“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Eight Part Two

My fav’ not-really-badguys more like pains in the ass characters

They were legions, they were a giant army of beautiful angelic soldiers with glistening armor, and their arrival made the earth tremble. I felt it in my gut, accompanied by a sense of impending doom. Oh, yeah, they were here.

“Lookit, the best thing we can do is find a spot to hide in and-”

Charr gave me a look. “I know these guys!” I protested.

“Just try,” she said angrily. “Just use your powers!” She lifted my arms by the wrists. It made my stomach wrench in pain. “Just – do it!”

“Charr,” I whined, dropping my arms to clutch my stomach. “I’m not Kuryo. I can’t do this. I don’t know how!” I could lift my arms all I wanted, I had no idea how Kuryo ate things!

Charr looked at me. Something shifted across her expression.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “But I can’t help you.”

Charr seized me by the arm. She began marching forward, dragging me after her. I wheezed and followed, not bothering to protest. That is, until a giant angel with only one wing landed in front of us. Smack!

The earth shook again. The armor gleamed. Flowing hair descended from the sides of the helmet and – yeah – we were about to get incinerated by that giant sword with flames all over it.

Until Charr held up a hand. “Wait!” she shouted. Then she held up my hand. “I’ve got something your leader will want! Take me to them!”

Oh no. No no no.

And that, ladies and gentlemen and all other peoples besides, was how we ended up back in hell’s living room.

It was an elaborate, fanciful room that was like a parody of a chapel. There was grotesquely sexual paintings all over the place, complete with torture scenes (because why not?) and even some pillars were, well, shaped.

And in this living room was cushions, servants, and oh yeah, my ex. And Lucifer. But I’d rather the Lying One over… Bella.

Bella was pacing in the middle of the room like a frantic cat. Her eyes were wild, her lip gnawed, and she was fidgeting with her hair. Lucifer was lounging in a chair like another kind of cat, with a glass of wine in hand.

“What is this?” Bella hissed the minute we entered.

The guard pushed us forward. Charr was still gripping my arm. I was woozy now and starting to bleed through my bandages, I was sure of it.

In Enochian, the guard explained curtly that apparently we were wanted. Bella snorted. Lucifer looked us up and down lazily.

“Well they don’t look like much,” Lucifer drawled. Bella huffed and crossed her arms.

“They’re rubbish!” she snapped. “Useless! Get rid of them!”

“Oh, sorry,” said Charr. “But you don’t want this?” and she yanked up the necklace from around my neck. The black box thingie.

Bella snorted. “What is that?”

But behind her, Lucifer tensed. His position shifted ever so slightly. Then, making sure to appear nonchalant, he relaxed.

“What is that thing?” asked Bella sharply. “A necklace?”

“It’s the power to travel to another dimension, if you dare,” said Charr angrily. “And,” she shoved me forward “I’m throwing him into the bargain.”

Bella laughed softly. “Your boyfriend? Why? You think I care?”

“He cheated on me, with you,” Charr said as I just stood there, wondering what the hell was going on. “But more importantly, when you shot him, Chaos’ soul fled. He stole Kuryo’s power and left.”

Lucifer shifted, no longer looking so relaxed. But he was behind Bella, so she was not seeing this at all. She just shrugged and said “So?”

Charr rolled her eyes like she was fed up with dealing with toddlers. “Look, are you daft? He’s useless! You left an imbalance between the dimensions, and Chaos used that to get away -” and she jabbed a finger at me. “With his powers! The necklace won’t work anymore. It belongs to Chaos now. But he’s not here, is he?”

Uhhhh. Wait a minute.

Lucifer unfurled from the chair and stalked over on impossibly high heels, swirling his glass of wine. “So what, exactly, are you suggesting?” he asked sweetly as he stepped to Bella’s side. He looped an arm around her waist and pressed into her side like they were best friends. Bella just looked uncomfortable, but too proud to admit it.

Charr lifted her chin. She was braced for war. “Bring back Chaos. The necklace will work for him, and you will have a new dimension to conquer. If you can get him to do what you want, that is.”

Bella was frowning but Lucifer’s eyes sparkled merrily. “And what do you get out of this?” he cooed. “Why are you bringing us this – gift?”

Charr smiled, and it was a bad sign. “I want revenge.” She pointed to me. “You were a waste of time, and Chaos screwed my life over. Bring him back here, and let me punish him!”

There was a pause. Lucifer was smirking. Bella looked completely nonplussed. “How are we supposed to do that?” she asked roughly. “Why would we do that for you?”

Charr opened her mouth, but Lucifer slipped in, leaning to speak near Bella’s ear. “Don’t you want all the dimensions to kneel before you? Think of it.”

“But,” Bella said hesitantly. Lucifer’s eyes narrowed dangerously. Again, Bella didn’t seem to notice, her gaze fixated on Charr, where she thought the danger was from.

Charr gestured to me. “You’ve got the necklace! Use it to undo the last spirit transfer! That’s it!”

uhh, I held my silence. Nope, I didn’t know what to do, and was heavily wondering if there even was anything I could do. Like, I could open my trap and say “I’m Chaos!” or I could shut my trap and pass off as Kuryo. One of those might just fix part of my life’s screw-ups so far. Might.

So I hunkered down, held my stomach that felt like it was being torn apart from the inside by a woodchipper, and pretended to be kuryo. Which, by the way, I was sure was not to be silent. The guy just had spunk. But I didn’t know what else to do minus being all ‘Me Kuryo! I Kuryo! Yes, yes, Kuryo!’. So I shut my trap while, essentially, I was being traded off.

Lucifer took the necklace from Charr. There was a ripple of magic through t he air as the gods’ fingers touched the black box. Oh yes, that thing just exuded magic now. SO much that – with a hiss of pain, Lucifer was forced to drop it.

The necklace hit the floor somewhere between his heels and Bella’s flat-heeled boots. She didn’t move to pick it up, just looking from it to Charr. The two women looked like they wanted to wrestle – the old fashioned way, with axes and chainsaws involved.

Lucifer, grimacing like this was the worst birthday party ever, nudged the black box with his shoe. Then, as if it was not doing what it was supposed to, he stomped on it – hard.

Charr shrieked as it shattered. Bits of black flew in all directions and there was a shudder that went through the air.

“Come here and talk!” Lucifer said to no one in particular. Or maybe- the shimmer in the air held. It vibrated, holding still. Then, it took shape.

There, off to the side so we formed a circle, appeared the beings in the suits that I had previously met at the weird beach. The man with long black hair looked pristine as ever, and the woman shimmered like she just couldn’t have enough rhinestones. She was grinning like this was the best day ever, but her eyes were vicious.

“Who goes around smashing other people’s tokens?” she asked, combing her too-long bangs back from her face. “Is this some declaration of war?”

Lucifer laughed like he was drunk at a party. “Of course not! I just really needed your attention. Lucifer, by the way, now,” he flicked a finger between himself and Bella. “We just really need the last spirit that passed from our realm to yours. How’s that?”

The orange eyed woman cocked her head to the side but didn’t say anything, grin firmly in place. Lucifer chatted on. “There’s a whole love story going on and I won’t bore you with the details but – we really need that one. So please?” he gestured to me. “Swap you with this one.”

Okay, she could drop that grin about now. But she didn’t. “The last spirit to cross the dimensions was a death. It would need a body.”

Charr held up a hand. “I’ll host. At least for now.”

Bella frowned, but didn’t speak up. The man beside the orange-eyed woman smiled, and the two of them smiling together was just – off. It boded no good.

With an opulent gesture the sparkling woman bowed, flipping her hands out before herself as if giving us an extravagant gift. “Well, if you feel like this is so serious – we will do the transfer. Take care now.”

The world slipped out from under me immediately.

One Big Ecstatic Thank You!

So, yesterday I posted about my upcoming Farfadelian novel “A Tale of Two Queens“, and Wow! Some of you actually went and bought it.

To those of you who have bought it, who are thinking of buying it, or who share about it, Thank you from the bottom of my happy little heart. I feel ecstatic that people out there think that my work is worth spending money on. I am so so happy -> so much so that I am planning a little goodie for those who bought it.

So here’s the thing. Once you buy the book (in either kindle or paperback form) contact me and tell me whether you’d like your goodie emailed to you (you will then be able to print it) or whether you’d like me to print it and then mail it to you (I will of course need your address for it, so only supply that if you’re comfortable with me knowing your address!). If you want me to mail it to you, you can also ask for me to sign it (this has 99% chance of making me feel like a popstar).

For those of you wondering about buying -> this free goodie is only available indefinitely. I have limited energy, and probably won’t keep it up for more than a month or two, at most. So if you wanted to spoil someone for the holidays (including yourself) and give them a super personalized surprise book goodie, this is your chance!

And once again, thank you so so much to all of you who have pitched in to buy the book. It means so much to me.

On another note however, it makes me wonder if anyone would be interested in buying a copy of Chaos’ novel. I would probably not sell the kindle version (unless I polish it up something awesome with hyped-up descriptions and ooh lala moments), but I think a paperback would be fun, with pictures and stuff (maybe a map? Author’s commentary?) inside!

The point is, you all give me hope for my future as an author. You make me feel like I’ve made it already. So thanks so much ❤

“A Tale of Two Queens” ~ Almost There!

Hey everyone! Wow, life has been exciting lately! And by that, I mean I’m about to publish another book!

Yes, I know, I just spammed everyone with my coloring book, BUT, I was thinking about this other book I wrote, and I was like ‘hey, I betcha I can publish that on Amazon as well’. And lo and be-HOLD, I managed! And I’m pretty proud of it. The novel “A Tale of Two Queens” is set to release on Jan 1 for digital version and hopefully within a week for print version! Click HERE to preorder the digital version!

You see, “A Tale of Two Queens” was the first Farfadel novel I ever wrote. I wrote it when I was having a very rough time, and wanted something cheerful that anyone could sink into and be happy with. No bad stuff, just happiness and shenanigans. I was very depressed, so this book was quite the respite.

What is the novel about? It’s a slow-burn romance between two magical Queens in this fairytale kingdom. It’s an enemies-to-lovers situation, as the tale starts with them waging epic war against each other in order to try and win the baby. Meanwhile everyone trapped in the valley between them (the land of Farfadel) is getting really tired of their antics, so the fairies play a little trick to force the Queens to ‘get along’. I won’t tell you more because that’s spoilers, but it’s a cheerful and happy novel! I really can’t wait to share it with you all, because I love it very much and, according to some feedback, it seems well written.

In fact, my first beta reader compared it to a mixture of Tolkien and Terry Pratchett (except, of course, with LGBT characters). Oooo, that’s a compliment I’ll never forget. 🙂

So what does this mean for the blog? Well, it means I should start spamming y’all with previews of it. But I’m SO busy with Chaos’s story and the coloring book and gah! Maybe after the holidays. Or maybe I should take a break from Chaos. I’m already on a break (again) from Ranger’s story (gah!). Or maybe I’ll just manage to pop in a chapter every week or so…

What would you like me to do? Would you like a break from Chaos’ story? Or should I just squeeze in a little bit every now and then? Are you excited for more Farfadel?

amazon cover attempt 3.jpeg

 

“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.

“Help! Opened a portal…” Part 2

I sat in the office chair, my hands clasped around a cooling cup of ‘relaxing’ tea. I would smash it against the wall if I could. But I had to look ‘presentable’ and ‘calm’ and ‘put together’. Which meant I had to look anything but like the hysterical mess I was.

After seeing my own husband possessed by a demon, I’d then seen him vanish before my very eyes. I was left screaming in the carnage. The other guards had dragged me out and gotten some fresh air into me, thankfully. Now, after a quick check-up with the healers, I was waiting on the verdict, the plan of action, from my boss.

Now, my boss being my dad (being guards ran in the family), things were conflicting. But rest assured, he had brought in his own boss on this case so everyone was thinking as straight-headed as could be. And by the time it was taking them in that office, they were brewing a proper war plan. It made me almost smile. We would rain damnation down upon those demons! How dared they, sneak in and kidnap not one, but three, of our own? Ones so peaceful and helpless too? They had certainly sealed their fate. This was war.

“Hey,” Alza drew to a stop beside me, mug in hand. She had one arm crossed across her chest, making her entire stance awkward. She didn’t want to be here, but she’d probably been told to ‘cheer me up’ or keep an eye on me or something.

“Hey,” I held up my cup in explanation. “I’m fine,” I fibbed. But what else was there to say? That I just wanted to scream at our king and Queen to send out the armies already? My children were suffering! My husband was possessed – one of the worst fates possible for an elf!

Alza nodded, but just stood there. I stared down at her feet. “Well,” she said awkwardly.

“I’ll be fine,” I repeated. It was going to be fine. I wouldn’t be allowed to join the rescue mission, but that was okay. I was too close to the situation to be cool-headed and critical. I would just stay home, find us a new home- I cricked my neck and smiled up at Alza. “I’m fine.”

She had the expression of one who was staring pestilence in the face. “Y-yeah,” she said cautiously. “Drink that tea.”

“Chipper,” I muttered half heartedly. “Just what I need.” But my hands were shaking and I fibbed the sip. My throat was dry and water would choke me.

Alza nodded some more and stared down at my boots. They were charred and burnt from my scrambling through the ash. My children were fine. They must be. The demons must have been needing them for something – they’d keep them alive for a small amount of time – we would have time to rescue them.

And if they were harmed, it would be all out war. War as we’ve never before seen…

The door to my father’s office creaked open. I jumped up, and Alza startled at my sudden movement. She was saying something placating, but behind her Father was steppign out of his office with the commissioner. I resisted trampling around Alza, instead trying to be composed. Everythign would be alright.

But Father looked dejected. The commissioner was marching away at all speeds, the edges of his robe fluttering through the corridor. Father slowly made his way over, then seemed to rethink things. He nodded at me to follow him, and he turned and stalked back into his office.

Father’s office was typical of elvish modern tastes. There was a hint of leaves and branches in the corners of the room, but the rest was clean and clinical. It was, after all, supposed to be a neutral space where even humans would feel at ease bringing their woes forward.

And father, well, he looked ancient in that ageless way elves have. But now he seemed haggard. His dark skin seemed flushed, his dreadlocks were out of place. His uniform seemed to be constricting him as he tugged at his collar and cleared his throat. We sat down.

“What’s happening? I understand you probably can’t tell me everything but I’ve got to know at least something! Who is being sent out? When are they leaving-”

Father held up both his hands, and I quieted. He was somber, but understandably so. He’d never been fond of Abeba, but even he must know the severity of the situation. “Desta,” he said solemnly. “I need you to stay calm.”

I rolled my shoulders and sat back. “I am calm. I am not worried. I know you will get them back, and everythign will be fine. This is – just a hiccup.” My voice cracked, but I nodded stiffly. Everything would be fine. The demons would be punished!

Father looked like a man facing down a great beast. Determined. “No one is being sent out,” he said sternly.

My world jarred. Impossible. What did he mean? “A covert mission?” I asked softly. Were the assassins being sent?

The muscles in his jaw worked. “There was summoning circle marked in the ashes of your house. Photographers caught the last remnants of that magic. Ancient, arcane, magic.” He took a deep breath. “Ailbhe summoned the demon who possessed him.” Another pause. “So there was no breach. The demons were invited, and we cannot blame them for doing such.”

My mind was whirling. Ancient, arcane, magic was certainly right up Abeba’s field but he certainly hadn’t willingly summoned a demon to possess him! But no breach – did that mean…

“We are not sending anyone,” Father intoned. “I am sorry, but we cannot.”

My jaw fell. “What?” I said hoarsely. “This must be some joke.”

“Your husband summoned the demons, and we are lucky that they didn’t leave the cirlce they were summoned within,” he said coldly. “We cannot risk starting a war over his foolish actions-”

“He did not do it on purpose!” I screamed. “He would never do that!”

“Desta,” father chided. “Please stay calm.”

I tried, but I was on my feet and my heart was pounding in my ears. My husband, my children – “Is no one really being sent?” I asked hoarsely, eyes transfixed on the crystals nestled among the leaves in the corner of the room.

“It cannot be risked,” he said softly. “You have to understand, peace is too fragile, and the demons haven’t done anything worthy of an attack.”

“They kidnapped my children!” I shrieked, snapping out of my haze to find my fist slamming down upon the desk. “What about them?” Surely, if not my husband, then the children! They were innocent –

But the regret in his face said it all. “I’m sorry,” he said.

A sob tore from me.

Ranger’s Story ~ Chapter Three, Part One

The next morning is misty, grey, and cool. None of the ‘Bats know this though, and it matters little to not at all. But it sets the scene. For Mars, standing before the office window that carries a view of the sky, is watching the sun rise. It unleashes ribbons of colour that part the mists over the city. But most importantly, it means that the nature of the gods has defeated true evil once more during the night and that, as ever, the days will go on.

Mars sips his cold tea, for he has finished praying. He is merely waiting for the day to start now, waiting for other mortals to crawl out of bed and- he tenses slightly. He can sense a certain someone on their way into the building. Someone who would hope to speak with him, this early in the morning? That makes it someone who thinks they know him.

Mars smirks. How amusing. He wonders what the occasion is – but is interrupted. His private phone is ringing.

Frowning, he strides to his desk and picks the phone up, switching the cheap thing on. Tea still in hand, he hums in guise of a hello.

“Sir?” it was Stephen, of course. The poor man had probably stayed up all night running the name through various databases. Well, it was his fault. He shouldn’t have started a gambling addiction in the first place.

“I – I think I’ve found your person,” he says, voice wavering.

“Oh?” Mars says coldly, harshly. He doesn’t appreciate people thinking they know what he wants.

There was a gulp. Stephen fidgeted audibly. Papers were shuffled. “Well I, I ran it through all the databases, and you know it’s not really a name? No one’s called that.”

Mars waits patiently. Idiots talked so much.

“But I, I found her. If it’s a her. I’m sending you the file right now,”

Mars hung up. Good job, Stephen.

Flicking through the applications on this terribly sub-bar phone, Mars checks the email he isn’t supposed to have. And there it is. A file with the name ‘Ranger’ on it-

“Knock knock,” a male voice says from behind him. Mars jumps, courtesy of the war. He hates people sneaking up on him.

But when he turns he is composed, not frivolous and angry.

“Ken,” he says smoothly. And he might as well be speaking with a pre-packaged plastic doll. For Ken, dear Ken, had smoothly chiseled features and a body that was once special ops. For now he was wearing a suit and a tie that was undone around the neck.

“Hey,” says Ken. And there is something else on the tip of his tongue. Ah.

Mars has seen this play out a hundred times. Ken will find Mars alone, outside of their normal meeting hours. Ken will have something special to say.

Well Mars hates emotions. He dislikes the way they get in the way, the way they turn people all mushy. So he smiles coldly to Ken. “What is it?” he asks, his words carrying magic.

Because suddenly, it strikes Ken that this is a terrible moment for this sort of thing. Not that he doubts himself and his feelings, but he fears the ensuing ‘no’ from Mars.

So Ken puts his hands in his pockets. Instead of gushing, he simply tells his boss news. How the party decisions are going. What’s their new strategy to outdo Mars in the new election?

“I think they’re going to elect me,” Ken says, and again those emotions surge, hope flutters in his stomach. Would Mars be proud of him?

Despite himself, yes, Mars is. Proud and amused, like when a puppy does their best begging trick. He smirks, seeing how this will play out. For Ken, his favorite pawn, is part of the opposition party. If Ken is the appointed leader during the next election, then, well, Mars will control even more.

How amusing. And illegal. But there was no paper trail and Ken was a most faithful lapdog. There wasn’t possibly anything that could come to light. So Mars is satisfied. Ken has done his job well.

“I am very proud of you,” Mars says, echoing the sentiments he reads fluttering about in Ken’s stomach.

Ken catches his breath. A wry smile breaks out over his features and, just for a minute, the question almost slips out.

But Mars stomps it down. “Make sure you do get elected though,” he adds in, coldly. And this was how Ken was going to do it: and he listed the things Ken had to do. How to persuade. How to show he was best.

Ken nodded, emotions all doused now. Hands in pockets, he listened attentively. In the back of his mind, he was thinking that maybe some other time would be better.

“Now go,” Mars says icily. “Before someone sees you here.”

Ken licks his lips one last time. He lifts up a hand, trying one last time.

How strange. Usually Ken doesn’t try more than twice. This displeases Mars. His eyes narrow dangerously. “Go,” he repeats.

Ken pockets his hand and nods. He knows he’s outstayed his welcome. Maybe next time…

Mars waits until Ken is gone to roll his eyes. Sentimental dolts. As if Mars would ever date his own underling. No, Ken was a hobby. A puppy. Something amusing and totally not on Mars’ intellectual level.

Which, speaking of intellect, Mars turns back to his desk where he had put down his private phone. He opens it, and once more there is Ranger’s name.

Mars sits down in his office chair, poring over the file. It’s a medical file for a psychiatric hospital known as Beelz. Beelz? Mars pauses. Beelz? He’d sent some enemies there. It was for the criminally insane.

What in Kosara’s name would Ranger be doing there?

Frowning, Mars reads through the file. Maybe it wasn’t her. Maybe Stephen needed to be threatened into doing his job better.

But the symptoms? Auditory hallucinations, delusions, catatonia. Multiple voices. Tv sending signals.

Mars scowls. This sounded like Ranger. Those damned voices. They never would talk with Mars and what was that one in particular? George? Damned annoying.

Treatment was injections due to the patient’s refusal of treatment.

Mars scrolls more. Past the long list of medicated history. Past the therapy session summaries.

What stops his impatient flicking is a picture. It makes his heart stop.

It was Ranger. Sleepy blue eyes, red hair tumbling around her oval face. Almost ten years older, but it was her.

Mars blanches. Now, really, it was hitting him. All this time, she’d been alive. He’d called off the search too soon.

Cursing, he rises from his seat. Then he pauses, gulping. He can’t just run to the hospital and release her. He needs a paper trail, maybe to decide he’s her relative or something. A way to quietly release her without anyone knowing.

So he sits back down, and begins to think.

And so begins Mars’ morning. Quietly, soothingly, with time to think things over and make wise decisions.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Four, Part Two

Wherein Chaos Regrets with the capital ‘R’ and Conan/Kuryo tries to literally shake sense into him. Hah! It all goes so well (muahahaha). And cue the entrance of (dun dun dunnn)-> the cat!

/////

The tea sat between my hands, burning hot. I barely felt it. I felt numb. My mind was whirling in circles yet I barely knew what I was thinking.

On one side, I knew very clearly that my father must have collected the souls by now. He’d know I’d killed them. But would he know I’d enjoyed it?

On the other sides, my mind was just screaming, point-blank. It made no sense. I felt panic, dread, and sick all at the same time as being inconsolably numb.

One by one the vampires were trickling away. Bella sat nearby, primly sipping her tea and smugly being smug. Conan was perched on one foot and leaning against a nearby wall, arms crossed. His eyes wouldn’t leave me. I knew why. I’d just murdered people.

Okay, hell, we can argue about whether all incarnations are as valid and bla bla bla. It’s basically the same. A soul is a soul is a soul. So yeah, I’d murdered a person.

I had the urge to vomit. One look to the side and all I could think of was that Bella would be most displeased if I puked on her carpet. She caught me eye and her smile turned so pleased, so content. I looked back at my tea. What did she want?

“Hey,” Conan was at my side, hands in his jacket pockets. He nudged my foot with a toe. “Let’s talk. Outside-”

“Why?” asked Bella so sweetly yet poisonously. “Are you avoiding me?”

Conan glared at her. I shook my head, trying to defuse the situation. “I don’t want to talk with you.”

Conan looked down at me. “Let’s talk,” he repeated.

“What, are you two in love?” Bella jeered. “Sneaking away like that-”

I was up on my feet and wasn’t sure what I’d been planning. I just was now, like I’d blacked out for a second. Trying to pull it together, I scowled at Conan. He raised his eyebrows in a silent ‘what?’.

I shook myself mentally. “I’m going to get some air.”

I shoved past Conan, wanting to throw him (and his nice face) into a garbage or something. I just wanted to be alone. In a blur I shrugged into my coat and pulled the door open with only half the coat on. I’d even forgotten to put my boots on.

And then I looked down.

“Miaouw,” said the cutest black cat I’d ever seen.

I gaped. It was small, long-haired, and pitch black with these gorgeous green eyes. It was sitting as if it had been waiting, but now that I’d opened the door it rose up, tail held high. With another pointed miaouw, it walked past me and into the house.

“A cat?” asked Bella, horrified. “A black cat?”

Fear and terror pulsed through me. Poor thing! Poor, innocent- I couldn’t let Bella hurt it. Not something so innocent.

I shut the door and whirled to see the cat marching, tail crooked up, straight towards Bella. Beside my empty chair, Conan was staring.

“A cat?” Bella repeated. “I haven’t seen one of those since the werewolves arrived!” Her eyes met mine and she asked “What’s it doing here?”

As if I should know. I gaped, mind racing. I didn’t want her to hurt it! I just – no more blood today, please!

In my useless silence, Conan spoke. “It must be an omen! A- a sign!”

Bella scoffed. “From who?” and she rose to her feet, setting down her cocoa. The cat looped around her ankles, eyes glowing up to Bella.

“It likes you,” said Conan, shell-shocked.

“Lucifer!” I spluttered. “It must be a gift!” God of witches? Black cats maybe? I was inventing, but I just didn’t want that cat killed. Please!

“Oh?” Bella looked down at the cat, her smile curious. “Come here, you.” and she stooped, scooping the cat up in her arms.

I held my breath, knowing from experience that picking up random cats usually ended badly. But not this time.

As if to add even more absurdity of the situation, the cat began purring and nuzzled Bella’s chin. Bella laughed. “Oh it’s adorable!” she cooed. Squeezing the cat to her chest she crooned. “I’m going to keep her.”

I relaxed. So did Conan. Our eyes met, then quickly parted before Bella could notice. “Good, good- choice,” said Conan.

“Oh shut up,” said Bella harshly. With a jerk of the head towards the kitchen she said “Get it some food.” To the cat she said “Mistress fuzzles must be starving. Isn’t that right?”

“Miaouw!” the cat seemed to agree with her. Bella crooned and cuddled it under her chin.

As if jerking free from some spell, Conan made for the kitchen. An idea kicked into my head. “I’ll help you,” I blurted, following after him.

We made it into the kitchen, where we were finally alone. I cornered Conan. “What’s that thing doing here?”

“I don’t know!” he hissed back, wide-eyed. Then, despite being the one in a corner, he flipped the tables by taking my shoulders and shaking me gently. “But you need to smarten up. You hear me? Don’t let her get to you like that-”

“I can hear you,” called out Bella in a sing-song voice from just beyond the kitchen’s entrance. One heartbeat later and she was in the entrance, smugly cradling the cat in her arms. The cat’s eyes seemed to glow.

Conan straightened. “You’re fucking with him!” he yelled at her. To me he said “She’s turning you into-” and he searched for a word.

“Oh, a monster? Am I corrupting poor, neutral, Chaos?” Bella faked a pout but her smirk crawled out. “Chaos, do you have any comments to that?”

“She’s turning you into something you’re not!” Conan snapped at me. He shook my shoulders again, his fingers digging into me tightly. “Did you really want to kill those people? Would you have done that without her around? I don’t think so!”

“Tsk, tsk,” Bella clucked as she stepped to my side. “A couple’s fight. Are you jealous maybe?” And she rested a shoulder against mine, eyes glued to Conan. As if it was her and me against him.

He tried to rattle me again but I smacked his hands off. “Enough!” I snapped. Then, simply because I didn’t know what else to say, I said to him “You’re not making any sense.”

Conan gave me the look people get when their bullshit detector goes off. Bella cackled. “Chaos,” she murmured, bumping her shoulder against mine. “It looks like your slave is acting out.” With relish she added “You should punish him.”

Conan and I blanched. I felt ready to shake all over – if I wasn’t already doing that. I felt sick. “Uh,” I managed.

Conan turned, grabbed a can of tuna out of the cupboard, and slammed it onto the counter. “I was just giving him advice.”

“Her,” drawled Bella. “It’s a she.”

Conan looked me up and down. “Looks like a he.”

Well that’s because, you know, gender fluid?

“She,” said Bella sharply. “I should know.”

“Really?” Conan asked me with piercing eyes. I looked away.

“Really,” Bella answered. I nodded, not daring to say anything else.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Four, Part One

The next morning I woke to someone shaking my shoulders. I jolted, but it was Conan. Conan with a very dark look on his face. At my side, Bella was fast asleep and not noticing a thing.

Conan jerked his head. “Get up,” he whispered.

I did. And I put a shirt on. Always good. Then, when they were shoved at me, my boots as well. Conan was already dressed to go outside, jacket and all. I copied him, wondering what was going on.

He held the door open and we slipped outside, Bella still asleep in the bed. I felt guilty – but reasoned with myself that we weren’t doing anything wrong. Yet.

Besides, I told myself, I was his boss. If something went wrong, I could stop him, which uh, meant that I’d be held responsible…

That thought struck me as we stepped out of the staircase into the living room. There, to my surprise, was a whole herd, flock, murder, whatever you call a group of vampires. They didn’t seem to have slept one bit.

And they didn’t say anythign either. They just stared at us. Conan marched past them without a word and made for outside. I followed, trying to act as if it was my idea and I wasn’t following my… slave? Charge? Whatever.

Outside, it was cold. Not ‘ho ho ho, merry whatever’ kind of cold. No, this was january weather. It stuck inside your nostrils and made the lungs squeeze tight. Fucking freezing.

“So what?” I snapped as I hugged myself against the cold. My words misted out between us.

Conan stepped pointedly away from the door. “I wanted to talk to you. Alone.”

I scowled. Not at all fishy.

Conan let out a breath, looking out across the cityscape. There wasn’t much to see. The snow was turning grey, the sky was grey, the buildings were grey. Ech.

“Help me escape,” conan said bluntly. “I can guarantee that whatever you want here, you’re not going to find it. Plus, I’ll pull whatever strings I can to help you with your goals. And I have some good friends.”

“I’m the Grim Reaper’s child,” I bragged. “I don’t need strings pulled for me.”

Conan looked at me, and I realized that there was no Grim Reaper in his dimension. That much was obvious from how little he cared (I hoped). That and – I was in for a speech.

“Lookit,” he started, but I cut it short.

“No,” I snapped loudly. “You listen. Shut up and do what she tells you. You’re lucky Bella chose you. So stop being an idiot-”

“Lucky?” he hissed. “You don’t mean that! You’re just jealous. Come on, you’re not an idiot. You-”

On one hand, I meant to smack him. On the other hand… I did smack him.

Maybe I really am jealous, I thought as he staggered back, clutching at his cheek. Also, he had no reflexes. Was he even a fighter?

“Mind your own business,” I hissed as he straightened, scowling at me. “And stay away from Bella.”

He looked like he had another smart comment but he held his silence now. I stepped to the door, pulled it open, and nodded at him to get inside. He did, and if looks could kill I’d be dead. Pity, but I didn’t care.

We marched back inside – and Bella was there, sitting with her adoring vampires. “Had fun?” She asked coyly over a cup of tea.

I wasn’t sure what to say. I shrugged out of my coat, hooked it up, and padded to her side. “Good morning,” I said at her side, unsure of what to do. All eyes were on me except for hers. It made me feel both heavy yet craving. I wanted her to look at me.

“The team from yesterday is waiting for their punishment,” she announced. Her eyes flicked up, then turned to me. She was smiling cruelly. “You should do it.”

I was happy – then I hit that brick wall. “Uh?” I said dumbly.

Bella’s smile was twisting like she was trying so hard not to laugh. “As my second in command, you should. They shouldn’t have let me get wounded. They need to be punished. And you’re going to do it.”

I felt like this was meaningful, very meaningful. A sort of threshold was being pushed towards me. I wasn’t sure I understood it.

Bella smiled at me expectantly. Was I supposed to say something? I hummed, then nodded. “Okay,” I said quietly.

Was it the wrong thing to say? The whole room was glaring at me. The vampires seemed – to be remembering the time they almost ate me? But Bella had this light to her eyes. She was very happy.

“They will be here soon,” one vampire intoned as Bella smugly sipped her tea.

“Okay,” I said lamely.

Silence settled. The vampires sipped what I guess was warm mugs of blood, and Bella her tea. After a moment Bella looked towards the door, where Conan was lurking with crossed arms and a scowl.

“You’ll catch a cold staying there,” she drawled.

Conan didn’t answer. Instead he leaned against the doorframe and seemed to plant himself there. Bella smirked and returned to her tea.

Time ticked by. I wished for my own cup of hot something, but no one offered to get me one and I wasn’t sure about brewing one myself. So I just stood miserably by Bella’s side.

A whole five minutes of agonizing silence later, the door swung open. Being vampires (who liked to be all ‘I am a creature of the night’ and sneak around) we didn’t hear them arrive.

There were two groups. One huddled miserably in the middle, being escorted by the second group. I felt a pang of pity for them.

Really, I almost argued on their behalf. Charr had been fast! Smart! She- But then I caught Bella’s eye. She was furious. Yep, these guys were getting punished.

Bella tapped me on the arm and motioned me to bend closer to her. I did, and she whispered in my ear. I felt her hot breath tickling my skin, but heard no words. Instead, I felt a strange almost-emptiness within myself. It was like a phantom pain, there but not tangible.

“There you go,” and Bella patted me on the arm. She was pleased. “Now,” she nodded to the group that was hanging their heads in misery. “Do it.”

Oh. I wasn’t supposed to lay a finger on them. I was supposed to use the words. Uh, okay.

Pushing aside my wonders at why Bella was doing this, I tried to focus. TO repeat those words.

Instantly, there was a shudder in the room. Vampires lurched, holding their stomachs. Others grimaced.

I repeated what I thought the words were, focusing and repeating and repeating harder and harder –

Bella’s hands slid over my shoulders, startling me out of my focus. She was now standing by my side. The vampires, all of them, were sweating and looking puky. Also very angry. Oh, so angry.

Bella whispered to me. “Focus, Chaos,” and her words sent a shiver up my spine. “Send it to only the ones who deserve it. Just them.”

She placed a hand over my heart. I felt her work through me, sending my powers out at just the one group. The words began to flow from me.

And then, like I was plunged under water, I was in the hive mind. Yet this time, it was like a web and I the spider. I could pluck strings, send messages, and shake what I wanted. Better yet, like phantom limbs, I felt the results in the vampires I was touching. I felt their agonizing pain at the punishment. I felt their insides gnawing at them with regret, revulsion, and all consuming grief.

It was sadistically euphoric. I pushed, shook them harder through the words, and their souls gave way. They were soft like butter, molding to my command and grieving ever more.

It was like I was filling them with darkness, with pain. I loved it, watching their souls weep and squirm feebly, all the power and momentum coming into me.

I felt so powerful. I drank at their pain, wishing more and more onto them.

One by one, they collapsed into their misery. I wrung them until their souls began to break apart in misery, sheer grief and pain cutting them apart.

There was a shriek, a gurgling cry of despair as one shattered. It sent a rush of euphoria through me. I was powerful. I was in command over their very souls! I-

Bella’s touch left my chest but it was a faint sensation. I felt completely engrossed by my high, by this power. I began reaching for other souls to wring, to command. I wanted to flex my power, to feel it even stronger.

I gripped several new souls – then was slapped hard across the face.

I staggered back, mind reeling at the sudden mind-body connection. I bumped into a chair, and my body was numb. Bella was before me though, patting my shoulders.

“Good job, Chaos,” she was crooning. Her fingers caressed my shoulders and seemed to pull me together. “You’ve done well.”

And she stepped aside. Behind her was a circle of terrified vampires. The ones in the middle had collapsed. They lay on the floor, lifeless.

My mind yanked to a halt. Did I- no. no no no. I wasn’t a monster. I wouldn’t have-

“You punished them,” Bella said sweetly. “Very well done, perfect.”

The others were too terrified to say a word against that. My mind reeled, casting around for someone, anyone, to anchor me. Someone to snap me back to reality.

I landed mentally on Conan. Our gazes met, and he reminded me of my father for a split second. He was disapproving. Very, very, disapproving. Also not one bit afraid.

“You should rest,” Bella crooned, smoothing her palms over my shoulders. “Have some breakfast.”

Lickety split, three vampires went to make me food.

Ranger’s Story – Chapter Two Part One

Now in this part, we get to meet Ryo (I think it’s actually supposed to be pronounced with an ‘l’ instead of an ‘r’). No picture today because I’m tired and it’s late. But I will hopefully post a picture of him sooner or later! He’s an old character too. If we were to put everyone in sequence of age, Ranger and Mars would be oldest, followed by Ursula and Allegra then Ryo. Lenda is by far the youngest, being only a few years old, compared to Ranger being a character from my childhood (really! Parts of this story are that old!). As much as Ryo is important, I’m not sure what to say about him. He’s funky, in so many ways Allegra’s opposite, all while sharing the same core elements as her. He’s definitely nowhere on the ‘normal person’ spectrum, being way off on the horizon of weirdos that I love to write about. That being said, no spoilers! One day I would love to write the backstory of Allegra and Ryo, so I don’t want to say too much and give it all away. But ahhhh, I want to say it all!

I really hope you all enjoy this chapter! 🙂

///////

It was the middle of the night when Allegra and her team of cronies rolled down a dusty country road that, seemingly, led straight off a cliff. Not even a warning sign!

Now, really, the lack of a sign was a sign in itself. It showed that this road was not exactly touched by the government’s meddling hyper-organizing touch. It showed that that old picket there? Well if you slowed next to it like Allegra was doing and held your wrist out, a light flashed and it beeped. Then, with a rustle and groan, a slab slid out from the cliff’s edge. It functioned like a very risky elevator, what with there being no walls and all. It always gave Lenda the creeps, being perched above the gaping maw of this cliff with no walls to hold her in.

Without a ding the platform had reached its destination. It was a hole, a cavern in the rock wall that looked like little more than a nook. Ah but it was a hologram!

Very expensive, all this. One might wonder how it came to be? Well here’s the thing. It was a pre-Ursula secret training base for special forces soldiers. Ursula had taken it over for her special force (the ‘Bats) and they, well, gave it a makeover.

It did not appear like much in the hangar where they parked their motorcycles. There, it was merely a hangar. But when they slipped through a door on the side and entered the base de facto, ah, all that grease and iron tang was left behind.

Imagine, if you will, that your esoteric aunt had joined the militia. That was sort of the ‘vibe’ of the place.

For crystals were set in nooks in the wall as energy sources. Military vows lined the walls right next to them. There was an aura of energy and magic to the air that one could sense like a crackle in the veins, amplified by the steel structures.

And yet Allegra was not pleased. The energy was not what it could be, was not at its peak performance. There was dust on the crystals, garbage in the pails.

No one noticed her slight frown of displeasure. For the ‘Bats were largely out of shape intuitively and really, they thought Allegra would be happy at how they survived without her. When Allegra reached the mess hall where the rest of the other fifty some odd ‘Bats were waiting for her, there was nothing but open joy in the air. They didn’t notice that her smile seemed strained, that she seemed largely annoyed at the fuss they were throwing about her return. She kept casting her eyes around, searching for someone who she knew wasn’t there. She, with her heightened senses (more on this later) could smell that he wasn’t in the room.

After an obligatory hour and a half of presence, Allegra excused herself. She was tired and, clapping Alex on the shoulder, announced that tomorrow was going to be a big day! Those near her cheered, thinking that she would be so pleased to know all that they had done!

And so Allegra slipped away, heading in the direction of the rooms for officers. And yet when she was sure no one was following her, she took the elevator and pressed the button for the lowest level.

The lowest level was the safest in case of an invasion, being quietly tucked away. It also had the swiftest evacuation maneouvers to do, what with a flight of stairs leading straight out into a hidden network of caves. Because here, in the lowest and most secret level, was the laboratory. It was sealed off from the rest of the base by a set of protective doors. Again, Allegra showed her wrist, and she was allowed through.

Cubicles and computers were shunted to one side. Technology and motorcycle pieces to the other. Laboratory this and that in the middle with air chutes. And, tucked as far away as could be, with a small partition to shelter him from the day-to-day bustle of the laboratory, was Ryo.

He was slim, frail and lithe. His cheekbones jutted and his brown eyes glimmered with sickness. If he were to stand, he would be Allegra’s height. But he was sitting, loosely wrapped in deep green harem pants and a brown-orange prayer shawl. Prayer beads were on his wrist.

Allegra didn’t knock, merely leaning against the partition and crossing her arms. Ryo didn’t look up. He was sitting, a needle in his arm while medication dripped in through a saline solution. A scent of incense surrounded him but to Allegra, it wasn’t enough to cover the stench of medication and sickness.

“That’s more than you used to take,” she said in a low tone.

Ryo nodded, pressing his lips together. He looked up from the corner of his eye. “Anxiety,” was all he said.

Allegra shifted. One step closer, and she reached to stroke his hair. Her fingers caressed down the scar on his cheek, then turned his chin to face her. “I’m back,” she said firmly.

A smile ghosted over his lips. “Yeah,” he said softly. He leaned into her touch, relaxing visibly. She stepped closer, sliding her arms around his shoulders in an embrace.

They stayed like that, embracing for a moment. Allegra rubbed his shoulders and Ryo closed his eyes. “I wanted to ask you something,” he said softly, so quietly others might not have heard it.

A smile curved Allegra’s lips. “Hmm?” she hummed, still holding him close.

He drew back. Took her hands in his. His smile sparkled up at her, but there was fear in his eyes. “Will you marry me?” he asked in that same, quiet, tone.

Allegra’s eyebrows jumped off her forehead. Her dangerous eyes widened. She didn’t say anything.

Ryo flustered. “Please?” he offered.

Allegra was in no mood for ‘please’. “You wanted to become a monk,” she said dryly. “That was the plan.” That some day he would leave her for solitude, peace, and inner growth.

He bowed his head over their hands. She hadn’t let go yet. “I’ve been a monk for three years,” he murmured, caressing her hands in his. “And I’ve missed you so much.”

Allegra’s face softened. Ryo took a deep breath. “I want to marry you,” he insisted. “I’ve thought about it, I’ve meditated on it,”

Allegra’s eyebrows were now amused. When Ryo said he meditated on something, that meant it was serious.

“And I-I,” he faltered, looking up at her again. “Won’t you say something?”

Allegra turned wry. She was sorely tempted to give Ryo back one of his speeches on the virtues of monastic life and its importance in one’s life cycles. But she was better than that. “Yes,” she said pointedly. “I’ll marry you, my monk.”

Ryo’s face lit up. “Really?”

“Yes,” Allegra nodded sternly. “But no more talk about leaving me again.”

Ryo grinned, ducking his head. “Yes,” he said.

“Good,” Allegra tugged on his hands. “Get up. Someone’s going to be coming along.” She nodded at his arm. The medication had run its path. “Needle out first,” she ordered.

The needle came out. She helped him to his feet, looping one of his arms around her shoulder as if to half carry him.

But first, a kiss. A happy, passionate, kiss.

Then, Ryo wobbling and Allegra smiling, they made their way to her bedroom. There, they locked the world out. And we shall leave them there.

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

“Okay, I know what we need to do.” Charr had retreated to the bedroom and was now reappearing fully dressed in a red flannel button-up shirt with black jeans. She picked up a pair of solid looking boots from near the door and began putting them on. “We need to go see the principals.”

“Who?” I asked.

“The principals? They used to run the Academy?”

I looked back blankly, holding out my hands. She shook her head. “There wasn’t an academy somewhere in your world?”

“We have schools, if that’s what you’re saying. A ton of them. That makes a ton of principals, by the way.”

She straightened, shaking her head. “The Academy was something different. Nevermind. We’ve got to go see them.”

Oh hey, wait a minute. I drew the sigil from my pocket. “I might be able to get back!” I exclaimed. “Hold on to me!”

With a frown she put her hand on my shoulder. I squeezed my eyes shut and visualized the sigil with all my might.

No nausea. No movement. No luck. I opened my eyes to see Charr looking grimly at me. We were still in her dinky apartment. She let go of my shoulder. “Seems like your bus pass doesn’t cover inter-dimensional travel,” she said with a hint of kindness. “Now come on.” She lifted a necklace from under her shirt, and at the end was a small black box. “We need to see the principals.”

Well her bus pass worked, so to speak. Within a blink, a burst of giddiness, and a whirl of darkness, we were on a beach. It was boiling hot, and that’s coming from someone who lived in hell.

“Oh hey!” there was two figures standing under a parasol, in suits. Suits? They looked like two government agents here to spy on what it means to have a good time. They had sunglasses, drinks, and one of them, the woman, had sequins and rhinestones on her suit. Her hair was chin-length, like almost every other woman in the universe seemed to have. The man had hair that swung down around his hips. Both were raven haired and atrociously pale. Vampires maybe?

The one with the sequins waved at us dramatically. “Darlings! I knew you’d be coming by!”

Charr didn’t even look around, she just marched towards them. I looked around. Where was this place? The sky – whoah. It was bright daylight down here, but up there – night sky. How? I looked around and yeah, there was ocean and beach and trees, no civilization in sight except for the drinks plopped in the sand in the shade.

“Where’s Kuryo?” Charr was asking her questions, but in my head I was all ‘where’s here’?

Deciding I wouldn’t figure out much on my own, I walked over to the trio. The woman in the sequins was laughing. “How should I know?” At my arrival, silence settled. The woman sucked in her breath. “Look,” she turned to Charr. “You can’t take something without leaving something else. A vaccuum gets created so -” she gestured to me “It’s kind of like a body swap.”

“We can send you,” said the man in a soothing tone to Charr. I got the feeling he was the nice, sympathetic one, while the woman was… the bozo?

“Oh, yeah,” said the woman emphatically. “we were telling you that there was work to be done in that dimension but no-o, who wanted to stay home and leave it all alone?”

“We’re not yours to send around! We have lives!” Charr snapped.

Both agents looked pitifully at Charr. The man held his silence pointedly, the woman did not. “Yeah, well you try and see how messy things get if no one does anything. So,” she combed her long bangs out of her face. “You want a ride or what?”

“Yes,” said Charr angrily. “And you help us get Kuryo back.”

“No we don’t interfere, you know that,” the woman said cheerfully. “It’s a law of the universe that the hearts remain detached-”

“Bullshit,” muttered Charr angrily.

The woman laughed. Charr bristled. I was uncomfortable. “Who are you all?” I asked pointedly. “Gods?” I tried to sound relaxed and detached, but everything in me was bristling. They didn’t feel like gods. They felt different somehow.

Again, the woman laughed. Charr ignored her with a scowl. “No they’re not,” she muttered angrily. “Look let’s just go? We can talk about this later.”

“Cheerio darlings!” said the woman, clapping a hand on each of our shoulders.

Just like that, the world lurched. I saw darkness, was gliding through silky darkness that curled around me like silky tendrils – then WHAM! I landed face-first in snow. Cold snow.

“Buh!” I floundered, trying to find my legs. My arms broke through a crust of hardened ice atop the snow and I felt like I was drowning. A world of blinding white was opened up before me with a crisp blue sky. I staggered to my legs. Where was my coat?

Charr was already on her feet, tense and looking around. Imitating her, I did the same, hoping to recognize the place. No such luck. We were in a non-descript valley dotted with pine trees around the edges. Farmhouses were visible on the horizon, where a mountain rose. “We’re uh, probably somewhere near the vampire territory.”

Charr gave me a dark look. “Is that near where Kuryo is?”

I nodded. “Someone will have sensed our arrival- either the military or Bella. We can just wait here and we’ll get picked up soon.”

“By whom? Which one do we need?”

I balked. Uh, I wasn’t sure? “Well I’d rather go see Bella, and you want to see your boyfriend so,” I shrugged. “We hope for vampires?”

Charr gave me a narrow look. “You don’t seem like you have a plan.”

I grinned nervously.