Ch 06 Kruhl

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 1
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 2
The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 10 Pt 1

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 1


Official Report
En route to Grove City
Tondzaosha, Idaho

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

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

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

Rathdrum didn’t go into specifics, but she could read between the lines. If this woman was lying, she might be leading them into some kind of trap, but what purpose would that serve? Why appear to her at all? She must have known they would be visiting the girl at some point. ‚Ä®‚Ä®Whether her spectral visitor was trustworthy was immaterial at this point. If the girl was in danger, they couldn’t afford to let the phantom get to her before they did.

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

Amy nodded, lips pressed together in a tight frown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 6 Pt 2


Official Report
State Hospital South
Grove City, Idaho

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

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 10 Pt 1


Official Report
1328 Maryzell Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

“Shit, shit, shit,” Teressa cursed her face contorted in a mask of rage. “How could I have been so stupid?”

She growled under her breath, slid the car keys into the ignition and the car’s engine roared to life. Anger flashed in her eyes as they fell on Kruhl. The once-king shrank away, taken aback, but then she gazed forward, clasping one hand around her neck, the second on the steering wheel.

“Hang on,” she said between gritted teeth, inky mist rising out between her fingers. “This will be one bumpy ride.”

She pulled on the lever between the seats and the car careened, a high-pitched screech emanating from the wheels. It slammed through the garage door with a wail of protest and wood and metal exploded, fragments slamming into the windshield with several dull thwacks and Kruhl threw her arms up to shield her face.

The vehicle lurched into daylight, swerved sideways, and just avoided slamming into a vehicle Teressa told her, after their first meeting, was called a police car. She clutched at the handle on the door, gaze fixed on Teressa.

“Oh hell,” Teressa cursed again her eyes staring out the windshield growing wider by the second. She raised both hands, palms out and fingers up, misty ink fading into the daylight. Kruhl followed the other’s gaze. A tall man bearing one of the fire-sticks was standing before the car, weapon trained on the other woman.

Kruhl was not the type to surrender, if she could help it, but even a proud warrior such as her recognized a helpless situation when she saw one. She scowled, then mimed the other woman’s pose. She narrowed her eyes, watching as the man approached picturing herself snapping his neck, but remained motionless. The police clan had won for now.

Putrid emerald energy crackled against the azure dome that Amy had summoned. The agent gritted her teeth, panting against the effort of holding her shield. She’d had no opportunity to practice using her new powers, but they seemed to respond when she needed them, even if she didn’t quite understand how. It was a marked contrast to Sapphira’s struggle to control the same powerset, but one which she could live with… if she stayed conscious.

Amelia’s shield rippled and the sickly green illumination brightened, spreading out and sizzling with such intensity, Amy’s eyes ached. She averted her gaze, tears cascading down her cheek, and held on. Perhaps Sapphira who was more experienced might know how to retaliate with the shield still up, but it was taking all of her concentration just to hold it against the mysterious attacker.

Her strength ebbed and she fell to her knees, her shield wobbling and contorting. She moaned, clenching her eyes shut and focus all her will on holding the barrier. She only needed a little more time…

As if on queue, an explosive crash of shattering wood and shrieking metal sounded from nearby. That would be Teressa and Kruhl, she thought, a smile touching the corner of her lips.

The pressure on her shield vanished and instead of taking the time to gawk like her assailant and most of the police force, the agent straightened. She rounded on her attacker and sent her shield flying out. It burst into the cloaked figure with enough force to send it tumbling to the pavement and rounded on the nearest of their attackers. She threw a hand out a wave of telekinetic force, rippling out, and three officers soared away, landing in a tangled heap.

She took the briefest of seconds, soaking in every detail she could. Kruhl and Teressa had crashed through the house’s garage door in the Yomato Diadem the former had stolen during their escape from the mental hospital, but the vehicle had only just cleared the exit. A ring of police cars blocked their path out.

All eyes turned toward her and she grated her teeth, already erecting a wall of shimmering azure energy as a new barrage of bullets came hurtling across the lawn toward her.

Time was not on her side. Already her body had begun to weaken and her vision began to fade. She fought it, teeth gritted.

Not now.

She redirected her efforts, diving behind a flowerbed with a raised stone wall and dropped the shield. She may not be able to save herself, but she’d be damned if she was going to let them get ahold of Kruhl and Teressa. Instead of attacking, she reached out and pushed the first squad car blocking the Diadem’s path. The vehicle lurched back, bursting through a small white picket fence that separated the driveway from the neighbor’s property.

Her vision dimmed and she clenched her jaw, fighting back the darkness, gunfire spattering into the stones all around her. She hurtled the second squad car away, moving on to the third and final one. It lurched into the street and Amy found herself on her knees.

The agent gasped, willing a shield to form around her, but it quivered and dissolved into the air with a soft sizzle. She felt a sharp prick on her neck, and snapped a hand up, finger clasping a short metallic tube with a fuzzy tip. She pulled it free, holding the tranquilizer dart in front of her face before peering back at her assailant. Chief Avery stood in the distance, tranquilizer gun clasped in her hands, scowling.

The agent fell the rest of the way to the ground, face-planting into the soil, fingers clawing at the ground in a futile escape attempt. She peered up, eyes focused on a cloud of inky haze that had oozed its way over the yard, the last thing she heard as her awareness faded into unconsciousness was the sound of screeching tires.

The girl stood back, pulling several strands of blonde hair away from her soft delicate features, her eyes wide as a pair of officers lifted the inert form of a tall dark-haired woman into the back of a squad car. She turned away, sinking her teeth into her lower lip.

“Amy,” she whispered the name, as a cold quiver shot down her back.

The agent was bound… and odder gagged. How and why had Amelia run afoul of the police? She was working with them. They were the ones who’d requested help from AEGIS. The mission files were very clear on that point. Why then had they detained her? It made no sense.

It all had something to do with the woman in black, the girl glanced at her, another shiver running down her spine. When the girl first laid eyes on her, she’d done a double take. The woman looked like she’d walked out of the set of some sword and sorcery movie. She wore a long cloak and its cowl was pulled back to reveal a youthful face framed by a shock of lengthy black hair. An emerald-topped staff was clenched in her arms, and, if the energy readings from the RPR module were any sign, she was packing a lot of astral energy. The girl didn’t quite understand what that meant, but she knew enough to be wary.

Though the cloaked woman seemed out of place amidst all the officers, she moved through the throng with an air of authority. She stopped a few yards from the car where they’d imprisoned Amelia and planted her staff in the ground. An older middle-aged woman in a police uniform rushed up to her and curtsied, like some peasant maiden supplicating themselves to their liege lord.

The girl frowned. Things were getting stranger by the moment.

She considered making a rescue attempt, but shut down such a fleeting ludicrous notion with a firm set of her jaw and a violent shake of her head. Even with the full RPR, she didn’t like her chances. Whatever power the robed woman had at her command, she was not one with whom the girl wanted to cross on her own. Making her first test run with the new gear, while tempting, would be stupid beyond belief.

Amelia was being help captive, but at least she was still alive. With the agent in police custody, finding her would be an easy enough effort. It would be a better course of action to bide her time, gather information, perhaps find a few allies and form a plan.

She stroked her chin, studying the home around which the police cars were clustered. She regarded the fragments of the garage door and pursed her lips. The hole was more or less car-sized. Given that, and the tire marks on the lawn, she guessed someone had left in quite the hurry. A potential ally, perhaps? If so, why had they left Amelia behind?

Bullet holes peppered portions of a white picket fence dividing the home from the neighboring house and portions of the exterior wall of the first. She didn’t know much about firearms, but the RPR had identified the weapons carried by the police as AR-90 Automatic Rifles. Military hardware of the sort far too sophisticated for any street cop, least of all for a backwater town like Tondzaosha. It was… concerning.

She dropped her hand and considered her options. Whoever had fled the scene probably had the answers she needed, but she didn’t have the foggiest idea how to track them down. She needed help, and with the information Director Malcolm had provided, she thought she might know where to find it.

With slow, careful movements, Ashley Harris turned away from the crime scene, and slipped the RPR module from her pocket, calling up the information she needed. With quick, yet furtive steps she moved away, heart hammering in her chest. God, this would be a pain in the ass, but it was the least she could do for Amy.

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