Home > One Apocalypse (The Dark Side #4)(11)

One Apocalypse (The Dark Side #4)(11)
Author: Kristy Cunning

A medieval flail with a large set of spikes protruding from the dangling metal ball appears in his hand. It glistens black, and smoke sizzles out of it as he swings it once.

As if they think in time with each other, Pride slams the flail against the ground, just as Greed jerks his wand in three quick waves toward Paca.

The smug look in her eyes vanishes when a black ooze shoots from the ground from the crack the powerful flail attack made. And she cries out as red lightning pours from the sky, hitting her from all different angles.

She drops to the ground, struggling to get up, as the ooze starts burning against her skin, sizzling and creating visible wounds.

“Stop this!” Kai shouts at Lucifer, who laughs uncontrollably.

“See, daughter? You can’t even handle your brothers after some petty battles have tired you out!” he shouts down to her, as Paca writhes on the ground, her screams tearing through the air with more strength than they have all day.

The lightning ceases and a red fog billows through. Her screams intensify as flames shoot out of her.

The flames get snuffed out when Pride spins and slams the flail down once more, the ooze overpowering them.

It’s the first time I’ve been certain this is too much, and it’s because she’s trying and failing this time, while they mercilessly team up against her.

I struggle with the confines of my chair, bolted to my seat by an unseen power only the Devil could wield so effectively against me in a moment like this.

A growl of frustration is torn from me when pain shoots through my body, disabling me from struggling more.

We all freeze in our seats as though we’ve been paralyzed, and Lucifer snarls over at us, showing the real menace he’s hidden well until now.

“My patience is frayed with all of you. Watch. Watch her pain. Watch her suffering. See for yourselves what a lost quest this would be for her, and realize what she has to do. What you all have to do. You weren’t designed for Jahl. You were designed to eradicate human life. Deviating from your design is nothing more than a fool’s errand.”

“Even if she destroys the world, she destroys herself!” Gage snaps. “Her trigger is tied to her life.”

“She has a secondary, less powerful, but still massively destructive trigger. She can use it to level the world, as I’ve already stated. I never intended to lose my child. The four of you can pick up the slack, leaving behind as few souls as possible, before Jahl escapes his weakening cage. My plan will work, and she doesn’t have to die.”

My jaw grinds as indecision hits me, but it doesn’t really fucking matter what I think or not. Paca’s the one in charge of this five-person circus act when it comes to that particular decision.

We still don’t even fully know for certain she’s going to attempt being The Apocalypse who saves the world. After all, she hates irony.

I’m not even sure if she fully knows what she’s decided.

Now we learn there’s a more effective way of destroying it without losing her.

The Devil knows how to sell any deal. Timing and proper motivation are everything.

I can already see Jude’s wheels turning in his head as he shuts his eyes.

I’m scared to look back down there when I hear Paca’s next scream, and Gage shuts his own eyes beside me. My head is the only thing that can move, and I force myself to look back to the scene below.

Paca manages to stagger to her feet, weakly throwing out a fireball that quickly gets snuffed out by a smirking Greed, as Pride’s ooze sticks her in place.

Pride, in a streak of motion I can barely even gauge, zig-zags through the field, and with one powerful hit, nails her in the middle with the flail.

Paca’s burst of air that’s forced from her lungs is audible over the chaos of the storm brewing below. She doubles over, clutching her stomach, eyes wide as she just gasps like she can’t catch a breath.

Pride stands with his back to her, twirling his flail as he turns and grins over his shoulder at us. When he winks, I imagine all the ways I want to murder him.

With some kung-fu panda dancing bullshit, he spins through the air, bouncing on both feet at different angles, and then slams the flail into her back.

Paca’s mouth opens in a silent cry, and I watch. It’s the only thing I can fucking do.

When she tries to get up, Greed spins his wand in a circle, and she slams back into the ground, breaking up the scorched earth with the merciless impact. Pride takes the opportunity to smash the flail into her once again.

The single-headed flail turns into a double-headed one on his next strike, smashing into the back of her skull.

Kai gags and shuts his eyes. When I try to shut my eyes, I find it impossible.

“Fucking stop making us watch this shit!” Jude snaps.

“No!” Lucifer barks, bringing my attention to the fact he’s now forced all our eyes open.

I can’t turn my head to see anything but Paca anymore. I’m completely frozen, inanimate, and useless to the woman who just told me she loved me.

The first woman I’ve ever loved.

Apparently, the only one I’m ever gonna fucking love, because there’s no other my soul has ever tried to claim.

And all I can do is watch her get obliterated by two of her sadistic brothers. Unlike the rest of the fights, she can’t even manage to use her power against them, because they easily combine their sins to overpower hers.

She doesn’t stand a chance against Jahl. Lucifer is right.

Our only option is to destroy the world as we were always intended to do.

We weren’t designed to be motherfucking heroes, and none of us really have the self-sacrifice motivation in us to go for it.

Over and over, Pride smashes her into the ground with his flails, as Paca lies there lifelessly, taking the blows as though she’s been defeated and can’t do anything about it for the first real time.

She’s used up too much of her strongest power against her siblings.

Her reserves were diminished when she showed out with her one-hit wins.

Now they’re making a mockery of her.

The savage crowd cackles, mocking The Apocalypse and her Four Horsemen.

We’re frozen to our seats by her ‘father,’ and she’s being brutally beaten to a pulp by one brother, while kept as helpless as us by another.

She manages to raise her head and fire sprays from the ground all around her, signaling a comeback, but the flail catches her across the face, slinging her head around so hard it almost looks like her neck breaks.

The comeback is quickly squashed when Greed, with his stupid fucking wand, extinguishes the fresh flames with barely a flick of his wrist.

While up on her hands and knees, Pride nails her in the gut with the flail again, sending her spiraling through the air.

The ooze sprays into the air after her, grabbing her at the ankles and slamming her into the ground once more.

It’s too much.

“Stop the fight. You win, okay?” Jude barks.

Lucifer only laughs with glee, not even concerned with us anymore.

Paca’s on the ground and unmoving, as the twins slap each other high-fives. The fickle crowd is roaring their cheers, chanting the names of their victors.

My eyes widen marginally when Paca pushes to her hands and knees again, making a pained sound that barely carries over the continuing storm.

“Stay down,” I whisper, feeling the knot in my throat double in size as my heart hammers against my chest. “Please fucking stay down,” I add on a soft whisper, needing her to not be stubborn just this one time.

A hushed silence falls over the rowdy crowd so suddenly that the twins jerk their gazes toward her. Their matching, evil grins slip across their faces, as excitement lights their eyes.

“Our sister wants more, brother,” Greed says to Pride, chuckling under his breath as his twin skips toward her.

Pride wastes no time slamming the flail back into her, and black blood sprays the ground around her as she drops back to the ground.

This time when he starts wailing on her, there’s a pulse of power that punches the invisible barrier beneath us, shaking the entire stadium.

Still half laughing, Lucifer grabs my chin and points below, as if I can look anywhere else.

“Ooooh, look! He’s pissed. Caesar doesn’t like working so hard. As the embodiment of Pride, he wants it too look easy and effortless. Even though he does enjoy punishing her for all the times she’s made a fool—”

Paca’s hand shoots up, and she catches the flail before it can crash into her skull again.

There’s a moment where hope tries to niggle in and refuses to settle, until I see her smiling beneath her veil of dirty hair.

“There it is,” I barely hear her say under her breath.

Caesar’s eyes widen, as that smile wipes from his face. Flames erupt from her almost explosively.

Pride is blown back so far and so fast that he slams into Pico, and they both crash to the ground, as Paca slowly rises to her feet. Her hair stays in her face as one of the flail balls whines in her grip.

Her tattered dress starts morphing, wavering, as it begins changing into a deeper purple…

The material fades in and out so quickly that it happens before our eyes, but nothing really gets seen until she rolls her head back. Her hair seems to cleanse itself, as her black crown appears on her head.

Her eyes are shut as the flail’s ball snaps in half, the metal collapsing in two pieces as it falls to the ground.

Shorts stop very high on her thighs, and black boots rise up to stop just beneath them, only leaving an inch of skin exposed. The front of her top stops at her waist, right where the shorts begin. A black belt adorns her waist, matching her crown. The top’s back goes down into a long trail that spreads out just a little on the ground behind her.

Lucifer drops my chin abruptly after nearly breaking my jaw with his grip, and he goes to cling to the edge.

“Noooooo!” he shouts.

Caesar and Pico recover, scrambling to their feet, and a new flail appears in Pride’s hand, as they both try to retaliate.

Her wounds begin sealing up, before Pico launches his lightning strikes again. This time, they glance off her as she remains standing with her eyes closed.

“No,” Lucifer whispers as his knees try to buckle, and he leans his weight on the edge of the balcony he’s clinging to.

Caesar slams his flail into the ground, and the black ooze sprays at her again, only this time when flames shoot from the ground, the ooze turns to ash, as though her fire just got a hell of a lot hotter.

“She just leveled up,” Kai says with a dark smile in his voice.

My lips twitch when Pico’s wand suddenly explodes, and it flings him into the invisible barrier so hard it rocks the stands. People sway on their feet, and a few tumble over the edges, landing into the thick of the fray.

They immediately turn to ash, and everyone scrambles back away from the edge as their eyes widen. It’s now too hot for the standard denizens of Hell down there to survive, so that should say something.

There it is. Those are the words she whispered.

   
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