A child blows the candles out on the cake that signifies his birthday. There are seven candles and the cake is shaped like a dinosaur. In the brief darkness, between his older sister and his grandmother and the after glow of candles behind his eyes, his world shifts and a white noise rings in his ears that sounds like a heavenly chorus.
After cake and smiles and discarded wrapping paper, the child is tucked into bed with his new toys in his arms and well kissed cheeks. Sleep well, our little angel. He lies on his back and searches for the sound again as he drifts into sleep. It's like his Sundays in church. The sound of the bells breaking through him.
His skin raises in goosebumps as the low whispers creep at the very edge of his hearing. A radio static, then the sound of thunder and crashing waves and rain.
The child feels a brief passing pain in his chest, it pains him just so, leading to tears that bead and gather beneath his eyelashes. The chattering grows and grows, louder and thunderous until the child groans and it abates at the very sound of his distress.
Gentle fingers caress the ache away, sooth his fevered forehead and the chattering chorus softly sing him to sleep, his very own lullaby. His ache passes by morning, but now he just feels lost without the fluttering feathery touch. He is left with the words only he can hear, layered in cacophony, coloured in his mind the brightest white.
He never tells anyone, not even the priest, and doesn't know what they are to be able to do so, or even why they have chosen him. He likes his secret, the voices that are his only.
They follow him through his life, the gentle background noise that guide him to adulthood. Mostly faded but churning up at times, clawing and pawing at his insides as if preparing him from the inside out.
They tell him he has been chosen. They tell him he has a purpose.
Jungsu didn't want to stop moving, he had been pacing backwards and forwards in his dressing room. His uncharacteristic growls to the staff and the snarls at his co-stars ensured he was left alone. He could imagine the blind items now. But they had delayed filming as long as possible, had filmed as many guest hosts as they could find so that they did not waste the guests but now he was in danger of ruining his career if he did not try to put the voices to rest.
Their voices were no longer quiet and rose into a cacophony that would not abate. It had been this way for a week now steadily building into something. They circled in his head, and drowned out his surroundings. He'd almost walked into traffic earlier this week but had felt a yank from the base of his spine, bringing him backwards and landing him on the ground.
There had been no one around him then. At least that meant that there was no one to see his drastic attempt to quell the noise.
He screamed for them to stop and be quiet, like he had many times before. But now they did, where they had not before, a hush falling inside his mind that made him want to weep with relief. That gentle feathery touch brushed against his forehead, brushed beneath his eyes to catch the beading tears and left him be.
There are times like this that he thought it was his heart wanting to give out on him, this agony, but he knew that the ache was in the wrong place for the culprit to be his heart.
A timid knock came upon his door, telling him is was time to get onto set.
Jungsu composed himself quickly, muttering the tiniest thank you under his breath before opening the door to the poor intern and smiling at her sheepishly.
Jungsu shuffled his talk show cards on set when the waves of sound began to swim around his head once more. Insistent and rising. The director and camera man were wrapping up their conversation and were counting down the seconds to broadcast. they were going live in Five, four, fingers counting down three, two, one.
He managed to get through his introduction, though it was not as loud and boisterous as his usual intros. Jungsu clutched at his head after a long pause, the set beginning to whisper around him.
The mirrored walls either side of him shattered as if they had exploded, one thousand tiny pieces showering him as he fell to his knees, covering his head. In the glittering shards he saw shadows, and hands, one thousand hands reaching towards him. One thousand ice cold hands touching his back, touching and reaching through his skin to meet the hand inside him, and rearranging his bones. The lights above him exploded, plunging the area around him into a thin darkness but the three spotlights on him still highlighted every inch of his transformation.
In the middle of the set, the guests all seated on podiums behind him watching with horror as unseen forces ripped into flesh and bone grew and feathers shone, brand new and beautiful if not terrifying from his back.
Three pairs of wings, baptised in blood and each spanning the width of the set in a combination of bone, feathers and light.
You are one of us. This is your purpose.
Jungsu screamed a delayed and agonised scream. Crew and cast ran around him now without looking back. Some remained and gazed upon him incredulously, shielding their eyes as he screamed. The cameras still rolling.
Each sound is wet, chalk white rickety bone against gore, the sounds linger and echo and anyone who heard might never hear anything else but that wet scritch scratch.
It came from a nest, the only word available to define what the space is, layers of tangled objects, clothing, blood, viscera, anything not nailed down. An amorphous blob shifted in the centre of it, thin membranes anchoring the shape to the walls, to the nest.
The phone rang for the fourth time in the last hour, a frantic pick-up, pick-up in the dial tone, and in the breaths between words in the pop song ringtone at the other end. Pick-up, pick-up it mingled with the sound of the TV, the screaming and the blinding white lights.
A small thin hand ripped through the membrane, tearing it apart under soft breaking fingernails. An inhuman whine, deep and guttural, coming from deep within clogged and wheezy lungs. Panting, breathless, and unable to form human words
First an arm, then a narrow shoulder, naked and free of marks and scars. A head, crowned with black hair and soaked with mucus, stringy and sticky, pushed through. Another shoulder, a body unfurling and reaching towards the pick-up, pick-up of the phone.
hhunghh hah hah hah hunnngh
Bone white, slicked down small feathers, the crooked and knobbly bends of joints. The stark black blue of veins against the unnatural pink of membrane as wings poked and tore and flapped uselessly free. Their weight pushed the nude figure tumbling to the ground, face first.
The woman hauled herself up on her palms, crushing and gripping at the short shag carpet in her slimy fists as she inched forward hand over hand, dragging herself to the source of the sound.
After three repeats of the twenty second bursts of music from the phone it stops, silence filling the space around her wheezing groans before beginning again.
She snatches her phone from the floor, fingers smashing against the touch screen, swiping and pressing blindly.
"Sunyoungie? Sunyoungie where have you been it's been three days. Are you watching the TV, it's crazy."
Her tongue felt so heavy and thick in her mouth. her teeth like cotton and there is a ringing, a constant chorus between her ears that makes it hard to hear, to understand.
"Are you drunk? That's not like you. Sunyoungie are you okay? Do you want someone to come over?"
"I'll be there in an hour."
She knew that voice from instinct but couldn't place a face or a name under the ringing. Sunyoung clamped her hands over her ears and pushed herself to her knees, cradling herself as her elbows came together in prayer, hoping to block out the sound. It would not abate, even as she cried, coming from inside her.
"Go away." She screamed, letting out all her confusion and fear into the sound.
And it stopped.
Silence filled it's place but the sense of the sound filled the back of her mind, softer, like fingers caressing at the back of her neck.
Sunyoung lifted her head, and pulled her hands away from her ears, unfolding her body while trying to stand and failing at the act, falling to her behind. She realised then that she was blind, or at least could not see how she had been accustomed to knowing as sight. Only hesitant shapes of light and the electric aura of her appliances filled the darkness, like night vision, maybe.
She took a deep breath, then a few more, forcing herself into the practised calm she used around the office. Her memory was coming back, but blurred around the edges into something more dream like.
A knock upon the door lit up the room, her lounge room, from all the furniture she gathered. It knocked four, five, six times, and called out to her in words she couldn't make out through the distance.
An external scream filled the air around her with sharp jagged shapes and her blackened field of vision and she folded back into her self.
"Sunyoung?" A harried voice cried, shaking her shoulder. "Sunyoung are you okay?" A panicked pitch rose in this familiar voice.
Sunyoung lifted her head to the sound, and grasped with her hands towards the sound.
"Jinyoung? I can't see." Her words slurred from her mouth, tongue lead and uncooperative.
"It's me. It's me. You're filthy, you're covered in gunk and blood, what's on your back? I'll..."
Jinyoung, ever the more practical of the twins, and now on her way to being a lawyer, but still panicked when it was her family in trouble. A competent panicker at least.
Jinyoung left her side, and Sunyoung grasped for her and followed the sounds of her footsteps with her eyes. She cried when Jinyoung vanished, still sobbing when her elder twin sister came back and sat back beside her. She could not get her emotions in check.
"Don't leave me. I'm so scared," Sunyoung garbled, latching her hands onto Jinyoung's knee and desperately clinging to the fabric of her leggings.
"I'm here Sunyoungie. I won't leave you. let me clean you up, okay. This will be a little warm."
The touch of water, hot, the scent of it reaching her, raised goosebumps on her skin and she moaned with pleasure and delight as if it was the best sensation of her life. Jinyoung washed her shoulders, getting her skin used to the temperature before sliding it up her neck and started to wash her face. Jinyoung sluiced the remains of Sunyoung's rebirth from her skin, pushing her hair back into some semblance of order, but had to stop suddenly as she pushed her bangs back from her face.
"Your eyes..." Jinyoung began, the shrillness seeping back into her voice. "You have no eyes."
Their conversation had fallen into a peaceful lapse as their food arrived and they both set about devouring the spread they had ordered.
Kyuhyun glanced up at him from his food after five minutes of mutual silence, and began to stare intently at his face, concern twisting the corners of his mouth downwards.
"Are you okay? You look a little green."
Mi looked up quick from his dish and his world began to swim.
Kyuhyun circled to the other side of the table and hauled Zhou Mi up under his arm as the rest of the colour left his face. They left their meals barely touched and Kyuhyun hurried with him back onto the street and towards home.
It wasn't far to go, less than five hundred meters but every step felt like a hundred as Zhou Mi seemed to wilt in his arms, though he moaned stubbornly that he could walk. The stairs were the most difficult part to manage as Mi stumbled at every rise and his dead weight pulled Kyuhyun down more than once. No one came to their aid, even though Kyuhyun screeched for help up and down the hall way.
He held his phone tightly tucked into the crook of his neck, dialling and redialling the emergency number but every time it connected all he got was the same automated message.
Sorry, all emergency lines are currently busy. Please hold, or try again shortly.
Kyuhyun placed Zhou Mi down on the couch and tried ringing the emergency number again, but received the same message as before.
Sorry, all emergency lines are currently busy. Please hold, or try again shortly.
Kyuhyun screamed at the phone and threw it across the room to smash into the wall by the kitchen bench. He tried to think for a moment, but the hospital was so far away from their dingy little apartment that Zhou Mi always caught three buses to get there. They had no car and Kyuhyun could not carry him the whole way.
Kyuhyun knelt beside Zhou Mi and grabbed around in his pockets, picking out his phone and seeking out the number for Zhou Mi's friend, who was also a nurse. Victoria picked up with a short bark of her name, she sounded harried and the din behind her on the phone let him know he had called at a bad time. But he was so desperate.
“It's Zhou Mi. He's getting sick. He's all slimy all over and barely concious. I know first aid barely but I can't get him to the hospital, emergency services aren't answering. What do I do?”
“Kyuhyun? Slow down. Tell me again. That sounds like what we are dealing with at the hospital but I need you to calm down and tell me everything.”
Kyuhyun took a deep breath, trying to calm himself completely before he told her everything. While he was on the phone to her, he went to grab a bowl of cool water and knelt beside Zhou Mi.
His skin had turned slick with something thicker than sweat, stickier. He screamed in agony, muscles and bones contorting.
“You hear that?” Kyuhyun asked, terror and panic creeping back into his voice and threatening to overwhelm the manufactured calm he had tried to present to Victoria.
“I hear it.” She said after a minute. Behind the sounds of her voice, similar screams echoed from her end of the phone.
“Are his bones..?”
“Yeah.” he said shuddering.
“There's nothing we can do for them at the hospital. There are too many people showing similar symptoms that they are convulsing in Triage. Just watch him. Do what you feel is right and call me later okay. Or I'll call you. We can figure something out then, okay?”
“Okay.” Kyuhyun said, quelling any need to rapid fire any kind of decent her way. He trusted her judgement.
“Okay. Kyuhyun, stay safe and look after him, okay?”
She hung up on him before he could say anything else and he tried to take some comfort in the tired warmth of her voice and let that sooth the tiniest part of the terror within him.
He set the phone down on the table and turned back to Zhou Mi.
Kyuhyun tried to sluice him down, stripped him of his clothes to his underwear, wiped that thick stickiness away but it came too quickly and overwhelmed his attempts.
He fell asleep sometime into his vigil to find Mi had been moved somehow into a corner and built himself what Kyuhyun could only describe as a nest. He scrambled over and shoved his hands into the slick sticky cobwebby mess, tearing at it to get at Mi's body. More and more of the substance came to fill the gaps that he had torn. He had to pull his arms free before he was stuck in the mess.
"This better be a shitty prank, Mimi." Kyuhyun hissed to mask his horror, knowing the words were utterly ridiculous as the mucus overcame his friend and cocooned him tightly, the tendrils creeping higher up the wall.
They had known each other for so long online, since the rise of chat rooms in their childhood, following each other from site to site. Zhou Mi had been learning Korean, along with English and Cantonese, originally having lofty dreams of being a diplomat or something equally fascinating, and Kyuhyun had been willing to talk to him in his mangled version of the language.
Along the way Kyuhyun had briefly taken Mandarin, which hadn't worked out quite as well, Zhou Mi had tried to tutor him but it had never stuck. Zhou Mi similarly was not as proficient at multiple languages as he had hoped, but because of Kyuhyun, Korean had stuck the best.
When Zhou Mi was sixteen, and on a school trip to Korea, Zhou Mi snuck out of the hotel on the second night and they met face to face in a cute little coffee shop.
Kyuhyun was amused at how gangly Mi had been, not quite grown into his face and every other limb grown exponentially outwards. Zhou Mi had laughed at Kyuhyun's face similarly, the cruelty of adolescence, but that hadn't really mattered. They hadn't been able to converse well, Zhou Mi's written Korean much better than his spoken, his accent still curling incorrectly around the words, but there had been a small comfort in their meeting, in the silence of being near one another for the first time, in that first spark of something.
And that had been that.
Zhou Mi had arrived five years ago, a surprise, to Kyuhyun anyway, and had shown up at his doorstep, a small flat in a university neighbourhood, suitcases flanking him.
“I'm staying in Korea and finishing my nursing qualification here. Can I stay with you?”
Who was Kyuhyun to say no.
Three years ago, Kyuhyun had come down with the illness that everyone else had had, and found himself unable to get out of bed, and Zhou Mi had taken it upon himself to get Kyuhyun better. They had lazed in bed all day, Zhou Mi keeping watch and feeding him medicine and food when he could stomach it but otherwise making his existence a little less miserable.
It was probably then, in a medicine fuelled dream, that Kyuhyun could finally admit to himself that he loved Zhou Mi.
Oh he had known it since they had first met but that admitting it was a whole other kettle of fish naturally.
He had roused, finding himself nuzzled into the crook of Zhou Mi's shoulder, having just caught him taking a photo of the scene.
“I hate that you photographed my misery.” Kyuhyun slurred, but nuzzled in closer.
“I think I love you though.”
Kyuhyun's stomach knotted with fear as he remembered, then looked over at the wet pulsing cocoon.
Zhou Mi was here, with him, and wasn't going anywhere as far as he knew. This was real life, not a dream. Not a feverish nightmare.
He prayed that much anyway.
Kyuhyun's current profession was singing and it was something that had stuck better than anything he had studied at university. He'd just written and recorded an OST for a semi popular TV show and it had done okay. The pay from it hadn't been too bad either, now that it was trickling into his bank account. He had no plans for the week either way and was not missed, though his sister called and they talked about the news of some terrible virus that was starting to spread.
“It's pretty bad.” She'd said, and Kyuhyun had stared at Zhou Mi still cocooned.
Victoria called a few hours later, but she had no news and hung up after only two minutes.
No one rang for Zhou Mi, except for his parents. Kyuhyun had to explain to them in halting, tongue tripping tones that he wasn't available for one reason or another.
He dreamed too. More vividly than he ever had in a long time. In his dreams Zhou Mi was there, so surrounded by a brightness that Kyuhyun strongly desired to turn away.
It will be okay. Zhou Mi told him. I love you.
He kept watch, remaining silent in his vigil and only leaving the house to run to the convenience store. His last trip had been just after days ago, coinciding with his last shower and shave. He had been pawing at his scraggly beard and staring at the unhealthy remains of the last week. He felt awful and made a promise to himself to eat better when this was all over. He missed real food.
Then the cocoon began to shift, and terrifying sounds slipped and screamed behind it.
To drown out the sound Kyuhyun turned on the TV, flicking through channels while trying to focus on everything but the sounds behind him.
There have been increasing reports of two new highly virulent viruses all over the world, with at least thirty percent of Seoul's population already infected with either, with an unknown amount unreported. One virus appears to encase the victim in a cocoon, the other leads to psychotic behaviours and has caused the death of at least 100 people to date and an overwhelming leap in the suicide rate. Corpses all over the city have been disappearing in what appears to be related activity.
Kyuhyun flipped the channel quickly. The news of the viruses was finally reaching peak panic, and he could see that the 24 hour news was churning over nothing but the news of the viruses.
Hot celebrity Leeteuk has shocked the world with a strange transformation on set during a live broadcast. We are still awaiting further details as to the nature of this. Could it be related to the viruses currently spreading across the globe?
He flipped the channel quickly again, landing on a kids focused channel with no mention of the viruses.
He turned up the volume on tweeting singers and dancers as a scratching sound filled the background, the sound of tearing and screaming and a disgusting wet sound, drowning it out with words he wasn't comprehending because he could still hear the sound underneath. He had to work up his courage, swallow down the fearful bile that threatened at his throat. He turned off the TV set.
Kyuhyun clenched his fists and turned to face the cocoon of Zhou Mi's and watched as Zhou Mi's black mop of hair, his nude and lanky body with it's new additions spilled out onto the floor crying and screaming.
Concern pushed him forward to Zhou Mi's aid, pulling him close into his arms and pushing the stickiness from his face to look upon him closely.
“I dreamed about you.” Zhou Mi said, his voice so soft, screamed raw, tongue not fitting the words properly. A tendril of blood curled in the mucus that trickled from his lips.
“I dreamed about you too.” Kyuhyun replied, brushing his hair from his face, scraping the slime away with his shirt. “Don't talk though. I'll help you.”
The chains around Jiyong's wrists and ankles pulled from both sides as he, the man in front and the man behind him stopped stock still.
Jiyong was chained in the very middle of the gang as they were moved from prison cell to prison yard and this kind of hold up is not taken to kindly by the guards, who lined the procession with batons at the ready.
To Jiyong, time slowed to a stop as an iced coldness slid and curled into the centre of his chest.
Seunghyun had visited him three days prior. They had shaken hands, hugged and spent their allotted hour speaking conciliatory over the metal bench, head leant as close and their voices as low as the guards would allow. Seunghyun was the only one of the five to come visit him more than once in the last four years, but always brought the regards of the others. Seunghyun had gripped his wrist before leaving, held onto the joint hard enough to bruise, pinching the skin. The guards had forced him to let go and herded him from the room.
Jiyong had watched him leave the visiting room first, and the moment after his feet had left the room, and the door slid closed behind him, Jiyong collapsed.
Jiyong had awoken this morning as if he had not just spent the better parts of three days in a hospital bed, sleeping like the dead. He was not the only one either. Fifteen percent of the prison population in his wing filled the infirmary, any other beds filled with the overspill from the other wings. Some were out cold like he had been, but others were wrapped in thick membranous stuff.
Jiyong felt something unfurling inside him, tendrils reaching through his innards to curl and squeeze. There was something at the edge of his hearing, snarling and crying and aching to be released. When the prisoner in front of him stumbled, he heard the first snap of the thing inside; Jiyong didn't know his name, this group of prisoners not the same he had spent the last two years with, he took him and the next two people around him to the ground and the rest halfway in between.
A growl escaped Jiyong's mouth, a blackish smoke curling from his lips that snarled back to show his teeth. The chains binding all the inmates snapped and shattered with a sudden cold that burnt and bit into the wrists of many of the inmates. His nails turned sharp, his fingers cracking and beginning to become to misshapen, sharp nails like knives. With them he scrambled and scuttled over the fallen inmates and ripped out his throat with his fingers.
Guards ran from all corners to subdue him and the others. One was a foot away from Jiyong when a hand emerged from his guts, holding pierced handfuls of guts. Blood splattered the ground and droplets splashed against Jiyong's face. His tongue lengthened to lick it away, the pointed tip collecting every drop. The other man grinned, and blood gurgled from the other smile he had made around his throat and swung the now corpse around, his other hand reaching out to impale another, tossing them to the ground. Jiyong stood up straight and surveyed the carnage that was beginning to spread. He tipped his head back and let out an ungodly howl, his beginning a chain as the five other voices picked up.
From behind him, in the prison proper, the howl echoed off the concrete walls, mingling with the screams.
The hunt was on.
Taecyeon shuffled the stack of wallets in his hand idly as he waited for the two new additions to their ranks. Jungsu had said they were coming within the hour before he disappeared and that time was nearly up and he was bored. He had already created enough lights to fill the space and banish any kind of darkness around him. His lights played amongst one another, gently playful but this only amused him for so long. Noeul was making herself busy at least, trussing their prisoners up for their duty ahead. She was strong, for such a tiny woman, he had to be impressed by that, even if the strength came with their new 'improvements'. Boa was making sure the humans were safely ensconced in the nearby Angel Sanctuary.
He hadn't seen the faces of those that had been captured, and still hesitated in opening the wallets and finding out who they used to be. Something about the entire thing he was now caught in by virtue of his winged appendages, by virtue of a three day sickness even, felt wrong. Off somehow. And it wasn't just the fact that they had been ordered to string up three people who may or may not be something.
Taecyeon shuddered, and focused on the entrance to keep his mind off the idea.
Jungsu had chosen the small warehouse on the outskirts of town and left everything else up to them. Boa had put her own powers to use, her siren voice clearing the immediate area, the six houses nearby and beginning the evacuation of Seoul a few days early. Taecyeon had provided the guiding light to the seven families who lived nearby and hadn't run at the first news of viruses and then of Angels, the small exodus of 30 people following the skittering lights that would lead them to the safety of an angel guarded sanctuary.
Five hours ago Taecyeon had been reborn, in a word. It had been a surprise to the hospital staff as he erupted from the sealed bio-containment chamber in a clatter of plastic and expensive equipment, his wings bursting forth and his legs clumsily taking everything down with him as he tried to right himself. He was not the only one on that day, to be reborn. At least fifteen, maybe more, he'd heard a nurse say in the dying kerfuffle of his own rebirth and the raging beginnings of another in some other part of the ward.
There was a silence in the hospital in the following hours. Taecyeon would learn soon enough that the Angels, real ones, the only way to describe them without thinking too hard, had wandered the halls and healed the sick so that they could empty the building of humans.
That was where he met Boa, Noeul and a handful of others with names he couldn't recall with the same affliction and the same confusion that still remained. A member of their small group was born missing a wing, the stunted beginnings of one poking unformed from his back, leaving him unbalanced. Taecyeon held him up, keeping him standing. The band around his wrist, covered in the dry muck they had been birthed from, read Hwang Chansung. When the time came to pass him to a pair of clean and dressed winged creatures like he, Taecyeon almost didn't want to, circling his arm protectively around the young man. What would happen to him if he let him go?
That was when Jungsu arrived. Jungsu with his three pairs of wings, opalescent and shimmering and so large they filled the room. Jungsu with a halo made of bone circling the back of his head. Jungsu with the words of burden, with orders like an army Sargent, splintering their number and then disappearing with the other Angels.
Boa came up beside him, knocking him from his far-sighted reverie. Her lavender hair was windblown, her cheeks red and her eyes glancing around the warehouse, watching his lights play amongst one another.
"Narae has them, they are safe for now," she said, brushing her fingers back through her hair to get the mess from her face. "Is Noeul ready?"
"I expect so. We're just waiting for the newcomers Jungsu told us about."
As if on cue, both their senses alighted to a presence and they turned to watch two silhouettes come through the darkness. One held the other in a guiding grip across the uneven floor. Taecyeon lit up their path with small orbs of light, drawing a surprised but relieved gasp from both of them. One was tall, as tall as Taecyeon, the other small and fragile looking, her hair over her face cut into haphazard bangs as if to shield her eyes. The tall person was shielding the smaller woman with his wings, almost protectively.
"Taecyeon?" the tall one said in accented Korean, his wings ruffled and settled with a shiver as the woman pulled away from his guiding hold, squeezing his arm appreciatively before straightening out, more sure with the guide of Taecyeon's lights and the knowledge they were safe, even if only for the moment.
In the presence of the others, she brushed her bangs away from her eyes to reveal the smooth but dark expanses of skin where her eyes should be, her eyebrows knitted together as she tried to find her feet. In her mind the space began to open, the lines of fire hitting against any obstacles that might find her, alighting them so that she could avoid them.
"Yes." Taecyeon replied, his eyes on the woman, feeling concern for her state. "And this is,"
"Boa, and... Noeul?" The woman said, taking the words from his mouth, and from Boa's own. "I'm Sunyoung."
"I'm Zhou Mi." Mi said following Sunyoung deeper into the warehouse. "Is Jungsu here yet?"
Taecyeon shook his head, his gaze still on Sunyoung. He looked away from her as she felt Sunyoung's empty gaze upon him, looking to the ground feeling chastised. Even without eyes he felt like he was being looked into by her and was being judged.
"I was reborn like this." Sunyoung said softly, untucking her bangs self consciously and smoothing them down. "I understand it takes a bit of getting used to from an outsides perspective. You may look, if you like, but please don't judge me harshly for it."
Taecyeon settled his eyes back on Sunyoung's face, the pretty pointed chin and soft lips and small nose, her chocolate brown hair hanging around her shoulders. The lack of eyes made her alien but he remembered Chansung, and the one other who had been reborn slightly wrong to human senses, as if not complete or moulded correctly. He had to put the human senses away.
"There was another one of us born with only one wing where we were. He guards the sanctuary now." Taecyeon said to her with a small smile.
Sunyoung nodded and went to reply before sharply snapping her head towards the back rooms.
"What are they?" She asked, her hand rising swiftly to her mouth as if the stifle the urge to vomit. The blood drained from her face for a reason none of the others could understand.
"They are Fallen. Or what Fallen have created, much like you are what the Angels made." A soft voice came from nowhere, popping into existence before them, the span of his six wings stretching impressively even in the big space before settling. "This is a war."
In Sunyoung's mind she could see them. They had their human flesh at first glance but to her, their skin stretched and distorted, hands and faces and violent shade of red. They seemed to burn and twist. Their faces were no longer human, one the face of a pig with it's mouth stretched open so wide and, it's tongue long, too long and violently flicking at her, salacious and hungry. Another face was so handsome, almost beautiful, until it too opened it's mouth to reveal nothing but jagged teeth and to scream at her, struggling at it's bonds as if to try and reach her. It saw her through the distance, watched her watching him, it's screaming like laughter. Not even the angelic brightness of the form Noeul created could temper the horror of those beings. She whimpered in terror and desperately wished not to see as she did but her sight did not stop, she could not close her eyes to this, as it seared into her memory.
The lips of another swelled, thick and full but rough and bubbling over with the sulphuric honey, it's tongue burnt to a stump that waggled at her. It's eyes were gone, not like hers, but ripped out leaving dark caverns that still seemed to gaze upon her.
A pair of hands descended over her face and her vision became blissfully dark, she actually sighed with the relief and pleasure of losing that overwhelming sense.
"Thank you." she breathed, the sound of tears in her voice though, the visions of the demons disappearing from her mind as well. Another relief, to not have to replay that scene over in her head, even for a moment.
"They used to be human like you." Jungsu began, his voice soft but resonant. His thumbs brushed through Sunyoung's hair where it fell over her face in a soothing manner. "We have been fighting a war for a very long time. When I say we.. I mean. I used to be human too, in a manner of speaking. You've all done well so far, with as little word as you've received. The angels are losing this area of Seoul. They are dying and the Fallen are growing stronger as they consume."
Taecyeon broke the gathered silence, asking the question that they all were thinking.
"What war are you taking about?" Taecyeon scowled, his feathers ruffling and opened his mouth the continue.
"Why us? Why them? If we were all human once, how did we end up so different?" Boa interrupted, waving Noeul over to them hurriedly as she returned from, knowing she would want to hear what was being said.
Jungsu lifted his hands from Sunyoung's eyes, pressing a hand to her shoulder with a gentle squeeze and left her to Zhou Mi who wrapped an arm protectively around her.
"You've been infected with a virus. It's mutated your very DNA. As far as I know it was random. Only some people have been specifically chosen and not infected.” He put up a hand to still any more comments from the small group.
"It means you've been chosen to fight. You've already discovered your weapons, your powers. The demons are here for you to practice on."
Taecyeon shuffled the stack of wallets in his hands again, and for the first time flipped them open to read the names on identification cards.
"Shin Dong Hee, Ahn Daniel, Jackson Wang, Nichkhun Buck Horvejkul." Taecyeon frowned hard at that last name, his pronunciation of it something practised, a knowledge, looking up to stare at Noeul, then at Jungsu. "Are you sure about Nichkhun?"
Noeul nodded, her gaze and expression apologetic, "I checked. The Id’s are all correct."
"Fuck." Taecyeon hissed, slamming the wallets into Boa's chest and stalked into the back, his wings bristling and expanding wide behind him. Sunyoung could see the form inside him turn colours that represented his anguish at the reveal. Taecyeon stood before the handsome one, looking up at him with tears filling his eyes.
"Tell me more about the war." Taecyeon shouted back to Jungsu, his voice filling the warehouse and colouring it with the colours inside of him. They as a group, Noeul leading, Jungsu in the middle and Zhou Mi still guiding Sunyoung followed Taecyeon to the back where Noeul had strung up the demons. Sunyoung flinched in Mi's arms as they drew closer and pulled away from him, though her hand stayed in his.
"I don't want to get any closer." she whispered to him, squeezing his hand before letting it go to clench them at her sides, nails tearing at her palms. She felt ill, struggling to keep her breathing in check. “Go. It's okay.”
“This war is so old," Jungsu began, rubbing a thumb against the bridge of his nose. By this time, even with all he knew, all the time that the angels had been speaking to him he still did not understand, and wondered if those angels actually knew themselves. He placed a hand on Taecyeon's arm.
"Older than biblical. Than god. I think they spawned at war."
“How do you know they are what they are. Couldn't they be aliens. I want to believe but a god who allows this...” Taecyeon waved a hand at himself, gesturing at Sunyoung and then at the row of strung up demons. “I can't...”
“I only know what I have been told. And what I know. I have heard from them since I was seven. Since I was a little boy, I've heard their voices. I don't know what that means, all I know is what I feel.”
“That's a ridiculous answer.” Taecyeon bit out behind gritted teeth. “How can we believe that.”
Jungsu shrugged and let out a shallow breath.
“I can show you that the person you are seeing right now is no longer your friend. That what they are now is the enemy that wants to annihilate the earth and the humans. Sunyoung. I know it's hard, but please. Come here.”
“Why do you want her?” Zhou Mi said, his wings shifting defensively for Sunyoung's sake.
“She can strip the demon's of their disguises. She can see behind the illusion they put up and remove it. She can find the humans that are left in the city. I've pulled this group together because you need to protect her and get the rest of the humans out. So few seer's were reborn, even fewer have her gift of removal and less have them combined.”
Taecyeon scoffed at this pronouncement, not meaning to insult Sunyoung but just the whole over the top nature of Jungsu's words. Even though he had wings, he could create light with the merest thought and had seen Boa and Noeul's own gifts in action, he was yet to see one of these so called Demons, a Fallen. Taecyeon looked up at Nichkhun, strung up with his arms stretched taught above his head, feet dangling listlessly just off the ground. He didn't struggle, he looked exhausted, and unconscious. It had almost been fine when he hadn't known who they were, but now.
“He can't be one of them!” Taecyeon said softly, reaching out a hand to place it above the rise of Nichkhun's belly, just under his rib cage.
Nichkhun's body jerked into life, legs kicking, catching Taecyeon squarely in the gut with his knee, sending him sprawling backwards in surprise.
“Khun! Nichkhun!” Taecyeon stood and reached out for him.
“Don't touch him.” Jungsu shouted, and Noeul came up beside Taecyeon to hold him back.
“Taecyeon?” A small voice whimpered from Nichkhun's mouth, eyes and head darting around the space wildly. His body swayed and kicked, his breathing starting to rise into a panicked panting.
“What am I doing here? Why are you here? Help me, please!”
“Don't listen to him.” Jungsu warned
“You've gotten the wrong person!” Taecyeon snarled at Jungsu, “He's not one of them, he's a good person. Get him down. Please Noeul. Get him down. I know him.”
“Help me Taecyeon!” Nichkhun
“Stop!” Sunyoung shouted and they all stopped except for Nichkhun who continued whimpering. Help me. Help me please.
She looked green in the face as she stepped past Zhou Mi and up to Taecyeon, taking his wrist in her hand.
“Stop. You need to see. Jungsu isn't lying. It's not... He's not Nichkhun any more.”
Before anyone else, Taecyeon saw what Sunyoung saw, his vision shifting into an electric aura and he watched as Nichkhun's form twisted and became the monster underneath. Oh it was almost close enough for him to know it was Nichkhun shaped but the jagged teeth grinning up at him, even as his ears continued to hear his whimpering pleas.
“No.” He whispered, trying to pull his wrist out from under Sunyoung's hand, but she gripped at him tighter.
“I'm sorry.” Sunyoung said, but it was aimed at the form of Nichkhun.
The others gasped as they finally saw what Sunyoung saw of Nichkhun, Noeul clutching at Boa's arm.
“Taecyeon. I'm sorry that you knew this person, but he's not there any more. You can save what's left of him. Your gifts were meant to save the humans, but they also have to ability to remove the demons from existence.”
“I don't want to kill.” Taecyeon stammered, shaking his head.
“Then we all die. We are losing the war.” Jungsu said, looking at the small group. “They are winning, and will not hesitate to kill us, and what is left of humanity."
Taecyeon looked down and away, turning his back to Nichkhun.
"I can't kill him. Even if there's nothing left of him."
Sunyoung clasped his hands in hers and pulled him to her, holding his bulk in the small circle of her arms. Taecyeon clung to her, felling ashamed.
Jungsu stepped forward to take Taecyeon's place and held out his hand towards the struggling form of Nichkhun.
"Watch. Please. You all have this ability."
A white light grew at the centre of his palm, and he pushed his palm forward to touch Nichkhun's chest. The white light began to eat and tear at the demon's flesh. Nichkhun screamed in agony. The sound made Sunyoung hold on even tighter to Taecyeon, though she was no match for him physically, maybe...
Nichkhun exploded into a flash of brilliant burning light, leaving nothing but an empty space behind between the other strung up demons.
"Sunyoung will you expose the other demons. Please. Boa.”
Sunyoung's hair began to raise as if a wind drew up around her. Taecyeon could hear her whimper with the strain of it, and he held onto her more closely, squeezing her gently and letting her take some of his strength, willing it towards her. Her whimpers eased after this gift.
Behind them, the rest of the hanging demons disguises disappeared in the appearance of hell fire, leaving their mangled demon forms in the place of what used to be humans.
Noeul shrieked but Boa strode forward, her arm outstretched. Without having to think too hard upon it, the white light in her palm formed into a flaming sword which she used to pierce the flesh of the demon's abdomen.
The figure that once, maybe long ago, had been Shin Dong Hee vaporised into the same bright light as before, and once faded, left the same blank spot behind.
"Mi. Your turn."
The light in Mi's palm double, burning bright in both, short curved blades blooming from the light as Ahn Daniel was dispatched.
She had regained her composure, a bright staff forming in her palms, the tip bladed and burning with fire.
"Wait!" Taecyeon said, removing himself from Sunyoung's comforting embrace, and turned to face the final demon, Jackson Wang. Noeul nodded her head without being asked, the light of her staff curling back into her palms.
Taecyeon took a long breath, and gazed upon the final demon, struggling on its line, the voice of it's former self begging to please be let go, please.
An axe bloomed in Taecyeon's hands, the white light casting shadows. A single stroke rent the demon's head and his left shoulder from his body and the white light ate him up and set him free.
Sunyoung sighed in relief before crying out, shrieking, twisting and reaching towards Jungsu. Another demon had spawned just behind his shoulder, a demon blade piercing the space between his ribs.
"I think the angels made the wrong choice when they chose you to lead." Jiyong purred in Jungsu's ear, before burrowing his face into Jungsu's neck and biting a huge chunk from his flesh. Jiyong's hand wrapped around the sharp point of the blade, trailing his fingers down to pierce the wound and dig his fingers in deep.
Jungsu choked, the silvered blood forming at the corners of his mouth and beading at his nose.
They all advanced upon Jiyong, alighted with their weapons in their hands, to pierce Jiyong. Noeul's spear, Boa's sword, Taecyeon's axe. Mi rushed upon Jungsu as Jiyong began to glow and burn behind him, pulling the angel free from the show, his hands pressed upon the wounds. A darkness spread there, turning the silvered blood back.
Jiyong was grinning madly, and began to laugh, and laugh as he burned, madness touching every tone.
"We are expendable. You will all become like us."
"Clear the city." Jungsu said, clutching at Zhou Mi's arm, his wings crumbling and then Jungsu vanished.
Zhou Mi doubled over in agony, screaming. Bones shifted within him, skin tearing. Sunyoung came to his side and took his hand and he held on to her for dear life, nearly crushing her hand within his.
All it took was one minute. Less than, and extra pairs of wings bloomed on Zhou Mi's back, a halo burning bright behind his skull blossoming from the back of his neck.
Zhou Mi seethed beneath his panting breath. In his skull the chatter began, orders and locations and anything, just chatter that he could not understand. He forced the anger down, frustrated with the pain and the confusion. Sunyoung got beneath a shoulder, Boa underneath the other and helped to lift him back to his feet.
"We go east. We clear the stragglers and get them to the sanctuaries."
Zhou pressed the heel of his hand to his temple, hissing.
"Shut up." He growled, shaking his head.
"Are we all ready?" Boa asked, while Zhou Mi pulled himself together. Noeul and Taecyeon flicked to attention at her voice, nodding.
"Then let's go." Boa hefted Zhou Mi to his feet, helping him stand straight under the weight of his new wings, and smiled at him encouragingly.
Zhou Mi nodded, placing a hand on Sunyoung's shoulder before forging on ahead, Noeul and Boa keeping the pace beside him, beginning to speak to him in a low voice.
Noeul had never seen the city streets so deserted. Sure she'd seen it empty many times in the early hours of the morning but this felt different, never mind that it was late morning on what would otherwise be a beautiful day. There was nothing. No signs of life. It made her shiver with discomfort.
A breeze blew down the street, picking up trash and anything loose. She was on guard duty, because unsurprisingly to her, Angels still got tired. Or whatever they were. Human. Angel. Sick? The others slept in the apartment, the humans they had collected through the morning and late last night all coalesced under their guard. Only fifteen. The numbers slowly dropping.
She wandered forward up the street, the light of Sunyoung and Taecyeon's watcher ball skittering around her, darting about playfully like an animal about her feet. It would often fly off ahead of her in her small rectangle of patrol, seeking out hints of life but always came back to her quick enough.
Noeul smiled after it, and bent down to pick up the piece of A3 paper that blew towards her, and smoothed it out to take a peek.
It was half a paste up, a creative drawing of the Fallen taking this side of the paper. Noeul looked around, wandered a little further than maybe she should have, in search for evidence of the other half. She found it soon enough. A whole wall covered in the paper graffiti, depicting the angels and the fallen armed for fighting. Skulls interspersed the images, words covering half the wall on top of the graffiti. She walked closer to inspect the graffiti, but the watcher ball crashed into her feet, flashing for danger and starting to dart back and forth to get her to walk back to safety. She didn't need to be told twice and jogged back to the street, the watcher ball speeding off ahead of her.
"Just one little angel." A sneering voice said to her. "Lost are we?"
There were three of them, one not quite like the others in a way she could not quite figure out.
Noeul's wings spread wide and her spear bloomed from her palm as she took a defensive stance. She stood in front of the bonnet of a car, giving her another weapon if she really needed it
"I dare you to get closer!" She hissed at them, baring her teeth, though a shudder of fear ran up and down her back, goosebumps and adrenaline.
The three of them laughed and two stalked closer to her. When they were in striking distance,
Noeul pierced one with her spear, throwing it hard into the centre of the Fallen's chest and it bloomed into the bright light before all idea of it's existence was wiped out. The other was caught as she hefted the car up with one hand and swung it with speed and fury at him. There was the unmistakable crunch of bones as the momentum took hold of the body and crushed it to a nearby wall. Not dead yet but.
The third, a woman backed away and tried to run but Noeul, running on the fuel of this small battle moved smoothly, another spear of pure light blooming in her palm, taking shape before she let it fly like a javelin into the retreating back, the light catching her in the small of her back and the light taking over her body before crumbling into a fine golden ash and then to nothing.
Noeul turned her attention back to the one she had crushed with he car, watching him gasp and grunt through all his broken bones, that even now were mending, but in all the wrong ways for a human body, his shape deformed. A rock dropped to the bottom of her stomach and she felt guilty. The light in her palm remained a small ball of gold, molten and shifting as she went to kneel down next to the broken man.
"I'm sorry." She said softly.
"You'll be dead if you're sorry." The man spat. "They're coming. they're coooooming." his choking voice sing songed. "And you'll be dead."
Panic welled where her guilt once sat and she pressed the exorcising light to the mans head, his sing song repetition of the words dying off with a cry of anguish as he returned to ash.
She began to run then, the watcher light skittering ahead of her and upwards before disappearing to make itself a secret. She ran into the building that they had rested in just before the dawn and ran to awaken the rest of her group, and then to begin herding the humans together. It struck her then, the language she was using in her head to speak of the humans. It had not taken her long to separate herself from them. Was she human? No. She wasn't sure a human could do what she had just done with such ease, with such ferocity. They, the angels, were not much different from the Fallen, though they craved the salvation of the humans somewhere deep in herself, but she was not one of them, and to not be one of them, was to become a monster.
Kyuhyun had ignored the warnings issued over the TV, then through the radios, and now the intermittent loudspeakers that were usually reserved for emergencies.
He wondered about the army. Where were their forces, why had none come to salvage the situation. On the fifth day, well maybe the fifth day, he had not been counting or paying much attention as each day quickly blurred into another, coming home from a raid on the local convenience store for supplies for himself and the single mother on the floor below. Other than the four of them, himself included, their building was strangely empty.
The city itself was strangely empty and he was baffled. he felt a bit like he was going mad. What had he missed.
He knew why the army never came though. There were none of them left, not in Seoul anyway, no where near, overrun and outclassed by these supernatural things. He too knew why the streets felt so empty. He had missed the boat of salvation with his stubbornness. And he had missed the infection that turned people into monster, which spread as virulently as the ones from the horror movies they sometimes watched together. It had hit Seoul hard and fast. That left him where? he didn't know.
He should have left with Zhou Mi. With the other humans who had not left in the first or second waves. He should have insisted he go with Zhou Mi instead of waiting. He had left it too long.
Kyuhyun sighed and shook his head, peeling himself away from the window and clutching the curtains, starting to tug them half heartedly across. He was exhausted. He had been dreaming of Zhou Mi every night lately, his warm words telling him to come to safety. To follow the voice if he heard it and he would be found and he would be safe.
Seeing Zhou Mi's face, even in his dreams, hurt his heart.
A ball of light skittered into view down the street just before he had finished closing the curtains, and he heard the voice crooning from it, probing deep into his mind. The voice was husky and warmed him so deeply from the inside out that his feet began to move before he could even stop them.
Kyuhyun collected his backpack and the sports bag he had packed for his eventual but much delayed departure and began to rush down stairs. He met the woman in the hallway, ushering her two children and the same sort of baggage out into the hall. They looked at each other and Kyuhyun offered her an arm to take some of the baggage or a child. She gave him a bag and used her free hand to hold the hand of her walking child tight, the youngster at that age to wander if not held.
Kyuhyun went first, checking the way out of the building before holding the door for the woman, just as the procession of people came into view, being led by Zhou Mi.
Jiyoung had Sunyoung under her arm, bringing up the rear of the small gaggle of angels and humans, as Sunyoung guided the child beside her, Zhou mi and Taecyeon taking the lead and Noeul filling in the middle, keeping watch over the front and back of the procession and Boa looking keeping an eye on their backs from a short distance.
They had found Jinyoung on the third day and Sunyoung had not let her sisters hand go once and neither had Jinyoung.
Sunyoung, while she had no trouble moving on the streets, once it came to confined spaces with many twists, turns and steps, she could not navigate quite as well. She felt much like a burden, so tried to assist in other ways. She had spent the night calming a child who would not leave her side. Little orphans, who's parents had been turned by the virus the Fallen were spreading. She had cried so much until Sunyoung had spent time comforting her, and Boa's voice had helped lull the child into a dreamless, and most importantly nightmare less sleep.
The child now clung to her as they walked the streets. Jiyoung gripped her hand tightly, her attention so focused on the child that he hadn't noticed that they had stopped.
"Sunyoung." Zhou Mi's voice raised for her to hear, his voice sounding tight and pained and she tuned her senses down to scan the area. She saw the highlighted outlines of the four humans, two more children and two adults.
"They are human." Sunyoung said.
"Oh thank..." Zhou Mi's voice said cracking and he broke away from the party to run to Kyuhyun, collecting the man in his arms even though Kyuhyun hesitated.
"You're still alive." Zhou Mi breathed into Kyuhyun's neck. He wanted nothing more than to stay there, some human part of him stirring at seeing Kyuhyun in the flesh before him. He had been feeling less and less human the last few days, like he was losing himself and any remembrance of the past to the virus that had made him this way.
"So are you." Kyuhyun replied at first stiff before melting into Zhou Mi's embrace. Around them, Boa and Taecyeon brought the woman and her children into the fold of their group. The child that had been plastered to Sunyoung's side disappeared to comfort and help with the younger child, and Noeul lifted their luggage easily. None of the others had brought anything with them so she was glad of something she knew she could do.
Just then the ball of light whizzed back hurriedly from it's patrol, flashing red and white in warning. At the exact same time Sunyoung screamed and Zhou and Kyuhyun's embrace was cut short. They drew themselves into a tight group, Jiyoung clutching at Sunyoung's hand as her younger twin crouched on the ground overwhelmed by her vision.
"They're coming. There are so many. There are so many of them. On all sides. I'm sorry I didn't see. I'm so sorry!"
"Sunyoung! Sunyoung, expose them." Zhou Mi ordered, and Boa pressed her hands to Sunyoung's shoulders, offering the younger woman some of her energy to help her. Sunyoung lifted her head, the highlighted world beginning to explode into a brightness the settled into lines, Fallen of all shapes and sizes coming from the darkness. Almost at exactly the same time the humanity of the Fallen faded, leaving only their monstrous forms, every one a new and twisted way to contort flesh and soul.
They did not frighten Sunyoung or the others as they once had, now that simply proposed a dangerous, disgusting affront to all the felt right with the world.
There were some humans inter mingled, some that must have been rotten to the core, some that were in the throes of the virus, it's evil DNA tearing into their humanity and ripping it away, leaving half human, half twisted and broken things of nightmares.
Boa left her side as she stood and the five of them formed a circle around the humans, the twenty humans pressing close to each other, protecting and shielding the children from the worst of the sights, but there was no shielding them from the noises the Fallen made.
Sunyoung's fingers tightened around her twin sisters hand, entwined and turning white for how tight they were holding on to each other. I won't let go, she thought fiercely, never. She stepped in front of her sister, and the small child who now held Jinyoung's hand, ruffling her wings to make herself look bigger, as if flexing muscles. She held out her hand and the light the spilled from her palm formed into the stock of a whip readied.
There was silence, like the waves drawing back before a tsunami before everything happened all at once.
Zhou Mi had sent out a call for more angels, knowing that the number of Fallen was too great for just the five of them. They arrived on a flurry of noise, their wings cutting sharply through the air. they were met with double their number in Fallen taking to the skies for battle.
Sunyoung had to force herself to pay more attention to her sight in all the noise. It all happened so dazzlingly fast. The five were swarmed seconds later, Fallen grabbing for humans and taking off with them into the air. Jinyoung was one of them. The movement so sudden that their hands were wrenched apart and Sunyoung only noticed, as the cracker end of her whip coiled around the throat of another Fallen and the sound of it's disintegration crumbled into the sounds of her sister screaming. The young girl who had been holding Jinyoung's hand let go, only to be caught by Taecyeon and ushered into the centre of the group.
Sunyoung flicked her whip up towards the demon clutching Jinyoung's arm but missed by bare inches, unable to judge correctly. Sunyoung turned her empty eyes to Boa and then to Noeul who nodded and yelled over her shoulder.
Sunyoung stepped away from the group and into the gap the downed fallen had made, spread her wings and took off after the Fallen and her Sister. She was breathless as she reached the sky. She was terrified of heights. Jinyoung had always been the brave one. Now she had to be brave for her, the one person holding the shreds of her humanity intact.
"Sunyoung!!!!" Her sisters voice screamed somewhere in the din and Sunyoung honed in on her, the Fallen separating from the pack off to the side, presumably to take Jinyoung as it's prize back to where ever it was that the Fallen went. Sunyoung surged ahead, wings beating powerfully. No one could have told her no.
Jinyoung's hands reached out to her and they collided, Sunyoung pressing her palm and the exploding light to the back of the Fallen's head as she wrapped her other arm close around her twin as ash snowed around them. Jinyoung clutched tightly to her.
Fallen swarmed towards them, taking hold of Jinyoung and Sunyoung both and trying to pry them apart. She managed to press her hand to a Fallen's head, her other hand refusing to let Jinyoung's go. She never would again. Never. Never. Never!She chanted these words to herself. More ash fell on her clothing as the other Fallen took them higher before Sunyoung could get any sort of bearings.
The Fallen stopped it's ascent, folding it's membranous and tarrish feathered wings back against itself and dropped from the sky like a leaden weight, all without letting Jinyoung go. Sunyoung screamed with the effort, trying to focus on the blurred highlighted lines of her visions, holding on to her sisters two hands with her own, trying to steady the decent. But then the screaming is too loud, her fingers feel like they are breaking, joints popping, bones aching and her wings can no longer take the weight of another let alone two. She doesn't want to let go. Please don't take her!
The fallen let's go of Jinyoung's legs as it turns to ash at the same time as Sunyoung's grip slips and Sunyoung watches her twin begin to fall. She screams again and begins to dive after her falling twin but is knocked from the sky from behind by another fallen who's razor sharp claws slash at her wings.
All she can hear is Jinyoung's screams as she falls. The sky is filled with Angels and Fallen alike but none spare to try and catch her fall. She tries, oh how she tries, beating her wings against the wind, drawing them in tight to try and gain speed but the ground is so close and Jinyoung is less so.
Sunyoung crash lands back onto the ground with her twin in her arms before the impact drives them apart, kicking up pavement and stonework from the footpath before leaving her mark on the building and her body is on fire with the agony of that particular fall but she is up on her feet with such little thought, scanning, searching.
Jinyoung is reaching for her from the distance, some small proof of her survival, as she watches Kyuhyun, the man that had belonged to Zhou Mi, fall to the ground and not get back up. She is the only one to witness his death.
She wants to claw at her face, where her eyes should be, as if they are just beneath the skin, just for some physical representation for the sobs that are racking her body.
She is the only one to witness Taecyeon's fall next. His shield of light surrounding the remaining humans, the children and four of the adults huddled together, ten all together. They swarm him too and drag him off into the darkness of the alleyway they had come from. She doesn't know if he is dead but there is nothing she can do to help him right now.
Sunyoung's whip lashes out lightening fast at another swarm reaching once more for her sister, and dispatches them all, five of them crumbling into nothing. She catches another swarm at Noeul's back, her arm working furiously, another whip glowing in her other hand to lash and lash madly with her fury.
She runs to the others, grabbing Jinyoung and helping her to her feet as she speeds by, surrounding the remains of the humans, forming the fourth side.
Then the Fallen begin to retreat, a swift turn tail as if they had all heard the same tune of remove themselves from the battle.
The four of them falter at the sight, Noeul setting off at a run to chase after them, but is instead greeted by the human bodies, the dead that the Fallen had left behind. The father of one of the young children. And then Kyuhyun on the left.
That left eight that were taken by the fallen.
Zhou Mi cries out as his gaze finds the limp body, and runs to him carelessly to take the man into his arms.
"Kuixian?" he whispered, placing a hand over his chest, leaning close to check for breathing, anything. "No, no, no, no,no." becoming the chant that fell, dripping from his lips, a manic, disbelieving repetition.
"Where's Taecyeon?" Boa asked Sunyoung, who stood away from Zhou Mi with Jinyoung holding her hand. Her chest heaved as if she could not collect her breath properly, not even Jinyoung's presence could calm her down.
"They took him." she whispered in reply.
Taecyeon's chest rose and fell, though it is split open, collarbone to navel. Little balls of light played along his bared ribcage and along the naked and de-feathered lengths of his wings.
The Fallen on the throne beneath him laughed. Her voice silvery and light and terrifying in it's duplicity. It is loud enough that it smothered the music, the thumping bass of edm.
He is crucified on a cross beam high up in a warehouse he did not know where. He did not know much right now. He felt weak, but he did not know if he can die. How do angels die? Do they? Can they?
Taecyeon could see Jungsu here too. The bite wound Jiyong had left him now a festering black wound. His wings were nothing but blackened bony numbs, his halo shattered into shards that looked like horns, and all of his Sunday schools flooded back to him. Jungsu was not moving any more.
He had been having these round about thoughts for days maybe, hours. He did not know how long he had been here. Pain had a way of removing all those sorts of concepts. Though he wasn't sure he felt it any more.
He hated that.
The warehouse rattled around him as the doors began to open.
Her laughter rang louder, pleasure in the sound.
“More!” She laughed. “More!”
Then it stopped and she stood. Taecyeon had no energy to raise his head but grinned to himself anyway, his senses probing and reaching out. Please.
Zhou Mi stood at the far end of the warehouse, the doors now torn from their hinges leaving the opening gaping wide. Sun highlighted them, the bright sun of a beautiful day. The roof was gone next and Taecyeon could sense the power that grows. He feared for Zhou Mi in that moment, and knew if but one thing, that what is left is not what Zhou Mi used to be, the virus, or the angel inside what ever it was, had won.
The sun blazed overhead. Taecyeon relished it's touch upon his skin, a small something, that set the fire in his heart alight once more.
He could hear words from somewhere down below. The woman beneath him shedding her skin and spitting fire and hell words. She moved forward and consumed the chained humans and Fallen alike in her path and Taecyeon could no longer see her but for the screams of the humans being extinguished.
“It's me.” Noeul whispered behind him, her voice sounds distressed to him. “I'm going to get you down, Taecyeon.” She pressed his chest wound together, and the skin began to knit into a thin silvery line. Next came the nails in his feet, his arms and the tips and middles of his wings. His poor wings. He thought of Chansung.
She flew with him, leaving the battle ground below behind.
One by one the Fallen died as Angels flooded the warehouse. Some were focused solely on collecting the humans, chained together and held in cages like some sick zoo.
Zhou Mi squared up to the monstrous Fallen, blocking her path. Boa stood beside him, her sword blazing before she leapt up and plunged the weapon of light deep into the chest of the Fallen.
Sunyoung joined them as the last of the humans were taken away, her light joining the others. The screams of the Fallen and all she had subsumed echoed horrifically, seeming to bounce off the very corners of the earth.
“This is your final warning.” Zhou Mi said, his voice hard, cold like stone and steady.
The Fallen shrank under their smiting light, until all that was left was a small woman with blonde hair, her Fallen form stuttering under her skin.
“Please.” she whispered, sounding human, kneeling on the ground.
Zhou Mi brushed his hand through her hair, the light in his palms making the strands into a molten shade. She became ash under his hand, and his fingers close into a fist in the air.
“Be at peace.” He said, no less hard but a forgiving note to his tone.
It was so far from the end of it.
Of any of it.