Nix pulled his bare feet from the water and took a quick look around. He was quite far from where the Salamander camps were set up. A dim glowing could be seen in the depths of the river. Had the creature managed to escape?
He swam out to the middle of the river and took a deep breath. The water quickly grew uncomfortably hot. Nix dived straight down, wincing as the pain increased. It lay on the bottom of the riverbed, lodged under some deadfalls. It was like nothing he had ever seen. Inside the orange glow was a barely discernible human form. He kicked his feet and grabbed it by the arm with one hand.
Nix coughed and swallowed a bit of the near-boiling river water. His hand had lost all feeling, but the burning agony quickly spread to his arms then torso as he surfaced and made his way toward shore. The Salamander was dead weight, he dropped the creature on the bank and collapsed to his knees in agony.
His hand and arm were charred black, resembling burnt chicken. The shirt he was wearing was still on fire despite being wet, so he tossed it on the ground.
"Now what?" Nix scouted the area again, eventually, people would come if they had the means to track it. They were at the river's edge since the banks were steep, they wouldn't easily be seen unless the person was close.
It moved slightly and then woke up, instantly a bone vibrating screech caused Nix to fall back into the river. He covered his ears, although the noise still numbed his senses. "What are you doing? They'll find us if you don't shut up!"
It stopped immediately, its orange glowing eyes watching him. Nix moved closer, the heat on his face making him blink several times. The lower part of its body was bound in some sort of glowing wire. It had barbs every few inches that dug into the creature's flesh. Each time it moved, the bindings seem to cause it pain as if they were tightening.
"Those look bad." Nix gritted his teeth, "let's get this done." He grabbed the bindings with one hand, they felt cold to his touch, however, the Salamander screeched again in agony.
It stared at him for a moment and then stopped. To Nix's surprise, it nodded at him to continue.
Nix grabbed the bindings again, the creature jumped in agony but this time did not make a sound. Slowly he unraveled the tangled mess that bound it. The barbs pulled free of its flesh, tiny bits of liquid fire spilled on the ground. Although the bindings didn't hurt him, the flames from the Salamander did. By the time he was finished, both of his arms looked like charred smoldering masses of burnt meat. Blood ran down his chin from where he bit through his lip. He fell back on the ground panting when the last of the bindings were removed.
Nix's yellow eyes stared at the Salamander as it rose over him. "Not going to lie, death my be my best option here."
The creature looked at him and pointed at the ring he had purchased earlier.
"My limiter ring?" Nix glanced down at it. The Salamander moved closer, its image becoming clearly that of a female.
"Hide." The word came from her lips, it was clear and concise.
Nix sat up slowly, a groan escaping his lips. "You want me to hide you?"
The Salamander nodded. "Yes."
"Why didn't you speak earlier? My damn hands are useless now." Nix struggled to his feet, "we should move away from the camps.
The Salamander followed him as he moved away from the river. It hovered just off the ground, it was noticeably dimmer. They traveled for an hour before they entered the foothills. Nix kept to the low ground whenever possible, as someone who had been pursued by multiple agencies for nearly a year, he was good at hiding.
Another half-hour passed, Nix spotted a small hollowed-out section at the base of a gully. "This should hide us until dark." He left it unsaid, after dark, there would be no way to hide her glow.
She stood near the hollowed section, slowly the flames that constantly surrounded her began to grow. Nix was forced back a step as a wave of super-heated air washed over him. She walked into the hollowed section and kept going. The rock melting around her as she strolled through it like it was air. "Come."
Nix entered the Salamander-made cavern. He could see the waves of heat coming off the freshly melted rock, it quickly absorbed back into her.
She sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall, her breathing labored. "Remove the ring and take my Seed."
Nix stared at her, "take your seed? That sounds an awful lot like pregnancy... pass."
"Fire seed idiot. I must pass it on before I die." The Salamander motioned for him to come closer.
He slipped off his ring and knelt beside her. "Die? Isn't there something we can do?"
She shook her head and extended a glowing hand. A small finger touched his skin, instantly his entire body ignited in flames.
Nix jumped back, his hands reflexively trying to smother the flames. He stopped after a moment, when he realized it didn't hurt. "Is this the fire seed?"
The Salamander shook her head. "I ignited your burning aura. So beautiful."
He frowned at the clothes he had been wearing, they were reduced once again to ashes. "That's going to become inconvenient." He waved his burning hands around, he could see that freshly healed skin was visible beneath the flames.
She moved closer, her face hovering over him. Leaning forward she pressed her lips against his and opened her mouth. The Salamander grabbed his face to keep him in place, after a minute she let go and collapsed to the ground.
"Holy shit. The f*ck was that?" The flames around Nix burned hot and raged, his yellow eyes turned orange. "What did you do?"
She lay on the ground unmoving. Her eyes still open and watching. Her appearance had been drastically altered. The Salamander looked like a young woman, long red hair flowed down her back, light brown eyes that shone with intelligence. "I gave you the seed. If I die, so does the seed."
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"Are you dieing now?"
She nodded, losing the seed has hastened the inevitable. She sighed contently, "my name is Shae."
"I don't want this seed Shae, take it back."
Nix felt his temper flare up, the flames answered by soaring around him. Although Shae appeared human, the flames didn't bother her. He grabbed her face and kissed her, forcing her mouth open, he pushed his tongue inside.
She pushed against him, howling loudly in protest. "You can't give it back idiot!"
"You didn't ask me when you gave it, now you get the same thing!"
She struggled against him, pushing him away while they kissed. Somewhere during that time that they fought each other, her passion ignited. Her arms and legs wrapped around him and she pulled him closer. She screeched in sonics when he entered her, oddly enough, this time it didn't affect him. "Bastard." She moaned against his lips.
Nix wasn't sure about the process, but he could feel the flames inside him rising up quickly. He thrust deeper into her, causing Shae to arch her back. His climax felt like an inferno, the heat rushing out of him and into her. She screamed in pleasure, her teeth sinking into the flesh of his shoulder.
Afterward he rolled off her, exhausted beyond reason. It was several minutes before he managed to sit up. Shae was sitting a few feet away, her back toward him. There were no signs of flame on her person, but Nix could sense that the seed had returned to the Salamander.
She looked over her bare shoulder at him, her eyes fierce. "Bastard... you ignited my inner seed."
Nix stood up slowly, leaning against one wall until dizziness passed. He stifled a laugh at the look on her face, "call it a bonus."
"I hate you!" Shae stomped her foot and then left the cave in a flash of flames.
"Grow up! Who says things like that?" Nix walked slowly to the entrance, there was no sign of her when he stepped into the gully.
He pulled out more clothes that Hyai had given him and started walking towards town. On a whim he decided to check his stats.
Cold Resistance 90
Fire Resistance 100
Flame Strands 0
Leather Making 100
"Um... 17? I was level seven when I finished the deer." His thoughts went back to Shae when he noticed the support skill. "The hell is flame strand? It has no rating?"
Nix walked near the camp area, there were still many people running about. "She's long gone," he muttered under his breath. A moment later his hud dinged. He opened it up to see a man wearing a black business suit staring at him.
"Mr. Phire, by now you must have realized that a mistake was made." The blonde-haired man with blue eyes didn't bother to introduce himself.
Nix shrugged. "Should I care?"
"Gladia Corp paid for inmates to become lifestyle players under our banner. We also used our influence to gain stat bonuses not available to regular players."
Nix wasn't in the mood to banter with words. "Wake me up then, and we'll talk about it."
"How the f*ck did an idiot like you escape the Hub?'
Nix smiled at the insult. "Not saying. Is there a point to this conversation?"
The blonde man seemed to calm down, he nodded." Yes. We are absolving ourselves. We cannot release you back to federal custody, the publicity would cost us more than you are worth."
"Is that so?" Nix felt the sudden urge to light the blonde man's hair on fire. All that gel, it would go up like a Christmas tree.
"Since you are no longer in the hub. We are making the situation disappear. From now on you are on your own."
"So I'm stuck here?" Nix began to feel a bit of panic seeping in.
"Just for a hundred years."
"Very amusing shithead." Nix knew that he was getting a good deal, but didn't want to give the suit the satisfaction of seeing it.
The businessman looked over his shoulder and then flipped Nix the bird before cutting the connection.
Nix stared at the empty space. "Very mature."