The click was from the remote, but a couple of resulting clicks answered. Before the group could respond, the things in the corks sparked brightly, igniting the thick liquid around them.
Then they ignited each other.
As the nine followed the light in body and mind, I stepped back to the others. Only a second, maybe two had passed after the click. They hadn't screamed yet.
Khuna didn't look happy, there were tears in her eyes but she had a sharp expression on her face. She didn't like doing this, but it had to be done. She was holding hands with Valerie next to her, who had a very different expression on her face.
The nine started to scream. They didn't run around like I expected, but just wiggled on the ground while they burned.
Valerie looked a lot happier, she didn't like violence as such, but this was like an old burden being lifted off her shoulders. She didn't look proud of what she did, but she knew it was part of our world now. They should have done this long ago. You don't let murderers, monsters like that live. If there is no hope for them, the best kindness is death, for them and for the world.
The screams of them were changing, from screams of rage to screams of intense pain. But their voices already sounded broken. They still did nothing but wiggle on the ground. Didn't they have the power of thought to realize it was better to go somewhere to douse the flames?
In a strange way, the light they gave off was a pretty contrast, the light of organic fire against the cold shapes and colors of the factory. The yellow hue visible on the face of every wall, floor, ceiling and everyone present.
Kai looked as if he was paying attention to detail, looking carefully at how they were burning. It was as if he wanted to make sure it was done well. It was a side of him that surprised me.
Their screams changed as their bodies did. A lot of them lost their voice slowly as their neck was burning through. The flames were really hot, almost uncomfortable on my face.
And my own feelings?
I wasn't sure.
Part of my feelings was pride. I'd fought one of them and beat him. I knew I was stronger, but it was partly good to have it verified.
Another part, not as present, was relief. It would be finally over for Rain and she could go live a normal life without vampires hurting anyone around her. In fact, if it was possible, I'd want all vampires out of her existence.
A dark part of me was enjoying this. They'd hurt us in many ways and now we were hurting them. It was only fair, right?
But... the biggest part of me was sad.
Why did it have to come to this. It was a dangerous thing, playing this game. I wondered if Afentis had faced many of these kinds of challenges in the past. Where he had to kill to survive or kill to save someone else. One hoped for this world to be without violence. And superficially speaking, that was true. But beneath the surface, in the realm of killers and rapists, fighting for survival is the norm rather than the exception.
I wished I didn't know it.
Ignorance truly is bliss.
But knowledge is what makes us survive.
You couldn't always choose what kind of knowledge we learned, but you could choose to learn. Though ignorance could be bliss, it could also be a sin. Not to know nothing, but to learn nothing.
The screams where stifled.
None of them had much left to scream with.
They didn't move much anymore either. Some of the bodies spasmed a little but most of them were little more than stumps on a burned torso by now, still burning. They had spread out a little by wiggling, but mostly it was just a circle of burning blobs there.
It was hard to imagine they were people once...
It didn't stop though. Most of the liquid that had landed on the concrete had burned up already, leaving hardly any evidence but a bit of soot. The bodies themselves kept on burning as if the flames were fueled by the very flesh and blood inside.
And perhaps it was.
Tears rolled over my cheek when I let the sadness free, the dark part inside of me having departed when the flames began. I cried for them, for what they did, for how they were betrayed and for what they had chosen to become. It had to be like this.
But mostly I cried to keep my humanity. I didn't want to become like them, never like them. Killing without a thought for the victim. Even if we did choose to kill the nine, it wasn't without remorse.
We didn't lose ourselves.