The wind continued to whip up around them, blowing scraps of paper, leaves, and twigs all around, specks of grime stinging their eyes. The world had become a very dirty place, despite well meaning alleged environmentalists who insisted their war be fought for the good of the Earth. Look where it got them. The good Earth adapted, Mother Nature arm wrestled global warming and won, and enough people found after brief bouts of sickness that they were truly immune from Strain XL8-1100, for lack of a better name, since the founder of this very virulent and resistant bacteria? virus? STD? all of the above? Dwight D. Kramer succumbed to it a week after stating he discovered the ultimate cure--completely herbal and organic to boot.
Lily held her breath, envisioning the wheels of reason and insanity cranking in Az's head, as he ran thru all the possibilities in his future, with or without them. Could she deliver Mad to her destiny by herself? Sure. No doubt. Now, ask her if she wanted to. If truth be known, Lily feared what lie ahead in New Promise. She feared her own destiny. She knew that didn't necessarily deem her a coward; if anything it made her smart, attentive, careful. One little slip along the way (no one noticed Mad as she tumbled from the van, hunched over chest heaving right hand clutching her heart eyes rolling back in her head) one wrong turn (Mad dropped to her knees in the mud electric jolts spasming her body as she throws herself forward) one slip of the wrist (Mad lurched forward on one hand and her knees the other hand gripping her chest as if she intended to rip out her own heart to spare herself the pain of destiny daring fate to strike her dead on the spot and let someone a little more qualified save the world why did it have to be her?) and this trek, this pilgrimage to the unholy land would end all for naught. Their lives would end in vain. So she held her breath and waited while Azrael debated. She didn't know he'd already made up his mind.
"My dear old friend," Az shouted, trying to be heard over the wind that screamed with more lung than he could muster. Lily had to move closer to hear him. Samson didn't move because he already knew he would continue on his own. He knew Azrael, he knew Az would never waiver from the path of greater good. And he admired that about him.
Lightning strobed around them, followed quickly by the guttural growl of thunder that quickly erupted into a full fledged war cry. The clouds appeared ready to burst forth a belch of rain with enough intensity to wash their van away like it was nothing more than a child's toy. And still no one noticed Mad, who had struggled to her feet, still clutching her chest, left hand reaching out her eyes normally a light violet, glowed red.
As soon as he decided to tell his friend he understood, Samson caught a glimpse of something moving behind them. The look of sheer terror on this behemoth's face caused Lily and Az to follow suit. They had seen a lot in this crazy, upside down world, the lot of them, but nothing quite like this.