*laughs hysterically* Are you sure you’re ready for this? If so, read on!
Sugar Dayton watched helplessly as her twin writhed in agony on the ground. She stepped toward her sibling, intending to help, when the temperature around them rose rapidly. Frowning, Sugar looked at the sky, which was still clear, and then back to her sister. A small squeak escaped her lips when she saw what was happening.
Mae Dayton was on her knees, burning. Flames rose from her body, eating away at her clothing. Strange red symbols began to appear on her exposed flesh. She howled as each new line appeared, as if it was being carved into her. She opened her mouth to cough, and an orange, lava-like substance poured from between her lips. The puddle wiggled on the ground; shapes rose from it, half-formed, and then melted away.
“Oh. My. God. Mae,” Sugar choked out. Once again, she leaned her body in the direction of her sister. Her feet failed to obey her command to move, and she stood rooted to the spot, watching the horrifying spectacle playing out before her.
“What?” Startled, Sugar strained to hear above the roar of the flames.
“Give. Me. Wa. Ter. I. Thrist. Hot. Wa. Ter,” Mae, if the flame-covered being could still be called Mae, begged.
“Water? You want water? Water? Water. Where is the water!?” In a panic, but pleased to finally have a task, Sugar returned to her vehicle. Flinging open the door, she dived into the backseat, seeking two of the six water bottles she had stashed there. Grabbing them, she turned and stood, smashing her forehead into the door frame in the process.
“Wa. Ter!” The command was urgent now.
Ignoring the pain between her eyes, Sugar successfully disengaged herself from the car, and ran to her sister. Opening one of the bottles, she poured the contents over her sister’s head and back.
“AHHHHHH!” Mae shrieked.
“YAAA!” Sugar screamed in return. “I’m sorry. Sorry. Did I hurt you? Mae? MAE!”
“More. Give me. More. Wa. Ter.” The voice coming from the being was beginning to sound like the woman she knew and loved, so Sugar complied. Opening the second bottle, she doused her sibling again.
The flames vanished. The quivering orange puddle rose and fell gently, as if it was drawing breath like a living creature. Mae raised her head and rose to a crouch. She was naked except for the strange red symbols, her clothes having been obliterated by the flame.
“Mae? Are you alright?” Sugar ventured.
Mae looked to the sky, grimaced, closed her eyes, and stretched out her arm. The orange mass flew into her hand, turning itself into a long staff. Using the newly created staff as leverage, the older woman rose slowly to her feet.
“What. The. Fuck. Just. Happened?” Sugar sputtered. She looked into the face that was a carbon copy of her own and froze.
Mae Dayton had glowing red eyes and pulsating red symbols in various places on her body. As Sugar’s eyes traveled the length of her sister’s body, she saw many of these designs, on Mae’s face, her arms, her thighs. The mass of scars on her abdomen had rearranged themselves into an alien star.
Involuntarily, she staggered back two or three steps and asked, ‘What happened?”
“Should be obvious by now. I am a Fire Welder.” Mae tested her weight on each foot, and walked herself to her own car. She wondered if she could rest her staff against the metal and plastic vehicle without it burning, but before she could completely form the words in her mind, the “staff” returned briefly to its liquid state, and oozed up her arm. Coming to rest on her shoulder, it curled itself around her neck and took the form of an ornament.
“Well, alrighty, then.” Opening the trunk, she dug around until she found her bag of emergency gear. Unzipping it, she pulled out a pair of impossibly short leather shorts, which she immediately slipped on. She glanced down to admire herself. Perfect. She smiled, thinking how nicely the shorts allowed her new tattoos to stand out. Returning to the bag, she freed a mass of metal chains. Shaking it out, she held it up.
It was a shirt, well, vest, made of chain-mail that she’d had specially commissioned some time ago but had never worn.
“No time like the present.” She shrugged into it, quickly securing the latches that held it closed. Rummaging in the trunk once again, she found a pair of black military boots. Wishing she had a pair of soft cotton socks on hand, she jammed her feet into them and slammed the trunk closed. She sauntered back to her sister’s side, chuckling at the expression on her face.
“How did you do that? And what are you wearing?”
“That thing with the orange stuff. It was a staff and now it’s sitting on your neck! How did you know that you could do that?” Sugar asked suspiciously.
“The same way I know that I can do THIS!” With that, Mae grabbed one of the glowing red lines on her arm. It unfurled, becoming a whip, which she cracked at her sister. Sugar hissed as the heated weapon made brief contact with her skin.
“Are you crazy!?” Sugar yelped.
Mae shrugged. As the weapon returned to her skin, it settled back into being nothing more dangerous than a red tattoo. “I just know. I told you, didn’t I? That when I drink a creature’s essence, I become it.”
“I’ve never seen you like this, though.”
“True, indeed. This time is very different,” Mae said darkly.
“Well, are we going hunting for this Fire Welder or not?”
“We are not,” Mae answered gravely.
“Ah, Sugar. I thought by now you would understand. SIFRAS did not merely want us to find the Fire Welder they lost-”
“Misplaced,” Sugar mumbled.
“-lost,” Mae continued. “They wanted to create another one. Me. Which means they know what they’ve been doing to me all these years.”
“Which means… what?”
Mae looked sadly in her sister’s direction. “Which means they have no further use for me as a hunter. Which means my daughter is probably dead. Which means, they will all have to die.”