Shadowgirl – Part 6
Written by HikerAngel :: [Friday, 24 July 2020 15:01] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 25 July 2020 11:07]
"Quit screwing with me, And. I've had just about enough craziness today, and I need someone to talk to right now." I walked over to where she remained bowed, grabbed her arm and hauled her sister to her feet.
Andrea continued to avert her eyes, keeping them locked to the ground before her.
"WTF, Andrea? Enough already!" I seethed, exasperated at her odd behavior. I didn't have the patience for her antics right now. I seriously needed to talk through what had happened today. She always picked the worst times to mess around.
At the vehemence behind my words, Andrea's eyes darted to mine before quickly dropping once more to the floor.
"It wouldn't be appropriate for me to converse casually with you any longer, now that you have taken your rightful place as our queen."
Okay, who was this person in front of me? She sure wasn't acting like the Andrea I knew. She wasn't talking like the Andrea I knew. So formal. Converse? Since when did Andrea use words like "converse"? Since when did anyone use words like “converse”?!
"I don't know what the heck you're talking about! I know I look a little different, but you don’t have to keep calling me a queen! Now talk to me like you're my freaking sister, already. A lot of shit happened today, and you're the only one I can trust to talk to about it."
I really just wanted to have a safe person to confide in right now, but from her continued un-Andrea-like behavior, I could see that I needed to deal with… whatever this was… first.
I sighed, closing my eyes to gather my patience. "Okay, Andrea. You win. Now tell me what this queen business is all about."
Andrea sucked in a slow breath of her own as she considered my words carefully, eyes darting about as she thought. After a moment, she began to speak, gaze still averted from mine.
"You have assumed your mantle as Queen of the Xyr. Now that you have both assimilated the power of and consummated a relationship with another Xyr, you have announced your presence as our rightful Queen."
What the hell was she talking about? Xyr? Was that what the aliens were called? How the heck was I their Queen? Just because my DNA had morphed from that Xymon guy's presence, and, er, bumped uglies with him? It made no sense.
"Huh?" I replied, my confusion proving too great for my more typical loquaciousness to overcome. I paused, then tried again to articulate my questions.
"Okay, so… huh?"
Yeah, my second attempt was as lame as my first. I’m not proud of it, but you try communicating after a day in which you passed out, fucked earth’s archenemy, had half your DNA replaced, turned completely gorgeous, became super-strong, and got into a one-sided dust-up with earth’s most powerful superhero, only to find out from your goofball sister than you’re some kind of alien queen. It’s a lot to take in, alright?
Andrea looked sheepish in response.
"I'll start from the beginning…" she replied in a soft voice.
"Yes. That." I managed to get out, hoping that this explanation was a little more complete than her last.
"The Xyr Empire has been expanding throughout the galaxy for the last several million years. The Empire is over a thousand planets strong now, and Emperor Xoron is on a mission to conquer more planets during his rule than any of our previous leaders ever have. He is the strongest emperor we've had in generations, with a particularly effective combination of powers."
"You see, every Xyr is born with at least one power. Mine is invisibility. Emperor Xoron has three: immense strength, perfect invulnerability, and the power of flight. He also does not like to be challenged. He is a despot and has abused his power during his reign, putting down anyone that might rise as a rival. He has built an imperial security division loyal only to him and has countless operatives scouring the Empire for dissidents.”
“Of particular interest to his security operatives are those who show queen potential. For someone to develop into a Queen is extremely rare, even among those who show the genome of potential. The emperor is unusually powerful, so the only real threat to his continued rule would be the emergence of a Queen, and he knows it."
"So Queens are more powerful than emperors?" I questioned as my mind struggled to keep up with the ramifications of this information.
"Not inherently. Queens develop no powers of their own, but they are able to replicate those of other Xyr that they come into contact with and amplify them."
"Yes. For example, you replicated my invisibility power when you matured. However, you can hide parts of your body selectively, like invisible clothes, just as you are doing right now. I can't do that. For me, invisibility is either all or nothing. I also can't hide the clothes I'm wearing over my body like you can."
"So… you can turn invisible too?" I was stunned. I was learning more about my sister than I had ever suspected there was to learn.
She vanished, her clothes still visible, looking as if they were draped on a transparent mannequin. After a brief moment, she popped back into existence, the slightest hint of amusement on her lips as she studied my astonished face. The emergence of the old, mischievous Andrea was a welcome sight. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. She seemed to catch herself, eyes dropping to my feet, her expression turning stony once more.
"I smuggled you away from our Xyr planet when you showed the genetic markers of a potential queen. I knew that someone would be coming to kill you when I saw your test results. They kill anyone with Queen potential. Queens only appear every ten thousand years on average, so almost no one with the potential actually develops that way, but the emperor doesn’t care. To him, it’s not worth the risk of leaving any possible challenger alive. Because Queens can replicate and magnify powers, they have the capacity to become far more powerful than others of our species. Even him."
"But Raven said my DNA was only partially like Xymon's! Only partially alien!" I said, unsure how I felt about being told I had always been an alien.
"Our DNA shares similarities with that of humans. Before you began to replicate more powers, your DNA may have been similar enough that the differences went unnoticed. As you adopt more powers, however, it will change your DNA at a molecular level. Since powers are not something that normal human genomes possess, yours will appear more and more different from that of normal humans with every power acquisition."
My mind whirred through the implications of Andrea's words, but before I could ask about anything else, there was something I had to know.
"Andrea, are you actually my sister?"
"I am," she replied. I could see pride in her eyes as they flicked up to connect with mine.
"So you took me here… to save my life?"
"I did." Her eyes remained on mine this time.
I strode over to her, my long legs covering the distance in two steps, and embraced her in a huge hug.
"Easy! Easy!" she begged as the air whooshed out of her lungs. I needed to remember my newfound strength! I immediately eased off on the intensity of the hug, but I didn't let her go.
"Thank you," I whispered into her ear, feeling tears of emotion well in my eyes. I thought about what she had done. My big sister had left her home, her people. For me. It was difficult to imagine the scope of that sacrifice. She would have had to leave behind everyone she knew, adapt to a new culture, a new language. And we had just been kids!
Kids. In a flash of insight, I realized that she must have had help. "Do we have any other family here? Real family, I mean?"
Andrea's brow furrowed, and she looked conflicted, as if she were reluctant to tell me something. Before she could, the door burst open and in strode Xymon.
"So you're the traitor to the empire," accused Xymon, staring directly at Andrea. "The one who defied the king's orders."
I instantly moved between them, worried that Xymon would do something to her.
Xymon didn't seem to care that I had blocked his path, continuing to speak. "After our little encounter earlier," he said, eyes shifting to focus on me. "I did a little reading on the phenomenon that drove our actions and realized what must have happened. That I had awakened a queen. Now I've come to remedy that little mistake."
Suddenly, without any further words, he leapt forward, launching a fist directly at my head. Time seemed to slow, just as it had in my confrontation with Sapphire Valkyrie. This time, however, I was paying attention and able to react in time. I dodged to the side, twisting my (awesome) abs and obliques to evade his heavy swing. As I sidestepped, his forward momentum carrying him toward me, I threw a hard elbow into his temple, sending him through the wall of my apartment, flying across the street.
Whoa! Had I just done that? Xymon had dispatched Sapphire Valkyrie with ease! I knew from my encounter with her at Raven’s gym that I could too. I didn’t know how I would match up against Xymon, however. Judging by how time had seemed to slow, how his movements had seemed relatively slow, I seemed to be faster than him at the very least. Could I be stronger as well? Andrea had said I could magnify the powers of other Xyr. But I didn't know how much. Xymon had quite a bit more muscle mass than I did. Would the magnification be enough to allow me to beat him?
It would have to be, I decided. This guy was clearly out to hurt Andrea and me, and no one else was going to swoop in and be able to save the day. Not Valkyrie. Not Raven. They were far too weak to do anything about Xymon. It was up to me. Just me.
I ran through the new, doorless entrance to my apartment, chunks of plaster and wood dangling from its ragged edges and looked around for Xymon. There was a crater in the brick of the building across the street where he must have struck (sheesh, I'd hit him HARD!) but no sign of—
Before I knew what had hit me, I was hurtling through the air in a rainbow-shaped arc, head over heels. Stunned by the power of his fist, I barely comprehended what was happening as the ground grew near. I struck the pavement of the street below face-first.
Pain radiated from my jaw, where Xymon had struck me, now buried in the shattered asphalt. Collecting myself for a millisecond, I proceeded to push myself up from the impact crater and wiggled my jaw back into place.
Okay, so this guy's blows definitely hurt. I'd been half-hoping that I would be as invulnerable to him as I was to Valkyrie. Now I knew that I wasn't. This was a real fight. And I had to win it. For my sister's sake. I couldn’t afford to mess around here.
I felt the concussions of Xymon’s steps striking the asphalt as he ran toward me, alerting me to incoming danger. He was probably coming to finish me off, so I’d better get ready. I bounced to my feet, squaring my shoulders and shifting my weight to the balls of my feet. “There,” I thought with satisfaction. “I was ready to dodge whatever he was about to throw at me next.”
He swung. This time, he didn’t catch me off guard. I flung up my slender, muscled arm, intercepting his fist and knocking it to the side. The impact hurt my arm, but far less than his uppercut to the jaw had. I launched a front kick into his hard, cobbled stomach, but those muscles couldn’t stand up to the power of my strike, and I buried my foot into his abdomen. He flew backward, body collapsing in on itself, his limp feet digging a trench into the street to bring him to a stop 100 meters away.
He rose, slightly wobbled, spit out a mouthful of blood, and came at me again. This time, I decided I was going on the offensive. I sprang forward as he neared, swinging my fist with the momentum of my entire body before he could counter, feeling my stomach tighten, hips twist, and arm sail upward as I willed every ounce of my power into it. I connected with his jaw at hypersonic speed, and his head whipped back as I struck. I felt the jawbone crack under my clenched fingers, then he was flying upward, just as I had moments before, except higher, further. I was stronger than he was!
"Take that, alien scum!" I thought with a satisfied smirk.
Then I thought about that sentiment. I was an alien too. The same race that he was. His queen, if Andrea was correct about my royal status.
This was going to take some getting used to. I had yet to truly internalize the fact that I was an alien, not a human.
I swallowed hard.
I was fighting my own people. I didn’t know what to feel about that. Should I be fighting my own people? Were they really my own people? Or were the people of earth, those I’d sworn to defend when I’d joined super.org. Which meant more to me – the place I’d grown up or the DNA that made me up?
My mind swirled with questions that I had no answers for. Not yet. I didn’t know who to consider my people, whose side I was on anymore. This was all happening so fast…
Xymon crashed into the ground half a kilometer away, momentarily jarring me away from my reverie. He lay there motionless, at least for the moment.
Thank goodness! I had time to think, to figure out who I should be defending. I needed time to decide my course of action.
So of course, I wouldn’t get it.
"So maybe there is a worthy challenger on this planet after all…" said a deep voice echoing from somewhere behind me.
Shit! Could I not get a freaking moment to think through the earth-shattering information dump Andrea had given me? Who was it this time?
I whirled to find the huge man from the warehouse – Xymon's boss – behind me, holding Andrea aloft by the throat. She squirmed and struggled, eyes wide in fear, but she couldn't budge the man.
My stomach sunk as I realized who he must be.
The guy that wanted me dead. The most powerful man in the universe.
I took a cautious step toward him, drawn by my concern for Andrea. A second step. I began to feel a familiar weakness in my knees.
No, no, no, no, no!! I sure didn't need that right now…
The massive, bulging alien grinned darkly, eyes glued to mine, and squeezed his fingers. I heard a loud snap. Andrea's head lolled, her eyes going dull.
I stood, blinking uncomprehendingly for several seconds before a wave of horror tore through me from my toes upward until it reached the top of my head. I felt myself begin to shake, and a scream gurgled upward from somewhere deep inside, ripping itself torturously from my lips.
Muscles twitching into adrenaline-fueled rigidity, all ability to think instantly drowned in a sea of pure, snarling hatred, I launched myself at him.