The Aftermath Academy - CH58 (Pyrrha)

“You have impeccable timing,” I tell Blue, relief flooding through me in waves.

“It helps to be able to stop time,” he says. His face is gaunt, muscles atrophied. “Though walking a few weeks in stopped time kind of sucks. Bad news, that cost me a few months of life force. Good news, apparently my clock stops in an immortality field. Which kind of makes me invincible here. I think I’ve dealt with the person controlling the Bone Puppets, and all the bodies infected with tech. Hopefully it’s ove-“

Blue stops speaking, eyes growing dark, then he slumps over unconscious. A tiny metallic spider leaps off his neck.

“Firstly, he did not deal with the person controlling the Bone Puppets,” a voice says from behind us, rising up the staircase behind us. Impossible, Genevieve says. I second the sentiment, as the man strolling casually up the stairs comes into view. “He ripped me into pieces, something my dear friend Lilith is going to have to deal with before they regenerate. He also destroyed every variant of a disguise I had, which doesn’t leave us much time. Seriously, my teammates… they give me a shapeshifting power that takes hours to begin using, then they drop a couple of enemies right in front of our goal? At least Void is dealt with. Unlike myself. Your little friend, despite his best efforts, failed to deal with me.”

The man walking towards us looks for all the world like The Butler, no different than the day he saved my life. There are even parts of his personality that feels resonant with the memory. But this man is not The Butler. He feels no familial connection at all as he looks down on Blue, not the slightest bit of recognition when he sees me, and not the least bit concern that I’m still alive.

“Secondly, although our dear friend is correct that he dealt with technology we were using to control people’s powers, he failed to account for the fact we have more technology deployed than that.”

The Butler lookalike comes to stand over me and Blue.

“Who are you?” I ask him.

“Abomination Butler, at your service,” the man says with a mock bow. “But my friends call me Abe. And you are Pyrrha Valkyrie. Now that intros are out of the way, I will be walking through those giant doors behind you and don’t have long to do it. If you let me accomplish my task, I will not harm you. If you try to stop me, I will kill you, and should your interference result in the failure of our plan or the death of any of my colleagues, I will also hunt down every single living executioner in retribution. That’s a promise.”

There’s not even the slightest doubt in him. It’s not something he wants to do, it would give him no joy, but he would kill everyone in our organization the same as any menial chore if I get one of his friends killed. There is no question in him whether he’s strong enough.

The thing is, I believe he’s strong enough too. An abomination, a part of The Butler that gained its own body after regenerating. There was only one battle, before The Butler gained an ability that let him control multiple bodies at once, where it really became a problem. The abominations killed more people than the person The Butler had come to fight. Hundreds of thousands died before he was able to put them down. It’s considered one of his greatest failures.

To my knowledge, none of them ever had a consciousness that rose to the level of human, yet Abe clearly has a mind of his own. I don’t know when they split, but even The Butler of a couple decades ago was stronger than almost any other gifted. Now that my swords are gone, I’d have as much chance of beating this man as I would have defeating The God of the West. And I doubt many of my classmates would stand any better chance. He could pick them off, one by one.

“I won’t interfere,” I tell him. “I… concede.” He smiles, and with a flick of his wrist the doors behind us are obliterated in a glow of light.

“I’ve hidden for a decade,” he says. “It’s been so good, to finally get to fight.” With that, he flies into the room behind the doors in a glow of golden light.