Walking down the stairs in the dark, despite her previous feeling of determination and strength Felicia couldn’t shake off the feeling of dread that she sensed in this place. It’s true that it was supposed to be the Skullgirl’s home but she could sense that something was completely off, as if time itself stopped moving. If what Valentine claimed was right, this fight would be the hardest fight yet. The thought of danger made Felicia quiver a bit.
Finally walking down the last step, she saw her. A young girl sitting on a chair and reading an old book, she looked like a pre-teen at best. Felicia couldn’t believe her eyes, the legendary Skullgirl was a child. “Hello, must I presume you seek the heart?.” Said the young girl as she lifted her head to face Felicia. “That’s correct.” Felicia nodded. “I see… you are affiliated with them, the Labs, you’re an ‘Anti-Skullgirl’ Tell me, what did they offered to you to become their slave? To become nothing more but a toy to be manipulated to their whims?” Berated the girl as she stood up from her chair and walked up to Felicia with hate filled eyes.
“Nothing, just the chance to help someone I care about.” Felicia said to the girl who looked at her with great intensity, the young girl was reading her. “I can’t sense your heart… its been replaced. I see… typical, a failsafe if you go off the rails and yet your spirit, your soul… it’s pure. Despite all of your blunders, all of your mistakes, all of the pain, I can only sense good…. No, there’s darkness in you… pure hatred, waiting to come out, to cause destruction.” The girl read Felicia almost with perfect clarity but she doesn’t know her, she couldn’t understand, she would never be able to.
“I’m not perfect and I never claimed that I was. You’re not reminding me of anything I haven’t already reminded myself of. Don’t presume to know me.” Felicia retorted to the child who turned on her heel and stepped away. She turned back and gave her a curtsy bow to the Cyborg and said “Marie, my name is Bloody Marie.” Felicia nodded to the girl
“I don’t know why you became the Skullgirl but I have a few ideas…I’m sorry but I made a deal that I intend to see through.” Said Felicia as she took her stance and Marie lifted off the ground while blue fire shot out of her back. “So be it… it’s a shame really, you hate the Medici almost as much as I do… we could have purge their family from existence, but you made your choice!” Marie pointed a finger at Felicia and a large mass of bones with a large skull with horns charged straight at her.
As the giant battering ram was closing in, Felicia braced herself for the impact. Even though she was anchored on the ground the thing managed to push her back from its master. She knew the fight was going to be titanic, but she did not expect that Marie would have her own personal army in tow. Felicia was afraid but she did not despair, she had too much to life for still, now was not the moment to be afraid and give up.
From what Felicia could tell is that Marie wasn’t someone that would fight up close. She seemed to have to rely on the powers granted to her by the Heart. While Marie was still dangerous Felicia could still get the upper hand and do some serious damage if she got close. However if she stayed the way she was, she would be like a fish in a barrel.
Felicia sprinted towards Marie while dodging countless skeletons and other sort of abominations that stood between them. When she closed the gap Felicia lunged at the girl, pounding her on relentlessly. Felicia stopped when she saw Marie started to ‘disintegrate’ and she jumped off of the girl startled. Felicia had a brief moment of clarity, realizing she was beating down on a young girl. She had to remind herself that this was a monster, not a girl.
Felicia was spoted the Heart, it looked like a skull, to which she was barely surprised, but it’s glare was even more cold than that of Valentine’s, as she was watching the girl’s new form she shouted “KNOW YOUR PLACE!” and a large shadow like figure appeared out of nowhere and punched her, sending her flying across the floor. Lifting herself quickly, Felicia realized that the more damage that she would deal to Marie, the more dangerous she would become.
“I guess I’ll have to let the beast out…” She muttered under her breath, she then shook her head “NO! I don’t need it, I can defeat her without having to rely on that, NEVER AGAIN!” She shouted. Marie almost seemed concerned by Felicia’s erratic behavior but she wouldn’t have any of it and sent a skeleton clad in a suit holding a tommygun and shot at Felicia. Barely dodging the bullets, she could feel her rage build up but she made up her mind, she wouldn’t allow herself to go berserk just for the sake of defeating this monster, she was better than that.
Rushing at her once again, but this time around, she was unable to reach her target as Marie sent forth Skulls like projectiles straight at Felicia stopping her cold in her course. Marie just kept sending them until Felicia grabbed hold of one and tossed it straight at Marie’s face which caused her to stagger. Felicia quickly took the opportunity to get closer again. Once again she was close enough to hit her and managed to get a few hits only to be crushed by the same shadowy figure that got her earlier, luckily Marie didn’t go anywhere, but Felicia was definitely hurt by the attacks and if it kept going like that, she wouldn’t make it, she had to be decisive.
At that, she jumped, clamped her hands together, lifted them in the air and brought them back down like a hammer hitting Marie right on top of the head. As she landed, she saw the rest of Marie’s body disappear even further, only the bones of the girl’s remained around the Heart itself, the sight was both terrifying as well as shocking. She wasn’t just fighting Marie, but also the Heart. She had to rip it right out of whatever was left of the young girl’s chest and quickly, her own strength was vanishing quickly.
Felicia quickly took notice that everything seemed to go faster than before, more erratic, more deadly. Marie summoned forth many of her servants at once, kept sending those skulls, that giant ram, but the most dangerous for Felicia were those giant shadow figures, they could and would send her back, making sure she would never get anywhere close to Marie.
At that Felicia opened her face plate and gave a long sigh. “….fine, one last time… I do need more strength, but only so much, she’s too much for me alone.” As she said those words, she felt that accursed tingling in her neck and she felt a rush of rage coursing through and as it did the plates covering her arms and legs automatically detached themselves and fell on the ground much like they have done before against Dahlia.
But unlike when she fought against the assassin, Felicia didn’t feel as though she was completely out of it, she had more control, more focused. It was likely the work of the implant or maybe it was that she had better control over her rage, whatever the reason, she couldn’t afford to waste it, however she also had to be much more careful, without the protection on her limbs, her defense was weakened by a great deal, she would have to focus on the offensive. “Offense is best defense” she murmured with a wolfish grin.
She saw what stood before her, but all she could see was the distance she had to cover before putting her hands on the Heart and Marie would certainly wouldn’t make it easy on her. As a ram went for her Felicia jumped over it grabbed a skull and tossed it only for Marie to dodge it but as long as she would move about, she couldn’t send her own minions, but some of them acted on their own accord, at least to some degree. Felicia barely dodged that accursed shadow figure that seemed to come out of the ground jumped and tried to grab the Heart only for it to back away very quickly; she had to damage Marie even further before she could rip it out and so it would be.
Felicia rushed once again, almost the same pattern, she managed to hit Marie a few times, victory seemed within reach but as she was about to rush again, skeletons came from the ground and grabbed her by the feet keeping her in place and she saw the ram going straight at her again. Without armor, she wouldn’t be able to stand against that, it would kill her. She struggled even harder to free herself and the ram was coming in close. Marie came closer, almost gloating or getting a better view, whatever it was, it enraged Felicia to no end and finally she stopped holding back and allowed the fullness of her rage, she felt the tingling in her neck but she didn’t care.
Her limbs expanded in size one again and she pulled one of her feet from the hands and punched the ram with all her might crushing its skull and the rest of its body fell apart. She then looked in the direction of Marie and as she was flying back, Felicia wouldn’t have of it anymore, she rushed at it, plowing through anything that stood in her way and finally jumped for it. She clenched the Heart as hard as she could as she fell onto the ground, as she looked up, she saw the rest of Marie disappear.
Holding the Heart in her hands, she saw Marie regain her form, to some extent, some pieces of flesh were missing, revealing the skeleton underneath. “You bested me… to think you, a puppet, held that much strength, you could walk your own path and yet you don’t.” Marie said as she clutched her chest where her heart should be. Felicia’s limbs started to relax and go back to their normal size as listened to Marie, she couldn’t help but only feel pity toward the girl, she only had pain, sorrow, anger and hatred that kept her going, much like herself.
“I’m not a puppet, I’ve made the choice to become what I am now… I know I could wish to go back to what I was but no, it’s the consequence of my own actions, I must live with them. But I won’t let those consequences dictate who I become, my actions do.” Marie’s eyes widened as she heard that and gave a melancholic smile to Felicia. “Such pride and yet, it’s not selfish… you know that destroying the Heart won’t do any good, it won’t stop anything, there are bigger things at work… but I believe you may be strong enough to stand tall in the face of doom, I doubt you’ll ever win but you won’t go down without a fight and that... I greatly respect it” Felicia figured that it was bigger than she could imagine, but she done what she sought out to do, the rest was just like a river, the current of water ever going forward.
“I guess destroying this will kill you huh?” Felicia asked to which Marie nodded silently. Felicia then knelt down to the girl and put a hand on her shoulder. “Rest in peace now, whatever happens from now on, I’ll face the consequences as I always do.” Felicia then stood up and crushed the Skull with both of her hands like a vice and Marie vanished as the light that came from the Heart went away.
Felicia took a deep breath and finally went to gather the pieces of her armor and as she put them back she heard footsteps from the stairs where she came from, but she knew who it was. “Valentine, come to take your investment back at base?” Felicia asked in a bland tone. “Yes and no…” The nurse said and Felicia quickly turned to face her with a questioning look. “I do still intend to have you work for me and it’s true, what Marie said, there are forces out there hell-bent on bringing doom on us all. Which is why I still need you, however, you proven that you have integrity, you could have got out of your way to make a wish, instead, you refused and fulfilled your end. You have more of that than all the people I know back at the Labs, combined. Which is why I decided to grant you a larger freedom, you get to live outside of the Labs, as long as you don’t do anything that contradicts our interests. And when called upon, I expect you to answer.” Felicia was completely baffled, this seemed completely counter-productive and unlike what Valentine was like, she just couldn’t understand. “Why?” She asked. “Because you are my greatest success and honestly, I do care about your well-being. To Hell what the others at the Labs say, I know I can count on you and you proved it, times and times again. It’s only fair you get something, you deserve it.”
Felicia was speechless and she couldn’t help but put Valentine in a powerful embrace “OOF! Hey now, I get it, you’re happy but I like my spine the way it is.” Felicia quickly let go of the nurse and apologized but as she did so Valentine’s tone went back to its usual one and gave her a stern warning. “Be warned though, I grant you this longer leash, but if you fail me, there WILL be severe consequences.” Felicia understood all too well “I got it and Val… thanks” Valentine nodded “Don’t mention it. By the way, someone is waiting for you at the front steps of the Cathedral, you should go, I’ll stay here for a while still, there are a few things I need to check and I’ll call you later.” Felicia nodded and started walking up the stairs, she wondered who it would be that wanted to see her, nobody else than Valentine knows about what she just done, then it hit her, there was someone else who knew.
At that thought, she rushed up the stairs, left the confessional and went straight for the large door.