14

"Just a little more!" A man's scratchy voice screams. It is frantic and filled with desperation.

Eight is on the verge to his senses, but he cannot comprehend much what is happening. What he can only register is the great pain his body is experiencing. Not because of the arms that lifts him and carries him to a safe haven or hell. Not also because of the acid eating the lining of his stomach, due to hunger and thirst. It is because of the sheer exhaustion and hopelessness.

He is finally going to die. To be brought to a slow and painful execution by the Mogs, that is surely what Setrakus Ra would like.

I wanted to see her, Eight thinks. Just one last time.

The only thoughts that pushed him to stay alive. He wanted to see Marina. If even lucky, to talk to her. Alas, he won't be able to do it.

"There!" A scream breaks out from a girl.

The pace of the one carrying Eight goes swifter. The girl's call was like a sign of hope for both the guy, probably hell for Eight. However, there is something in her voice that is securing and safe.

Experiencing death once again? He didn't want to feel it once again; it is an excruciating thought. Who would want to die again in this state? Even the beatings from the human soldiers back at the Mogadorian base, Ella's betrayal and Setrakus Ra's plan of targeting Marina was not enough to pray for death and its painlessness. Which revived person would want to die all over again? Eight would certainly not.

Then he feels a falling force, gravity pulling him madly. Eight hits the ground with a loud thump, causing a lightning pain shooting throughout his body. Without any sound of coming from him, the pain is able to place him into swimming darkness.

He hears multiple shouts and a crashing sound, before he goes to a familiar condition.


Darkness.

Reynolds?

His first visit, and hopefully after few more years he'd visit afterlife, he found Reynolds. Eight's friend, brother and father, all in one.

He searches. None.

This time, the afterlife is different. Last time he was aware he is walking through the void space. He can see his body, feel his hand and at the same time he knows he is not in physical form. But now, he cannot see himself. All he see around him is black. For some reason, Eight knows he is not blind. Why would someone be blind in afterlife? That is just unfair.

Then he could feel his finger tip. His index finger. Yet, he could not see where it is. It was like he is sleeping or closing his eyes.

He tries to move that index finger of his. Then again, a single motion, he could sense it.

What is happening?

Suddenly, something soft and warm grazes that finger. Slowly, it wraps around his hand and gives a slow deliberate squeeze. Eight felt this before. All too familiar. Comforting.

Open your eyes, a voice pleads to his mind.

And with a quick response, his eyes flicker open.

The surrounding goes to a slow focus. He is relieved that he is in a cozy warm room, unlike anything from his prison. More relieved to be alive.

His vision is clear to find someone sleeping at the edge of his bed. The person's arms crossed and settled on the bed to make a pillow. The other hand extends so to hold Eight's hand.

He remembers a similar soft squeezing jolt. It was a hand.

Eight shifts carefully, trying his best to get a better view of the person. Back rested heavily on the bed, sleeping soundly. Dark hair veils her face. A skipping heartbeat surges Eight into happiness. Before he could call who she is, she moans softly and lifts her head up.

Their eyes meet. No sound. No movement. It was all eye contact. The best silent conversation they have. Or Eight will ever have.

Finally, she breaks the silence, tackling Eight with a fierce hug. The air hits him with her sobs and the wetness of her tears.

"You're alive!"

"Marina." Although the pain that the human soldiers inflicted on him is still horribly there, Eight hugs Marina tighter as if never wanting to lose touch of her again. "I miss you. Ow."

Marina pulls away, guilty for the sudden action. "Of course, you're injured. Sorry." Eight nods and never removes his hand from hers. Even after going through different kinds of torture, Eight feels energized. He feels secure and comfortable by having Marina at his side. "I tried healing all the wounds…"

She stops, observing Eight as he studies his injuries. Marina winces as he removes his shirt. Apparently, both of them knew what to expect, but Marina's face drains out of color.

His body or at least his back is a hideous site. Eight's body shivers, looking at the aftermath of that tortured night. Marina purses her lips, trying to seal her quivering.

Three long scars raced along Eight's back. Several short ones spreads out. Not only that, Eight has other present injuries like a slightly broken arm, seven broken ribs(as Marina explains) and a fracture bone on each leg. Luckily, those were taken care by Marina while he was asleep. However, even with the help of Marina's healing Legacy his back is still horribly colored, like a kid going mad using blue, purple, red and green crayons. Only this is not a form of art.

"I wanted to ask," Marina interrupts silently.

Eight sighs; he already know what will be the question. "Who did this to me?" He guesses. The tone of his voice is mixed with sadness and anger.

Her hand nested on Eight's forearm. Simultaneously, they look at each other. How ironic for them that they are saving the people who almost killed Eight for the second time. "Humans." Marina looks at him sympathetically.

Unlike with the other Garde, Eight has a unique relationship with the humans. Using his shape-shifting Legacy, he was able to shape himself into the God, Vishnu. Because of that, he was able to convince an army to protect and worship him. It was a selfish act of cowardliness and loneliness.

"They'll pay for it, " Marina comforts.

In response, Eight lets Marina's holding hand slide to his hand. "I deserve it," he says.

"No," Marina croaks.

Eight smiles at her, knowing she is also thinking about his wrong doings to the humans. "Do you know about karma?" Marina nods. "It's karma for fooling Commander Sharma."

"Eight…"

With sore and deliberately beaten arms, he is able to pull Marina in a hug, which is effective in silencing her.

"I'm here, aren't I?"

"Yes."

"You save me again," Eight says, his voice hoarser than before. The overwhelming feeling grips on him like a melting sensation. "I don't know how to repay you. How did you find me?"

She turns to face him. Her happy-sad face didn't change. "We didn't. Ella was taken by the Mogadorians when we were in…Everglades. I only knew when we met up with John and the others. We plan to rescue her, but she sent a telepathic message that Setrakus Ra has an access on her power.

"More importantly, Adam joined us who had an idea Ella could be in Washington if she is that valuable to the Mogs. So for full three days we kept the perimeter secure in case we might get a lead. Although we caught some Mogs, none of them would give any information. All of them committed suicide once we captured them.

"Just then yesterday or just last night, I got a message from Ella. She said, you are alive." Marina smiles, tears forming makes her eyes sparkle, Eight squeezes her hand lightly for her to continue. "They escaped and got you out, Eight. Ella is such a brave person. I'm so proud of her; she survived Setrakus's clutches.

"They made a run for it: Ella and Adam's friend rescued you and we rendezvous last night."

Eight's metallic disappointment on Ella immediately went away. So those were the voices that he heard before everything went black. It was Ella and Rex! Eight forgot how she tricked him and gave him away to the Mogs. He is also honored that Rex has chosen to be their ally.

Hearing Marina's prideful praise on their young friend, Eight could not help but smile proudly.

Marina lifts her head; her intensely emotional eyes staring back at him. Eight takes the opportunity to lean forward and their lips meet.

Since India, it was the third time they kiss. It was not hasty or desperate. It was certainly what Eight would be thinking before he would even go back to unconsciousness. Also, it is certainly what will keep him alive. After all, his vision is going to come true. He will let it come true.


The next time he wakes up, Nine was looking after him.

"Finally." Nine claps congratulating him. "I thought you were in coma, Sleeping Beauty."

Eight fakes a laugh. "I thought too." He looks around.

"Looking for your girlfriend?" Nine smirks while Eight squints. "At the other room, resting." Eight nods, understanding the situation, but cannot help missing her already.

Eight grabs a glass of water at the side of his bed. Before he could take a sip, Nine says, "I told her."

At first, Eight did not know what Nine was talking about. Who could even think straight after death, being resurrected, being a prisoner, betrayed, and beaten into a pulp? Eight doubt anyone could be so enlighten after experiencing an afterlife field trip.

"How did she react to it?"

"My left arm became an icicle, talk about that."

Perplexity appears on Eight's face.

"Marina can summon ice after you went ghost and hold hand-in-hand with whoever Loric God we have."

"Can you please tell me all?"

Nine slacks on the chair. "After you died, Marina went crazy. A legacy developed what would they call Cyrokinesis. She can control ice and even summon them. She can also change the temperature of her surroundings. With the new legacy of hers, awaken by your tragic death, she kicked ass and made Five a lousy excuse for a Jack Sparrow. Sadly, love Captain Jack." He grins, making Eight confuse who Jack Sparrow is.

Good for him, Eight wanted to say when he knew that Five had gone one-eyed, but wishing bad events for a person or saying that they deserve bad fortune is still an immoral act. Thank you Devdan for the highly conscious teachings.

"Then we escape because Marina didn't kill Five. She was quiet the whole time we were moving. The next day we found Johnny and his new friend Adam. I thought I had dibs with the Mog killing thing, but Marina charged and almost ripped Adam's throat. Of course, she was blinded with anger even after we reluctantly agree with accepting Adam. They told us about the attack at the penthouse. It was horrible. The bastards took the squirt, who was just starting to develop her power. Coincidentally, Ella gave her message a few minutes when we got together.

"Marina cried for hours when she realize how immature she has been, so I told her what you've said at my rooftop, dude."

Nine pauses. "It made her worse."

Eight's heart drops. A sickening feeling strikes him like an uppercut punch. He knew very well the consequences of being secretive. "Because I didn't tell her."

"You have just received 5,000 dollars," Nine says dryly, and quickly changes his tone. "But she changed after that."

With Eight's brows raising, Nine smiles sincerely. "She actually started eating and sleeping. It was also her suggestion on keeping a good look on Washington. She really was upset and stressed about losing both of you. That kept her busy and concentrated on anything but you. Although at times she kept aloof, but she did fine."

"Marina's strong," Eight agrees. "I should tell I'm sorry. Thanks Nine."

Nine waves him off and turns on the TV using his telekinesis. "Later. Let her rest." Eight nods and gets comfy on the bed. "I hear there's a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon, wanna watch?"

Eight grins, happy to be connected back to his friends. Nine calls Johnny the John who calls the others who are awake to watch with them. There was Six who playfully punches Eight shoulder as she enters and props herself at the end of the bed. Sam sits by the foot of the bed, he smiles at Eight. Adam shyly enters the room with Malcolm behind him, urging him to be friends. Eight gives uses his telekinesis to bring him in, like an invisible hand pulling the socially-awkward-at-the-moment Mogadorian.

The absentees are still sleeping at the other room with Malcolm guarding them. Most of those present ask Eight little questions and welcome him back warmly.

"I forgot how charismatic televisions are," Eight says. "I'd really would love to meet this Jack Sparrow."