Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 16 Part 1

Chaos POV

I was standing against the pews, my entire body tingling from the after-effects of the holy water. The evil me version ‘nun’ was still standing before me with that metal cross. Several nuns had now amassed behind her, terrified and clutching their rosaries. Then the mother superior arrived.

She was portly, short, and out of breath. “Goodness!” she exclaimed at the sight of me. “Goodness, goodness!”

Ah, I thought smugly. A genteel and kind ol’ lady. Good.

“I-” I said, just as she drew out a small bottle from her sleeve, dabbed her fingers against it, and flicked at me.

I got holy water in my mouth. IN ME. That burns, okay? Frickin’ nuns. I choked and gagged, the stuff burning me from the inside out.

“Oh! Oh my!” the mother superior trembled, then steeled herself. She lifted her chin and looked to the nun version of me, who was looking downright evil with that cross. “This is your demon!” the superior exclaimed.

All other nuns nodded, murmuring. Evil religious me nodded, lips pressed together. “It certainly has taken on my countenance.”

“And you found it,” said the mother superior, looking at me up and down.

I, finally able to breathe, straightened on the pew and tried to speak again. “Sephira-”

“Hush, demon!” said the mother superior, flicking blessed water at me again.

AH! AH! I tried to shield myself with my arms. My rosary glinted in my grasp. On a gut feeling, I waved my rosary at them. “Look!” I exclaimed. “I’m not evil!”

They stared. I gulped. “I’m just – allergic – to – water!”

The mother superior’s eyes narrowed. She held out her hand. “Give me your beads, child.”

Child, that was a good sign, right? She was getting all matronly with me. I held out my beads, but kept them in my grasp. She fingered a bead and the moment she did a black cloud oozed out. Because why the fuck not?

“The touch of the devil!” she gasped, drawing back with a jump. Evil me lifted that cross and I cowered.

“Don’t!” I yelped.

They paused.

“I’m- I’m here for the Sephira,” I said. “I’m looking to meet her.” I glanced around. “I’m trying to redeem myself.” Because why not? It was close enough to the truth, actually.

The nuns gasped. Mother superior frowned. “You want to join our order?”

“No!” I yelped. Who’d want that? “I’m looking for the Sephira!”

The mother superior sniffed and drew herself up. “We are the order of the Sephira. Our aim is to commune with her.”

Oh. I looked around at the nuns. “Does it work?” I asked stupidly.

“Mother superior!” squeaked a tall nun with a shrill voice. “You cannot be thinking-” and she seemed to suffocate on the thought, making her sentence somewhat questionable.

Mother superior drew herself up. “I am.” She looked solemnly to evil me. “This is your demon. I have long since felt you were ready for a new challenge. Your indomitable spirit rivals the best.” She extended a hand to me. “Care for this demon. It is your new charge.”

Evil me squinted their eyes at me. I just fish guppied. “No, no. I-”

“Silence, demon!” the mother superior intoned. For good measure, she flicked holy water at me.

AHH!

She thrust out a hand to evil me. “Hand over your rosary!”

The beads were handed over without a question. Fingering them, the mother superior glared me down. “Demon, step forward!”

“Uh, I don’t think so,” I said, squishing back against the pews. “In fact, maybe I’ll go-” and I slipped backwards in the space between the pews, reaching for the black box.

The mother superior threw the rosary at me. I ducked, falling backwards as I tripped over the kneeling thingie and caught myself on the back of a pew, mid-sprawl.

Well, you wouldn’t fucking believe it. It shouldn’t have worked. But somehow, the rosary flew like a lasso (get it? A trap!) I snatched at it as the thing soared straight for my head (that nun had a good future as a cowboy in her next life).

Fwoomp. I felt the rosary land around my shoulders like a weight. Felt the crucifix land in my hand with a burning hiss.

I shrieked like, well, whatever. I shrieked. My hand was on fire and I just knew that something very, very, bad had happened.

Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 15 Part 2

Chaos POV

I needed to find the Sephira. So I set my intention to do just that when I pressed my palms to the travel-thingie and, well, traveled.

I reappeared inside somewhere dark. Real descriptive, right? But it took me a minute for my eyes to adjust. So I just stood there, in this hazy darkness with light spewing down from some (tiny!) grimy windows, illuminating emptiness around me. A floor, definitely. Cobble-stoned floor, to be exact. But what else?

My eyes adjusted slowly, allowing me to see in bits and glimmers here and there. Then, in a snap, I sort of realized where I was. I was in a church! There, behind me, was the entrance doors and a sort of holy water receptacle. There were some flimsy wooden pews and kneeling boards, and up front – a giant statue of Mother Mary, front and center.

Huh, I thought. Me thinks that’s a bit odd for a church, no?

Turning on myself, I made a final check-around to make sure there was no one about to jump out and attack me. But there was no one- and so I made my way to the altar and statues.

I stopped right before the giant Mother Mary. Cleared my throat. “Hi,” I said, awkwardly. “I’m looking for the Sephira. Do you know where I could find them?”

To my disappointment, there was no immediate answer. I cleared my throat and tried again. “So, it’s kind of important so, if you could help me out it’d be great.”

Still, no answer. I inhaled deeply to calm myself. It didn’t work.

“You fuckhead!” I yelled. “Where’s the Sephira?”

“Goodness!” someone squeaked from not far enough away.

I yelped most bravely and spun, glaring at a nun in humble black robes. Nun who – happened to look exactly like me.

She gasped, lifting a rosary to before her. “Demon! Demon!”

“Wait, I-”

“VADE RETRO!” she yelled, pushing the rosary before herself and doing the sign of the cross with it.

It was like a punch to the gut. I doubled over as energy slammed into me, winding me completely. Tottering, I reached out a hand to the base of the statue to regain balance.

Sizzle! My hand burned as I touched the statue’s foot.

Yelling, I jumped back and bumped into a pew. Thankfully that didn’t burn me. “Listen!” I yelped, trying to make sense of this whole mess.

The nun, now shrieking Latin verses at me, kept on waving her rosary and rushing at me. It was like energetic punches coming from nowhere, invisible, and completely painful. I deflected one, got whacked by two others, and fell over onto my back. It was completely unfair.

I blinked, and the statue of Mary seemed to be laughing at me as it and the world spun above me. The terrified nun’s head appeared above me, then vanished.

Oh good, I thought. She’s running away. Smart woman. Wouldn’t want to cross me in an actual fight –

There was a scraping sound. Some tingly sense of doom told me to get up. I did, grabbing hold of the pews to get up onto my legs.

Oh shit.

“VADE RETRO!” the nun screamed, carrying the holy water bowl and chucking it at me. Splash!

Oh, sweet Jesus on a stick. It burnt like disinfectant on a cut. But all over. All. Over.

I screamed, collapsing and sizzling like, well, someone who’d gotten on the ‘bad side’ and who’d been doused with holy water. Imagine that.

“Oh god! OH GOD!” was all I could manage, in between wordless screams as I sizzled and stung and writhed on the floor.

The nun, however, ran behind the statue and picked up a metal cross and came running back with it.

“STOP!” I shrieked, not wanting to know how much that would hurt. “It’s good! We’re done! I’m pure! I-I-” I drew out my own rosary and brandished it at her. “You’ve cleansed me! Okay?”

The nun hesitated. I wiped at my face with a drenched sleeve. Big mistake. I got holy water in my eyes, and apparently they weren’t pure enough. Ouch, ouch.

Trying not to curse, I managed to get up off the floor and stand (still holding my rosary out before me like a shield). “Listen,” I gasped and looked around for someone sane. There was three nuns who had appeared at the back entrance of the church, mouths agape. My evil nun look-alike glanced quickly from me to them.

“Fetch the mother superior!” she shouted. “There is a demon here!”

Oh god, I thought, sweet baby Jesus help me, they’re going to burn me alive!

/////////

Kuryo’s POV

There was a stark silence after evil me had spoken. The people (who were not human) just stood there and gaped. Evil me stood and waited. I looked to Aaliyah. “We can’t let him do that!”

But then again, had I spoken too fast? An idea clicked in my head.

“Think we can let him rewind us just a bit?” I asked. “Like,” I looked her over. “Until before you died?”

Aaliyah looked from me to the scene. A small smirk curled her lips. “Maybe,” she said slowly.

Then the being who was standing before the throne shuddered and spoke. “You will not be returned the baby. It is ours-”

“I’m going to count to five for you to change your mind,” snapped evil me, cocking his guns at the versions of us on the floor. “Five.”

The councellors exchanged panicked glances.

“Four,” he said.

Oh shit, he was counting fast! Uh-

“Three,”

The councelor who was being the unwilling spokesperson was tossed out of the way. The weirdo with the hair of doom stood up angrily.

Evil me didn’t even say ‘two’. He just fired as the weirdo brandished the scepter.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! I flinched for every shot. You could feel it in the air, rippling out and shaking the world, stronger and harder with every shot-

I was seized and yanked forward, jerked towards the weirdo with the hair.

Bang! The final shot and I heard evil me collapsed to the floor just before I was yanked into the weirdo.

Into? Yes, into.

I was suddenly in this person’s mind, just as Suzy had once been in mine. It was uncomfortable and icky, squishy and dirty feeling.

“Kuryo? Kuryo? Where are you?” I could hear Aaliyah as if through a tunnel, through ears that weren’t my own.

Crushed up tight, I tried to throw around my senses, trying to reach out of this body in some way. In a distant way, I saw the bodies on the floor, saw the spirits stepping out of them and wondering what to do with themselves. Suzy was among them, looking around like a lost child. Poor Suzy.

With a kick and a shove that made my host double over, I took control of the body. If people were going to die, at least they deserved a good afterlife, I figured.

So I reached out for them, stretching my arms out and welcoming them.

With a groan the spirits gave up and gave in, slipping into me and vanishing into another world. All except two. One was Suzy, in tears.

“Am I dying?” she cried out.

“Bastard!” cried out the other, very angry, spirit. We can all take a wild guess as to who it was, right? “Why aren’t you dead?”

“Just come-” but my host wrenched, fighting for power back. I struggled, reaching out one final time. “Come here-”

“Fuck you!” and evil me grabbed a hold of Suzy. And then I blacked out, losing control of the body and shunted away.

 

Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 15 part 1

Chaos POV

I sat there, face burning. Lucifer hadn’t been joking, not even teasing too much, when he’d said we were to discuss ‘things’.

“I’m waiting,” he cooed from across the table, an ornate feather pen in hand and sheet of paper at the ready.

I had my arms crossed and was regretting every decision that had brought me to this part of life. Why, why, whyyyy?

The worst part was that it was kind of fun. All of Lucifer’s attention was on me, just me, and there was a fun to the embarrassment. Guilty pleasure.

I squirmed in my seat, looking grudgingly at the white box that was now beside the blank sheet of paper. If only that collar wasn’t so pretty, I might just walk out.

“Why don’t you go first?” I blurted, finally looking up at Lucifer.

His smirk grew more sinister. “I come first?” he purred. “Alright.” He twiddled the pen, looked once down at the empty page, then back to me. There was just a faint glow to his eyes, a sign of godly happiness. “I like watching you squirm.”

And by like he meant…oh geez. I blushed harder and did my best not to squirm any more. I cleared my throat, willing my voice to come out super bored sounding. “Okay,” I squeaked.

Lucifer chuckled. He set aside the paper and pen. Shifting his chair so that he was a bit away from the table, he patted his thighs. “Come here.”

Oh. All my nerves froze. I stared at him, the proverbial deer before the biggest headlights ever. I mean, I wanted to go but – something inside me hesitated, squirming and … embarrassed? Afraid?

Another chuckle, a twisted smile and Lucifer leaned onto the table, chin in palm. What a lecherous grin as he watched me. “Or you could stay there. It’s not an order.”

I put on my pokerface scowl. I was badass. I was not intimidated. I was –

Really? Part of me scorned. You’re a screw-up.

I deflated somewhat. Picking my gaze up from the table, I saw Lucifer watching me expectantly.

Scowling, I forced myself up. I refused to be a chicken. With a huff as if this was all his fault and I was being punished, I stalked around the table and presented myself before him with my hands in my pockets and chin lifted in a silent challenge.

He shifted his chair again and patted his leg before holding his arms out at his side in silent invitation. With such a devilish smirk.

Another huff and I climbed onto him, straddling his lap. Then, one hand on the armrest I huffed and scowled at him. “Like that?” I scoffed, mockingly.

“Perfect,” he cooed, leaning forward. My heart jumped in my chest. His fingers slid over my face, caressing so lightly as they slid to the back of my head. A tremble of excitement ran through me, expecting him to pull me forward into a kiss.

Instead his fingers slid up to massage my scalp and play in my hair.

“So what do you like to do with your hair?” he murmured, so close I could feel his words on my lips. A gentle tug on my hair made his point. “Do you like it pulled?”

I blushed and glared. I’d been tricked, hadn’t I? It was somehow harder to keep quiet when he was so close. “Weren’t we changing topic?” I croaked.

“Not at all,” he purred, leaning so his cheek grazed past mine, his lips so close to my ear. “So answer me. Do you like your hair pulled?”

I gulped, trying to get my voice stable. “Yes,” I said, a tremble in that word.

“Good,” he crooned, breath hot and moist against my ear as he nuzzled. “See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

He shifted to lean back against his chair, drawing me with him. We shifted, and I now sat sideways across him, my shoulder nestled against him, my chin cupped in his hand and his other hand traveling up and down my spine.

“So what about your ears?” he asked softly.

I tried to frown, but felt myself melting against him. I closed my eyes and pressed my cheek to his chest. Quietly, I mumbled an answer.

“Good,” he whispered, caresses rewarding me. I melted some more.

Things progressed from there. Question after question came, traveling down my body. Caresses soothed me and I felt myself relax more and more. I didn’t even notice when the hand shifted from cupping my chin to resting over my eyes, blotting out the light.

And, somehow, that helped. Topics shifted to more and more intimate topics that had less and less to do with sex and more to do with submission. His arms tightened around me and I nestled more. My hands found their way to wrap around his arm, holding him tightly.

Then, he asked about Bella. I moved my head, twisting free of his hands’ blindfold. Instantly I regretted it. It was like waking up too fast. The light hurt my eyes and I just wanted to go back into that cozy half-asleep trance I’d unwittingly been in.

But when I looked up Lucifer was patiently waiting. A thumb caressed my cheek as I blinked like a sleepy owl. “She wasn’t very good to you, was she?” he murmured.

That was it. I planted my face in his chest, not wanting to answer and wanting to blot it all out. Bella made me feel like a failure. She was where I’d failed, where the world had come apart. It was all my fault-

My face was picked up, cradled in palms, and lifted. Lucifer peered at me with a frown. “You know she was bad for you?”

Kuryo had said the same thing. But I didn’t believe it. I knew it, but couldn’t believe it. It all just felt like my fault.

Lucifer frowned and drew me back against his chest. I nestled against him, feeling so stupid and useless.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his words reverberating through his chest into my ears. “I knew but I never tried to talk to her. I’m sorry.”

Wow, I thought bitterly. An apology from the god of lies. Snarkily, I told myself it wasn’t worth much yet I knew for a fact that he rarely said those words.

“I’m going to make it up to you,” he said in a more cheerful, even playful, tone.

I looked up, smirking. “Oh really?”

“Wipe that smirk off your face,” he scolded playfully. He reached into his shirt and drew something out.

My jaw dropped as I recognized the black box and my crucifix. He’d had it all along. The fucker. I reached for it but he drew it back to himself.

“Ah-ah,” he said. “You don’t just get it back.”

“You stole it from me!” I squawked, anger bristling. “And you blamed me for losing it! You-”

“And now I’m giving it back to you, as a token,” he said sweetly, but there was darkness in his eyes. “I want you to have it, because I want us to have a clean start. No lies.”

“Oh, really?” I hissed.

“Really,” he said snarkily. But he drew out the two necklaces and passed them over my head and let them rest against my chest. “I want you -” he paused, looking from the necklaces up to my eyes. “You are not well. Go visit your friends’ graves. Go get closure. Go try and find the Sephira.” His fingers trailed over the black box, then down my chest, his eyes lowering as well. “But when you’re done, I want you to come back to me.” He looked back up, and his eyes were serious. “Promise me you’ll come back to me.”

My stomach twisted. I felt the solemnity of the moment, and I felt like I was about to screw up spectacularly. “I’m shit with promises,” I blurted.

“Well, it’s time to get better, isn’t it?” he asked crisply. “Promise it. Come back to me when you’re done.”

I gulped. Did I even want to? I could probably find a happy life in some other world. Kuryo might want to go somewhere else. And worse – this could all just be a game to use me. He’d done it before, hadn’t he?

But these past moments, this quiet time in his lap, had been one of the happiest moments I’d had since my world had fallen apart. So I nodded, wanting to hold onto that and cursing him for having given me a taste of it. “I’ll come back,” I croaked.

“Thank you,” he whispered, stooping to kiss me.

Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 13 part 2

sky space dark galaxy
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Chaos POV

Alright, snooping could wait a little bit. I woke up, slept, and woke up in no particular order. On the third day or time waking up, I decided that something had to change.

Like most citizens in the otherworld (and maybe souls in general), I had a voice that told me to get busy and help out washing dishes or something. The other voice was like “Let’s go find out Lucifer’s deep dark secrets”.

Which one do you think I decided to do?

It was three am, if you’ll fucking excuse me. No one makes wise decisions at that time of morning, not after having starved and drank very little for the past few days.

First off, I pretended that I was actually going to help the servants out. I told myself that ‘nahh, I’m not like that, I’m not a snooper’, so I took myself to the kitchen. There I uncorked a bottle of hard stuff and took a few shots out of the bottle. Great.

I toasted to Aaliyah and Jade (another shot or two) and decided not to cry. Bugger it all, I wasn’t crying any more.

Shelfing the bottle exactly where it had just been, I strolled on out and decided to use my spidey-senses and get to work. Lucifer wasn’t the only one with juju powers, after all, and mine weren’t only for fighting.

Alright, most of mine were for fighting because that’s how I had trained myself. But – I knew a few nifty tricks or two.

Drawing a necklace that had been returned to me from my neck, I dangled the crucifix before me.

Now, what was I searching for? Hey, why not – that friggin’ black box. If I could find it, I could go on my searches and find – Kuryo first, then the Sephira. Then we could both fuck off to some corner of the world and let everything else burn. That’s it. We’d be happy and safe together.

Plunking down on the floor, I set all my magic into the crucifix and willed it to help me find that black box. I even asked it politely to make it easy and plain for me.

This crucifix had been a gift from God when I was born, and yeah, it was an irony that I still wore it. But what drunken me didn’t realize right then was that without God’s presence somewhere powering up his sacraments, this crucifix was as good as a toy doll. Drunk me, however, wasn’t thinking of that. The alcohol had probably started hitting and I wasn’t thinking things through too much.

When I opened my eyes, I released the crucifix turned pendulum. It swung immediately, and I gloated. There we were! I was going to find it!

I followed the swings, not at all surprised when I found myself directed towards the large doors. When I crossed past the doors, I was shocked. Wasn’t my black box somewhere outside?

But no, apparently not. I was led upstairs. Across a dark corridor. Up another flight of stairs. I began to wonder how big this friggin’ house/mansion/castle/thing was when the crucifix began bouncing towards a door to my right. I tried it, but it was locked. Curses!

Crouching down, I peered at the lock. I sensed a weak spell. Good, I thought, let’s bust this fucker open.

Drawing out my daggers, I basically butchered that lock and spell, stabbing it ruthlessly then twisting gracelessly. A real lockpick would have laughed at me and said ‘good luck kid’. Somehow, as if someone was letting me in, the lock and spell gave way.

I grinned to myself. Sliding my daggers away, I picked back up my crucifix and slid into the room.

The room was pitch dark. The door that I’d left open cast in the slightest hue of nightlight from the hallway. My crucifix glinted before me and I advanced, following the glimmer before my eyes got used to the dark.

It was when my legs bumped into something that an alarm went off in my head. It was something – knee height, solid but with a layer of fluff on it. Mind dinging away about danger, I ignored it and reached out, lightly tapping the air until I felt – blankets.

I froze. Blankets?

Then, like a bad feeling creeping over me, my eyes adjusted to the lighting and my brain was finally still enough to listen to the silence.

I heard breathing. And I saw a bed.

Oh god, oh fucking god. I was in someone’s bedroom.

Alright. After a moment of panic, I decided that this had to be some guest’s room- no, probably more a servant’s room with that piddly lock on it. Which – if it was a servant who had stolen my black box, then Lucifer would be glad I found it again, right?

So I looked down at the crucifix. It was swinging so fast it was almost bobbing on the spot. I was close.

Okay, okay. I stretched my arm slowly out, left then right and forward. The crucifix swung – then stilled like a pin. I’d found it.

I looked down. There was the shape of a head, barely there. It must be under the pillow.

Holding my breath, I reached out. And out. Then- my hands touched the pillow ever so lightly. Slowly, so slowly, I began to slide under the pillow.

I held my breath as I pushed so slightly against the weight of the head. I felt – nothing? I pushed a little farther.

“What are you looking for?” Lucifer’s cool voice drawled out.

I shrieked and jumped back, spinning around – and around again to see the figure on the bed sitting up. Blue eyes reflected the light like a cats’.

I wished to faint. I wanted it so bad. A strangled sound came out of my throat.

The shape of Lucifer – still so tall without the heels – stepped to me. The crucifix was snatched from my hand. He wrapped the chain around his hand and closed his fist around the crucifix. Then he stepped towards me.

I spun and bolted. I may be stupid, but I knew when I’d overstayed my welcome.

Except the door shut in my face. I yanked – and nope, no budging it.

I froze, mind whirling. It wasn’t just locked now – it was bound shut. Lucifer must have let me in earlier on, and been watching me the whole time. Oh god.

A hand took my shoulder and turned me around. I thudded my back against the door, crushing myself up against it as my eyes stared forward into darkness. There was absolutely no light. None whatsoever.

His voice spoke, low and sensual. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

“I’m sorry,” I squeaked.

He chuckled. I jumped a mile high when fingers brushed my cheek.

“Shhh,” he shushed me, tipping my chin up. Caresses explored my face, my lips. I heard a sniff. “You’re drunk.” And he laughed. “How disappointing.” The touches vanished from my face.

“Disappointing?” I echoed, mind not processing any of this at all.

A gentle light popped on, shining beside Lucifer’s shoulder. I couldn’t see his face, but uh, his torso was like, right there…

“Go to bed,” he said coolly. “You’re drunk.” The doorknob clicked open at my side.

Something niggled at me to stay. What did he mean – and why had my crucifix drawn me here? But I was terrified. I yanked on that door and fled.

Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 12 part 2

Chaos POV

I woke. It had been what, a day? Two? I wasn’t sure.

I sat up, looking around for a sense of what time or day it was. There was none, there being no ‘sun’ in hell and no clock in this room. So I got up. Went to the bathroom, then began lurking.

There was no proper other word for it, but the fact was that I didn’t mean to do it. I just didn’t want to be seen and tried to make no noise.

I somehow crossed no servants. Unlike homes in the heavenly realms, homes in the underworld were scanty on their servants. Less was best, unlike ‘up there’ where there were servants for everything.

Then there was that door with light streaming from around it, lighting up the corridor. It was like a giant sign saying ‘hey, here!’. You know the kind.

Now I crept closer, finally realizing that I was, indeed, snooping. Lurking. Being a bad guest. But-but-but – I heard voices. Curiosity climbing in me I crept to the door.

Standing a foot away from the thing, a hand hovering next to its luxurious panelings, I could clearly hear everything happening within.

“They’re coming for us!” a voice was whining. Bella? No one else sounded that petulant and cry-baby when they didn’t have their way.

A deep hum. Lucifer. More voices rose, clamoring for attention. I caught snippets.

“They’re going to wipe us out!”

“They’ve done this before!”

“We need to unify our battlefront!”

Everything abruptly fell silent. Lucifer must have raised a hand, or something. “How do you suppose we do that?” he asked snarkily. “Unite our battlefront?”

A voice, steady, said “We need to strike a truce with the heavenly realm. Maybe even with the Boddhisattvas. We need to unite.”

“And how, do you suggest we staunch that rebellion? They haven’t exactly taken a shine to us lately.”

There was a long pause. Another voice poked up. “A truce. We must speak with them plainly of the gravity of the situation.”

Footsteps were approaching. A servant? Cursing under my breath I crushed myself up against the wall, hoping they wouldn’t notice me.

They didn’t. They strolled by, eyes focused straight before themselves and loosely humming. My heart pounded in my chest. I was seriously up to no good. Chaos, you’re about to get into serious trouble.

But the door… I could still hear everything…all I had to do was cock my head and I could still hear them talking.

They were arguing now, two other voices raising steadily. They wanted to force the heavenly realm to submit, but were wondering how to go about it.

Okay, I thought. Chaos, you need to step away from this. It’s not your problem.

So, wrenching myself away from the door, I turned and – oh shit.

Lucifer was standing right there. Right behind me.

I gaped. Never trust a god to not just apparate behind you.

He was dressed all in silky black with (again) a large slice of his shoulder and chest showing. But I hardly noticed his outrageous outfit and heels, this time just staring at his face. He was smirking, but not in a ‘I’m happy’ kind of way. This was a ‘caught you, little fucker’ kind of way.

He stooped over me. I gulped. With the tips of his fingers, he touched my shoulder, then pointed the other hand down the hallway to where I’d come from. “That way,” he hissed softly.

I darted, bolted, whatever. I ran fast out of there. I was in no shape for a fight and certainly didn’t want one.

Once in my room, I practically barricaded myself in it. Of course I didn’t, but I wanted to just shove all the furniture up against the door and curl in a little ball. What a loser I was. Lame, lost, helpless.

I paced the room until I was exhausted. Whatever that meeting was, it was taking forever. Or, was Lucifer not coming to see me? For some reason I thought he’d come to chew me out. Or was he just ignoring me?

I paced some more, eventually flopping down onto the bed. There, I tossed and turned as sleep began slowly closing over me.

It felt like I had just closed my eyes when a servant shook me awake. I yelped, throwing them off and jumping up.

“Oh good, it’s awake,” Lucifer sneered from behind the fallen angel between us. Angel who slipped away now that their work was done. Which, in case you’re really bad at math, left me alone with Lucifer.

I gulped, looking up at the god. He was wearing something different – did that mean it was a new day? Or had he just changed on a whim after the meeting was done? Either way, his eyes were burning into me.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled. I crossed my arms across my chest defensively. “I uh- I was wandering and -”

Lucifer crossed his arms as well and tilted his head to the side, as if he was indulging me.

Alright, I was nervous. “I didn’t mean to,” I fibbed. “And I didn’t hear much.”

“M-hmm?” Lucifer tilted his head even more, his silver hair draping around him. “Or are you spying?”

“Spying?” I startled. “For who?”

Lucifer’s lips curled into a nasty smirk and he stooped over me. I stepped back, but my legs bumped into the bed. Trapped.

“You know,” his breath was sweet as it misted over me. “The invaders. How appropriate for you to just disappear, perhaps see them, and return here to eavesdrop. Care to explain how you magically lost your transporter? No?”

I guppied. No sound would come out of me. I felt both simultaneously outraged, insulted, and terrified. In a blink, I decided to be angry. That would work, right?

“I’m not spying!” I fairly shouted, hands curling into fists. “I-”

Lucifer raised an eyebrow. I silenced. Dropping my voice to a hiss I seethed. “I don’t know where the black box went. But I haven’t done anything-”

“Yes, nothing, really,” said Lucifer dryly. “You’ve just been sleeping.”

“I-”

Another look. I fell silent again. My head drooped as I remembered these past few days – and the reason I was like this. My friends…

“What is it?” Lucifer asked sharply. A long finger lifted my chin. I swatted it away without thinking, twisting away.

“It’s none of your business!” I snapped, glaring up at him.

“Oh?” was all he said, so coldly. I felt myself flush with anger, at him and at myself. He was my host after all. He’d taken me in. Did he deserve an explanation?

“My friends are dead,” I snapped, glaring fiercely into those uncaring eyes. “Someone killed them while I was -” my hands shot out and shoved his shoulders. “Stuck! Here!”

Black tendrils caught my wrists and I wrestled against them. I managed to land another shove before I was yanked back.

“It’s your fault!” I screamed, twisting. My wrists were yanked behind my back and I kicked out, narrowly missing Lucifer’s knee. “You stuck me here! You had me kill Bella – you’re the problem! Not me! It’s all your fault!”

The black tendrils were coiling over me but I surged my magic, ripping free and launching myself at Lucifer.

It was like a child fighting an adult, except I was the child in this case. With practiced ease Lucifer caught my wrist, spun me around, and tossed me face first onto the bed. Smack.

Furious, I was back on my feet and attackign again before I could even think. Think something like: hey, it’s not a good idea to get into a fist fight with your host? Or one of the most powerful angels, like, ever?

I found myself slammed face-first into a wall. Black twisting vines, tendrils, things, wrapped around me securely and crushed me against it.

Gritting my teeth, I tried to wrestle free. It wasn’t working this time.

Slow footsteps walked over to me. I squeezed my eyes shut, expecting a ‘I’ve given you so much’ speech.

I was yanked around and dragged forward, straight up into Lucifer’s bubble. There was a frown on his face and his annoyingly nice perfume wafted over me.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. His palms cupped my face and he stooped over me. So close. My breath caught as he searched my eyes. He was… so close.

My breath caught as his eyes dropped down to my lips. Then they went back up to my eyes. A smirk curled on his face. He was playing with me.

I wanted to scream and kick him again, but swallowed that down.

“I’m sorry your friends are dead,” he said slowly. “But I didn’t kill them. I didn’t mean for that to happen either.”

The tendrils slowly unwound from around me. I found my footing again, but he was still holding my face in his hands. “I am also sorry Bella dropped you like a hot coal,” he said, sounding sincere but his eyes twinkled merrily.

I jerked my head free. “You don’t care,” I snapped, feeling strangely hurt.

“Hmm,” he hummed darkly before turning and stalking away. His voice floated over his shoulder towards me. “Mind your own business, kitten. You can stay here as long as you want if you do that.”

The door to my bedroom shut behind him on its own.

I scowled. Like hell I was going to do that.

Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 11 part 2

Chaos’ POV

I was shaken awake by a white fallen angel, and I mean white like ashes that went through the bleacher. There was no healthy color to those cheeks.

They helped me sit up. That’s when I noticed an IV in my arm and a bottle of magic-potion juice whatever on the hand table. Oh, and Lucifer.

Today he was wearing what looked like an army outfit, in the vein of ‘samurai meet space alien meets red lipstick tube’. There were giant red shoulder spikes, a mosaic-decorated chest piece, and a long black dress under that. Oh, and a very bad mood on his face.

I grunted in a sort of ‘hello’. Lucifer glared at me, arms crossed. There were giant earrings dangling on either side of his face.

The nursing angel began fussing over me, uncorking the potion and making me drink it. It tasted like raspberry juice. The color was like blood – And the memory of Jade and Aaliyah came back to me. I choked on the too-warm liquid and nearly barfed it all up. I managed to swallow it down, but set the bottle aside.

“Chaos,” Lucifer said crisply. The angel was swiftly stepping away and vanishing out the door.

“Lucifer,” I said dryly, looking blearily up at him. He tilted his head to the side and looked even more unpleased. I groaned silently inside myself. Here it was. He was going to be all ‘bla bla bla’ and demand something of me.

Because he certainly wasn’t taking care of me for free.

“Look at me when I’m talking to you,” he snapped. I scowled up. “Better,” he smirked nastily. “Now. Do you know where your friend Kuryo is?”

“He’s missing,” I croaked. “I was trying to find him.” Then, a few seconds too late, I asked “Why? Why do you need him?”

Lucifer’s smiled was wicked. “We have a certain problem that you’ve brought upon us.”

I blanched. “Me?”

“Oh yes, you,” said Lucifer sweetly. “You see, there’s an invasion happening across the dimensions. I’ve caught wind of it through – nevermind. But! The dimension you were just in is the one that they are right now focusing on. And we are next. Your good friend would be extremely useful for us right now. In fact, we think he’s what they’re looking for.”

My stomach curdled. “He went missing. I- someone is trying to take over Earth? Like, aliens?”

Lucifer shook his head. “No, silly. They’re trying to take over the god realms.”

My jaw fell.

“So, if you were to travel back to your old dimension, it wouldn’t be there that they would have attacked. It would be the gods of that dimension that they would have taken over. I guess eventually they will extend their control over to the physical realm, but what for if they already control its spiritual dimensions?”

My mind skittered to the principals. They were the ones under attack?

I almost snorted. Well, good luck to the aliens. Leave me out of it.

“So what?” I asked sharply. “What does that have to do with me?”

Lucifer smirked. “Well now, that’s an excellent question. Don’t you think it would ‘redeem’ you to everyone if you helped solve part of your giant fuck-up?” And when I didn’t react, he added “Your parents might want to forgive you if you did.”

My head drooped down on its own. I stared down at the sheets and blanket. I had fucked up royally, that was true. But this was Lucifer. He was going to trick me, I was sure of it.

But then – what other option did I have?

I looked blearily up at Lucifer. As soon as our eyes connected he smirked. He stooped down to my eye level and said sweetly “You take some time and think on it, kitten.”

I ground my teeth, aggravated by his sweet perfume and the glimmer in his eyes. I was trying to think of a snarky answer, but he turned and whisked away.

Furious with myself, I fell back down onto the pillows.

Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 11 part 1

Chaos’ POV

I woke up dehydrated, sick, and tired. But I had to get up. Some unfeeling force propelled me up, to the bathroom – where I retched. Nothing came up. I wandered back into the room, and flopped back down onto the bed on my back. I stared up at the ceiling.

Events came crashing back to me. Bella, my family, Jade and Aaliyah. The complete destruction of my world. Was Kuryo even still alive? And Charr?

I lay there, stunned and useless. But I had to get up. I had to do something. I had to fix this. I had to.

My body just didn’t want to cooperate. I staggered to the door, then aimed straight back for the bed. I collapsed onto it, feeling weaker than I’d felt in ages.

Thoughts whirled in my head. I had to do something. I had to fix things. There was no giving up. There was just going up, right? I had to – the Sephira! And – Kuryo! Find them! And-

The door to the room opened. Lucifer marched in, followed by a one winged fallen angel. The servant was expressionless, but Lucifer looked cross.

Just to make a point, he stood at my foot and looked down at me. I looked up dizzily. You never noticed how much a room wants to spin until you’re trying to focus on someone.

“Chaos,” Lucifer snapped, crossing his arms over his chest. Which, by the way, was still on display. Did he even know how to do up shirts? It was distracting. Today’s attire was a silky black dress – like thing with lots of bling-bling. Ugh.

“Chaos!” he barked. My eyes flew back open. Had I closed them? I tried to sit up, but that was too much. I flopped back down.

“Vital essence decreasing,” intoned the fallen angel. “Not much power left.”

Lucifer snorted and tossed his hair over his shoulder. “Great. Why is it always me left to pick up the stragglers?”

I made an outraged choking sound. Lucifer turned his back on me and whisked away. The servant followed him, and the door was shut.

I lay back down, mind whirling. I had to have a plan. I needed to think.

Darkness closed over me.

//////

Kuryo’s POV

I woke to the sound of Suzy sobbing. I looked around and there were these golden bars – oh for crying out loud, I was in a golden birdcage. Sprawled on a fluffy cushion, sure, but still in a birdcage.

I squawked and got up, rattling myself – and ohhh, I was concussed. Ouch.

Flopping back down I looked around. The apartment of sorts was made of steel this and iron that and, would you believe it? It looked rather modern, but bizarrely non-medieval. Like someone with a steel fantasy redid a medieval home. It was weird.

Next to me on the table was, you guessed it, more steel implements. They were all sorts of gadgets and gizmos that I hadn’t the slightest idea what they were for.

Okay, focus. I was in a cage, on a table. But the real problem here was whether or not I could travel. Maybe my head injury was to blame, and I had better lay tight until that cured. Maybe, just maybe, it also was my wings. If so, then I was screwed for a good few months – if this moron didn’t remember to keep them trimmed in the meantime.

So I tried again. I focused my will and power. I felt the aether, the life in the sun outdoors and the fire crackling in the nearby fireplace. I felt the spirits of the beings in the floor above and the floor below us. I tried to seize the moment and fly through it all.

Again, that lurch. The non-movement.

I opened my eyes and nearly had a fit. There the blond being was, peering at me with large blue eyes.

“You’re awake!” he crooned, waving fingers at me. “Are you hungry?” He drew out a crust of bread from the pile of junk on the table. He offered it to the bars, then smiled. “Will you be a good bird?”

I scowled as hard as I could, which wasn’t much. I knew two things. One) I needed to pretend to be a normal bird. Two) I needed to also stay on his good side so he wouldn’t eat me for supper or something dumb like that.

So I squawked and cocked my head to the side.

“What are you doing?” sobbed Suzy, still having a fit. “He’s a monster!”

“He’s going to feed us, and we’re going to gain his trust,” I soothed her. “Then, we will escape when he’s not looking.”

Suzy wailed, but I ignored her. Instead I focused on the Blondie, as I decided he was to be named. He was opening the cage’s door and holding out a hand. “Come here,” he crooned, holding the bread above his palm.

I hopped forward and pecked at the bread. Which was, for the record, medieval in structure and tastes. Ugh. Bran and whole grains and all that stuff. Not a good mouthfeel. Are crows even supposed to eat bread?

“What a good bird,” he crooned as he began stroking my feathers.

‘What a good human,’ I wanted to answer back. ‘Feed me more.’ But of course he wouldn’t get that. But I was in such a terrible mood that I wanted him to understand that I wasn’t his pet. So I slid into his mind, ready to tell him what a jerk he was. Except it was filled with images that had nothing to do with me.

There was images of the Academy, thoughts of war and conquering, gods and demons, and what oh what would they do with the Trinity?

I froze, beak full of bread. This – his mind was a treasure trove of information. Of something concrete that was going on.

“Of course!” Suzy wailed behind me. “He’s probably one of the seniors of the Council! They’re the ones trying to invade the dimensions!”

Of course. But- I tweaked his mind lightly, making him keep thinking as he caressed my back feathers. What of the Trinity?

A frown came over his face. The Damned Trinity, he thought.

With a scowl he stepped back, ushering me back into the cage.

Hey, wait! What about the Trinity?

But he was walking away, mind full of anger and boiling thoughts. I kept up the link as he paced about, but his thoughts were messy and uncategorized. It was hard to understand, full of strange references and numbers and details.

Frowning, I tried to piece it all together. I prodded some more at his mind, wondering what exactly ought to be done with the Trinity.

Destroy it, was the immediate answer. Destroy it and all those pesky gods.

Oh, crap.

Chaos & Kuryo (Novel 3) Chapter 5 Part 2

Chaos’s POV

“Execution?” I blinked, shaky hands holding onto that cigarette for dear life. Okay, okay. I uh – hadn’t seen that coming. “Are you sure?”

Ysolda gave me a pitying look. “You really didn’t know?”

“No,” I squeaked. “Maybe their other cells are full?”

Ysolda gave me that look again. “Maybe,” she said. Then she offered me another cigarette. I turned it down, feeling sick to my stomach. I lay backwards down onto the cot, trying to collect my thoughts.

Alright, let’s take score of things. I was locked in here. I was in jail, probably awaiting execution. I uh- was no longer immortal so that execution would probably be fatal. Very fatal.

I gritted my teeth. Okay, this wasn’t fair. Lucifer, you buggery liar! He was the one –

And then Kuryo drifted back into my thoughts. He was still missing. The jerk who’d not even told me he was transgender. What else was he hiding from me? Was he- did he even love me?

I rolled onto my side. Moped some more.

Curling on myself, I caught sight of the ducky socks I was wearing. The sparkles in them were valiantly doing their thing, proclaiming to the world that, indeed, they weren’t shoes.

Aaliyah and Jade had loved me, in a different way, I thought. Maybe. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to steal these ‘lucky’ socks. Lucky! Well I sure wasn’t feeling lucky.

Ysolda had sat down and was chain-smoking some more. I rolled onto my side and looked around. The cell on my other side was empty. Above was a flooring, and above that was the occasional scuffle. Across the corridor were more cells, their dark interiors too dark for me to make out any forms within them.

I flung myself around, sprawling this way and that. I just couldn’t get comfortable. Maybe, oh I don’t know, the fact I was going to die was weighing on me?

“This sucks,” I muttered out loud, without really meaning to.

“Life’s not fair,” answered a voice further down the hall.

I draped an arm across my eyes. “You don’t say,” I snarled back.

A figure shuffled to press against the cell door across the corridor. They had long silver hair that dangled around their face, and were wearing a long black trenchcoat. Oh yeah, and they had a black thing across both their eyes. Like a scarf, wrapped over them.

Great, I thought as I felt a familiar twinge of curiosity. I got hurt by Bella who covered one eye. Now I’ve leveled up to being hurt by someone who covers both their eyes. Whoopee.

They tapped their palms against the cell door, then rested against it. “Who are you? You don’t sound that old.”

I snorted, sitting up. “I’m Chaos,” There! Have a good laugh, you old geezer.

“Chaos?” They hummed. Wrung their hands against the bars. “I’ve heard of you.”

“Yeah, so has everyone,” I grumbled, flopping back down onto the cot. Which was stiff like a brick, mind you.

“I’m Sephira,”the stranger cooed, holding out a hand. It was a craggly hand, strong but not broken. Just weathered.

My heart jumped up into my throat. “Sephira? The presence of God?” I sat up and spun, staring at the figure that was now grinning like a shark. “How are you still alive?”

“Oh, you know,” they whispered. “That’s a mystery.”

“What, but-”

“Hey kid!” I turned, and saw nothing. Where was I?

“Hey kid!” a voice was calling.

I was suspended in grey, like stuck in a mist.

“Hey kid!”

Suddenly just before me, Sephira wiggled their fingers at me. “See you later, Chaos.”

“Wait!” I jumped after them – and fell off the cot.

“You were dreaming,” said Ysolda’s voice from oh so not far enough away. I was straight back in the cell. No more grey mist. I looked desperately across the corridor – and now there was enough lamp light for me to see into them. They were empty.

“God’s alive,” I blurted, jumping up to my feet.

“Say what?” asked Ysolda from her side of the cell wall.

“I just -” maybe now would be a good time to shut up, Chaos. So I paced instead, the mud in my socks squishing like ice between my toes.

Sephira was still alive. God’s presence was still out there. Inviting me to find them. What the hell?

I looked around the cell again, the irony of this entire situation not lost on me. I was in the depths of hell, set for execution, and God’s presence showed up. How charming.

It also meant I had to get the hell out of here. If Sephira was still out there – maybe there was a way to fix this world! To put everything back into order!

I cracked my knuckles, cracked my neck, and looked down at the lucky socks. Maybe those duckies had something going on, indeed.

//////

Chaos & Kuryo (Novel 3) Chapter 4 Part 2

Chaos’s POV

Hell, again. Well what was I expecting? Oh yeah, not to be here. Again.

“Chaos?”

“Chaos?”

“Chaos?” asked each and everyone who greeted me on the way to a cell. Magically, they each managed to have a different inflection to it. Some were shocked. Some were outraged. Some were – confused.

I just hoped no one noticed that I was wearing oink socks with rubber duckies on them. They had been Aaliyah’s lucky socks and I’d stolen them the other day. Now they were brown and icky but hey – the sparkling rubber ducks still showed through, partly because they were tenacious little buggers.

I was not so tenacious.

“Why don’t you just let me go?” I whined for the umpteenth time to the angels who were herding me like I was hazardous material.

“Won’t he shut up?” I heard one in the back mutter.

I turned around, raising my voice, deciding to be as obnoxious as I could be. “Actually, I can, but I won’t, because I just so happen to have better things in life to do! You know, like rescue the person I’m looking for!”

I was now walking backwards, yelling at the emotionless and vizored helmets that were marching me on. So I didn’t notice when I walked backwards into a cell. Just that the door banged shut in my face.

“Good riddance,” another angel sighed as several others groaned in relief.

“If my friend’s hurt – It’s all your fault!” I shrieked, kicking at the grilled door. It rattled but did no such thing as break. Fuming, I turned and paced my cell.

It was a tiny cell, about the size of a king sized bed, with a tiny cot squished against the wall, and a bucket as facilities. Oh, and there were no real walls, just a grid of metal that seperated me from my other cellmates. Which, by the way, were all staring at me.

“What?” I yelled, flapping my arms.

“Chaos?” asked a voice to my right.

I spun, baring my teeth. “Yeah?” I snapped.

There was a woman in what must have been fetish gear lounging against the wall. There were chokers, spikes, leather, and high heels of doom, and she had a shaved head and tattoos on it. Her skin was so dark she seemed to fade into the shadows. Well, I chose who to pick a fight with.

“Name’s Ysolda,” she drawled, and I saw the itty bitty little tips of fangs in her mouth. A vampire. Great. “I remember you.”

“Well I don’t remember you,” I huffed.

She laughed. “I was one of Bella’s right hands.” Snapping her fingers she made a cigarette appear, already lit and smoking. She took a drag, blew out some smoke, then added. “Is it true you murdered her?”

“Of course not!” I snapped, my heart breaking a little bit. “Why would I do such a thing?”

The woman, vampire, shrugged, still smoking. “I didn’t think it made any sense, you murdering her.”

I did a double take. “Really?” Someone believed me! Maybe I liked this woman after all…

She nodded. “You were the only one dumb enough to like Bella. Maybe you even loved her.”

I gaped. Love – but – “What do you mean?” I squawked, turning red in the face with indignation. Offensed! I was offensed!

“Well,” Ysolda laughed. “Come on, kid. You were nuts about her. The rest of us were just trying to get by but you-” she shook her head. “You took the cake.” She smoked some more. I put my back to her and sat down on my cot, knees drawn up to my chest.

“You got no shoes?” she asked.

“What about it?” I grumbled, glancing sideways at her. She shook her head.

“Life’s been that hard, uh? I was wondering what you’d be doing with yourself. Where’d you go to?”

I shut my mouth. Then I decided it couldn’t hurt to talk just a little. “Somewhere nice,” I said flatly. “But now all my friends are in trouble.”

“Those kinds of friends always are in trouble,” Ysolda said wisely. “You should pick a better crowd to hang with.”

I scowled at her. “And you? Why are you here? Not supporting Lucifer?”

She rolled her eyes. “We’re not all in the same boat. But,” she shook her head. “That ship sailed a while ago.”

I wasn’t sure I understood that metaphor, but okay. She was here, and so was I. Silence settled between us. I looked up at the ceiling, which was gridded too. Time ticked by.

“Hey, here,” she offered a cigarette between us. It was a fresh one, newly burning.

At first I thought no, my dad would flip – but that bridge was burnt. So I accepted it. “How’d you do that?” I asked, waving it between us. “Goddess of cigarettes?”

She laughed. “No.” She looked around, then pointed to her eyes. “See that?”

I shook my head, exhaling smoke. “No.”

“You colorblind or what? My eyes have a red hue to them. The white, it’s more of a pinkish red. I’m half demon.”

“Oh,” I said. It was pretty dark in here. Like, you know, in the bowels of hell.

She nodded. “I turned after drinking Bella’s blood.” She dragged on her cigarette. “I was just plain vampire before, but Bella wanted to see if I would get powers from her.”

“Oh?” I raised my eyebrows, wondering if-

“I was her favorite too, for about a week,” Ysolda said miserably. Then she shook her head. “But I got no powers, and she got bored with me. Then you showed up!”

I looked miserably down at the cigarette. Yeah, self-pity and smoke was all that was on the menu right then. Yum. I puffed on the cigarette grudgingly.

Then, after a minute, I added. “I’m sorry. I screwed everything up.”

She shrugged. “That, you did. Everyone’s plans went to shit.”

“Well,” I grumbled. “Not everyone’s. Lucifer rules the worlds now, doesn’t he?”

She laughed, a bit more of a cackle, really. “That dude doesn’t plan,” she said while shaking her head. “He just – flies on the winds of change.”

I gave her the stink eye. I would beg to differ.

“So when’s your date?” she asked.

“Date?” I asked. We got hearings? That would be good, I could plead my case.

“For your execution,” she said with a laugh. “We’re all up for execution in here. This is the wing for it.”

The blood drained from my face.

Chaos & Kuryo (Novel 3) Chapter 4 Part 1

Chaos’s POV

With a thud I landed in a blurr of brown and beige and green. My feet dunked down into slushy mud. I lost my balance and toppled over, arms flailing. I landed face-first in mud.

Ugh. What an entrance.

Spitting and cursing I propped up on my elbows. Before me, a breathtaking view of valleys and farm houses stretched in spring hues with mud spattered here and there. It was where Bella had once taken me to see the view – except now it was spring.

A lump rose in my throat. I crawled up to my feet, feeling betrayed by myself. I just had to come back here, didn’t I? Well, bugger it all.

I looked down at the black box in my hand, cursing myself and my squishy sentiments. I would go back and – something appeared behind me. My hairs stood on end. My magic senses went ‘warning! Warning!’ and I whirled, swords out.

Sparks skittered as I struck a magical shield. It shimmered with pastel colors in a bubble around a very un-pastel person. Lucifer.

Lucifer was all decked out in horns and black robes and the usual tall-as-hell-was-deep high heels that levitated above the mud. There was even the semi-permanent smug look to his face.

“Oh, it’s you,” I said, lowering my swords. I picked up the black box that I had dropped to defend myself. I wiped the mud off of it, then looked back up. Those crystal-like blue eyes were shimmering with amusement.

“Chaos, Chaos,” Lucifer tutted, bending over as if dealing with a child. “What are you doing here, hmm?”

I held up the box. “It was a mistake. I uh- just – wrong place. Don’t worry, I’m leaving.” Like I wanted to stay around here!

Lucifer held out his hand amiably. “Need help? I’m pretty good at fixing things.”

“Really?” I held out the box without thinking twice. Or rather, I thought too late. It was when the box left my fingers that I thought -hey, wait a minute.

“Thanks!” said Lucifer so cheerfully as he straightened, taking the box with him. “And thank you so much for coming back.”

“I need to go,” I said in a blurt “my friend-” but Lucifer was giving me that pitying look he reserved for… unfortunate people. I gulped, feeling screwed.

Lucifer snapped his fingers. Behind him in a semi-circle appeared a whole host of angels. “Take him,” he ordered, a nasty grin sparkling across his face.

I cursed under my breath. There was no way I was fighting my way out of this.

//////

Kuryo’s POV

“Hey,” I was dangling in nothingness, still. Time had passed, and yet it hadn’t. I’d dozed off – or had I?

I wondered if the other bodies that were dangling around were conscious. “Hey!”

But my voice didn’t seem to go far, nor to even echo. It was just absorbed by this lifeless darkness. No answers. Except- a twinge of amusement that came down the umbilical chord.

“You’re alive,” I mumbled, looking up at the thing that was above me. At the dark mass of the Academy’s depths.

A sliver of laughter came down the chord to ripple out through my mind.

Hi, I thought dryly.

Welcome to my world, the voice cooed in my head.

I squeezed my eyes shut, trying not to think of everything and anything. I needed to find a way out of here!

Laughter echoed in my mind. There is no way out, you sad little thing. We will digest you. You will end.

And, like the proverbial villain who never shuts up, the rant began.

It was a mistake, incorporating you so quickly last time. This time, we will do it slower. Yes, yes,.

That was followed by a whole chorus of sighs and laughs. Like every single piece that was shattered up there had its own voice for an instant. It gave me the creeps- yet I somehow understood it. I’d felt that shattered before.

“You do?” asked a tangible voice. I startled so bad, looking up.

A silvery head looked down at me. The skin was silvery translucent, the hair was white and thin, and its torso was child-like, the waist hidden in the darkness that was above me. Thin arms jutted from shrunken sockets to grip at the chord.

“Do you know what this feels like?” and that word, ‘this’ had been said by a million voices.

A strange eagerness was rippling from the being, from this infantile version of the Academy. It was like a heat oppressing over me. But I nodded, feeling a strange sort of sympathy within myself for it.

A sympathy that was noticed the minute I felt it.

“You like me!” the figure squealed, clasping its tiny hands together. It tapped and toyed its fingers together in excitement. “I like you too!” it blurted.

I laughed at this -creepy- but almost charming innocence.

The figure ducked back up into the darkness. Then, weilding a knife, it ducked back down. Knife held in its teeth, it swung down, gripping the umbilical chord with ease. I gasped, suppressing a wave of horror as the region beneath the hips swung down. It was a mess of octopus tentacles, all white and silvery and translucent like the rest of this body.

The being swung down straight before me, the tentacles wrapping around my stomach so the head was just a little above me. The knife was drawn out from the teeth and pointed at my throat. “I’ve got a knife!” the child giggled.

O-kay? I forced myself to stay calm, neutral, pushing all other feelings aside. “I don’t have one,” I said lamely.

The being giggled. The knife was waved in my face. “Just remember.” Then the knife was swung around and planted straight into their octopus hip. It jutted out, the skin torn but not bleeding.

“Now,” the being looked at me, tilting its head to the side. A sigh came from its lips, but I felt a rush of voices in my head. Questions, probing eyes, as if all my thoughts were being sifted through. A question was pulled out of me.

“Who am I?” squealed the being, as if so excited to have someone to talk to. “Well I- I never thought of that!”

“Ah?” I half-laughed, feeling giddy from my senses screaming danger.

It leaned in so close our noses brushed. Its fingers toyed with my ear, the one with the split lobe that had been so long ago. The being grinned. “I remember this. Your escape. I remember you. I remember everything, except -” it took in an angry breath, then hissed in my face. “I am nothing. I have no voice, I have no time, I have no feelings, no agency! I get no friends.” It leaned back, hands locked behind my neck as it arched back, back, back, until all I saw was the tip of its chin and its chest.

“I am alone in my multitude,” it crowed, half sobbing. “I have no friends.”

A feeling radiated from it, raw emotion that invaded me. It was wounded, miserable, shattered, and weak. Frightened, lonely.

I found myself pitying it. Hadn’t I felt that way after surviving the Academy? I’d had no one, not even Charr with me for the first little while. Even then, Charr could only understand so much. I collected partners, but they never filled that strange void within-

“Exactly,” cooed the spirit, drawing me out of my thoughts by rising up again to look down at me. “I’m so alone.

I gulped, not liking how I was seeing myself echoed in this being, this part of the Academy.