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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/998332-Chapter-Five
Rated: XGC · Book · Action/Adventure · #2237710
Following the events of The Tower, the lives of our heroes take a turn for the dark...
#998332 added November 14, 2020 at 3:27am
Restrictions: None
Chapter Five
The rays of sunshine that crept through the cracked windows were what woke Beth the following morning. She groaned as she opened her eyes; her head was pounding. Maybe she overdid it a bit with the whiskey last night, but in truth she couldn't remember how much she'd drank. She stretched in an attempt to loosen her stiff muscles, but her foot connected with a face. She looked down to see Alexis fast asleep by her feet; she rolled her eyes at the girl. Alexis didn't make a secret of her foot fetish, and when it came to feet she didn't have a preference between men and women. The whole situation made her a little uncomfortable and she decided to give the girl a little kick to wake her up.

"Ow," Alexis said as Beth's bare foot lightly connected with the top of her head, "What the hell was that for?"

Beth sat up and glared at her before asking, "What the fuck did you think you were doing? Who the hell said you could sleep down there?"

Alexis sat up and stretched herself as she said, "Okay, first it's my fucking place so I don't think I need permission to sleep anywhere. Second, you weren't complaining last night when I was playing with your feet."

Beth balked at her remark and tried to stammer out a reply, "I-I what?! What the fuck are you on about?!"

Alexis grinned and sauntered over to her flustered new friend. Clearly Beth didn't have much of a tolerance to alcohol and couldn't remember the night's events, but she could. She decided to savor this opportunity and milk it for all it was worth. The blush on Beth's face was priceless and she knew it was about to get worse, "You don't remember?" she asked innocently, "Let me refresh your memory, after your third glass last night you got a little...open to suggestions. All I did was offer a little foot rub and you ran with it, I never thought that Ms. 'I'm Not Into Girls' would be the one to make the first move."

Beth backed up and tripped over the couch as her face began to burn, "S-shut up!" she said, "That's bullshit and you know it!"

Alexis nearly doubled over with laughter, "Maybe it is maybe it isn't," she said, "Guess that's for me to know and you to wonder. I will say what is true is that you definitely didn't put up any fight when I started fondling those feet."

Beth shuddered at the image as she stood and walked around Alexis, "Fuck you," she said.

Aleix couldn't help the grin that spread across her face, "That's twice you offered that!"

Beth yelled back as she looked for some aspirin, "Shut. The. Fuck. Up!"

Jake stood beside Goth with his leash resting on the arm of her throne. The draft that ran through the castle gave him a slight chill; he wished Goth would have let him just wear his suit. She had taken to assigning him outfits and his current one wasn't doing him any favors against the cold air. A tight mesh top and tighter leather shorts left little to the imagination, and more than once he'd caught some of the other occupants staring at him. It pleased Goth, though, so he would make due and endure. He was thankful for Nastia being assigned the task of retrieving some package that had arrived; her hungry gaze only added to his discomfort.

He stood at attention as the woman in question returned with a small brown box. Something was scrawled across the top, but he couldn't discern what it said from this distance. It wasn't until she stepped closer and knelt before Goth that he could read it. In big red letters were the words: You Did This to Them. He looked up to his Goddess with uncertainty and confusion to see if maybe she knew what it meant. Judging by the look on her face, she was just as lost as he was by the words upon the box. She soon gave the order, "Open it, Nastia."

Nastia nodded and set about opening the small parcel. Dilatrix stood on Goth's other side and calmly said, "I wouldn't advise opening that here, my Blackest Matron, the contents are...most disturbing."

Goth looked over to her and then back to Nastia who had paused in opening it in response to Dilatrix's objection. Goth waved her off and motioned for Nastia to continue. She nodded and resumed the process. Once it was open she reached in and immediately recoiled in disgust, something unusual for the green haired villain. "What the actual fuck?!" she exclaimed as she dropped the package and an eyeball rolled out, "That's fucking sick, even for me!"

Jake had to agree with her on this one. Even as disgusting as she was, he'd never known her to mess with eyes of all things. He watched as his Goddess bent down to pick up the eye and inspect it. He felt a little sick to his stomach as she held it in her bare hand and rolled it around. Slowly, her face turned to one of shock then one of anger. Her eye twitched as she muttered faintly, "Chelsea."

Nastia spoke up as she continued shaking her hand in a vain attempt to remove the feeling of the eye, "Who in the fuck sends a goddamned eyeball to someone?!"

Aurora spoke up in response, "Someone wanting to send a message."

Goth rose from her seat and inspected the box. She found a small casing with a disk labeled: What's to Come. She tossed the case to Jake who caught it and looked up at her. "That is the eye of my sister," she said with no small amount of rage, "Play that, Jake, I want to see who is foolish enough to stand against a God."

Dilatrix stood in between him and the small projector that was setup nearby. She held out a hand in front of him and looked to Goth, "The contents of that disk are not something your court should see," she said, "I strongly advise against playing that here."

Goth looked to her with eyes beginning to glow, " Do not question me again!" she exclaimed, "Play the fucking disk!"

Jake didn't need to be told twice and he stepped around Dilatrix to do as he was commanded. He placed the disk in the machine and flipped it on. The wall adjacent Goth illuminated with the image of one of his old properties. He recognized the balcony, but what gave him pause was the image of Pamela chained to the railing. He squinted to make sure he was seeing clearly, but his eyes widened with the form of his best friend entered the picture. It was clearly Beth, but something was off. Her usual suit was gone and in its place was what looked like street clothes. Loose pants and a heavy coat adorned her figure as she went to kneel before Pamela. What was she doing?

He didn't wonder long as the room fell silent and they watched as Beth began brutalizing Pamela. He watched in shock as his friend shared some harsh words before she began cutting her. The slices were precise and deliberate, and what was most disturbing was the look on Beth's face. She didn't turn to the camera often, but when she did a sadistic smile that seemed more at home on his Goddess than his friend graced her features. It was more than a little off-putting and disturbing to see the malice in her face. He watched as Pamela fought back screams of pain; a feeling all too familiar within himself. The words of her friend stuck out in his mind, "I am the Feral, I want you to suffer like he did, I want you to beg me for death." What had happened to his friend and teammate and what did she mean like he did?

He winced as he heard Pamela scream for her to stop, and when Beth walked off screen only to return with a whip. Flashbacks of his time in the dungeon raced through his mind as Beth began lashing Pamela. Beth's aim was no where near as accurate as Goth's, but the strikes connected all the same. The wounds grew quickly and blood began to pool up around Pamela. This was wrong on so many levels, and he couldn't understand why Beth would do this. Word of The Feral had spread to Citiville and he figured it was someone sick of Goth, but he never would have guessed it was Beth. Pamela eventually stopped crying out in pain, something odd in itself, but Beth didn't let up for another few minutes.

Things continued to escalate as he watched Beth begin to drive knives under Pamela's fingernails. Pamela's screams and pleas finally returned tenfold, and she said something that gave him pause. The words "He's alive" burst from her lips in an attempt for mercy, but Beth only seemed to become more engaged. He watched as Beth continued her torture, but his mind was trying to piece together what she was referring to. The whip, the mention of him twice now, and the sudden change were indicators too specific to ignore. Somehow, Beth knew what had happened to him in the dungeon. He couldn't quite figure out how, but his gut told him an obvious truth. He had seen a faint glow that night and was sure it was a camera. He buried the thought along with many others that spiked a fire of rebellion in him; it wasn't worth it to take a stand, not anymore.

The video took an odd turn at the end. Pamela had stopped speaking, pleading, and screaming while Beth seemed to grow in fury. Blind rage that seemed to fit the phrase breakdown seemingly overtook her. In the last moment amidst the screams of Beth the room watched as Pamela had her throat slit. What stuck out to Jake was her eyes; something in them didn't seem right for the situation. Something unfamiliar and foreign rested in Pamela's normally uninterested gaze, but exactly what no one could say except the woman that now lay dead at his cabin. The room was silent and eerily so for a time after the video ceased. Nastia broke the silence with a shocked and somewhat fearful voice, "Jesus fucking christ! Was that Cat Girl?!"

Jake watched the formidably repulsive woman shudder with anxiety over the contents of the film. Aurora was the next to speak with something between respect and rage denoting her tone, "Sure as shit didn't seem like her, but I'll be damned if it wasn't. Little bitch is creative, I'll give her that, hmph it almost makes me wish she was on our side."

Dilatrix remained silent as the reactions came about from the court. Murmurs of shock, awe, and fear seemed to overtake everyone until Goth rose from her throne once again, "Enough!" she exclaimed, "Elizabeth has made a grave mistake and will pay for her crimes against me and my own. I want her found and brought to me, and you my little Raven, are going to answer for her crimes until she is brought to me."

Jake paled at his Goddess' words. He backed up instinctively as fear welled up within him and began to twist into terror. He tripped and fell backwards before beginning to beg, "P-please Goddess I-I had no way of knowing this would happen!"

She yanked on his leash and pulled him to her. She brought him close to her face as she spoke, "You shouldn't have let her go, now my sister and Pamela are dead because of you!"

Things suddenly slowed down before the room came to a screeching halt. All that was left in motion were Dilatrix, Jake, and Goth. Dilatrix moved swiftly and separated Jake's leash from Goth's grip. He fell to the ground with a thud as Dilatrix spoke, "That is enough! This boy has nothing to do with what's happened. All of this is because of your actions, just as is his behavior. He covers at your approach like a wounded animal and heeds your word like it is law, yet you still continue to abuse him. You were the one who sent her that recording of your own accord, and I have seen across many timelines and I will tell you something. The ones where Jake is most loyal are the ones you treat him like a person. Continue down this path and you will drive your beloved further away and remove what chance you have of having him of his own free will."

Goth stared down Dilatrix for a moment. Jake was sure he was about to witness a battle for magical supremacy, but nothing seemed to be happening. Slowly Goth began to calm down as she looked between his terrified face and the unyielding gaze of Dilatrix. "I...forgive me Jake," she finally said surprising him, "I am angry at the loss of my sister and student, but it isn't fair to take it out on you. Dilatrix is right, as much as it pains me to say it, this is just as much my own doing as anyone's. I will have Elizabeth's head for this, but I will spare your own."

Jake breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn't going to be punished after all. He hated that Beth would suffer, but the choices she made had led her down this path. He had tried to spare her twice already, and she still continued to put herself in harm's way. Dilatrix spoke once again, "I knew you would see reason, dearest Matron, please forgive my outburst. I merely want what is best for you and your...pet. if I may, it is unnecessary to send your forces after Elizabeth as she's made it clear that she's coming for you. She will deliver herself to you, and you need only wait for your prize to arrive."

Slowly, the flow of time returned to normal as Dilatrix finished speaking. Her powers still terrified Jake, but he was grateful that this time she took his side. The woman was an enigma of sorts and he wasn't sure where her loyalty truly belongs. Still, not a single person dared to question her about it due to her unique abilities. He stood up and looked to his Goddess as she smiled devilishly. He knew that look, she had an idea that was both perfect and twisted. "You make an excellent point, Dilatrix," she said and began addressing the room, "Elizabeth shall indeed deliver herself into our hands, and I know just how to welcome her to her new home. She's clearly desperate to see my Raven, so Jake shall meet her upon her arrival with some of our thralls."

Jake almost couldn't believe what he was hearing. Goth wanted him to ambush Beth and apprehend her. His orders were clear this time, but he felt no small amount of apprehension about it. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he tried to steel himself. Like it or not, he served a higher purpose now and if this was Goth's will then he would carry it out. "As you wish, my Goddess," he said as he bowed before her.

Beth stood in the living room of Alexis' place as she checked her equipment. The day had finally come for her to make the journey to Citiville, and she was both ready and anxious at the same time. She knew that this trip could be her last, but win, lose, or draw she had come too far to stop now. She loaded her coat down with spare clips, knives, and a few different grenades along with the smoke pellets from her days as a hero. It was funny how much had changed over the course of a week; she'd gone from a superhero to a killer in a short time, and in truth she didn't know if she could ever go back to her old ways. At least this way when she stopped the bad guys they stayed down.

The sound of footsteps caught her attention as Alexis entered the room. She looked the disheveled girl she'd come to call a friend over, and she noted something devious in her eyes. There was something about the look in her eyes that struck her as odd, even for the crazed girl before her. "You all set for your little trip?" Alexis asked.

Beth nodded in response as she tightened her belt and holsters, "I am," she said before stepping towards the girl, "Before I go there's something I need to say."

Alexis grinned and said, "I knew you were gay!"

Beth's eye gave a twitch in annoyance at her remark. She really could turn anything into something perverse or stupid, and that thought made her infuriating and enduring. She brought her hand up and slapped the back of Alexis' head, "No you pervert! Can you just be serious for five minutes?!" Beth exclaimed.

Alexis gave a thoughtful hum before speaking, "That's not what you said the other night, and make it two and you've got a deal."

Beth blinked at her and decided not to touch that comment; she still couldn't remember the night's events anyways. She sighed and said, "Look, you've been surprisingly...helpful through all of this. I wouldn't have been able to track down Pamela and Megabutt if it weren't for you, and despite our past I find myself glad that our paths crossed. I never in a million years thought I'd say this, but I consider you a friend. For what it's worth, I think Jake would have been better off with you and maybe even happy."

Alexis stared at her in shock for a minute. She actually considered her a friend, and more than that she thought her and Jake could have worked? Of all the things she thought she'd hear from Beth, this was by far the last one. Up until this point, she'd been planning to use the girl as a distraction to skip town, but now she wasn't so sure. She shook her head to clear those thoughts; she was a villain and not some do gooder like Beth. Granted Beth wasn't much of a hero these days, but still the point remained the same! She needed to say something back, something to clear the air and ensure Beth wouldn't back out. "Listen," she finally said, "I'm glad you're sweet on me and all, but we just wouldn't work out," she paused to savor the irritated look on Beth's face. It was fun to rile her up, "I'm kidding, relax. For real though, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually do kind of like you. This new you is way more fun to be around, and I know you're going to make that bitch pay for what she did to Jake."

Beth's mind turned back to what Pamela had said the night of her death, "What if he really is alive?" Beth asked.

"Then bring him home," Alexis said with a sad smile, "If he's alive then you have to fight harder to bring him back. Don't let that overgrown cunt keep him any longer. Just...be careful."

Beth gave her new friend a smile of appreciation before turning to leave. She paused to ask, "You still have that beacon or did you already crush it?"

"No, I've still got it. I tried for old times sake, but I'll be damned if you guys didn't really reinforce those things. Why?" she said.

"In case I run into any complications," Beth said, "I may need your help."

"You'll be fine," Alexis replied.

"Famous last words," Beth said with a roll of her eyes, "Just keep an eye on it. It'll send coordinates to you if I press the button, all you have to do is follow them."

"Yeah, yeah," Alexis said, "Now get going! You've got a Goddess to kill!"

Beth gave a solemn nod as she exited the building. She'd retrieved her bike the day prior in preparation for her final destination. She mounted it and dawned her helmet with her hood tucked in her coat before taking off for Citiville. It would be a long ride, but she could use the time to think.

Everything that she had done since her return from her first trip played through her mind as she rode. Jake's death had hit her hard and there was no doubt it changed her, but she wasn't sure if something changed or if something was awoken within her. It was almost scary how natural killing and torturing came to her. Was it because she'd spent so much time fighting the various villains over the years or was this something that was always there? It troubled her that she couldn't quite pinpoint just what the answer was, but whatever the case this was who she was now. Megabutt had awoken the animal within her, but Pamela had given her pause. She felt more like a devil than a hero, and in truth she didn't hate the feeling. She was what Goth had made her; a reckoning for the evil in this world.

The wind whipped around her as she rounded various twists and turns along the way, and her mind continued to wander. What was the likelihood that Jake was still alive? If he was, what did that mean for her? Would he still believe that Goth was some kind of benevolent Goddess or would he finally be willing to see her for what she really was? Hope wasn't something she had an abundance of these days, and even the thought of her friend alive didn't seem to do much to help that. The words of Alexis ran through her head, "Bring him home." It was weird to think that Footgirl of all people would make sense, but then again things had changed so much lately that she was calling the girl a friend. One way or another she was going to finish this tonight.

Time passed by as her mind continued to ponder the events and the possibilities of what was to come, but soon enough she arrived at her destination. She entered the outskirts of Citiville and continued onward. She was past the point of subtly and she fully expected a wave of goons waiting for her. She would put a stop to them even if it meant running them down; she wouldn't be stopped by anything or anyone.

Jake sat perched atop a rooftop waiting for Beth. Goth's spies had spotted her bike heading into the city at a rapid rate. He felt a little conflicted at the prospect of fighting his friend and more so at bringing her to Goth. He was all to familiar with what she could do when she was angry, and Beth had gone well beyond angering her. He wasn't sure if he could do this or not, but what choice did he have? He had a group of goons on the ground that he hoped would be enough to subdue her. Given the reports of The Feral, he found that possibility extremely unlikely. It was a safe bet that he would have to deal with her himself. That knowledge didn't serve to comfort him in the slightest, though, and it certainly didn't quell the conflict raging in his heart and mind.

He heard the sound of Beth's bike speeding down the street he overlooked. This was it, it was time to either do or die. He actually felt a little bad for the men below; he knew they didn't stand a chance, but maybe they could tire her out. He watched as the men stepped out of the shadows and into the dim glow of the street lamps. The light on Beth's motorcycle cut through the darkness like a blade through a think sheet.

Beth saw the silhouettes of Goth's thralls come out of the darkness. She grit her teeth and made a split second decision; she pulled to the side without releasing the throttle. The bike began to lean and at the last second she dismounted from it. Sparks flew as the heavy machinery crushed the legs of the fools who dared to stand in her way. She didn't count the men, but one of them tried to surprise her from the side. She quickly removed her helmet and used it to block an incoming knife. She followed it up by throwing her hand up and delivering a swift kick to his gut. She brought the helmet down on his skull before launching it into another oncoming goon. It hit the man square in the chest as the other one fell, and she was quick to draw her pistols. She opened fire and cut the man down before he could recover.

These men had been sent to their deaths, and she would make sure not a one of them walked away. She went into a diving roll to avoid the gunshots that rang out across the city streets. She came up and returned fire. One of the other men cried out as the bullets collided with arm. She sidestepped a chain that was aimed at her head, and dropped to a spinning leg sweep to take out her attacker's legs. He fell to the ground and she was off again, but not before firing a single shot into his chest. One of the men was close to the side of a building, and she took off into a sprint before racing along the wall. She kicked off and her boot connected with the side of his face. He spun around as he fell to the ground and she immediately opened fire on the remaining men. In seconds they were on the ground in lifeless heaps. She ejected her clips and reloaded as she walked to her bike.

Jake watched the display in awe of the tenacity of his friend. In a matter of minutes, if that, she had mowed down a group of fifteen men. She wasn't playing around, no, she was out for blood. It was now or never, and with some reluctance he dropped to the streets in front of her. The red tint of his mask gave her an eery appearance, but he wouldn't be deterred. Failure wasn't an option, but could he really treat her like an enemy?

Beth raised her gun as a figure dropped down in front of her. She faltered as the glow from the lamp brought him into view. There before her stood the visage of Jake. Her eyes went wide and her jaw dropped along with her gun. She wanted to rush forward and embrace him, but something felt off. Why was he here after Goth's cronies? The silence grew between them as they stated each other down. Disbelief hit her in waves and she finally asked, "J-Jake? Is that really you?"

Jake swallowed and released a breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. He tried to steel himself and said, "Yeah, it's me. What are you doing Beth?"

Beth felt shook to her core. Her best friend was alive and well, but something about the tone in his voice didn't sit right with her. He sounded almost angry with her. "What am I-" she began, "I came here because of you. I-I watched you die."

That confirmed it. Dilatrix's words along with Beth's on the DVD meant that Goth had indeed recorded their session and sent it to Beth. Some far away part of him felt angry at Goth, but it was outweighed by his devotion to his Goddess. He willed himself to stay strong as he said, "You didn't watch me die, Beth, all you saw was what happened because you came to check on me. I let you go and suffered the consequences of that, and I won't make that mistake again."

Beth was taken aback by his statement. Did he really believe that what he went through was just? More importantly, did he really blame her? The words cut deeper than any knife ever could have, and her feelings of failure and self-loathing came back in full force. They were overtaken by anger in an instant as she lashed out, "So what? You're going to take me in to Goth? How can you still be loyal to her after everything she's done to you?! What happened to you?!"

That struck a nerve, and Jake stepped forward and said, "What happened to me? What happened to you? I saw what you did to Pamela and we got your package from Megabutt. How could you? That was Goth's sister and her star student."

Beth clenched her fists around her guns; her trigger finger was starting to itch, but she wouldn't, couldn't shoot him. He had the nerve to question her after everything he'd done, after everything those two had put them through? She raised her gun at him and yelled, "I did what I had to do! Both of those women deserved what they got, and I did it because of what Goth has done to you and our home!"

Jake continued forward and drew his quaeter staff. The end crackled with electricity as it extended. "What are you going to do, shoot me? That's what you do now, isn't it? Go ahead, I belong to Goth and I won't be stopped by someone like you."

Beth kept her gun trained on him, but her hand began to shake. She couldn't shoot him, she couldn't. His words hurt more than anything, though, how could he still be so devoted after everything she had done? "Don't make me do this, Jake," she pleaded as he approached, "Please, after everything we've been through together am I really just a target to you?"

Jake stopped in his tracks as her words hit him. He was fighting a battle within himself already, but hearing his friend's question tipped the scales once again. He tried to remind himself that he was doing what he had to do, but even that didn't seem to help. He looked at her with sad eyes behind his mask, "Beth," he began, "I-I don't have a choice."

She closed her eyes and she dropped her arm once again. "Don't do this," she pleaded, "You know I can't let you take me to her."

Jake sighed and took a fighting stance, "You know I can't just let you go," he said, "You saw what she did to me."

Her heart broke as he moved in to attack. This was happening, and she couldn't do anything to stop it. She would have to fight Jake if she wanted to stop Goth, but she wasn't sure if she could. He brought his staff down in an arc that she dodged with ease. She expected a quick follow-up attack, but it didn't come. She should have seized the moment, she should have taken him down, but she couldn't do it. She could have easily taken him down without hurting him too badly, but something kept her from acting on it. She found herself simply staring at him with her eyes uttering a silent plea. It either went unnoticed or unheeded because Jake went in for another attack. He spun his staff in an attempt to disorient her and surprise her, but she knew his tactics and easily countered it. She blocked it with her pistols and the staff slid along the steel of their barrels before she pushed back and knocked him off balance. Once again she found herself halted in her tracks before she could launch into an attack.

Jake found himself struggling to stay on the offensive. In his time with Goth his tactics had become more ruthless, and in truth had become more effective. Something kept him from utilizing his new style in this fight, and he found himself slipping back into old habits. He cursed himself for it because he knew Beth knew his former fighting style too well, but he couldn't snap himself out of it. He launched into a roundhouse kick that she easily evaded, and he prepared for a counter that never came. This was going nowhere fast and he needed to do something. The memory of his past failure and the cost of it rushed to his brain, and he suddenly found a new will to fight. He moved forward while spinning his staff before bringing it upwards; Beth dodged it, but he was counting on it. He quickly switched the direction of the upward arc to a fast jab with the end that hit her in the stomach. She recoiled from the attack, and he capitalized on the opening. He made his way behind her and delivered a kick to the back of her knee. She went down and he brought the staff up around her throat. He hated himself for doing this, but a sudden sharp pain in his back reminded him that this was his new purpose.

Beth found herself in a sticky situation as the midsection of Jake's staff pressed against her throat. He was going to choke her out and bring her to Goth. Her instincts kicked in and she took hold of the staff with one hand to keep it at bay, but Jake was stronger than he looked. It wouldn't take long for him to overpower her; she had to do something about the staff and fast. She slipped her free hand into her coat and produced a knife. She pressed it to the edge of his staff and hoped it would be enough. He pulled backwards and the knife began to embed itself in the staff; it was working, and with a little luck she'd be free in a moment. She pushed forward with both hands, and the blade sliced through his staff. It snapped and she quickly rose to her feet. She aimed her gun at his head, but she couldn't bring herself to shoot him. She couldn't see his eyes, but the expression on his face was too much for her to act. She screamed as she aimed beside his head and pulled the trigger.

The gunshot rang out in his ear drum and sent him stumbling backwards. His equilibrium was off, and his hearing was temporarily rendered useless. He waited for the next attack to come and watched Beth carefully. She just stood there motionless. His hearing slowly came back, but with it came his hesitation. Beth could have finished him in that moment or the one before, but she had failed to do so twice. He watched as she closed her eyes and tossed her guns down before rushing him. She was going to try to fight him without weapons; he sighed and decided to honor her silent request by tossing the halves of his staff down.

The two friends collided in a half-hearted battle. Neither of them could find the will to fight with everything they had; Beth couldn't find the fire within her, and Jake couldn't combat the past they shared. Their strikes were slow and predictable, and the other easily countered whichever attacked. Jake batted Beth's fists away before finally linking her arm for a hip toss. She found herself on the ground awaiting Jake's next move, but once again it never came. She got back to her feet and asked, "You've had countless chances to end this, why haven't you?"

Jake stared at her for a moment before firing back, "I could say the same thing about you. You had a clear shot at me, but you didn't take it. Why?"

Beth's gaze softened at his question. Did he really not get it? She let her hands fall to her sides as she said, "Jake, do you really think I'd kill you? You're my best friend and I...I can't hurt you, I'd have thought that was obvious. I can't fight you...if you're going to take me in just...just do it."

Jake dropped his guard at her words. He'd forgotten what it felt like to have someone care so much about him. Was she really about to resign herself to whatever fate Goth had in store for her? "Beth I-" he started as his voice hitched, "I can't go back without you. She'll...she'll hurt me again."

Beth's heart was already broken, but his words shattered it and her will to fight. She couldn't let him suffer again; this time would be because of her. She couldn't kill him, let alone fight him, but she could save him some pain. She had one final shot at freeing him and maybe saving herself, though, she reached to her belt and pressed the button the beacon. "Jake, I can't let you go through that," she said, "I...just take me to her."

Jake couldn't bring himself to do it. Beth may have caused mayhem and pain to Goth, but she was still being selfless for him. Everything she had done, she had done because she thought he was dead. He closed his eyes and made a split second decision, "Just...go. Get out of here and I'll tell Goth you managed to escape. I'll take whatever punishment she has, but if you go to her she'll make you wish you were dead. Please, just go Beth."

Beth couldn't believe what she was hearing. Jake was willing to endure all the pain and suffering to save her; he still had the heart of a hero in him after all. Before she could respond a cold voice drew their attention, "How touchingly pathetic. I can't wait to tell Goth that her little pet was willing to let such a nuisance get away. She is going to be so angry with you."

Aurora approached with a smug look on her face. Beth's jaw clenched and her blood ran cold. This woman was by far the worst kind of villain, the one who delighted in misery and suffering. She was going to rat Jake out, and she wasn't about to let that happen. If Jake was going to let her get away, then she'd make it believable by killing the supposedly immortal cunt before her. She took a step towards her as her fire reignited and hate welled up within her.

Jake looked between Beth and Aurora. If she was here then that meant that Goth knew what was going on! He didn't think as he launched into an attack on Beth. He retrieved half of his staff and struck her in the back of the knee. She fell to the ground and he capitalized by delivering a spinning kick to her chest. He ignored the shocked look on her face as he brought his boot down on her head to knock her out. He looked to Aurora and said, "I had to make her think she could get away before I could take her out. I wanted her to think I still cared."

It was a lie and he knew it. If she hadn't shown up then Beth would be safe, but that wasn't what was meant to be. Aurora chuckled at his words, "Clever, I almost believe it," she said, "You're lucky you acted so quickly this time, but just you wait little worm. It won't be long before I get my hands on you, then maybe you'll appreciate how good you have it with Goth. Come on, pick the little bitch up and I'll grab her toys."

Jake did as he was told and hoisted Beth's limp figure on to his shoulder. He hated having to do this, but he didn't have a choice in the matter. He watched as Aurora retrieved Beth's guns before he pressed the recall button on his suit. Goth was going to be happy, but some part of him felt hollow as he teleported back to the castle.

Alexis was in the process of leaving her little squat. She'd packed up everything that mattered to her; Jake's suit, his hair, the yearbook, and some chemicals along with her favorite shoes. She had to get the hell out of town while she could. The odds weren't in Beth's favor and she needed this chance to escape. It was a perfect plan, but as she prepared to leave the little device she'd been given flashed red. She eyed it for a moment before deciding to ignore it. She turned to leave, but stopped as Beth's words entered her head. "I think Jake would have been better off with you, and maybe even happy."

She grit her teeth as her conscience suddenly slapped her. Of all the times for it to rear its ugly head it had to be now. She glared at the little beacon and stomped over to it. She picked it up and debated on crushing it or not. It would be so easy to destroy it and pretend it never happened, but she couldn't do it. "God damnit Kitty Cat," she said to herself, "You little bitch, you actually made me care about you. Don't die before I get there, and you fucking owe me one!"

With that she put on her old knee high converse and prepared to go to war. The last thing she wanted when this started was to get in the middle, but Beth had somehow managed to get to her. She moved with purpose as she exited her home and left her belongings behind. She'd steal a car and be there in no time; she couldn't believe she was thinking it, but she prayed that the little minx would still be alive when she got there.

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