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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 33

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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 33


Official Report
AEGIS Field Office
New Hebron, California

Light filtered in through the blinds illuminating the unconscious form of a woman. At first, she did not stir, but a car horn sounded in the distance and she came awake. A groan escaped her lips, and a hand came up over her eyes to shield her face. Her fingers felt wrong, but she could not say why. She lay there in a daze, not certain where she was, and, at first, who she was.

As she lay there, memories came to her, and she clenched her eyes shut just letting them wash over her like waves.

“Liv!” Amy sat bolt upright and looked around, surveilling her surroundings. An AEGIS recovery room, with the same green walls as the treatment room in which they’d housed Sapphira, but without the armored hatch.

She remembered everything until the gateway detonated in the sky over New Hebron. She didn’t even know if Sapphira survived. A sinking feeling formed in the pit of her stomach when she realized that she couldn’t sense the other’s emotions.

She cupped her face with her hands and pulled them away, glancing down at them. Now that she was a little more lucid, she realized that she was right, her fingers were different. Her heart hammering in her chest, she held them in front of her face rubbing each of her fingers with her thumbs. The digits looked identical to the way they had when Chemosh invaded her mind. Her ideal form made flesh.

The agent bit her lip and let her hands slip down her chest. Her breasts had also changed to fit the mental image of herself. Though she’d never been a great judge of size, they had grown several cup-sizes, at least.

She pulled her arms up, but stopped when she felt resistance.Tearing at the bandages around her arm, she pulled the needle free. Just as she expected, there was a sting of pain, but as her hand traced over the spot where the IV had been, she found no hole. She shook her head, convinced herself that it was her imagination and slipped her feet over the edge of the bed.

She stumbled forward, catching herself on the bed before she fell to the ground. Her center of gravity had changed, which was not something she’d expected, but she should have. After she righted herself, she stepped across the room. There were two doors one which led out and the other which led into a bathroom.

Amelia stepped inside the latter, flicked the light on and found her reflection staring back at her, and her breath catch in her throat. No longer tall and skinny, she wore the hourglass figure she’d always wanted. Her hands touched her hips, and she smiled, tears welling up in the corner of her eyes. Child-bearing hips.

Her brief merger with Sapphira had born an unexpected side-effect. Her body had changed, become softer, rounder, altogether more feminine. This unification made her complete in a way surgery and hormones never could have. She touched her belly, closing her eyes for a moment and imagined that a child growing inside her. She did not yet have confirmation that the transformation was more than skin deep, but in her heart she was certain it was.

After her transition, she told herself that she was content, and had been in a large part, but there was always a part of her that longed to fulfill a simple biological function.

She stepped up to the mirror, and with shaking hands she reached up to touch her face. It alone remained unchanged, but she could not say the same for her eyes. Where before they were hazel, now they were the same Sapphira blue as Sapphira’s. She was getting an inkling of what might have happened.

She’d merged with Sapphira and Ashtar, in body, mind and soul. The powers that the once-goddess passed down to the other exemplar had also transformed Amy. Had a portion of that spark somehow become a part of her, or was it a byproduct of their temporary merger?

Amy heard the door creak and peered over her shoulders back into the recovery room. Matthews stood in the doorway, a paper shopping bag hanging from his left hand and, he was staring at her with wide eyes. He’d lost his composure.

He cleared his throat, adjusted his tie and held the bag out to her. “My secretary was kind enough to pick up some clothing for you.”

“Sir, I gotta know. Sapphira?” Amy asked eying the bag, but not reaching for it. Her heart skipped a beat, and she waited on bated breath to hear her superior’s answer. Though it seemed like an eternity, it only took seconds for him to answer.

“Indigo Knight recovered Miss Scott same as yourself. She hasn’t left her granddaughter’s side since coming awake.”

She closed her eyes and let out a long sigh. Though she’d known the other exemplar for a short period and only admitted her feelings for Sapphira, the thought of losing her was more than she could bear. It made her heart hurt just thinking about it.

“Agent?”

Hot tears stung her eyes, and she opened them to find Matthews staring at her with a single arched eyebrow. The agent wiped the tears from her cheeks and grabbed the bag from her superior’s hands. Muttering a quick thanks under her breath, she retreated into the bathroom.

She rested her back against the door and cupped her face. The agent’s relief that Sapphira was alive, was enough to confirm something she’d already come to suspect. It happened so fast, but she could not deny her feelings. Her heart fluttered at the mere thought of the other exemplar. Not even Alex had elicited such a response and until the day she’d left Amy thought she was her soul mate.

She bit her lip and moved toward the mirror.

She let the hospital gown drop to the ground at her feet. The agent froze, staring at her reflection with a renewed appreciation for the transformation. It was not perfect, there was a little too much fat around the waist and hips, she had no thigh gap and her breasts weren’t quite round. That being said, she wouldn’t change a thing about it.

She bit her lip and pulled the clothes out of the bag. A plain white t-shirt, white panties, socks, sweatpants and a pair of slip-on loafers. Not, the first outfit she would have worn for her first jaunt in her new body, but one which would suffice for the time being. She dressed as fast as she could, but even the simple task which had long since become routine had become more difficult. Unaccustomed to her larger breasts, she found that the pressed into the fabric of the too-small shirt and it forced her to tug on the bottom hem to get it in place. Even sliding on the panties proved more difficult. She needed to tug on the elastic to stretch them over her hips. The rest of the outfit offered her little trouble although the shoes were just a little too tight and dug into her toes.

She looked up at her reflection and her cheeks burned. Her nipples were visible through the shirt, but without a bra or a bulkier shirt, she could do nothing.

She slipped back out of the bathroom and folded her arms across her chest as Matthews turned to face her.

“Sir, I, uh,” she bowed her head messaging the crest of her nose. “Sir, did the doctors examine me. I mean, do you know if I’m…” she trailed off her cheeks burning even hotter.

“Sorry, agent, we’ve been busy. Most of the medical staff is still occupied treating the wounded from the assault on the Downing building. Once they determined you weren’t injured, they moved on to the next patient. Speaking of which, Director Malcolm is on premiss and wants to debrief you once you’re ready.”

Amy nodded, but didn’t press the matter further. As much as she wawanted some sort of confirmation she would have to wait. “I’d like to speak with Liv… Sapphira first, if that’s all right, sir. I… just want to make sure he’s okay. After everything we’ve been through, I… need to see her with my own eyes.” Amy did not realize that she’d used both female and male pronouns to describe her, but Matthews picked up on it. He arched an eyebrow and then nodded.

“Malcolm’s waiting in my office, we can stop by on our way out.”

Matthews swung the door open and held his hand out motioning for the other exemplar to step through.

The agent’s heart was hammering in her chest as Matthews closed the door behind them. Though eager to see Sapphira again, it was not why her nerves were so raw. If she revealed her feelings for the other exemplar to her superior, he might have her sanctioned or worse. The agency expected transition specialists and agents to keep a distance and there were rules in place to ensure they did. There was one thing going for her. After Sapphira stormed out of her house Amy requested reassignment.

Their confrontation left a sour taste in her mouth, but now she understood that the other exemplar was not the same bigot who’d said those terrible things. Their consciousnesses had been merged for a short time. Gone was all the anger and hated that she holded onto for so long.

Even if she convinced her superiors they developed feelings for one another after she requested a transfer, there would be questions. Footnotes would be made in her personnel file, rumors would spread and she would find it difficult to advance within the agency. It might ruin her career, but she would not back down.

Amy followed Matthews down to the end of the hallway to a room on the opposite side from the one they’d exited. Someone had propped the door open, and the agent peered inside. There were two figures insides, a girl lay unconscious atop a bed, but other than a few small bruises on her face and arms she saw no injuries. Seated beside the bed Sapphira held a hand above the girl’s chest.

“The girl has been catatonic since they brought her in. Miss Scott has been in her current state for the better part of an hour.” Matthews said staring inside a frown creasing hip lips.

Amy slipped through the doorway, and reached a hand out for Sapphira, but when her hand was just inches away Matthews spoke.

“It won’t do any good. They have already made attempts to reach her.” Amy peered back over her shoulder at Matthews and nodded. Sapphira was trying to reach her granddaughter, but doubted Amy it would be easy. Amy remembered well her experiences while joined with Sapphira and Ashtar. She’d experienced things that no human alive had ever been through and her psyche must be as fragile as porcelain. She doubted that she would ever recover from the experience.

“Sir,” she turned back to Matthews hand still extended. “What about the casualties? Who did we lose?”

“We lost more than a dozen agents including Caldwell, McCall, Burley, and Payette. The clean up crew recovered Tennyo and Equalizer’s bodies a few hours ago and Borrum is still unaccounted for. Aether and Harrier are both in critical condition and the doctors tell me they may not survive.”

Amy’s her heart sunk upon hearing those names. She knew Caldwell and McCall well. Burley was a transfer from Utah and Payette a rookie who’d only been an agent for about a month. Though she only dealt with them on a handful of occasions, their deaths still came as a blow. She was encouraged to learn that Harrier and Aether survived even if they were in critical condition.

“Any signs of Chemosh or his cohort, sir?” Amy asked heart hammering in her chest.

Matthews shook his head. “No, Chemosh has not surfaced and if what Indigo Knight has told me, we may or may not hear from it again. As far as the giant goes when agents on scene stormed the building there was no body. I think it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of Garos.”

“What about Babalawo, sir?” She asked staring at her superior with wide eyes. She had mixed feelings about the exemplar. He’d saved her life, but if he survived and still under control of either Chemosh or the Gallu, he would be a liability.

“That is something you will have to see for yourself, but it will have to wait. Malcolm is waiting,” Matthews said with a shake of his head.

“No, he’s not,” a voice spoke and almost as if Matthews summoned him, the director appeared around the corner. “Matthews, why don’t you catch up on your paperwork? Agent Van den Broeke and I are due for a private conversation.”

“Yessir,” Matthews said, turned on the balls of his feet and disappeared down the hallway.

Amy folded her arms across her chest, her heart pounding inside of her chest. Though not her first encounter with the director, she had a new reason to be nervous around him.

“Let’s go for a walk,” he said holding both hands out motioning her forward. Amy complied, stepping down the corridor in the opposite direct from which she’d come.

She swallowed letting out a sigh once he stepped in sync beside her. They walked in silence, at first, but when they turned down a corner and emerged through a set of doors Matthews turned to her and smiled.

“You’ve done well agent, I couldn’t have hoped for a better turnout.”

“S-sir?” Her voice quivered. “How—”

He held a hand up and Amy clenched her jaw shut. Malcolm stopped outside a doorway and the agent eyed him with wide eyes.

“Indigo Knight has filled me in on the details, and I’ve already debriefed agent Driggs and a handful of others. What happened couldn’t have been easy on you, but regardless of whether you intend to pursue a relationship with Miss Scott you have the agency’s full blessing. As far as I’m concerned you’re above reproach.”

“Thank you sir,” she a smile touching her lips for the first time since spotting the director. “You don’t know how happy I am to hear you say that, but, sir you should be aware. I know who Indigo Knight’s true identity, sir.”

Malcolm did not speak, but rather eyed the agent like a criminal might regard a passing squad car.

“Your him, aren’t you sir? When Sapphira and I joined, we saw into Chemosh’s past. You are Moloch. Richard Downing, Indigo Knight, and Brian Malcolm, you’re all the same damned person, aren’t you?”

“Very good agent,” he said with a sad smile. “I think I know what your next question will be. “Why did I let the agency get hold of the gateway, knowing what Chemosh would do if he discovered we had it?”

He bowed his head and let out a long sigh. “I miscalculated, Ashtar left Earth ages ago, and we agreed to bury the gateway after she left. If we recovered it she would return to prevent him from taking it. I believed him less powerful than he was, I believed, if Ashtar returned it would force a confrontation and she would destroy him, but I didn’t count on his resourcefulness. If she had not passed on her spark, my mistake would have doomed us all.”

Amy swallowed and met his gaze. It was disconcerting to hear the immortal admit that so much blame rested on his shoulders. “Is Chemosh dead then?”

“I can only say one thing for certain. He did not return to the realm of the Gallu, the gateway was already too unstable. It couldn’t have maintained a connection to any place or realm for more than a few seconds at that point. The way I see it there were three possibilities, his awareness was destroyed in the energies of the portal, he was teleported to any random point in the known universe or he wound up in a parallel reality. We may never know for certain. We must remain vigilant should he ever return and even if he doesn’t there is other cause for concern. We were never recovered Garos body. He is still out there somewhere. That’s why I’m assigning you to a special detail. We’ll need our best people if either of them should return.”

“Special detail, sir?” Amelia bit her lip, her mind racing as she muddled over what Malcolm said. This man, this being, the head of a powerful government agency, wasn’t even human. What were his motives? Could he be trusted? Would anyone believe her if she tried to expose him?

“Deputy Assistant Director Matthews will provide you with the details, Special Agent in Charge Van den Broeke.”

She bit her lip and studied him. That was one hell of a promotion, she wasn’t even a senior agent. To leap all the way up to Special Agent in Charge was tantamount to a rookie cop making senior detective.

“Thank you sir, but what about Sapphira? A SAC involved with someone with his past. Doesn’t that make us a security risk?”

“You know the answer to that agent, Sapphira is a changed woman, thanks in no part to yourself. Don’t worry, I’ve lived among your kind long enough to know how to handle a matter of this delicacy. It won’t be a problem. You helped to save this city, agent, and perhaps the entire world, no one will question it.”

“And my promotion? With all due respect, sir, aren’t I a little young?”

“Age is but a number, Van den Broeke. You have already been confronted with the knowledge that humankind is not alone in the Universe and you’ve faced it with dignity and grace. You faced down an opponent many times more powerful than you. Others would have fled in terror. I need someone with the commitment you’ve shown and the willingness to do whatever is necessary.”

“Thank you,” she paused and bit her lip. There was another matter she wished to bring up, but didn’t know how to broach the subject.

She gritted her teeth and stepped toward her superior. “Sir, you know Sapphira and I merged during the confrontation with Chemosh?”

Malcolm turned back toward her and nodded. “Yes, and you want to know why, don’t you? It was Ashtar’s doing, a way of ensuring that Miss Scott would have strength to resist Chemosh. She left an imprint of herself within Sapphira’s mind to help the process along. Call it a failsafe.”

Amelia nodded, the implications of what he said frightened jer. That Ashtar would know to create such a failsafe would mean she’d somehow foreseen that someone such as herself would be both willing and able to aid Sapphira. They’d already suggested that Sapphira may have a small measure of precognitive abilities, abilities she would have inherited from Ashtar, but the pure scope of what the Director suggested was far and beyond that. AEGIS had come across a few pre-cogs over the years and they’d studied their abilities. The future was not set in stone, the further out a premonition was, the less of a chance it would happen. Could she have known for certain or was this failsafe been created on the smallest chance it might come into effect?

“Your union had another effect. Your body was changed, a transwoman does not simply grow ovaries overnight,” he said giving her a pointed look.

Amy stared back at him, wide-eyed and her jaw hanging open. “Ovaries?”

“My suit has a rudimentary bio scanner, the moment I pulled you out of the air I saw something your body had changed. Once we touched ground, I did a full scan and found your anatomy more resembled a female physique than it should have. It’s far from conclusive, mind, but the results would seem encouraging.”

“And, if it changed me, why is Sapphira still a woman? Shouldn’t he be back to being a man?”

“You keep using male pronouns, agent, but I’m not sure they apply any more, are you? Look back to what Sapphira was wearing in that recovery room, a pink blouse, the ruffled skirt, and a flower in her hair? Everett Howard never would have been caught dead wearing something like that. ”

Amy pictured Sapphira in the outfit. In an instant she realized that Malcolm was right. He was not the right pronoun, but pretty flowers and skirts was not all that marked the divergence. It was her attitude. It hadn’t happened all at once, but the biggest shift happened when the other exemplar confronted her daughter’s murderer.

“H-how? Gender identities don’t just change.”

“When Ashtar died, she passed on a piece of herself, call it her spark, to Everett Howard, it is what gave him her powers and transformed him into the beautiful young woman you love. Change, is in my nature, when my people came to this world, we adapted taking on a form indistinguishable from that of the dominant species, humans. Ashtar, with her dying breath guided Everett Howard’s physical transformation, giving him a form she hoped would help him see through the eyes of those he hated and looked down upon.”

“The mind can’t be influenced in the same way, but what the spark could not accomplish on its own it did through you. You helped guide him, reshape his opinions and when you merged, you shared a piece of yourself with him. The bond had its own effect on you, reshaping your body and granting you the form you so desperately desired. You each now carry a portion of Ashtar’s spark. Together you are stronger than you would have ever been apart.”

“A piece of myself? I don’t understand, sir.”

“I’m not sure it’s something that can be quantified, what is it that makes a woman a woman or a man a man? Why is it that some who are, as you put it, who are assigned male at birth, feel as if they should have been born female? You have been certain for as long as you can remember that you were meant to be a member of the fairer sex and because of that when you merged with the spark, you became that which you desired. Sapphira desired change, and in her mind, she thought the best way to do that was to leave her old life behind.”

“Couldn’t Sapphira, just have changed into another man? I mean, why stay a woman? You said so yourself that your people can adapt and change. Why not change again?”

“You know the answer, agent.” Malcolm smiled back at her. “And if you still haven’t reasoning it out, perhaps you should reexamine what has transpired between you and Miss Scott or, perhaps, more importantly how you feel about one another. On some level she remained Sapphira because she is in love with you and that is what she believed it would make her happy. So the spark helped her become comfortable within her skin.”

Amy eyed the once-god and swallowed hard. Should she tell him what she saw within Chemosh’s mind? That Ashtar, Chemosh and he had once been one consciousness splintered into three? What would such a realization do to him? He seemed stable enough, but what if it pushed him over the edge? She was dealing with an alien being. Chemosh was the only one of the three who remembered and she had been a homicidal maniac.

She never got the chance, Malcom turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. “There’s someone inside, I think, who could use your help. Why don’t you talk to her or would it be more appropriate to say him?”

The director took a step back and Amy stared into the doorway. A familiar figure waited inside, but she’d never expected to see the young woman again. The last time she’d laid eyes on her, the girl had been an empty husk. Left that way by the invasive consciousness of Chemosh.

“Sir, I don’t understand,” she said glancing back over her shoulder, but the director had disappeared.

A part of her wanted to chase down Malcolm, but deep down inside she knew she wouldn’t be able to find him. Whoever the director might be, whatever his intentions, there was nothing she could do about it until she better understood his motives and gather clues. He helped take down Chemosh, and that much earned him her silence. She would be watching. If he proved to be a danger, Amy would make sure he would be neutralized.

“Van den Broeke?” the girl’s studied her as entered the room, and she saw recognition mirror in her eyes. How was that possible?

“Thank god, a familiar face,” the girl said tears cascading down her face. “I’ve been telling theses assholes who I am and none of them will listen to a goddamned word I say.”

“Look,” Amy sat down at the table across from her. “I’d love to help, but you will have to help me out here. I—”

“Amelia!” The girl screamed throwing both of her hands out. “It’s me Awẹ́.”

Van den Broeke leaned back in the chair and eyed the girl between pursed lips. She thrummed her fingers on the table and let out a long sigh. “What? How?”

“I don’t know,” Awẹ́ leaned forward bowing his head and letting his hair spill over in front of his face. He didn’t bother collecting it or pulling it back over his ears, but rather sat there trembling and sobbing. When he spoke, his voice quivered, and he sobbed between sentences. “I remember losing control, watching in horror as Chemosh made me do those things. Then there was that whole thing where you and Sapphira merged, I remember my hand in your chest and then there was a lot of pain. When I came to again, I was like this, my body was gone and all that was left was my suit, drenched in that fucking green ooze.”

Amy’s recollections of being Ashira were fading, but she remembered that her amalgamated self believed Babalawo was on his way to transforming into a Gallu. When they severed the creature’s connection to Chemosh they all vanished. He must have been far enough along in his transfiguration for his body to fade away with the rest of the Gallu. How then did his consciousness end up inside the girl? Had his awareness found its own way, or was it been helped along by Malcolm? It must be the latter, the director had access to superior technology and had lived untold millennia. He must have means of transferring consciousness.

“Okay,” Amy said licking her lips and reached out to grasp Awẹ́’s hands resting atop the table. “Here’s the situation. Awẹ́ Kincaide died fighting Chemosh, and the girl whose body you now possess died a tragic death at the hands of the same entity. You don’t want to hear this, but we’ll need relocate you, give you a new identity and you live life out wearing that face.”

“What about prison? Our plea deal that just get’s swept under the table?” Awẹ́ looked up at Amy, staring at her through the curtain of hair covering her face.

“Like I said, Awẹ́ Kincaide is dead, there’s no reason to pursue criminal charges.”

“So, I’m stuck like this? Wearing this face, pretending I’m just some prissy little white frat girl?” He said shaking his head. “I know nothing about being a woman.”

Amy sighed and lowered her head, “Tell you what, I can pull some strings, you still get a new identity, but you stay in New Hebron. There’s an increased chance you’ll be recognized, but we can help negate that, dye your hair, get a haircut, maybe gain a little weight and cover your face in makeup. You’ll be assigned a transition specialist and if you like Sapphira and I can help you deal with the changes. We both have experience in that area.”

“Look like I have no choice,” Awẹ́ nodded, bitting his lips. He looked down at his breasts and cupped them. “Guess that means I will have to used to these things.”

“Yeah,” Amy nodded and put on her best smile. She stood up and put both hands on the table. “Why don’t you come with me and we can get the ball rolling?”

Awẹ́ nodded and stood up. He stared at the doorway, then with trembling hands, he pulled the hair out his face and back over his ears. He put a smile on his face as she led him away. It was a false one, but it was encouraging to see him trying.

A sob escaped the girl’s lips and Sapphira jerked back. The exemplar glanced around and scrambled to her feet, heart hammering in her chest. Her nerves were still raw from the confrontation in the Downing building, but it was her foray into Hailey’s mind that had gotten her agitated.

Hailey’s mind was chaotic, and she was teetering upon the precipice of sanity. Was it any wonder after what she had been through? Sapphira glanced over her shoulder eying the doorway before closing her eyes, emitting a long sigh and returning to her seat. Upon entering the girl’s mind she was under almost constant attack, and she could not say if the girl even knew who she was. She sensed that Hailey was lashing out, not on a rational level, but rather like a wounded animal fighting for its life.

She reached her hand out and readied herself for another try, but never had the opportunity. Hailey sat bolt upright, her eyes wild and panting, as if she’d just come up from a long dive. The girl buried her face in her palms, her whole body trembling as she sobbed into her hands.

Sapphira reach out gripping her shoulder. The girl turned and collapsed into the other’s arms and she her whole body stiffened.

“Thank you, oh god, thank you,” Hailey whisper in her ear, and the exemplar relaxed. She had waited decades for this chance and she couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

Perhaps, it was for the better, her possession had traumatized the girl in ways few others could imagine, what she needed was a simple human comfort. So, Sapphira wrapped her arms around the young woman, and just let her weep.

She didn’t know how long it was before she finally pulled away, but it seemed like hours. Hailey stared at her with wide eyes, tears still streamed down her face, but there were no sobs. She reached out to touch Sapphira’s cheek. “I remember you. You were the one who fought Chemosh. She said you were my grandfather. H-how is that possible?”

“I didn’t always look like this,” she smiled and slipped her hand over Hailey’s. “I had an encounter with Ashtar, a being with whom Chemosh shared a great deal of history. She passed on her powers and I wound up wearing this face. I can… show you.”

“Show me?” She stared at the other woman with wide eyes. “How?”

“I’m psychic, it’s an ability Ashtar passed on to me,” Sapphira replied squeezing Hailey’s hand.

The girl tensed and pulled her hand away from Sapphira’s face. “I-I’d prefer you didn’t.”

Sapphira bit her lip and smiled. She should have guessed that the girl would be uncomfortable with abilities of that sort after being possessed by Chemosh. The once-god invaded her mind and taken over her body. Though sharing memories was a different experience altogether, it might feel like an intrusion into her mind. “Okay then, I’ll just have to tell you about it.”

And so Sapphira did, explaining it all starting with Ashtar’s demise and describing her transformation. She glossed over any of the story involving Chemosh or the Gallu. The girl was fragile, she did not wish to agitate her. When the exemplar finished, Hailey bowed her head.

“W-why weren’t you ever there for me? My other grandparents always said you passed away. I-I—”

Sapphira reached her hands out clasping both of Hailey’s and she froze looking into Sapphira’s eyes. “Don’t judge them too harshly. After your mother passed away, I wasn’t exactly in the best state of mind. I was angry at the world, full of hatred and malice and not someone you would want an impressionable child spend time around. I am ashamed to say I’ve only recently come to see the error of my ways. It may not count for anything, but I’m here now and I’d like the chance to get to know you.”

Hailey bit her lip and nodded sniffling and rubbing the tears from her eyes. “I-I think I’d like that.”

Sapphira sensed a familiar presence and watched Hailey’s head turn toward the doorway. The exemplar followed her gaze and her heart hammering in her chest as she looked upon the figure standing in the doorway.

“Amy,” she whispered under her breath and rose to her feet.

Sapphira saw the differences in the agent’s appearance right off the bat. She had an inkling of what caused the changes, not that it didn’t surprise her.

Amelia stepped into the room and smiled, glanced down at her chest, her cheeks burning bright red and folded her arms across it. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything. I thought I might check in and see how you two were doing.”

Sapphira bridged the rest of the gap between them and reached out grabbing her by the shoulders. “H-how?”

“It’s complicated, but it seems when we merged it had some unforeseen side effects,” Amy said looking into Sapphira’s eyes. She leaned in close and their lips brushed, but they never touched.

“I remember you, Chemosh tried to seduce you and I saw you kissing Sapphira, but you looked different… you were taller and your figure wasn’t so…” Hailey blurted out and the pair of exemplars pulled away.

Hailey, glanced between the two of them her cheeks burning even brighter than Amelia’s. She winced, closed her eyes and held a hand up to her head. “I-I’m sorry. Everything that happened while I was possessed is so muddled… unclear. I have a hard time processing it.”

Sapphira, rushed back toward the girl’s bed and grabbed her by the shoulder. She open her eyes again and buried her head in the other’s chest. “I’m okay, it gives me a headache trying to make sense of it all.”

“I’ll be here for you,” Sapphira whispered wrapping both her arms around the girl. “We’ll make sense of it together, okay?”

Amy watched the pair and bit her lip. Circumstances had given Sapphira an opportunity to get to know her granddaughter that AEGIS would have never have otherwise allowed, but at a terrible cost. There was little she could do, and she felt that if she tried it would be an intrusion.

Amelia put a hand on Sapphira’s shoulder, stood on her toes, and kissed her on the cheek. It felt good to show affection for Sapphira and she looked forward to showing that affection in more interesting ways. For the time being, it was more than sufficient.

“I’ll see you at home,” she whispered in her ear. It was more than just a statement, but rather an invitation. After what transpired she wanted Sapphira to know she was welcome back into her house.

She pulled away, watching the pair. A tear rolled down her cheek and reached up to wipe it away. Though their bond faded after Chemosh’s defeat, she was witnessing the love of a grandfather in action. She walked toward the exit and craned her neck back around once she reached the doorway. Though the girl experienced a trauma, the likes of which few would ever understand, she sensed that everything would be okay.

She thought of Awẹ́ wondering what sort of future the former exemplar might have ahead of him. His journey would not be easy, but she would ensure AEGIS would do everything within their power to help him. He was not responsible for the acts Chemosh forced him to commit and he’d been quite heroic until the moment he lost control.

It would be hard, she understood better than anyone. She wondered if he would elect to transition or live with his new body. His transition specialist, Erin, who was meeting with him for the first time at that moment, would encourage him to try living as a woman before deciding. Though Amy had only met, the other woman once or twice she’d heard good things, and she knew he was in good hands.

She slipped out of the room, making her way down the corridor toward the administrative offices. She had a report to write.

“Sapphira Olivia Scott.” She smiled as she spoke the name, for the first time certain that it belonged to her. Everett Howard was a distant memory, a part of herself, to be sure, but she no longer identified as that person. It was an odd change, one she didn’t quite understand and yet it didn’t concern her.

She bit her lips and wondered anew if she ever would have seen the error of her ways if not for her transformation. At her core, she believed she was still the same person. Though she despised many of the things she’d once believed were virtues, she had the same capacities and susceptible to the same failing as before. She was more than capable of hate, but she let her animosity go and instead had chosen to love.

It was the day after the incident at the downing building and they’d both been so exhausted upon returning home they had collapsed into exhausted heaps. She’d thought to surprise Amy, but had been waiting for hours. Unable to bear the cold and sterile walls of the AEGIS facility, she’d come outside to bask in the setting sun, and the orange and violet hues that sparkled upon the horizon.

Ever since she’d merged with Amy, everything seemed different. She felt different. It was wonderful.

She thought of Amelia, her cheeks burning as she did so. The things she revealed to the other woman were still at the forefront of her mind. She cared for Amy. Though she loved her wife, what she felt for the other exemplar was different. It was no less passionate, but Amy was a very different person, more focused and dedicated. Her feelings for the other exemplar reflected the other’s personality as they had for Hailey’s grandmother.

She might have spent hours outside, just reveling in the scenery and the beauty of it all, but then a figure stepped out into her line of site and a smile touched her lips. The woman, dressed all in black and whites, a much too severe little ensemble, in Sapphira’s mind, but somehow it seemed to fit the woman and it didn’t seem so harsh anymore.

“Amy,” she said rising to her feet, taking care to straighten her skirt as the other woman approached.

“Liv, you… look different,” Amelia stopped just a few feet away gazing at the other woman with a single eyebrow raised. Though Sapphira had worn a few feminine outfits before, this one stood out for some reason.

“You like it? Hailey helped me put it together,” She smiled again, this time showing a lot more teeth and then winced before meeting Amelia’s gaze. “You hate it, don’t you?”

Amy shook her head and sighed. “No, it’s not that. It looks good on you, in fact,” she paused and pursed her lips. “I’d like to take you some place more private and maybe get a closer look.”

Amelia winced the moment the words left her lips. She’d never been good at playful banter, but that didn’t seem to matter to Sapphira. The other woman closed the last of the distance between the two of them and before the agent knew what had hit her, warm and soft lips lock around hers.

“Oh, I think you’ll be a little more interested in what’s underneath,” Sapphira whispered once they’d broken for air.

Amelia nodded, but instead of answering, she pulled the other woman closer and kissed her back.

The second they broke air, Amelia took Sapphira’s hand, leading her toward the parking structure. “Come on.”

Much of what they shared while they’d been merged had faded. Amelia only had a few recollections of Sapphira’s early childhood and the life she led until that moment, but she knew the other woman better than any person. Her dreams and aspirations, her likes and dislikes and her quirks and foibles were as familiar to her as her own. At the moment she understood one thing without reflecting on their moment of unity, but which came through simple intuition. She was in love with Sapphira and Amelia was certain it was mutual.

She smiled and met the other woman’s gaze. Neither spoke, neither had to. A simple look was enough. When they reached Amelia’s little home, they made love for the first time, though not the last.

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