schizoauthoress: (A Spark in the Dark)
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Title: The Light of Intuition 2: The Golden Thread
Author: D.L.SchizoAuthoress
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: I'm writing this because I'm super-mad about "Earth 2: World's End" #8-10.
Warnings: semi-graphic description of typhus symptoms, canon-level violence, alternate universe because canon is terrible.
Word Count: 1673
Summary: Ichtaca became part of the Blue a long time ago; no one has sought them out in all that time, so they know something serious is happening.
Note: I'm very, very tired of what canon is giving me when it comes to the "Rainbow Avatars" of Earth-2. I'm sorry -- a literal Lovecraftian god, one of the primordial Old Ones, progenitor Nyarlathotep, "the boundless daemon sultan Azathoth" who reigns "in the spiral black vortices of that ultimate void of Chaos" is the Avatar of the Blue? Are you kidding me? The ordered universe, and defending it, holds no sway with an Old One. The only thing he'd want to do is eat the world. Therefore he remains an enemy on Earth-2i ("i" for Intuitionverse, "i" for Ichtaca, "i" for "I could plot a better story than Daniel H. Wilson in my sleep and I have").
Word of the Day: gallant, adjective: Brave, spirited, noble-minded, or chivalrous

Part One here
The Golden Thread

Ichtaca was going to die.

Their body was racked with terrible coughs, their chest ached both inside and out (outside decorated with a dull red rash that would not go away), every joint in their body and their head especially throbbed with pain. All around them, the other sickly people moaned about the pain or ranted about things seen but not there. The smell of vomit was horrible and all pervasive.

Ichtaca had to get out.

They knew that breaking quarantine was dangerous. They knew that do to so, and to seek out their mother's comfort as they sorely wanted to do, would endanger all that they loved. But Ichtaca could not stand the idea of waiting for the stupor to take them, of dying in this stinking house of sickness. So they trudged as close as they could get to the door, and curled up nearby. Time had a way of slipping through Ichtaca's fingers unnoticed, as the sickness clouded their mind and thought was distracted by the bright lights that danced across their vision. But they knew that their people still supplied the sick and dying with water -- it was rare that someone healthy would dare cross the threshhold to tend to them here, so dangerous was the infection, but a jug of fresh water was often placed where the less sickly could reach it and pass it around to those who might drink. Ichtaca waited.

"Little sister, little sister," an unfamiliar voice croaked in their ear. Ichtaca blinked blearily. That was a thing they had been called before, because of what they looked like. A cup was being offered, a cup with water in it. Ichtaca lifted one shaking hand, then another, to steady the cup so they could drink from it.

The boy who had spoken smiled faintly at Ichtaca. Ichtaca lowered the cup, now empty, and managed a smile back. He wiped at the edge that Ichtaca had drank from, then turned to refill it at the newest jug. Ichtaca uncurled their limbs and stretched carefully -- it was painful, but so was everything these days -- watching the boy. When his attention had turned to another of the sickly ones, Ichtaca rose and stumbled for the open doorway.

It was dark outside, and cold. Ichtaca ached for their mother's warm embrace, for the hugs and smiles of little Cualli, who they had loved best of all their siblings. But Cualli had already been lost to the matlazahuatl, and Ichtaca could not bring the dread sickness back to their house. Not when they had been the only one to sicken in caring for Cualli.

Instead, Ichtaca followed the sound of the surf, trudging away from their village.

Ichtaca would not die among the sick. They could not stand the idea.

****

How long had they walked? Ichtaca, if asked, would not have been able to answer. Lights danced at the edges of their vision, flaring almost painfully bright at times -- so bright, that sometimes Ichtaca fell and covered their head with shaking arms and tried uselessly to close their eyes against the brightness. But always, always, Ichtaca would rise to their feet and follow the endless 'shush shush shush' of the surf.

It grew louder, and Ichtaca heard words in it. Something like the lullaby that their mother would sing to all her children...

'Sleep my child, sleep...'

Ichtaca knew they could not sleep. Not now. If they slept, they might not wake. And if they did not wake, their diseased body might be found by the people...

'Dream my child, dream...'

"There she is!" shouted a new voice. One of the hated voices, speaking in that hated language the priests made them learn. Ichtaca didn't turn to see who it was -- they already knew it was one of the Spanish soldiers. Instead, Ichtaca broke into a run... a slow, clumsy run, but a run nonetheless.

The surf sang to Ichtaca. 'Come my child, come...'

And Ichtaca ran.

Their father had said, "Always be careful when you play on the beach. If you go out too far, there are hidden tides that will snap you up as fast as the eagle strikes at his prey."

For once, Ichtaca did not heed the warning. They splashed into the rising water, disrupting the song so that they only heard, 'Sleep... sleep.. sleep' and kept going. The soldiers puffed and clanked behind, but the sea was holding the group back.

The sea, and perhaps fear.

Ichtaca's feet slid and suddenly left the sandy bottom. They opened their mouth, to cry out, and the water poured in all salt and sour. The water closed over Ichtaca's head, and for a moment they panicked, sending countless bubbles rising. Their fingertips touched the icy-cold air and found no other purchase.

Then the riptide had them, and Ichtaca was borne away from that familiar shore forever, heartbeat fading and slowly replaced by the pounding of the surf.

'You are my child. Mine.'

****

"There is no time to waste; the other Avatar is nearby."

Avatar... it was a word that Ichtaca had heard only rarely, but one which thrummed with meaning to their very core. They turned from their hunt and swam toward the sound.

"Who comes?" Ichtaca called into the darkness, to the rare strangers to the deep, "Who comes?"

There was a silent pause, and another voice, more familiar, growled out, "It's Solomon Grundy, you old fraud! Why didn't you ever say you were an Avatar before?"

"I thought you knew, Grundy," Ichtaca replied calmly. There were glowing lights in the darkness, where there had been no lights before, and a vague memory itched in Ichtaca's mind. Recalling the sight of sunlight streaming down through the calm waters, Ichtaca called on a thread of their power to match that glow.

The green man's head whipped toward Ichtaca, and he moved between Ichtaca and the man who glowed white. Grundy sneered at the green man out of the darkness.

"Fool, that's Ichtaca."

"The Avatar of the Blue," said the man who glowed white, the first speaker. Ichtaca studied him for a moment, and then asked,

"Why have you come?"

The Avatar of the Green answered instead, with another question. "Do you know about Apokolips?"

Ichtaca stared at the man.

Grundy barked out a laugh. "I think that's a 'no', green bean."

"We need you," the Avatar of the White said. "The Earth itself needs all of us to come together, to repel the alien threat that ravages our world."

"I cannot," Ichtaca replied regretfully. "An evil has been freed in my oceans, and I must fight it before I can think of other battles."

Grundy laughed nastily. "Well, that's it then. We're doomed."

"Shut up, Grundy," Ichtaca sighed, disturbed and displeased by the negativity. For some reason, that made the Avatar of the Green smile. Ichtaca closed their eyes for a moment, trying to sense the poisonous aura of the Old One, Azathoth, moving through their oceans. "The Avatar of the Red is not with you. Find the Red, and I shall meet you when that is done."

Within his glittering sphere of emerald light, the Avatar of the Green hummed thoughtfully. "You have to fight one of the Old Ones, right? Grundy said that the Atlanteans sealed them away, and just opened the seal."

"Yes." Ichtaca whispered. The creatures of the sea were fleeing before the advance of the Old One. A whale screamed in horror and pain as she was caught by one of the creature's grasping tentacles, and the psychic shockwave of its agony slammed into Ichtaca as though they stood only a few feet from the carnage. They shuddered, and opened their eyes. "Azathoth has been freed."

The Avatar of the Green continued to question, "These waters are warm, aren't they? Can Azathoth stand the cold?"

Ichtaca smiled slowly, baring their needle-sharp teeth in a warrior's grin.

"Not very well. Not very well at all."

****

They surfaced in the middle of the ocean, and there was no land for miles. Alan let the protective bubble of his power finally fall, and drew in a huge breath of clean air. Alan now knew why Grundy had said 'they' instead of 'he' or 'she' when referring to Ichtaca -- the Avatar's face and form were androgynous, and no clue to gender was given by their voice. It would take some getting used to, but it wasn't like Alan had never seen people who bucked the gender binary before -- he'd just never seen it done so well.

'Must be magic,' he thought, with some amusement. That was the explanation for so much in his life these days.

Sam barely let it show, but something in his stance relaxed as he rose completely free of the water. Grundy bobbed with the waves, almost crocodile-like, not much more than his baleful yellow eyes visible.

"I feel... something. It flickers. I can't hold onto it." Alan mused. He turned to Sam, and asked, "Can you sense the Red?" Sam shook his head solemnly.

"Grundy?" Sam asked the Avatar of the Gray.

Grundy snorted, sending up a spray of seawater. Alan made a disgusted face, just barely getting his hand up in time to shield himself from the foul mist. The zombie lifted his head with some effort. "I feel it. I want to make it rot; I want it to decay into mine. I can feel the Red."

"Then you'll have to lead the way, Avatar of the Gray," Sam said. He directed a stream of his power into the water, forming an air cushion beneath Grundy and lifting him out. Alan used his ring to float beside Sam.

The strange Avatar of the Blue swam far beneath them, heading for the Old One polluting the oceans with death and fear. Far above them, Apokolips and its threat grew ever nearer. All around them, people struggled under the influence of the Furies. And yet...

For the first time in a long time, he allowed himself to hope.

*-*-*-*-*

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