Chapter 9.11 – Thunder

Given his present condition, there is not much else he can do now, but watch and wait.
 
Corwin had been the one to set him down this path. There is no point in placing blame, regardless of how easy it would be for him to believe otherwise. He’s accepted that his own choices in life are responsible for this current, miserable condition. It is a simple matter of cause and effect; the most basic principle in physics.
 
Still, polluting the mind of a child for the purpose of ill-gain is completely reprehensible. Fortunately, there was some small shred of conscience that kept him grounded enough to resist when it counted most. Of course, he’d died as a result of his defiance against Corwin’s evil.
 
While he was alive, he’d never once considered the possibility that there was something ELSE driving Corwin’s malice. Even if the thought had come into play, he would have immediately dismissed any non-scientific explanation as idiotic folklore. The idea was laughable, even. Now he’s left contemplating the reality of things in what remains of his disintegrating mind.
 
He’d never really bought into the whole good and evil thing during his lifetime. He’d decided they were sim-made concepts, manufactured to scare young sims into obeying antique customs. Perhaps some remote part of him had known that Kacey’s condition was not merely a breakthrough in human evolution. Why had he worked so hard to disprove reality with irrefutable (and mostly manufactured) science? Kacey is what she appears to be. And Hendrake, clearly, is what he …IT …appears to be.
 
The fire at the estate continues to rage unchecked. Deadly conditions within the gutted building make any hopes of extinguishing it nearly hopeless. Not that it will matter. Hendrake’s mechanations have payed their dividends tonight. And unless Kacey obtains some outside assistance, both she and Adam will die here tonight.
 
He frees the ancient Chinese weapon from its tomb of smouldering cinders, and studies its unblemished surface. There are few things capable of actually harming Hendrake; even in his measly and feeble sim form. The artifact is likely sufficient to get the job done. He may finally be able to collect some long overdue compensation, but it brings him no satisfaction. He still feels nothing; only the deep shame of remorse …and the fear of knowing that certain damnation draws near.
 
It is widely accepted by experts, that thunder is the sound produced by a shock wave which forms after air molecules are instantly super-heated to temperatures that approach those found on the surface of the sun, transforming them into electrodynamic plasma. Something very similar in effect presently rips throughout the cosmos; as a being of extraordinary ability slices through spacetime with the focus and intensity of a massive arc of lightning.
 
Her arrival is marked by an instant of blinding, golden light which illuminates all of Sunset Valley as though it were daytime. The wake created by her transit is so significant, that it causes the clouds to part, and a thunderous noise of indescribable quality and volume to erupt from the point of her appearance.
 
She’d had a singular objective in mind during the course of this amazing display of power – to find a boy named Adam. Leaping before looking is nothing new for her and her kind. Call it a genetic flaw. They had been well known for their deep-seated empathy and overly-demonstrative theatrics. Unfortunately, this flaw is immediately exposed upon her appearance.
 
Before she can inhale her first breath of Sunset Valley air, Hendrake materializes between her and the burning estate. She recognizes it immediately. This is the same evil presence that had tormented her inside the cave as a baby (see chapter 8.8). It evokes an immediate, gut-wrenching sense of dread. Her scream is drowned out by the rumbling echoes of the earth-shaking fulmination that had followed her appearance.
 
Kacey hadn’t prepared for this kind of reception, so she stands frozen in indecision, uncertainty, and fear. Then she screams again. The creature produces a blade, as rolling echoes from the shock-wave that had accompanied her arrival continue to spread across the valley. It seems possessed of the malevolent intent to wield the weapon with deadly force.
 
This is insane. No more than twenty seconds has passed, and already her life is being threatened. Kacey’s mind searches for some kind of escape. But before the beast can take a single step forward, there is a loud WOOSH! and a violent flash of steel from behind it. Hendrake’s head falls to one side, and his body to the other.
 
After a moment, Kacey breathes again, still wearing a mask of terror and panic. Eventually, she removes her eyes from the slain creature at her feet. A spirit stands where the monster had fallen. It too, is holding a dangerous looking blade. The spirit is barely cohesive enough to maintain itself, let alone heave a weapon. Kacey jumps nervously when the thing falls and clatters loudly onto the flagstones.
 
Kacey takes a few seconds to absorb the chaotic environment. She had leapt from her spot in Nowhere, the instant she’d heard Adam calling out to her. She’d actually scared herself with the method in which she’d travelled here. Before she could process what she had done, some monster from her past appeared and tried to kill her. Then a ghost with an axe cut its head off. Oh yes, and the Barimen Estate is buring to the ground. Having took mental inventory of the situation, Kacey finds herself wanting to go back to Nowhere.
 
She regards the unusual spirit as it tentatively and cautiously approaches her. It stops only a few feet away. It stands without moving, presumably studying her. Honestly, it is difficult to determine exactly what the spirit is doing, with it being in such bad shape.
 
Anticipating her question regarding its identity, the remnants of Reid Kimura speaks to Kacey for the first time in many, many years. His voice has the quality of crumbling, rusted metal grinding in her mind; as though every word further disintegrates his corroded form. Fresh tears spring from her eyes from this new shock.  She speaks his name in a nervous whisper; verbally acknowledging that he has just saved her life.
 
Reid’s barely visible apparition regards the buring estate. He warns that there is not much time before Hendrake reforms. He will return sporting a much more resilient body. Adam still lives, inside the inferno. He estimates, somewhat wryly, that it would probably require something on the scale of a volcanic eruption to actually kill either she or Adam using fire. Kacey thinks back to the terrifying experiments Reid had subjected her to as a teen. She shudders involuntarily. As though reading her thoughts, Reid changes the tone and instructs Kacey to call out to Adam with her inner-song.
 
Kacey’s eyes dart back between Reid and the buring building. She’d been here only a few moments, and already so much has happened. Her confusion is staggering. But one thing remains clear. She came here to find Adam. She feels herself being lifted, both metaphorically and physically, as her voices emerge like never before. It is a rapture unlike anything she has ever experienced.
 
From within the warm, radiant light generated by her angelic form, she sees Reid; as whole and real as he has ever been. She smiles. Kacey gently whispers her unconditional forgiveness for everything he has ever done to harm her. Clearly, this was unexpected for him. She hardly remembers ever seeing Reid smile, even when he was a young boy. But the expression on his face now, is one of pure, disarmed joy.
 
Her musical voices continue to call out to Adam. But they also seem to sooth Reid’s torment. She goes on to explain that obtaining her forgivness is unimportant. She continues, reassuring him that true forgiveness is never out of reach; and the gift of perfect love will always be given freely. All he must do is just simply, and unconditionally, accept it into his heart.
 
After a moment, Reid closes his eyes. Then, what little bit of him there is remaining, shimmers peacefully out of existance.
Is he dreaming?
Her voices, they sound so close. Is he dead?
 
Adam opens his eyes, coughing smoke and soot out of his inhuman lungs. The heat in the cellar should have been sufficient to not only kill him, but to reduce his body to carbon. Kacey’s voices wrap around him, giving him the drive he needs to free himself. He struggles briefly and realizes that he is pinned beneath tons of burning rubble.
 
Then he makes another realization… it’s Kacey …she’s HERE!
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