“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Five, Part Two

We reappeared in the glaring white room that miss FoxFace seemed to have dedicated as ‘the landing pad’ or something of the sort. Instantly we were surrounded by soldiers with big guns and, while the world was still spinning, Charr chucked me at them. “Take him!” I heard her shout. “And get a medic! Fast!”

Hands seized me, but they let me turn around to see Conan kneeling, blood making a mess of things. He was pale, but didn’t seem to be panicking. Always a good thing.

One soldier rushed to Conan. Bandages were produced and Conan’s shirt was ripped open to show the wound. Gah! Did I really do that?

Then, as if trying to blot out my guilt, I thought of something. “Wait!” I yelled, throwing myself at Conan. “You’ve got to take his collar off! Before she calls him back!”

In a fumble, Charr and I wrestled the thing – but it was padlocked. Shit! Cursing, I drew my sword- but another soldier drew a far more sensible looking knife. Within seconds the collar hit the floor.

“Oh good,” I said as Charr picked it up. “That’s good-”

And then she punched me.

Whack!

Again, a tribute must be sung by a choir of angels about how fast Charr was. I never saw that punch coming. It just – smack!

The next thing, I was laying on my back and the lights were blinking above me. “-been wanting to do that for so long,” I heard Charr say.

Well, I guess I deserved it. I did almost kill her sweetheart, I guess.

I was hefted to my feet by soldiers. Conan was carried out by several while I swerved on my footing. Charr marched out, ignoring me like I was a bug or something. Then, hands clamped on me like they could actually restrain me, I was marched out of the ‘landing pad’.

Of course, I was taken straight to a cushy waiting room. I wished. Instead, I found myself dumped unceremoniously in an interrogation room, the door locked.

I didn’t try and fight my way out or sweat it. I just collapsed in the chair and sat back.

Okay, now was the token ‘time to reflect on your life’. Pretty sure, soon FoxFace was going to come in and try and bust a new deal with me. But what should I do?

My life was a mess. I had helped an egotistical maniac take over the two realms. So going home was out of the question. Maybe I should – just bum around the mortal kingdom? Would FoxFace agree to just leave me alone for a little while?

Wondering about the odds of that happening, I drew my dice from my pocket – and saw that it was not the one I used to have, but rather the one Amitabha had given me. Crap.

Grumpily, I tossed it onto the table. It gave me a miserable seventeen. Like hell that thing was useful. I must have hit a critical fail when dealing with Bella, for sure. But what had I been thinking? I was Chaos, not ‘mister healy-happy-vibes’. And I had been played for an idiot.

With a groan I dropped my head onto the table beside the dice. What was I going to do?

The question was one that, it seemed, I could think about for hours with my brain running in circles. Which is exactly what I did. Mental laps upon laps about why Bella treated me the way she did, why she shared her power with me, and what I was left to do now.

It was ages later that I realized that, huh, it had been a while. FoxFace was letting me stew? Odd. Smiling grimly, I wondered at whether FoxFace would be successful in whatever it was she was planning right now. Nudging the dice with a finger, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask this dumb dice something.

Well, it rolled a critical 20. I huffed. FoxFace was going to be successful. Dammit. Deciding in no small terms to just give up, I pulled my jacket closer around myself and kicked back in the chair, feet up on the table. Might as well sleep.

I swear, I had just fucking closed my eyes when Bam! The door shut and FoxyFace herself was grinning at me.

“Look what the cat dragged in, literally!”

I scowled at her. “Now what?” I sighed, kicking my feet down to the floor. FoxFace was all grins as she pulled up the chair opposite me.

“How are you doing?” she asked in that too-sweet tone of hers.

I rolled my eyes and just looked at her. There was no wiping out that grin, was there? “Bella and I broke up. You happy?”

“Poor you,” she said completely unconvincingly, what with the shark grin and all. “Do you want my sympathies?”

“Yeah,” I said snarkily. “All of them.”

She laughed. Tapping the table between us, she said “So how about this? Are you done side-hopping then?”

“I’m not on anyone’s side,” I said, drawing on my family’s neutral tradition – only to get laughed at.

“Bullshit!” said FoxFace happily, in a suspiciously good mood. “Now, you make up your mind, alright?”

I glared at her. “I’m not going to help you-”

“Why not?” she interrupted. “We’re the good guys!”

I glared harder. She held up her hands. “What do you want? We’re not going to pay you, you’re a spirit. We’re not sacrificing children to you, so doesn’t that tell you something?”

“You’re using me like a pawn!” I shrieked, something snapping in the back of my head. Must have been a nerve or something. “I am not-”

Her patient expression silenced me. I sat back into my chair and crossed my arms. “I’m sick of this. I want to be left alone.”

“Chaos, chaos, chaos,” tutted Foxface, drumming her fingers on the table. “You do know -” and she cocked her head to the side. “You can’t just walk away from a mess of your own making. You know that, right?”

I tightened my arms across my chest. “I did not,” and that’s where I left it.

FoxFace pointed a finger at me, aiming between my eyes. “You were sent to, essentially, quell Bella’s uprising. Now?” She looked pointedly up, then down. “She rules the two realms. It’s only because she’s pretty damn slow and disorganized that she hasn’t unleashed full hell on earth yet.”

An unhappy feeling settled in my gut. “How do you know that?” Who was her source?

She grinned. “Now listen up, kid. I’ve got a treat for you. You liked your home, didn’t you? You don’t want it destroyed?”

“I also don’t want the Pure Lands destroyed,” I sighed, seeing where she was going with this. “Which, Bella is probably going to try and destroy.”

FoxFace mimed firing a finger gun at me. “Bingo. See, you’re thinking. You can do this.”

I sent her my version of a murder note via the eyes.

“Now, you see,” FoxFace completely ignored my threatening look and seemed even more pleased. “She is going to either battle the Pure Lands or earth. We’re not sure which.”

“Pure Lands,” I muttered softly. “She just needs another portal.” Which, now that she ruled the two realms, she could bully people into making one for her.

“Ah, but!” FoxFace placed her fingers like a spider on the table between us. “She needs more worshipers here on earth to raise her power to allow her to defeat the Pure Lands. You understand that, don’t you? It’s all dandy and all to bully people into doing things for you, but if she wants to kill the Buddha essence herself, with her own hands, then she’s got to get a whole lot more powerful.”

I cringed. “Why would she want to kill the Buddha essence?” The source of all Buddha-natures, the essence that was all Buddhas in one!

FoxFace gave me a disappointed look. “Because she’s a demon? Daughter of Mara?”

“How do you know that?” I asked. “Besides, she has a blue eye. Demons don’t have blue eyes.”

FoxFace winked at me. “My source says its a tattoo.”

“A – tattoo?” An eyeball tattoo?! How come I’d never thought of that?

“So this means she’s about to unleash hell on earth, by the way, quite literally,” FoxFace summarized terribly. “Which was why she found Kuryo. He’s excellent at sending spirits here and there, even across dimensions.”

I shrunk down in my chair with a huff. That guy. Could people stop complimenting him?

FoxFace was talking on. “So we’ve stalled her by rescuing him. And you not being on her side anymore is probably throwing her for a loop – but not too big of a one.”

I scowled.

“So? Chaos? Want to help humanity?” FoxFace grinned. “Tell me you don’t want to be the goodguy in this story.”

I rolled my eyes. “Fine. I’ll do it.”

“Spoken like a true teenager,” she chuckled.

“My Name is Chaos 2”; Chapter One, Part Two

“You don’t look so hot,” said one of the team members as she sat down next to me. I was sitting on the three steps that led into the barracks, and badly wanted a cigarette. What? Think death sticks aren’t available in hell?

“I’m cold,” I snapped, though it absolutely wasn’t the case. We’d just finished doing the days’ push-ups and running around, but I just wanted to sit and think. Alone. Which, pointedly, was not happening.

“Really? It’s not that cold today,” she said, looking around at the snow piles around the barracks. Grouchily, I had to admit that it was no longer ‘freeze in your nostrils cold’, being merely ‘freeze the toes off’ cold. Friggin’ weather.

“It was sarcastic,” I grumbled. “I’m just-” and I shrugged.

“Oh,” she said as if that was a shocker. What? Did they all think that I had a resting grouch face?

Then, to my shock, she put an arm around my shoulder. “Chipper up! It’ going to work out! What’s the problem?” and she gave me a tight squeeze.

I glared at her. Hugs were just not a thing in hell → unless you were Lucifer. But were those hugs nice? No. But she didn’t get the hint. So I heaved a sigh. “I want to go home,” I grumbled lamely, because I wasn’t sure how to explain the giant mess I was in. My girlfriend was a psycho, I’d betrayed my family, and I was trapped by the military. By FoxFace in particular.

“Oh,” and she gave me another squeeze/rattle that was supposed to be comforting. “We all do, you know. But if we don’t do this, there won ‘t be a home for anyone, you know?”

I grumbled and didn’t want to listen. Sure, whatever. Poor humans pity poo poo. I wanted my mess to be over with. At least they didn’t have to deal with all the stuff that was happening to me.

She had a genuine smile on when I glanced at her. “It can’t be that different for you,” she was saying. “Is it?”

Girl, you have NO IDEA, I wanted to yell. But something clicked in my head. Bella did want to destroy the Pure Lands. I did have to do this to take care of those Buddhas and that lovely place.

So I squared my shoulders, mustered myself together. I could mope about my seeming eternity of servitude later. Right now, I had a girlfriend to save, and the Pure Lands to keep pure. A lot of stuff to do, really!

And hey, something would probably go screwy in FoxFace’s plans regarding me. That’s just the way things seemed to be going.

So I smiled at my war-buddy. “You’re right,” I said cheerfully.

I mean shit, things couldn’t get much worse, could they?

////

They day we were set to captured Bella, you could feel it in the air that something was brewing. Did Bella know? Was she waiting for us with bated breath? I could imagine her, standing there with a hand on her hip and that leash in hand, just waiting for me to show up.

Of course it was a stupid vision. Bella wouldn’t stand that long if she could sit and be regal. And what would she do with the leash? Whip me? Come on, Chaos.

But still, as we all geared up I was nervous. This was Bella we were talking about! My girlfriend – and then, only then, as I was putting on a chest-piece of bullet proof armor, did I think that hey, maybe she didn’t think of us as a thing anymore.

I almost dropped the armor.

Rattling myself mentally, I went back to putting all this crap on. A fellow soldier checked me over, we all nodded at each other, and we were ready.

My heart was hammering in my throat as we entered the lab in single file, all decked out in our gear and with vizors on. I just had the feeling that something was about to go terribly wrong. Like, really, really, wrong.

As we lined up in the room with blinding lights I realized I’d forgotten to roll my new dice. Great, Chaos. Good job, dumbass.

One by one, we were given a pill.

“It’s new!” Leo was saying happily. “The pill should reduce the nausea effects and allow us for greater precision as to your transport!”

We all swallowed dutifully. Then, “Good luck,” said Leo as he flicked a switch that was attached to his tablet. The room lurched.

How the hell that tablet worked was beyond me. But the next thing I knew I was zooming through the void, and reapparating – in a living room.

“Jesus on a fucking stick,” I cursed as I spun and recognized Bella’s living room – and the dozen or so rifles pointed directly at me. Held by vampires, of course.

Look to the left- look to the right – I didn’t need to look fucking up and down to see my team was nowhere to be seen. I held my hands out. “Good job,” I congratulated both Bella and Leo under my breath.

A high pitched laugh rewarded me. Bella was at the opposite end of the living room, directly behind the line of her cronies. Safe, as usual.

“Choas, so nice of you to drop by,” she said callously. Then she burst out in laughter.

I didn’t know what to do. So I just stood there, hands out and wondering how this had gone so, so, utterly bad.

“I don’t think your new boss understands how magic works,” Bella drawled as she stepped forward. Then, with a gleeful grin from Bella, I felt a ripple through the room. She had sent a silent message.

In that split second, I could have zapped myself away with FoxFace’s sigil. But something stopped me. Bella was right there! So close!

I wanted to stay with her.

And so I was thudded full like a pincushion full of flying needles. One or two jammed in my throat, the rest (courtesy of the vampire’s poor aim) landing in my armor.

The room swerved and the floor smacked up the meet me. But hey, this time I was padded with armor and a helmet so it didn’t really hurt. But right before the darkness took over, I noticed something.

Through the mass of vampires, there was someone standing beside Bella. Someone who was tethered to her via leash. They had deep blue hair.

/////

I came to feeling pissed off. Angry and hurt in a terrible way. Of course I remembered why the instant I opened my eyes: the problem was right there. Bella, with a new slave at her side.

Yeah, he was older than me by a fuckin’ year or two, had a pretty face, was paler than me by two shades, and had a lovely tilt to his large eyes. Probably from some east asian pantheon or something.

Oh yeah, and What the Hell? He was wearing a collar just like I used to, complete with the little bottle of blood on it. He was even wearing black, like me!

I wanted to bust his face in. He looked bored. Like he couldn’t give a crap about where he was, or what was happening. How dare he?

I, on the other hand, must have been turning all the shades of purple and pissed off. I was strapped down (Again?!) to some sort of table. This must be the laboratory in their center, because the room felt, looked, and smelt clinical.

“Hey Chaos,” Bella cooed. I melted as she stepped forward to stand by my side. Her fingers trailed down my cheek to cup my chin. Then her nails dug in. I winced, but really, I didn’t totally mind the pain. It was the look in her eye that bothered me. She looked sad, miserable even.

“You could have stayed away, you know,” she whispered.

“They sent me,” I whispered hoarsely. “I have no choice.” And she knew that!

Bella smiled softly. It broke my heart, and I was sure hers was breaking too. “I love you,” she whispered before stooping over me.

We kissed. At my side, her fingers caressed down my hand and our fingers laced together.

For an idiotic flutter of a moment, I thought everything was going to be okay. We were together now, right?

Abso-fucking-lutely wrong.

Bella drew back with a satisfied smile to her lips. “Send her away,” she said, the order not intended for me at all.

The other one, the me-replacement, stepped forward. I gave him a dirty look but he didn’t look likehe cared two bits. He just stepped to my side, then turned to Bella who was walking away. “Where to?” he asked, and damn! He even had a nice voice. Fucking not fair.

Bella whirled towards him. “Where you came from, you idiot! Do I have to tell you everything twice? Just do it!”

Version 2.0 tilted their head to the side in acceptance. They lifted their arms above me, then closed their eyes.

I was expecting a spell. Fireworks and impressive displays. I was hoping for failure of the most spectacular kind, though. For their magic to not match up to mine.

Instead, I felt my very soul being seized in a firm grip. Then, with a jolt, I was catapulted through space.

Like, really! It was full-out trippy and better yet worse than any traveling I’d ever done through a portal. I was whole, but whizzing through galaxies and dimensions and I felt immortal and timeless and –

Wham. I landed in a soft fluff.

My eyes opened and there was a ceiling. I was in a bed. And beside me, laying serenely in pillows and blankets with a small smile on, was a woman.

“My Name is Chaos 2” Prologue and Chapter One, Part One

I landed back in the world, sword in one hand and bad-assery in the other. Or so I thought. In reality I had every intention of teleporting/zapping myself back to Lucifer’s realm just to, you know, try and catch Bella or something.

Instead, I landed in the mortal/incarnate realm. Bam! I careened on my feet, Bella’s sword in hand and grogginess in the other. The lab veered around me and I felt myself keel over- then right myself suddenly thanks to a grip on my arm.

At my side, FoxFace peered at me. “You’re alone. What happened?”

I staggered as my wobbly legs found their footing (hah!). I held up a finger between us. “Just a min,” I mumbled as the room began slowing down its spinning.

FoxFace clapped me on both shoulders and looked me in the eyes. There were soldiers lining the walls of this lab and they were also glaring at me with all the strength in their eyeballs. But FoxFace shook me stiffly so I looked her in the eyes. “Where is Bella?” she asked crisply.

Alright, the room had slowed down. I shook my head. “I don’t know, I – chased her, and – she got away,” I rattled myself mentally. I felt sick. Oozy. Covered in slime. Was this the effect of the portal, or of going from the Pure Lands back into samsara? Because I felt dirty, and certainly less enlightened than I had been just moments ago. Now the decision to ‘heal’ Bella sounded silly. I wasn’t a Buddha! What could I do? And besides, I had another problem that was glaring me in the face right now.

“What happened?” she looked me over. “You don’t seem wounded.”

“I’m not,” I wrung myself free from her grasp. “I just -” and I didn’t know what to say.

FoxFace gave me a cold stare. Then, with every move speaking volumes of disdain, she turned and marched away.

Chapter One

The department I had been shunted into was the ‘paranormal control agency’. Led by FoxFace, it was largely composed of buffbuff men and women with buzzcuts and egos as big as their biceps. I was shunted to a barracks, given a uniform, and told ‘Welcome to the Squad’.

I had promptly dropped the uniform on the floor and snorted. “Yeah, right!” I’d said.

The officer gave me a nasty smirk. “Kid, we have full permission to make your life a living hell, and to ship you back into the lab if you throw a tantrum. So get your uniform on, or you’re going back into the lab to live the life of a petri dish!”

I wasn’t too sure that they actually had any petri dishes large enough to hold my ego but – I scowled and put the uniform on. Just because anything that kept me out of the lab was a good thing. I didn’t want any more needles, tests, or whathaveyou. And if EVER I saw Leo again, I was punching the man. Jerk.

The next few days were… particular. My hair was cut into a short something or other. I met the rest of the squad. They all looked the same, and were significantly taller than me. In the evening they played card games. The next morning I literally fell out of bed (the top bunk, in case you needed to know) when the morning whistle was blown. We all did a ridiculous amount of push-ups and situps for the sake of ‘warming up’.

Then, after a gross serving of food, I was sent to the office of a certain ‘Officer Standish’, who turned out to be FoxFace.

“Good morning,” she said with a sense of bitter humor. I glared at her. Somewhere out through her window, the sun was barely getting up. That meant that, in hell, Lucifer still probably hadn’t finished drinking yet. Literally, no one in hell got up this early.

FoxFace rested her wrists on the edge of her desk. “You look so much more presentable. How are you feeling?”

I scowled and fiddled with my bracelets, which I had been allowed to keep. FoxFace smiled like it was a job well done. “I am glad you’re doing so well. I’ve heard you’re integrating well too, so far at least.”

“Did you hear about the breakfast cereal too?” I sneered. “It was awful.”

“Military food is awful,” FoxFace said, amused. “And I get complaints about it all the time.”

I paused, not sure how to answer to that. FoxFace just looked- so pleased with herself.

After a moment of her silent gloating, I slumped. “What do you want? Why don’t you just let me go?”

“Can’t, and don’t want to. You are part of our new program. Congratulations, you’re our first non-human military personnel. We’re investigating if you will be a valuable asset to the team’s efforts, if you are able to integrate, or if you should be in a team with other ‘paranormal entitites’. So no, I’m not done with you yet. Far from it.”

I gaped. “But-” I wasn’t sure how human military worked, but one thing for sure was – “I never signed anything! You can’t do this! I’m not part of the military!”

“No, you aren’t. You’re just an experiment. So you have no rights and, if I get sick of you, I’ll just kill you and be done with it.” She spread her hands. “But I have your blood, so if ever the need for you arises again, I’ll just call you back. You’re like a recyclable soldier. Prefect, really. Even if the mission goes foul, I can reuse you.”

I felt a wave of nausea. I’d died from Lucifer’s poison. If I died again… Where was I going?

“What? You look upset. You’re immortal, what do you have to worry about?”

I snarled. “I’m not going to be your slave for the rest of my life!”

“Oh don’t worry. When I retire, I’ll pass you on to the next commanding officer. So until the branch gets shut down, which can be quite some time, you’re going to be a ‘slave’ for whoever’s in office,” and she grinned wickedly.

I wanted to punch something. So bad. But I couldn’t just lunge across the desk and kill her. That’d probably turn my soul demonic or something.

Just about ready to see red and purple and all the colors of the rainbow, I rose and stomped from the room.

“Get back here,” FoxFace said coolly. “And sit down.”

I slammed the door behind me and whirled to face her. “What?” I yelled.

FoxFace gave me an obnoxiously patient look. “Sit down, kid.”

I stomped back to the chair and thumped down into it. Crossed my arms and legs and broke just about a thousand military rules with my expression. I wished she would just flip over and die.

“You do not leave unless I tell you so. You do not move, sleep, or breathe unless it’s an order from one of your superiors. Is that clear?”

I glared at her, digging my nails into my arms. I just wanted to hit her so bad. Finally, just because I wanted this to be over with, I nodded.

“Good. Now I wanted you to know that you have one week, today included, to get ready for your first mission. Get to know your team, rest up, and be ready in a week.”

“What’s the mission?” I grumbled, tightening my arms across my chest.

“Take a wild guess,” she said. Then, as if I might be too stupid to make a proper guess, she said “You’re going to catch Bella. Third time’s the charm, you know.”

I rolled my eyes. “You don’t want Bella caught. You don’t want her anywhere near these brain-washable idiots. Trust me. She’s going to take over this place, right out from under you!”

FoxFace remained neutral. “Oh?”

“She-” I caught myself. How much should I tell her about Bella? How much did she already know? But I wouldn’t give away Bella’s secrets. “You’re fucked.”

“Well, if you feel you have any information I should know, feel free to tell me all about it. But if you’e not going to tell me anything useful,” and FoxFace leaned across the desk. I recoiled slightly, and she smirked nastily. “You can leave,” she whispered.

I marched out and slammed the door behind me as hard as I could.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Nineteen, Part One

I woke, groggy but determined. As I had slept in bursts and hiccups, I had time to think, and think, and think. My mind kept feeling grogged, but I was determined now to- something. Be better. It was a hazy idea, but I wanted to improve things. I wanted to make Bella happy. I was going to do that – somehow.

My mind just couldn’t compute a solid answer!

When I finally woke for good, the first thing I did was splash water on my face in the washroom. That turned my skin cold, but did very little to actually rouse me. I felt trapped in a mist.

Grumbling but still determined to… something?… I dressed and stomped from the room.

“AH!” I yelped as a vampire was just – standing there.

She looekd down at me, peeling her lip back from her teeth in a grimace. “You, awake.”

“No,” I snarked, hand on my thumping heart. “I’m dead.”

The vampire paused. The sarcasm seemed to have conufsed her.

“Where is Bella?” I asked.

“She has orders for you to stay inside the house until her return,” said the vampire. “Rest or, something,” she finished with a shrug.

I scowled at her before brushing past her to the stairs.

A hand slammed down on my shoulder. I whirled around to face miss fang-face. “Where do you think you’re going?” she hissed, stooping so her breath was straight in my face.

“Breakfast,” I hissed back, rising up to snarl in her face. “Or something.”

Rolling her eyes, she let me go. I turned around and stomped down the stairs, fully convinced that I was going to do the ‘something’ part of my statement. I just wasn’t sure what it would be. But sitting around and just waiting for Bella? That didn’t feel right.

But first, really, I had to eat. And if there was coffee to be found- it was to be mine.

There was three beefy werewolves in the kitchen, pouring blood into baggies. They looked at me, then the middle one, Munch as it so happened, straightened.

“Hey, if it isn’t the little kitten!” he sneered. Dusting his hands off on his apron, he strolled over to me. “What’ll it be? Want some milk?”

Oh gawwwwd. I smirked, trying to not listen to him. Whatever. “With cereal,” I said sweetly, trying to somehow turn the joke on him. “Can you manage that?”

“Oh, for you? Sure, kitten,” and he reached to ruffle my hair.

I punched him in the gut. My reasoning? If I was Bella’s precious kitten he couldn’t really punch back, could he?

Well, as it turned out, I was right. Munch straightened, lifted a fist, then double checked himself. I smirked. Victory. Alea jacta whatever.

I bumped past him into the kitchen. “So where is this food? Theoretically?” And I propped myself against the counter right before this big window.

I picked it because, really, cool window? Nice view while eating my cereal and being smug? It turned out to be the worst decision, like, EVER.

The sniper must have been like ‘Dude, my lucky day’ and shat themself in excitement.

Oh wait, they’re Canadian, so it must have been ‘Eh, dude, my lucky day eh?’. Then, presumably, they apologized to me.

Because, really, after two point oh seconds before this window, it shattered inwards and something whacked into my neck. Glass showered over me in little slicing bits and I yelled wordlessly in surprise as I ducked forward.

“What the fuck?” I asked, crouched down beside the counter – not under a window this time. Munch and the others were also crouched down, eyes wide and ogling me.

Munch pointed at me, more specifically my neck. “Your neck!”

I touched, and felt the feathers. Damn. Sweet Jesus on a stick and fuckity fuck fuck. I pulled it out, then glared at it. It was a black metal vial with white and blue feathering. I threw it angrily on the floor.

“What the fuck?” I hissed angrily as if it was Munch’s fault. Scrambling, I poked my head up to look back out the window. There was the town, or more precisely the rooftops.

Munch was on a walkie talkie. “There’s a sniper firing shots into the house. Repeat, a sniper-”

The world lurched around me. The floor crashed up to me. I jolted, spasming once. Twice. The cold tiles were hard against me as I thrashed in a seizure.

“Shi-i-it,” I heard Munch hiss.

But, of fucking course, he didn’t even come to help. They just stood in their corner of the kitchen, talking on the walkie talkie. Their words faded into a jumble, and as I railed angrily against htem, the scene faded.

“FUCK YEAH!” someone fairly roared, jolting me awake.

My eyes flew open, my nostrils flared, and I was struck by the sudden newness of this scenario. The smell of champagne, the moving masses around me.

“We did it!” someone was cheering. “We did it, we did it, we did it!”

I looked around, but could barely see. There was juts these white blobs massing around me, and I couldn’t move.

Then – “Alright officers, take that party outside,” said a voice that was unmistakeable. FoxFace.

I blinked and shook my head. I twisted my arms and felt bonds. I blinked again and the world slid a little more into focus. Someone patted me on the shoulder. “Hello Chaos,”

I spat at the shape that was generally before me.

“Oh, gross!” said FoxFace. She wiped her face, and slid finally into focus. She was grinning as she wiped her face on her sleeve. “Good to see it’s still you and we didn’t bodyswap you with a chipmunk or something.”

I looked around, heart pounding in my throat. Back in the lab. It shouldn’t be scary, but for some reason it was terrifying. Something in me was runnign a mile a minute, indeed like a chipmunk, and –

“Whoah,” Foxface frowned, looking at a panel beside me. “What, are you happy to see me? Your stats are running high. Calm down, soldier.”

My snark was lost. My mind was reeling. An overwhelming sense of panic was drowning me and something was flashing through my mind like a warning signal, telling me that I was in dire danger.

But of what?

“Hey,” FoxFace leaned again into my field of vision. “You seem to be having a panic attack.”

I couldn’t breathe, the fear was choking me. Bella! I needed Bella- and it clicked in my mind. I was away from Bella. I was away from the ‘hive’, and her touch.

So this was withdrawal? Wow.

I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to rationalize this panic. Trying to remind myself that I was fine, that I could breathe just fine without Bella there.

FoxFace was talking coolly. “You know if we were friends I could give you something to help, but we’re not, so I’m not going to bother.”

I tried to glare at her, but instead the vision swam fuzzily. I tried to breathe but the air wouldn’t come. The sight of FoxFace was reminding me of Bella. So I tipped my head back and stared at the ceiling, only to realize that Bella was going to be furious.

Emotions crashed over me like a tsunami. Powerful, ripping at my mind and dragging sense away.

Bella was going to be so angry! So angry! I’d Disobeyed her order to stay home! She was going to be furious!

I tried to rationalize, but that thought drifted away, torn out of my mind and replaced with a sheer panic. I’d disobeyed! I was going to be punished!

Something stung my arm but I barely noticed. Then, like a cool bath over a fever, plastic and fake calm rushed through me. It wasn’t complete, but just like having my head lifted out of the water, but the waves were still up and clogging my nose.

Indeed, I was gasping as I came to my senses, seeing FoxFace frowning at me with a needle in hand. The needle was only half empty.

“You’re having strange side effects,” she said with a frown. Then, tipping her head to the side she added playfully “Or are you really that scared of me?”

I gasped, struggling to keep the internal screaming just that – internal. “Give me the rest of that.” I needed it. Anything, something. I just wanted to breathe again. I had to get this panic to stop. It was just getting stronger and it was rising up again, drowning out my thoughts. Tears were stinging my eyes and my breathing was turning into hiccups again.

“Yeah, maybe,” she said. But she didn’t. Instead she just stood there, needle in hand, and observed.

I hiccupped, twisted on myself, and crushed my eyes closed. It just made everything worse. The screaming couldn’t be stopped now. My skin was itching all over and I heard my breath gasping, felt my face tingle, and knew I was about to faint.

Blind panic was filling me and it felt like I was falling into a tunnel when there was another prick in my arm. The world swerved and careened drunkenly back to me. I opened my eyes to see FoxFace, to feel her latex gloved fingers holding my chin to face her. She was frowning.

I gritted my teeth, wiling myself to be ‘together’. To be strong. It’s just a hive withdrawal, I told myself. You’ll be back to Bella soon. Pull it together!

But I couldn’t. Tears were running down my cheeks, I was shaking, and I was furious with myself for being so weak. Then, as if in answer, the world turned black.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Seventeen, Part One

I waited until Bella and I were alone in her bedroom to defy her.

“You can’t do that,” I pleaded with her, conscious that I was treading delicate ground in challenging her.

“What?” she asked, glancing over her shoulder at me. She had her back to me and was busy with something on her nighttable. I laid my jacket on the bed, making sure to choose my words carefully. I didn’t want her to be angry with me.

“Challenge the sky god. It’s like challenging Lucifer,” Except worse, because the sky god was the one who won in that battle of the gods, remember? “You can’t do that. You’ll get hurt.”

Bella turned around with a smirk, placing something behind her back. Her blue eye twinkled. “Don’t worry about me Chaos,” she said sweetly. “We have something else to discuss.”

I worried at my bottom lip. “But-”

Bella gave me a scowl, and that silenced me. As my jaw shut, her good mood returned. She drew her hands out from behind her back. “Come here,” she ordered.

Jaw slightly agape, I stepped forward. For in her hands, hse had a beautiful black collar. At least, to my eyes it was beautiful. There was studs along the side, and a vial was set at the front instead of a gem. A vial of what looked like blood.

“On your knees,” she murmured as I reached before her.

Entranced, I didn’t think twice. I sunk to my knees. My eyes were riveted on the collar, then up to her face where she was smirking contently.

“You’re my best,” she crooned. “And,” she drew my hair aside with one hand. The smooth texture of the collar met the skin of my neck and goosebumps raised along my arms. I just knew that it was her blood in that little vial. “You’re mine,” she whispered as she buckled it around my neck.

My heart was doing somersaults. I was going to explode from happiness, from pure joy.

“You’re my perfect slave,” she crooned, stooping before me. In her other hand now, unwrapping from around her wrist, was a slim leash. She clipped it to a buckle beneath the vial. I couldn’t have been happier.

“I love you,” she whispered so close to my lips, but I didn’t dare reach for her, knowing perfectly well that that was her call to make.

Then, with a sharp tug at my neck that was more of a yank, she dragged me to the bed.

That night was a piece of fantasy. I was not undressed one bit, and yet I was brought to sheer ecstasy via Bella’s sweetly magical words and the works of her hands. I was tied in knots, bound and barely able to breathe around a gag that was stuffed into me. It was euphoric. Worse, I sensed something in me change as she commanded and I obeyed. Something in me shifted or gave way. It just seemed so natural to obey, so proper for my place to be at her feet that I would have licked her boots clean without second thought that night. It was blindingly satisfying. It just felt so good.

The next morning I was subdued, gleeful, and still euphoric. I woke to find Bella already awake, lying at my side with a bright smile on.

“Good morning,” she whispered. The leash was still wrapped around her hand, tethering us together. She tugged on it harshly. “Come here.”

I obeyed gleefully. Anything she wanted, anything for her. I straddled her as she patted her hips, nuzzled her neck, and kissed her carefully. Her fingers wound in my hair, pulling painfully then massaging in turns. My heart fluttered at the attention. When she lifted my chin away from hers I was giddy. Butterflies were filling me and I wanted nothing more than to be commanded.

But Bella’s mind seemed to be elsewhere as she stroked my cheeks. “Today is going to be a big day Chaos,” she whispered soberly. “I need you to be perfect today. You must do exactly what I say. Obey me without question.” She paused, a gleam in her eyes. Her usual smile flickered back to life. “Will you do that for me?”

“Of course,” I gushed, because really, anything. She could ask for anything.

Her fingers gripped my hair tightly. The leash drew taught in the other direction, holding me painfully suspended between the two. “Good,” she murmured, dragging my head back to kiss my neck. The leash loosened and her other hand caressed my side – then dug its nails into my ribs. I whimpered at the pain, relishing in it because it was from Bella.

A messenger was sent ahead, a vampire who was to bear the challenge to the Sky Lord. The lord of lords. The thought of Bella fighting him made me anxious. She did know what she was getting into, right? She must have, I said to comfort myself, because look at her. She’s smiling.

But then again, Bella always smiled.

I gnawed at my nails and told myself that certainly, even if she lost, she wouldn’t be harmed. She would … be put in jail? Probably. But I could help her escape from there if worse came.

It was afternoon on earth when we finally took the portal. It was Bella, her hench-crew of vampire sidekicks, and me. I stayed by Bella’s side.

The portal brought us straight to the arena where the fight was going to go down.

It was like the Colosseum – or rather the Colosseum was like it. It was huge, circular, with walls that rose seemingly into the sky. So maybe it was Colosseum meets tower of babel? Anyways, there was plenty of room for everyone to watch the humiliation of whoever was defeated.

The stands were filled with angels and even demons and deities of all kinds. Lucifer was standing in the middle of the arena, talking to the Sky Lord. At our appearance Lucifer waved us over.

“Dar-ling! What a surprise you’ve brought us!” cooed Lucifer, sauntering over to meet us halfway. He was glittering in black with silver stars all over and the highest heels anyone could manage. He tossed his hair dramatically over his shoulder and it slapped the approaching Sky lord in the face.

The Sky Lord was, well, awkward. You could get as much from a guy that lived off a mountain, alone, and never wanted anything to do with other deities. He stood stiff, wore ancient clothing, and wore a beard as if he was the most ancient of all (he wasn’t).

But running in from the sidelines, like goalies rushing to a fight? My mom and dad. I glanced away, but boom! They apparated over in a puff of smoke.

“Chaos!” they said together, both sounding near tears.

Bella lay a hand on my shoulder. There was a moment of silence. I looked from the Sky Lord to Lucifer to – yeah they were pissed. Back to Lucifer it was.

“Chaos is my champion,” said Bella sweetly. “He’s going to be fighting for me today.”

The words went in one ear and out the other. It was the collective gasps that alerted me to the importance of what had been said. That, and the laughter of Lucifer.

“Pre-cious!” he cheered with a flip of the hand, like he was announcing the winner of some fashion competition.

“But!” Mother looked to Father and looked ready to wring someone’s neck off their head. Someone being Bella. “You can’t! Our family has been neutral for aeons! We do not mingle in the fights of gods!”

I didn’t know what to say. She was right. But my head was buzzing, my limbs felt numb. I – I was fighting the Sky God? For Bella? Why hadn’t she told me this before?

“Chaos has already agreed,” said Bella sweetly.

“No!” shouted Mother. “Chaos?!”

“It’s alright,” I said, suddenly coming to terms with everything all at once. This must have been what Bella had been talking about when she said to obey her today. And I would. I wouldn’t go back on my word, especially not to humiliate her publicly. So I squared my shoulders and glared the Sky Lord down. “I’m doing this.”

Bella squeezed my shoulder tightly, painfully so, then patted me. “See?” she said. There was a note of gloating there, of pride. It made me smile. She was proud of me!

“Well,” Lucifer clapped his hands. “Good luck!” Then he turned to the Sky Lord. “To both, of course.”

The Sky Lord scowled at his age-old enemy, knowing full well that Lucifer wanted nothing more than to see him beaten into the dust.

Mother groaned. Father was shaking his head. The Sky Lord turned to me. “You and I are going to have a serious talk after this,” he said most patronizingly.

I sneered. Bella patted me on the shoulder. “I’ll take your jacket,” she murmured.

I gave her my checkered jacket then walked past my parents to the center of the stadium. I knew the rules for duels, and had even watched a few. There were pitifully little rules, anything was allowed, and the main thing was that you weren’t exactly supposed to kill each other. But humiliation? A-okay. It was even expected, along with dramatics. A deity was supposed to show off their best moves and impress everyone.

So it really was too bad that the Sky Lord had avoided these duels most famously since his defeat by Kemosh. But that was, literally, ancient history. You’d suppose he’d have upgraded his moves since then.

“You’re making a grave mistake, kid,” the Sky Lord said as he stepped up before me, staff in hand. I scowled at him.

Did I really expect to win?I wasn’t sure. In my mind, I was half-hoping that Bella had some sort of plan to intervene and help me. Was the necklace going to give me extra powers?

“And now!” a ringmaster was bellowing for all to hear, voice magically amplified. “Let the fight begin!”

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Sixteen Part Two

When I came to, I was tied to a chair. FoxFace was before me, arms crossed and a very sour look on her face. I felt groggy and sluggish.

“Feeling better?” FoxFace asked sharply, marching over to my side.

I eyed her, unable to really move my head. I was exhausted. But still, she irritated me. “No,” I mumbled. “Can I have some painkillers?”

Crack! She punched me across the face. Hard! It stung! My head snapped to the side and pain split across the side of my head.

“Really?” she asked sharply. “Does that feel better?”

I spluttered, head hanging back down. I blinked but couldn’t shake the pain. “No,” my voice cracked. My lips were dry.

“Listen to me, you little shit,” she snapped, hauling my head up by my hair. It hurt! But I was too limp to do anything about it.

For a blissful moment I almost laughed, knowing that Bella wouldn’t like me being treated in such a way. She was possessive, she would react and punish.

But she didn’t. Instead of a surge of possessive anger I felt an emptiness within myself. No more Bella.

Like a whipcrack it struck me. Bella was gone. She’d left me.

FoxFace was saying something, but I wasn’t hearing her. “Where’s Bella?” I blurted, completely interrupting her.

“What do you mean?” she snapped. I managed to focus on her burning eyes.

“Bella,” I spluttered. “Where is she?” I felt near tears. She’d abandoned me?

No smile from FoxFace. “Not here,” she snapped. “What, did you expect to find her?”

I searched her face, hoping to see some clue, something that I was missing. What had happened? I’d found the bones. I’d let Bella use me, send her magic out. She should have returned. We should be together right now. Unless… no, she wouldn’t. She cared about me. She wouldn’t just leave me behind.

Not like this.

I was snapped to by FoxFace glaring at me – and talking. It was more the tone of her voice, honestly. It was somehow sympathetic. “You found Bella. Don’t you remember what you did?”

I felt like crying. Blinking rapidly, I cast my eyes around, not really noticing what I was looking at. Anywhere but at FoxFace.

“What happened?” asked FoxFace staunchly.

I gulped. Where was Bella? She mustn’t have just abandoned me without a reason. There must have been a reason.

Shaking my head, I tried to sort my thoughts out. Focus on the now. FoxFace was standing before me, hands on her hips.

I collected myself somewhat. “I don’t remember,” I fibbed. “I just sort of – something happened. When Leo was talking and -” something clicked in my mind. “Why are you still alive?”

“What makes you think I should be dead?” she asked wryly. “If you don’t remember anything, that is.”

I balked. Stupid, stupid, me.

FoxFace smiled wryly. “If you’d stop lying, don’t you think this could go easier?”

“Really?” I snapped. “You think life gets better with honesty?” It sure as hell didn’t! I’d heard enough life stories to-

“No,” FoxFace said calmly. “I think it gets easier if you know when to make friends and when to make enemies.”

I paused. “You’re not my friend.”

She stooped to look me square in the eye. “I’m not your enemy, either. Don’t make one of me.”

“You’re not?” I sneered. “I seem to remember things differently.”

FoxFace grinned slyly. “Really?” She smirked. “If I were you, I’d rethink that statement, Chaos. You don’t want to be my enemy. Now-”

I spat in her face. On second thought, not the smartest thing to do, considering I was cuffed to the chair and still in head-splitting pain from the last punch.

FoxFace wiped her face on her sleeve. There was a rabid look to her eyes now, and I expected another punch. Instead she was just grinning. “Alright,” she hummed. “That’s the way this is. Well, that leaves me a clear conscience.”

“For what?” I snapped, all bravado and secretly wondering what the hell she had up her sleeve.

But, grin still in place, she didn’t answer. “Sweet dreams, Chaos,” was all she said as she produced another syringe from a nearby table.

“Hey! What’s that?” I fairly yelled, trying to shimmy away from the thing. It was pointless, as she poked it in me without second thought. When she drew it out, empty, my arm was tingling.

FoxFace waved at me. “Bye, bye,” she said way too happily.

Then the world grew dark. But in this darkness was pain, incredible pain. I had the distinct feeling that I was dissolving, being torn apart, and that I was traveling. Returning to the astral plane – yet I didn’t want to go there. Desperately, I wanted Bella. I knew I had to find her, help her, and be by her side.

 

I woke in a field of snow, crashing into it and the icy cold on my hands and face like a harsh bite. I floundered, struggling to my feet, blinded by light and stinging all over in residual pain as I felt myself finish putting itself back together.

For a moment all I did was flail and try to stay standing in the knee- deep snow. Then, as the pain oozed away and my eyes adjusted – I saw that I was standing exactly where Bella and I had once stood together. The view here was beautiful. The rolling fields, the farmhouses – it was all still as it had once been.

A gaping ache opened up like a wound within me. I wanted Bella like an addict wanted their fix – and for a split second I wondered whether I really wanted her, or whether it was that strange sensation of being with her that I wanted. Was it the euphoria, or love?

I shook my head, dismissing that as stupid. At this point, I figured it was probably a bit of both. No – a lot of both. I really needed Bella, and I really –

“Chaos?” a sweet voice said from beside me. I whirled, and there she was, like a mirage.

“Bella?” I grabbed her with both hands, seizing her by the shoulders. She was real! She was solid! I flung my arms around her, squeezing her in the tightest hug I could manage. She was laughing.

“Chaos? How did you get here? What are you doing?” And she pushed back, forcing me a step away from her. I didn’t care, I was filling up with her presence, feelign a strange euphoria at her presence. I just wanted to sink to my knees in the snow, as if it was the only right thing I could do in her presence.

I found myself babbling as this went through my mind. I was pawing at her hands that held me at arms’ length. “I was looking for you – they captured me – you were gone – and now you’re here – ,”

Bella chuckled. “You’re my absolute best,” she murmured, and I felt like she meant it, meant every word and meaning of it. My heart felt like it was going to explode from joy.

She finally drew me in for a slow, purposeful kiss. I wanted to cry from relief. The feel of her was a balm to my wounds – and then she drew back.

“Come with me,” she said sternly. “We can’t stay here, the humans have control of this area.”

“They do?” I asked, mind flubbering around. Of course, they had invaded. Bella had no more land – or did she?

Bella dissolved away before my eyes, her grip still firmly on my arms. When her hands went to dissolve, I began to follow.

This traveling was painless, easy, and fluid. One minute we were in the bitter snow, the next we were slowly reappearing in Bella’s living room. The same one as before, with several vampires still in it.

“I went to investigate the portal,” Bella was drawling as I finished taking full form. “And look who I found.”

There was a murmur of approval from the vampires. A glimmer of jealousy? They didn’t seem fully pleased to see me.

But Bella either didn’t care or didn’t notice. Within moments I was seated in someone else’s spot and Bella had resumed her chair. Swiftly, I was given the summary of the situation. The vampires had retained power over the city, and only the city. The humans who lived within were the reason why – the rest of Canada wasn’t sure how to control a raving bunch of awe-inspired people who insisted Bella was their god and wanted to be left alone. For now, they were being starved out in the dead of winter. The humans, in their devotion to Bella, were simply staying put and starving.

“There are many who have been taken into captivity. Those who lived outside of the city,” said one vampire angrily. “We must rescue them.” And due to the emotion in her voice – did she actually care about these humans? “They are our brothers and sisters!” she said dramatically.

“Yes, yes, all in due time,” muttered Bella, eyes staring off into the distance beyond everyone.

The vampires did not seem pleased. “There are many more who have been made captives in the earth realm, taken away,” grumbled another vampire. “We must rescue them as well.”

A smile lit up Bella’s face. “I think I know what we’re going to do next,” she said with the cheer of someone on a bright new idea.

“But the rescue missions?” whimpered the vampire who was so emotional about it all.

Bella waved her hand in dismissal. “I’m going to challenge the sky god to a duel.”

My jaw fell. She said it so lightly, so easily – but did she know what she was doing?

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Fourteen, Part Two

Alright. I was cool, I was calm, I was completely in charge. I just felt like I was freaking out, but that was a feeling, not a reality. I felt ready for a meltdown, but that was NOT going to happen. I was in control.

I breathed deeply through the nose, then let it out. Okay. Calm.

Thumping my head down onto the table, I knew I was anything but. I’d always prided myself on being an independent and self-powerful and determined person. Now I missed Bella – because she’d told me what to do? What kind of sap was I? I never needed anyone!

With a groan I told myself that I was being an idiot. A weak, spineless, gutless, flop. Who needed someone to tell them what to do? A weak person, that’s who.

I clawed at my hair. That’s it! I rose top my feet, full of a decision. I was going to get rid of Bella. The angels were right → this was a virus! She, Bella, must have infected me with something! Something that was eating away at who I was, something that was changing me in my vital essence.

I turned, and yelped, jumping almost out of my skin. Because right there, right before my nose, was Bella.

“Missed me?” she cooed, strange smile ever in place. Like she was daring me to say otherwise.

My jaw hung open. A mirage, the back of my head told me. Just a flimsy outcropping from the part of her that’s hiding within you. Not really fully there.

If ever there was a chance at me battling, taking down Bella, here it was. This was just a piece of her, after all.

Instead I felt my knees buckling as her finger pointed me down, like we were linked through a string of communication and obedience. I barely registered the cold of the floor’s tiles beneath my knees. My heart was pounding, my eyes captivated by the vision before me.

A finger caressed my cheek. “Good,” she crooned, leaning over me. The studs and buckles on her clothing glinted in the light, her smile eerie. There was no scent to her as she came to a stop directly above my face, proof that she wasn’t fully there. “I’m no virus, Chaos,” she whispered. Her touch trailed to the back of my hair and I shuddered in pleasure as it gripped in my hair, tugging just the right amount. “But you promised yourself to me. And I don’t take that lightly.”

Butterflies were filling my stomach. I felt euphoric and couldn’t blame her for that. I was so happy, but the back of my mind was screaming in fury. How could she do this to me? How indeed, except for the fact that I wanted this, needed this on a carnal level?

“Indeed,” she whispered before kissing me gently. It was chaste, short, and left me hoping for more. But then she let go of my hair and stepped back. I was free, but only in a simplistic way. Truly, her sepll was still over me.

Her smile turned wicked as she looked me over. My heart thudded in my throat and I hoped vainly that she liked what she saw.

If she’d heard my thought, she didn’t comment on it. “You’re going to go to earth and find my body,” she said, eyes lingering over my chest.

She stepped back to me. My heart skipped a beat and I craned my neck to look up at her. I felt flushed and bare from how much she was staring at me. She stooped again, reaching for my necklaces this time. With a twist of her wrist she wound the necklaces around her fist, tightening them around my throat. “No more of this backing out or being silly. You obey me.”

I caught myself nodding, hoping for a kiss. For maybe a little more.

She chuckled, drawing me from my foolish thoughts. The necklaces thudded against my chest as she let go, and she pushed my head down into a bow. The touch lifted from my head, and I saw that her boots were gone. I looked around, and she had vanished.

For a moment the happiness and elation continued. Bella had been here! To see me!

Then, like a cold deluge, the realization settled in. I was sunk. I was a failure. Either the virus was in full swing, or the part of me that loved Bella was… submissive.

I hugged myself, digging my nails painfully into my arms. What the hell?!, I asked myself. You’re better than this! Get help! Be sensible!

Squeezing my eyes shut, I knew all that. But I felt, I felt, that I could not betray her. I loved her. Deep down, as I breathed and calmed myself, I became resigned to my fate. A fate by her side, on my knees.

Yes, it was becoming clearer as I relaxed. Some spirits dedicated themselves to causes and capacities, others to the causes of larger spirits. I would be one of those. I would dedicate myself to Bella.

It wasn’t from a lack of choice, I realized as I stood to my wobbly feet. It was just that, a choice, and my head knew I was making the wrong one, but it felt so right in my core. Bella had taken hold of my heartstrings and I just couldn’t turn her away. It would gut me.

I squashed down my emotions, becoming cold and calculating in my obedience. I could do this, I knew. I would help Bella.

I fetched my weapons, grabbed a snack, and shrugged on my checkered jacket that had once belonged to Mike but was certainly mine now.

And off I went, ignoring the gaping pit that was opening up within me. At least, I told myself, if I followed Bella I might not have to face the Thunderbird tomorrow.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Fourteen, Part One

I needed to have a moment. Not just a breath of air to myself in this crowded spirit world, but I needed Bella. For a being that was right within me, I couldn’t sense her. Yeah, sure, I was getting weird impulses as if she was me, but other than that? I felt incredibly lonely. It felt as if I was missing a limb, but inside my heart.

At first I bottled myself up within my room, hoping she would, I don’t know, pop out for a chat? No such luck. I sat on my bed, at my desk, on the floor with my feet up on the wall, even tried meditating. No such fuckin’ luck. Bella was silent.

Well fuck you, I thought one minute. I don’t need her anyways.

The next minute I’d forgotten that thought and was pining away again. Where was my Bella?

A day passed. I found myself sitting in the kitchen, bored and staring at the wall. Both my parents were gone, busily off to their works/hobbies (they rather enjoyed their jobs). The moment was dull. I knew I should do something, get a haircut, file my nails, whatever but do something you know? Instead I just sat there and moped. My head ended up on the table, wrapped in my arms.

“Hey,” said a voice right as something brushed my shoulder.

“AH!” I yelled, jumping so much the chair nearly toppled over (with me in it).

“Whoah,” Al said, right beside me. Of course. Who else?

“Knock!” I snapped adjusting myself on the seat, humiliated.

“Oh, yeah,” she looked away. My anger vanished. She looked defeated. There was no bright gleam to her eyes. No pazazz to her punch, if you know what I mean. She was even slouching. Dead already uh?

I cleared my throat. Nodded to the chair beside me. “How are you?”

“I’ve heard you’re doing all good now,” she said before dropping into the chair. Then, much like me, she propped herself on an elbow. I slouched.

“Guess so,” I mumbled.

“So uh,” she looked at me. I looked away, but her words chased me. “What happened?”

I knew what she meant, really. Al was no idiot. We’d known each other for years and years and years. She must know that for me to cry over Bella was no… nothing?

But I fibbed. “I liked her.” No, I loved her. Big difference, but I wasn’t going to tell anyone that.

Al nodded. “Yeah, I could see that.”

But she wasn’t even there? She must have heard about it enough to picture it though.

“That’s all, really,” I fibbed.

“Were you dating?” Al asked dryly.

I dropped my head down. Ran a hand through my hair. The silence spoke for itself.

“Huh,” said Al. “So what, we’re seeing people now?”

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. But Al and me had never felt like a ‘we’. We’d never really been anything more than friends that people had a lot of expectations for. It had been nothing like with Bella. There just wasn’t that intimacy.

Al grunted. I stared down at the table, unable to speak from the guilt choking me. Well, was I guilty? What for? I was happy with Bella – and that should not be a crime.

I perked up. “I was happy,” I blurted, trying to put myself into words. “And I want you to be happy.”

Al just looked tired. Tired of my crap? “Really?” she asked.

I nodded. “Date people, just- we don’t have eternity, you and me. So why be miserable? Go and fall in love.”

She smiled wryly. “Excuse me if I don’t take dating advice from the guy whose girlfriend tried to shoot him.”

Ouch. “She didn’t try,” I muttered.

“She had a gun to your head,” Al snapped. “That kind of disqualifies your relationship as happy and fulfilling.”

I scowled and crossed my arms. Al gaped. “Seriously? You’re going to defend her?”

Self righteousness stiffened me. “She would never hurt me.” But I stopped my defense, because Al was laughing.

“You’re so screwed!” She said while laughing a sad, sad, laugh at me. Like she really pitied me. “You’re lucky Chaos. You’re lucky she’s gone. She could have done so much worse to you.”

Pressing my lips together, I looked down at the table, then at my lap. I wasn’t really seeing anything though, my thoughts roaring in my head that Bella was here, right here, and she could probably hear everything and –

“What happened between you two?” asked Al. “Why her?”

Because she wanted me? Because she put a part of herself into me and now there’s no going back? But I just shrugged. There was no explaining it. How could you explain the strange feelings she made rise within me, the way I knew she loved me? And then there was the time in the snowy field, where it wasn’t so extreme but I just knew we were happy together.

“Hey,” Al’s voice was softer. “If we’re friends, you can talk to me you know.”

“But I don’t want to,” I blurted. Then, seeing the hurt on Al’s face, I tried to catch myself. “I don’t want to talk to anyone, really. I just- it hurts okay?”

Al nodded. She must know what hurt means.

“So,” I tried to change conversation topic, but she again took the wheel.

“So I’ll be dating people then,” she said staunchly, as if daring me to argue. I nodded. She glared at me. “You get the fun part of telling our parents that it’s over.”

I flinched. “Why don’t we each tell our own?” I wasn’t ‘scared’ of the Thunderbird. More like, embarrassed? I didn’t want to show my face before him, nevermind tell him that after I screwed everything up royally, I was dumping his daughter → after we’ve been engaged since babyhood.

Al laughed dryly. “Nice try. But you’re the one who broke it, so you tell everyone, and you tell them why.”

I felt a surge of anger. “I told you because you’re my friend! I’m not going to tell everyone!” About me and Bella. That was private. Special. Secret.

“They’re not idiots Chaos!” she snapped back. “You tell them, or I will, and you don’t want me doing that!”

True. I thumped back against my chair, letting out a breath. I tried to relax, but I was just angry. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to run.

“Tomorrow,” Al declared, rising to her feet. “You come and tell them.” She shoved her chair in. “And you don’t leave anything out.”

I glared at her, but she marched away. Bang, the door was shut behind her. I cursed and kicked my feet at the floor, but it was useless. I was angry, screwed, and Bella wasn’t here to comfort me or give me advice. I missed her, I missed …

I blanched as I realized what exactly I missed from her. I missed feeling like she was in control of me.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Thirteen, Part Two

“If you can tell us what they believe, we may have a chance to stop her,” said the angel sternly. “We need either a tactical defeat, or a public one to prove she isn’t all that powerful.”

Yet, I added silently. Not that powerful yet. But I shook my head. I couldn’t tell them. “I wasn’t awakened, they said. So they didn’t tell me. But they were all very devoted to her.”

“We know that,” said the angel dryly. “Even you seemed quite taken by her.”

I nodded miserably. “She has a charm to her.”

“Must be quite the charm. She had a gun to your head and you didn’t seem to care.”

I didn’t answer, chewing my bottom lip. Well, bugger. Bella had quite the ambition, it would seem.

“Can you tell us anything about them? Any detail about what drove them to her?” father asked gently.

I shook my head. But I spoke. “They were all really nice. I didn’t think they were holding me hostage. They just asked me to visit around, then to walk with them to the portal where she pulled the gun out – I,” wow, it sounded stupid when I said it like that. “They were all really nice,” I repeated, defeated by those questioning glares.

“And the vampires?” asked the angel. “Did you encounter them at all?”

“It was them, they were super nice. Docile. You’d think they were tame or something.”

“Drugged, more likely,” declared the angel. “and the werewolves?”

“They were actually around the vampires. Co existing. It was – weird,” But only now that I thought back on it. How come I hadn’t noticed this as weird before? Oh yeah, I knew why. “Why hadn’t you told me that there were werewolves involved?” I hated those things!

The angel shook his head. “We had no clue that they were involved, or even missing. This has taken us quite by surprise too, you must know that.”

I hummed and nodded, pretending to care. Truth was, I didn’t. No, I felt that somewhere in my heart, we’d become divided. I just felt I couldn’t trust them, so did it matter whether they’d known about the werewolves or not? It should have, but it didn’t matter to me anymore.

The angels waited, seeming to want to prod me with something else. I raised my eyebrows at them, challenging them to spit it out.

“So, you are maybe mortal now,” said the angel testily.

Father stiffened. Mother’s expression grew dark. And you know it’s bad when the angel of life looks dark.

I guess I was supposed to squirm and look all miserable. Truth was, I couldn’t care less. I had bigger fish to fry on my plate. “Okay,” I said quietly, refusing to mention that I may have been given an antidote. Or maybe not. Who knew with Bella, really?

The angels tapped their fingers together, exchanging glances. Their leader seemed uncertain. “There is no antidote without knowing th eoriginal recipe, having the blood and intentions of the caster-”

“I know,” I said dryly. But there was a pang in me. “What about Al?”

“Definitely mortal,” said the angel without hesitation. “I’m sorry.”

I looked back down at my hands, and found that I didn’t care. I was just angry. Angry with the angels, angry with the humans – and confused. I wanted them gone. I wanted – Bella. I wanted to speak with her. To commune with her in that strange way again. To feel her presence and be comforted, truly.

But as all that went through my mind, there was no way to say it. So I just nodded and held my silence.

The angels seemed to have been waiting for something, again. I scowled at them. “Now what?”

They took it differently than I had intended. “Now, we have to find a way to stop this. You, it would seem, are our biggest ally. None of the vampires are telling us how they feel, or what it was that caused their strange behavior. They’re even coexisting near werewolves, as you say. We need to stop this-”

“Why?” I blurted. All heads turned to me. I shrugged, pretending nonchalance. “What’s so bad? So the vampires aren’t hating on their lunches. Big deal.”

Now the smallest of the angels spoke. “You idiot. Bella hasn’t been caught yet.”

There were shushes all around the table, and the sullen angel scowled around.

“Oh?” I asked, trying to sound casual and not to squirm guiltily. Like, I knew right where she was and they were all clueless.

“She vanished as she died,” said Father gently. “She didn’t come to me, and no one saw where she went.”

Probably because I was causing such a scene, and there was all the humans around to cloud the vision and make things muddy for spirits. Like finding a person in a crowded room. But hey, all she had to do was hop right into me. It probably was easy because of the bond we shared. A special bond, I liked to think.

I fidgeted. “So?”

The head angel sighed. “Chaos, I can’t tell you how dangerous she is. It is very difficult to unite the hellions. Lucifer is always struggling to keep his armies together. To disrupt this careful balance, to try and destroy the sky realms and earth realms to invade nirvana-”

“I don’t think she wanted to destroy anything,” I snapped coldly.

The angel continued. “You don’t know what she wanted. And anyone who can turn a god mortal, and goes around doing it for the sake of fun, is a problem. Is that clear?”

I pressed my lips together, knowing full well I’d just been given a black-and-white lecture. It should have been easy to understand that Bella was ‘evil’ and ‘dangerous’. But I just couldn’t. I kept thinking of her standing beside me in the snow, our shoulders nestled together as we overlooked the gentle snowy landscape.

“Chaos?”

I shook myself, looking around the table. Had I drifted off?

“I think you need to rest,” said Father gently. “Lots of rest, and to change your mind.”

“Yes,” said the angel chief promptly. He rose from his chair. “Lots of rest. For you, the adventure is over. Let us know if you feel any changes or sudden impulses. It could be invaluable information.”

“Sure,” I said lamely.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Thirteen Part One

And the story continues on! For anyone who’s wondering, my life has been pretty good lately. I’ve been working on myself, reading, and knitting up a storm. I’m surprised that I’m back to writing this story, but I feel like I just can’t leave it be! So here, enjoy!

////

I reached home with a sense of accomplishment that I didn’t want to acknowledge. I told myself it was nothing though I clearly knew it wasn’t. I told myself that my life was about to go back to normal, and prepared to pretend like none of it had happened. Except it obviously wasn’t.

“Where have you been?” asked father gently as soon as I stepped in the door.

I paused, one foot still outside in the portal-esque domain between domains. Behind father stood several large, beefy angels with their angry faces on.

“Am I in trouble?” I asked, wondering if I could outrun angels. Probably not. So I stepped fully in and shut the door behind myself.

“Of course not,” said mother icily, glaring around at the angels as if to cow them into silence. But mother, the angel of life where father was the angel of death, just didn’t have that power. People tended not to take her seriously, much to their later regret.

“We need to talk with you,” said the heaviest of the angels, crossing his arms over his chest. “And you just so happen to have woken up. Where were you?”

I instinctively pocketed my hands in search of my dice. But no, I’d lost that in the realm of the incarnates. “I uh,” I looked down at my shoes. “To tell you the truth,” I shrugged. “I went to see the vampires. Okay? And then they all woke up.”

The angels nodded. “So you woke up first.”

Uh? I blinked, looking back up. “I guess?”

The angels watched me mercilessly. “What woke you up?”

“This isn’t an interrogation!” barked mother. “He just woke up-”

“No it’s okay,” I mumbled. Feeling guilty? Maybe. “I just – woke up. And I had this urge to go walk, so I did. I felt better, you know? I feel – fine. I feel fine.”

The angels were wearing big frowns. They looked down at me like I was a sorry little scrub. Father rattled his throat. “We should all sit down for some tea. Explain some things to Chaos.”

“Yeah!” I said, suddenly bolted full of energy. “I’d like that!” And for a moment, I wasn’t sure why. Then I ignored why.

The angels scowled, but loosened up. We all crowded around a living room table, the angels looking ridiculous around our family’s mishmash of dainty doilies and dragon scultpures.

“So,” said the biggest angel as soon as we were all seated, the kettle set on the oven. “Al sent us a message that all things weren’t well while you were on mission. Then once she was shot, it was decided that you were probably being held hostage, and the rescue mission was sent – which is what happened.”

My gut twisted but I tried not to let my guilt show. They had thought I was hostage? Well- was I? I propped my chin on my palm and planted my elbows on the table.

“Who was she?” asked the angel.

Again, father cleared his throat. Mother glared at the angel. I blanked. “Who?”

“The woman who shot herself. Who was holding you hostage. Who you seemed very upset about.”

“Oh,” I ducked my head, trying to ignore the grisly image in my head. The m oment the light went out in Bella’s eyes. “Uh, well she had a name but that’s all I knew,” I said gingerly.

“What was the name?” asked the angel impatiently.

“Bella,” I mumbled, my voice croaking. “It – was after the human novel character. Twilight. You know?”

The angel nodded. Then puzzlement crossed his face. “Bella? After that character? How odd.”

“I know,” I mumbled. “She was really odd.”

“Which pantheon?” The angel continued with his investigative drill. “We haven’t heard of any demons missing from any pantheons yet.”

“She wasn’t a demon!” I barked suddenly.

The table hushed. The angels watched me. Oops. I slumped in my chair. Fiddled with a doily. “She had a blue eye. She must have been part sky realm, at least,” I mumbled, feeling guilty. They were just trying to investigate. Just trying to pierce the mystery of Bella.

I pushed the doily away. “Uh, she liked Buddha. She,” I gestured to my neck. “Wore one, and had them everywhere. Buddhas.”

The angels frowned. The big one steepled his fingers before himself. “Which one? Guan yin? Amidha? This could be important clues to which pantheon-”

“How am I to know?” I snapped, temper flaring again. “It was a Buddha! They all look the fucking same!”

Again, a pause. Again, I was swamped by guilt. “I think it was ‘the’ Buddha.” I grumbled, dropping my eyes to the table. “There was only two arms and,” I imitated the gesture. “Touching the earth and hand up.”

There was a lengthy pause. I didn’t look up.

“And?” father said gently. “What does that tell you?”

I glanced up. The angels were all glaring at me with big frowns.

“It tells us nothing,” snapped the angel in charge. “The demons Buddha defeated with that gesture were hundreds. All the demons of temptation- we can’t hunt them all down!”

I twiddled with my hair. But father nodded serenely. “And?”

The angels turned their ire to him. “And now, we have a new rebellion on our hands.”

“Rebellion?” I perked up.

All heads turned to me. “What rebellion?” I asked bluntly. “They’re all caught- aren’t they?”

“Not all,” muttered the head angel fiercely. “We have most of them in their cells, waiting to detox them from whatever poison that was slipped into them – but there were humans who were contaminated.”

I blanched, remembering the ecstatic séance in the church. A contamination? By what?

“Those humans are left in the incarnate realm and, as such, we cannot touch them. The military has taken them into custody and is studying them as we speak but -” the angel shrugged. “They don’t seem to be holding them for long. They will release them soon, and the contamination might spread.”

“Spread? What – It’s a virus?” I looked around.

The angel pressed his steepled fingers together so much the tips of his fingers were white. “Spiritually, yes. These humans – and all who came into contact with this being – seem to be possessed by strange beliefs. They are praying, believing, and by doing so are warping the fabric of the spiritual world. It was nothing but a blip at first, but since her death it has grown.”

Oh, shit. Because that’s how things worked in the spirit realm, directly influenced by the beliefs and truths on earth.

“So if this spreads,” the angel said darkly. “She will gain according power and dominion over the realms. Which could be disastrous, judging by her mental state.”

I dropped my eyes to the table again. Oh crap indeed. Bella – bella had started a new religion with herself at the center. She was not only promoting herself to deity-hood to claim certain power in the air realm, but she wanted to break into Nirvana and steal that sanctuary as well. And if she controlled the earth realm’s demons… She was going to control the three spirit realms.