Less Than Human, 10

“What is that?” Reid muttered, and he cautiously approached the high grass. Soft and rustling, he pictured a cat hunting a fieldmouse or a hare. He liked cats, and he hoped that it was a friendly one. He made smooching sounds in the air and snapped his fingers. “Here, kitty,” he crooned, crouch-walking toward it.

I see you.

Reid froze, his mouth still puckered. A fresh dew of sweat popped out across his forehead, and his heartbeat accelerated. He staggered backwards as Magnus rose from the grass. A wicked smile dominated the outcast Celestial’s features, and his orange eyes blazed. He gestured toward Reid, his fingers beckoning.

A sharp force tugged at Reid’s collar, and he was hoisted in the air, drawn in the direction of Magnus. Did you really think that I would just let you condemn me and walk away, subhuman? he projected. The thoughts stabbed, spiny and furious, in Reid’s mind. I will not be made to stay behind. Not because of something such as you.

“P-please…” Reid managed.

Will you beg as well? roared the mental voice. Have you not witnessed what I think of mercy?

“No!” shrieked a voice, and Reid tumbled from the grasp, landing hard on his back. The air rushed from him, and he hacked and gasped. He turned to see Helena, rushing forward, her face twisted and gaunt.

“This is no game, young miss,” Magnus spat. A thin stream of blue trickled from the corner of his mouth. “I won’t be left here. And I won’t allow you to stop me.” He punched, swift and savage, and a surge of unseen force crashed into her midsection. She made a low, gulping sound and folded forward, eyes wet and gleaming. “The elder has no power over the likes of me any more. Cast me out? Me? Not hardly.”

Reid couldn’t remember getting to his feet, and the small amount of logic that he’d come to rely on was apparently taking a break as well, because before he knew what he was doing, he discovered that he had pounced into Magnus, arms enveloping the Celestial’s waist. Magnus shouted with rage and dismay as his legs buckled and they both toppled.

You won’t!” Reid bellowed, swinging his arms in huge, looping arcs, his clenched fists crashing down into Magnus’s head and face. “No not ever! You won’t hurt her again! I’ll kill you if you try!” His punches missed as often as they struck, but they were fueled by a furious rage that he’d never released. Magnus grunted against the blows, and more blue began to flow from his nose and mouth, and the flesh around one of his amber eyes began to swell.

It was then that something filled Reid’s nose and mouth, blocking out air, and he felt a massive hand press against his chest and shove him backward. He tumbled backward, and the presence of his rage popped like a bubble. He cried out in shock and pain as he skidded across the ground. Magnus rose to his feet, his pale face no longer so handsome. He snorted and spat a mouthful of blue blood. “There’s the human side of you,” he snarled. “They say you’re nothing like them, but I knew that somewhere, somewhere, you had that murder in your heart. It’s a pity. We’d all thought you were different. But I guess, at the end of the day, you’re not any different. You’re just as bad.”

Magnus clenched his fist, and Reid was pulled into the air, feet dangling and kicking feebly. Let him go! cried out Helena, her projection loud but unsettled. Let him go, Magnus, he’s– The voice cut off abruptly, and Reid could see her head pushed violently to the side. She collapsed again, eyes wide and full of pain.

“Kill me, will you subhuman? Kill me?” Magnus lifted Reid higher. “I normally could ignore the bravado of something as useless and impotent as yourself, but today…my patience for such insolence is too thin.” Reid looked down upon Magnus, and the Celestial grew smaller and smaller, and as he looked around he could see the tops of the hangars. The trees were now shorter than he, and as he kicked his legs he could feel the horrifying depth of nothingness below him, and he trembled.

“So now, Reid…let’s see how well you fly.”

The invisible grasp on his collar evaporated, and Reid felt the horrifying new tug of gravity as he careened toward the world below.

The End

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