Xander vol.1 Transmutation, Page 15Jaz Johnson
Whitestone pulled her earpiece from her ear for a moment, letting her ears hone in on the sound, studying it. The group stopped moving to study the sound. Loni’s bright, feline eyes darted about, her ears twitching time and again.
“It’s moving,” she noted. “Towards us.”
Immediately, Whitestone reached for the gun hooked on the back of her belt, preparing herself for any sudden movements or actions. She held it downwards, taking a weary step forward as she pushed her earpiece back in.
“We may have company, Elba,” Whitestone warned.
“Stay alert. We need that serum.”
“What are you going to do with it?” Nora demanded, more than asked at its mentioning.
“Study it. Maybe there’s a cure.”
Both Nora and Eleanor’s eyes widened at the mentioning of a cure. At a vague shot of hope at being able to return to their normal lives. Their normal functioning’s. But Eleanor’s eyes narrowed, sensing mislead in Elba’s delivery. She stepped closer to them.
“And what else?” she asked.
Both Elba and Nora turned her way, Nora’s eyes returning to Elba soon after in skepticism. Elba’s eyes lowered before returning to the projected monitor.
“Like I said. Study. If there isn’t a cure, perhaps there’s a way to contain it.”
“There,” came the voice of Loni.
The group, both in the hall and at the Hive fell silent as attention was called to the end of the hall, where the source of the sound had been found, almost as soon as it stopped. A deafening silence filled their ears before the startling hollow thud of a gas container hit the floor, skidding across the tiles towards them. Their eyes fell to it in observation, Whitestone’s shoulders slumping upon seeing the red jug.
“Shit,” Elba grumbled.
The sound of clicking heels came into play as a figure stepped casually from the darkness. The white cat suit she wore hugged Stephanie’s curves purposely, her open frontal zipper braggingly showing off her supple cleavage. Her chin rose as she emerged from the peculiarly placed shadows at the end of the hall, her figure taking on a pose as she came to a stop, her hands perching themselves on her hips.
Her painted red lips curled into a smirk as she looked over the small group before her. Her hand rose to brush her raven locks behind her shoulder before returning to her hip, her eyes trailing to her left at the arrival of Richard, who had been carrying the jug and leaking its contents. He stood beside her, crossing his arms with a sigh. Theodore grimaced at his arrival, as did Nora, who was looking on with the group at the Hive.
“Well, well,” Richard exhaled, drumming his fingers on his arm. “You’re a little early.”
“Sucks for you,” came Theodore.
“Well,” Richard sang. “I’d argue it’s the other way around.”
Theodore took a threatening step forward, only to have his arm seized by Whitestone.
“They are burning it down,” Nora announced. Elba tightened his crossed arms as Eleanor began to fret.
“Whitestone,” Elba signaled.
“Yeah, I know,” she answered, glancing towards Loni, who was easing herself into a crouching position. “Loni.” The guardian glanced in her direction. “Think you can track down the serum?” Loni gave a nod, her eyes focusing on the two before them once again. “Then you’re up.”
“Richard,” Stephanie called, her eyes falling on the slowly moving guardian. “Is that one of ours? Look at her eyes.” She asked.
It was then that Loni made a mad dash towards the end of the hallway. Her form blurred into that of the giant lioness, catching both Stephanie and Richard off guard as she rushed to the side of them.
“Richard!” Stephanie bellowed in frustration.
He immediately responded, his metal tentacles wiping out and lashing towards Loni. She dodged one, and the other was chopped clean off at the midsection by Theodore, who had rushed forward, his forearms taking the form of two battle axes. Richard scowled and stumbled to his right as Loni pummeled past him, pivoting around the corner and following the trail of gasoline.
“You’re gonna regret that, hero,” Richard threatened, glaring at Theodore.
“Doubt it,” Theodore countered.
“Guess I’ve got blondie,” Stephanie said with a soft sigh, giving Whitestone a wink.
“Like hell,” she grimaced in response, raising her gun, which was seen in the projected monitor, raising alarm in Nora.
“Don’t! Don’t kill them!” Nora cried, making Stephanie wince at the frequency in her earpiece.
“What? Why?” Whitestone questioned, pressing against the earpiece as she steadied the gun in her other hand. Elba grimaced.
“Right. We’ve got a Chimera activist over here. You’re gonna have to show off those combat skills you’ve been bragging about, Vivian.”
“Alright transformer,” Richard taunted as he stormed towards Theodore, who eagerly accepted the challenge.
“Finally,” Theodore groaned as he swung his blades around in preparation.
“Careful, Theo,” Whitestone warned, keeping her eyes on the Chimera.
“I wouldn’t focus my attention on them, sweetheart,” Stephanie san as she approached, while Theodore and Richard began their brawl. Whitestone frowned, stepped back as Stephanie drew nearer. She rose her hands, her gun now holstered. Seeing Stephanie approaching from her view on the projected monitor, Nora shouted a warning.
“Don’t let her touch your neck!”
Again, Whitestone cringed from the frequency in her ear.
“Right. Unless you want to die of old age in the next five minutes,” Elba agreed.
Whitestone nodded with a groan, her head tilting from side to side in mild intimidation.
“Right. The grim reaper’s wife,” she noted.
“How old are you? You don’t look anything over 18. Such small pores …” Stephanie gawked.
“And you? How many years have you stolen?”
“Me? I’ll be 21 forever.”
“Uhuh,” Whitestone hummed, starting a gentle bounce from heel to heel to raise her reflexes. “There’s a store for that.”
“Where do you think I got this suit?” she taunted before jumping into a running sprint at Whitestone.
She opened the combat with an aimed kick to her midsection. Whitestone swerved to the side, throwing her forearms up to block a follow-up round of punches, before throwing her own.
They were avoided when Stephanie ducked down and back. Whitestone quickstepped after her, trying to land a punch to her jaw. But Stephanie took hold of her wrist, stopping it before it could make contact.
“That’s my money-maker you’re aiming at,” Stephanie chirped as she shot her hands forward, attempting to grab hold of Whitestone’s neck. It was then her hands that took Stephanie’s wrists, fighting to keep her hands at bay.
Meanwhile, Richard was going at Theodore as he had Nora, and Theodore was responding as Xander had. Tentacle after tentacle was sliced off by Theodore’s axes. But more were spawning to take their place, while Richard drew closer, waiting for the opportune moment to switch up his attacks.
And when Theodore pivoted enough during a chop to cause a delay in correcting his stance, Richard seized his chance. In the instant that Theodore sliced through one tentacle, another swooped in, wrapping around his torso and one of his arms, another wrapping around the other.
Theodore grunted in pain as the coils constricted. Richard chuckled as he pinned Theodore to the wall, glancing around at the pieces scattered about the floor. He shook his head as Theodore grit his teeth in discomfort and anger.
“When did you get so violent, Theo?” Richard taunted. “Thought you were a peace-maker now. War hero gone soft.”
“That was before you became terrorists,” Theodore spat through the pain in response.
“Terrorists!” Richard laughed. “Is t
hat what you’ve told these people?”
“Killing innocent people. I went to war against people like you!”
“No,” Richard laughed. “You haven’t.”
Theodore glared, his body producing multiple layers of spikes along his body, piercing the tentacles. Richard backed away as the spikes expanded into blades, slicing through the metal again and allowing Theodore to slide down the wall. As his feet touched the ground, his arms took the shape of guns, aiming at Richard. He responded by wrapping several layers of tentacles around himself, providing a shield for the round of fire that came soon after.
Seeing his shots deflected, Theodore took his weaponry up a level, his chest shifting and taking the shape of a bazooka and firing immediately. Stephanie’s attention whipped around when hearing the impact the cannon made, and the sounds of pain and injury Richard shouted in return. Richard had been roughly thrown against the hallway wall from the burst, and had fallen to the floor. And in that time, Whitestone made her move for an attack, connecting her foot with Stephanie’s midsection. Stephanie grunted as she skid across the tiled floor. Whitestone rushed over her, straddling her chest. Immediately, she met resistance, Stephanie’s hands coming up to claw at her. Whitestone reached for her wrists, only able to grab one. She pushed it to the floor, scooting up until she was more or less sitting over Stephanie’s neck, one calf holding down the pinned arm, and the other squishing her arm against her head.
“You’re pretty feisty for an old broad,” Whitestone panted as she reached for her back pouch attached to her belt.
She was reaching for her tazer, but it was short lived when she felt Stephanie’s calf hook around her shoulder and violently tug her backwards. She groaned as her back slapped against the floor, stinging her spine and the back of her head long enough for Stephanie to make the same move. Whitestone grunted as she felt Stephanie’s weight on her chest, grimacing as she looked up at the baby-faced reaper.
“And your reaction time sucks for a spring chicken,” Stephanie taunted in response.
Whitestone’s arms flailed about as she grunted upon the contact of Stephanie’s hands around her neck. She gasped as she felt the draining shock immediately kick in, her hands wrapping around her wrists in an attempt to pry them from her neck. Stephanie smiled, her lids falling as she felt Whitestone’s youth travel through her fingertips, up her arms, and into her body.
She gritted her teeth as Whitestone struggled, tightening the grip around her neck. Whitestone, hissing as she pulled at her, raised her leg up, kneeing Stephanie in the back hard enough to break her grip on her neck. She immediately rolled over, coughing. She leaned over her arm, her blonde pixie cut swaying beside her cheek, now sporting a gray streak.
She hurriedly reached behind her in a second attempt to reach her tazer. But again it was interrupted by the pulling of her hair. She shrieked as Stephanie jerked her back towards her, getting a groan from Whitestone as she turned towards her.
“Give me your youth!” Stephanie hissed as she yanked.
Whitestone gave a sharp jab of her elbow into Stephanie’s ribcage, knocking her away as she held her hand to the roots of her hair.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Whitestone complained as she moved towards the recuperating Chimera, who was flashing hunger in her blue eyes.
“Careful,” Elba ordered, having seen the succession of the attack. “On your toes.”
“Yeah, no shit,” Whitestone scoffed as she and Stephanie slowly circled one another.
Reaching the point where the trail of gasoline curved into an open room, Loni slowed considerably as she approached. Her nose crinkled in discomfort. But not from the smell of gasoline in a close space, but because of the lingering and intensifying smell of injury.
Stopping in front of the open room – whose door was labelled “PROJECT EVOLUTION”, Loni lowered her head to the floor, her nose hovering as its nostrils flared in its observation. And it wasn’t the blood of a Chimera that she was picking up on as she stalked into the room.
There were numerous amounts of file cabinets, computers, and lab equipment spread about the relatively small room. Most of the cabinets had been emptied, computers wiped, and equipment damaged. The damage was not intentional – the computers and equipment. But rather from trial and error. Experiments gone wrong and tests that had failed and backfired.
Venturing further on two feet, Loni looked around in discomfort, trying to place the smell that she had noticed. Looking around, she was also searching for some remnant of the serum she was told to retrieve. And on one of the tables, she found just that. A puddle – lilac-pink in colour. Inching towards the table, Loni’s eyes narrowed perplexed by the liquid’s colour and odd texture. It was thicker – denser than water, but only barely.
Loni leaned towards the spill to get a better whiff of it, sniffing about as she would a feline. And almost immediately as she did, she flinched away from it in appall. Her eyes widened in horror as the backside of her hand rose to cover her nose and mouth. Her eyes darted around the room with new and horrific understanding.
“No …” she breathed, reaching for her communicator.
Back at the Hive, Xander’s began to ring. The group turned to look at him as he answered it.
“Loni?” Xander asked, wondering why she was taking the time to contact him in the mists of the mission instead of getting back to Whitestone and Theodore.
“Xander,” Loni urged with a shaky voice. “We have to stop him. We – We no longer have a choice. The option to fail.”
“What are you talking about? Where are you? Did you find the serum?”
“This changes everything. We have to stop him. We can’t – If this gets off this planet –“
Loni’s voice shook in desperation, jarring the normally easy-going Xander. He glanced up at the approaching Elba with a furrowed brow as he listened to his guardian speak.
“Loni. Explain. What are you talking about?”
“Xander, he’s … It’s Saphora. This man is using an Ekechi’s blood to make this serum.”
Xander’s scrunched face paled as it fell in blunt realization, his eyes slowly shifting from the communicator’s screen to Nora and Eleanor. Looking at them with a new set of eyes – and a new underlining of fear. Elba stepped closer, his expression clearly showing distress.
“What did she just say?” he demanded.
But before he could get an answer, the sound of a gunshot, having come from the projected screen, drew their attention. The camera, momentarily blocked, began to show a recognizable body – that had been blocking it. Whitestone grunted as she pushed Stephanie’s still body from atop hers, coughing as she rolled to the side. Her free hand reached up to rub her neck where Stephanie’s hands had been, scowling as she looked at the gradually aging woman.
“Sorry, Nora,” she wheezed.
“Stephanie,” Richard growled, arms still locked with Theodore’s as Stephanie’s body immediately began to deteriorate, revealing its true age.
Her skin blotted and wrinkled, her hair thinned and greyed, and her weight and posture fell significantly as she bled out in a whispering silence. Whitestone got to her feet, holstering her gun as she looked on warily at Richard and his worsening temper. He glared in her direction, jerking Theodore from him in a rough shove. Whitestone took an instinctive step back, ready to pull her gun back out.
“Loni,” she called in question, feeling that they’d overstayed their welcome, and also wondering where the lioness had gone.
Richard glanced at them both, now feeling increasingly outnumbered. He scowled, thrusting one of his metal tentacles against the tiled floor with enough momentum to start a spark. The spark leapt onto the gasoline, igniting it on contact and unleashing its flames. Theodore scurried away from the flames, while Whitestone rushed to her right, allowing Richard to dart past her towards the exit. She turned back around as Theodore got to his feet, backing up near her.
� she screamed again.
“Loni, the fire. Get out of there!” Xander ordered into the communicator.
Loni looked behind her, listening to the approaching flames. She looked around swiftly, looking for some way to collect the liquid. It was then she saw a standing case of open shelves, home to two small dented cases, and one open and damaged one, reveal remnants of the pink serum. She grabbed one of the dented cases, stuffing it in her pouch as the fire began crawling into the room. Shutting her communicator and doing the same, she made a mad dash on all fours out of the room, and back towards the group.
“She’s going. They’ll make it,” Xander assured when the communicator’s screen went black.
“The serum?” Nora asked.
“She grabbed something. Most likely.”
“What did she say about the serum?” Elba asked again, staring Xander down. Xander looked up at him at a loss of what to say. He knew he had heard what Loni said, but the gravitation that the situation now provided. He had no idea how to proceed, or how to even combat something like this. Elba frowned, seeing the look of despair on Xander’s face.
“I’m going to ask you again. Where is Saphora?”
Thank you so much for reading!
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Saphora vol.3 Redemption is the next in the timeline, followed by Xander vol.2 Revolution.
And now, a sneak peak to Saphora vol.3!
Saphora vs Nessa
Saphora's body flinched every few moments at the sound of weapons clashing and various parts of the castle being under attack. The sound of men and women screaming. Guardians colliding with one another with snarls, growls, and roars of anger. The sound of pain -- death. Saphora's eyes bounced around the walls of the throne room, her chest rising and falling with anxiety. With distinguished fear. And finally, her face a canvas of despair, Saphora turned around to face her mother, who was sitting still on her throne -- eyes fixed forward, full of what looked like sorrow.