Maybe it was the alcohol that finally gave her permission to do it. Her battle to remain stoic in the face of that never ending all-body migraine pushed past her good sense and she returned to her room while everyone was sleeping off the impromptu party.
It took her a few hours before she was capable. Mentally, she just didn’t want to have the hopes she’d built, the hope of her hands pulsing with her vital energy, the hope of being centered and right once again, the hope of being happy – she didn’t want those hopes dashed.
She slowly put the left arm’s armor on, and tightened the straps. She’d once been able to put the entire set on in under a minute while taking sitrep and possibly prepping a plane for launch. Now, her shaking hands spent what seemed like hours slowly and gently securing the defensive machinery. Slowly, surely, the arms were covered yet again.
How long had it been? She looked at the set she’d blown out years ago during Destruction Day, sitting on top of her foot locker. She barely remembered the frozen chill when she emerged from her somnambulant fury, but she remembered how the armor, once a source of reaffirming heat, was cold.
Her power had once again been lost to her because she pushed too hard. Her body, it seemed, was never up to the level that her brain had tasked to it. She sighed. She pushed her students too hard, too. “No matter how many villains we fought, the one named Mistakes was always the worst,” she said, out loud, to no one.
The time had come. She took off the bandages that she used to cover the four ports in her neck and injected the cables, one by one, into their port. A shiver ran down her spine. It was like reconnecting lost limbs.
Expectedly, but still frighteningly, her eyes’ HUD changed to show that she was connected and that calibration and diagnostics were running.
“After all this time,” she murmured.
She stared at the HUD for another eternity. No problems reported, ALL SYSTEMS GO had long since disappeared. Had they’d flashed before her eyes when she’d had biological eyes, the words’ halo would’ve been burnt into her vision for a minute. As it was, the eyes she had compensated for such silly organic limitations.
Finally, like the last step of a running leap, she pushed. She held onto the hilts and pushed like she had done hundreds of times previous. She pushed like her life depended on it.
She realized she’d closed her eyes when she suddenly opened them. She’d been startled when the tears had hit her hands. Nothing had emerged from the hilts and her hopes were cycloning into the abyss. She gripped the unresponsive hilts in grips that could bend metal, if she possessed such strength.
The hilts began to respond. Not in the way she’d wanted. Now, she realized, that the hilts were getting way too hot. Too hot to hold, as a matter of fact. She dropped them at her feet, impotent implements.
That was when she knew she’d done something horribly wrong.
The power was pulsing and flowing around her arms and torso, eventually flowing through her legs, as well. A crescendo was building, and she had no way to stop it. She tried to pull back, but the pain was worse than she’d ever experienced. Worse than that rebar she fell on. Worse than what Vector had done to her. Worse, even, than when she’d destroyed her eyes.
She fell to the ground, knees and hands on the ground, as nausea pulsed through her. She wondered if this is what other people felt when Toby teleported them, but the reprieve was only momentary.
Her power was going to leave her body, and she no longer had any say in it. Finally, after she felt like she couldn’t take any more, the pulsing nausea became ripples in the air in front of her, in the floor beneath her, in the building surrounding her.
Refuge Point shook like an earthquake had hit. It shook as a resonating cord in an instrument that Ang’s power was violently playing. Dust shook loose everywhere. Some ceilings began to crack. People huddled around each other, looking for a safe place. Fear once again reared its ugly head in their community.
And, as suddenly as it had hit, the power stopped and the shaking stopped. As Ang collapsed from the release of it all, she had but just a moment before she passed out to see that her eyes’ meter of her power level had finally gone back down to zero again, and gleefully blinked as it began to build again.
“Fuck,” she whispered, falling into the dark hole of sleep.