The newcomers quickly get to work.
The three of them, all dressed in black cloaks, are inside a barrier. One of them is putting her energy into the barrier around the sacrifices, who are now encased inside a glowing cage. The other two are crunched deep in concentration, presumably to carry out the other man's orders of freeing the sacrifices. The last one, the only one wearing a white cloak, is standing right in front of the aesthetically challenged rider, unflinching and standing in between his men and the deimos. The man is raising his hand, and I feel a great gust of wind blowing against the lesser rider. The rider opens his mouth to let out an ear-piercing scream. The man still stands unflinching.
I duck behind the boxes again after taking a quick peek at the Gondwanans, confirming my suspicion.
My whole world suddenly reaches a standstill. Dread, I am overcome with dread. But the dread I feel is not because of the painful wails of chaos, nor is it caused by the heat of the winds of the Outside, neither is it caused by lesser rider threatening to roam free. No, this dread is caused by something else, something that makes me want to disappear from this room right now.
My knees give way as my whole body trembles. Once again, I see it.
A flood of memories rush to my brain, threatening to overcome me in this crucial moment. No, not now, I do not need any further reason for dread. I am in a bad shape enough as it stands already.
But I cannot stop the memories flooding my brain. Their very presence here brings me back to that day, the wailing, the pleading, the burning, the crying; their presence here brings me to the day my world fell apart.
Once again, I relive each second, each painful moment, so painstakingly realistically that I can almost reach my hand out and feel the warm touch of my people. Everything is as clear as if it were a recent memory. I feel everything, hear everything, see everything, fear everything, as if I were back inside that crate, trapped once again as I bore witness to a sight no living being should have borne witness to.
The memory washes over me like a tsunami, pulling me from under my feet, enveloping me in a painful embrace. My whole body trembles in fear, in dread, in sorrow, in shame, in the pain that my heart feels. I choke in my own tears, and yet I am unable to shed even a single drop of it. Instead I feel a huge lump on my throat, making it difficult for me to breathe.
I want to be away, far away, where I do not need to confront these feelings.
I should be grateful, I know. The Gondwanans are here to help, I no longer need to exert any effort into confronting the lesser rider. And yet my stupid heart is overcome with not react logically. Instead I am filled with pain and sorrow.
I am ashamed to even stand in the same room as them, to breathe the same air as them, to even have them around me. Their very presence here makes me want to hide in a hole, never to be seen again.
How dare I breathe, how dare I live anywhere near them? I, who am the worst offender of all, should not have even the tiniest shred of my being anywhere near the blessed. How do I face them, knowing all that I did? How do I even bring myself to walk that path? After all that has happened, how do I get the strength to stand before them? How do I stand their presence? How do I expect them to stand mine?
I should be put away from them, far away, where my presence would not taint their righteousness, where their very breath does not remind me of all those who can no longer do so.
My heart threatens to collapse, the dam I have taken pains to build over the last decade threatens to give way, the sorrow threatens to take this very life of mine.
I have feared this day for the longest of time, the day that I must stand before Gondwanans, the day I must stand among my own people, the day that I must once again confront my past.
No, I have never forgotten my past, I have relieved it every single day of my life, I have lived in sorrow all this time. And yet in their presence, the pain worsens a thousand folds. With them here, I feel like it is that day all over again. I am as helpless all over again. I am reminded of who I am, of what I am, of what I did, and of what I have become. I am reminded of all that I have lost and all that I have suffered through, that I am suffering through.
It hurts. It hurts so much that my chest feels as if it is being shredded to pieces by a dull knife. I want to scream out in agony, to plead reprieve, to let out all this pain that is punishing me. But all I can do is suffer in silence, as I have always done so, as I will probably always will. Again, I suffer in this pit all alone.
And yet I cannot help but think that this is what must be. No, I know this is what must be. I deserve this, I deserve this pain, I deserve to be punished. This and the lifetime of suffering that I have gone through up until now, I deserve it all.
I kneel here, unmoving, caught deep in a pit of despair.
It is due to my suffering, perhaps, that fate took pity on me and decided to give me something else to worry about.
I lost myself, got caught in this web of suffering so deeply, that forgot one important thing: I was holding someone down.
I get pulled from the confines of my thoughts when I feel Lt. Evans pull free from my grip.
"Aunt Penny!" she shouts as she runs right into the open, into the presence of the winds and wails of chaos, into a very harmful situation for her.
Whatever pain I have earlier felt momentarily dissipates as soon as I see my companion step into the open, running towards her beloved aunt.
The winds of chaos are still burning the room, the wails of the damned are still enveloping us in an ear-punishing chaos, out there, a demon threatens to wreck havoc. Out there is no place for a mortal.
"Evans! Come back here! What do you think you are doing?!" I shout after her.
She does not seem to hear me. In fact, she does not seem or mind to notice her own physical torment as she runs towards her aunt. I see her run towards her aunt, the world turning to a slow-motion film. Her each step becomes clear to me, and so do the forces of chaos enveloping the room. She will not survive this easily.