From the Ashes: CATU Book 6 Ch. 25byJoeBarnosky©
THE DOORS TO THE ROOM blow off the hinges and land clattering with a loud clang. Instantly, Stone's and Dupree's weapons come up aimed at the door.
"Don't bother," Natalya says looking over her shoulder.
Aurelia strides into the rooms followed closely by Spencer. She throws up her hand and both guns fly from the two CATU agents' hands and are sent across the room into the wall.
"I told you," Natalya says grinning at her Lieutenant, Rolan Brish.
"Please stop what you are doing Natalya as I do not want you to destroy my enemies for me just yet," the young Avatar says.
Natalya continues pressing buttons, ignoring the instructions. She can feel the intensity of Aurelia's stare at her back and the growing anger building up. She turns her head toward Rolan and says, "Slow her down. You know what you need to do."
"It will be done," Rolan says pulling out a Gurkha knife from a sheath behind his back.
He quickly catches Aurelia's eye and she smiles. She turns her head to look at Spencer and says, "Take care of the other two, I will handle this one."
Spencer nods then turns away from her. When Aurelia turns back around Rolan is almost on top of her swinging the Gurkha knife with an overhead strike. The blade comes within an inch of Aurelia's head before stopping. Rolan struggles against an unseen force, his arm beginning to shake from the strain.
"Stupid fuck," the Avatar says smiling once again. "What chance do you think you have against me?"
None actually, Natalya says walking slowly down the steps toward the two with Yasunaga drawn. He was just the distraction I needed to finish up.
"Very well." With a flick of the wrist Rolan is sent flying backward to slam into a computer desk, smashing it and sending him into darkness.
Natalya walks down the set of stairs toward the Avatar. Behind her the computer targets Moscow and sends the signal to its counterpart in space. Seconds later the power plant shutters followed by a bleep on the screen confirming the city has been destroyed.
SPENCER SLOWLY STALKS TOWARD THE two CATU agents, hands out from his sides with his fingers extended and a light blue glow around them.
"Whoa now," Stone says holding up his hands open toward him. "I don't know what spell she's got you under but you've got to see what's going on here."
"I know exactly what is going on here," Spencer growls and hurls a glowing ball of blue energy at Stone. It strikes him in the chest and sends the CATU agent reeling backward. "This is the beginning of a new age and only the worthy shall be allowed to come into it."
He turns to regard Dupree but she is already moving toward him delivering a foot into his chest that knocks him back stunning him briefly. Spencer quickly recovers and delivers a backhanded strike to Dupree. The strike is overwhelming and sends her into darkness before she even hits the ground.
Spencer hovers over Dupree's fallen body smiling. He grabs the front of her vest lifting her up just off the ground. He holds and glowing, open hand in front of her face. "You are not one of the worthy."
Stone slams into Spencer and sends the oncoming energy ball in a high arc away from Dupree. Spencer absorbs the impact into a roll and throws the other CATU agent from him. They both reach their feet at the same time and Spencer sends another blast into the chest of Stone sending him into the wall and into darkness.
Spencer flexes his fingers and grins defiantly then walks over to Stone's unconscious form. Spencer grabs and lifts up the unconscious man to eye level. "You're not worthy either."
NATALYA STEPS INTO A STANCE drawing up Yasunaga. Aurelia merely smiles recognizing the stance. "Ah, Iaijutsu, a very old Japanese art style. Tell me," she continues as the ancient spear, Gungnir, materializes from thin air in her hand, "is that the modern day or ancient version?"
Natalya smiles. I spent a large amount of time in Japan studying with the best sword masters.
"Good," Aurelia says. "Since I have the world's knowledge at my fingertips, I will match your ancient style with another less well known one." The Avatar drops back as she spins Gungnir through the air.
Sōjutsu, Natalya whispers. Impressive.
Aurelia smiles, "Shall we?"
Natalya dashes forward and slashes with Yasunaga. Aurelia easily blocks the attack and laughs as she aggressively swings Gungnir back at the Succubus. Natalya rolls away, dodging the swings, coming up into a kneeling stance swinging her blade around at the Avatar's legs. Aurelia easily leaps over Natalya and slashes downward at her body. She lands a few feet away, blood dripping off the tip of her spear.
"You think you can kill me?" Aurelia taunts. "You and I are not even on the same level. You have no chance in hell!"
Natalya grimaces from the cut on her back. She pushes the pain away and sprints toward the Avatar. Desperately she swings her blade, but it is parried. She goes into a series of swings and jabs, putting all her efforts into offense, using every piece of knowledge in Iaijutsu that she knows, but it is no good. Aurelia continues to block and dodge all of her attacks, easily maneuvering herself out of harm's way.
It infuriates Natalya's rage even further. All her hatred and anger toward Aurelia seethes out and she finds herself wanting to kill the Avatar more and more. Finally she breaks the attack and leaps into the air and brings Yasunaga down upon Aurelia.
But, Aurelia effortlessly blocks the downward slash. She leaps back a few feet to dodge a sideways that follows. Natalya clenches her teeth in anger as she dances around swinging her blade at Aurelia. She thrusts Yasunaga toward Aurelia's stomach, but the Avatar parries it away with Gungnir then spins around and drives a fist into Natalya's face. Natalya glares at Aurelia with a poisonous stare then swings with a downward strike, but once again Aurelia blocks it. Natalya glares at Aurelia, pushing down at the spear. The Avatar only smirks back in response.
Then Natalya senses something and jumps back and out of the way. A huge piece of computer equipment comes flying into and slamming onto the spot she was just occupying. Aurelia holds out her hand motioning for Natalya to come toward her. "Come...I am waiting."
Fueled by her taunt Natalya focuses her power and rushes with extremely high velocity to the point she is almost a blur. She speeds past the Avatar slashing out as many as twenty times in the single movement before coming to a stop some feet away. She looks back at the Avatar expecting to see her full of cuts.
Aurelia is wound free. She has managed to block every one of the slashes.
Natalya stands before her speechless and Aurelia finally makes her move turning her defensive Sōjutsu into an offensive Sōjutsu. Aurelia strikes out with Gungnir with lightning speed, each time forcing Natalya to use her blade to barely block each strike with each strike perilously getting closer and closer to hitting her until finally...
Gungnir pierces through Natalya and the Avatar lifts her into the air. She smirks at Natalya, "Have you learned yet that it is suicide to fight me yet?"
SPENCER'S HAND, MERE INCHES FROM Stone's face, sits glowing a bright blue with intensity. "You are not worthy either," he says. The intensity increases casting a glow over Stone and Spencer both. "Only the worthy can pass into the New World."
A hand comes up grabbing his wrist. Spencer whips his head around to look into the eyes of Alexandra Fallon. "That new world of yours isn't happening anytime soon Reeds."
The shock quickly disappears from his eyes and is quickly replaced by anger. He releases Stone and brings his left hand in a fist wrapped in blue energy, but Alexandra releases his wrist and ducks under the strike and sends a fist of her own into his ribs. Spencer winces and Alexandra brings up her knee square into his face. The impact whips Spencer's head back and he falls to the ground in a crumpled heap.
"I'm sorry for the headache you're going to have," she says looking over toward the fight between Aurelia and Natalya. "Now to break the hold that bitch has on you."
BLOOD SPURTS FROM NATALYA'S MOUTH when she coughs. Yasunaga falls from her grasp and clatters onto the floor then her arms fall to her side and she goes limp.
"How does it feel to be on the losing end?" Aurelia asks staring down the spear.
"You tell me," Alexandra growls driving Muramasa through Aurelia's back and out her chest.
The Avatar screams in anger and slings the Succubus free from the spear then pulls herself from the blade drawing a trail of black blood behind. "Who do you think you are?" she screams.
"Your fucking nightmare," Alexandra answers. She raises Muramasa up in preparation to strike.
"You fool!" Aurelia shouts. She grips Gungnir with both hands and charges.
Alexandra leaps into the air and lands onto the spear into a run along the length of the shaft and throws an upward strike at the Avatar's head. Aurelia throws her head to the side just as Alexandra leaps past her, leaving Muramasa to slice into her neck and taste blood.
Aurelia ignores the deep gash and swings Gungnir around in a wide arc to dissuade Alexandra from following up on another attack. She brings her spear up into a defensive position and sneers, "Impressive for a human."
Alexandra is on Aurelia in a blur with random but well coordinated strikes. Each are parried by the ancient spear keeping Aurelia from any further damage as she waits patiently for the moment she could strike back.
She finds it when Alexandra spins to deliver a roundhouse kick. With her left hand, she releases her grip of the spear and grabs Alexandra's leg and pushes her away.
Alexandra stumbles backward and tries to reestablish her footing. A mirthless smile appears on the side of Aurelia's mouth as she sees the chance to catch Alexandra off guard and takes it by lunging forward to impale her on Gungnir.
It would have worked, except Alexandra's apparent unbalance is a ruse to lure the Avatar into attacking her. At the last possible second Alexandra pirouettes out of the way and once again drives Muramasa into Aurelia.
The demon drops Gungnir as a look of surprise comes over her face. Alexandra smiles, "Even you can fall."
Aurelia drops the look of surprise and grabs Alexandra by the throat pulling her in closer, forcing the sword in deeper. "You're wrong," the Avatar laughs, "you cannot kill me."
"No, but I can," Natalya says from behind.
Aurelia looks over her shoulder with genuine surprise this time. "How?"
"Never heard of playing dead?" Natalya asks sarcastically.
Aurelia's face scrunches up as anger overshadows it. "Never mind how," she says. "Neither of you can hope to kill me."
"No?" Natalya asks holding up her hand where she drops an amulet suspended from a necklace.
Aurelia's eyes go wide. She tears her body from Muramasa, ripping flesh and sending blood flying in an attempt to throw herself at the Succubus.
Emotionless, Natalya tightens her grip around the chain. "With the Veles Amulet I take your powers for my own and rid this world of you!"
A flash of intense white light overpowers the room, engulfing everything and everyone with it. Within moments it fades and the Veles Amulet falls to the floor clattering like a coin until it finally settles flat.
Natalya is the first to stir and quickly she is up to a sitting position examining her hands like a small child noticing them for the first time. Not long after Alexandra begins to stir and sharply, Natalya looks toward her. A scowl comes over her face and she grabs Yasunaga as she rises to her feet. Anger swells within her as she launches herself at the defenseless woman.
Alexandra senses the attack before seeing it but stumbles unbalanced with her blade in hand. As she spins to defend herself Natalya has Yasunaga poised to strike her down and she quickly realizes she is too late. She closes her eyes, preparing for her end and her failure, but doesn't feel the pain. When she opens her eyes, Spencer is standing in front of her with Yasunaga piercing his chest, his blood flowing freely from the wound.
"Foolish human," Natalya says retracting the blade.
"None more than you," Alexandra replies swinging Muramasa around at the demon. Natalya parries and twirls away allowing for Alexandra to catch Spencer.
"Why did you?" she asks Spencer when she settles him to the ground.
He coughs a couple of times before answering. "What other choice did I have? Besides, you are the best hope for humanity now."
"What if I don't want this?" Alexandra asks trying one last time to go back to the world she is comfortable with.
"You don't have a choice," Spencer coughs. "I've done what I can; now it's up to you. I'm sorry." He closes his eyes and takes one last breath then his body settles in her arms.
"Touching," Natalya says. "Now let's finish this. It is the least you can do considering you've robbed me of my destiny."
Alexandra can feel the newfound power welling up inside her. A limitless and unfathomable power, one that she knows is shared only by the demon standing across from her. But she can feel a difference in hers compared to Natalya's. Whereas Natalya's felt darker, hers was kinder and gentler. "The mistake was yours," she says finally.
"Then I will correct it!" Natalya throws herself forward and is thrown off balance when the entire structure shakes violently. Red warning lights begins to flash, followed by an alarm. When both women manage to find their footing Natalya says, "My plan is coming to fruition. As much as I would enjoy finishing this I really must be going." She holds up her blade to salute her opponent and fades out.
"Wait!" Alexandra yells, but it is too late.
Whatever Natalya has planned will have to wait. Over the alarms she barely hears the countdown warning for the power plant's meltdown. She only has minutes to get Stone, Dupree and herself out safely.