The Aftermath Academy - CH51 (Olivia)

This is not fun. Why do I keep thinking this will be fun? Oh right, mother’s conditioning probably. I was supposed to be her weapon after all. Whatever, there’s nothing fun about the golden light that just blasted through my Pride. My skin bubbles as it blisters off. The blast was much stronger than I expected. I was at full strength and it fried through Pride like it was air. My Pride begins to recharge when the light hits me again. The blast fully recharges my defenses but then shreds through them anyways as if they aren’t there. Neurons scream as my whole body courses with fire.

“Hello there,” a calm voice says. “I don’t think we’ve had a chance to meet. I’m Reader.” I look up and see a shiny golden fat kid holding a golden ball of light in his hand that’s the size of a basketball. “You killed a good friend of mine.” Another blast and muscle melts away. Tendons rip apart.

It’s clear the only reason I’m alive is the fucktard is toying with me. He’s supposed to be the strongest in his class? I’m hit with a sense of déjà vu, getting tortured in Hope’s Bastion. Seriously, if my opponents weren’t all such assholes I’d probably be dead by now. Is it Envy or something? Like, for real y’all, why do people keep torturing me?

“I really do love this power,” Reader keeps jabbering on, hitting me with another blast. “It took me a while to find, but eventually I came across a story called Worm by a man named John McCrae. Lots of interesting abilities for me to choose from, but my absolute favorite is a character named Sion. Sadly, besides the fact you’ll be dead, you would never be able to read this story since it doesn’t exist in our world. I do get to share with you a little bit of its greatness by adopting some of Sion’s power.” I’m hit with another blast and the bone in my leg vaporizes. I struggle to maintain consciousness, working out what I know about Reader.

“Sion’s ability makes me, for all intents and purposes, absolutely invulnerable to anything you can do,” Reader says smiling. I wonder if Hope’s power can recognize me. Maybe Reader thinks that a fatality would be undone by the immortality field, and that by picking me apart in a non-fatal manner he can render me powerless enough to transport until I can be more properly disposed of. It’s the only reason I can think of while in this much pain that doesn’t make his goddamn ranting sheer idiocy. Seriously, how do these morons ever keep anyone safe?

I give no sign, no indication at all, not even my characteristic gestures, as I materialize gluttony within his golden ball of light. Probably helped by how much of my muscle’s been turned to slag, but it really is an advantage I have over my avatar in virtual reality, that I completely lack the need to use my body to enact my will. His eyes widen in surprise as his golden light goes out, leaving nothing but an overweight teen holding a book with dagger sized teeth coming out of it.

Black teeth surround him in the air as curtains of darkness devour him. Blood pours out as he’s devoured, only to be devoured itself. I leave nothing left, nothing that Hope’s field could bring back. If his power was a fraction as strong as he claimed, he should have tried to do the same to me. To vaporize me with such a strong energy that even Hope’s field couldn’t do anything, even if by some fluke I’m not excluded already. Was he really that cocky? That stupid? That blinded by revenge?
I want to gloat over my victory, but I can’t move, can’t even talk. I can feel Krieg’s nanites working, repairing damaged tissue, reconnecting torn ligaments, re-growing skin cells. It’ll be fine in a while, but I’m pretty pissed about my face getting trashed.

Guess I can gloat silently. Reader might have been invincible, but his book wasn’t. In fairness, he couldn’t have known that I already knew that was a weakness of his. And if he’s right about the power he was using, there aren’t many projections that could circumvent the sphere he had protecting the book in the way I did. What’s more, if I hadn’t consumed him the way I did, I know he could have spawned the book again and reactivated his power. And failing that, if he’d been killed by most people in this field he probably would have resurrected. Given how fast he was destroying my voracious avarice, either of those would have been the end for me. Even the slightest indication I could do anything in response and I would have been obliterated in a millisecond.

But I gave him no time to realize his error, no indication I was anything but screwed. The only way to deal with a real threat is to eliminate it without hesitation. Annoying though. Someone of his strength shouldn’t still be in the city. Did Gravitas betray us? No, zhe is just covering zhis ass I think. If zhe withdrew every single powerful executioner from the city, even of the class that hasn’t graduated, zhis involvement would be a lot easier to deduce later.

Gravitas was probably hoping that zhis remaining students would stay put of their own accord. Still, leaving the strongest student here? Asshole could have ruined everything.

No, there’s a bigger jerk-ass who is a bigger threat now. Sending wisps through the battlefield I can tell that Void still isn’t coming out. If the bone puppets aren’t going to be enough, fine.

Then I’ll just have to force him out myself. I feel tendrils of Gluttony infused with Pride begin gathering at my fingertips as I lay sprawled on the ground, looking up at Hope’s damn dome. I may not be able to move again yet, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do anything.

And I’m so very, very hungry.