"At first I was afraid, I was petrified!"
Those were the words that Cancer awoke to hear. She sat up quickly, noticing first that she had been leaning on Taurus, and second, that it was almost light enough to see clearly.
"And I spent so many nights, thinking how you did me wrong, and I grew strong," Anthony quietly sang to himself. "And I learned how to get along, go on now, go!"
Despite the fact that he switched back and forth between humming and singing every few lines, he actually sounded pretty good. He was able to hit the higher notes just as easily as the lower ones, and it sounded as though he wasn't putting much effort into his voice at all, which was impressive because the outcome was still great.
She looked out the window and saw that they were on a much larger road than the small streets they had been on before. To her left, she could see at least two other lanes with cars in them, and to her right, she was pretty sure she saw another one. She yawned and rubbed her eyes, accidentally hitting Taurus with a shirt sleeve in the process. She quickly turned to make sure that he was still asleep, which he was, then started looking out the window again.
Bordering the roads were a countless amount of trees, each different from the last. Most of them had beautiful green leaves, but she could see a few that had other multicolored leaves. For every healthy green tree she saw, there was a sickly or dead looking one that stuck out like a sore thumb and came in such an unattractive shade of brown. These trees probably died because of how hot it had been over the last couple of weeks.
"Hey," Capricorn whispered.
Cancer looked up to see her staring through the crack in the seat.
"Hey?" Cancer said, unsure of what Capricorn needed. "What is it?"
"Nothing, I just saw that you were awake," she replied. "Nobody else is, except Anthony of course. I don't know how he does it, driving for hours on end like that. He might need to switch out with Taurus in a little while, or I'd be concerned about him falling asleep!"
"Yeah, he probably should."
"So…" she was trying to get a conversation going. "I told Nick pretty much everything. Well, everything he didn't know already that is."
"You probably shouldn't have done that," Cancer sighed. "We needed to convince him to leave us once we got to Washington. Not give him more reasons to want to stay with the "cool alien god kids with superpowers that run the freaking universe"."
"Hey, we still have time," she protested. "I'm sure we'll be able to convince them, and if not, maybe they'll help us, you never know."
"They probably will try to," Cancer said. "But we can't be putting these powerless humans in that kind of dangerous situation. I'm not even sure I want to be in that kind of dangerous situation."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm not sure I even want to fight these celestials. What did they even do to deserve it, besides wanting to keep the throne, which I'm pretty sure anyone in their right mind would want to do. They're kind of just victims of fate. And also, Clotho said that they put us here to get us out of the way, so if I don't end up wanting to fight them, it's not like they're going to do anything. That's the whole reason they sent us here, to keep out of their rule and not try to attack them."
"But, the prophecy," Capricorn seemed confused. "Isn't this everything you've ever dreamed of?"
"Nope, I can't say I've ever dreamed of fighting a council of celestials to become the queen of said celestials and live happily ever after with my twelve fate friends."
"But we have to." Capricorn paused to calm herself down so she wouldn't wake everyone else up. "It was written in the stars! We are written in the stars, literally!"
"I know this, and that is why I'm in this car right now, besides that fact that I need to find my friends, of course."
The look on Capricorn's face was not going away, so she added
"Listen, if it is my destiny to save the universe, then I'm going to save it, no matter if I'm trying to or not."
Capricorn turned back around to face the front, still digesting Cancer's words. Cancer, on the other hand, turned to look out the window again and practice honing in on emotions again, but found that they were stopped.
"All right everyone," Anthony whispered loud enough Cancer could hear him easily, but quiet enough that nobody who was still sleeping woke up. "It's time for a bathroom break. I'd advise going right now because we aren't going to be stopping for another few hours."
Capricorn opened the back door quietly and let the seat down so Cancer could squeeze out. Anthony had already gone into the quaint little gas station in front of them, so they hurried to catch up. Cancer opened the glass door and held it open for Capricorn, who smiled at her and walked in. Apparently she wasn't the type to hold a grudge, which was a good thing.
The gas station was packed with every single different type of food that had ever been bagged and drink that had been canned, all arranged neatly on the tightly packed shelves. Cancer made her way through them to the back, where the bathrooms were, all the while wondering where the store owner could be. The cash register was sitting on the checkout table to her left, but nobody was standing behind it, unless they were crouched behind the table.
She decided to go check out the register instead of the bathroom, which could wait. There was no one behind the counter either, and from what she could see, no rooms besides this main one and the bathrooms. Maybe that's where the store manager was. She made her way over to the bathroom doors and walked in, immediately spotting Capricorn, who was washing her hands in a rusty old sink that was making the worst squeaking noise.
"Hey, have you seen anyone besides us in this place?" She asked Capricorn.
"Nope, just us." She replied. "Why?"
"It just seems a little weird that no one would be here to run the place."
"I suppose," she shrugged. "I'm sure someone is around here somewhere. On the plus side, if no one is here, there will be nobody to catch us stealing any food."
Cancer hadn't forgotten about food, it having been one of the most important aspects of her life for as long as she remembered. She had already stuffed a few bags of chips into her pockets, before becoming distracted with the mystery of the missing cashier. It's a good thing that Capricorn was thinking about that too.
"Hurry up in here," Capricorn shouted, before walking out the door.
Cancer hurried as fast as she could, but she couldn't resist taking a moment to fix her hair in the mirror. She was just about finished up when Virgo walked in.
"Good morning," she mumbled to Cancer before walking into a stall.
"Morning," she mumbled back, heading towards the door, before pausing. "Hey, do you smell smoke?"
"Ummm… yeah, now that I think about it."
"I'm gonna go check that out."
"Don't worry, it's probably just Capricorn trying to grill a bag of skittles or something."
Cancer almost ran out of the door, spotting Capricorn instantly. She was looking out the window with an odd expression on her face.
"Hey, Cancer?" She said strangely. "I think the car is gone."
What?" Cancer gasped, running over to the window.
"Yeah, I got out of the bathroom and was putting food into my backpack when I heard a noise outside so I looked out the window and the car was gone."
"Also, do you smell smoke?"
A loud screeching noise startled both of them, but it was just Virgo, opening the bathroom door.
"The smell has gotten worse in the bathroom, and I think I just saw smoke out of the bathroom window," Virgo told them.
"The car is gone," Cancer said quickly.
Virgo's eyes narrowed.
"Do you think Anthony took off and left us here?"
"No, he wouldn't do that," Capricorn said.
"How do you know that?"
"Because it's his car. If he wanted to leave us behind, he would have just never talked to us."
Virgo couldn't argue with that, but it still didn't give any explanation for what was happening.
"Guys, there's smoke pouring out of the bathroom." Capricorn put a hand on Virgo's shoulder.
Cancer turned and saw not just smoke, but flames as well, lapping at the bathroom doors.
"Was anyone still in there?" Cancer asked, worried. What if Taurus was in there right now, trapped by the smoke and fire.
"Well, it was either Taurus or Anthony who drove the car away," Virgo reasoned. "So hopefully they're both in the car, wherever that is."
"Hey, what's going on outside?" Capricorn asked them.
Cancer turned to see that it was raining, harder than she had ever seen it rain before. She was pretty sure that it was also hailing as well, because she kept hearing weird tapping noises on the roof. Lightning flashed, and all three girls jumped in fright.
"That sounded close," Cancer said. "The thunder boomed at almost the same time the lightning flashed, which means that it's pretty close."
As soon as she said that, the lights went off.
"Great," Virgo sighed, probably trying to mask her fear by expressing annoyance instead.
"Don't look now, but the fire is getting bigger," Cancer said, eyeing the orange flames that were now dancing on the back walls, and spreading rapidly.
CRASH! Rubble started falling from the ceiling, opening up a gaping hole. But rubble wasn't the only thing that was falling. A figure landed only a few feet away from them, masked by the rain that was also falling through. The figure turned to look at them, still hiding in the dust and rubble and rain. It had been bright and cheery out only five minutes ago, what was going on here?
"Taurus?" Capricorn asked. "Is that you?"
The figure responded by raising a hand towards them. Cancer felt herself being wrestled to the ground right before a jet of flame burst forth from the figure's hand. Cancer turned and saw that it was Capricorn who had knocked her and Virgo out of the way, possibly having had a vision about it, or maybe just a lucky guess.
From her position on the ground, she could see the attackers face clearly in the light of the fire. It was a girl, tall, and very beautiful, standing there looking at them like they were simply a challenge she must overcome, an animal she must hunt. Her hair was very frizzy and wild, and it wrapped around her head like a nest of snakes, ready to strike.
Cancer began to crawl away into one of the aisles, preparing for the next strike. What the heck was going on in the first place? Who was this girl, another zodiac? If so, why was she attacking them? Could she be a celestial who perhaps worked for Univion? There was no better explanation at the moment, so that was what she went with.
She got to her knees and began to crawl faster, trying to find a way to loop back to the front door and get out of the room, but there was so much smoke everywhere, and she could barely see the floor in front of her. The room lit up again, which meant that the girl was toasting something somewhere else. Cancer hoped it wasn't Virgo or Capricorn.
"Where are you?" The girl spoke slowly, her voice sounding husky and dangerous. "This isn't personal, by the way. I"m not killing you for fun, I'm killing you because I have to."
Cancer spotted the bathroom door to her right, but it looked like it was getting the worst of the flames, so she decided not to go that route.
"Aha," the girl said. "There you are."
Cancer panicked, twisted in every direction to see if her attacker had found her, but saw nothing. That didn't make things better. It just meant that the girl had found one of her other friends.
"Silly girl," the husky voice said. "Trying to run away from me. Doesn't she know that I could catch her in a heartbeat."
Cancer kept on crawling, making sure to stay in the areas where the smoke was thickest. Suddenly, she got an idea. She closed her eyes and concentrated, and soon, she was staring down at her limp body. She could see much better now, floating through the smoke and the flames and out into the rain. She had forgotten about the rain. She looked back at the gas station, which now looked like more of a crumbling shell of a building then what they had first entered.
To her left, lightning bolts seemed to be raining from the sky, but she heard no thunder. She couldn't see where the bolts were landing, but she could see them. Behind her, she saw Virgo, running across the plains for all she was worth. That must be what the other girl was talking about, one of them running away. Which meant that Capricorn was still in there.
She turned back to the building and flew in, searching for Capricorn. She needed to make sure that they were all accounted for. She combed through the turned over aisles, finding the attacker, but not Capricorn. If the girl was still searching for them, though, it meant that Capricorn was still down there somewhere. Hopefully. She plunged into the smoke and flames, making a risky guess that she couldn't be burned in this state, and started to search the floors again. It couldn't hurt.
Suddenly, she was back in her body, being dragged out of the building with a hand on her mouth. She tried to scream, but of course, nothing came out, so she tried a more failsafe method. Wriggling and writhing. She managed to get one good kick on her captor, but it seemed to have minimal effect, because they continued on. She could still see what was going on but since her captor was holding her from behind, she still couldn't see them.
She had already figured out that it was a man, because his chest kept bumping into her back, but who exactly it was was still a mystery. If it was Taurus, he probably wouldn't have his hand over her mouth. Or maybe he would, so that the fiery girl wouldn't hear her voice and follow them. It probably wasn't Anthony, because he didn't look strong enough to be carrying her, and it definitely wasn't Nick, for the same reasons. Which left…
"Never thought you would see us again, huh?" A familiar voice told her.
"Scorpio!" She shouted through his hand.
He let her go and she immediately rushed back into his arms.
"Hey, hey, I know you're excited, but we have to hurry up and go." He said. "Pisces is waiting for us back at the car, and-"
"The car?" She asked. "Does that mean you found Taurus and Anthony?"
What? No. Who are they?"
Cancer frowned at him.
"Wait. What's going on?" She asked him.
"Well, we don't have, like, any time at all to do this, but long story short, we saw you with those three people that tried to kidnap us, but for some reason, you weren't running, so we knew that they had brainwashed you, like I can do. So we followed the four of you until you met up with those other two guys and got into a car and drove off.
"So we stole a car and I had to take a crash course in driving and we followed you to the gas station but then these other people came up to the building and one of them lit it on fire and the other two went over to the car, so the people in the car drove off, and the other two people chased them, and then it started raining and lighting was coming down from the sky, and the gas station was on fire. So I told Pisces to wait by the car and I went down to rescue you."
"Wait, but Capricorn is still down there!" Cancer was suddenly alert. "We need to go down and rescue her too!"
"But she kidnapped you, and tried to kidnap me and Pisces too. It's a good thing we escaped or we would all be brainwashed right now. You're not still brainwashed now, are you?"
"What? No!" Cancer started running towards the trail of smoke in the distance.
"What are you doing?" Scorpio hollered after her, and began running alongside her.
They ran over the cliff and almost bumped into someone else who was running the opposite direction.
"Capricorn!" Cancer shouted, rushing over to her.
"Don't stop, keep running!" Capricorn rushed past her.
Cancer looked and saw that the girl from the gas station was standing there, smiling at them. All of a sudden, she was right in front of Cancer.
"Who can't run," she whispered. "I'm ten times faster than any of you will ever dream of being."
I can certainly try, she began to run, chasing after Capricorn. Except, Capricorn wasn't running anymore. She had stopped, and was staring at Scorpio with a blank expression on her face. Cancer could tell almost instantly that she was being mind controlled.
"Stop that and run!" She shouted to Scorpio.
She ran past both of them and towards the car that she could now see almost fifty feet away from them. And there was Pisces, staring at the scene in front of him with a mixture of horror and confusion painted across his face.
"Pisces, can you start the car?" She yelled at him, breaking his horrified trance.
Pisces rushed around to the left side of the car and jumped in, turning the key in the lock. It didn't start.
"You need to press your foot on the brake!" Scorpio shouted, startling Cancer.
She hadn't known he was beside her. They rushed down the hill towards the car, now barely even noticing the rain that was pouring into their eyes. And then, she was there, standing on top of the car like an empress standing before her subjects.
"Listen, I don't know entirely who all of you are, because I'm pretty sure there should only be six of you, and I've seen at least that many since we've gotten here, but regardless, I still have to kill you. To rule the world or something grand and wonderful like that."
Cancer paused. What could she have meant by that. To rule the world?
"Cancer!" Someone shouted from behind her.
She turned to see Taurus running down the hill towards them, along with Anthony, Nick, and Virgo. Everyone was here at last. And they all looked ok, so that made her feel a whole lot better, but there was still that girl, who happened to be standing on the very car that Pisces was still sitting in.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight." The girl counted on her fingers. "That's two more than there should be. But since I'm sure you all won't tell me which specific six I need to kill, I'm just going to have to kill all of you."
A spark of flame appeared in her hands, and she brought it up closer to her face. The flame twirled around her fingers gracefully and seemed to grow brighter with every second passing.
"Cancer, look!" Capricorn pointed to Taurus, who had stopped running and was now standing with his eyes closed, hands lifted up to the sky.
All at once, things started to fit into place in Cancer's head. Or at least, everything she needed to realize that really bad things were about to happen. The lightning from earlier must have been Taurus, controlling the weather like Clotho said he might be able to do.
And if that's what he was trying to do now, then…
She shouted and shouted, but it was too late. A bolt of lightning was coming down from the sky, headed straight towards Aries. Aries, the one who was standing on top of the car that Pisces was in, and also holding a ball of flame. Oddly enough though, the lightning should have hit by now. In fact, she probably should not be able to see it. Lightning moves too fast to see it before it has already done it's damage, so what exactly was going on.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, and realized that it was Capcricorn.
"I'm… slowing… time." She told Cancer. "What… can we… do?"
"Will time still be slowed for me if you let me go?" Cancer asked her hurriedly.
"No." Capricorn answered.
"So there's nothing I can really do," Cancer told her. "We just have to let time go and brace ourselves."
"But… your friend." Capricorn said, talking about Pisces.
"Let's hope and pray that nothing will happen," she said, knowing in her heart that what she was saying wasn't true.
"So… let it… go?" Capricorn asked her.
"Yes," she said, defeated. "Let it go."
Capricorn took her hand off of Cancer's shoulder, and Cancer braced for impact.
And then the world exploded.