Chapter 53 – Innocence Lost

Ch-rrrrrsssss

Davídrius stepped away from the Interstellar Gate’s control panel, looking up as the black event horizon filled the interior of the eleven-meter ring. He sighed and glanced back at Rebehka, who sat on the ground some distance away, staring blankly ahead. The two Chaotics had traveled to multiple uncolonized planets in a row in an attempt to throw Morcii off their trail; Davídrius was now sure that they were safe, but he had nonetheless connected to one more uncolonized world before attempting to dial in to the Nimalian Territories.

“…Hey,” he muttered in a bid to gain Rebehka’s attention. She glanced at him briefly, and then at the Gate itself before slowly climbing to her feet.

“I dialed another uncolonized planet, just to be sure, but after this we can dial in to one of the Tier 5 worlds and start makin’ our way back to Nimalia,” he explained, watching as the Cryotechnic approached the Gate. “Might be another day or two ‘fore we’re back, though.” He glanced down at her knee; the cast she had previously been wearing had been damaged in her fight with Siyuakén, forcing her to remove it — but Rebehka’s gait held no indication of injury. “Knee heal up already?”

“…”

“…That was a pretty isolated snow storm back there. Unlock your Overdrive?”

“…”

“I’ve heard that unlockin’ your Overdrive can heal you up a bit. Guess that’d explain the knee, huh?”

“…”

Davídrius rubbed his neck uncomfortably. “Well… Gate’s dialed, so—”

“You killed her.”

The Velocitechnic winced at the words before turning back to Rebehka as she stepped through the event horizon. He quickly followed, emerging in a rainy, mountainous environment. “Look, Rebehka, I didn’t—”

“You can make excuses all you want.” The Cryotechnic turned to glare at him as he moved over to the Gate’s control panel and activated the block to prevent anything from following them. “It won’t change what I’ve seen. It won’t change that you’re a murderer.”

“I’m not a murderer, I did what I had to. If killin’ one person, no matter the reason, is enough to make me a murderer, then I’d already be one—” Davídrius clamped his mouth shut as Rebehka’s eyes narrowed further. Hot damn, could I find anything worse to say…

“…I should have known we couldn’t trust a Tresédian.”

“Tch.” The Velocitechnic scowled as he glanced at the Gate’s control panel. Still got time ‘fore it shuts down and we can dial out. And it just has to be raining. Just great… He then turned back to face Rebehka. “Look. I know you’re sad—”

“’Sad?!’” Rebehka exploded, the rain around them temporarily transforming into hail as the temperature dived. “You just murdered my best friend, and you have the audacity to— to— to say that I’m just ‘sad?!

“Hey, calm down!” Davídrius snapped, his patience wearing thin. “You think you’re the only one here who’s lost friends before?”

“No, but I’m sure I’m the only one here standing in the presence of the cause!”

“Quit talkin’ outta your ass…” Davídrius growled, glancing impatiently at the Gate’s control panel. The moment he did, however, Rebehka lunged forward, crafting a sword from ice and bringing it down over Davídrius’s head. He immediately drew his own sword and blocked the blade, his eyes wide with surprise before narrowing in irritation. “You really wanna fight over this?”

“I can’t let you get away with this!” Rebehka responded irately, “I’ll kill you here if I have to!”

“I’d like to see you try!” Davídrius snarled, knocking away the ice blade and then roundhouse kicking Rebehka to the side. “It’s almost as if you wanted to lose Siyuakén to Morcii!”

“You’re wrong!” the Cryotechnic shouted back, jumping to her feet as she created two more swords of ice. “I could have saved her! I had her—!”

“Like shit you did!” Davídrius deflected her incoming blows and then jabbed her in the stomach with the butt of his sword. He jumped away just in time to avoid the creation of an ice spike underfoot and then parried away Rebehka’s next attack. “The both of you were exhausted! She was about to fry your brains and you were too tired to stop her! How does that count as havin’ her?!”

“Sh-shut up!!” Rebehka cried, the surrounding temperatures diving even further as the rain gradually transformed to snow. “You can’t possibly know how I feel!”

“You’re wrong!” Davídrius roared, in the same moment pulverizing Rebehka’s ice blades with his own. “You think I’ve never been in this situation before? You think I’ve never lost a friend I thought I could save?!” He smashed several incoming ice blocks before knocking Rebehka to the side as she attempted to lunge at him again. “My Dad died before I was born! My Mom and my siblings all died durin’ the very Bleeder attack that I was away to prepare for! And all of that was before I turned fuckin’ eight! And you think I’ve never felt your pain?!”

No!” Rebehka stepped back to evade Davídrius’s counterattack before diving in to stab his side, which he barely managed to twist away from. “I don’t just feel loss. I haven’t just lost my best friend — I’ve also been betrayed! By you!

“I did NOT betray you!” The Velocitechnic suddenly smashed his knee into Rebehka’s gut, sending her flying backwards. “Call me a murderer if you want. Hate me if you want! But don’t you fucking dare call me a betrayer!”

“You’re in denial!” Rebehka countered, quickly recovering and creating an ice sword in time to block Davídrius’s next swing. “You can’t say anything else, can you? You can’t accept the truth, can you?!”

“Listen to yourself!” Davídrius scowled as he shattered his blade against Rebehka’s next attack. He tossed the hilt aside and quickly drew his second sword, blocking and knocking away the Cryotechnic’s next swings. “You’re one to throw around ‘truths.’ Did you just ignore Siyuakén’s pleas this whole time? Is that why she had to ask me to stop her?!”

“No! I could have saved her!”

“No, you’re bein’ selfish! You didn’t wanna face the fact that your friend was as good as gone, so you hid behind the idea of ‘savin’ her’! Well guess what?! You can’t save everyone!

“Just because you’ve had some bad experiences…” Rebehka froze the ground under Davídrius, tripping him up as she threw her blade at him. “…Doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have saved her!”

“It’s because of my experiences that I know you couldn’t have saved her!!” He easily smacked the blade out of the air before jumping back up to his feet and to solid ground. “You don’t know what I’ve been through with the Bleeders. There was once I lost a friend to one of their low-key mind-control Chaotics. I tried my damnedest to get her back, to save her, but you know what the result was? Half my home was destroyed, a third of the residents killed, and by the time I killed the Chaotic who was controlling her, she’d gone mad from helplessly watching her body kill all her friends and family! All because I was so arrogant as to think I could save her!”

“That… that’s different!”

Wrong! It’s exactly the same! The only difference here is that you’re lucky enough to have me around to kick your ass and tell you you’re bein’ damned wishy-washy!”

“N-no! She, she could have resisted. She was still in control of her mind, she could have—!”

“You don’t think I wasn’t in the exact same position as you four years ago? Are you really so afraid of killin’ your friend that you’d ignore her own pleas to stop her suffering?!”

“That’s… that’s not…!”

“She thought she could trust you. She thought you’d understand! But you still don’t, do you?!” Davídrius retorted, tightening his grip on his sword in anger as Rebehka faltered. “She didn’t just want you to stop her from wreakin’ havoc. She wanted you to stop her from wreakin’ havoc! She didn’t want to lose herself to the Nanocreatures, to be turned into a fucking monster, to be forced to work against and destroy her home! Do you really think that death is a worse alternative to livin’ on, her mind gone — or worse, trapped inside her own body as it’s forced to destroy everythin’ she ever loved?!”

“…That’s not—!”

“That’s exactly the choice you were faced with! She wanted you to kill her, to prevent her from livin’ a fate worse than death — a fate where she’d be forced to kill her best friend! Get that? She wanted you to kill her while you still had the choice, so that she wouldn’t be forced to kill you!

“…No…!”

“I don’t like it any more than you.” Davídrius looked down, pursing his lips before turning his attention back to the Cryotechnic. “…I didn’t want to kill Siyuakén, not if I didn’t have to. But just think for a moment. If you were still fightin’ her by the time I came along, do you really think you could have beaten her?”

“…”

“Tryin’ to defeat someone while keepin’ ‘em alive is way more difficult than straight-up killin’ ‘em. I’ve learned that the hard way. Hell, even Kaoné knows that. Why do you think she’s so scared of fighting?”

“But… if I had just worn her down…”

She was wearin’ you down, too! By the time she would’ve been worn down enough to capture, you would’ve been too worn down to do it! And that’s ignorin’ the fact that Morcii would’ve shown up and fucked everythin’ anyways!”

“…”

“Just think. You’ve known Siyuakén for longer than I have, so if you can answer this next question rationally then I’ll accept whatever you say.” The Velocitechnic lowered his guard, allowing his sword hand to fall to his side. “Could you have actually beaten Siyuakén… without tryin’ to kill her? Without givin’ your all?”

“I…” Rebehka stared blankly at Davídrius before turning away, her hair obscuring her face. “…No… I couldn’t. I… never could have…”

“…And there’s your answer,” Davídrius responded quietly as he sheathed his blade. “It’s tough to accept, I know. But the sooner you stop tryin’ to hide behind false hope — the sooner you stop runnin’ from the truth — …the sooner you can come to terms with this whole shitty situation, and start to get over it.”

“Get… over it, huh…”

Davídrius watched in weary silence as the Cryotechnic stared out over the wet, rocky slopes.

“Ha… I’ve… haha, I’ve actually been a pretty shitty friend, haven’t I?”

The Velocitechnic frowned. “A bit selfish, sure, but dunno if I’d go as far as shitty…”

“No, you… you were right all along.” She looked up at the sky as the temperatures began to return to normal, steady rain slowly replacing the falling snow. “I… was so focused on what I wanted, that I didn’t think at all about what she wanted, or even what was best for both of us… haha, she even said as much to my face, and I still didn’t listen…”

“…”

“Sorry… for being so rude to you.” She turned toward Davídrius, smiling sadly as she lifted her hand to her neck, freezing the water around it into a blade. “Goodbye…”

“Whoa, whoa—!” Davídrius immediately dashed over to her, covering the distance in the blink of an eye and tackling her to the ground as he pulled her arms away from her head. “The fuck do you think you’re doin’?!”

“Get… off of me!” She flipped him away and struggled back to her feet, stumbling away from Davídrius as he attempted to close the distance. “I can’t— I can’t live with this! I— I— I lost my friend entirely because of my own arrogance! I betrayed her to my own feelings. I almost let her turn into a monster! I don’t deserve to live!”

“Shit, you’re doin’ it again, damn it!” Davídrius snapped, “stop runnin’ from the pain! The fuck makes you think killin’ yourself is the right idea anyways?! Is that what you think Siyuakén would want? Huh?!”

“But I—!”

“Think hard, Rebehka! You were definitely bein’ a selfish little bitch, but your intentions, at least, were in the right place. Do you really think Siyuakén wouldn’t forgive that? You were her best friend. Wouldn’t she be able to look past that?”

“But she can’t. She’s dead, because of me—!”

“No, not because of you. This was over the moment that fucking bug scratched her on Sunova. But you need to stop runnin’ from the pain. Yeah, Siyuakén’s dead. No, there wasn’t anythin’ you could do to save her. Now accept those facts, and move on with your life. Don’t forget, but don’t dwell. Because that’s what she would want, ain’t it? She wanted to die so that she wouldn’t have to kill you, or anyone else. So what good is it if you go on to ruin your life anyways?”

The two Chaotics stared at each other in silence, broken only by the pattering of the rain against the rocks. Moments later Rebehka collapsed to her knees, burying her face in her hands as she began to sob uncontrollably, unaware of Davídrius as he slowly approached her and patted her head sympathetically.

“You’ll be fine… eventually,” he muttered, “but you lived. You can fight another day. For now, that’s what matters.”

“…Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it! Why? Why am I the one to survive?! I couldn’t… I couldn’t save her. She’s… she’s gone…! …Damn the Nanocreatures! Damn Morcii! Damn them all to hell! This is all their fault, damn it!”

“Yeah?” Davídrius glanced down at Rebehka. “So what’re you gonna do about it?”

“…I’ll beat them.” She slowly looked up at the Velocitechnic. “We’ll beat them. We’ll look for ways to stop the Nanocreatures, and then we’ll kick their sorry asses and make them regret ever attacking us!”

“Ha! Now you’re finally sayin’ somethin’ I can agree with!” Davídrius smirked as he stretched his hand toward Rebehka. She grasped it and he pulled her up before patting her on the back. “Feelin’ better?”

“…No.” She shook her head wearily. “No… not yet.”

“Good. It sucks, but that’s a sign you had a good relationship. Pain only comes with attachment…” He turned back to face the Interstellar Gate just as it shut off, the event horizon dissipating and revealing the mounds of rocks behind the Gate. “Now let’s get goin’. It’s about time we got back home.”

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