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The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 11 pt 1

05/09/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Tondzaosha Police Station
Tondzaosha, Idaho

“Amelia, you need to wake up,” a voice spoke out of the nothingness,  reverberating through her skull with such force she gasped and her eyes snapped open.

A bright light shone in her face and she reached an arm up to shield her eyes. She angled her head, sharp stabs of pain pulsating in her temples.

“Amelia,” the voice repeated her name, and she shifted her head, gritting her teeth against the accompanying agony.

Though her eyes were still adjusting, she could see just well enough to make out a familiar set of features. Amy sucked in her breath and studied the teal-framed face of Ashtar.

Amelia groaned and clenched her eyelids shut. “Ugh, I must have taken a hit to the head.”

Ignoring the strange shade, the agent instead shook her head, and blinked, her vision at last snapping into focus. She drew in another deep breath and cursed. She was in what looked like a garden variety police holding cell, save for one detail that produced a shiver down her spine.

A familiar green paint coated the walls, ceiling, floor and even the bars on the cell. The shade was used exclusively by AEGIS. The substance which produced the color had a long, uninteresting chemical name, which she could neither pronounce nor remember, but most of the agency’s personnel just called it GUNQ.

Though it sounded rather harmless, it would block most any form of psychic powers and a fair number of other exemplar abilities. She was able to use her abilities anywhere within the cell, and the room itself, but anything coated with the GUNQ or beyond its boundaries was out of reach. Under any other circumstance escape would have been a cinch, but now it was not at all likely.

She swallowed, bile rising in her throat as she considered the implications of this fresh development. The only way Odalrik might have gotten hold of the GUNQ, was if he’d managed to compromise AEGIS. Its production was strictly regulated and controlled. The substance was manufactured by two separate companies and then combined by AEGIS employees. No one, save for a representative of the agency, would be able to obtain even a small quantity.

A puzzle piece fit into place. Someone enslaved to Odalrik must have been the one to redact her mother’s name in the case files, but why? If it was his intent to bring her here, he must have some reason for it. Was it to enthrall her to him as he’d done to the Tondzaosha Police? No, it made no sense. Her new powers hadn’t even surfaced yet. What need would he have of her?

Perhaps, she shuddered, he sought to make use of her retrocognizance.

“Amy!” Ashtar snapped.

The agent spun her neck back around to face her. She studied the once-goddess in all her glory. Ashtar was stunningly, jaw-droppingly beautiful, in an out-of-this-world unearthly sort of way. Though her form was human, there was a strange, almost imperceptible quality about her that spoke of her genuine nature. She was an alien entity of a sort, Amelia hadn’t quite been able to classify, but there was no doubt she was powerful and it was she who had granted Sapphira and, indirectly, Amelia, their powers. There was just one problem, she’d died months ago combating Chemosh and Garos.

“I am not a hallucination. I am an imprint, a shadow of the person who once was. When the true Ashtar died, she imprinted a piece of herself upon Sapphira and, in turn, when you joined with her and a new seed of power bloomed within you, a duplicate of that imprint passed into your subconsciousness.”

“Listen very carefully, there isn’t much time,” The strange alien specter said a tension in her words, that spoke of urgency.

Amy complied, and felt a tremor work down her spinal column, as the other issued her warning.

When Ashtar finished, a loud clank and a groan of metal on metal sounded from the doorway. Before Amy could even so much as blink, Chief Avery stepped into the room, raised her dart gun and opened fire.

A sharp jab of pain shot up her neck and Amy clasped a hand over the dart. With her other hand she threw out a wave of telekinetic force at the Chief and sent her hurtling back through the door.

Amelia struggled to her feet, but fell back onto her knees just a second later. She clenched her jaw, attempting to fight the effects of the tranquilizer, but soon she fell face-first onto the cold concrete floor. She looked up just in time to see Avery approach before everything again faded to black.

The person once known as Odalrik regarded Agent Van den Broeke’s inert form, a slow smile creeping over her youthful face. She’d come so far and waited so long, but at last that which she desired would soon be within her grasp.

She glanced down at her slight, feminine body, and let out a low throaty chuckle. This was the third form she’d taken since coming to this world. She’d discarded the first, a frail old wisp of a woman, after again learning to tap into the essence of life. The second, that of an unassuming man, had perished in that incident at the old police station, and this one she now possessed… well in the beginning it was that or death.

The girl was but a child,  a few weeks shy of seven years old, when she’d first come to possess her. At first she had loathed it, and thought to steal a new form, but few had seen anything but a little girl when they looked upon her and the sorceress realized that it was advantageous to remain within. When puberty hit, she again thought to abandon the body, but more than anything her innate stubbornness won out and she adapted.

Now, just a year removed from her teen years, she could scarcely imagine life as anything but a woman. If nothing else, the sex was amazing. She shivered at the thought and put it quickly out of mind. Such things were better reserved for her bedchamber.

All this time operating in the shadows and it would all soon be over. She would at last find the crystal so long concealed and gain utter control of this backwater little town.

She had long disdained using the artifact, fearing the risk of invoking its power, but this was not Erda and she did not possess the resources she once had. With it in hand, a much greater conquest would be but a small step. Even Leoffa with all her illusions would be hard-pressed to stop her.

Kruhl’s appearance, while unexpected, was fortuitous. It forced her to accelerate her plans, yes, but she relished in the opportunity it afforded her. Without it, she might never have lured Amelia back to her hometown and without the exemplar woman’s retrocognizance, the sorceress doubted she’d ever locate where Leoffa hid the crystal. Well, short of imprisoning and torturing her for information, but the woman had been as elusive as she was devious.

Her eyes alight with her magic, the sorceress, now known as Daisy Fischer planted her staff into the carpeted floor, green energies swirling within its jeweled top. She placed a hand upon the agent’s forehead, unleashing her magics upon her subconscious mind.

She had wanted the agent for her retrocognizance, but now she had become so much more valuable. When at last her resistance crumbled, the sorceress would bend Amelia to her will, and she would have a weapon at her command, possessing power perhaps even greater than her own.

Soon, she would have her revenge, and her enemies would tremble before her might.

“You’re mad!” Kruhl yelled, clutching her hands around what Teressa had referred to as the “Oh shit handle” above the doorway.

The younger Van den Broeke grinned and winked at the once-king, a manic grin stretching across her face. “You’re the one that wanted the sword, aren’t you?” When the light turned green, she stomped her foot down on the accelerator without waiting to hear the other woman’s objections.

The vehicle lurched forward, speeding down the roadway. It careened off the side of the road, across the walk and through the parking area, before slamming through the glass facade of the Tondzaosha Police Station. Glass shattered all around them, pelting the car hood and windshield.

Kruhl threw her arms up to protect her face, as a particularly large shard hit the glass, but the windshield held and she lowered her arms only to throw them back up as the car slammed into the reception desk and the wall behind it.

The vehicle screeched to a halt as a cloud of white dust and debris exploded before them. As it settled, a pair of officers made a beeline for the car, but Teressa’s eyes narrowed and settled on a steel door along the east wall.

The Diadem jerked forward, tires screeching, and slammed into the doorway with another eruption of dust and a shriek of metal.

Kruhl felt something wet drip down her brow. When she reached out to touch it, she winced against a sharp stab of pain. A small sharp fragment of glass was wedged above her right eyebrow. She brought her hands away, rubbing the blood between her index finger and thumb. She glanced to her left, the window had shattered. When had that happened?

“Kruhl, come on!” Teressa screamed, snatching at Kruhl’s arms with her right hand and clasping hold of her throat with the left.

The once-king slid over the seat, tailing Teressa out the door as that familiar black mist oozed out between the exemplar’s fingers. Weapons fire rang out, but the illusory fog had already risen between them and the police clan could only fire blindly into the haze.

Kruhl’s heart pounded in her chest as they flew threw the debris ridden room. Towards the back they found the sword within its metal cage scattered amidst a wooden bludgeoning weapon and a slew of fire sticks. When Teressa tried to open the enclosure, it wouldn’t budge.

“Shit,” she cursed, rapping her knuckles on the metal. “It’s locked, what the hell are we supposed to do, now?”

At once, both women glanced back at the car and a twinkle showed in each of their eyes. “I have an idea!” They both said in perfect unison.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 11 Pt 2

05/16/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
321 S Oak St.
Grove City, Idaho

Entry into the home was not much of a problem for Ashley now that she’d adorned herself in the full RPR assembly. She doubted anything she did while wearing the blood-red armor could be considered inconspicuous, but she entered out of sight, just in case.

Until she’d summoned the remainder of the RPR, she’d instructed it to keep a close distance, and most especially to remain outside of town and away from people or roadways. Nabu, the AI that governed the suit was more than happy to comply. The Artificial Intelligence almost seemed sapient, but Malcolm insisted that it was a product of some very sophisticated computer algorithms. Ashley had her doubts, but so long as the suit performed as it should and obeyed her commands, she was willing to look the other way.

She stood just outside the home’s back door, gauntleted hand poised over the knob.

“Miss Harris,” Nabu said, a light, almost undetectable inflection in his voice that hinted at an Iraqi accent. “You may wish to enter through the window.”

“Why is that?” Ashley asked.

“The door’s core is composed of reenforced steel. While the servos in the suit are capable of removing it from its frame, it would be rather loud. It might attract undue attention.”
 
“What about the energy blades, wouldn’t one of them be able to cut through it?” She asked, hand still inches from the doorknob.
“In theory, yes, but the director never tested them in the field and certainly not on—”

“Yeah, well, now’s as good a time as any.” Ashley rolled her eyes and cut Nabu short. The AI was a bit long-winded, and far too cautious for her tastes.

“Need I remind you, miss, that you could overload the—”

“Better to do it here than in the middle of a fight.” She responded, again stopping the artificial intelligence before he finished. 

“Once again, there is no faulting your reasoning, miss,” Nabu replied. Ashley shook her head and bit back a sharp response. His tone had sounded almost… sarcastic.

Ashley dropped her right arm and pumped her fist three-times. A long, curved section of black metal slid out from the wrist, and burst alight, a thrumming, cackling blade sizzling to life along its length. She wasted no time, raising her arm and slicing down. The blade sheering through it from top to bottom as easily as if it were paper, but burned so bright even the filters on her helmet weren’t enough to keep her eyes from watering.

She pushed the half of the door still affixed to the hinges open and shouldered through, her armor just a little too large to fit through otherwise. She kept the blade extended, fearful that she might come under attack, but as she emerged on the other side, she encountered no obstacles and the only sound was the clank of her own armored feet. Still, she kept her weapon ready.

Her eyes scanned her immediate area. She’d stepped into a quaint little joint kitchen and dining room area. The cupboards were solid flat-white and the countertop was ceramic tile. It looked old, with a few nicks or scratches here or there, but overall appeared well maintained. 

The oven and range looked relatively modern and the microwave most certainly was, but otherwise it seemed consistent with the era in which the home had been built. She stepped through the room, ceramic tiles cracking under the weight of the suit, and moved past the dining table, a simple blocky affair that showed signs of frequent use. Though blocky and not real pretty, to her eye it appeared handcrafted.

She walked into a carpeted hallway, peering left into the front room, eyes studying the loveseat, sofa and television mounted to the wall, and screwed up her nose in frustration. The room was empty. The decor seemed rather spartan, even to Ashley, who’d never really done much decorating beyond throwing up a photo or two. She turned right, stopping about halfway down when she caught her reflection in an old oak-framed mirror. 

She’d seen the RPR armor more than once, but inspecting it from the outside and seeing it looking back at her in the mirror was a very different experience. For a woman, Ashley was about average height, roughly five-foot-five, the armor added a good fourteen or fifteen inches. No one would suspect that the person within was the vivacious young blonde. Most would assume that a man wore the suit.

Malcolm based it on the same technology that powered the Indigo Knight’s suit and shared a few of the same design elements. With the latter’s armor, however, he’d gone with a medieval motif. Hers was more sleek and streamlined and looked like something a villain might wear rather than a hero. While the armor was predominately red, a few bits of black and silver shone between segments.

Four glowing red lights, two about four inches in diameter, and the other pair about two, shone from the chest-piece. Segmented pieces of armor overlapped, to form a bulletproof shell around the wearer.  She flexed her hand in front of the mirror, segmented digits moving with as much ease as if they were her real fingers.

It was the helmet that sold the look. The face was mostly black, blending in with the red tones around the edges. Red light shone out from two dark sockets, and a grill that covered the ‘mouth’ portion of the faceplate pulsated and throbbed with angry scarlet illumination. A second, smaller one that comprised two slits, glowed with the same eerie red color, and took up the center of the face where a nose would be. She shivered and glanced down at the energy blade still pulsating from her arm. The weapon was curved like a scythe.

She peered back at the mirror. The helmet resembled a skull and she held her breath as she repeated the suit’s designation in her mind. Like the Indigo Knight armor there was a clear motif, he’d meant the suit to resemble some robotic red grim reaper, thus the skull-like helmet and scythe-style blade. 

She moved away from the mirror, mind swirling with the revelation. Had Malcolm designed this suit with some evil purpose in mind? She’d had what some would call a checkered past, but a bank-robber who could walk through walls and had a weak spot for damsels in distress was a far cry from the image that sprang to life. No, she shuddered, she would never go down that route. She would only use the suit for good. 

Four doors lined the hallway. The first led to the bathroom, a tiny, little affair, that while clean could do with some repairs, and the second, a home office. She only glanced inside for the barest of seconds before closing the door again. She regarded the final two doors. She thought perhaps, given the size of the home, the one at the end of the hallway was a closet. So she selected the other, cracking it open before swinging it wide.

Putrid green light spilled out into the doorway and as she peered inside, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. An inert form lay sprawled atop a queen bed.  Luminescent green swirls gyrated and pulsated in the air above him.

“What the fuck?” Ashley asked aloud, the voice changer in the helmet producing a deep baritone growl instead of her usual soft soprano.

She stepped forward, and stopped, slamming into the empty air as if she’d smacked into a brick wall. The girl took a step back, heart pounding away inside her chest, and licked her lips. 

“Uh, Nabu. I think we’ve hit a bit of a snag.” She placed her hands on her hips and let out a sigh. Making contact with Brian van den Broeke would be a little more difficult than she’d expected.

Shit.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 11 Pt 3

05/23/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Tondzaosha Police Station
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Magic implements thrummed and throbbed with barely contained energies. Trapped souls, failed experiments, and creatures borne of dark sorcery, each more gruesome than the last populated Daisy’s laboratory. She regarded each in turn and her lips curled into a soft, innocent smile.

When she first came to this world, she’d lost decades of researched and hundreds of carefully cataloged magical artifacts, most of which had, no doubt, been destroyed after her defeat by Kruhl and Reesha. Her heart still seethed from the loss, but there was no hope of recovering what was gone. So she’d started anew. Most of her experiments were failures, but even when she mis-stepped she learned something helpful.

She moved past Amelia van den Broeke’s inert form sprawled across a stretcher wheeled in by one of her cronies and regarded the sweet-looking young girl in the mirror mounted on the opposite wall. So many had under-estimated her, and with all but a few exceptions they were dead or subverted to serve her. 

She moaned, licking her soft feminine mouth, a shiver of excitement working up and down her spine at the thought of bending one more mind to her will. She bit her lip and gazed at the agent. Such an attractive woman, she thought. Perhaps Van den Broeke would make an able lover. She looked forward to finding out.

She moved to stand above the stretcher, planted her staff in the ground and slid her fingers across Amelia’s stomach. The sorceress shuddered in pleasure as her magic pulsated about the room. 

She knew from her mole within AEGIS that agents underwent training to resist mind control techniques, but breaching the agent’s consciousness had been far easier than she’d expected. The sorceress had been looking forward to the challenge of bending and shaping a consciousness, and though she had yet to initiate the magics which would subvert the other, it was only a matter of time before she shattered the rest of her resistance and her mind would be hers to do with as she pleased.  How very disappointing, she’d been expecting more of a challenge.

She stood, staff alight, her magic coursing through Amelia’s mind. Only a little longer and the agent would be ready. Then she would—

An explosion of shattering glass resounded in the distance and Daisy froze, craning her neck back toward the door. 

Her mouth creased into a frown and then a scowl when two more explosions rang out, each louder than the one before. This could only Leoffa’s doing. She clenched her teeth and rushed out of the room, staff aglow. Amelia’s inert form all but forgotten.

Gunfire rang out all around them, and Kruhl grated her teeth, ducking in front of the Diadem’s bumper for cover. Teressa grunted and dove beside her, panting for breath.

A barrage of weapons fire had foiled their attempt to return to the car. Kruhl didn’t know whether it was blind luck or intuition, but the warriors of the police clan had hemmed them in, somehow navigating through the dense haze which Teressa summoned. Now the pair lay about like sitting geese, vulnerable to attack. Neither of the women carried a weapon, and though Kruhl had once been a formidable warrior, she did not like her chances.

Nevertheless, when the first police clan attacker came into sight, she leapt up and rushed him, hoping to catch the man by surprise. Kruhl dealt the first blow, but it barely seem to faze her opponent. The police warrior swung toward her and slammed the butt of his weapon into the side of her face. His attack sent her flailing and she fell, throwing her arms out to catch herself before her face hit the ground, but not soon enough to prevent her breasts from impacting with a sharp burst of pain.

Though her face and chest throbbed in agony, Kruhl rolled onto her side and scrambled back to her feet, bracing herself for another assault, but it never came. Teressa lurched forward, grappling with the man. Kruhl rushed toward her, thinking to help, but her companion kneed the man in the groin and he crumbled to the ground like a sack of turnips.

Teressa bent over, retrieving something dangling from his belt and held it before Kruhl, jangling a small ring with three narrow flat objects, which Kruhl supposed were keys.

Kruhl arched an eyebrow, “The locker?”

“Only one way to find out,” Teressa replied, arching an eyebrow. 

She bent over retrieving the officer’s gun, before slamming the butt against the side of his head, and rushed away, making a beeline for the back of the evidence locker.

Kruhl regarded her with wide eyes, her face stretching into a grin as she followed suit. Magnificent! Teressa was indeed a warrior at heart. 

The once-king found Teressa, knelt down on the floor, already trying the keys in the lock, but when the other woman cursed in frustration and tossed them over her shoulder, Kruhl’s heart sank.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Teressa gritted her jaw, her eyes burning with rage. “We can’t seriously be this close, and not—”

She stopped, staring down at the fire stick, the flames in her gaze burning even brighter. She licked her lips and raised the weapon. “Maybe… there’s still a way.” 

With no prompting, she took aim and opened fire. A loud bang rang through the air and Kruhl brought her hands up to her ears, too late to muffle the sound. She only took her eyes off the locker for a moment, but when her gaze again fell on it, Teressa was swinging the door open.

Teressa reached inside, drawing Waldere free from the metal enclosure and extended it toward the former king, its polished steel surface gleaming. Kruhl regarded the weapon, eyes wide, hand shaking as she clasped it about the grip. Her grip couldn’t even reach all the way around.

All this time she’d been so eager to retrieve the sword, but had put no thought into what she would do once she had it. Defeat Odalrik, sure, but she didn’t consider how she might accomplish such a task. How might she make use of the sword? It was almost as long as she was tall. It possessed magic, but such power was most effective when used with the weapon’s more mundane aspect, the blade itself. 

Kruhl grunted, pulling the weapon up off the ground. Gods, it was heavy! She held it up for several seconds, her muscles burning, before grunting and setting it back down.

So weak… She scowled. Of all the forms she could have worn, why this one? Even if she were to train and strengthen her body, her frail little frame would never be suitable for combat. She was just too small. Even at her physical peak, anyone she was likely to face would be stronger than her. It was the most sobering realization Kruhl had ever made, and it hit as if it were an actual blow to the gut.

She released her hold, took a step back and peered down at her tiny hands. Her new body, with its wide hips and soft curves, was better suited to bearing children than combat. Kruhl met Teressa’s gaze, and swallowed, a pit forming in her stomach as she realized what she must do. The younger Van den Broeke sister was a better fit to defeat Odalrik, she’d survived for a long time against his repeated attempts to enthrall her and, if the way she’d carried herself against the police warrior was any sign, she would do well on the battlefield. She was tall for a human woman and well built. She may very well possess the strength necessary.

The weapon’s magic only permitted those deemed worthy to wield its power, but if Kruhl relinquished it to Teressa, it would recognize her as its rightful wielder.

“What’s the matter?” Teressa asked, her brows furrowed.

“I-I don’t think I am meant to bear Waldere,” Kruhl peered back at her, tears now streaming down her face. She gritted her teeth, rocking her head back and forth. “Not anymore.”

“You must take the blade,” Kruhl continued grabbing the handle and thrusting the pommel at Teressa. “It’s yours.”

Teressa gazed at Kruhl and blinked. Then a slow, malicious smile stretched over her lips and she erupted into a fit of hysterical laughter. She jerked the weapon out of the once-king’s hands. Kruhl realized at once something was amiss, but it was too late.

“That was much easier than I expected,” Teressa said, her voice seething with malicious glee as she thrust the blade out and through Kruhl’s abdomen.

Blood gurgled from Kruhl’s lips and she fixed her gaze on the other woman, her mouth agape. “Why?”

Teressa clenched her jaw and shoved the blade deeper. “You always were a little dense Kruhl, but I wouldn’t expect you to recognize me, not after all these years and certainly not in this body.”

The other leaned in, her lips brushing against Kruhl’s ear. “It doesn’t feel so good does it? Betrayed by someone you care about. All this time I’ve waited, hoping for a chance at revenge, and then out of the blue there you are again. You stabbed me through the gut and left me for dead. It’s only fitting I return the favor.”

Teressa jerked her arm back, sliding the blade free from Kruhl’s stomach and for the briefest of moments she remained standing, recognition marking her face before her eyes grew wide in terror.

Before she could topple over, Teressa grabbed Kruhl by the collar of her shirt, her face contorted in rage. “Say my name Kruhl.”

“Leoffa,” Kruhl repeated the name and a grim, satisfied smile crept across the other woman’s face. She threw Kruhl away from her and the once-king slammed into the ground, blood spewing from her wound. A shock of pain racked her body as she impacted the floor. Her head rebounded twice before it settled in place. A thousand questions were on the tip of her tongue, but Teressa turned away at the sound of footsteps.

“Well, what a nice little reunion this is,” a light, feminine voice called out.

Kruhl tried to prop herself up to get a better view, but fell back over, clutching at her stomach, attempting to keep her entrails from spewing out.

She could already feel the end coming. Soon Dohan would come, mounted upon her terrible black steed, and carry her away into the afterlife…