The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 8 Pt 1



Official Report
1328 Maryzell Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Amelia sat bolt upright, chest heaving as she panted for air. She raked her hands out, but they only passed through empty space. The agent peered around, eyes not yet adjusted to the dark.

Her mind beginning to register she was not under attack, she cupped her face, sighed, and slid her hands away. She pressed one of them down on the surface upon which she laid. It was soft yet springy like a bed. Sure enough when she looked down, she discovered that it was just that. She peered about, seeing well enough now to make out a chest of drawers along the opposite wall and a door to her right.

“Good, you’re awake.” A voice spoke out of the gloom behind her and to her left and she jumped, leaping to her feet, hand slipping inside her blazer for her pistol, but stopped when she spotted the face of her mysterious rescuer.

“How you feeling?” The woman asked, tilting her head, a very slight smile touching the corner of her mouth.

Amy massaging her temples, but nodded. “A little confused, but otherwise fine. How’d we escape?”

“You don’t think you’re the only one with powers, do you?” The woman’s smile broadened into a grin and a low throaty chuckle escaped her mouth.

Amy jerked her head sideways, turning to gape at the mysterious woman. There was something about that laugh…

“You’ve seen how I can project an image of myself. I can do other stuff too, mostly just illusions and light tricks, but they can come in handy in a pinch. I called up a dark haze the police couldn’t see through. Once, we gave them the slip, I took the Pygmy into an underground parking garage, jacked us a new ride, and brought us here.”

Amy nodded, a sour taste in her mouth. What the woman did to ensure their escape may have been necessary, but it didn’t sit right with her. As an AEGIS agent, she made a vow to uphold the law. Breaking it, while necessary, went against everything for which she stood.

Her new friend drew closer, and Amy found herself looking into a pair of emerald eyes, a near twin to her own. Amidst the disorder of their escape, she never spared the other more than a sidelong glance. The agent gasped, a hand clasped over her mouth as she took in her rescuer’s features.

The younger woman bore a close physical resemblance to the agent. She had the same dark hair, green eyes, olive complexion and even an oval-shaped face. She was quite pretty, and there were enough similarities that most any passerby would surmise they were sisters. Her lips were thinner, and her nose wider, but there would be no mistaking the parallels.

The rescuer lacked the older woman’s curves, but Amy hadn’t developed those through ordinary means. No, this girl bore the same boyish figure and wide shoulders that the agent possessed after her transition, but before her transformation.

Amelia’s mind raced. Among her siblings only one other took after her mother in the looks department and it had not been Erica.

“Brian?” she asked, her eyes wide with disbelief.

The girl nodded, her lips trembling as she met the other woman’s gaze. “Yeah, sis’ it’s me. Just do me a favor, though. Call me Teressa.”

Tears stained the agents cheeks and she threw both hands out, clasping her sister’s face before enfolding the other woman in her arms, her body racked with sobs.

After so many years, to find ‘Brian’ in such a way seemed unthinkable. She gave up hope of ever contacting any of her siblings, afraid that her parents poisoned them against her. Now she found that the one she had been closest to had undergone a transition like herself. It was an irony, not lost on Amelia, but one which she would overlook if it meant having her sibling back.

She cursed herself, ruminating over her childhood, attempting to recall any signs that her younger sibling was trans, but try as she might she could not conjure a single instance that even hinted the younger Van den Broeke was trans.

She pulled away, still sobbing, trying to wipe the tears from her eyes, but failing as they just kept coming. “You never said anything, if I had known—”

Teressa shook her head fighting back her own tears, but did little better than her sister. “You know how our father was and how he treated you. I thought maybe that if I tried hard enough I might hide it, and be the man that asshole wanted me to be. Then they took you away and the state scattered us to the four winds. They sent me to live with uncle Aaron, you remember Aaron, don’t you?”

Amy nodded, understanding what the other was trying to say. Aaron, their father’s half brother, was a youth pastor and staunch conservative. To his credit he treated his children much better than his younger sibling, but he wouldn’t have tolerated any behaviors he viewed as degenerate any more than Lucas had.

“But enough about that,” Teressa smiled, still sniffling, but wiped the last of her tears away. “Tell me about you. Amelia van den Broeke, the big time AEGIS agent. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first laid eyes on you. God, that body! If I didn’t know better I would swear you were a cis-woman.”

Amy let a smile touch her face, before emitting a long sigh. “I suppose I am. It’s complicated. I passed pretty well after my transition, but I wasn’t what you might call curvaceous. Then I got caught up in an incident in New Hebron and I ended up looking like this.” She paused, motioning down at her body.

“It’s not something I can discuss, but let’s just say sometimes strange things happen to AEGIS personnel in the field. It’s how I wound up with this body and… gained the powers used against the police.”

Teressa eyed her, a sober expression on her face. She pulled a strand of hair out of her eyes, tucked it behind her ears, and smiled. “God, if the evidence weren’t staring me right in the face, I would say you were yanking my chain, but even with surgery most trans-girls wouldn’t come close to a body like yours. I’m happy for you, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous.”

Teressa paused, pursed her lips, a mischievous grin creasing her features before she at last spoke again. “I take it yours is an isolated incident? There isn’t a chance you would be able to spread the wealth is there?”

Amy regarded her sister. Though the statement seemed to be made in jest, the agent knew better. Even when they were young, Teressa had always hid her feelings behind a wall of humor. It wasn’t the most healthy of coping mechanisms, but when you had a father like Lucas van den Broeke, you managed the best you could.

She frowned. What would Teressa think if she found out she was pregnant? Amy put the thought aside. That particular bit of information could be revealed later.

“Ah well,” Teressa said, a grin stretching across her face. “Can’t blame a girl for trying, can you?”

“About today.” Amy cleared her throat, looking to change the subject.

“Today, you walked into the mother of all clusterfucks,” she bowed her head. “We can talk about all that tomorrow. You need your rest. I really only wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Amy bit the inside of her cheek and peered down at her hands. She’d lost consciousness after stopping the police car. When Sapphira had first gained control of her powers, they’d been erratic. Though her power set may have been similar to her lover’s, she thought it possible she had developed a different limitation. It would explain why she’d lost consciousness.

She glanced back up at her sister and nodded. There was no telling what use of her new abilities had done to her body, or… her child. “That’s probably a good idea.”

Teressa took several long minutes fussing over her, and offering her assurances that she was safe, before saying her goodnights. Once the other Van den Broeke had departed Amelia sank back down into bed, hand on her belly and closed her eyes. She did not, however, go to sleep.

Instead, she reached out with her mind, feeling for the fetus growing within her womb. Though it was only just beginning to take the shape of the infant it would become, she knew it at once for what it was. She searched for signs of damage or injury, but sensed nothing.

She did not detect an awareness, but the child radiated… contentment for lack of a better word. It was a primal, simple emotion, lacking the complexities of even the youngest child, but it was more than she expected.

She emitted a soft sigh all the tension and anger fading away, and without quite knowing how, the agent drifted back to sleep.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 8 Pt 2



Official Report
1328 Maryzell Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Ashley leaned forward, cupping both her palms over her face, blowing a long weary sigh of air out her mouth. It was well past two in the morning and she was finding it hard to keep awake. She shook her head and rested it against the the wall, closing her eyes.

It hadn’t even been twelve hours since Sapphira collapsed, and no one could tell them why. She peered up at the exemplars inert form atop the hospital bed, studying her face, and frowned. Her friend looked as if she were asleep, but Ashley knew better. The doctors said that her beta wave patterns were consistent with someone who was awake and alert. As far as the doctors were concerned, there didn’t seem to be any reason for her to be unconscious.

She brushed several long strands of auburn hair out of her eye and sighed, contemplating, not for the first time, chopping it all off. She was a natural blonde, but since she now possessed the body of a college co-ed, part of the condition that she remain in New Hebron was that she disguise herself. The colored contacts and hair dye were a part of it, but every morning she woke up and caked her face in several layers of makeup to conceal that she was wearing the face of a dead girl.

She never realized all the trouble women went through to maintain their looks until she’d actually become one. Even as the affirmed ‘tomboy’ of the group she still spent a jaw-dropping amount of time every morning prettying herself up and… though she would never admit it to any of the others, it was all worth it.

The girl’s cheeks warmed just speculating over it, but she liked the way her body made her feel, especially when alone with her boyfriend. A cold shiver shot down her spine just thinking about it.

Ashley stopped herself, remembering what brought her there, and bit her lip. Where were Hailey and Jenn? They left some time ago to get something to eat at Ashley’s insistence and had yet to return. She eyed the door as if willing them to come through, but they did not.

Still her eyes did not leave the door, and a few seconds later a soft rap sounded from its hardwood surface. She jumped, placing an open palm on her chest, and called out for the person on the other side to enter.

When the door swung open, a tall figure stood in the doorway. Ashley started watching him as he glided into the room. As usual Director Brian Malcolm of AEGIS was immaculately attired, resplendent in a custom tailored suit that cost more than most people made in a month. He slipped his left hand over his right wrist, adjusting a gold cufflink, and peered down at her.

“Ashley Harris,” he nodded, glancing back over his shoulder at Sapphira before turning back to her, steel-gray eyes seeming to look right through her, a deep frown creasing his lips. “Let’s talk.”

“All this time I’ve been fighting that godforsaken thing without knowing what it was, or even if it had a name.” Teressa began biting her lip, Amelia and Kruhl leaning in close. It was the morning after the attack, and the three women had gathered to share their experiences and try to make sense of what happened.

They sat within a large family room in the house’s basement in which they’d taken up sanctuary. They were careful to keep the lights out and spoke in hushed tones to avoid drawing attention from the neighbors. According to Teressa, the owners of the home were away on a trip outside the country and wouldn’t be home for several more weeks.

“Odalrik.” Kruhl bit her lips. “His name is Odalrik.”

Teressa nodded. “Yeah, I put that much together from what you’ve told me.”

Teressa was the last of the trio to share her story, Kruhl’s had been the most illuminating, providing answers for questions the other two had been trying to wrap their heads around.  Neither sister questioned what the strange little woman told them, Amelia because of what she saw in her visions and Teressa because she’d witnessed so many strange things.

She regarded them both, pausing only a second before continuing. “I was living in Grove City when he first came for me…”

Shadows bathed the room. A low trickle of light from the rising sun peaking through the blinds provided the only source of illumination. Teressa sat up, retrieving her phone from the nightstand and glanced at the time. It wasn’t yet six. She felt alert, more so than usual, but didn’t think much of it, until a black form floated toward her materializing from within the darkness of the far side of the room.

It seemed to be a substanceless creature, only given form by the cloak it wore. She looked within its hood, but saw nothing save for a darkness. When it extended an arm out, even the sleeve was empty.

[Teressa] It spoke her name, it’s voice full of malice. 

Teressa lurched away, crawling backward, but never took her eyes away from the apparition. It hovered toward her, the bottom half of its form passing through the bed, and continued onward. It backed her into the corner and she lay there back against the wall, trembling in terror.

[You will be mine] It spoke, its voice rumbling as a high-pitched cackle filled the air.

The specter brought its second arm up, holding them both before it, brilliant red light bursting from its extended appendages. Teressa shielded her eyes, the light growing so intense that tears streamed down her face. What its intentions were, were anyone’s guess, but when her attacker emitted a howl of rage, she sensed that it failed. She dove out of the bed, rolling through the specter’s dark form, cold needles prickling her skin for the brief second they occupied the same space.

Making for the doorway, she clasped one hand on her neck and threw the other up behind her. Inky dark haze exuding from her fingertips, she fled from the apartment. Her life, as she knew it, was changed forever…

“Odalrik came to me twice more, each time, was pretty much a repeat of the last. I don’t know what it is he was trying to do, but—”

“He was attempting to subvert you,” Kruhl said out of the blue, a scowl on her face.

“It is difficult magic, even for one as powerful as he, but judging from what we’ve seen so far, it seems he has become quite adept at it. For whatever reason, he was intent on gaining control over you, but ultimately failed. You possess some power of your own, it’s possible it helped you resist him.”

The warrior king pursed her lips, glancing at the pair of women. This is how low she’d sunk. She gritted her teeth, allying herself with a pair of humans. True, their abilities seemed quite formidable in their own respect, but before she could call on the might of all the Assar tribes of Eirdon.

Kruhl had more than once entertained the notion of striking out on her own, but it was a foolish idea. The once-king knew nothing of this realm, or its people. She would be a fish out of water.

“Shit,” Amelia answered, then turned her attention to Kruhl, who was doing her best not to make eye contact. “What about these skaeda, could it be he wanted to make her into one?”

“The magics for creating a skaeda and subverting someone are… related, but to make such a creature as a skaeda requires acts best left to the imagination. Subversion is simpler, but it is not as effective, you don’t gain complete control over the victim, they are very suggestive to your will and the control can be broken. A skaeda remains loyal until the end.”

Amelia sighed and leaned back in her armchair. “How many more of these skaeda do you think he has under his thumb?”

Lips pressed together in a tight frown, she released a slow breath of air, but still refused to look her in the eyes. “It is hard to say. As you might imagine, it would be difficult to find a willing subject to create a skaeda. In most cases, a sorcerer would need to break them into complete submission first. That alone requires a level of magical energy few practitioners of the dark arts can match. Odalrik is a powerful sorcerer, but I doubt even he could subvert more than a handful of individuals enough to create such creatures.”

“Bottom line is, Odalrik’s been amassing power, he’s already gained control of the Tondzaosha, Alameda, and Grove City police forces and may have at least partial control of each town’s city council, maybe even their mayors,” Teressa leaned forward clasping her hands over her knees.

Kruhl froze, finding herself staring at her exposed cleavage, and swallowed. Her heart pounded in her ears, and she glanced down at her chest where her nipples showed through the fabric of her blouse. She licked her lips, regarding first Teressa, then Amelia. If either woman noticed, they’d chosen to ignore it. The two long-lost siblings barely even acknowledged her.

The former warrior king folded her arms over her breasts and tried with little success to dispel thoughts of bedding the other woman. She never had the need nor desire to curb her sexual appetites and now that she was contending with a new and very different libido she could find no means of tempering it.

Worse, she found these humans attractive. If her father knew of her predicament, he would hang his head in shame.

She turned her golden eyes on the elder Van den Broeke and fought back similar thoughts. While both sisters were attractive, the agent possessed a much more interesting figure, and the thought of bedding them together… She swallowed again, this time harder, and looked away.

“All that is bad enough,” Amelia replied. “But if he sends even one more skaeda after us, we could be in big trouble.”

“If he does pray that is all he sends after us,” Kruhl said shaking her head.

A cold chill racked Kruhl’s spine, and any thoughts of sex were dispelled by her imaginings of the perverse acts Odalrik once committed. Though she never witnessed them being practiced, she’d heard accounts of the sorcerer’s many appetites. Such retellings were not for the faint of heart. Though the siblings were quite tough for human females, Kruhl did not see the need to inflict them with the information. When she’d first heard the tales as a child, she’d been haunted by nightmares for weeks afterward.

She had learned much since they’d begun their ‘little chitchat’. Each woman had shared a piece of the puzzle, but as yet so much had gone unexplained. One question haunted her more than the rest. If the people under Odalrik’s thrall already had possession of Waldere, why had the shade demanded she tell him the location of the sword?

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 8 Pt 3


Official Report
1328 Maryzell Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Agent Van den Broeke frowned, eying the laptop screen, thrumming her hand against the tabletop. She’d searched the web far and wide, and there nothing about what happened at the mental hospital. Odd, damned odd. There was no mention of Kruhl, herself or Teressa anywhere on the web or the local newscasts.

She didn’t know what to make of it, she’d assumed their enemies would plaster their images all over the news. Why then hadn’t they? If this Odalrik was so powerful, why wasn’t he making use of that power and throwing everything he could at them? He must have some reason to keep the incident quiet.

She’d long since discarded her smartphone, knowing how easy they were to track. What if this alleged sorcerer had another means of finding them? She shivered at the thought and bit her lip. The agent reflected on Kruhl’s description of her encounters with the strange hooded figure. Like the once-king she considered it odd the specter of Odalrik, if it was indeed him, would demand Kruhl tell him where the sword was, if it was already seized by those in his thrall.

Either he had some motivation to deceive Kruhl, or there was another party involved. She gritted her teeth. If there was someone else mucking about in this mess, it would only spell trouble for the rest of them.

There was another oddity. She’d made two unsuccessful attempts at contacting AEGIS, in hopes of bringing in reinforcements, and both times had been unsuccessful. She didn’t know if she was being paranoid or not, but it was definitely cause for concern.

“What is AEGIS, Ameliavandenbroeke?” Kruhl’s voice spoke out of the darkness and Amelia turned to regard her tiny frame.

“Amelia van den Broeke,” Amy said, pausing between each part of her name.

Kruhl blinked, and a feral smile crept across her delicate face. “Very well, Amelia van den Broeke, what is AEGIS?”

“The Agency for Exemplar Governance, Investigation, and Security,” she replied. “It’s an arm of the government that assists individuals with special abilities to learn their powers and protect ordinary people from those who misuse them.”

“So then, you are a teacher and a soldier?” Kruhl asked, cocking her head, golden eyes widening.

“Not exactly,” Amy shook her head. “I’m no teacher. You might say those who help others to use their powers are, but I’m closer to a soldier. I protect others and seek those who would do them harm and bring them to justice.”

Kruhl bit her lip, seeming to contemplate what the agent said, then nodded and pulled up a seat beside her. “This device,” she nodded toward the laptop and leaned in peering at the keys and then up at the screen. “How does it work? Why does that rectangle glow like that?”

“That’s not a question I’m qualified to—”

“These characters!” Kruhl exclaimed, sweeping her hands across the keyboard, fingers jabbing at Amy until she slipped hers away. “The order is wrong, but it’s the Angol alphabet.”

“The English alphabet,” Amy corrected, sliding the computer out of the others reach. “And they’re out of order by design.”

“English.” Kruhl tested the word on her lips. She remained quiet, eyes fixed on the keys before shaking her head and glanced up at the agent. “Does it not seem strange to you we speak the same language?”

Amy pressed her lips together and nodded. “The thought had crossed my mind, but I’ve been a little more concerned about staying alive. There was an ancient group of peoples, in our own history, who called themselves the Angles. They occupied what is now modern England. I wonder… do your people have maps?”

Kruhl’s eyes peered up at her, and she nodded. “My father had one commissioned of Eirdon, Angol and much of the lands across the ocean to the South and East. It is one of the most extensive in all the lands. It hangs on the wall of my bedchamber.”

“How well do you know it?” Amy asked.

“I burned it into my mind. I need only close my eyes and I can see it as clearly as if I were looking upon that glowing rectangle.” Kruhl gestured at the laptop.

Amy nodded, keyboard clacking, as her fingers zoomed across its surface. When she finished, she turned the screen toward Kruhl. “Look familiar?”

Kruhl leaned close, studying the features of the map laid out before her, taking it all in. “It is,” she said, lips parted in a scowl. “But the names and borders are all wrong. This island here is Eirdon.” She paused, pressing her finger against the screen at Ireland.”

Her finger slid down the map, stopping over an area that read ‘France’. “The upper part of this kingdom should be Nustra and down here we would have Quitar, Gascol and Septa. Over here, her finger strayed to the east and then north. “There is Burgne, and Austere, Sveba, Sa—”

She stopped peering up at the agent blinking as realization dawned on her. “This map is not of my world, is it? It’s of yours.”

Amy met her gaze and dipped her chin up and down. “A region we call Europe.”

Kruhl did not answer, but instead studied the map, frowning. A few seconds passed before she turned back to the agent and sank her teeth into her lower lip. “How could our realms be so similar?”

“Well, I’m no expert on the matter, but our scientists have theories concerning alternate or parallel universes. It’s possible you are from a reality very like our own.”

Kruhl regarded her, a long sigh escaping her lips. “Your words are strange. Are you suggesting I come from a different version of this universe?”

Amelia nodded. “More or less.”

“If that is true, I do not like the odds of ever returning home.” Kruhl hunched over, looking into her open palms. “Which means I may very well spend the remainder of my life in this body.”

Tears splattered her cheeks and her hands shook. “There are no Assar on this world. Did Reesha know this when she sent me here?”

Her lips trembling, she spoke, each word interjected by a sob. “Would you help me with something?”

Amelia regarded her out of the corner of her eyes before nodding.

“Will you come up with a name for me?” Kruhl asked turning her golden eyes upon the other woman. “If I am to live amongst you, it would seem appropriate that I have one of your names.”

“I’ll give it some consideration.”

Kruhl rose to her feet, leaned in and kissed the agent on the cheek before disappearing down the hallway.

Amelia watched her go, folding her arms across her chest and let loose a breath. Even knowing what she did of Kruhl and how she had treated her former subjects, she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the once-king, but try as she might she couldn’t think of a single way she might help her.

With a shake of her head, she closed the laptop down, returning it to the shelf where she’d found it and trailed Kruhl down the hall thinking to console her. When she got to her door and raised her fist, she froze.

She lowered her hand and stared at the door, lips pressed together. Maybe something different was necessary. She turned away and moved down the corridor. Teressa was better at this sort of thing.