Nikita wasn't often nostalgic. Restless, yes, but not often nostalgic. She had paced her small apartment restlessly for days now, constantly running her fingers over the spines of her books but never picking them up. It was strange, but she wasn't in the mood for reading. Or writing. Or sleeping. Or baking. Or anything, really. She was restless and though she was surrounded by an enormous pile of things she could do, she continued pacing around her tiny living quarters as though she were a caged animal.
As her fingers passed slowly over her books once again, they stalled in front of a particularly large, leather bound volume. Hazel eyes narrowed at it, knowing that opening it would probably not bring the peace she so desired. It might even trigger another bout of frustrated kicking at random things. However, it was the only thing that had caught her eye all day.
Her sigh was perhaps a bit over dramatic, but she pulled it out anyways, almost staggering under the weight. It was a rather heavy book and she wasn't more than a slip of a woman, a shadow that might be blown away by a particularly strong breeze. Curtains of dark brown hair obscured her face as she looked down at it. For several moments she did not move, preferring to stay staring at the book.
When she did move again, she was slow and fluid, not at all the erratic pacing she had so recently taken up. She perched on the edge of her bed, muttering darkly as she pulled open the book. It was exactly like stepping back in time, into the memories she had hidden in the darkest places of her heart. Now they were fresh and new, as though the pages had preserved them like newly plucked leaves.
The book carried an enchantment wrought by the woman holding it. It contained her memories, fresh and vivid, from the many years of her life. The thin, pale hands holding the pages open, trembled largely, her eyes staring down unseeingly at blank pages. The memories were playing in her mind, reliving key points she would rather have forgotten.
Green grass was everywhere. The sun cheerfully lit the fields and there was an overall sense of peace. Trees lined the perimeter of the fields, filled with ripe fruits that watered the mouth to look at. An absolutely minuscule girl was nearby, hanging upside down from a lower branch.
A handsome man stood beside her and he talked to the girl for a while before she dismounted. Another man, younger than the first, came and spoke to the pair of them. Nikita hung back, arms held tightly around herself. Her eyes squeezed tightly shut, deep breaths rattling in her chest. When she opened them again, the scene had shifted.
The little girl was trailing behind the men, just far back enough so that she could hear them but not be seen. Nikita watched the young version of herself with a dull aching in her chest. She had no idea. The two Nikita's followed the men, stopping to hid behind a tree nearby while the two went to make sacrifices on an altar.
Nikita had no desire to see what came next but she couldn't look away. Both she and the little her looked on with horror as the older man struck down the younger and killed him. The woman bit her lip, trying to keep back tears while the little girl didn't bother to restrain them. They poured down her face and she let a wailing cry escape. This attracted the attention of the murderer.
"What are you doing here, Nikita?" He growled as he approached her. The little girl backed off, hiccuping loudly. The man's face was speckled with blood, a sight that the woman, invisible to him, found incredibly disturbing.
"What did you do to Abel, Cain? What's wrong with him? You hurt him!" Her voice was shrill and accusing, clogged by tears.
"I took his life from him." The man, Cain, shoved his face right up in front of the little girl's. "I'm leaving. You're coming with me." The hazel eyes, already large in her small face, grew even wider upon his demand. She shook her head violently, backing away from him. Cain's anger seemed to grow as he stepped closer. "Don't be such a child, Nikita. You're coming with me. I'm not going out in the world by myself. Come on!"
"No!" The girl's voice was shrill, panicked. "I'm staying here with Mom and Dad! You hurt Abel! He has no life!"
"Come with me now." Cain demanded, reaching out to catch her tiny wrist.
"No!" She shrieked again, yanking her wrist away with all the strength her tiny body could muster. "Go away!"
Her cries had certainly attracted others. As the older Nikita looked over the crouched from of Cain, she could see two or three people coming towards them. Cain must have seen them too because he straightened up, his voice a low growl.
"Remember, Nikita, you made your choice. The next time I see you I will not hesitate to take your life too. I'll pull out your intestines and hang them on the trees for abandoning your brother. I just need you to live to tell everyone what I've done. You tell them that I've taken away Abel's life and no one is to follow me. I'll be back for you." Cain turned and sprinted away, even as those few people came forward to the little girl.
The young Nikita sat in shock on the ground, staring forward in horror at the place where Cain had vanished to. The scene blurred in the eyes of the older Nikita as it swirled around and changed. She knew what had happened after that. Abel's body had been discovered and the first human funeral had taken place. It was only shortly after that Nikita had invented a word that would translate through the languages eventually coming out with its English equivalent:
The next scene was as unpleasant as the first. She and a sister she had never taken much time to get to know were being confronted by their parents. The sister's name was Shekti and she was certainly more cheery than the now solemn Nikita. She was maybe 600 years old by this point, her parents even older. Shekti was 500 or so, this time gap an essential role in the two not often knowing one another. They had enough other siblings that speaking to each other wasn't often something they needed to do.
"How do you know? This isn't a joke is it?" Shekti's blunt voice rang out through the tent and the older Nikita smiled at it, reveling in the sound despite the seriousness of the conversation.
"The Lord sent an angel to tell us." Eve was no longer in her prime. She had finally outgrown child bearing years, her hair bright silver and her face bearing lines. None of her kids had cared. They still thought she was the most beautiful woman in all of creation. Even the sad smile on her face did not deter them.
"Angels don't lie." Nikita informed her sister with a slight scowl. The older could remember quite clearly being easily annoyed by Shekti's attitude. But now both looked a little scared, certainly confused.
"We didn't know how to tell you." Adam's voice had grown husky with age though his blue eyes retained a cheery sparkle.
"You should have told us before." The younger Nikita stared at her feet and it was clear she was hiding the tears springing to her eyes.
"How does this make us different than you?" Shekti prompted, a wild look in her eyes. The older Nikita reached out a hand automatically to comfort her younger sister, but met only empty air. It was only a memory, after all.
"The angels think you won't age." The two parents exchanged worried looks. "They think you'll be unable to die."
A deep silence filled the room. Nikita knew exactly what was going through the mind of her younger self at the time. Despair, hopelessness, terror. She didn't know what she was supposed to do with the information just given to her.
"Which demon did it? Which demon is our father? How could he possibly trick you like that?" Shekti's eyes were filled with tears now. Angry, frightened, all these Nikita would see in her sister in the future. This was not the last time Shekti's emotions would run away with her.
"He must have disguised himself as me." Adam said quietly, looking down at his intertwined hands. "And gone to your mother in that disguise. Neither of us knew this had happened until 50 years ago. We knew we would have to tell you eventually but we-"
"Didn't know how." Nikita echoed his former words in a hollow, dead tone. "Didn't know how to tell us we're monsters."
"Cambions." Her mother corrected her gently. "Half demon, half human. And it's only the human side of you we've ever seen. You might not be so different from us." Both Nikita's gave snorts of disbelief. How wrong they were.
"Is it just the two of us?" Shekti glanced sideways at her sister. "Or are there others of your kids?"
Adam and Eve exchanged dark looks. "Cain also."
The scene blurred again and Nikita took a moment to put her hand to her mouth, holding in the nausea she felt. The exact memory of how sick she felt at the realization that she had demon blood running in her veins was taking over her again. She was a monster with shadows inside of her. Monster, cambion, didn't they mean the same thing?
The scene that unfolded next was completely different. Gone was the quiet, dark setting. There were dark black bodies pulsing around her younger self, now thousands of years of age. She cut them down one after another with her enormous sword. There was an enormous blood stain on the back of her shirt where the older Nikita knew everlasting scars stretched over her shoulder blades. She shrugged her own shoulders, remembering the claws digging in and tearing off her flesh.
Near her younger self was Shekti, fighting valiantly as always. She moved with the fluid and grace of someone who was born to be on the battle field. Though the twisted, black bodies pressed in on her, she cut them down one after another, seemingly unable to be taken down.
The light of the place was almost blinding. Thousands and thousands of angels surged with the cambions, fighting just as hard against the demon hoards. They threw off enough light to combat the slinking darkness the demons' black bodies gave off. There was an occasional cry from an angel as it found itself swarmed over by demons but it was quickly lost in the roar of battle.
Even knowing what was coming, Nikita was not prepared. One wide stroke by Shekti and she was down. A demon had come up under her extended arm and viciously slashed at her chest. In a matter of moments she was submerged by the beasts shrieking in triumph. Both Nikita's saw it and both felt the sickness in their stomach. Panic.
A scream. Even the older Nikita had to clap her hands to her ears at the sound of it. Her younger self was screaming with all the force she had inside of her. The magic of the ancient humans, the strength of her demonic heritage and the righteous anger of the angelic army was behind that scream. It was primal and savage, coming from the deepest part of her soul, the part that knew it had to scream or all was lost.
Because Shekti was the only thing Nikita had left. Her family was long since dead, the Garden of Eden washed away in the flood. Shekti was the only thing that remained, her own demon blood keeping her as young and immortal as her sister. And now she was being torn down by demons, the only thing that could take her from Nikita.
The demons nearest were incinerated. Not even ash remained of them. Recognizing her as ally, Nikita's magic didn't touch Shekti, focusing in instead on the demons crawling over her. They were instantly consumed by her magic. But it kept going. It tore out into the rest of the demons, now slowing at the sight of their comrades seemingly vanishing.
The demons didn't stand a chance at the cambion's fury. They were torn to pieces. Miles and miles of dark bodies combusted or were turned to ash. At the furthest reaches of her magic's extent, demons were clutching their forms as furious gashes appeared in them. The screams echoed on and on, the angels staring in awe at the slim warrior with blood dripping from her. She was a dark stain against their light and still she was their hero.
As her screams faded a cheer rose up among them, a cry of victory. Nikita didn't bother listening to it, running over to her sister. The older Nikita slowly lowered her hands, shaking at the memory of it. The scene couldn't have blurred quickly enough. The older, hazel eyes were stuck on the remains of her enemies, not the younger version of herself crouching over an awestruck and injured Shekti.
When the scene became clear again, Nikita closed her eyes and took shaking breaths. She refused to open them for the remainder of the memory. And yet the voices were clear. Cain's crooning voice reassuring her that her pain was going to help him. It was going to make him invincible. He was going to find a way to not feel pain. Unhindered by pain or the ability to die, he could do anything. Anything at all.
Muffled sobs echoed through the room. The magic of the cambions had been useless here. Cain's stronger magic had seen sure to that. Two years. Two long years the sisters had been held, tortured for his experiments, his quest to become invincible. Still Nikita woke shaking in pain and fear from the memories of what he had done to her in those years. And still it had been nothing in comparison to the feelings awoken in her when she heard Shekti's screams and sobs.
She didn't see the scene blur with her eyes closed. It was the sudden lack of crooning and sobbing that caused her to crack open her eyes. She was moderately surprised by the next memories that played out. She had nearly forgotten them, buried in so many years of pain and suffering.
They were the good times. Memories of she and Shekti playing games, having stupid bets, getting into dangerous situations. Nikita soon found the gravity of the last scenes disappearing from her mind as she laughed afresh at the joyous memories. The faces of the sisters were filled with delight as they went through the centuries together.
Nikita's sides still hurt from laughter as the last blurring scene came into focus. Suddenly, the laughter stopped. Everything stopped. It was the late 1920's. The day after the stock market crash. Nikita's mind tugged desperately, trying to escape the memory. She and Shekti were facing each other, screaming their arguments.
Nikita pulled her mind free, but not soon enough to stop the tears from beginning to flow down her cheeks. No, she couldn't revisit that. She threw the heavy book across the room where it landed with a thud on the floor. Why had Shekti made her make that stupid thing? She sunk to the floor, sobbing loudly. She buried her head in her arms, unable to stop the memories, which unfolded without the help of the book.
She and Shekti had fought over something stupid and it had escalated. It had escalated so rapidly that the two had almost been driven to violence. It ended when Shekti left. She left her sister forever. For the first few days, Nikita didn't care, convinced she had been in the right. However, as the week wore on Nikita found she missed her sister.
Finally admitting defeat, she went looking for her. There were no trails. Nikita was frantic as she searched for her sister anywhere and anywhere but there was nothing. Shekti had covered her tracks as the two had done for so long, protecting themselves from the brother that wanted to tear them apart for his experiments. Even Nikita couldn't track her.
Depression was quick to set in. Loneliness, pain, memories, all pressed in on her until she felt she was suffocating. It was only weeks later that she had thrown herself off a building, driven by despair. Of course, it was not enough to kill her. Her demonic blood kept her alive though her magic put her in a catatonic state while she healed. It was the first of many.
Despair won out in the end. She stopped searching for Shekti and holed up in a tiny apartment, keeping to her books and things. Over 80 years and she still felt the pain of being alone. Crisscrossing her stomach were scars from her escapes into her catatonic state. Whenever she dealt herself enough damage she could hide in blessed unconsciousness. That blessed black where memories and emotions could not follow.
As she lay sobbing into her bedroom floor, it was the thing she craved most of all. She never should have opened that book. She should have left those memories untouched for a little while longer. Her past was filled with darkness and violence. The immortal monster still lived.
But now she was broken.