Patina – Chapter 146

She’s doing it for you – Hunter’s words ran in circles through Sadja’s mind. What did he really mean? She had noticed the Augur seemed unnaturally fixated with her, but… she had hoped she was getting over it. 

“What do you mean?” She cried out over the explosions as they took cover beneath a piece of fallen roof. 

“About what?” He replied, turning back to check on the closest Eerie.

“The Augur doing it all for me.”

He looked at her weirdly. 

“I thought you knew.”

“I don’-” Her reply got cut short by a rumble than run through the town like the echoes of a thunder rolling down the mountainside. Just like it did that morning, the entire town felt the vibration run through it, rippling from pipeline to pipeline in a mirrored roar. 

“What now? Is the Generator falling again?” She groaned, holding onto Hunter’s chest. 

***

Cloria lay on a bench, panting hard. The left side of her face still ached. She was having a hard time moving it. 

“That bad, hm?” She murmured to Bernardo, holding her in his arms. 

“Not that much,” he lied.

“It gives you a rugged look,” Marina tried to support her. 

Cloria chuckled, reaching up to touch the bandages, against her better judgment. 

“Please stop,” he begged taking hold of her arm.
“It itches. Are we running out of holy water so much?” She had cauterized the wound herself and stopped blood loss thanks to her Cruoromancy, but she couldn’t do much more. She wanted to. Why was she laying there with the friends, cuddled like a baby, and not trying to stand up and fight?

Maybe because her limbs weighed like lead, pulling her to the bench. 

Maybe because no matter how much she tried, she couldn’t find the strength to even lift a finger. 

How long had she been awake? Almost a day by now. The night was turning.

How much time did they have before the sun came up again?

Maybe if they held fort a little more. Even though they were already pushed together in the Furnace district, and soon even those defenses would fail. 

The Fae could use their own dead to replenish their ranks.

Where was Sadja by the way? Was she safe?

Closing her eyes, she tried to send out her tendrils, even though between the cold and the night and her weariness they wormed their way through the air like directionless birds. 

“Gnnh,” she groaned, almost letting go. 

But then she did hit something. 

Something was coming. 

She blinked. Panting hard, cursing through the pain, she stood up on her elbow and looked behind at the Temple.

No wait, she wasn’t there. She moved her gaze to the entrance to the Generator, or what remained of it befor-

“That little bitch will make it,” she murmured in awe.

That girl. Beyond anything, she really showed what an Augur could do, in the right circumstances, if her heart was in the right place. 

“What do mea-”

A rumble like the earth deciding to turn around rolled from the Generator depths through the entire town, rising over the shooting, the flashes of explosion, the smell of dead or charred or screaming meat.

Not even knowing where she found the strength for it, Cloria laughed. 

“What did I tell you? Something was about to happen!”

She laughed again. The Generator was back into its proper place. 

Now all that it needed was a flame. 

As for Cloria, she had found her own. 

“Help me stand up,” she said tugging on Bernardo’s arm. 

“You’re wounded. You can’t fight.”

“I don’t plan to, not until I can have my shower and my back massage, thank you very much.” She tapped her head. “But I have just decided I want to find a bit of pride in my training as a Vestal, after all. Anyone has seen the Hunter?”

***

Elissa stepped up, trying not to swoon on every step.

What a dangerous thing, hope was.

Each step on metal followed by stark echoes of blood drip-dripping down onto the metal floor.

At last, she reached another hallway, leading into a similar pit to the one she had come out from, but lightened by electric, buzzing lights that must have been shining there since the War. They surely were in better shape than she was. 

“I ran as quick as- as- I could…” the engineer said, holding onto the pure Coronite he had taken from the Furnace District. Around him the Threads behaved a little differently, squirming. 

He had seen Sadja.

She was fine. 

She was still alive, and she was still out there, and thanks to her, she’d see another day. 

An endless line of new days, in fact. 

“What do I do with this,” Elissa croaked, stumbling forward to take the fuel jar in her hands. The packet was full to the brim of what looked like off-white gravel, lighter than she expected. 

“Careful with that,” Arguta said. “One wrong move and the Eerie will only found our burn marks on the floor.” She picked up one and held it, gently, between her fingers. “This is to reactivate the reaction. We don’t have much, but it should be enough. It has to be quick. Can you make it so one half implodes on the recoiling shockwave? It should simulate the accelerator process of the Erepeople.”

Her mind took a minute to understand what she meant. 

“Like clapping my hands,” she mumbled.

Arguta snorted.

“Clever girl. Good work down there.” She offered her a smile, maybe the first actually-impressed smile she had ever seen on the woman’s wrinkly face. “You know me. Never cared much for Augurs. But what you did… moving it back together.” She let out a low whistle.

“It wasn’t moving,” she corrected. “I translated it into a possible future, ignoring its ontological inertia. One moment it is not there, one moment it is.”

Silence stretched in the room, and she couldn’t stifle a smile. These people did get it. 

“You’re welcome. The Core is that way, I presume?”

Arguta could only nod. Elissa turned to walk down a metal walkway onto an ominous mouth. 

“Besides, I am sorry,” she said as she took her first step. “I am not doing this for you. I like you all enough, and I am thankful for showing me friendship. But I am doing this for her.”

A brief shadow passed on Arguta’s face.

Then she nodded.

“Best of luck, then.”

“Luck is highly overrated,” Elissa replied, holding onto the jar of Coronite, walking towards the final darkness.

Pic by hiveworkshop.com

Author’s Notes: Another chapter I enjoyed writing, thankfully. Also, I wanted to thank you all for the amazing response I received to the last short, Cage of Glass; I really like that storyline and might take this as an incentive to finally publish it. Thanks for reading, now and always.

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