the ground, your buddies just killed a good friend of mine, and you’re asking me what I want? I would think that’s obvious.” He stood there dumbly, staring at her. Then he attacked.
It took Septi only a couple of seconds to raise her defense. Quickly she disarmed him, but wasn’t ready to end it yet.
“Pick it up,” she hissed, cutting a thin line into his throat. “That was only strike one.” Quickly he did so, still looking terrified. “Lunge,” she ordered.
Again he dove at her, and again she disarmed him. Quickly she cut deeply into his face, a vicious joy welling up inside of her chest.
“Strike two,” she said. “One more time.”
“Why don’t you just end it?” he yelled at her, his voice ragged.
“I will,” Septi said, smiling cruelly. “Just not yet. Now run at me again!”
For a third time, he dove at her, and she disarmed him. But this time, instead of ordering him to retrieve his weapon, she went on the offensive.
Her dagger flashed in the fading light that had gotten into the tiny space, and he barely had time to cry out before she was attacking him. Blood was pouring and her rage had taken control.
Finally she had driven him into the corner, to his knees. He was crying from pain, and Septi was too, though for a much differant reason.
“End it,” he begged, staring up her extended arm. Septi paused for a breath, straing down at him. Her rage was dead now, replaced by an aching sorrow, and she could see the pain on his face.
Closing her eyes, she tightened her grip on the blade, then slit his throat, driving the knife through to the bone. Withdrawing her dagger she turned and began to walk away, like a sleep walker. Exhaustedly she climbed up the rungs on the wall, and slipped into the yard, laying down on the grass for a few moments.
The roof of the hideout had collapsed into flames, and the roar of the fire was all Septi could hear. Slowly she got to her feet, all the while not wanting to move. Mes, Raram, Kin and Knae suddenly ran to her.
“What’s wrong?” Raram panted.
“What happened?” Kin asked at the exact same time.
“He’s dead,” Septi said hollowly, just wanting to lay down. “I’m just tired. Mes, could you go see about the guys?”
“Sure,” she said, turning and running away. The pain in Septi’s shoulder was causing her entire arm to hurt, but she didn’t care. Tiredly she looked up at the sky, which was mostly dark by now, illuminated only by the fire. Septi sighed, trying to figure out how they’d get to the VI4C school when all of their cars were burnt beyond use. Again she had a ‘duh’ moment.
“We’ll use the CAMM’s vans to get to the VI4C school,” she told Raram. “Probably one of the ones on the road.
“What’ll we do with the bodies?” Raram asked. Septi glanced at the ruined house.
“They’ll have a nice pyre,” she said. Septi’s mind was moving sluggishly, and she realized that they’d have to get rid of the other vans and bodies somehow. “Raram, go get the guns from the first van.”
“Yes, Septi,” Raram said. ‘We’ll have to ensure that those cars can’t be driven,’ Septi thought.
“What are we going to do?” Kin asked Septi after a few minutes.
“We need to bury Val,” Septi said, feeling like her heart had been ripped out of her chest and crushed before it was put back. “Then we’re going to dispose of the CAMMies bodies, before heading to the VI4C school grounds. The key is in that lockbox.” Silence fell, and Septi began to walk to the cemetary.
She heard the shovels before she saw the guys and Mes at work, digging a pit. Already it was hip deep on Ferinequell, who was working like a machine. Gin was sitting propped against a tree, finally awake and in obvious pain.
Septi dropped into the pit beside Mes, and gently took the shovel from her. Every part of Septi’s body screamed in protest to the work, but she knew it had to be done.
They worked for a while, maybe a half an hour, maybe several hours, Septi didn’t know or care. Septi and Mes would trade off occasionally, while Ferinequell and Ryan worked steadily. Finally the hole was deep enough, and the diggers hauled themselves oute.
Carefully Ferinequell and Ryan lowered Val slowly into the ground, and Septi felt some dampness on her face. Unconciously she raised a hand to wipe away her tears, knowing that she’d lost a friend and a commrade.
Silently the dirt was shoveled back into the grave, speed being necessary. Finally Septi turned to Mes, Raram, Kin and Kane.
“Go get the bodies out of and away from the van, and leave them in the woods,” Septi said quietly. “The third van, I think.”
“Yes, Septi,” Mes said, leading the way. Septi sighed and knelt by Gin.
“You alright?” she murmured, watching him as he struggled to sit up.
“Been better,” he grunted. Septi sighed, feeling aged.
“We’ll treat your burns as soon as we can,” Septi promised. Who knows, maybe the CAMMies had something worthwhile in one of the vans.” Gin snorted.
“I’d be shocked if they didn’t,” he said bitterly. “It it’s a ‘normal’ person, they’re all for saving their lives and helping them. But if it’s a mutant, heaven forbid they help them.”
“Just sit quietly,” Septi said. “We’ll be moving on soon.” Gin sighed, repositioning himself and grimacing.
“Real stupid idea on my part,” Septi heard him mutter. “Blowing up a van. What was I thinking?” Septi sighed, completely agreeing with him, knoging that it was his fault that Val was dead, but too worn down to be angry at him. Looking up at the moon she knew that this would be the start of another chapter in the VI4C’s bloody history. ‘Hopefully it will be a better chapter,’ Septi thought. ‘No more killing, no more death. How nice that would be. I wonder if it’s even possible, or if I’m too far gone.’