The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 7 Pt 3
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 7 Pt 2
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 7 Pt 1
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 2
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 1
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 5 Pt 3
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 5 Pt 2
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 5 Pt 1
Santa Babe 2: Elfsurrection
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 4 Pt 4


The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 7 Pt 3


Official Report
State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho

Gunfire rang out all around them, and Kruhl rushed forward on all-fours, springing into the Pygmy in a single bound. Amy hesitated only a second before following the other and slamming the door shut behind her.

“Hold on to your asses,” their rescuer said, pounding her foot on the gas and the old SUV lurched forward, rock-climbing tires squealing as it blazed a trail through the volley of bullets that rained down upon the ground.

Amy grabbed Kruhl by the front of her shirt, pulling her down and out of sight. “Stay down,” she hissed in her ear. “You’ll be dead real quick if one of those bullets hits you in the head.”

Amy doubted that the former warrior king had any idea what a bullet was, but as such things go, it was hard to mistake her meaning for anything but a warning of danger. Kruhl nodded, as the Pygmy’s engine roared, and their mysterious new friend took it out on the open road.

Amy craned her neck around, staring back as several police cars swerved out of the parking lot behind them in pursuit. She swallowed, staring at them, her jaw tight and a fire burning in her eyes.

She didn’t understand what happened, but her instincts told her she was being manipulated and she always trusted her gut. That being said, survival was her primary concern at the moment. Anything else would have to take a back seat.

Pygmys were many things, but they were not renowned for their speed. Their rescuer flattened the gas pedal against the floor, but the police still gained on them. If they were to escape, it would not be by outrunning their pursuers.

The agent focused all her will, extending her senses out. A bird flew above the car out of her range of vision, but she sensed it soaring on a pocket of air. It’s hunger was so palatable to her it seemed as if it were her own. It’s eyes pierced the clear blue sky seeking out it’s next meal.

A man stood by the roadside just a short distance away. His thoughts were easy to read. The chase brought a thousand wild different possibilities to his mind. Were they bank robbers or perhaps murder—

Amy shook her head and forced his thoughts out of her head. She had access to a new world of thoughts, feelings and impressions. She could spend days using her newfound abilities to pry at every little detail, but she would not allow herself to get distracted.

She focused her will on the foremost of the pursuing cars. Bracing herself, she reached inside the cab and pushed down on the brake pedal with her mind. The vehicle came to a screeching halt and the one behind it, unprepared for its abrupt stop, plowed into it, shredding through the bumper.

“Shit, how the hell did you do that?”

Amy blinked, regarding the woman, and massaged her temples, her whole head throbbing in pain. “I, uh, I—” She managed only a few syllables before she doubled over, the world beginning to spin.

Kruhl touched her shoulder, but she had already drifted away. The driver licked her lips and cursed under her breath.

“Is she all right, I mean did she—” She left the question unfinished, but Kruhl seemed to understand.

Kruhl regarded Amy’s inert form sprawled across the passengers seat, turning her head, luminous eyes gleaming.

“She breathes,” the girl turned her gaze on the mysterious woman.

“Well, Andy’s not the only one with a few tricks up her sleeve.” She glanced at Kruhl, a toothy grin spreading across her face as she slid a hand free of the steering wheel, clasping it over her throat.

A dark morass rippled across her eyes until they turned a deep depthless black and an inky haze billowed out through the cracks between her fingers. It oozed out the windows, flowed along the side of the SUV and shot out until it spanned the length of the street and until it disappeared into the horizon.

Nothing was visible beyond the wall of dark mist. Even the red and blue of the police lights did not penetrate the haze, but the wail of their sirens was still audible. That too soon faded before dying away.

When she dropped her hands, the smoggy vapor continued spilling out between the cracks in her fingers and her eyes remained black.

The woman turned the steering wheel, veering off into an underground parking garage and shut the engine down, after finding a suitable parking spot.

“We’ll need to find another ride,” she offered as if by way of explanation her eyes returning to their previous emerald shade.

Again Kruhl only nodded, she sprang out of the vehicle, moving to help the other woman lift Amelia’s inert form from within the Pygmy. She had so many questions, but not regarding what the outside observer ignorant of her background might suppose. She came from a world where magic was commonplace and in which Sorceresses and Sorcerers regularly exercised their magics. The powers she’d just witnessed being wielded were impressive, but she had seen similar acts performed before.

No, the questions which most puzzled the former warrior king were, who chased them, how the strange boxy carriages within which they rode propeled themselves without some kind of beast of burden to pull them, and who was this woman that had come to their aid?

She did not press the woman for details, she would question her later when she was certain they were safe. Then, she narrowed her eyes studying woman’s lanky form, she would get some answers.

Sapphira Olivia Scott stopped massaging her temples and sank her teeth into her lower lip. A sudden flood of emotions washed across her like a heavy downpour. She stopped, closed her eyes, and planted one hand against the wall to steady herself.

“Amy,” she whispered her lover’s name. Though what she sensed were not actual thoughts, Sapphira was familiar enough with the other to know whose mind she’d touched. Fear, anger, and grief came rolling into her on a tide that threatened to pull her under.

“Liv?” A voice spoke out and she snapped her eyes back open. Hailey had her hand on Sapphira’s shoulder and the exemplar bit the inside of her cheek, peering at the girl who, despite all evidence to the contrary, was her granddaughter.

They appeared close to the same age, though most would guess that Sapphira was a few years older. They were both attractive, but that was where any similarities ended. Sapphira towered over her granddaughter and possessed an hourglass figure the envy of so many others, while the other woman’s frame was slight, and though far from pale, she appeared quite ashen when she stood next to Sapphira with her chocolate brown complexion.

Not so long ago, Sapphira had gone by the name Everett Howard and had been well into her twilight years. Though she could never know if it was her intention, Ashtar gave her a new life and a younger body when she passed her powers onto her. Though it took some time for her to shed her old prejudices and accept the changes, it gave her the chance to reconnect with Hailey and win Amelia’s love.

“Liv!” Ashley repeated, echoing the first girl.

At first Liv had been Amelia’s own little pet name for her, but the other girl’s took a liking to the moniker and somehow it became the norm.

Both girl’s stood on either side of her and Jenn, Hailey’s girlfriend, positioned herself just a few steps away, twirling a finger through her long electric-blue hair, something she did when unsure what to do with herself.

“I-I’m fine,” she held up a hand to ward the three girl’s off, “but I think Amy might be in trouble.”

She regarded Jenn, and bit her lip, realizing she’d let something slip out she shouldn’t. Among them, only Jenn was ignorant of Sapphira’s true origins and powers, but back pedaling now would draw suspicion.

Jenn raised an eyebrow and pressed her lips together, but didn’t force the matter, instead folding her arms across her chest. It was Ashley that spoke next, casting a furtive glance at the other girl. “What do you mean?”

Sapphira regarded the leggy blonde, reminded of her origins that so closely mirrored her own. Ashley had once been a bit of a rival and sometimes ally, a super-powered bank robber with a penchant for rescuing ladies in distress who fancied Sapphira. Of course, that had been before she came to inhabit the body of the nubile young lady. Back when they first met she’d been a ‘he’ who’d been very proud of his African heritage.

Before she uttered a reply, the ring from an old-fashioned rotary telephone resounded from Sapphira’s pants pocket. Everyone froze, recognizing it at once as her ringtone. Without a word, she slipped one hand into her pocket to retrieve her Mittsuhoshi smartphone.

The number arrayed across the screen was not one which she recognized, but it had the same area code as Amy’s hotel. She doubted it was a coincidence that she would receive a call from the same region just moments after sensing such strong emotions from her life partner. She swallowed, swiped her finger over the display and put the phone to her ear.


At first, there no answer came, but then an ear-splitting screech sounded through the earpiece. A wave of dizziness washed over her and before she knew what happened, her head hit the floor. The last words she heard were the other women calling her name before the darkness swept her away.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 7 Pt 2


Official Report
State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho

Van den Broeke swallowed, her back to the wall and bit her lip, eying Rathdrum who’d taken a similar pose on the other side of the doorway. 

The other agent shook his head, and Amy licked her lips. She’d emptied all of her first clip and most of her spare when firing on Shanderly, and it seemed that Carter was in a similar predicament. 

“This could be it,” Carter said, his voice strangely calm as he turned his steel-grey eyes on her. “It’s been a pleasure serving with you Van den Broeke.”

“We’re not dead yet agent,” Amy cocked an eyebrow, a worn smile creasing her lips. 

Though she saw no means out of their predicament, she would not voice her disquiet. They were trapped inside a room with only one exit and God knows how many armed assailants bearing down on them from without. It was a miracle they’d survived Shanderly’s attack, but she doubted they would defy the odds again. If she were to go down, it would not be without a fight.

She glanced back at Kruhl. The girl’s slight form was hunched down against the wall, golden eyes luminescing in the darkness.  Though she returned her attention to the doorway, she pondered what the other must think. If she was from a more primitive world, as Amy suspected, she had seen nothing like their handguns. 

Before she finished ruminating, the first of their attackers rushed through the door. Rathdrum downed him with a single shot to the head, but two more took his place. They were wearing full-body tactical gear and moved with the fluidity and ease of battle-hardened soldiers. Both agents opened fire, but while they downed a few, they were quickly outnumbered. Worse yet, they were out of ammunition.

Amy dropped her gun, and Rathdrum did the same a moment later, each holding up their hands in surrender. The foremost of the assailants held an arm up signaling the others to stop and reached up with both hands to pull off her face mask. Steel-blue eyes peered back at her, and Amelia’s breath caught in her throat. It was Gwyneth Avery.

“Amelia van den Broeke, Carter Rathdrum, you are under arrest for the murder of Thomas Shanderly.” She stated in a cold flat voice, without once glancing at the deputy’s corpse.

Avery glared down at them, hands on her hips. Her eyes were distant, seeming to look past them and into some distant horizon that only she could see. There was a glossy quality to them, as if she’d been drugged. It raised the shackles on the back of Amy’s neck, and she shivered with the realization that the older woman was being influenced.

Amelia did not speak, peering at the chief with lips pressed together in a thin line. The tactical gear she and her minions wore was a little too sophisticated for a Tondzaosha cop. It was of the type used by AEGIS personnel and big city SWAT teams. The semi-automatic rifle she bore went for around fifteen-hundred dollars, which was well outside the budget of a small-town police force.

“A little outside your jurisdiction, aren’t you chief?” Rathdrum demanded, glaring up at the woman. His eyebrows shot so far up his brow Amy thought they might disappear into his close-cropped hair.

The chief clenched her jaw, anger smoldering in her eyes. She lifted her weapon, and a flash of movement caught Amelia’s attention. A delicate form pounced on all fours, a shriek of rage emitting from the attacker’s throat. Before the chief opened fire, Kruhl was on her, fingers raking her face like claws.

Avery shrieked out a cry, so full of rage and hatred it wasn’t even recognizable as human, and grappled with Kruhl. Hands finding purchase on her shoulders, she flung the girl away with a second, louder howl.

She again raised her rifle, no doubt to fire on the girl, but Rathdrum was already moving forward, his larger frame intersecting the two combatants. He dove forward, but Avery’s finger had already squeezed the trigger. A barrage of bullets pummeled his mid-section, each landing home with a spurt of blood. 

Amy cried out and ran forward. Gunfire rang through the air and she flung her palms out as if to shield herself. Everything froze in place, bullets stopping in mid-air, attackers standing so still they may as well have ben mannequins.

A new awareness bloomed within her. She didn’t just see and hear those around them, but felt them too. Every molecule, every cell within their attackers’ bodies registered within her awareness. The very walls themselves, having once seemed so flat and devoid, were teaming with life. Bacteria, germs, and other microorganisms swarmed across its surface oblivious to the massive entities that shared their space. 

Bullets hung in the open air, frozen in place by Amelia’s will. She stood there peering down at her hands, realization at last dawning on her. She had experienced an awakening of sorts, the same kind that her lover had undergone. It was how she walked away without a single bruise after being thrown across the evidence locker, and, she added, it was what had caused her transformation all those months ago. She didn’t understand why it had taken so long for her powers to come awake, when Sapphira’s had lasted mere hours, but she was damn well going to make use of it. Now if she could just figure out how…

“What the—” Avery stopped leaving the sentence unfinished eyes locking onto Amelia.

Amy clenched her jaw, focusing all her will on the bullets, sensing the texture and weight of the metal with her mind. She closed her hand into a fist, and watched the projectiles fall, one by one.

She cocked her head, eyes never once leaving the chief, and cocked her eyebrows in challenge. In answer, Avery rushed forward, pulling a knife from her boot. Amy was ready for her. She threw out an open hand and sent her flying into the opposite wall. The impact produced a lout thump, and the other woman slumped to the ground unconscious. 

Amelia extended her senses, feeling for signs of life in Rathdrum, thinking perhaps she might heal him as Sapphira had once healed her, but his heart was still. 

Hot tears stung her cheeks as she rounded on the remain attackers, surging toward them, fury building inside of her. She took one step toward them, and they bolted for the doorway. The last to exit possessed enough presence of mind to slam the door shut as he departed. Not that it would be much of an impedance to Amelia in her present state, but she had other plans.

She fell to her knees at Rathdrum’s side. She didn’t check for a pulse, she needed no confirmation. Instead, she placed two opened hands upon his chest and closed her eyelids.  

She reached out, extending her senses into his body, probing each of the bullet wounds, first drawing the projectiles free, then willed the flesh to mend, but nothing happened. She reached further, bidding his dying cells to do something, but they did not respond. 

Her mind raced. Why wouldn’t it work? Was it because he was already dead, or was there too much damage? Or, she added her heart sinking as she considered the possibility, perhaps she did not possess the same ability set as Sapphira.

A weight touched her shoulders and she turned to peer into Kruhl’s strange luminous eyes. “He is dead,” the other woman whispered. “We need to leave before they return for us.”

Amelia nodded, slipped her hands over his still open eyes and closed them. “I’m sorry, Carter. I promise your death won’t be for nothing.”

She wrenched herself away, rose to her feet, a sob escaping her lips as she fought back tears. She shook her head and faced away from him, eyes scanning the door. The longer they stayed, the more likely their attackers would return, but could they dare leave through the hallway? It would be far too easy for someone to pick them off in such tight confines.

Clenching her teeth, the agent spun around on the balls of her feet, fist clenched at her side, decided on a course of action. She threw one hand out, sent a wave of telekinetic force toward the exterior wall and grunted from the effort. The sheetrock rippled and exploded with so much concussive force that it shook the whole room. 

The agent threw her hand up to shield her eyes from the fragments of wood and sheetrock that came raining back on them and rushed forward, slipping through the opening before the dust had even settled. Kruhl followed in her wake, strange eyes scanning her surroundings.

They’d come out on the far side of the parking lot, splashes of red and blue colors illuminated the walls in the fading daylight. Police cars ringed the parking lot, and dozens of armed officers stood ready, weapons drawn.

Amy raised her open palm and swallowed hard, preparing for another attack. Kruhl ducked behind her, a low-rumbling growl coming from her throat. There was a moment of silence. The police froze, perhaps surprised by the odd duo’s sudden appearance.

At last a car horn sounded from the street beyond and a battered old Leland Quad bashed its way through the line of police cars and swerved toward the pair of escapees. The vehicle jerked sideway, tires screeched as it came to a halt, mere inches from Amelia. The passenger side door swung open, revealing the slender form of a woman in the driver’s seat. 

“Get in!” she screamed, a hand reaching up to pull a sweat-drenched strand of hair from her face. Though her features were unfamiliar to the agent, she recognized her voice at once. It was the girl who’d warned her about Kruhl.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 7 Pt 1


Official Report
State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho

“What the hell?” Rathdrum panted, eyes wild as they roved the darkened room. Faint overhead emergency lights provided the only illumination, revealing the forms of the two agents, the doctor, the orderlies and Shanderly in the corner, but little else. Rathdrum, who stood just below one, was the only person whose face was visible.

Carter moved to the doorway, reached for the latch and swung back to Amelia, shaking his head. “It’s locked.”

Amy didn’t answer, she drew her gun keeping both it and her eyes trained on the entrance. Only daring to look away to glance at Shanderly. As she suspected, the deputy was hunched over in his seat, unmoved since the lights went out. She frowned and arched an eyebrow, but didn’t voice her concerns.

Though Shanderly appeared to have taken ill, if she was right, they would soon have much bigger problems.

“Oh for hell sakes, Ms. Felch, get the damn door open.” Harrison said scowling at the two Agents as if they were idiots and waving at the female orderly.

“Carter,” Amy said, wiping a bead of sweat from her brow. “Get the girl, and get her out of those restraints, if we come under attack, she’ll make for an easy target.”

“Now agent, I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but—” Harrison moved to block Rathdrum’s path, shadowed on either side by the pair of orderlies, but froze when shrill, hysterical laughter rang through the room. It was coming from Shanderly.

“Harrison!” Amy exclaimed. “Get away from him, now!”

He did not move, glancing back and forth between Van den Broeke and Shanderly. It was difficult to tell in the gloom, but it looked to Amy like Harrison’s brows were furrowed in confusion. The younger man leveled his gaze on her and Amelia stopped unprepared for what she saw. Shanderly’s eyes were glowing blood-red. At the sight of this, Rathdrum rushed to release Kruhl’s restraints.

He lurched up, lips curling out to reveal a row of razor-sharp teeth, a low wolfish growl rumbling from his throat.

“You should listen to her.” Shanderly smiled, his voice taking on a rough almost wheezy quality.

“Shit,” Felch cursed under her breath, backing away, pulling her younger peer back with her. She attempted to draw the doctor away with her, but Harrison remained planted in place.

Shanderly pounced, clawed hands slashing at the doctor’s throat. Blood splattered all over Rathdrum and the doctor’s lifeless form crumpled, falling to the ground at the agent’s feet. Carter ducked, hands releasing the last of Kruhl’s straps about her ankles. The creature that had once been Shanderly raked his claws down, slicing at the young woman, but she jerked her head sideways before his claws could find purchase. She kicked out, landing a blow between his legs and he howled doubling over both clawed hands cupping his privates.

Kruhl pounced over the side of the chair, landed on all fours like a cat, and rushed toward the relative safety which Amy provided. Rathdrum, did just the opposite, standing and training his gun on Shanderly.

“Hands where I can see them,” the older man said between gritted teeth.

Shanderly froze, blood-red eyes peering up at Rathdrum, features stretched into a horrendous grin. With inhuman speed, he lurched sideways toward the orderlies. Rathdrum peppered the space he’d vacated with bullets, but his opponent was too quick. He slammed into his targets, tossing the man into the steel table where his skull impacted with a sickening crunch and a splash of blood. The deputy spun the woman around and tightened an arm around her throat, shielding himself with her body.

The creature pulled his free hand back, balled it into a fist then slammed it through the woman’s back, and out the front of her chest, spraying her blood and entrails all over. Before either agent could again open fire, he raised her lifeless body and tossed it across the room, straight into Rathdrum.

He rushed toward Amy, but her pistol was ready. Van den Broeke opened fire. The first shot impacted his right shoulder, but he kept on coming, seemingly unaware of the injury. Amy dropped all pretense at aiming and just fired shot after shot until her clip was empty. Each time the bullets hit home, sometimes impacting his torso, but once it struck his cheek. Each time, blood splattered from the wound, but still he came.

Amy dove out of the way just before he reached her, sliding a hand inside her blazer for a spare clip and turned to face him. By then, Rathdrum had untangled himself from the woman’s corpse, and risen to his feet, gun blazing. Shanderly lurched toward the second agent, giving Amy enough time to reload, then she too was firing upon the deputy. At last, he fell to his knees no longer able to shrug off their weapons fire. With one great screech of pain and rage, Shanderly’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed to the floor, dead.

“Fuck,” Rathdrum cursed under his breath, returning his pistol to its holster. “And I thought this shit couldn’t get any weirder.”

Amy did not re-holster her weapon, but instead, moved toward Shanderly, knelt beside him, and checked for a pulse. Unable to detect one, she lowered her head and let out a long sigh.

Though the light was still scarce, she furrowed her brows as she examined the body. She snaked an arm out and lifted one of his hands, his fingers had reverted to the stubby digits he possessed before, but stranger still there was no blood anywhere on either hand. She peered into his mouth, which hung agape, and again spotted nothing unusual. His sharp teeth had disappeared, replaced with garden-variety pearly whites. When she pulled an eyelid open to look into his eyes, they too had regressed. There was no sign that he’d ever transformed, nor did there seem to be any evidence that he slaughtered anyone.

Her mind spun, thinking back to every case she’d worked and the AEGIS case files she’d read. She’d never heard of anything like this.

“Rathdrum, check the other bodies, see if you can’t find a key. Something tells me, Shanderly was only the tip of the iceberg.” Amy said, eyes still peeled on the corpse.

The other agent moved away, and Amelia remained in place. Still thinking.

“He was a skeada,” a soft high-pitched voice spoke up and Amy started, her eyes finding the girl, her tiny form bathed in shadows. Amidst all the tumult she’d forgotten the other had been there at all.

When the other woman did not respond, Kruhl cleared her throat and stepped forward, “A creature changed by dark sorcery, to become an assassin, only revealing their altered form when it is time to kill. Death is the only release from such a fate.”

Amy pressed her lips together green eyes, never leaving the girl as she moved toward her. She was quite pretty, even with the cat eyes. Though small, she possessed curves in all the right places.

Amy wasn’t quite prepared to ascribe Shanderly’s transformation to magic, despite her musings to the contrary. No, this had to be something else. Perhaps Shanderly was the victim of some advanced genetic manipulation for which Kruhl had mistaken for sorcery or, she added another theory occurring to her, Shanderly had possessed some new exemplar ability. Either way it seemed likely they were dealing with a very dangerous enemy.

A loud clang sounded from the door and both agent and mental patient turned to watch Rathdrum swing the door open.

“Well,” Carter said, throwing a thumb over his shoulder. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve had about enough of this place.”

Amy nodded, and paused, turning to regard Kruhl, who stood looking at her with wide eyes. She would need the girl’s cooperation, but though she had a better idea who and what she was since her visit to the park, that didn’t mean she could trust her.

“Don’t worry,” Kruhl said with a harsh growl that sounded far too rough to have come out of such a tiny little thing. “You saved my life. That much, at least, has earned you my cooperation until we’ve reached safety.”

The agent hesitated only a moment and nodded. She didn’t like any of it, but like it or not, Kruhl seemed to be at the center point of this whole mess and she couldn’t very well leave her there to get killed.

“All right,” she nodded.

Kruhl stalked forward, hunkering down on her hands and feet, luminescence eyes seeming to glow in the darkness. “I will lead.” She stepped through the doorway and peered back. “I see better in the dark.”

“Perhaps,” Amy replied, her voice flat. “But Rathdrum and I are armed.”

Kruhl’s golden eyes gleamed, as she peered back at the agent, but then she stepped back into the room and gestured for the other to lead the way.

Amy moved forward, slipped through the doorway and jerked back as the sounds of weapon fire resonated through the corridor.

“Oh hell,” Amy cursed, again raising her weapon. “Why can’t these things ever be easy?”

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 2


Official Report
State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho

“I really must ask you to reconsider Agent, her mental health is already fragile as it is.” Dr.  Harrison regarded Amy and plunged both hands into his lab coat pockets. “You must realize that any information you may glean from her will be suspect.”
Rathdrum and Shanderly trailed behind them, the latter walked hands inside the pockets of his suit coat a smirk touching the corner of his lips and the former seemed as if he were on automatic pilot, heedless of anything but putting one foot in front of another.
Amy kept her face neutral, suppressed a sigh and met his gaze. “I understand your concern, Doctor, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’d interrogated an unreliable witness. If she can provide me with even one lead, it could be of great use to our investigation.”
Harrison’s eyes scanned the agent, lips twisting into a sneer and nodded before releasing a sigh that seemed just a little too forced. “Very well, this way.”
Harrison led them further into the building and Amy scanned her surroundings as they passed.  One hallway was more or less indistinguishable from the next. The walls were flat white and they bore no adornments or furnishings. She’d been in more than a few hospitals, and while they tended to be sterile, this one took the cake. It felt and looked more like a prison than a place of healing. They passed dozens of rooms, but if any of the patients within were aware they were moving through the corridor, none called out. It was quiet, Amy thought, lips creasing into a frown, too quiet.
The shadow woman’s warning came screaming back to the forefront of her mind. She had no reason to trust the mysterious apparition, but she would walk into any potentially dangerous situation unprepared. 
She moved one hand into her jacket as if to reassure herself her pistol was still there and caught Harrison eying the weapon, his sneer curling into a scowl. Her insistence on bringing it into the hospital had been the first point of contention with the staff and later the good doctor and things had gone downhill from there. 
Amy understood his reasoning, the very thought of a gun in the hands of a mental patient was enough to give anyone pause, but she knew of no agent who would have agreed to give up their only means of defense unless they were obligated to do so by law or ordered by a superior officer. She would have been a fool to do so under the circumstances, there were too many unknown factors and at least one potential threat, two if the shadow woman was not on the level, and three if you counted the girl.
The room the doctor led them to was at the far back of the corridor. He flicked the lights on and gestured them inside. Once inside, he regarded them each before promising to return with the girl, a pretentious smile stretched across his wide face and disappeared through the door.
“Pleasant fellow,” Rathdrum remarked, leaning against the wall. “Seems quite convinced of his own moral superiority.”
Van den Broeke didn’t comment. She pressed her lips together and emitted a long sigh. She turned toward Shanderly who had taken up residence on one of the seats in the room’s corner. The deputy was hunched over and his skin was a shade or two paler than usual.
“Shanderly, you all right?” Rathdrum asked beating the other agent to it. “You’re looking a little worse for the wear.”
Shanderly’s eyes shot up and he met the other man’s gaze. “Uh, don’t think my lunch quite agreed with me. I’ll be fine, just let me sit for a while.”
The agents exchanged looks but didn’t press him for details. She couldn’t say why Shanderly’s sudden sickness did not sit well with her. Her hands shook and she peered down at them before slipping one into her blazer. She did not have nerves of steel, but she wasn’t the type to get herself so worked up. Something felt wrong about this whole ordeal and she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
Van den Broeke took the time to surveil her surroundings. The room possessed the same sterile white undecorated walls as the rest of the hospital. The only furnishings were the row of seats where Shanderly had seated himself, a long steel table and matching chair were bolted to the ground and a pair of padded seats sat on the opposite side. 
Amy turned, catching movement out of the corner of her eyes, an inky black substance slinked through the air in the doorway and a form jerked into view. The shadow woman stood before her. Amy strained her eyes trying to get a better look at her face, but, other than a vague outline, all she made out was her eyes.
“They’re coming now. Be ready,” the woman said, peering over her shoulder at Shanderly before turning back to meet Amy’s gaze. “And don’t trust anyone they–”
The visitor stopped, glanced back into the corridor, before dissolving into the air like a wisp of smoke. Amy sucked her breath in, eyeballing first Rathdrum then Shanderly, neither seemed the slightest bit aware that anything strange had happened and she wasn’t sure she should illuminate them. Yes, the stranger had warned her of danger, but she doubted the deputy would open to the idea of portents of doom from an apparition only she could see. 
“Rathdrum,” she said slipping a hand over her holster and released the thumb break. “Be prepared.”
Rathdrum stiffened, snaking a hand up to strain his tie and turned to meet her gaze. It seemed almost as if someone had flicked a switch. The facade he so carefully laid out evaporated, laying bare the man who lurked just below the surface. Here stood a person who knew what to do in a fight, someone who did what was necessary and didn’t pull any punches. He didn’t enjoy that side of himself, which is why he kept it locked away, but he was always ready to let it out, like a lion unleashed from its cage. All pretense of good humor had faded away from his face and all his rough-edged features seemed all that harsher.
When Harrison returned, he stopped dead in his tracks, peering through the doorway like a deer ready to bolt. He eyed Rathdrum and Van den Broeke, no doubt picking up on their shift in demeanor and shook his head as he stepped inside.
A slender figure bound in restraints that was so tiny, Amelia mistook her for a child, came next, and was trailed into the room by two orderlies adorned in all white coveralls. The taller of the pair, a woman with broad shoulders and a stern frown moved to secure the door behind them, while the second an aging skeleton of a man with a shock of scraggly brown hair guided the girl toward the steel chair and began to fasten her in place.
The girl did not make eye contact with anyone, staring down at the floor instead. Amy might have supposed that it was the behavior of a beaten and dejected soul if not for the fire that burned within those golden cat’s eyes. She had the look of a caged lioness, one who had accepted she’d been imprisoned, but who was biding her time until she had the opportunity to escape.
A loud clang sounded from the door and Amy’s hands shook, and she slipped one of them inside her blazer. The lights flickered and the room went dark.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 1


Official Report
En route to Grove City
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Amy filled Rathdrum in as she drove, telling him everything she’d seen, but avoided discussing her suspicions. Rathdrum could draw his own assumptions from her descriptions, she didn’t need to cloud his thinking with what ifs. When she concluded her tale, he sucked in his breath and shook his head.

“So we have a seemingly magical sword that makes anyone who touches it with their bare flesh feel as if they are on fire and has, in at least one case, thrown a person across the room, some sort of anthropomorphic lion who appears out of thin air and subsequently transforms into a human girl, a robed apparition with freaky fire powers who tried to cover up said transformation, and a woman who materializes out of nowhere and warns you that the girl is in danger. Yeah, we’ve definitely walked into a big old shitfest. Goddamn, and I was hoping this one would be an open-and-closed case.”

“Has it occurred to you that this woman might not be on the level? What if she’s in league with our robed friend?” He asked after a brief pause.

Rathdrum didn’t go into specifics, but she could read between the lines. If this woman was lying, she might be leading them into some kind of trap, but what purpose would that serve? Why appear to her at all? She must have known they would be visiting the girl at some point. 

Whether her spectral visitor was trustworthy was immaterial at this point. If the girl was in danger, they couldn’t afford to let the phantom get to her before they did.

Amy turned to her subordinate and perhaps he saw something in her eyes. He released a long breath of air and jerked his head back and forth. “We’re going to be taking a little field trip, aren’t we?”

Amy nodded, lips pressed together in a tight frown.

“And here I was going to suggest we call it quits for the day and pick things up tomorrow,” Rathdrum muttered with a shake of his head.

Amy glanced up at the sky, the sun still blazed overhead, but dusk would soon be upon them. Under ordinary circumstances she would have been all too happy to retire to her hotel room, but all her instincts were screaming at her that something was amiss. If they didn’t get to the girl soon, they might never have the chance to speak to her.

“Get the state mental hospital in Grove City on the horn, notify them we intend to pay the girl a visit.”

“Should I inform Shanderly? He said he would like to be there when we interrogated her,” he glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes.

“Uh, we talked when you were in the hospital,” he added.

Amy neither wanted nor required the deputy’s help, but there was something to be said for cooperating with the locals. At the very least, it might keep Chief Avery off her ass.

“Notify them both, just try to keep the deputy out of the way if you can. From what I read in their reports his last encounter with the girl was less than friendly.”

Moments later, Rathdrum had the mental hospital on the line and Amy pulled their rental onto I-15. Though the agent didn’t show it, she could not escape the sense that somethingwas about to go very wrong and it filled her with dread.

Kruhl lay curled in a ball upon her bed, numb and tired from her ordeals. These people were mad, she had determined as much after her first session with Dr. Harrison. He seemed intent on learning everything about her, but shed doubt on whatever she told him as if he believed her entire life story was a lie, and try as she might she could not understand what was the purpose of the stiff sheets of white parchment with the black stains. Utter nonsense all of it, and yet she sensed there was a motive to the strange man’s actions.

She sat upright, stretching her arms out and glowered at the intruder that had taken up residency in her crotch and shuddered. She felt it again, that simple biological need. It didn’t seem so different, but the very fact she needed to sit down to relieve herself made the act unbareable. She closed her eyes, and cupped her face before at last forcing her eyelids back open, slipped out of bed, and stood before the metal basin attached to the base of the sink.

They called the infernal thing a toilet and she scowled at it, before slipping her pants and panties around her ankles, shuffled around so she was facing away from it and seated herself shivering as her butt cheeks touch the cold metal seat. Another of her tormentors, a tall woman dressed all in white, seemed amused that Kruhl did not know how to use the device and had instructed her with a smile stretched across her long face.

Oh, how she hated the woman in white. If it had been just that one instance she might have been able to put the wretched hag out of mind, but after coming awake in this prison, the doctor, and the loathsome female walked in on her naked, weeping, and exposed. Angered by the intrusion and seeing her chance to escape, she lurched for the door the moment she locked eyes with the man, but she had been unsuccessful. The woman, lightning quick, despite her size lurched forward, slammed all of her body weight into Kruhl and pinned her to the ground.

Escape would have been futile, Kruhl reminded herself. Much of what she’d seen was foreign to her, but she recognized the barred door at the end of the corridor for what it was, a security barrier. They had not permitted her pass through it, instead they led her into another room, forced her into a chair and strapped her in place. That had been the first time she’d encountered the woman, and the others had been no less humiliating.

She put thoughts of the woman in white out of her head and peered down at her privates. She had tried ignoring them, pretending that they were not there, but it seemed counter-productive. This was her lot in life it seemed, to be trapped in this body, tormented by strangers and left to rot away in these walls for the rest of her life.

Urination as a human female wasn’t so different, she experienced the same pressure and released it with the same little push, but there was no way to aim. When she finished up, she wiped her nether regions with a square piece of the cloth the woman in white had called toilet paper and washed her hands in the sink.

When she hunched over to retrieve her pants, she slipped them back up her waist, but paused lips pressed closely in a frown when her eyes locked on her vulva. She dropped them, her heart pounding in her ears as a hand slid down, almost of its own volition, and slipped an index and middle finger inside the cavity between her legs. She shivered at the sensations that arose.

She pulled her finger free, bracing herself against the sink and bit her lip. Cold shivers worked their way down her spine and she stood there panting glancing at the bed, cheeks burning as she considered what she might do with this new found understanding. She never needed to pleasure herself on her own world. Even as a boy on the cusp of manhood there had never been a shortage of willing females, but in this new place she was isolated and often left to her own devices.

She had far too much time to think and wallow in her own self pity. At least this way she might distract herself. She stepped out of the trousers, leaving them in a heap on the ground, and slipped into bed, fingers working their magic. When she clenched her eyes shut a moan slid out of her mouth.

[Kruhl] The voice spoke out of the open air.

Her eyes snapped back open as a black ichor resolved itself in the air before her. It twisted and contorted, shrieks and howls rang through the air and she shrank back pressing herself against the wall. A cowled head resolved itself before her, the inside as black as the deepest pit.

[I’m coming for you] Cold laughter reverberated through her mind and Kruhl clenched her eyes shut, shielding her face with her hands expecting the creature to attack.

When it did not, she risked a quick glance. The apparition had disappeared and she propped her back against the wall a cold chill working its way through her whole body.

She stared into the empty air, shuddering at the prospect of an attack, but if that was its intent no assault came. Kruhl remained there naked from the waist down frozen in terror, all too aware just how vulnerable she was in her new form.#popmake-5560

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 5 Pt 3


Official Report
Ammon Park
Tondzaosha, Idaho

A gentle breeze wafted through the air, and moonlight spilled out from the sky casting the world in an unnatural hue. Lights glistened in the distance, but save for a solitary streetlamp on the opposite side, the park was unlit.

Amy ran a slender hand through her mop of long dark hair and inspected her surroundings. Save that the patch of burnt ground was missing, the park was unchanged within the vision’s landscape. The world was awash in amber hues, a side-effect of her ability with which she had no control.

Amy focused all her attention on the spot where the burn mark had been and for several long seconds nothing happened. Then, a burst of color coalesced out of the empty air, beaming its cobalt illumination upon the empty landscape. Expanding and forming into a giant ball which hovered, spun, and pulsated in the open air before lowering to the ground.

Amy froze mesmerized by the light show. She’d seen something like it before, summoned by an ancient machine recovered from the ocean by a naval deep sea diving team. The once-god Chemosh stole the device from the AEGIS research facility, but not before Ashtar appeared from within, transported across the cosmos from God knows where, to combat the other immortal.

This time there was no machine, the ball of illumination had been conjured out of thin air, but just as before a figure materialized from within. The sphere faded away, revealing the massive frame of a being seven feet tall. The creature turned its enormous frame toward her, and Amy stepped back looking into its eyes. It bore the face of a lion, but the body of a man. It didn’t see her, but instead looked past her into the distance, its maned head swinging this way and that.

What she was witnessing was an imprint, an echo of the past. The creature could not see her because she was not viewing live events, but ones which had already occurred.

The lion-man stepped forward clutching at a wound in his side before falling to one knee. He blinked, his head again surveying the landscape and Amelia noticed for the first time, the blood dripping from a second gash in the side of his head. Amy sucked in her breath, the lion-man possessed the same injuries as the girl found with the sword.

Then she spotted the weapon. It lay on the ground at his feet, darkened by his shadow, but she could just make out its outline, it bore the same runic markings as the one in the police evidence lockup.

She released her breath as the implications dawned on her, but before she could give it more thought the creature roared. She glanced up at him in time to see his whole body quiver.

His hair faded away, dissolving into the open air. She glanced at his feet, thinking to spot clumps of it on the ground, but it seemed to have disappeared. The beast moaned as an audible crack sounded from within his gargantuan frame and Amy watched transfixed as his muzzle retracted into his face. Luminous golden eyes, stared into space, wide with terror, as the rest of his countenance reconfigured itself.

Lion’s ears, wiggled atop his scalp, oozed down the side of his head like a slug slinking across the ground, and reshaped themselves into less remarkable human ears albeit ones that seemed too small for his huge skull. A raised patch in the center of his face ballooned and expanded into a slender human nose that was again, much too small for his proportions. Eyelashes, extended out from around his eyes, and his flat lips plumped out even while a shock of blond hair spilled out from atop his head.

Another crack sounded from within his skull, an inhuman screech of pain escaped his lips, his head popping and the flesh beneath molding around it as it shrank to a size to match his smaller facial features. Amy enfolded a hand around her mouth, her suspicions confirmed. The face of a girl in her late teens looked back at her, blood leaking from a gash in the side of her head. It was the same girl who’d shown up with the sword, Amy recognized her from the photos in the report.

He shrieked, falling onto his side, as his neck, shoulders and chest also began to metamorphosize, shrinking and popping to match the face. A soft moan, this one sounding far more human and decidedly feminine escaped his lips. For a moment, the transformee peered out, looking into emptiness, his massive arms hanging uselessly from his slender shoulders. There was a pleading look to his eyes, as if begging the air itself to render aid.

Muscle withered away and his arms jerked, retracting into themselves, massive paw-like hands popped receding into a pair of shrinking palms. A piece of shoulder armor with fur fringe and a set of leather bracers fell away from his arms landing on the ground with a series of soft thumps. Breasts budded out from his chest, exploding out as the rest of his torso dwindled away. Hips realigned, popping and creaking, fat deposited around his hips and posterior as his legs and feet reshaped. A gurgle escaped the soon to be new-girl’s mouth and her eyes grew wide as a pair of slender hands slid inside her kilt. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head just before several loud cracks sounded from her tiny frame and the girl lay still.

Amy approached, swallowing hard as she bent over to examine the new girl, a frown creasing her lips as her mind raced. Blood seeped from a gash in her side similar to the one on her head and Amy licked her lips, wondering how she’d sustained the wounds.

She could infer that someone sent the girl from some other location, perhaps even another world or state of being, but what prompted the transformation? There had been no warning, she just hunched over and started to change.

What the hell was going on here? Her senses were screaming at her that she was missing something very obvious, but try as she might she couldn’t reason what that might be. She bit her lip, catching a movement out of the corner of her eyes.

A tall spectral figure enshrouded in a dark robe materialized out of the darkness, its legless form hovering in the empty air toward them. Amelia backed away to get her best vantage point and waited for it to get closer. It stopped a few feet away from the girl and extended an arm out. No hand or arm was visible from within the sleeve, only darkness. She peered into its hood, but detected no face. The specter didn’t seem to possess a solid form at all, and Amelia bit her lips studying the apparition. How could such an entity exist? Where had it come from?

Fire erupted all around the girl’s slender frame in a perfect circle, burning away bits of armor scattered about her body, before eating away at the harness and kilt, and consuming the massive boots that still enshrouded her feet. No smoke emanated from the flames. Though they looked natural, they did not behave like regular fire. The flames consumed the ground around her and every bit of fabric, metal and leather that had once adorned her flesh, but the sword, a nearby tree, the surrounding playground equipment, and the girl’s flesh remained untouched.

The blaze soon died away, revealing the patch of burnt Earth as it existed in the present. Throwing its other arm out so they were both extended, the spectral figure advanced toward the girl. She sat bolt-upright, breasts wiggling on her chest as she peered about with wide, wild eyes. Blood gushed from her wounds, but somehow she crawled to her feet, knelt to retrieve the sword, and began to stagger forward, the blade of her weapon dragging across the ground behind her.

When Amy’s eyes turned back to regard the apparition it had disappeared…

Amy blinked, and the present world resolved into crystalline clarity around her. Her stomach lurched and for a second she thought another wave of nausea had come upon her, but instead the world around her darkened. She peered up, sensing movement.

A woman with long dark hair approached. The light seemed not to touch her, and Amy could not make out her face. She moved as if fighting against some unknown force and there was a dark murk that surrounded her, which grew more and more visible as she approached.

“He’s coming… you have to get to the girl before it’s too late.” Her voice echoed through the air, disconnected, emanating both from everywhere and nowhere at once.

Before Amy could respond, the woman faded away like ink dispersing in water. She remained there for several long seconds, still grappling with what she’d seen both within the vision and the mysterious woman’s sudden appearance and disappearance.

She caught snatches of conversation in the distance, lifted her hand out of the soil, and rose to her feet. Turning to find Rathdrum and Norham who were speaking a few dozen feet away, Amy studied the pair her arms folded about her chest and her heart racing.

The implications of her vision and the woman’s appearance still fresh in her mind, she swallowed hard and let herself consider the possibilities.

The strange way in which the woman materialized suggested an extra-sensory ability, but who was she and how had she known to appear to the agent? Amy had interacted with only a handful of people since coming to Tondzaosha, and fewer still knew why she came. She must be part of the latter group or perhaps someone connected to one of them. The agent hadn’t recognized her face, but it was shrouded in shadows. In such a situation, she might have trouble recognizing her own mother’s face.
There was the vision to consider. If the sphere was a portal, did it mean the girl had come from another world? Certainly, it would not be of the sort from which Ashtar transported. Before her transformation the girl looked like some sort of barbarian warrior, which suggested she had not traveled from a technologically advanced civilization. The images conjured from the sword would seem to support that, but how then had she come to their world?

Perhaps they were too quick to dismiss the girl’s claims of sorcery. Amy mused a wry grin stretching across her face. Either way, it appeared Rathdrum was wrong, they hadn’t been sent on a wild goose chase after all.
She needed to get to the girl fast and make sense of what she’d seen. Whatever that robed apparition was up to, Amy doubted it had come to spread peace and goodwill.

Amy surged forward both fists clenched at her side, feeling a new sense of urgency. She stopped long enough to grab Rathdrum’s attention and motioned for him to follow, not once acknowledging the other man before continuing on to the car.

She slipped inside, taking the drivers seat while she waited for Rathdrum, a pit forming in her stomach as the seconds ticked by. When Rathdrum opened the passenger side door and seated himself beside her, a frown creased his careworn face.

“Van den Broeke, what’d you see?”

She gritted her teeth turned to regard him and shook her head. “We need to speak to the girl, now.”

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 5 Pt 2


Official Report
En route to Ammon Park
Tondzaosha, Idaho

“You doin’ all right, Van den Broeke?” Rathdrum asked out of the blue, both hands clasped on the steering wheel.

Amy glanced at him and exhaled a contemplative frown marking her face. “I’ll survive. About what happened in the hospital…” She trailed off peering at him out of the corner of her eyes.

“Is none of my business,” he finished for her. “If you want to tell me about it I’ll listen, but I wouldn’t think any less of you either way.”

Amelia nodded and cast him a grateful smile. She eyed him, trying to get a better read on the agent, but Rathdrum was a hard one to understand. What must he think? He must have noted the resemblance between her and her mother and put two and two together.

“You know, we never talked about what happened in the police station,” she said eager to change the subject.

“No.” He peered at her frowning. “You get thrown across the room like a rag doll by a magic sword and walk away without a single bruise or scratch and we’ve barely even discussed it.”

“Magic sword? Didn’t you say yesterday that this case was someone’s idea of a bad joke?” She asked, almost smirking at the memory.

“Given recent events that particular theory needs some revision.” He winked and cleared his throat. “In all seriousness, did you get a read on the thing? I assume that’s why you touched it.”

Amy bowed her head and massaged her temple. Psychometric retrocognizance, that was the name AEGIS scientists had given her ability, but no one understood it least of all herself. She knew what her powers did, but if there existed a scientific explanation for how it worked she’d yet to hear it. There seemed to be residual energy imprinted on items present during certain events, the stronger the emotions tied to the events the stronger the imprint. She intuited that much herself, but there was no way in which they’d been able to measure or otherwise detect the energy she sensed.

Something triggered her power when she touched the sword, but she had not summoned it and that puzzled her. It could mean one of two things, either there was something strange about the weapon which, judging from the vision, was at least partially true, or her powers were evolving. She shivered at the very prospect. It would not be at all unprecedented. She knew of several cases where an exemplar had grown more powerful for no detectable reason. Was the same thing happening to her? Was that how she’d walked away uninjured?

She nodded, turning to regard him. Rathdrum didn’t need to know of her suspicions just yet. “What I saw didn’t make a lot of sense. It was so distorted, but there were armies clashing, and anthropomorphic lions fighting figures in robes with melee weapons. It looked like something out of some old fantasy movie, but with better special effects.”

“Shit, lion-people? This gets weirder and weirder,” he said. “Maybe you’ll be able to sense something helpful at the park.”

Their conversation died away, and Amy swallowed hard as his last statement sank in. What if she used her ability and was again tossed away like a rag doll? She’d come away unscathed the first time, but there was nothing to say it would be the case if it were to happen again. Could she risk endangering her child a second time?

Until that moment, she had not once given a second consideration to putting herself in dangerous situations. It had been for the greater good, but this time around she wasn’t just putting her life in danger. She bit her lip, sighed and closed her eyes. Why did her life have to be so complicated?

Amy peered about, awash in a flood of memories. She’d walked past Ammon Park almost everyday on her way home from school and in her early years had climbed about the big toy and swung across the jungle gym. Her eyes stopped studying a familiar patch of ground recalling a family picnic. There had only been four of them in those days, though Erica and David weren’t born yet, those were happier times for Amelia. Her father, hadn’t yet taken to beating her and… he was even pleasant… at times.

It took her several moments to spot the burn mark. It rested near the center of the park and while it was in direct line-of-site to where she stood, the shadow of an old shade tree obscured it. Even with the caution tape around the outside it was difficult to spot. She made a beeline for it, not bothering to check if Rathdrum followed.

She stopped outside the outer perimeter, ducked under the tape and knelt down to get a better look. Shanderly’s assessment had been more or less accurate. The grass was scorched in a three and a half foot radius, the old shade tree’s trunk rose from the ground intersecting the circle of burnt grass along the outer perimeter across and to the right from her. A pair of spring-mounted animals, a seahorse and a panda sat within the ring.

Neither the tree trunk, nor the spring riders showed even the slightest bit damage from the fire. She bit her lip and studied the charred ground. The burns formed a near-perfect circle. Whoever set it must have used a chemical accelerant, it was the only way the burns would be so uniform, but the grass was all that was damaged.
“Damned odd.” Rathdrum knelt beside her, his hands sifting through the scorched earth.

“You can say that again,” a voice spoke and both agents turned in tandem to meet the newcomer, an older man wearing worker’s overalls, and a well-worn leather tool belt packed with a spade and other gardening implements.

“Now, why don’t you tell me what in tarnation you think you’re doing?” The old man asked planting both hands on his hips.

Amy rose to her feet, Rathdrum tailing her, and produced her badge. “Special Agent in Charge Amelia van den Broeke with AEGIS, we’re just taking a look around.”

“The hell? Didn’t expect that. Name’s Jerry Norham I work for the city,” He dropped his arms and shook his head. “Ain’t never expect to see AEGIS agents show up in lil’ old Tondzaosha. Might I inquire as to your interest in this here patch of ground?”

“We’re here investigating some strange occurrences here in town, we think what happened in the park may be related,” Amelia answered slipping her badge back into her blazer. “I don’t suppose you can tell us anything about it, can you?”

“Hell.” Jerry scratched the back of his neck. “Not a lot, there was some talk of a fire and some lunatic wanderin’ about in a robe, but I ain’t never seen no fire that could burn grass and leave everythin’ else untouched.”

“Pretty damned odd,” Rathdrum said from beside Amelia. She turned to regard him between pursed lips, but didn’t speak up as he continued. “You mind if we take a sample?”

“I trust you won’t take long. I’m already behind schedule, I don’t need you dillydallying about and wasting my time.”

“Uh, should only take a few minutes.” Rathdrum smiled, glancing over his shoulder.

“In that case knock yourself out.” The old man shrugged and gestured over his shoulder. “I’m just gonna tear it all out anyway. I’ll be fetching some supplies from my truck if you need anythin’.”

Jerry traipsed off, disappearing from behind a copse of trees. A moment later Amy turned to regard Rathdrum with an upraised eyebrow. “Soil samples?”

“It’s easier than trying to explain your powers,” he smirked and shrugged. “Besides.” He produced an evidence bag from within his suit coat. “A soil sample’s not such a bad idea.”

Amy nodded, regarding him for a moment longer, then knelt once again on the outer edge of the circle, slipped a hand into the charred soil, and closed her eyes. The memory of the incident with the sword still vivid in her mind, she hesitated for the barest moment, then opened her senses. Her surroundings faded away and the vision came.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 5 Pt 1


Official Report
Alameda General Hospital
Alameda, Idaho

Amy stopped peering into the mirror, her hands still poised over the second to last button on her blouse. She kept looking at her reflection expecting to see her face covered with bruises and cuts after being thrown across the room. Each time she caught sight of the mirror her blood ran cold. Granted, it was her back that impacted the wall, but she didn’t sustain a single injury. She had received no bruises, cuts, scrapes, breaks, or sprains. Hell, she hadn’t even broken a nail. That should have been cause for celebration, but it made no damn sense. It put Amy on edge.

She felt the force of the impact before she blacked out and it hurt like hell. Unless you possessed healing powers, or a significant other with them—she added a slight smirk touching her lips—you didn’t walk away from something like that without some sort of injury to show for it. She quizzed Rathdrum and Shanderly, upon waking in the hospital, but neither had answers for her.

She touched her belly, biting her lip, and thought of the child. The ER doctor was all too happy to run a pregnancy test and gave her reason to hope. In the early weeks of pregnancy, a uterus was tucked behind the pelvic bone providing more protection to the child than if she were further along. He didn’t seem to think the child had been harmed, but only time would tell. If Sapphira were there, she mused, she would be able to tell if anything were wrong.

A light rap sounded from the door, and she sighed reaching for her blazer. “Come in,” she called out without turning back to the door.

“Andy?” The voice was soft, and though it sounded a fair bit more careworn than she remembered, it was as familiar to her as if she just heard it yesterday. Amy froze, blazer still clenched in her hands, heart hammering in her chest. The moment she feared since first coming to Tondzaosha had at last come and much sooner than she expected.

Amy craned her neck around, peering at the woman who stood in the doorway. Her own emerald green eyes looked back at her, and the agent sucked in her breath eying the newcomer with wide eyes. Serena Margaret van den Broeke, had changed little in the intervening years. Oh sure, there was a fair bit more gray in her hair, and the crows feet at the corners of her eyes were new, but her face appeared far more youthful than the agent would have expected.

Amleia bore more than a passing resemblance to Serena, enough that it was plain for anyone to see they were mother and daughter. It was from her she inherited her olive complexion and dark hair.

A set of simple blue scrubs, an id badge hanging from her breast pocket, and a stethoscope draped about her shoulders identified her as a member of the hospital staff. A nurse? When had that happened? Given her mother’s tendency toward hypochondria, it seemed an odd choice of vocation.

“Maggie.” Amy shifted her body, so she was standing opposite her mother and folded her arms across her chest.

“Actually, it’s Serena now.” She stared into Amy’s eyes, hands clenched about the bottom of her scrub top jerking on the hem. “I needed a change after the divorce.”

Amy stared at her, jaw clenched shut, heart still hammering and mind racing. Her mother had long preferred her middle name over her first, but that seemed a rather insignificant revelation when she let the rest of her mother’s statement sink in. She arched an eyebrow, but still did not speak.

“How’d you find me?” Amy asked, at last, releasing a long sigh.

She shrugged. “A mutual friend pointed me in your direction.”

“Shanderly.” Amy nodded and folded her arms across her chest. The deputy had been in to see her earlier, apologizing for the ‘accident’ as if it were his fault. It appeared he encountered her mother somewhere along the way out.

“I mean, God,” Serena shook her head. “It’s gotta mean something that you’re here now. I don’t even usually work the day shift, if Karen hadn’t called in, I—”

Amy arched an eyebrow, and the other woman fell silent. The agent didn’t put much stock behind that sort of thinking, subscribing coincidences to God was her mother’s province and Amy possessing a more logical mind had ever been the doubter. She made her thoughts on her mother’s beliefs known long ago and if the look on Serena’s face was any sign, she hadn’t forgotten.

“Just look at you.” Serena cleared her throat and cupped a hand over her face. “You’re beautiful, if I didn’t know any better—” She trailed off. “Just finding you after so long looking like this, I don’t have any idea what to say.”

Amy wondered what her mother would think if she were aware that she was pregnant, but chose not to illuminate her on that matter. If Serena learned she possessed the body of a ciswoman, she wasn’t sure how she would react. Would it validate her gender dysphoria or would it make itseem as if she’d been ‘fixed’? It was a question she’d been struggling with since her transformation and she was no closer to uncovering an answer.

“Then don’t say anything,” Amy said slipping on her blazer. “I didn’t come here to make peace. I have a job to do.”

“Right.” Serena nodded. “Shanderly told me a little about that. An AEGIS Agent. I never figured you for the type for law enforcement.”

“As opposed to a nurse?” Amy raised her eyebrows and shook her head.

“Fair point. Andrew, I know this doesn’t mean much, after what your father and I put you through, but I’m so—”

“Don’t,” Amy cut her short, decades of anger and bitterness spilling out like a dam burst. “You don’t get to waltz back into my life after all this time, apologize, and expect me to come running back into your arms. You stood by while that man denigrated me, demeaned me, and beat me half to death. Do you honestly believe a simple apology will cut it?”

Serena stood frozen in place staring at the other woman, fighting back tears. “No, you’re right.”

Her mother didn’t say another word and neither did Amy, at first. The agent regarded her, sighed, then shook her head, a hand coming up to straighten a bit of hair. “It’s Amelia.”

“What?” Serena asked her eyebrows shooting up past her bangs.

“I go by Amelia now,” Amy said her cheeks burning, biting back a scathing rebuke.

“Amelia.” Serena nodded tugging on a stray bit of hair. “I know this is hard for you and I know that you probably want nothing to do with me, but it’s good to see you.”

Amy didn’t say a word. There was a time she wanted nothing more than to confront her parents and give them a piece of her mind. She thought long and hard what she would say if ever given the chance and planned out so many speeches. That had been a long time ago, and throughout most of her adult life, she’d convinced herself that she’d put it all behind her, but the truth was despite all the beatings and the harsh words, she wanted what everyone wanted, a family. She just wasn’t sure she could afford to let her mother back in again.

“David and Erica would love to see you again if nothing else,” Serena said.

Amelia’s head jerked around at the mention of her two younger siblings, but remained silent realizing that she left one out. Brian was only a few years younger than herself and the one whom she’d been closest. She hadn’t heard from, or spoken to him in years, but of all her siblings it was Brian with whom she most regretted losing contact. She wouldn’t mind seeing her two youngest siblings again, but given that David was only five and Erica six when they last saw one another, she doubted they would remember much about her.

“Maybe Brian too. If you can find him. He hasn’t spoken to me in years,” Serena added after a long pause. “I guess, he paints me in the same shade as your father.”

Another knock came from the already open door, and Carter Rathdrum, stepped in sight, freezing in place when his eyes took in the pair of women. “Uh, did I come at a bad time?”

“Rathdrum,” Amy replied. “Just give us a moment would you?”

Silence permeated the room. Rathdrum nodded, regarded the pair one final time and disappeared from sight.

“Look,” the agent said turning back to her mother after several long seconds. “I’m not interested in having a relationship, that ship has sailed. You regret what happened, good, at least you have some remorse for the shit you put me through, but I put this all behind me a long time ago. I don’t want to rehash it just so you can feel better about yourself.”

The words sounded harsh even to Amelia’s ears, but she would not take them back. There was a part of Amelia that wanted to reconnect with her mother, but another part, the larger part, was afraid of being hurt again.

Serena took a step back, flinching as if the younger Van den Broeke had slapped her. “I-I understand.”

Amy took several steps toward the door, then stopped remembering that she would need to question her mother about the girl. “You have a phone number?”

Serena froze furrowing her brows, caught off guard by the abrupt turnabout, but Amy only shook her head.

“You were the one that found the girl with the sword, right? We’ll need to question you about it,” she added by way of explanation.

Serena nodded, slipping a hand into her breast pocket, producing a small notepad and pen.

She scribbled something down, ripped the paper free and held it out to Amy, lips pressed shut and tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Rathdrum, my associate, will contact you,” she said, lips trembling as she tore the slip of paper from her mother’s extended hand, turned her back, and slipped out the doorway.

“Come on agent,” she said, rounding on Carter, who was waiting a few dozen feet down the corridor. “We have work to do.”

He nodded, glanced back at the door, before stepping into sync with his superior. He pressed his lips together in a thin line, but did not speak letting her lead him out of the hospital. Amelia was glad for the silence. A few warm tears splattered her cheeks, but if the other agent noticed he didn’t say a word.

Santa Babe 2: Elfsurrection

Author's Note

I didn’t think I’d finish this one in time for Christmas, but inspiration struck at the last minute and I managed to finish it off this morning. Please note, that like the first story in this series, Elfsurrection is far more fetishy than my usual offerings.

A slow smile found its way onto my lips, and I licked them winking at Arcadius Noel who kept sneaking furtive glances at my chest. I couldn’t say I blamed him, I wasn’t wearing much. A candy-stripe bra, matching leggings, black stiletto heels, an elf-green mini-dress, and a matching stocking cap were all that adorned my frame and a girl with my proportions was a rare sight in the North Pole. Elf women were flat-chested and possessed hips almost as narrow as their male counterparts. Transformed by the Aphrodite Potion, I was the epitome of feminine beauty. Was it any wonder the old elf couldn’t keep his eyes off me?

“Samson Twinklebottom!” Greogira Glittertoes screamed out at the head of the table.

I turned, clenching my jaw at her use of my former male name, and regarded her with cool eyes. Even before my change I had not cared for the elder, though the youngest of the council, she was the most conservative and the most steeped in tradition. She would, of course, be the one most threatened by my transformation.

I stood before the council of elders, the governing body of the Elves of the North Pole. One seat, remained empty, a padded, human-sized affair that belonged to Saint Nicholas, but given that our employer was the subject of this gathering, and her transformation from rotund sad sack to busty babe, it seemed doubtful she would be in attendance.

“I will not tolerate distractions!” Greogira added rising to her feet and peering across the table at me.

Though, I now towered over her because of my transformation, I shrank back unprepared by the intensity of her gaze.

She might have been pretty if a scowl didn’t crease her ageless face, which was unmarred by wrinkles or age spots. Elves did not age in the way of humans. The only sign of the passage of time, was the gradual graying and eventual whitening of the hair, and among males, the ability to grow facial hair. All who sat on the council sported a shock of snow-white hair, and all save the councilwoman possessed a matching beard.

“Now, now, Greogira,” Bernaldo Mugginbubbles rose to his feet, a chiding tone in his deep baritone voice. “Do remember that young Samson, is under the influence of a powerful magic.”
Greogira glowered at him, but only regarded him for a second before returning her attention back to me, her scowl deepening tenfold. “You have failed to carry out your duties as a helper elf. We tasked you to watch over the Santa Claus, ensuring only that he completed his gift-giving role and not get into any mischief. You have allowed both yourself and our exalted leader to be transformed into some kind of sex-crazed bimbos by that insidious concoction and have jeopardized everything toward which elfkind has worked for these countless centuries. Do you not understand the seriousness of this situation?”
I gritted my teeth, my anger simmering just below the surface. Though Santa was quick to jump in bed and delighted in her new appearance, she was far from a bimbo and was not intellectually deficient. The potion did not diminish intelligence or change an individual’s overall personality. Yes, Santa possessed the same body and sex-drive as a centerfold in a dirty magazine, but every attribute that made her the Claus was still there. She was just wrapped in a prettier package.

Until her transformation, Santa had been a drunken shell of her former self, but walking in on your wife of countless centuries boinking Jack Frost would do that to a fellow. The new Santa was most definitely an improvement. Something about her transformation had brought that glimmer of child-like joy back into her eyes. She had been just doing the motions for so long, I’d almost forgotten what the old Santa had been like.

Hands caressed my shoulders, and I shivered as lips brushed my neck. I turned, a smile creasing my lips as I met Santa’s gaze. She wore the same white-trimmed red-velvet minidress and knee-length boot she’d been sporting while delivering gifts and a shiver worked its way down my spine at the sight of her.

Just a day ago, the mere thought of Santa transforming into this leggy brunette with wide-hips and large breasts would have seemed laughable, but now that the change had come about I couldn’t imagine her any other way.

“They won’t know what hit them,” I whispered, kissing her on the lips. I closed my eyes, letting myself be swept away by the sensations. When she pulled away, I didn’t want it to stop, but I bit back my disappointment and watched her saunter toward the council of elders.

“Nicholas,” Greogira nodded at Santa, her expression blank, but fire still smoldering in her eyes. “I was just—”

“Greogira,” Santa said her otherwise plump lips pressed into thin lines. “There’s no need for a recap, I heard everything.”

Greogira flinched as if Santa dealt her a physical blow, her whole body trembling. In living memory no elf had crossed Santa. Even for her to say as much as she already had bordered on scandalous. Even now, facing Santa in her new feminine form she could not bring herself to speak against the old gift-giver.

There was a scuffle and a clatter behind the old elf, and Greogira turned revealing the slender form of Eros Butterbee, with a tray of drinks and pastries. “Um, mistress I thought you might be hungry.”

Butterbee was the shortest elf I’d ever met, a mere eighteen inches tall, he was more than a century older than me. He worked in the kitchens, a thankless job that kept him busy throughout the seasons feeding the army of hungry elves, but one which he seemed to enjoy.

“Thank you, Butterbee.” Greogira eyed the diminutive elf before waving him off with a disdainful flick of her wrists. “Begone.”

The kitchen elf, glanced toward Santa and me and set the tray on the table, a strange mix of wonder and confusion in his eyes, before he scurried away and disappeared from sight. Santa furrowed her brows, peering at me, but if she knew what I had planned she didn’t say a word.

Elves love sweets so much, we eat almost nothing else. As magical creatures we aren’t susceptible to human failings like diabetes or tooth decay and given that we had a sweet tooth that surpassed even that of the most voracious of human children, we indulge whenever possible. Even a sourpuss like Greogira would not let the opportunity to treat herself to a pastry or a piece of candy slip by.

Greogira selected a tall goblet, no doubt filled with some fruity sugar-coma-inducing concoction, and a danish, before passing the tray along to Wilbur Jellyfluff, the only member of the council who had yet to speak up. Jellyfluff made his own selections before passing his tray onward, nibbling on a cherry tart as he rose to his feet.

I eyed the tall elf, my heart skipping a beat watching him nibble and waited on bated breath to see what would happen. My head jerked sideways and I regarded Santa, but she did not turn to meet my gaze. We separated the moment we’d returned to the North Pole and I had just enough time to nab some potion and enlist Eros Butterbee’s aid before the council had summoned me. I’d thought to inform Santa of my plans before then, but the opportunity had not presented itself. In any case, she would discover the truth soon enough.

At almost four feet tall, Wilbur Jellyfluff cut an imposing figure for an elf, and he was the most well loved among the council members, but he too was a traditionalist albeit one with a kinder disposition than Greogira.

“Nicholas,” a gentle smile stretched across his face. “What are we to do with you?”

“Exactly what we’ve always done, Wil,” Santa answered back massaging her neck and emitting a soft moan. “You make the toys and I deliver them, but please won’t you call me Nikki?”

“This won’t do, I’m afraid. Greogira despite her lack of tact is right. Imagine the scandal it will generate amongst the mortals. Santa Claus become a sex-object? We’ll never hear the end of it from the social justice warriors or the Christian fanatics. Allow us to examine you, perhaps with some time we might undo the effects of the Aphrodite formula and return you to your proper form.”

Santa narrowed her eyes, and clenched her fists at her side, regarding the council of elders between gritted teeth. “For over a decade you have let me drink myself into a stupor, not once attempting to render the aid and compassion I needed. Now, that I have been reborn, and found a new measure of happiness, you wish to take it away from me? No, Wilbur, I won’t allow it.”

“Then we—.” Jellyfluff groaned and hunched over clutching at his stomach. He collapsed atop the table before him, tart dropping from his hand, its cherry filling splattering all over the ground.

Greogira and Bernaldo were on their feet and moving toward the other council member, but the former soon hunched over, disappearing from view on the other side of the table shrieks of pain reverberating through the chamber. The latter fell to his knees, the skin on his face rippled and contorted and a soft and far too feminine moan escaped his lips.

Only Arcadius Noel remained seated, throwing out both hands and howled in agony as he too underwent the first stages of his transformation.

Wilbur shrieked and I turned back in time to watch him jerk back to his feet. His arms flailing about and grappling with the front of his tunic. He pulled it free just in time, for a budding set of breasts to materialize upon his flat hairless Elven chest. His bones cracked and popped as his torso extended, and he fell chest first, atop the tabletop. Hips exploded outward, fat appearing as if from nowhere his stockings ripping open unable to accommodate his burgeoning human-sized and very feminine proportions.

Greogira raised her head then, sporting a head of chestnut-brown hair, and threw a set of human-length arms across the table to balance her tiny Elven frame. She moaned, her frame shooting up as her legs and torso extended outward, just moments before her breasts and hips swelled to match her enlarged frame. She groaned and collapsed atop the table her transformation, less severe and thus complete.

Wilbur howled once more, bearded face contorting as hair began to fall from it in clumps, revealing his flat unremarkable features. A loud crunch sounded and his face bubbled out, growing to match his already human-sized form, but also becoming softer and rounder. His large flat nose, reshaped and remolded itself, worry-lines smoothed out and as his snow-white hair disappeared altogether, honey blonde hair spilled out in ringlets, cascading past his shoulders and down his back. Thin lips plumped out and a low and still very masculine moan escaped his lips. Then his voice, cracked and his prominent Adam’s apple receded into his throat disappearing altogether. He jerked, a loud pop reverberating through his spine, and he leaned forward, emitting a much more suitable feminine groan as his spine curved and his posterior ballooned out.

A scream sounded from the end of the table and Arcadius Noel lurched forward falling across the table and over the side, rolling onto his back. I knelt down beside him, surprised to find that there was only the barest hint that potion had begun its work on him. I don’t know if there was something he’d consumed that might have slowed down the progress or if perhaps something about his physiology had caused it, but whatever it was, it didn’t last much longer.

Bones snapped and popped and I reached out cupping both hands around one of his, smiling down at him in reassurance. I’d undergone a very similar transformation, and I understood all too well how painful it could be. That beings said, I would not take back what had happened to me for all the world.

For whatever reason, the order in which someone transformed varied from person to person. I soon found his hand, ballooning out within my own, but neither of his arms nor his other hand followed instead, his face rearranged itself. His flowing white beard, maintained over so many centuries fluttered away, seeming to disappear into the open air. His rugged, sharp-edge features dissolved, and his long comically over-sized nose shrunk down even as the rest of his face expanded outward. Fire-red hair spilled out from atop his head stopping at his shoulders. Lips parted, but no sound escaped instead they plumped out, and a crack resounded inside his neck as it reshaped itself.

Arcadius’ left hip swelled out, stretching his tights until they tore open, but the right side did not follow, at least, not yet. One side of his chest, expanded and I slid my hands out, cutting opened the front of his tunic with a work knife procured from within my left boot, to make room for his contorting proportions. The right side of his chest ballooned out, a single breast occupying his otherwise flat chest. His arm came next, at last stretching out to the proper proportions for his hand. The second arm followed, but this time the changes stopped when they reached his wrist.

A waistline, previously untouched, expanded outward, narrow by human standards, but much wider than any elf alive possessed. At last, his other boob swelled out to the same size as the first and granted his form a degree of symmetry. His torso extended outward and first one leg then the other stretched out to match it, before her last hand creaked and popped coming to match the first.

Arcadius screamed, a high-pitched wail so loud, it forced me to cover my ears. He grappled at his privates and I watched unable to keep myself from shivering in anticipation as I realized how close he was to completing his transformation. Soon, he emitted a long breath of air and his attention shifted from the space between his legs to his remaining hip which had swollen outward. My attention, however remained on his privates where the outline of a lovely camel toe showed beneath his hosiery. Soon, Arcadius had completed his transformation, his spine realigned to more feminine proportions and his feet, swollen to a size more befitting his taller frame. I beamed down at him and held a hand out.

He hesitated and then grasped my outstretched hand, his or rather her, bare chest jiggling like a bowl full of jelly as she rose to her feet. A hand, again, touched my shoulder and I turned to regard Santa swallowing hard. Her eyes were wide, shock reflected at me.

Nikki turned, and my eyes followed her gaze. Greogira, Wilbur, and another young woman, sporting a shock of long raven-black hair that fell well past her knees, I assumed was Bernaldo, approached. Though each had grown to more human proportions, a side-effect of using a potion intended for humans, Bernaldo was the shortest of the three coming in at just under four and a half feet tall. Greogira stood only a few inches taller, and Bernaldo towered over the pair of them almost six feet tall. They looked human for the most part, save for their ears which kept their telltale pointy tip.

A familiar scowl marked Greogira’s face, but it did not mar her features as it did before. Still recognizable, her features had nonetheless softened and there was no doubt that she was beautiful, even with her teeth clenched. It did however, make her seem less the wrathful elder and more a petulant child. Wilbur approached with a frown one hand kneading an exposed breast. Bernaldo followed not even looking up one arm folded across her chest, the other clasped over her vulva offering only a modicum of modesty and her cheeks turned such a bright shade of red it was a close match to tattered remnants of her scarlet tunic.

“This only proves our point!” Greogira said jabbing a finger into Santa’s chest. Whatever reservations she had about confronting Nikki had evaporated away with her transformation. “The Aphrodite Potion has clearly affected your judgement. Nicholas would have never drugged one of his elves let alone four of us.”

“That was my doing.” I smiled stepping between Nikki and Greogira.

“Regardless, even you Samson would not stoop so low,” Greogira countered this time rounding on me.

“I-I don’t know,” Wilbur said slipping a hand between her legs as a dreamy smile stretched across her lips. “It feels pretty good.”

Greogira snapped her head around, both hands on her hips as she stared at her peer with wide eyes. “Get a grip on yourself Wilbur, the potion is messing with your mind.”

Wilbur smiled a soft moan escaping her lips as two fingers caressing the insides of her lady parts. Greogira rounded on her, latching both hands around the other elder’s arms and shook her so hard the other’s head snapped back. Wilbur, stared at her wide-eyed and I thought for a second she might have reached her, but then the dreamy smile returned and Wilbur leaned in to kiss the other woman.

Greogira stiffened like a plank, even her lips remained frozen in place, but her resistance soon melted away against the other woman’s continued efforts. As they broke for air, a soft moan escaped her lips.  “I never imagined.” She shivered, biting her lip and took several steps back.

I folded both arms across my chest and smiled, regarding Greogira and each of the new women my eyes lingering on Bernaldo who still refused to make eye contact with any of them. “You’ve each received a small dose of the Aphrodite formula. In a few hours, or a few days, depending on how much you consumed you should revert to your original forms.” I slipped a hand inside my bra, producing four small vials of a familiar pink fluid. “Should you wish to make the change permanent, I do believe we can come to some sort of arrangement.”

Arcadius who had remained off to the side throughout the confrontation, peering down at her hands and shook her head. “I can sense them, the sensations, the desires swelling within me. It terrifies me, but…” She lurched forward, and whipped a hand out, sliding one of the vials from my outstretched hand, pulled the stopper free and downed it in one gulp. “I never want to go back. It feels too good.”

We all peered at her with wide eyes. For Arcadius to make such a quick snap-judgement seemed so unlike the brooding, taciturn man we all knew. She licked her lips and peered at me with an arched eyebrow a suggestive smile creeping its way onto her face. “There isn’t a male version of the Aphrodite formula sitting about is there? I would dearly love to spend some alone time with a nice big hunk of a man, if you catch my drift.”

“No, but with your support, I’d like to resume production of the Aphrodite formula. If we bring the original creators onboard, I’m sure they can… come up with something that will whet your appetite.” Santa cleared her throat, answering before I even had a chance, her ruby red lips stretching into a smile.

At this pronouncement, Bernaldo’s head jerked up, and she peered about glancing at all of us. She didn’t speak a word. Instead, she took several steps back, spun around on the balls of her feet and took off running her long locks trailing after her. The look on her face telling me all I needed to know.

I watched her depart, then paused long enough to slip all but one of the remaining vials into Santa’s hands and took off after her. I knew all too well what she must be going through and could guess why she’d fled. That being said, if she reverted to her old form, she could rally the rest of the denizens of the North Pole against us and ruin everything. That I could not allow.

As you might imagine, running in stilettos is damn near impossible, a fact I came to realize as I burst out of the council chambers and face-planted onto the hardwood floor. The resulting flash of agony from my chest left me breathless for several long minutes. I groaned, rolled onto my back, hugged my knees against the chest, gritted my teeth against the resulting burst of pain, unclasped the straps holding the shoes in place and tossed them aside. I lurched back to my feet prepared to resume my pursuit, but the corridors were silent and I could detect no sign of the elder elf’s passing.

I sank my teeth into my lower lip, again ignoring the resulting flash of pain, my mind racing as I tried to put myself into Bernaldo’s mind. She might have gone for help, but I knew precious little about her. The elves did not possess any policing agencies, lawlessness was not a predilection toward which we were inclined. So, she would flee to the home of a friend or family member or… I stopped a smile creeping across my lips as realization dawned on me. She wasn’t running with any plan in mind; she was fleeing out of fear. No, it seemed far more likely she would return home and since I knew she never married, it seemed unlikely there would be anyone waiting for her when she reached her destination.

I took off running barefooted and better able to keep my balance, but unprepared for how much my bounteous chest would bounce while I moved. I could measure my time spent in my female form in hours, not days or months. The Aphrodite formula granted me a fair bit of confidence and understanding of how to move in my new form, but familiarity was not something I’d developed just yet.

I burst out of the exit, shivering against the cold, bare feet pounding against the frost-covered peppermint-striped pavement, bouncing breasts aching with each new movement. Still, I kept running my feet raw and scuffed and heart hammering in my chest. Soon enough, I caught site of footprints in the snow, toward Bernaldo’s cottage and I veered off catching my second wind as I went tearing thorough the winter landscape.

No elf had feet that large. In her eagerness to get home, Bernaldo had elected to take a more direct path and had given herself away. I guessed right in assuming she would flee to her cottage instead of seeking aid.

I reached the house a few moments later and stepped onto the porch, hesitating as I reached for the doorknob. This felt wrong, Bernaldo had done nothing to harm me and I doubted she would seek aid once she’d sequestered herself within her cottage. Maybe, I was approaching this from the wrong angle, I mused, hand turning the doorknob. The potion transformed her, in the same way it changed me just a short time ago. She needed my help, and here I’d been chasing after her as if she were a convicted felon.

I slipped inside the door with no issue. As I said earlier, crime did not exist within the North Pole and we respected each other’s privacy… mostly. I closed the door behind me, and paused just inside listening for sounds of movement, my keen Elven ears picked something up within seconds and I crept deeper inside, eyes scanning the interior.

Bernaldo’s cottage was small, and I made my way to the back, stopping just outside a door, through the cracks of which light poured through. I put my ear to its hardwood surface, and a muffled sob spilled through. Waiting no longer, I turned the knob and stepped inside. The other elf was slumped on the ground, still wearing the tattered remains of her tunic and tights. She lurched to her feet ready to bolt for the door when she caught sight of me.

I held my hands up and out, taking careful steps before swinging the door shut with the back of my elbow. “Look, I know you’re afraid, and confused as hell, but I can help you. I went through it myself last night,” I said realizing that it was now well into the early morning hours as I spoke. “I don’t want to—”

“Fuck me,” she yelled, screaming out at the top of her lungs, eyes wide and looking for all the world like an animal confronting a predator. “I can’t contain it anymore, just help me release it.”

The Aphrodite formula had that affect. Santa had gone through her own metamorphosis while delivering presents to a widower and his young children. It had taken her less than a minute to seduce him, and moments later when I underwent my change it had taken little for me to join in. Over the course of the night, Santa and I had seduced a lingerie model, a college freshman, and a set of identical twins. Not to mention the number of times we’d fucked or made out inside the sleigh between stops.

Bernaldo straightened and the terror that marked her face before, faded away. She smiled and sauntered toward me, her lips finding purchase around mine. When she broke for air, she pushed me down atop her bed, in the back of my mind it occurred to me that it was much too small for our human-sized frames, but she was already unclasping my bra. Her lips, were soon kissing my breasts, and when she plunged her fingers inside my clit the pleasure that followed was indescribable.

I sat up, a soft groan escaping my lips as I fought to come awake. Hair covered my face and I reached out collecting it with my hands before slipping it behind my ears. That seemed odd, but I was pretty much dead in the water so I couldn’t quite grasp why. I peered down at my chest, sucking in my breath as I looked down at a pair of bare breasts protruding from my chest.
It all came back to me then, and a slow smile crept onto my face as I recalled my transformation and all the fun I’d had since taking on my new form. I cupped my melons and craned my neck about eyes scanning the room for my discarded clothing and Bernaldo. Neither were in evidence, nor was the vial of Aphrodite formula.

There were blankets and pillows strewn about the place and I didn’t care to dig through them to retrieve the discarded articles of clothing. Modesty didn’t have the same hold on me as it had before my change and so I shrugged and slipped out of bed, peering about the room one final time before sauntering through the doorway.

I found Bernaldo in the living room seated atop an old couch, a vial of pink fluid clutched in her hands. She’d yet to revert to her male form, and she looked out of place perched atop the elf-sized sofa. The other elf looked up at me as I approached, and I seated myself beside her and smiled.

“This isn’t me,” she said motioning down at herself tears rolling down her cheeks. “But I want it to be too much. It terrifies me, that if I take this I’ll lose myself, that I’ll give myself over to the desires and urges of this body. Like I did last night.”

“So?” I asked peering back at her. “What’s wrong with having a little fun? You’re still you, you’re just in a prettier wrapper. Last night, I saw Santa returned, the drunken bitter jackass I’ve had to contend with the last ten years gone, and the Jolly gift-giver of old returned. She is the Clause, just as I am that moldy old stick in the mud Samson, I happen to be a fair bit easier on the eyes and will fuck almost anything that walks on two legs. My appearance and sex drive doesn’t change who I am… it makes things more interesting.”

Bernaldo bowed her head, but didn’t speak again. I reached over, sliding the vial from her hands and held it in front of her face. “Look, if you don’t want it, that’s fine. Give Santa your full support and—”

Bernaldo sobbed and I froze watching her shake her head. “I’ve been alone so long I forgot what it felt like to hold another in my arms.”

She reached for the vial and I let her have it. Again, she held it before her and she tightened her grip pulled her arm back and I tensed expecting her to throw it across the room. She peered at me, sighed, and uncorked the bottle, downing the contents in one gulp. She looked back at me, eyes wide and her hands shaking. The vial clattered to the ground shattering at her feet.

“You won’t regret it,” I smirked, pecked her on the cheek and glanced back over my shoulder toward the bedroom door. Perhaps a little celebration was in order, but before I could voice this thought a series of dull thumps sounded from the exterior door.

I kissed her again, this time on the lips and rose to my feet. Bernaldo was still in something of a fragile state and I don’t believe she was quite ready to entertain. “You stay there, I’ll get it.”

I swung the door open and found myself peering down at a minuscule little morsel. An elf who’d undergone the transformative effects of the Aphrodite formula, but one who was a fair bit shorter than any of the others at a mere three feet. She froze staring up at my bare chest, and I bit my lip only then realizing that I was still naked.

“Sammie!” She beamed up at me, gazing at my figure with an appreciative expression. “It’s me, Eros! I’m going by Daisy now!”

I bit my lips waving her inside the cottage. Eros or rather Daisy Butterbee had been far more eager to help me than I expected and when she named her price I’d been more than a little flabbergasted. She wanted a full dose of the potion for herself, something I’d not expected of her, but when she confided in me she had long been fostering a secret yearning to be female, I was more than happy to accommodate her.

“Is it done?” I asked slamming the door shut behind her and shivered against the cold.

Butterbee nodded, eyes locking on Bernaldo on the couch. “How about you, any luck?”

“Yeah,” I replied arms folded across my chest smirking back at Bernaldo.

“Great!” Butterbee beamed, pulled her top over her head and tossed it aside with a flick of her wrists. “I’ve been itching to give this new body a whirl.”

Bernaldo regarded her a moment before dashing to her feet, scooped the diminutive elfup, and carried her into the bedroom without a word. I stared after them, my smirk stretching into a grin as Bernaldo’s moans sounded through the doorway. I sauntered into the room, eager to join in and soon she wasn’t the only elf screaming out in pleasure.

The End

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The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 4 Pt 4


Official Report
Tondzaosha Police Station
Tondzaosha, Idaho

The name belonged to Serena van den Broeke, her mother.

Amy knew it was her even before the chief finished speaking. She’d only met a handful of Serenas in her life, and her mother had been the only one the entire time she lived in Tondzaosha. True, she went by her middle name in those days, but aside from a few cousins and an uncle there were no other Van den Broekes in town. 

Her mind raced at the revelation, and she bit her lip. Someone blacked out her mother’s name on that police report and she very much wanted to understand why.

As she muddled the mystery over a name came to mind, and if she was right, she might even have an explanation. Director Malcolm, the head of AEGIS, took a personal interest in her almost from the day they met, and he was the one who ordered her, however indirectly, to come to Tondzaosha. If it was him, he must have presumed she would do anything to avoid speaking with her mother again, and he would have been right. She could have passed the case on to a subordinate claiming a conflict of interest. No one would have given it a second thought. 

The question was, why would the Director commit a federal crime by altering an official police report to ensure she came to Tondzaosha? Why would it be so important that she be there? Malcolm was a hard man to understand, considering he wasn’t even human.

But what if it wasn’t the Director? When the thought occurred to her out of the blue, brought another cold shiver. Perhaps someone in the police force had blacked out the name. Any of them might have had the opportunity, even Daisy or Chief Avery, despite the latter’s assertion otherwise, but for what reason? More perplexing, how did they know AEGIS would send her?

She thanked the chief and slipped out of the room. Rathdrum nodded at the woman and followed suit.

“Serena Van den Broeke. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that she’s a relative of yours,” he said glancing about the room. It seemed like a casual gesture, but Amy doubted that there was anything that Rathdrum did which was casual. He was probably checking to make sure no one would overhear him speak.

“My mother.” Amy peered back at him with a guarded expression.

He did not press her for details regarding her before glancing toward the north wall. Amy’s eyes soon followed his gaze at the sound of footsteps approaching, never so glad for the distraction. Deputy Shanderly had several paper sacks, and a coffee cup carrier in hand as he approached, giving the agents a good idea just what sort of errand he’d been on.

“Agents!” He beamed, then looked about the empty room, save for the agents and himself. “Uh, let me just drop off Chief Avery’s breakfast and we can get underway.”

He set all but one bag down and pulled a coffee cup free from the holder before disappearing into the chief’s office. Amy watched him go, her arms folded across her chest and head tilted. She’d thought little about Shanderly asking her about her name the previous night, but the more she ruminated over the idea the more likely it seemed he’d been fishing for information. Shanderly wrote the original report, he must have made a connection. Could he have been the one who blacked out her mother’s name?

The deputy returned snatching a coffee from the cupholder and turned to regard them with wide eyes. “You want anything? I’m sure the others won’t mind.”

Amy shook her head still experiencing nausea from her morning sickness and Rathdrum declined. Shanderly took a long sip from the cup and sighed. “The best part of wakin’ up,” he grinned and turned back to them. “Chief says you wanted a look at the sword, we can pop into the evidence locker. Should only take a few minutes.”

Amy regarded Shanderly for a moment longer, still uncertain of him, but agreed. She had nothing but her suspicion at this point and until she puzzled out who was responsible, she couldn’t act. Just what she needed, she emitted a long breath of air, another damned mystery to unravel.

The deputy led them to the heavy steel door and unlocked it with a set of keys retrieved from his pocket. He swung the door open and ushered them inside. “It’s not much,” he said placing both hands on his hips. “But it serves our needs.”

He wasn’t kidding. Amelia peered at the cage at the back of the room and the shelves along the walls. AEGIS had bigger broom closets. The entire building would fit inside the AEGIS evidence lockup back home. That being said, their facility in New Hebron housed a fair number of dangerous artifacts confiscated as a matter of course, or handed over to them by other agencies.

At first, Amy didn’t spot the sword as her eyes scanned the room with casual disinterest. The shelves housed boxes, which she knew from experience would contain case files. The cages were for more dangerous or illicit items, weapons, drugs and whatever other odds and ends they’d come upon. It was there that she spotted the weapon, the bottom obscured behind an AR-15 and a baseball bat.

Amy drew closer, eying it her lips pressed together in a thin line. She knew next to nothing about melee weapons, save for the butterfly knives and switchblades used in street fights. Though she’d seen one or two swords, they were movie prop replicas. This looked more substantial. It was huge, close to five-feet long and gleamed with an almost silverish sheen.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Shanderly said slipping in front of her. He produced a pair of leather gloves from inside his pockets and opened the locker with a second key. A moment later he turned about sword handle clenched in both hands. “It’s the darnedest thing, try to touch the thing with your bare hands they feel like they’re on fire.”

“You had anyone look at it?” Rathdrum asked kneeling down beside the sword.

Shanderly tilted his head up and down. “Yeah, a gaggle of egghead professors and undergrads from the university up North. They ran all sorts of tests, even ran a Geiger counter over the thing and nothing. One of them, an archaeologist, I think, said the script,” he indicated an array of symbols engraved vertically across its surface. “Is from some old European runic alphabet, but that it was inconsistent with the style of the sword. By the time they started making great swords, like this,” he said turning it in his hand revealing the opposite side of the rune-engraved blade. “Most of Europe was using some variant of the Latin alphabet like we do today.”

Rathdrum and Van den Broeke exchanged glances, but neither understood the implications of the statement. “So, what does that mean?” Rathdrum asked his hand hovering inches from the blade.

“Uh, well. I asked the same question he said it’s probably fake, or at least someone added the runes after the fact. He seemed to think it was hand-forged, and suggested that running a metallurgical analysis would give us a clue when it was made. The materials and methods used apparently vary throughout—”

Amy held a hand up, and Shanderly stopped eyes glued on her. She didn’t care about the particulars of the blade’s make-up or history save how it pertained to the case. What mattered to her was finding out how and why it worked and how the girl came into possession of it.

Amy approached the sword, kneeling down beside Rathdrum. She did not touch it, instead studying the features of the weapon with a critical eye.

Amy was entranced. There was something about the blade, it radiated an energy the like of which she’d never experienced. Every object had a certain ambiance, but this one emanated such power it was palatable. Without thinking about it, she drew her hand out, her slender fingers touching a rune that resembled an uppercase ‘M’. The pain was instantaneous and she gritted her teeth sweat dripping down her forehead. It felt as if she’d touched a searing hot brand. She closed her eyes, attempting to steady her breath, but her chest heaved and she panted still trying to fight it off. All at once, everything faded away.

Images flashed before her taking on a familiar amber tinge. A figure stood in a torch-lit corridor, its features bent and contorted, its face resembled a lion, but its body looked human. The figure dove forward, the sword clenched in its hands rounding on a second figure. She tried to distinguish its features, but it became lost in a flash of light. She saw armies waged in battles, humans fighting more of the lion-men and a figure gripping a slender black staff in the distance hurling energy blasts in their midst. More images came and dissolved away, another lion-man or person or perhaps the one she’d seen at the beginning, she couldn’t be sure, pulling the sword free from a sheath. Another flash, a lion-man, a lion-woman, and a human woman dressed in flowing gray robes confronting a figure in all-black. The images increased in frequency, coming so fast that she could only distinguish them as flashes of light and color.

She screamed, but it was too late. There was another burst of illumination, and she caught a brief peek of the evidence room, just in time, for a explosion of energy to surge out from the sword and send her slamming into the opposite wall. The entire backside of her body erupted in fiery-hot agony and the darkness came to sweep her into the abyss.

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