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Psyren’s Redemption | Epilogue
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 33
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 32
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 31 Pt 2
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 31 Pt 1
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 30
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 29 Pt 3
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 29 Pt 2
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 29 Pt 1
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 28

Archive

Psyren’s Redemption | Epilogue


Official Report
427 Evergreen Terrace
New Hebron, California

Laughter floated into the kitchen and Sapphira hovered in front of the fridge and a smile touched her lips. She sensed the mirth hanging over each of the young women in the adjacent room, and it put a smile on her face. The friendship that Awẹ́, now Ashley, and Hailey developed was unexpected at first, but now that she’d grown accustomed to it, she couldn’t believe the two had only known each other for a month. When Jenn, Hailey’s girlfriend, threw herself into the mix, like that night, they always filled the house with the sound of girlish giggles.

It reminded Sapphira of Clara’s teenage years. Her daughter always had a cadre of friends who followed her around laughing, and making silly jokes. In those days, she never understood, never been in on the joke, but now she was beginning to understand. It made her feel as if she were a part of something. After being alone for so many years, she’d forgotten what it felt long to belong.

Sapphira reached out grabbing four sodas, two in each hand out of the fridge, she’d found them at the supermarket a few weeks back and snatched them up. She didn’t even realized that they still made Bobblup or Snebitt’s, but she’d been most delighted to find Stuart’s Raspberry Cream Soda which had been one of her favorites as a boy. She kicked the refrigerator door shut with her foot and returned to the front room where the girls were waiting.

Sapphira froze upon seeing them. Hailey and Jenn had grins which stretch from ear to ear and Ashley’s face had turned beat red. She glanced up at the exemplar as she entered the room, but did not speak.

“Liv!” She grinned up at Sapphira. “You’ll never guess what Ash just told us! She’s got a date!”

Sapphira set the sodas down save for one and grinned at Ashely, plopping down on the couch opposite her. “A date, huh and what’s this girl’s name?”

“Her date’s name is Josh,” Hailey said snatching a bottle from the coffee table. “You should have seen her, she melted like butter the moment she saw him.”

“Can you blame her?” Jenn grinned, “The guy’s gorgeous, the first time I saw him I thought I’d he’d turned me straight.”

Jenn was the most outspoken of the bunch, and an avowed lipstick lesbian. Sapphira had a lot of preconceptions about the girl because of her electric blue hair and tattoos, but she was nothing like the exemplar expected. She expected someone with an abrasive and rash personality, but the girl, despite her tendency to spout off some of the most obscene statements he’d ever heard, was as sweet as they came.

Ashley reached her hands up to straighten her hair, a nervous tick she’d developed after she’d changed. She glanced at Jenn and eyed the other girl out of the corner of her eyes. She was the one person in the group who was not in on her true history. AEGIS would have frowned on it, for sure, but Ashely didn’t want her to know. She asked to be treated like one of the girls and Hailey agreed to keep it between them. The same could not be said for Sapphira. Jenn overheard them talking and puzzled it out. To her credit, she treated her no different than anyone else.

“Don’t worry,” Jenn gripped Ashley’s hands across the table. “You’ll be fine, don’t be nervous, Hailey and I will help you through it. You’re gorgeous and you’re a lot of fun to be around the dude’s gonna have a great time.”

As sweet as Jenn was, she wasn’t the best at reading people. Then again, she didn’t know a month ago Ashely had been a man so there were only so many conclusions she could make.

It was ironic that of all the girls the most masculine-minded one should be the one going on a date with a man. People couldn’t help how they were wired, but it seemed as that when her consciousness had come to reside within her new body she’d inherited some wiring from the previous owner. She still maintained a masculine mindset, but Sapphira got the sense that she was coming over to a more feminine way of thinking.

Sapphira pursed her lips and reach out to Ashley. She didn’t read her mind or attempt to determine her emotional state. It would have been a simple thing to do, but it was an invasion of her privacy. She’d resolved herself to avoid doing that save for in the most dire circumstances. Instead, she projected her thoughts into the girl’s mind in the form of a question. ‘You doing all right? I can steer conversation in another direction if they’re making you uncomfortable.’

Ashley glanced at her and tilted her head side to side. ‘It’s okay, I’m getting used to this body. I know this sounds weird, but I think I’m starting like it.’

Sapphira nodded and let the connection drop away. She was right, it was strange hearing Ashley make such a statement, but it didn’t surprise her given her recent behavior. She was happy for her.A life lived uncomfortable within your own body was not pleasant, but she wondered how if her sexuality and gender identity had shifted could other things have changed?

She may never find out, but she was glad to call her a friend. She would have never guessed that a bond would form after she’d tried to kill her father. It was ironic that she should be the one whose shoulder she’d cried on when her old man passed away, but life was strange that way.

Sapphira took a sip from her soda and smiled. She was the happiest she’d ever been. She was surrounded by friends, she’d been reunited with her granddaughter, and had fallen in love with someone who was patient and caring. Soon she would even enroll in classes at the university. What more could she ask for?

Speaking of Amy where was she? Sapphira reached out and sensed the other exemplar back in the bedroom. She tried to avoid looking into anyone’s mind, let alone Amy’s, but when it came to the woman she loved, it was difficult. Not for the reasons one might guess, but because she knew her so well, she didn’t even need to try in order to sense the other’s emotions or catch a stray thought. Amy seemed distracted, and nervous from anticipation.

She’d sensed the same from Amy more than once in recent times and every time disappointment followed it. She knew its source, but Amy refused to discuss it.

“Excuse me,” she said. She stood up moving out of the room heading toward their bedroom. She paused at the door, pursed her lips, and pushed it open.

Amy sat on the bed head bowed, something clenched in her hands. She turned toward Sapphira and stared up at her with wide eyes. Her emotions differed from previous times and it could only mean one thing. She swallowed, hard, and swooped in beside Amy. When she slipped her hands under Amy’s, the other woman dropped what she’d been holding into her palms.

She pulled her hands away and examined the item. A home pregnancy test. Unlike the previous ones it showed a very different result. Amy was pregnant.

Hot tears stung her cheeks, and she laughed. She pulled Amy close and kissed her on the lips. They’d been trying for months and their lack of results had grated on Amy.

The prospect of raising another child, had given her pause at first, terrified that it might again end in heartbreak, but she came around when she’d seen how much it meant to Amy. The spark that powered her abilities was adaptive. She grew the needed equipment and when she didn’t need it, well, it didn’t stick around. She shuddered, remembering the things they done together, it had been… fun, but the longer she remained in this body the more she preferred her privates remain female

“I-I missed my period last week, and I got so busy at work I forgot all about it. This morning I drove past a drug store and… I got this hunch. I bought a test, and I got around to taking it just now,” she said pulling close to Sapphira. “Liv, are we doing the right thing? You’ll be starting college soon and my job is so demanding not to mention dangerous. A child needs so much attention and I don’t know the first thing about one. God, I–”

“We’ll figure it out,” Sapphira said cutting her short. Though she said nothing to the other exemplar, she’d already reached out and confirmed the results of the test. There was a new life growing within Amy. She didn’t know much about fetal development, but she sensed the pinhead-sized collection of cells growing and multiplying within her body. “I’m getting better with computers. I don’t need to go full time and I can take some of my courses online. I’m sure Hailey, at least, will help. I raised a kid all by myself working full-time. Between the two of us, I think we can make it work.”

Amy bit her lip, nodded and pecked Sapphira on the lips. “Thank you. You always know the right thing to say. Which makes what I’m about to tell you so much worse.”

She rose to her feet and glanced back over her shoulder at Sapphira. “Matthews dropped a case on me today and it’s got me shaken up.”

Sapphira didn’t speak, but instead stood and wrapped her arms around the other woman.

“There’s a situation in Tondzaosha,” Amy said shaking her head.

All at once Sapphira understood. Tondzaosha, Idaho was Amy’s hometown. The day she’d found out she was pregnant, Matthews gave her an assignment in the place where she’d spent her childhood. Of course, she would have second thoughts. Her childhood had been a living hell.

“When do you leave?” She pulled away and studied the other woman. Though she hated to see Amy go, she understand that the other woman did important work. Sapphira would never ask her to stay.

“Tomorrow. They’ve booked me a late flight into the Tondzaosha Regional Airport. I would have told you earlier, but you were having such a good time with Hailey and the others I didn’t want to dampen the mood.

Sapphira smiled grabbed Amy by the shoulders and pulled her close. “We’ll celebrate the baby when you get home.”

”We don’t even know for sure if I’m pregnant,” Amy whispered in her ear.

”We do,” she whispered back. She did not explain herself, Amelia knew the power and scope of her abilities. She could put two and two together.

Though news of her lover’s departure was not what she had wanted to hear, she couldn’t help but smile at the prospect of raising another child. Besides, she a powerful telepath, there was nothing to say she couldn’t speak to Amy whenever it please her. She’d done it a handful of times before and on Amy’s last trip. She’d even created such a convincing projection they were able to make love despite being over four-hundred miles apart. With that thought in mind, she leaned in and kissed Amy on the lips. Despite the challenges that lay ahead, the future looked brighter than ever.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 33


Official Report
AEGIS Field Office
New Hebron, California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Agent?”

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

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

She bit her lip and moved toward the mirror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“S-sir?” Her voice quivered. “How—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 32


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

Outside the Downing Building, Special Agent in charge Avery Driggs dodged attacks from the Gallu and struggled to fight off the creatures. Every time one swooped in he’d open fire with his Colt M4 Carbine, but the creatures were damned near impossible to kill. He’d only downed one, and it had only been because he caught it by surprise.

He was taking on one creature, firing off round after round when it happened. All the creatures in the street, let out a high-pitched screech all at once, and then dissolved in the air. The one in front of him opened its maw, green ooze spewing out of its mouth before it fizzled out, its arms peddling through the empty air. More green ooze splattering to the ground when it completed its disappearance.

He would not find out until later that the moment the Gallu disappeared coincided with the exact time that of Chemosh defeat. AEGIS scientists would try to understand the science involved for decades to come, but it was believed that the creatures had some connection to the perp and once that link broke the little monsters could not remain in their layer of reality.

When it happened Driggs didn’t stop to ponder the reason for it or even let out a sigh of relief. Instead, he moved forward, advancing on the Downing building. He motioned for the agents to follow and a full dozen moved toward the building behind him. He did not have to issue orders; they were acting on their training and securing the perimeter as he intended. Before they reached the gaping hole in the wall, a figure emerged the artifact trailing after her. He trained his weapon on her, and the other’s did the same, unsure if she presented a threat, but she zoomed past them and into the sky above.

Driggs heard the clank of metal and he turned in time to see Indigo Knight emerge through the opening. He lowered his weapon and motioned for the others to do the same.

“What’s the situation?” Driggs asked the armored vigilante peering up into the sky out of the corner of his eyes.

“Chemosh has been dealt with,” he answered. Driggs had dealt with Indigo Knight once or twice before and he thought the other man sounded so dispassionate, but this time was different. There was a certain tone in his voice, a strain almost. It reminded the agent how he felt when his mother died. In public he kept it cool, remaining strong for his underage sister so she someone to lean on. It was that same tension, he recognized in the man’s voice.

“Agents move in,” he motioned the other’s forward and watched Indigo Knight peer up into the sky. He followed the man’s gaze, he could just make out the woman above, the machine was swirling and pulsating.

“She won’t make it,” the armor vigilante said shaking his head. “She cannot contain that much energy.”

Indigo Knight’s suit of armor flared to life, and he leapt into the sky after the woman in a burst of light. Avery called after him, but either the man did not hear or he ignored him.

He watched the man rocket toward the woman, but before he had covered half of the distance, a brilliant burst of light filled the sky and he turned away. When his vision cleared, he looked back up again, and he could just make out two forms plummeting toward the ground and Indigo Knight speeding toward them.

His his breath caught in his throat. He didn’t know who the second figure might be, but one of them must have been the woman. The explosion in the sky was not something that anyone would have been able to just walk away from. He’d served in Iraq and seen more than a few bombs go off. From grenades, to car bombs to air raids during the Gulf War, he’d seen them all, and this would have leveled the whole city. The woman saved all their asses.

He waited and watched as Indigo Knight zoomed toward the pair of figures.

“Sir,” a voice spoke and he jerked around to see who. It was one of his agents, Erin Shelley. Driggs point an index finger up and peered back up, but when he looked detected no sign of Indigo Knight or of the two figures.

He sighed, turned back to the woman and eyed her. “What is it agent?”

“Sir, you need to see this,” the agent said, both hands on her hips, peering back into the building over her shoulder.

Driggs nodded and followed her inside. He didn’t know what he expected, but what he found was unlike anything he might have imagined. For one, the giant seemed to be missing, he saw no body, or sign it’d left the building. The creature must be somewhere, but it was too big to have left without exiting through the hole in the wall or making a new one. How then had it escaped? Though strange, it was not why he’d been sought out. His eye’s scanned the room, Rathdrum was checking the inert body of Harrier for signs of life and another man was kneeling over the naked body of a young woman, but he spared neither of them a second glance. The cries of a second woman rang through the chamber and he leveled his gaze on her.

The girl was college age, and she too was naked. At first, he thought she might be the girl he’d seen in the news, the one possessed by Chemosh who’d been reigning destruction down on the city, but her face was all wrong. He’d been warned that the perp possessed multiple victims and that one of them had been a girl matching this other one’s description.

The girl was clawing at something dark resting on the ground. At first, he couldn’t make out what it might be, but as he drew closer, he realized it was Babalawo’s costume covered in the same goop the Gallu exuded. Though unusual, it was the things the girl was screaming between sobs that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

“No!” she screamed clawing at her bare chest. “My body! It can’t be gone! This isn’t me, this isn’t me!”

She curled up in a fetal position, and just lay there rocking back-and-forth sobbing and mumbling under her breath.

Avery put both hands on his hips sighed and turned his back on the girl. He spoke into his mic, in his shirt sleeve. “The Downing building is clear, but we will need medics and a recovery crew.”

From there the scene resolved into the tedium of cleanup and the follow up investigation. Though he witnessed many colleague’s die that day, some of them friends, it was the image of that girl that would stick with him for years to come.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 31 Pt 2


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

Ashira closed her eyes, fighting against the pain and attempted to muster a defense, but try as she might she could do nothing. She was not able summon her mental powers or even move a pinky. Somehow the exemplar had immobilized her.

She sensed a figure nearby, but not whether it was friend or foe. Babalawo screeched out a familiar “Gallu” and then there was a flash of light and searing hot pain. Thrown across the room and she believed the new attack was her undoing, but when she landed and her senses and abilities returned to her, she realized that nothing could be further from the truth.

Even as blood gushed from her, she felt her flesh pulsate and crawl across her bone and muscle mending the damage. She lurched to her feet and sprung forward, not waiting for her body to finish healing or for another attack to land home. Moloch leveled his weapons on Chemosh and Ashira knew the once-god had been responsible for the blast that had both saved her life and injured her. Ashira rounded on Chemosh, but as she threw her hands out Indigo Knight leveled his gaze on him.

“Destroy the gate and this will all be over!” His voice called out and spun around intent on carrying out his wishes.

Before Ashira had even taken a single step, Chemosh threw her hands out and sent the armored once-god careening across the chamber toward the woman. She saw the attack coming and lurched out of the way.

A beam of energy blasted out from Chemosh’s outstretched hand and Ashira responded by raising her palms. The blast struck her with a blinding burst of light, but as the once-god’s vision cleared she saw that the other being stood unaffected by the attack.

Ashira jerked forward threw her hands out and went on the offensive. Chemosh lurched from the ground flying across the room. At first, she seemed at the mercy of her opponent, but as the once-god screamed out her form stabilized and she spun around moving into the opposite direction toward the gateway. She landed at its base, grin spread across her face as a sickly green bubble flared to life around the ancient device.

Moloch scrambled to his feet, raised both fists and opened fire with a volley of projectiles that detonated against Chemosh’s shield with a series of muted thuds.

Indigo Knight glanced at Ashira, then back to the shield. “Cover for me. I’m going to bring down that shield. When you see my signal, get to the gateway and shut it down by whatever means necessary.”

Ashira, nodded and gritted her teeth. She lowered her hands to her sides and reached down with both palms extended out. The ground beneath her quaked, and the floor cracked. Chunks of concrete rose into the open air from the ground and she hurled them on by one at the shield directing Chemosh’s attention away from the armored form of the Indigo Knight.

Moloch moved with a speed that seemed to belie his bulky armored form. He dodged, concrete slabs, as they rose from the ground, with ease. When he reached the shield, Chemosh hurtled a bolt of energy at him, but that too he dodged. He pulled his fist back and slammed it into the shield, and the metal encasing his knuckles sizzled and shrieked, but as he pressed his gauntleted fist into the barrier, it pushed through.

Chemosh howled, sending another bolt of energy hurtling toward her armored sibling, but it did not hit its target, instead it ricochetted inside the barrier and struck the once-god in the shoulder. She screamed, slipping a hand over the wounded shoulder and stared at her opponent with wide eyes. Whatever Indigo Knight was doing, he seemed to have caught the other being off guard.

She took a step back, but the shield did not move with her. Chemosh gasped and cried out in pain as her backside struck the inside the barrier. Moloch lurched forward, passing the rest of the way through the barrier and stumbled a few steps forward. She threw her hands out, unleashing another wave of energy at her brother. The beam struck him in the chest, but he’d lurched forward slamming the other being down to the ground.

The shield convulsed, and pulsated, flaring with a burst of light. Though her eyes watered and the luminescent blinded her, she reached out with her mind. She felt the gateway, it was foreign, even to the part of her that was Ashtar. There was a strange quality to the energy which was surging through it, but that was the least of her worries. The power within the device was building and when she did not want to see what happened when it reached its peak.

Though Ashtar had never understood how the device worked, there were components she recognized as they were common to many devices designed by her people’s engineers. The power regulator, for instance, was one such piece. She concentrated on that one little segment of the gateway and pulled at with all of her willpower. At first, nothing seemed to happen, but then it broke free, bursting out of the device with a shower of sparks.

The blue sphere swirled and rippled pulsating with energy. Though the device was loosing power it did not die out, but instead seemed to grow larger. Ashira’s breath caught in her throat and she was certain she had doomed them all. Then a howl of pure anguish escaped Hailey’s lips, and she saw it had worked.

Bolts of energy shot out of the gateway, hitting the wall and ceiling, Ashira, Indigo Knight and Chemosh scrambled to the ground, to avoid getting hit. Then it happened. The gateway became a vacuum, sucking everything everything into the portal. It happened with small items at first, and Ashira watched the blood drawing from Hailey’s face as the first bits of gravel rose into the air.

Chemosh’s previous host’s inert form rose into the air and the immortal grabbed the inert girl’s wrists and took off running, but before she’d gotten more than a few feet away, it sucked her back toward the rift.

Moloch, dug his heels in, and a pair of thrusters ignited on his chest. He snatched one hand out and grabbed Hailey’s wrists. Thought the part of her that was Sapphira was screaming inside her to do something, Ashira kept her distance. She did not understand why Indigo Knight would try to save Chemosh after all the terrible things she had done.

“Help me!” He screamed. “It’s not too late to save the host!”

Now she understood, he’d been trying to save Hailey not Chemosh. Regardless, if she did nothing, Moloch would fail. She clenched her teeth, using her abilities to keep herself from being pulled into the maelstrom and reached out, not toward Chemosh, but instead tunneling deeper where Hailey’s consciousness was hanging on by a thread.

Ashira’s breath caught in her throat when she touched the girl’s mind. She’d been aware during Chemosh’s infestation of her mind and had witnessed everything the other being had done through her own eyes. Haley recoiled from the touch of the other’s mind. Huddled within the corner of her consciousness, she was curled up in the mental equivalent of the fetal position. She did not fight the other woman, but instead recoiled from the touch of her mind.

Ashira had planned to rile the other woman up and have her fight to break Chemosh’s hold, but the girl’s mind was a shambles.

She gritted her teeth, furrowed her brows and reached deeper. If Hailey was unable to fight for herself, she’d just have to do it for her.

No longer fed by the energies of the gateway and fighting for dear life Chemosh was no longer a powerhouse. That is not to say, however, that Ashira did not have one hell of a fight on her hands. The once-god was desperate and had been back into a corner. It was like fighting off the attacks of a wounded animal. Yes, she was dealt a terrible blow, yes it had weakened her, but if sucked into the collapsing gateway there was no telling what would become of her.

Chemosh put up a wall, trying to block Ashira from the girl, but his opponent push through it with ease. The once-god attacks became more frantic and lashed out at the woman, with the simple goal of ridding her from her mind. There fight devolved into a tug-o-war, in what amounted to a battle for Hailey’s soul.

Every time Ashira tried to push through Chemosh’s defenses he rallied and pushed her back. She was running short on time. if she could not finish her opponent, they would all succumb to the gateway. It was the part of her that was Sapphira that succeeded where she had failed.

She screamed out and Sapphira’s desperation flooded through her. Hailey was her only living link to her daughter, and though she did not know the girl she still cared for her in her own way. Ashira clenched her teeth and hot tears stung her cheeks. She pushed again and this time a well of emotions burst out of her. Fueled by the frantic desires of a grandfather desperate to save his only living relative, Ashira gained the upper hand.

The unmovable will of the once-god crumbled away before her. A whimper escaped Hailey’s lips and a dark cloud rose out and away from her form like ink into water. At first, it hovered in the air unaffected by the vacuum of the gateway. Ashira’s breath caught in her throat, but as she stared into the myst, it lurched away from Hailey and toward Chemosh’s previous host.

Ashira screamed, threw her hand out and with a single telekinetic shove sent Chemosh spinning away. The ink cloud careened into the gateway and a high-pitched wail filled the air just before being sucked into it. Ashira hung there, facing the gateway, a part of her expecting it to collapse or explode once the other being had met his fate, but nothing changed.

She was unable to determine how long, or if the gateway would ever stop, but if she didn’t do something, people would die. Ashira lashed out, severing the device from the building’s power source, and though it flickered it did not stop. She could only guess it was now drawing power from another source.

It was putting out a tremendous amount of energy and she sensed that it would soon go critical. Without understanding how the device worked, she knew of no way to destroy it without risking the lives of everyone around her. The last attempt had been a desperate gamble, and it had paid off, but it could still blow up in her face.

Perhaps there was a way…

She reached deep within herself rose into the air and with sheer force of will pulled the gateway from the ground along with her. She zoomed across the chamber, dragging it through the hole left by Garos, all while laying layer after layer of shields around the device. All those caught up in the device’s vacuum sped through the opening after her, but as a fourth sheet of energy snapped into place, they all collapsed to the ground outside the building.

Ashira rose into the empty sky hauling the gateway behind her. It was growing more unstable by the moment she knew she was running short on time. She put on the speed, rising higher and higher from the ground. Though she did not know how long she had, she would make every second count.

She sensed the device explode before she saw it happen and it took all of her willpower to contain the resulting explosion of energy. Sweat dripped from her brow as she fought to keep the shields contained, but one by one it ate at each layer. She screamed out, the heat from the blast rippling through her body, just before the final layer buckled against the pressure and shattered into oblivion. The force was more than Ashira could contain and she plummeted succumbing to darkness.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 31 Pt 1


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

Indigo Knight sat upright. His head throbbed and his ears rung, but he was alive, for the time being. At first he could see nothing save for a homogeneous blur through the slits in his helmet.

The current iteration of his armor utilized external cameras and sensors, and fed him an incredible amount of data. It also made him reliant on the suit’s systems. When those systems failed, which only happened once before and even then only under extreme circumstances, it left him helpless. The heads-up display flared to life illuminating the room before his eyes. He made a mental note to see if he might be able increase visibility through the eye slots.

Now that the humans were keeping Chemosh occupied he stepped into action. His counterpart believed him dead, thanks to his suit. He’d gotten the idea from a human term, a dead man’s switch. The suit would stop his heart and revive him after a set period.

Such an ordeal would have been traumatic to a human, but his people possessed healing capabilities that helped get him up and going where a Terran would have been down for the count.   Though powerless after banishing Chemosh into the realm of the Gallu, he still possessed his healing abilities and he sensed when others used their powers around him.

As his suit finished rebooting, he looked around taking in the surrounding scene. Harrier and Garos seemed to have fallen in battle. Indigo Knight turned his attention to the center of the chamber where Agent Van den Broeke, Psyren and Chemosh stood. Bathed in light, they appeared to be locked in a battle of will. He knew the agent had no telepathic abilities from the moment he first met her, but how had she entered the fight?
As he studied them, he came to understand. It was the bond she shared with Sapphira, though a faint hum, he could sense the energies vibrating between them.

He spotted movement and turned his gaze upon Babalawo, the young man with abilities so similar to the Gallu. The other man seemed oblivious to him, moving across the chamber toward the motionless trio. Though he didn’t have reason to distrust the exemplar, he tensed as he watched him walk. The man’s movements were stiff, almost mechanical where before the man moved with smooth grace. It made the hair stand on the back of his neck.

He did not confront the man, but rather watched. If his instincts were correct, then it might be best if Babalawo did not know of his prescence. If he needed to stop the man, it would be much easier with the element of surprise on his side. The Gallu were hard to kill. Their ability to phase through matter meant that so long as they remained in their phased state they were impervious to most conventional weapons. Moloch suspected the same would be true of the exemplar.

The Gallu… Indigo Knight peered back out the opening in the building made by Garos as realization hit him. Why was it none of the creatures entered the building? They loved to feed on dying exemplars and the energies being unleashed within from Chemosh alone would have been enough to draw them like bees to honey.

He eyed the gateway, noting the girl laying at its base. One of Chemosh’s former hosts. He tried to avoid direct confrontations with his brother over the centuries, but he was often on scene in the aftermath cleaning up her messes. He’d left a lot of hosts behind, most of those times they were dead, but there were he left one that was still breathing. This girl fell into the latter category. Which  meant Chemosh had wiped her mind clean.  She would be a blank slate.

Why leave the girl at all? He’d had ample opportunity to kill her, unless he intended to make use of the body. He jerked his head up, eying the gateway as understanding dawned on him. There was one way to know for certain if his suspicions were correct.

Though his suit was a technological marvel to the people of Earth, to a being who had once witnessed stars and entire solar systems destroyed in the blink of an eye the armor was a limited, but useful tool. He’d made use of human tech to build it, but he’d made many improvements with his knowledge of the sciences. The sensors alone were, perhaps the most advanced part of the armor, and it was that which he activated.

A sinking feeling formed in the pit of his stomach as the results of his scans appeared on the HUD. Chemosh had made extensive modifications to the gateway, and… she was making use of the Downing building’s power source to fuel the additional power requirements. He had designed the reactor himself, and he had intended it for more than the building itself, but to also to provide energy to the Indigo Knight’s new regional base.

He had provided his brother the means through which she was enacting her plan.

The chamber flooded with light and Moloch spun around in time to make out two figures become one. Agent Van den Broeke’s form merged with that of her charge. Their forms contorted and bent, pulsating between their two forms, before they stabilized on one somewhere between the two but also possessed features which neither possessed. He recognized those as well, though he had not laid eyes on the being who owned them in many centuries. They belonged to Ashtar.

His breath caught in his throat as his mind raced, but before he could form any conclusions Babalawo struck. The letting out a high-pitched almost inhuman screech as he slipped his hand through the amalgamation’s chest.

“Gallu!”  The man shrieked and Moloch understood what force had overtaken the exemplar. He trained raised both arms training his suits weapons on the man, but hesitated. If he fired, the resulting blast might hit Babalawo’s victim.

The woman’s eyes, looked unfocused, as if in a daze, but the more Babalawo dug around inside her chest, the more her eyes came into focus. She gasped, and her eyes grew wide staring down in horror as she noticed the world around her. She would soon die if he did nothing.

Seeing no other alternative Moloch opened fire.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 30


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

Light flooded out from the pair of exemplar’s washing over the surging torrent of Chemoshes. One by one each of the once-gods were consumed by the light emitting a shriek of agony before disappearing into nothingness. The luminescence grew brighter and even the streets themselves receded into it.

Amy, Sapphira, and Ashtar become one. Where once three awarenesses existed, there was only a singular consciousness. One with the training and mental discipline of an AEGIS agent, the knowledge, expertise and raw power of a goddess, and Everett’s life experience.

As the conjured realm became swept up on the tidal wave of light, their combined consciousness noticed the outside world, but it was not yet time to return. The streets of New Hebron gave way to the blackness of the void, and a single set of eyes looked about.

The woman, looked down on herself. Her well-endowed form unfamiliar, her skin looked too light, but also too dark. She cupped her breasts; they were both too small and too large. Her fingers  too slender and too stubby. Everything about this woman was a contradiction, even her memories seemed inconsistent.

She remembered being a young transgender girl terrorized by an abusive father, recalled being a man who had lost everyone and everything he’d held dear, and knew also that she’d once ruled over thousands as a cruel and malevolent goddess. The woman glanced down at her hands flexing them and marveled at the new experience.

The woman, or Ashira as she thought of herself, jerked her head sideways gazing at a specific point in the emptiness. A figure materialized before her and she tensed staring across the void at the slender form of Chemosh.

The once-god did not act as Ashira expected, neither attacking nor speaking, but instead stepped around the amalgamation. With each step her eyes grew wider and when she’d done a complete three-sixty around the other woman, she stopped her jaw hanging open.

“H-how is this possible?”

Ashira cocked her head and eyed the other being with a slow shake of her head. “I’m not certain I understand the process myself, but we both it is unimportant.”

Chemosh threw both hands up and a beam of energy burst out toward Ashira. A blue bubble snapped into place around her. The blast slammed into the barrier and dissipated. This time the shield did not wobble or quiver, but kept its shape.

The once-god dropped her hands, the beam faded and before she could level another attack against her opponent, Ashira countered. She did not strike with an energy beam or make use of her telekinesis. Armed with the knowledge of a ghost of a virtual goddess, she understood how ineffective it would be to use such tactics.

Ashira stretched her mind out toward Chemosh. She slammed into a wall, a metal barrier she could see no direct path through, but that just meant she would have to make one.

Ashira was the amalgamation of three awarenesses, but it went beyond that, she possessed the spark, the power which fueled Sapphira’s abilities and Ashtar’s before her. She possessed incredible power, and though Chemosh seemed to draw energy from the gate, his awareness did not exist within this realm. The once-god would be no match for a being such as Ashira.

One by one she overcame the layers and the mental barrier crumbled away before her. As she stretched out her senses able to touch the other’s mind, she heard laughter, and sensed the wall come back down around her. She did not understand. Had she walked into a trap or was something else at work?

For a time there the darkness, so complete, so all-encompassing, that there was nothing. Even thought did not seem to exist within the abyss, identical in every way to the one which had bridge their minds. Ashira became aware and the endless black receded. A scene unfolding itself around her. A figure stood atop a platform, and thousands supplicated themselves below.

The figure was short, by modern standards, but as she watched him move, his bare chest rippled with muscles, and she realized he looked familiar. To the part of her that was Ashtar she recognized him as Chemosh, but to the parts that were Sapphira and Amelia his face was familiar for other reasons. His features and skin tone were different, in minute ways, but just enough he resembled a person of middle-eastern descent rather than the man of European descent he presented himself as in modern times.

Time progressed, and the god known as Chemosh grew bored with his existence. Even flittering between the Moabites, who knew him by his proper name and the Ammonites who knew him as Moloch did nothing to sate his discontent. His kind were adaptive they took whatever form suited their needs and so he changed. The face he came to wear belonged to Ashtar.

And so she continued her reign. This female aspect came to call herself Ashtar. Within her existed darkness, much like that that within Chemosh, but while she did not shirk away from violence, she did not lust for it when she wore a male face. She was a force of nature, a maelstrom of sensuality that manipulated those who worshiped with glee. She took countless lovers to fill the void within herself. Absent was the gentle and caring being that agent and Sapphira would later encounter.

Sometimes she would return to her male form, and on those occasions she meted out violent with the same ferocity as before. In either form she committed countless atrocities. Sometimes she even encouraged her adherents to perform human sacrifices or send them off on fruitless quests just because it amused her. Human worshippers were killed or maimed to entertain her male side or because they had dissatisfied her. She sent her subjects off to war and would even pit the Ammonites and Moabites against one another.

There was another man, he looked familiar to Ashira, but she could not name him. She believed he may have served as a priest at one point. She witnessed Ashtar making love to the man, riding him so hard that he collapsed in exhaustion. Time and time again she took lovers, some female, some male all attractive. When she made love, she was passionate and violent. She would strike the object of her desires with the back of a hand, or press the man or woman into the wall with enough force to break bones, but she did not care. She abused them and then discarded them when they could no longer sate her lust or on a whim.

“This is wrong, this can’t be true,” she called out, but there was no answer.

The images flashed to many ancient places, some of them Ashira recognized some she did not. A figures sitting upon assorted thrones, standing amongst supplicating worshippers, or watching battlefields with cold disinterest in their eyes as those who served them flung themselves into battle with fanatical zeal. These were beings like Ashtar and Chemosh across the world and in many places.

Then one by one these false gods, were overthrown by worshippers who’d grown discontent with their deities.  She saw them dying, ripped apart by their own worshippers. Unable to defend themselves against angry mobs that seemed to stretch on for miles. Though they were powerful the sheer numbers of their former adherents proved their downfall.

This much Ashira remembered she’d inherited those memories from Ashtar, but even so there were differences. She watched as Ashtar-Chemosh looked on in terror, but soon she convinced herself that her peers had become lax, and had done it to themselves. Even so, her doubt and it ate at her like a cancer.

Though she ridiculed the downfall of her rivals, she feared that the same might happen to her, and so she took steps to uncover and quell any rebels. She did not realize, at first, that she was fueling the fire of discontent. Adherents were taken and held prisoner if they showed the slightest signs of unrest.  The goddess even became so desperate she peered into the mind of those she captured. When she found no signs of rebellion, she did not quit, unable to quell her fears. So, she invaded the minds of even her most ardent followers and that brought about change.

She understood the humans which she so despised. She viewed them as a lower-life form, much as a human might look upon livestock, there only to serve her. That changed. She wept, when she saw the pain a misery she’d visited upon her followers and she even felt guilt, but this created conflict.

These were foreign emotions to her kind, they knew nothing of kindness, or even love. A wild, almost primal hunger for power drove every action. Nothing else mattered to them. The trauma to her psyche was irreparable and as a result it split her asunder. Her people were adaptive, and so her spark compensated, not be merging the three identities, but by tearing them apart and giving them each a form of their own.

Three beings emerged, each taking upon themselves a familiar name. Chemosh, became the embodiment of everything Ashtar had come to loath about herself, a creature that hated everything and everyone and wanted nothing but more power. Moloch, became the embodiment of her guilt, and would always carry it upon his shoulders and Ashtar embodied compassion, and love and she would come to wear it like a badge of honor.

Of the three, Chemosh was the only one who remembered their true origins. Moloch remembered being the brother of Chemosh instead of a different aspect of his personality, and Ashtar believed herself to be their wife a fickle creature who moved between them whenever she grew bored. For a time, when they emerged they lived an uneasy peace, but over time each became convinced that the others were too dangerous and they turned upon the other. Chemosh for fear he would succumb to the madness again, Ashtar because she feared that the others would destroy their worshippers out of spite and Moloch for much the same reason.

Ashira saw the three battling, and this much, at least, she remembered, but the details were very different. She recalled a grand battle between their three different military forces. In this version, there were only two armies, the Ammonites and the Moabites, and they were fighting amongst themselves as much as against one another. Each of the three gods ordered their worshippers to attack the other army, but considering they had come from three different versions of the same deity it was no wonder there should be so much confusion.

Amidst the chaos they fought, flinging one another across rooms, demolishing everything in their path, whether it be a pillar, a wall, or one of their many worshippers. Moloch was the first resorted to invading the other’s minds, and when they became linked Ashtar and Moloch saw that Chemosh represented the real threat. Within him they saw all the wrongdoing they’d done manifested in physical form.

And so they joined forces. Even when the pair combined their wills, it took hours for them to defeat the other god and when the ordeal was over, it had decimated their armies and those few that remained turned upon them. They fled, with Chemosh their captive.

When they escaped, they faced a decision. Kill Chemosh or imprison him. Before their split,  such a decision would not have been difficult. They possessed no mercy, but they no longer thought in such a way. Death and destruction did not have the same allure, and their sensibilities would not allow them to end the life of one they believed to be a brother and a lover. And so they spared him.

Long ago, they had come to Earth, not by ship, but through the same gateway that Chemosh and Garos would millennia later steal from AEGIS. It was that device which they used to banish Chemosh to the realm of the Gallu. A race of extra-dimensional creatures that their kind had long feared because of their volatile nature and their tendency to feed upon the life energies of those near death, but ones which did not possess the technology or intelligence to travel outside their realm. It would be a horrendous fate, but his demise would not be on their conscience.

Chemosh’s reckoning ended there, but Ashtar’s memories filled in the remaining gaps. After the battle Moloch, seemed to have lost his abilities. Though he did not age that seemed to be the only remaining trait that differentiated him from a human. Their little skirmish had resulted in the deaths of countless humans, and it was only afterward Moloch had muddled over the consequences of their actions.

Ashtar had told Sapphira that Chemosh had been the cause of her departure and Moloch’s impotence, but that had been yet another piece of the delusion. Though the effect was different, the reason was the same, their guilt was eating away at them.

Ashtar had other reasons for leaving. With Moloch she shared her belief that their people were a danger to humanity, and they needed to leave Earth before they inflicted further harm. Moloch felt they must remain and try to undo some of the damage they had inflicted upon mankind. Despite this dispute they parted on civil terms. Ashtar left Earth, and though she had vowed to stay away, she would remain vigilant, just in case its people should ever have need of her.

As for Moloch, he agreed to hide the gateway some place out of humanities reach, but Ashtar never knew what had become of him.

And with a start, Ashira came awake in the real world, gasping for breath and grabbing at her chest which was throbbing in pain. She was under attack, but as she tried to fight back, she grew weaker and weaker. She had come awake too late to save herself. Her vision was blurred, and it was getting worse by the moment, but she could just make out the form of Babalawo standing over her. He had phased his hand inside her chest and his fingers had found purchase around her heart.

As he squeezed the life out of her, Ashira heard Chemosh’s laughter fill the chamber. The images she’d projected in her mind had been to keep her occupied while she summoned her puppet. It had been a trap, and she had walked right into it.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 29 Pt 3


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

The world around Amy sputtered and flickered, dissolving like snow on a hot day. Her mother smiled, displaying her razor-sharp teeth, and waved before evaporating. Amy shuddered. The image was burned into her mind; it was the thing of nightmares, and she knew the creature would make an appearance in her dreams.

Amelia looked around and her breath catch in her throat. She was back on the street where she’d last seen Sapphira. A mass of misshapen bodies were writhing in a heap. The other exemplar was nowhere in sight, but Amy’s instinct told her where she could find her.

She lurched forward, grabbing at a limb with both arms, dug her feet in and tossed the creature over her shoulder. The creature screeched and wailed as its form dissolved into the air. She didn’t stop to marvel, but rather grabbed the next and flung it away. It too disintegrated. When she reached for a third, she gasped and jerked back.

A twisted version of her own face grinned up at her, but although disconcerting, that was not the worst feature of the creature. It was the body, a mash up of male and female dripping fluid from its privates and penises for fingers, that had elicited such a strong reaction.

From the moment she’d come out as transgender, people treated her like a freak. This creature was the visual manifestation of so many of the slurs and insults slung at her over the years.

Mock-Amy jerked to its feet, grinned with a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth and pounced at the agent. Amy dove sideways and slammed into the creature as it lurch into the space she’d just vacated. It stumbled to the ground and Amy gritted her teeth kicking it in the side as it stumbled to the ground. It howled, crying out in pain, but the agent did not relent.

She drew her gun and opened fire, but didn’t bother reloading. She didn’t need to. Her weapon was as much of an illusion as the creature. Her clip was full because she wanted it to be full.

The creature seemed immune to the conjured bullets. It didn’t even flinch when one of them struck dead center in its forehead. Amy backed away and slipped the gun back into its holster. She sensed that something had changed, but she did not muddle it over. Her duplicate jerked forward, and the agent slammed into it with her shoulder.

She might as well have run into a brick wall. Amy grunted and stumbled back staring at the creature with wide eyes. It grabbed out and latched its hands around her wrist. Amy jerked back, but her other self seemed to have developed super human strength. She kicked and clawed at it, but nothing she seemed to have any effect.

The monster laughed, a cackle which sounded similar to her own. It tugged on her wrist and Amy dug her heels in struggling to keep herself from being pulled forward, but her opponent was just too strong. The creature pulled her in and latched another hand around her free wrist. It grinned at her, displaying all its teeth then sank them into her shoulder.

Amy shrieked, her shoulder erupting with stabbing hot pain as her counterpart’s teeth ripped and shredded through her flesh. She renewed her struggle, but the creature only tightened its grip around her wrists. She kicked her captor, but it didn’t even so much as a grunt.

The creature lifted its jaws, Amy’s blood dripping and splattering on her shoulder and neck. Its mouth brush her ear, and it cackled again, this time sounding less than human.

Amy shivered, her mind racing as she felt the creatures breath on the back of her neck. If it killed her inside this conjured reality would she die? She’d faced death more than once, and she’d be lying if she said she didn’t fear it, but the thought of what Chemosh would do if left unopposed terrified her.

The creature’s grip was like iron and no amount of struggling would free her. The agent screamed out for help, but no aid came.

“You really think you can beat me, Amy? This isn’t your mind.” the creature said and bit into her shoulder again.

“No, it’s mine,” A voice spoke, and a figure emerged from out of street.

Sapphira stood between the creature and the agent. She looked worn, her clothing was tattered, her hair was a mess and scrapes and scratches covered her arms and legs, but to the agent’s eye she looked fierce. The other exemplar held her hand out, and Amy heard the creature gurgle. The monster’s grip around her wrist loosened, and the agent fell to her knees.

It screamed and Amy rolled away, gritting her teeth against the pain in her shoulder. She climbed to her feet and spun back around to face the creature, but it was already in its death throes. Sapphira clenched her open palm shut and in response its arms and legs jerking and contorting before plunging into its torso.

Faux-Amy emitted one more screech before the rest of its body, twisted and bent into itself. Before long, it faded into nothingness and leaving Amy and Sapphira standing in an empty street.

Amy glanced at her shoulder, though her flesh had mended, her clothes were still torn. She couldn’t say whether it was the work of the creature, Sapphira or her subconscious.

A long drawn out cackle echoed through the street, and both exemplars spun around seeking to find the source, but the laughter seemed to be coming from everywhere. A figure emerged from a side street, it was Chemosh.

The agent felt her breath catch in her throat, not at the sight of Chemosh, but at what followed. Hundred’s of figures came pouring out of the adjoining streets, every single one of them were Chemosh and they were all grinning.

‘This place is but an illusion, the only limits are those which you impose upon yourself.’

Ashtar’s words rang through Amy’s mind. It was that single sentence that had given her the foreknowledge to defeat the ghost of her father, escape her mother, and destroy two of the creatures that had been terrorizing Sapphira.

There was now an endless stream of Chemoshes pouring into the street from all directions. Amy hadn’t even bothered trying to count them, there were too many to even make an attempt. She wasn’t going down without a fight no matter how futile the attempt would be. Her heart hammering in her chest, she reached for her gun, but hesitated as the final words of Ashtar’s warning repeated in her mind.

‘Chemosh is powerful. He has lived for millennia, and there is no limit to his depravity. Though you hold power within your own mind, he will overcome you if you standalone. Only if the three of us merge our wills, shall we be successful.’

Amy furrowed her brows raised her weapon and opened fire on the flood of Chemoshes. Why had the once-goddess chosen such a strange way to phrase that last sentence? She hadn’t thought it over, but now faced with her own demise her mind had returned to the conversation in some hope she could unlock a secret meaning.

Where was Ashtar? If they must somehow join their wills why wasn’t she present? Realization struck the agent. Not once had Chemosh shown any sign he even knew the former goddess had left an imprint on Sapphira’s mind. She must have been hiding, but how then could they hope to defeat the once-god?

Realization struck, with the force of a physical blow. Amy dropped her gun and grabbed Sapphira by the shoulders and pulled the other woman close and locked her lips with her. She reached out, touching the other’s mind. Moments ago, she never would have ever made such an attempt, but Ashtar’s message had landed home. She had been imposing limits upon herself.

No more.

Understanding dawned in Sapphira’s mind. The other exemplar returned her kiss and a brilliant burst of light enveloped them. Nothing would ever be the same.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 29 Pt 2


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

For Amy, when the void evaporate a cityscape did not appear around her but rather a bedroom. She narrowed her eyes and glanced around as the room materialized around her. It looked familiar, but until it completed its manifestation, she did not know why.

Against the north wall rested a twin bed, made up with a set of well-worn Kim Possible sheets and matching bedspread, a cheap pre-fabricated chest of drawers sat opposite it and a misshapen beanbag chair rested against the wall near the door. Star Wars, Linkin Park The Strokes and about a half a dozen different cartoon posters adorned the walls. She knew them all well; the items had once adorned her childhood bedroom.

Given the choice Amy would have gone with much more feminine decor, but she’d been lucky to convince her parents just to let her have the Kim Possible bed set. When she still lived at home, she often imagined what her room might have looked like if allowed to decorate it as she pleased.

She’d always wanted lavender walls, and she imagined that she would have thrown up a few posters from her favorite pop artists. The rest wouldn’t have been too different, she’d never been much for ponies, princesses or the like. It would have been just feminine enough to show it belonged to a girl. Instead, she had woken up to a lie every single day of her young life.

The door creaked, and a figure stepped inside the room. At first his form was nothing more than a shadow, but as the man moved toward the agent, his features took form. It was her father, Mark van den Broeke.

She swallowed and looked up at him though above average her father was not so tall as to turn heads. This version of her father’s hair brushed against the seven-foot high ceiling, but that was not the only difference. Her father spent most of his free-time guzzling beer after beer. As a result his physique was soft and doughy, but the version of Mark van den Broeke that stepped into the room, had the body of an athlete.

“Just what the hell, do you think you’re doin’?” He threw his hands out toward her. He spoke with a slight slur as he so often did when he was drunk. Amelia stepped back remembering all the beatings she’d undergone at his hands. “Get out of that shit, right now you fuckin’ queer.”

Amy glanced down at herself and swallowed hard. Though her body had not changed from the one she’d worn since being pulled into Sapphira and Chemosh’s mental arena, she could not say the same for her clothing. She was wearing her sister’s prom dress, she had tried out many times in secret when she’d still been living at home. Though it had never been her style, it had always fascinated her, because of what it represented.

She balled her fists, at her side and glared up at her father between gritted teeth. She screamed out in defiance, but it was a futile effort. Hands reached out and grabbed her and he threw her against the wall. She threw out her hands and feet, clawing and kicking at her father, but her father’s arms just seemed to multiply, one latched around each of her wrists and ankles.

Another pair of arms, reached for the straps of the dress, pulling so hard he tore the fabric. “No son of mine is gonna wear a goddamned dress.”

As he pulled the dress away from her chest, her breasts seemed to deflate fading away as the garment came free. She screamed, but her father was too strong. With each centimeter he pulled it down her body, the more masculine her physique seemed to become.

“No!” Amy screamed out between gritted teeth. She knew what would happen if the dress came free and she could not allow it. That was when she remembered what Ashtar had said to her. She’d been so swept up in what she’d been seeing she had almost given herself over to the illusion.

She gritted her teeth, ignored the gigantic form of her father and screamed out for Sapphira. There was a flash. She was in the streets of New Hebron where Clara Stern had been murder. She could see the other exemplar, surrounded by dozens of misshapen figures, each more grotesque than the last. One wore her own face, and another wore Hailey’s, but the rest were strangers to the agent.

She opened her mouth to speak, but there was another flash and she was back in the room with her father. Amelia was no longer pinned against the wall, but stood on the other side of the room a few feet away. The agent glanced down at her chest, pulled the prom dress back up and let out a sign of relief as her breasts re-materialize under the surface of the fabric.

She gritted her teeth and concentrated on what she was wearing. The prom dress disappeared, and in its place materialized the same outfit she was wearing in the real world, black slacks, a blue blouse and her AEGIS jacket. A smile touched the corner of Amelia’s lips as she reached into her windbreaker and produced her pistol from within its holster.

Her father approached, his arms stretching out to unnatural proportions, reaching across the room toward her. Though the gun was a projection of her mind, it felt real enough. So, she opened fire. The bullet impacted him in the chest, and he let out a high-pitched screech. Her father lurched forward. Amy gritted her teeth, let out a scream of her own and unloaded the clip.

Her father, stood there peering down at the bloody mass on his chest, and glanced back up at Amy. He teetered on his feet, then fell face first to the ground. The agent moved toward the door but stopped dead in her tracks when another figure stepped into the doorway.

Amy, paused glanced at her gun and slipped it backed into the holster. Her mother hadn’t been there for her, but she couldn’t bring herself to attack her mother even an illusionary version of her. It was a realization that might have given her pause if Maggie van den Broeke hadn’t been smiling at her with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth.

This time, Amy did not draw her weapon, but focused her will elsewhere. She already wasted enough time confronting her own demons. It was time to face a few of Sapphira’s.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 29 Pt 1


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

When they emerged inside the void Sapphira, wasted no time unleashing a beam of energy at Chemosh. Though aware of Van den Broeke, he did not speak or acknowledge the other exemplar for fear of drawing attention on her. Amy had none of their abilities and had no way of defending herself. If he could keep the other occupied, perhaps he would spare her his wrath. Though a faint hope, it was all he had.

Chemosh’s form was bathed in light as the blast cascaded around her outstretched hands. She might have looked angelic if it hadn’t been for the malicious grin stretched across her face. Sapphira dropped his hands, letting the energy flicker and die. He pursed his lips and dove forward to dodge the other’s counterattack, but there was no way to avert or ward off what came next.

Color coalesced all around them, muted images sprang to life growing brighter and more vivid in seconds. Amy and Chemosh faded away. A city took form around them, and Sapphira swallowed hard as he came to recognize the images all around him. It was New Hebron where his daughter had died. He froze peering all around; the street was devoid of people or cars. Otherwise it was just as he remembered that fateful night.

Even in the dark, the shadows seemed bright compared to the emptiness of the void. He looked around and stopped. He locked his eyes on to the exact spot where it had happened. He furrowed his brows and stepped closer. As he did, an outline of a car and a pair of forms huddled on the ground took shape. They grew more vivid with each step and when Sapphira was close stopped dead in his tracks.

Not again.

He found what he expected, but it didn’t make it any easier. Hot tears stung his cheeks, and he tasted bile in his mouth. He gritted his teeth and looked down at his former self, clasping the dying form of Clara.

His past self wept and Sapphira did too. Sapphira sobbed, between breaths, but Everett cried making no sound. When Clara’s last breath escaped her lips, Everett looked up at his future self and glowered.

Sapphira took a step back, his breath catching in his throat as he eyed his other self between sobs.

“Look at you!” Everett screamed out at him. “Look at what you’ve become!”

Sapphira took another step back, but did not speak. Instead, he clenched bath fists at his side and watched his former self shake with rage.

“That monster killed our daughter, and you just let him go! How could you?!”

“I-I,” Sapphira sobbed and felt his eyes grow wide. “I thought that was what I wanted, but I’ve come to understand that it wasn’t right. That’s not who we are!”

“It’s not who you are! You weak, degenerate, twisted freak!” Everett scream, lurching to his feet, his bloodied form still dripping blood. “If only we’d been given powers before it was too late! I never would have gotten involved in all this namby-pamby nonsense.”

Sapphira stood there breathing in and out, trying to steady his breath. He let out a high-pitched scream and scowled at the old man. “You don’t understand a damn thing, old man, you’re angry and hurt, but that doesn’t excuse the hatred and bigotry you have spread. I’m ashamed of things I said and did when I was you!”

Sapphira screamed again, and his, or rather her, past self cackled and an all-too familiar inhuman grin spread over his face. “Oh Sapphira,” he asked. “Why so defensive?”

Sapphira threw both hands up projecting a wave of energy that sent the old man hurtling away. She spun around, expecting Chemosh to emerge, but instead silence followed. She heard soft, feminine laughter and turned back to his daughter’s corpse. The body had jerked sitting upright, and she leveled her cold dead eyes on him. Her face cracked into a grin and her lips parted revealing a double row of razor-sharp teeth.

Clara glanced down at her hands, cocking her head sideways as her fingernails extended outward becoming thicker and sharper. She lurched forward swiping at Sapphira and the exemplar lurched back as the other’s new claws raked the empty air.

The ground rumbled all around her and Sapphira jumped back as it cracked and gave way around him. A dozen or more forms emerged from the ground. Every creature was more misshapen and inhuman than the last. Each wore a grotesque version of a familiar face, his wife, his granddaughter, his parents, and a ten-year-old boy whose face he’d almost forgotten, his older brother who had died when he was still young.

Other faces from the past joined the mix, but the only one that produced a scream of terror belonged to the creature who resembled Amelia. Her face was a near perfect recreation, but that was the only resemblance. She leveled her blood-red eyes on Sapphira and grinned at her with a mouthful of fangs. This produced another scream from the exemplar. Though one of the most grotesque things she had ever laid eyes on, it was the fact that it looked on her with Amy’s eyes that so disturbed her.

Amy’s body was twisted and contorted into impossible proportions, but that wasn’t even the most appalling thing. One breast drooped from her chest, stretched and swollen and hung inches above the ground. The other half of her chest was flat and covered in grizzled hair. She had a complete vulva between her legs, but it squirted green cum on the ground with each new step.

Amy stretched its hands out, and Sapphira jerked away from them realizing as she did so that instead of fingers each digit resembled a penis, some circumcised and some not. The creature called out, but it spoke with such a strong slur, that Sapphira could make neither heads nor tales of what it said.

Sapphira heard a voice call out, but she couldn’t be sure to who it belonged. She spun around, a figure flickered into sight before her and disappeared again. She did not recognize the figure which had been faint, but she thought it might have been Amy. She called out her name, but received no answer.

The mock-Amy lurched forward backhanding her with one of her phallic hands and Sapphira jerked back, not quite avoiding the attack. Though she experienced no pain, the blow sent her reeling away into the chortling form of Barbara, her dead wife. She knew she was looking upon an illusion and that these creatures were not her loved ones, but despite this understand she did not attack.

The creature that resembled Barbara, lurched forward her clawed fingers raking the side of her breasts. Sapphira jerked away, avoiding another attack from her mother. She was maybe three feet up when something latched onto her ankle and was slammed back down to the ground. The exemplar never learned which of her attackers had been responsible before being buried under a writhing mass of misshapen figures. Her cries fell on deaf ears.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 28


Official Report
The Downing Building
New Hebron, California

Brilliant bursts of energy cascaded around the pair of exemplars and Sapphira barred his teeth and screamed. The moment the attack hit, his shield flared to life and while it quivered and shook with each new beam, it held against every blast. A near inhuman screech escaped Hailey’s lips and Chemosh ceased her attack. Sapphira peered at the once-god breath caught in his throat and heart pounding in his chest.

A loud rumble quaked through the chamber and Chemosh turned her head eying the combatting forms of Harrier, Babalawo and Garos. The giant stumbled forward and fell to one knee. Harrier swooped in, her claws raking the back of his uninjured leg, her opponent let out another rumbled and fell face first to the ground.

The ground beneath them quaked on his impact and all the combatants within the room paused, eyeing the unmoving form of the giant. The seconds ticked by and Garos remained inert. Harrier and Babalawo stood there, glistening with sweat and panting from exertion.

Chemosh head snapped around, and a smile stretched across Hailey’s face. Amelia, whose instincts already screamed at her that something was wrong, tried to call out a warning, but it was already too late.

Awẹ́’s body stiffened, his body jerked sideways, he lifted an open hand, and he struck out at Harrier. The other exemplar, caught unprepared didn’t even lift her claws to defend herself. It would not have mattered, in either case, Babalawo’s fist phased into her chest, his hand reaching out for her heart. When he brought it back out, it was covered in the other’s blood and his victim collapsed at his feet.

Awẹ́ turned back toward them his fact, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open in clear shock. A look that mirrored that of the agent and Sapphira.

Chemosh cackled before breaking out into a full fit of hysterics. “Oh, this is good just to see the look on your people’s faces. You didn’t think it was a coincidence that your friend had a nearly identical skill-set to my Gallu friends, did you? You see, he was my contingency should dear Garos fail to stop your friends.”

Hailey grinned and waved toward Awẹ́, the exemplar scowled but moved forward as commanded. She glanced at Sapphira still cackling under her breath. “Come now, surely you must have expected this, didn’t your human doctor’s tell you, you might have some form of precognitive abilities? No? Well, I’m sure they’ll develop with a little more time.”

“Though this ability is limited, the moment I first laid eyes on him more than a year ago. I know that he would be important. I never dreamed that he would be so useful.”

She’d been toying with them the whole time, Amelia realized. Watching to see how events would unfold, even allow his ally be defeated before revealing his hand. It made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. The more she thought about it the less sense it seemed to make. Why not take control of Awẹ́ at the start of the battle? Why allow them to defeat his ally?

Unless he couldn’t. Amy craned her neck back, eying the artifact. Chemosh had gone to great lengths to retrieve it. What if it had a use none of them had ever guessed at? What if it was more than a portal to some unknown place or time? It was just a guess, but what if the once-god was drawing power from it? It would explain almost everything.

Amy grabbed Sapphira by the shoulder intent on warning the other exemplar, she but never had the chance. Before she uttered a single syllable a beam of luminescent energy shot out from the other’s outstretched hands and the room was bathed in light so bright she clenched her eyes shut.

The agent opened her mouth still hoping to warn the other, but no sound would escape her lips. The world around them rippled, with such force the air reverberated around her skin. She tried to scream, but the effect only seemed to intensify.

The light grew brighter, so powerful that it shone through her eyelids. The force of the resonating air also intensified, and the agent gritted her teeth against the pain that accompanied each new vibration. Just when she thought she couldn’t take any more the reverberation ceased, and the light faded away.

Amy collapsed to her knees and sat there panting, gritting her teeth against the pain in her ribs. She let her eyelids slipped open and crouched on darkness. Not a shadow or a dark surface, but rather a complete absence of anything and everything. As her eyes roved the emptiness all around, the forms of Sapphira and Chemosh soon materialized standing upon the void as if it were a solid surface.

Amy grunted, pushed herself to her feet, drew her gun out of its holster and trained it on the once-god. Before she fired a single shot, Sapphira jumped into motion, sending another brilliant beam hurtling across the void toward Chemosh. The resulting flash was nowhere near as brilliant as the previous one, but even so Amy turned her gaze and shielded her eyes.

“That’s not necessary, you know,” a voice spoke from out of the dark, and a familiar form materialized before her. “This is all in your head, or perhaps I should say it is taking place within all three of your minds. What you see before is but an illusion.”

Amy glanced up at Ashtar, between pursed lips, careful to keep Chemosh in her peripheral vision. For the time being, Sapphira was keeping her busy, but she had no idea how long that would last.

“The light bothers my eyes,” Amy said and winced as the words left her lips. If what the other being said were true, she shouldn’t experience any pain or discomfort. She pressed a hand into her chest over her injury. She should have been writhing on the ground in agony, but instead she felt nothing save for the pressure of her fingers on her chest. That too, was an illusion, but one which she was happy to perpetuate.

She paused and pulled on the collar of her top, peaking inside. Her heart lept into her throat, realizing for the first time that something was very different. When she underwent her transition, she’d had high hopes, expecting a much more feminine figure than the one she had developed. It appeared within this void created by their minds that her sub-consciousness had given form to those desires.

She would have loved to give this imaginary body a good once over, but it was neither the time nor the place. She gazed at her breasts, one final time, sighed then returned her attention to Ashtar.

The agent eyed the dead woman and bit her lip. Though Sapphira had interacted with the once-goddess, her viewing had been less than crystalline and she had little idea what they had said to one another. Worse yet, this incarnation of the alien being may have been conjured by Chemosh herself. Whoever or whatever Ashtar was, Amy would have to take whatever she said with a grain of salt.

“Amy,” Ashtar said glancing back over her shoulder. “I know this is all new to you and you have little reason to trust me, but I need you to listen. We’re running short on time.”

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