Rolf dips and sways to the music, plots extravagant orbits about the floor. A dizzying display. Twirls the foul creature in his arms. Tries not to look through the gauzy purple of her veil. She revolts him. Sickens him. Mother Immortal emanates such purity of evil he can feel it sinking cold tendrils into the warmth of his spirit.
The music rises in a swell of crescendo and he spins her close to the edge of the floor. Effortless. He can feel her eyes on him, molten gobs of steel. Searing. Boring twin holes in his flesh. Her gaze, like worms, crawls through him, around his heart. Squeezes it to blackened embers.
There’s a moment when the music descends to finale, to coda, where he can feel himself fading into her. His entire soul, his flesh sinking to black, to ruin, to frozen wasteland, and then she stiffens. Arches against him. Her strength terrible despite the brittle snap of her within that skintight dress.
He hears beneath the folds of her veil a hissing like air escaping from under some awful pressure. It whines up and up in his ear. Breaks the hold her dark energy has on his flesh. He feels it like a rebirth. A release from bondage. The bright splash of sunlight searing skin grown accustomed to shadows.
He flows through himself like a river reclaiming its bed after a long drought, where earth will crackle, bloat, swell under the weight of clear waters. All encompassing. Overwhelming. He’s gasping into her shoulder as she slumps against him; a dread weight built more of power, of evil, than flesh and bone. His skeleton groans and shakes, his muscles scream; he feels his legs give way beneath the burden.
Time drags, an endless syrup to drown within. Rolf lifts his head in unbearable increments, miniscule, agonised. Before his eyes, surreal as a dream, the angel glides across the floor. A cloak of blue light streams behind him in ribbons. Frames his giant form in a cerulean halo that twists and glows in the bright of the room. And the ribbon lights are alive. Dancing patterns of illumination become waves, become hypnotic circles, become the beat of wings.
Then the angel’s looming over him, eyes an octane burst. His strength surrounds Rolf, mountainous, impassive and all pervasive. That blue coils about him in blinding ellipses. Caresses his skin, lifts him to his feet before he hits the floor. The Angel’s arms, bands of granite, join them. Such unbelievable safety. Rolf’s eyes shudder closed and a warm flutter of air leaves him as he lets go, allows the Angel to carry everything.
Quiet falls through the room, gentle as the patter of soft rain. It drifts across them in swathes. Reduces hearts from stark erratic hiccups to even, rhythmic pulses. Soothes breath to a lambent breeze from mouth to lung. Softens muscle to butter. Lowers hackles from red alert to neutral.
Kitty touches the twins with a toe. Not so much as a twitch. He hisses out a little spit of sound, a cat laugh. Sounds worse than alien from a human mouth and Meg, rising in the doorway, screws up her little nose and declares.
‘Y’all’ve gotta stop thaht sheeit. Done tarns my teacake to a bucket of slop.’
Kitty blinks. ‘Pardon?’
Meg thinks a moment. ‘Makes me want to chuck up mah biscuits?’
Kitty raises a smooth, ebony brow. ‘Not my problem, puny little human.’ He turns from Meg; casts scornful shuttered eyes over the crumpled forms of the sisters and gives his attention to Leek.
She’s a trembling pillar in the room’s centre. Floats an inch or so above the polished parquet. The ebb and swell of the matrix all but obscures her from his gaze. Her hair’s rising toward the ceiling, a column of glistening mahogany. Her face glows softly as if her blood were liquid light.
The gold threads weave about her arms, her torso, weft through the matrix and back again. Encase her in a patchwork of colours and movement. It swirls about her in gentle motions, licks buttercup yellow around her throat, her breasts, throws spirals of violet, of red to slide her torso. She’s a vision. Ethereal.
He sucks in a breath. The gold in his eyes turns lazy circles. ‘Leek?’
Lids crack open. Storm-swept blue laden with the scintillation of golden threads. ‘Kitty?’ Her voice travels as if through a long tunnel. Faint, echoing. Husky with tired. ‘It wants to come in and I can’t hold it out much longer.’
He stalks up to her. Reaches out to that connection between them but the matrix rises up, power bared like teeth. He halts. Snarls at it, fangs exposed, a warning, a challenge. It boils about her body. Jagged shards of black peak to daggers, edged with serrated teeth of buttercup yellow. A ferocious array of wicked spikes.
Kitty shores up his reserves into a vast drill of power and walks toward her. The matrix rears and crashes down on him, heavy and hard, an avalanche. He battles through it to her, roaring, until her small, black-bound body is within his grasp. Kitty yanks her against him, fighting the pain, shards of it ripped into his essence sharp as thorns.
‘I’m here,’ he murmurs into her ear. ‘What shall we do with this?’
Leek buries her head in the crook of his shoulder. His scent rises into her. ‘It wants me to keep it,’ she whispers, fighting tired so profound it feels as physical as the muscular length of Kitty. ‘But I’m scared. It’s too much power and it’s not mine. How will I control it?’
He funnels fingers into the silken rise of her hair. Tilts her to look at him. ‘You’ll control it because it wants you to.’ He runs one long thumb down her cheekbone. ‘I’m here. I’ve got you. Open to it.’
Part of Leek will always feel like Kitty now. He’s in her flesh, her id. He’s unsafe but she trusts him. He’s feral, uncontainable, a force of energy so strong it bends the world to its whims, but she’s no stranger to such a thing. Margo and Rolf are exactly the same.
She’d trust them with her life and so she’ll trust Kitty too. It feels safe to her, he feels safe. Her lids sink shut. She smiles, a small weary bow of pink lips. Faces her own resistance, the wall she’s built against the matrix. Brick by brick, Leek dismantles it. It seems to take forever, even with the fire-warm presence of Kitty surrounding her.
As soon as the matrix senses a gap in her defences, it stills, quiet as a windless sea. It purrs at her and Kitty both. Hums that melody of contentment and pours into the well of her soul, luxurious as warmed cream. Effortless.
The Angel lowers the limp form of Mother Immortal onto a chaise. A bevy of twittering socialites circle eager as hyena for the spectacle of vulnerable flesh. The Angel feels it then. A whisper in the ether. A delicate fluctuation. It warps everything around itself to a puzzle, a conundrum.
He growls, ‘Dammit cat!’ and lurches upward, holding his huge arms out to push back the crowd. Yells to Rolf, to Moe. ‘Get them out of here. He’s re-housed the matrix in your friend. Stupid!’
Rolf and Moe exchange bemused glances. ‘What matrix?’ Rolf inquires as he grasps the elbow of a giggling debutante and shoves her rudely toward the exit.
Angel ignores them. Focuses on pushing as many prying inquisitives away from the prone body of the Mother as he can. Then he sees her twitch and he roars. ‘Run!’
A cracking noise, glutinous, spine shrinking, bright as the splinter of glass, radiates through the room. Mother Immortal lurches up as if snapped at the waist. The air constricts toward her and heavy power begins to roll from her in sickly waves. It slams out to the walls, blocking the doors, trapping hundreds of bodies in the ballroom.
She rises to her feet. Grasps her cane. Lifts it and makes one, single ringing note of sound off the floor with its ebony tip. The sound wave spreads under the heavy press of her power, takes hold of heels and wingtips and boots and spats and welds them to the reflective surface of the floor.
Two hundred plus mouths open to scream. She gestures with one gloved hand, steals the sound from their throats. Angel, Rolf and Moe, almost to the door, dive behind a group of frozen fops and maids. Behind the frilled hoops and tapered tails.
Rolf’s got Moe’s hand in a death-grip, his mind in the same, holding out the will of the Mother. The Angel has hold of Rolf, aiding him. Shoring up his strength with an endless supply of power so breathtaking Rolf can feel it shifting through the fundament of his being, altering his very atoms.
It throws him wide-open, pries into the ungifted depths of his energy, forces them to awaken. The whole universe presses in on his mind, a stygian mass. It’s excruciating pain, exquisite riches. He passes small portions of it to the shield he’s constructed around Moe as it fills him to brimming, threatens to overflow. He doesn’t take his eyes off the Mother.
She lifts her cane to waist height. Holds the top with both hands and draws her power into a tight knot. He can feel the rush of her breathing, the vast flux of her control. It seeks through the ether, hunting, searching and finding. Effortless.
‘Oh shit,’ the Angel mutters.
‘Fucking hell,’ moans Rolf.
Moe stares at the two of them, bewilderment darkens the molten chocolate of his eyes to charcoal. ‘What?’
Rolf turns to look at him, and whatever lies in his gaze makes Moe’s skin pale to milk. ‘We’re in trouble,’ Rolf says. ‘Big fucking trouble.’
Mother Immortal cries out a collection of harsh syllables. Each one interlocking parts of a mass incantation. She pulls her arms up, drags the stick through the molasses of her power and, with both hands and a harsh, ululating cry, she plunges the stick to the floor.
Wood bends fluid as water under the strike. Concentric ripples stir across the breadth of the floor, spiral an ever-widening circumference. As it strikes each body in succession they rise, eyes bugged from tight flesh, muscles rigid. Cloth peels from them in layers, wafts to the floor, a multihued carpet.
Skin follows in slivers, strips, but does not fall. It peels, winds away, to hover in intricate spheres of pinky-red, of brown, of yellow. Serene skin-storms lazily winding each buoyant body. And from the very stuff of their flesh, metallic parts, pistons, cogs and wheels begin to form. Bones crack apart, reform around cores of steel. Muscles meld to flexible sheets of wire, become potent with wound energies.
Eyes shrink to nubs, regrow as glowing red orbs, bloated with feral purpose. The skin-storms constrict, whip through the air, rebind to bone and machinery alike. Strips of cloth rise from the floor to bind them tight as bandages. Newborn Ravids crack their jaws to reveal a bevy of sharpened metal and roar to the heavens. To their Mother.
Distended with power, with arrogance, she raises a hand and watches in sleek satisfaction as they drop to the floor. Two hundred and more Ravids. Beyond powerful, beyond deadly. An army of half-living machines bound to her will. She raises her arm, points to the three figures crouched on the floor.
‘Kill,’ she commands and hundreds of red eyes turn in rabid devotion.
Margo crouches in the ruins of a beast. Stockings drip with sanguine fluids, gobbets of flesh pepper her basque, quiver in the dip between heaving breasts. She licks her lips, curling a drop of blood into her mouth. Makes a face. Spits in the mess between her heels.
‘You,’ she informs the corpse frankly, ‘taste disgusting.’
Her chin rises. Little teeth baring as something moves toward her from the belly of the ship. She ripples out a throaty growl of sound. Lifts her head.
‘Minnie!’ she yells. ‘Slimm! Mama! Cunt and centre darlings. Rolf and Moe are up to their pert little buttocks in Ravids. You know how I feel about pert buttocks in jeopardy.’
She leaps from the bed. Swipes her blade through the air, flicking blood and strings of fleshy matter to stick on the walls. Strides out of the room, pink arse tight and swaying in red silk. As she goes she flickers out of view, reforms, but this Margo is no fantasy of bronze and silver. She’s chosen a different Margo to premiere at this particular slaughter.
Ebony metal plates curl sensually around lush curves, hug to hard peaks of muscle. Cover her from toes to neck, where they sweep upward to form a collar that accentuates and protects the swan-like curve of her throat. She holds out the katana, pulls the new self upward and in to the metal.
The blade glows red, white, blue then disappears molecule by molecule. Becomes an AM blade, a glisten upon the air. Lethal even to the stuff of matter itself. Reality bends and shivers around it. Sputters and sparks. Margo holds up the blade and croons.
‘Hello, beautiful. Let’s go fuck shit up.’
© Ren Warom 2011