((17 - Red Eye))
When they awoke, nothing was quite the same.
Spider was sitting up about six inches off the ceiling, her hair and clothes hanging towards it.
Zebra was still asleep. She was also standing over herself, talking to... someone. Someone with no face.
Giraffe was on fire.
"What the--" Spider glanced around, convinced for a moment that she was still dreaming. "This is why I want to get back on land!" she said, trying to move about the ceiling. The panic couldn't be hidden from her voice.
A forge and anvil melted out of the wall, and the standing Zebra began to hammer on the anvil. The man with no face gestured at her, and she frowned.
Giraffe woke up, looked around in confusion, looked down at herself, and leapt to her feet. She jumped around swatting at herself, trying to put out the fire. It went out instantly, extinguished like a candle-flame. The metal where she was sleeping was still glowing white-hot, though. She jumped off of it, cursing loudly. "What the fog-forsaken fuck!"
The man with no face suddenly fell backward, sprawling across the floor. The standing Zebra ran over to him, trying to get him to sit up. The other Zebra was still asleep, curled up in the corner. She whimpered a little in her sleep.
"Zebra. Oy!" Spider looked up at the others... well, down, really. "You alright?" She began to feel dizzy, and the hairs on the back of her neck stood up again.
The standing Zebra looked vaguely upwards, but looked past Spider, unseeing. Giraffe poked at her, but her hand went through the standing woman.
Spider stumbled towards the ground, rolling in the middle of the air, and fell against the wall. She crouched horizontally, treating the wall as if it were the floor.
The man with no face sank into the floor, vanishing. The standing Zebra's mouth moved, as if speaking, but no sound came out. She frowned deeply.
Giraffe looked at her hand, at back at Zebra. "COOL!" She waved her hand through her friend a few more times.
"KASBY!" Spider shouted. "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?"
Giraffe turned to the girl on the wall. "He's not going to be able to help."
Without warning, steel bars melted up out of the ground. They filled the room, connecting floor and veiling. The standing Zebra turned in a circle, looking at them.
Extremely flustered by this further decimation of her balance and orientation, Spider pouted at the floor, grumbling.
The doors of the room flew open. Kasby stood in the doors, looking significantly bedraggled and tired. He hadn't changed out of the more casual clothes he was wearing the night before. "Wh... what!? What the--" Kasby's jaw dropped as he looked from metal bar to metal bar and at the white hot section of the wall, not to mention the teen crouching angrily on the wall of the map room. "What the hell is going on?" Kasby asked in utter confusion.
"Yes, that was the response I was looking for," Spider said from her place on the wall.
Giraffe backed away from the doors and the standing Zebra, and then experimentally thought about fire. She instantly ignited. Flames licked out from her skin, lighting up the room yellow-orange. "... sweet."
Spider let out a shriek, and jumped ungracefully back up to the ceiling. She scurried to the far side of the circular room.
Kasby yelped and leapt a good two feet away from her, his hand reaching for a holster he wasn't wearing.
The steel bars vanished, melting away into nothing, as did the standing Zebra. The sleeping Zebra sat up slowly, looking around. "Ah!"
Giraffe shrugged, still on fire, and turned to Kasby. "So, Kasby, know what's going on?"
"What in the freaking Templar is going!?" Kasby yelled over her, sounding no less confused.
Spider, meanwhile, had curled up into a ball. She began to rotate in a circle, drifting from the ceiling to each wall and back again. "YEAH. KASBY."
The pilot watched the teen float up and down with an utterly incredulous expression.
Zebra stared at Giraffe. "You're on fire!"
The philosopher looked back at her. "Oh, hey! You're awake now, what can you do?"
Kasby blinked several times. "Wait... you three did all of this?" He didn't look quite as incredulous as he had a second before.
Giraffe raised an eyebrow at him. "Well, duh."
"WHAT." He didn't exactly look amused, either. In fact, they couldn't remember seeing Kasby this serious before, since they had asked him about what had happened to this place.
"Actually, this is pretty cool..." Spider said, clawing her way across the right wall. Then, without warning, she fell against the opposite wall.. "GRAHH FUCKFUCK!"
Giraffe looked around, still on fire. "Yeah, and I didn't mean to hurt anything and if you let it cool down..." She continued to ramble, becoming nervous under Kasby's stare.
Zebra had begun talking to herself quietly, saying things like, "Well, considering all that happened, it's not that strange" and "If those things exist, I guess this..."
"The eyes... the red eyes from last night..." Kasby looked at all of them very differently than he had before. "What are you?"
"Well, that wasn't rude." Spider stood up on the wall, and brushed off her arms. She didn't seem to be taking this very seriously. Then again, it was Spider.
Kasby's stare was deadly serious again. "Because I've only seen these kind of powers on one kind of lifeform."
Giraffe put herself out briefly. "What are you implying?"
"What I'm implying..." started Kasby. "Is that you all somehow miraculously survived an escape from a collapsing crystal when every other human in that civilization died. I didn't catch you in the city, either--I caught you coming out of the same tunnels that those winged demons emerged from. The ones that also glowed red," he continued, ice cold. "And now you develop... magic. Or at least, as close to it as I've ever seen. Demon magic."
Spider slumped slowly against the floor, staring open-mouthed at Kasby. "You bastard," she said, in a tone that she'd never used around them before. It was seething. "YOU BASTARD! I LOST MY WHOLE GODDAMNED FAMILY, AND YOU'RE CALLING ME A DEMON!?"
"What am I supposed to think?!" he shouted, his voice bursting with energy. He seemed to almost choke on the last word.
"We were trying to SAVE THEM!" Spider yelled.
Giraffe took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. "Do you really think that it is best to anger us? We don't even know what we can do."
"IF YOU AREN'T A DEMON, THEN WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU?" yelled Kasby, voice tumultuous.
"I DON'T KNOW!" Spider shouted back, and tackled him. She pinned him against the other wall, near the ceiling. "None of us know shit!"
Kasby roared as she knocked him back, trying to roll out of it. "You LIED to me! How much of it was a lie? Were you really playing dumb the whole time?!"
Giraffe burst into flames again, larger this time. "We're HUMAN, dammit!"
Spider punched Kasby. It wasn't terribly hard, but she had him pinned against her gravity. "You're an absolute MORON!" She dropped him, and landed on the ceiling above. She looked startled by it, somewhat.
Kasby hit the floor, hard, making the metal ring out.
Giraffe stood over the pilot. "It wasn't a lie, we just woke up with these powers, and the only thing you've done is made us angry. I know I want to control my powers."
(( 18 - Ghost Not Memory))
Kasby lay there for a second, trembling with rage, with sadness, with pain. "How can I believe you?"
"Fuck you," Spider spat at him, then stood on the ceiling and walked out the door upside-down.
"Look." Giraffe extinguished herself once again. "We are in just as much pain as you. We lost our entire lives to that thing and all we have are these powers. I would trade fire for family any day."
Kasby looked up at Giraffe, expression unreadable. At the least, he seemed to be listening. "...So would I. But I don't have either." He kept silent once more, for what seemed like ages.
"Pointing fingers at us isn't going to make anything easier," Giraffe said frustratedly. "Neither of us has family, and up until we were told to go into the caves, we had never really met other." She gestured to Zebra, still sitting quietly on the floor, and out the door towards where Spider had gone.
"Told to go into the caves?" Kasby frowned. "Into the crystal, is that where you were?"
Zebra shrugged and spoke up for the first time in a while. "We knew there was something wrong. The Mayor did, anyway."
Giraffe nodded. "He sent us to figure out where the cracks were coming from, I think."
Kasby paused again. "...Wait here. I'll be right back." He stormed from the room.
Zebra sighed, and looked up at Giraffe. "So, what's going on?"
The blacksmith raised an eyebrow. "Well, you seem pretty comfortable being on fire, so I figured you might have some idea."
"I put it out, but mostly I'm just playing with it. What can you do? It looked like you had a double."
"Me? ... also, playing with fire? Totally fine to you?" Zebra looked very skeptical of the tall woman.
"Oh yeah, can't feel a thing, bit creepy at first, though." Giraffe idly lit one hand on fire and watched it.
"Of course." Zebra sighed. "Really, though, what happened? I woke up and you were on fire and Spider was climbing the walls..."
"We dunno. But Kasby thinks we're demons."
Zebra stopped, obviously wanting to say something but unable to find words.
Giraffe shrugged again. "Yep."
Zebra sighed again. After a moment, she said, "Then I suppose we'd better wait for Kasby."
Giraffe nodded. "Yep."
Outside the map room were the archives. Row upon row of those boxes full of paper--what had Kasby called them? Books?--stretched off before Spider.
She rubbed her eyes, and concealed a sniffled, "Dammit." With tremendous concentration, she hovered up towards the floor. About halfway down, she lost it, and went spinning to the hard metal floor. Slowly, she stood up, dizzy, and walked over to a shelf. Spider picked up a book, and stared at the strange symbols...
She threw it against a wall in frustration. It thudded loudly, then fell to the ground, letting out a cloud of dust. She picked up another one, shakily. Nothing made sense. She threw it against the wall, harder still. She picked up another book, her jaw clenched with rage. The leather cover of this one fell off, it was so old.
The doors to the map room flew open, and Kasby ran out, past her.
Spider threw the book at him, with a loud grunt, watching it hit him in the head, and then floated o the bookshelf and lay on it, uncomfortably. A dozen journals fell to the ground, jostled from their perch by her legs.
Kasby stopped his run. "What, dropping me a good two meters wasn't enough physical harm on me?" He bent down, carefully avoiding looking at her, and collected the fallen journals, stacking them in his arms and trying to rearrange them.
She curled up, her back to him, and said quietly, "Just go away."
He slid each journal into its place on the shelf, one by one, each in its place. His silence was a forced one. His body language was tense, uncomfortable. He couldn't leave her there, but he couldn't talk to her. "Nothing I can say can make you hate me less, I think," he said, still absentmindedly filing the journals back in their places. "...I don't think you're demons. I don't. Promise. I just... don't have any other answers right now. And that's what I'm looking for. Other answers."
"Who cares?" The teen mumbled.
Kasby slid the last journal back in its place, and continued down the hall until he reached the writing desk, his half-finished journal from last night still sitting on it. He lifted the small wooden dart-pistol off the table and walked back to the map room, looking only briefly at Spider. Her back was still turned.
The doors to the map room swung open again. Kasby strode in, the dart-pistol he had used on the demon only last night held in his hand. "So... time to look for other answers."
Giraffe's head swiveled towards Kasby. "What are you planning on doing?" Both of her hands burst into flame, swirling up her arms.
Zebra drew back, pulling herself to her feet, readying herself.
Kasby slowly raised the weapon, and flipped a switch on the side. The front of the wooden dart-pistol flipped down and opened, disassembling quickly in a whirr of wooden gears. A small, colorless crystal fell into Kasby's open hand. "Relax, I'm not going to shoot you," he said, although he didn't sound terribly enthused.
Giraffe's fire flitted off, but she looked no less suspicious.
"Can one of you please come over here for a second? I need to try something." Kasby flipped the switch again, and the dart-pistol reassembled itself.
Giraffe looked at him, and shuffled over. "You try anything, I hurt you, got it?"
"Well, I'm going to NEED to try something. Please don't set me on fire," said Kasby, taking her hand with his free one.
"Will it hurt?"
"Yeah, probably. But it will answer a lot of questions."
Giraffe grumbled. "Then warn me right before it happens. If this is what it takes to earn your trust, I'll do it."
Kasby seemed slightly taken aback by this. He paused, then gave a nod. "Right. Three, two, one..." Gently as he could, he pushed the very tip of the sharpened crystal dart into the soft part of her hand.
A loud DING filled the room.
Giraffe jumped in surprise. "Ow, my ears!"
Zebra covered her ears, wincing.
Giraffe looked around the room, looking for the source. "Can I move my hand now?"
Registering the sound, Kasby's head jerked up from the attempted delicate procedure. He looked in between the alarm going off and Giraffe. He patted her on the shoulder. "The crystal didn't react. You're human."
DING. It wasn't a scary or unpleasant dinging, just a bit surprising and very insistent.
"..." Kasby paused briefly, then hugged Giraffe desperately, and dashed through the door.
Giraffe stood blinking in confusion. "Well, that was weird."
Zebra nodded. "Yep."
The pilot turned back, looking at them down the hallway through the open doors. "Proximity alert." He smiled. "Want to come see?"
Giraffe grinned. "Hell yeah!" She dashed after him.
Zebra walked after them, at a somewhat slower pace.
Out in the hall, Spider was still moping on a bookshelf. Kasby ran over and embraced her from behind. "You're human! I was wrong! I'm sorry! Proximity alert, let's go!"
Spider froze up, and all the hairs on her head stood up. "Of course you were wrong!" she said angrily, now from the ceiling where she'd sprung to.
Kasby ran between the bookshelves to the elevator, and hammered on the button, looking like an insane combination of elated and nervous. After a long moment, the elevator doors slid open, and the pilot stepped inside.
Spider followed Kasby, trying to keep as much distance as possible, very skeptical. She sat on the ceiling of the elevator, and watched Giraffe and Zebra step in as well.
Kasby kept talking. "I'm glad I was wrong, I really am! I'll figure everything out soon enough! But for now..."
Spider rolled her eyes. "WHAT, now, Kasby? What is that dinging? What does a proximity alert mean?"
The pilot's face broke into a wide grin. "It means another ship is coming."
He pushed a button, and the elevator's doors slammed shut, and the four humans shot upwards.