*shivers with anticipation* Oh, snap! It’s getting good, y’all. Keep reading.
“The hell you say?” Sugar exploded.
“I said -”
“I heard what you said, dammit!”
“They why’d you ask?”
Sugar Dayton sank to the ground and landed with an audible thump. She ignored the small rocks and sticks wedged under her butt as she attempted to process the information bomb her sister had just dropped on her. Several times, her lips parted and slammed shut; words, for once, were failing her.
Mae sighed. “Drinking a vial of essence helps me track. Yeah, I can track without it, but drinking makes it easier. My senses are heightened, and I can do more than just follow them. I can feel them, you know? It took me a long time to figure it out. I can find them because I am them, in a sense. I get their powers, their thought processes, their desires.”
“Has it always been like this?” Sugar managed to choke out.
“It’s been getting stronger since-” She touched her belly and looked away rather than complete the sentence.
“But is it really killing you, Mae Day?” Her voice wobbled.
“Yeah. It is. Every single time I drink that shit, it alters my body chemistry. By now, I have the genetic codes of 27 different species inside of me. One day I’m going to drink, and I won’t be able to come back. When that happens, Sugar, kill me.”
“NO!” Sugar shot to her feet. “No, Mae! No.”
Mae looked into her sister’s eyes. “Please.” She did not phrase it as a question, but as a statement.
The younger woman looked away. Belatedly, she realized she still held the case containing the liquid essence of the Fire Wielder. She looked at it with disgust, bile rising in her throat. She dropped it on the ground, and raised her foot above it. Anticipating the satisfying sound of shattering glass, she closed her eyes –
– and felt a pair of strong hands shove her backwards. She lost her balance and crashed into her vehicle.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Mae demanded.
“I was going to end it,” Sugar said stonily.”You can’t keep doing this.”
“You do something this stupid again, and you won’t have to worry about SIFRAS. I’ll kill you myself.”
“Why, Mae? Why are you so willing to go along with this?”
“Because I have the hope that if I do my job well, I’ll see my daughter before they dispose of me.” Bending down, Mae freed the small vial from its cushioned coffin. Straightening her spine, she stood, glancing at her sister out of the corner of her eye.
Sugar watched angrily as her older sibling brought the small glass container to her lips. “You’re a damn fool, Mae Day.”
The older woman shrugged. “Perhaps. Are you coming with me or not?”
“I must be a bigger fool then you,” she muttered.
Mae snorted. “That’s possible. Get in the car. You know I need a minute to adjust once I drink this.”
“So that’s how you’ve always hidden it from me.”
“What do you mean?”
“You always send me first, claiming you need to orient yourself. You don’t want me to see what happens to you. And when it wears off. You always send me away then, too.” Her eyes narrowed. “You’ve been dealing with this all by yourself for all of these years.”
“I always said you were the smart one.”
“Shut up, Mae.”
“You wanna see this? Fine. But I warn you now, it ain’t pretty.”
“You’re my sister.”
“Until I’m not,” Mae retorted. She inhaled deeply to steady her nerves, and then bit into the plastic tip of the vial of orange fluid. She drank quickly, downing the contents in a single gulp, relishing the burn.
The change hit her hard this time. She dropped the vial as her body began to convulse. Ripples of energy flowed over her, through her, around her. She dropped to her knees, coughing and gagging. Through the haze, she heard her sister calling her name. She tried lifting her hand to wave Sugar off, but found that she could not move. Her limbs seemed to weigh hundreds of pounds. Her vision started to blur, and a language she had never heard began to flow from her lips.
Oh, shit! Mae Dayton screamed to herself. This is gonna be very, very bad.