006. Memoria – Choice

Title: Choice
Genre: Undefined
Characters: Valerie Vega, Nicolas Blanc, Christian Koenig
Story Origin: Vignettes prior to Angel of Lies
Prompt: 006. Choice
Word Count: 1,496
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Valerie forsakes her duty.
Warnings: Mild Violence, Language

Valerie felt the distant pull of something unknown, coaxing her awake.  At first, she was startled by the endless darkness despite the fact that she felt her eyes open, but she quickly remembered that she was blind.  Her second sight was no longer functioning, having been nearly torn out of her.  If she concentrated, she could see her soul and the bright, glowing fissures that lined through it like cracks.  She’d been shattered like a vase, forced into a sleep to try and recoup.  There were gaps where pieces were missing, where she would be forever empty.

Fumbling with her awkward and limp limbs, Valerie managed to slide to the side of the bed.  She realized suddenly that she wasn’t alone, her ears picking up the distinct crackle of fire and very faint hum of an other’s unchecked energy.  At first, her stomach flopped and she thought of Christian, but a violent play of images and the imprint of his hand on her arm were quick to quiet such thoughts.

No, it was Nicolas.  She knew that immediately after her arm ceased to throb.  It was a worrying realization.  It meant that Christian was gone, possibly still crazed and empowered by his own rage and grief.  How long had she been out?  She had to find him and stop him.

“You shouldn’t be standing,” Nicolas said, his accent heavy, marring the words.  He sounded bored.  “You’re supposed to be resting.”

Valerie was not in the mood to deal with him.  She was too troubled by the fact that Christian had left her behind.  They’d traveled together, scarcely ever separated, for twelve years.  There was a reason for that… Christian wasn’t quite in control of himself without Valerie’s constant and ever-present tether set in his mind.  The parting of their energies was a painful loss to her, the constant drumming in the back of her ear no longer there and instead replaced with a mild headache.

She hadn’t realized she was walking forward and found herself stumbling.  Nicolas was quick to catch her, but she shook him off violently, turning her back to him.  She heard him draw a long, deep breath.

“Christian wants you to stay here, Valerie,” Nicolas’ tone was laced with caution.  “It’s too dangerous… you nearly died.”

“And you’ve come to finish the job?” Valerie’s voice was like venom, causing him to recoil in surprise.  “I’ve seen death, Nicolas.  True death and I am unafraid.  I won’t let you stop me, not again.  You won’t stand in my way.”

“Valerie…”

She spun around, grabbing hold of his shirt and pulling him forward.  Her vacant eyes stared forward, drawing him into a one-sided gaze.  He felt her energy winding around him like icy tendrils, creeping up his arms, his legs.  It was a painful sensation, like a thousand tiny needle pricks, all at once.

“You will not stop me,” Valerie snarled, sounding less like herself and more like her late father with every passing moment.  He felt her grip on him tighten, her energy awakening with every passing second.  She wasn’t healed, but she didn’t need to be.  Her power had grown considerably over the years of forced survival.  “If I have to die, then so be it, but I will not allow him to run around unchecked.  Especially not now.”

“Evangeline is gone.  He can’t take it.  He’s gone stark raving mad and you want to run to him?  Do you realize what he did to you?  Even I can see the damage!”

Valerie’s lip quirked a bit, “he’s been doing it for years, Nicolas.  I made my choice a long time ago.”

Before he could reply, Nicolas was swept off his feet.  He felt a push of air beneath him, hurtling him towards the ceiling.  He was jerked to a stop before colliding with it, his startled eyes staring down at Valerie.  The motion hardly strained her, arm extended, her face a play of mocking intent.

“It’s got you, too,” Nicolas croaked out, his voice strained by the endless waves of energy that pushed against him.  “Goddamn it, Valerie, do you know what you’re doing?”

“You can’t stop me, Nicolas.  I’ll find him.”

“This is fucking mad,” Nicolas hissed, glaring down at the formerly young and meek Seer.  Both those traits were gone and replaced with a sheer determination of will and an apparent desire to chase death’s coat tails.  “That taint is going to kill us all.  Is this what your damn Sanctus Unus wanted so badly?  Look at you!”

“Bad choice of words,” Valerie warned before thrusting him backwards.

She caught him just in time again, pulling him back, her fingers twitching from the strain.  She was still too weakened for such feats of power.  She needed to conserve what little energy she had for when she found Christian.  With a slight motion of her wrist and the pulling back of her arm, Nicolas crashed unceremoniously to the floor in a heap.

“Evangeline is alive… and I’m the only one who can find her,” she said, moving towards the door.  “I won’t let it end like this.  I won’t stand idly by again and let this happen.”

Valerie stepped out into the night, the heavy air and thick scent of pine needles an immediate shock to her senses.  There was a light rain, most of it catching on the thick canopy of trees, tiny droplets finding their way down to the earth.  Her legs propelled her forward and her mind’s eye returned, its vision tunneled and focused on a single strand glowing brightly amidst all the others.  She didn’t have the energy to expend, but she didn’t have the time to slowly find him, either.  She concentrated, dropping into a trance amidst the run, her own speed picking up considerably.  The world blurred around her, sound and smell all but ceasing.  She felt as if she was wading through mud, though knew she was moving at a pace too much for the energies around her to handle.  She felt them rend before her and felt a pang of guilt, but did not stop.

She had picked up a few tricks during her time with Evangeline.

She truly had no idea how long she had ran, only that when she stopped, there he was, facing her.  Had he known she was coming?  She felt everything catch up to her, the blurs becoming solidified outlines of varying energies.  The fissures within her threatened to unravel at the sheer weight of what she’d done, what she faced, and it was everything she could do to hold them in tact.  Christian had indeed gone mad in her time of absence, his aura like a heavy, obnoxious weight on her body.  She could feel him from here, his oppressive force backed by the freshly taken souls of others.  How many?  She couldn’t estimate, her own mind too frazzled to concentrate.

“You have to stop,” Valerie’s voice broke through the silence.  “You can’t keep doing this.  It won’t kill you, Christian.  Don’t you get it?  It just makes you stronger.  A bigger target.”

He didn’t say anything, nor did his mind seek hers for a reply.  He simply stared at her, standing amidst the tall trees, looking much like one himself.

Valerie approached him, her feet sliding against the wet hill.  When she finally made it up to him she felt as if she might collapse.  The burden was too much, too heavy.  What he was becoming was even causing the world around him to recoil and rend itself.

“She’s alive,” Valerie said once she was standing fully before him.  “Evangeline is alive…”

His hand gripped her suddenly, an intense pressure that nearly threatened to turn the bones in her arm to powder.  She didn’t flinch or pull away, but faced him as best she could and said it again, despite her mind’s warning to remain silent.

‘She’s alive.’

His sudden release of her arm caused her to stumble forward.  She embraced him awkwardly and fully, her legs following suit, toes digging through the wet earth as she slid forward.  Tears found their way down her cheeks, her guilt and the weight of her duty too much to bear any longer.

“I’m sorry,” her voice was muffled by his coat.  “I’m so sorry.”

This was originally intended for the June monthly prompt over at simhaven. I remember telling goodbye_sun a long time ago I’d try one sometime.  Unfortunately, I fail at word limits, so I retooled it and just put it here.  Ah well, I tried!  ;)   I’m not completely happy with this, but given how gimped my creativity is lately, it’s the best I can do.  Sigh.  It’s vague and whatever because it’s supposed to be.  I’m sure you’re used to it by now with these.  Also, the fifth picture down (the one with Nicolas and Valerie facing off) is one of my favorite pictures of Valerie ever.  It just represents her so well.

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6 Responses to “006. Memoria – Choice”

  1. Beth says:

    Oh this is wonderful. Incredible emotion. Determination, fear, and that broken chaotic state.

    I’m surprised Valerie didn’t pin Nicolas to the wall as soon as she saw him. And equally surprised he seems to have some interest in the situation apart from self survival/promotion.

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    Valerie and Nicolas have had to deal with one another for awhile now, but Valerie isn’t about to let him stop her from doing anything. As for Nicolas, he’s learned from his past, he’s still Nicolas, but his head isn’t up his ass as badly as it once was. Thanks, Beth!

  2. Gayl says:

    The myriad emotions here were as thick as the energy that Valerie ripped through. Powerful, scary, and even revealing. Here, Valerie is not the Seer I remember. Spending time connected to Christian has changed her a lot.

    Stunning piece Mao!

    Thanks, Gayl! Valerie has changed, that much is certain. We’ll see more of it. I have a few more Memorias planned during my break.

  3. goodbye_sun says:

    You know when Nicolas is the one trying to make everyone do the right thing, its not exactly the same as when KiD left off, things are really and truly out of balance. Valerie is still doing things for others first, but just with much more power. It seems like she and Christian have gone from her being his crutch to something else, its like she needs the weight of it as much as he is trying to drown in it? I’m still trying to piece all that together.

    I’m definitely glad you can see that, and haha, yes! When Nicolas is the voice of reason, there’s something very wrong. I think it’s pretty logical to assume that Valerie’s prolonged and very close exposure to whatever is happening to Christian is affecting her, too.

  4. Veron says:

    Oh wow, this is not the Valerie I know and love… and definitely not the Christian either. At the same time, I’m really loving how human his emotions are within the body of this being who clearly holds incredible power. He’s not above grief. And clearly, that’s dangerous. O_O. I’m still getting used to this “soul-taker” thing, and to be frank, it is freaking. me. out.

    Nicolas is right (I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST SAID THAT), this is a “taint”. An incredible taint. Ugh! I love this and that I can apply it to what’s going on in WoS. But I never really considered Christian and Valerie to be “tethered”. I think I always saw them together out of necessity and not much else. But now seeing that connection, something way more than just necessity, is just… wow. Whole new spin.

    Hehe, Veron, that reaction is exactly why I decided to do these Memoria pieces. So when people see Christian and Valerie as they are now, they aren’t all, “WTF??” This is a reference point for the changes we observe when they actually join us in AoL. ;) I’m glad it’s freaking you out, it is totally supposed to. I should mention that we never really get Christian’s POV… so of course, it’s a mystery, but he is still very much Christian, but his suffering has kind of taken hold, finally.

    As for Valerie and Christian, I’m not sure what I would use to define it yet. Unhealthy, certainly. Valerie is more dependent, to be sure, because Christian, with or without restraint, operates the same… he just doesn’t siphon off Valerie, he kills people and consumes them, pretty much. What at first was a necessity to ensure the safety of others (Valerie keeping him in check) has become a dependency. She’s addicted to it, in a sense, the overwhelming weight of it and the closeness she garners from it. It’s the one way she’s been able to get to him.

  5. Veron says:

    … that is crazy. Crazy awesome.

  6. E. Black says:

    *is late to the party as usual* Damn what have they both become?

    Haha, no worries! That is the question, isn’t it?

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