CONTENT WARNING: panicking, torture
The sun has already disappeared behind the mountains and all I can seem to do is pace back and forth in my living room, staring at the package on my coffee table anxiously. The letter in my hands is both ominous and terrifying and I’m not quite sure I’m ready to watch the video tape these people sent me. So much anxiety packed into a box. So many angles and problems to analyze and solve. I have to figure out what to do about this. I can’t just leave it alone… the letter seems so much longer than it could’ve been but in the end the meaning gets through and it's a threat. But the threat is almost not aimed at me…
It's weird in general that they know my full name-- like my actual name and not my alias.
It's a pleasure to speak to you again,
Again, meaning that I know them…
but you see, the two of us have come to a crossroads and we have a serious problem. You’re too high on the totem pole and I don’t like it when people outrank me. We’ve been watching you for a while now, but nothing has come from it.
Except of course, one thing.
That's where the real anxiety hits. Someone has been watching me for a while now and I didn’t notice? How could I not have noticed? How many of our fights did they see? How many moments where Anarchy made his stupid jokes and I actually neglected to take it seriously? How close to realizing he’s the only one in the world who can catch me off guard are they?
See, we’ve seen the way you fight him, and the way he holds back when he fights you. He knows something, and he’s proven rather closed off about telling us.
Wait, what? Anarchy doesn’t hold back against me… does he? Have I really been so oblivious this whole time that I thought he’d even take me seriously for a single second. Frick, that idiot doesn’t take anything seriously, what was I thinking. And what do they mean he’s closed off about telling them… telling them what?
So you have two options, watch your supposed arch-enemy die, or tell us what your Gift’s weakness is.
They’re using Anarchy as a threat.
They’re… if I don’t tell them, then he’ll get hurt.
No. I shouldn't even care, but by the Spirits I do. I really do care and I care too much. Despite our differences and our fights and the fact that we’re technically on two different sides of this battle; despite that he’s hurt a lot of people and is probably still hurting people; despite that he’s an enemy… despite all of it, I can’t stand by and watch people hurt him. I won’t.
But how can I find him? I don’t have any idea where they’d keep someone who can fricking bend shadows and drop himself into the next freaking dimension-- I mean, not really, but he can still drop from one place to another. How do you even hold someone like him?
My gaze falls back to the box, staring at the video camera lying inside. I almost feel sick looking at it. What could they have recorded? Do they even really have Anarchy? How would that be possible, he’s evaded the government for years, there's no way some small gang would be able to take him just like that, right? But if they do have him, what have they been doing to him? The letter said he’s “proven rather closed off about telling us” which means he wouldn’t tell them about my weakness… but that also means they’ve been trying to force him to and nothing worked. Nothing working went to their heads and this was the next move-- send a threat to the source.
My wings open and close anxiously as I take the camera into shaking hands, opening the side and trying to remember to breathe as I search through the memories, finding the only video saved into the camera. With a great deal of heavy breathing and an almost heart attack, I sit down and play the video, trying to focus on the background in order to figure out where they are instead of focussing on the fact that they have Anarchy locked up and chained to a stone table by cuffs that look as if they’re made of pure light. They look like they’re burning him and this awful golden colour is spreading over his hands and up his forearms. Not to mention, he’s shirtless and covered in scars that are almost obscured by the amount of fresh blood and bruising and-- Great Spirits, what have they done to him?
The camera is directly above him and it's hard not to watch his face as he laughs maniacally. It's almost a relief to hear him laughing, it just means that whatever they’re trying to do, it isn’t working. “It's almost pathetic, really. Come on, you could soooo do better than that.” He smirks and my panic gets worse from the sight of the darkening bruises around his throat. He’ll never show it, but they’re really hurting him. I know they’re hurting him. I’ve seen him when we fight, if he gets injured there's a single moment where you can tell he’s in pain, one single moment where the joking ceases and there’s a break in his untouchable demeanor and he just… stops. It scared me the first time, I thought he was going to snap because he suddenly looked so much darker and scarier than when he’s just messing around… but then it's gone. In the blink of an eye, he’s back to joking about the stupidity of the universe.
He’ll never let them see it if he can help it.
I’m not even sure he knows when he’s doing it.
“I’m prepared to offer you a deal, you moronic, useless piece of shit,” A disembodied voice speaks from off camera, but Arch only chuckles.
“Ooooh, some big words there buddy, you sure you know what they mean?”
“--Either you tell us Avian’s weakness,” That’s weird, they used my alias that time… “or I’m going to burn this right into your fucking gut bastard,” He finishes, almost fully ignoring Arch’s comment. The sight of a burning symbol on a branding iron comes into the frame and I swear my heart just stops, right then and there that’s it for me. They’re going to drive that thing into him and he’s going to be stuck with that scar for the rest of his life and it's going to be my fault and--
Anarchy bursts into laughter again, “damn, you really had me there for a second mate. Who’s to say you don’t drive that thing into me either way? Like fuck am I telling you jack shit about Hero.” He sticks his tongue out and I’m stuck between two feelings on opposite ends of the track because, on one hand, I’m touched that even under the pressure of someone literally threatening to brand him, he isn’t going to tell them my weakness, but on the other I’m horrified because I really desperately don’t want for him to get hurt.
“Yeah, keep laughing bastard. You see that camera above your head. You won’t be laughing much--”
“Hey by the way, when you turn around I can’t hear your magnificently maniacal plan.” Arch starts spinning his hands, gesturing to his ears, “you know, since you took my hearing aids.” There’s a smirk across his lips that looks like his ‘victory smirk’ which is the same smirk I get whenever he manages to catch me off guard with his stupid compliments or flattery jokes. Its honestly adorable, but right now, its really really terrifying because the man he’s smirking at has the ability to burn him right now.
“I’ve had just about enough of you, bitch.” And there it is, the horrifying sound of burning iron against skin followed by Anarchy screaming. It's the first time I’ve ever heard him scream, and the pain across his face is so bad that I have to slam the camera closed, my throat suddenly dry and my heartrate spiked beyond even its normal chaos. There was nothing to hint at where he was, I wouldn’t know his location unless I’d been there before and I would’ve recognized the particular cracks of the stone in the floor if I’d ever been there.
“Spirits!” I throw the camera across the room, my wings flaring to the full extent and touching the high ceiling above me. Panic starts to spiral through my body as I grab my hair, trying desperately to think of a solution. I have to find him. I have to get him out of there. It's impossible to fathom why, but I would trade my life for his in a heartbeat and the fact that I know I can save him and the cost will be the chance of losing my magic is just a consequence I’ll have to deal with. But can I get them the information in time? Who do I even send it to? Was that in the video? Was I supposed to watch it fully or was there something else?
My body drags me back to the box as I frantically search for a solution, another piece of the puzzle that I have to solve in order to save him.
But there's nothing.
Tears start stinging my eyes and I feel the universe closing in around me, the spiraling negative thoughts getting worse and worse the longer I think about what they could be doing to him. This can’t be happening. What if they kill him? What if he never comes back? What if I can’t save him?
“So are you ready to give up?” A voice from behind me makes me yelp and I pull a throwing knife from inside my sleeve, sending it flying in the direction of the voice and immediately starting to sing as my Gift fills the air with the command over this stranger’s mind. Just as he startts to doze off, I realize who he might be and cut myself off, jumping over the couch and tackling him as I rip the blade from his shoulder, checking to make sure he has nothing in his hands as I press the blade to his throat, ripping the communicator from his ear and smashing it.
“I swear to the Spirits of Redriver that if you don’t tell me right now where you’re keeping him, I will slit your throat so fast you won’t have time to blink! Do you understand me!?” Darkness surrounds me as I growl at the stranger with shocked hazel eyes and black hair. He starts to chuckle and anger rolls through me like an avalanche, icing over my resolve as I slam the blade into his bicep “times up” I yell as he screams, my voice starting to hum a melody of control as I watch his eyes go completely blue, filling with my magic. “Now, Tell. Me. Where. He. Is.”