“Look at you, Korkea. As mighty as you are, you couldn’t stop a humble kuh-nife.”
I raise an eyebrow at the Goddess of Nature, while trying to get the knife out of my back.
I shoulda copied Brian’s power. My arms aren’t as long as Andre’s.
“You know the K is silent, right?”
She rolls her eyes.
“You apes and your stupid written languages. That’s going, too. Weren’t grunts good enough for you? Floris, keep the rest of the apes away. Eat the abominations if they get too close.”
“You heard Mistress. Stay the FUCK back. You’ve all seen how unstoppable I am. Please. GIVE ME AN EXCUSE, YOU PITIFUL FLESHBAGS.”
Floris glares at everyone else as they back away. The Goddess of Nature continues to talk to me as if nobody else is here.
“You see, Korkea? My power is absolute. Mankind’s winter is now. We’re going back to a world covered in green. You apes, and everything you’ve created will be erased.”
“Your power? I’m pretty sure that your big ugly friend did all the wo-- ghk”
Her eyes glow pure blue, like her servant’s.
I start to suffocate, but then it stops, and her eyes go back to normal.
“Floris’ power is my power, Korkea. I created my dear plant elemental to serve as my humble warrior. To carry out my divine mission.”
“Oh, please! Don’t makes me laff, Demeter!”
The tall witch walks up to us, waggling a finger at Floris.
“An’ I’s ain’t scareda you’se either, Floris! I knows what you really is! I knows what you both is, Sister!”
Everyone gasps. Well, almost everyone. Deston and the other witch seem to have already known this.
Floris the plant elemental and Demeter, Goddess of Nature, both glare at the witch.
The witch smiles.
“Yes. I’s dare, Demmy. You’se know I’s always dare. You’se ain’t a goddess. You’se a witch. An’ that ugly palooka ain’t a plant elemental. It’s a bloody plant golem.”
“Kill her, Floris. She lies.”
“I said kill her, Floris.”
“Ha! The big brute ain’t lissenin’ to you’se, Demmy. ‘Coz it’s tryina figure out if ev’rythin’ you’se tolds it is a lie. That’s whatchyer git for makin’ it so smart. An’ it is alla lie, ain’t it? You’se just a witch. Anna bad one at that, in both meanin’s o’ the word. You’se gone an’ done the one thing every witch knows not to do: bind your essence to Nature itself. You’se jus’ a leech, Sister. You’se were always terrible at magic, so’s you went an’ stole power you’se didn’t deserve. Jus’ like when yer pet 'ere ate the boy. That’s always bin the diff’rence between us: I earned ev’ry bit of power I’s got.”
“I did the one thing no other witch had the guts to do: achieve absolute power.”
“Ha! No other witch is that stupid. And if’n they’s are, they’s dead. You’se don’t gets that, you’se don’t understand the price you’se gotta pay. An’ the bill is comin’, Demmy.”
As Floris thinks about all of this, I sneak up behind it, reach into its mass, and pull Miles out before Floris notices. Floris reverts back to its original appearance, as Miles runs over to the others.
Floris and Demeter only notice once Miles is out of range.
Both the plant golem and its mistress are shocked, crying out in unison.
The tall witch laughs.
“An’ see, now you’ve gone an’ lost. Now yer pet golem is just a golem. But I’s wasn’t lyin’. You’se jus’ proved it, Demmy. When you’se stabbed Korkea in the back. If’n you’se was a goddess, you’se coulda jus’ smote 'im, but you stabbed 'im instead. That’s 'ow a witch does it. ‘Ol’ on.”
The tall witch walks over to behind me, and pulls the knife out of my back.
“Sorry. Diddin mean to hurt ya. But from what I’s ‘eard, you’se a tough ol’ bastard. Bulan.”
She heals the wound.
“I’ve got regeneration, but thanks. Call me Cal, by the way. Everyone does.”
“Annette. Call me Annie. We’s met, but you’se don’t remember it. Good work gettin’ the boy outta there.”
“Will you two stop ignoring us? Floris! Get Kor–”
Floris bursts into flames.
This time, it can’t tank it.
Anyone else who can shoot fire, magical or not, walks up and assists in the destruction of the plant golem.
“No! Stop! Mistress! Help m–”
And that’s the last thing Floris says before it burns to ash.
Annette turns to Demeter, who gapes silently in horror and rage.
“See, an’ that’s another thin’. If you’se really was a goddess, you’se coulda fireproofed alla them ugly sumbitches, instead of just Floris 'ere. But you’se diddin 'ave the time to cast alla them spells.”
Annette gestures at the pile of ash that used to be Floris.
“So. Whaddya gon’ do, Demmy? You’se gon’ give up? ‘Coz that’s what I’s recommend. You’se outnumbered, an’ outgunned. Without Floris, you’se can’t leech offa no Omegas.”
“I’ve still got all the power of Nature on my side! I can just re-manifest Floris!”
Annette laughs again.
“Demmy, you’se in a city. You’se ain’t gots no power 'ere. Looks like cities ain’t so bad after all. You’se could just flee back to yer domain, but afore you’se do, why don’tcha take a look at yer wrist?”
Demeter lifts up her wrist.
And sees a golden bracelet locked onto it.
Danny turns visible next to her, as does Ghost.
Demeter jumps, and Annette laughs yet again, and then she smiles at Danny.
Ghost sticks his tongue out at Demeter.
“Nice one, ghost boy. What’s yer name?”
“Danny, madam. And this is Ghost.”
“Call me Annie, Danny. Ha.”
Annette turns back to her sister.
“So, looks like you gots a choice to make, Demmy. You’se can come quietly, or you’se can go down swingin’ like a stupid little bitch. Honestly, I’s ain’t gonna shed a tear if’n you pick the latter. I loved you once, Demmy, but you’se don’t think love’s worth a damn. So I’s ain’t gonna waste any on you’se. I’s got friends an’ family who deserves it more.”
To punctuate the point, all of the police officers and soldiers present point their guns at Demeter. She seems to get the hint.
Demeter glares directly at me.
I glare right back.
“There’s one thing I want you to understand, Demeter.”
“And what is that?”
I point my thumb at myself.
“My people. My fluffies. My planet. My universe. My responsibility.”
Demeter rolls her eyes again.
“The utter arrogance of apes. You’d claim the entire universe for yourself?”
“Yes. Because, you see, if it’s mine, that means it’s my job to protect it. It means I have a duty.”
“And who are you to say such preposterous things?”
“I’m Calvin Korkea. Call me Cal. Everyone does. And I’m the strongest man alive.”
Demeter chuckles, before the look on her face turns serious, sinister, and deadly.
“Well, then. There’s one thing I want you to understand. This isn’t over, Korkea. I’ll find a way out of this. That’s the natural way: adapt and overcome. And when I do find a way out, I’m going to recreate Floris. I’ll make Floris stronger than ever. I’ll hunt you down. And then, when Floris devours you, I’ll make Floris use your power to kill everyone you love. I’ll start with your brat.”
Everything goes red.
When I come to, I’m wreathed in white flames, and there’s a black mark on the ground where Demeter was standing, and a small heap of melted gold.
Annette stares blankly at the black mark, her pointy hat knocked askew.
“Well. That ain’t how I’s wanted to handle it. But eh, good enough. That’ll do, Cal.”