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The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 16 Pt 1

09/05/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
An Empty Lot
Tondzaosha, Idaho Idaho

Amelia clenched her jaw, released a long breath through her teeth and forced her eyelids back open. She hovered amongst the clouds, dangling so far up in the open air that if she were to fall, she would die on impact. God, it was unsettling. How did Sapphira do it?

She peered around, taking in Tondzaosha arrayed below her in miniature. Tiny vehicles roved the streets and figures, each appearing no taller than a centimeter, moved about the sidewalk.  

Amelia sank her teeth into her lower lip and felt her whole body tremble. A shiver that had nothing to do with the temperature wriggled down her spine and she pushed herself to continue her search. Instead of looking with her eyes, she clenched them shut and reached out with her mind. Dozens of sights, sounds, and impressions assaulted her senses.

‘God, why couldn’t I have a body like that?’ The thought came to her mind unbidden, and the agent furrowed her brows before realizing that it hadn’t  come from her.

It had come from a girl, perhaps fourteen or fifteen, seething with envy and a raw burning hatred, her attention focused on another young woman, the same age, who was receiving a fair amount of attention from a rather rakish young man. Amy shook her head, forcing the girl’s tide of emotions out of her mind and swept her senses out.

A choir of voices rang through her consciousness and she gritted her teeth, forcing herself to wade through them rather than focus on any one of them. Despite her best efforts, she caught snippets of thoughts, here or there. Most were mundane, a file clerk reviewing her workload for the day, a delivery driver scanning his route for a place to stop and eat, and even a young boy struggling to decide which type of candy bar he would purchase at a local grocery store. All those voices swept through her and around her, and she continued her search.

Then one rang out louder than the rest. “Oh god!” It came out as a cry of pain so bright, so intense it was almost palatable. “How am I supposed to tell mom and dad I’m trans?”

Amy stopped, a sob escaping her lips as years of remembered dysphoria came rushing back upon her. An image of a teen’s face reflected in a mirror, hand sliding over stubble as a plaintive sign escaped the kid’s lips.

Hair, oh God, the hair.  

Though the child’s face looked calm, the mass of disgust and revulsion mirrored in her eyes and boiling just under the surface told another story.

Amy’s hands cupped her own face as if to reassure herself that she was not looking upon her own reflection. She forced herself to concentrate. She couldn’t afford to get distracted, but she stopped long enough to reach out to the child.

“You’re not alone,” she whispered, watching the kid’s reflected eyes grow wide.

Amy’s lips trembled, and she let out sob before turning away and breaking her connection with the young trans girl. She swallowed hard and pressed her lips together before again extending her mind out. This time, she narrowed her focus and avoided touching any minds. Instead, she brushed passed them, only getting a cursory impression before moving on.

At last she found it, her face stretched out in a frown, released half a dozen of her most choice curses and burst forward, zooming through the air at breakneck speed.


Supervisory Special Agent Nathaniel Fredericks climbed out of the Durant Lucerna, only casting the vehicle a cursory glance before slamming the driver’s side door shut. Two more dull thuds sounded after, but he paid them no mind. Instead, his eyes surveilled his surroundings, scanning the buildings with a dull, dispassionate gaze.

Cheap, synthetic-leather shoes crunched on the gravel of the empty lot as his subordinates approached from either side.

“Fucking nowheresville. What the hell do you think we’re doing here, Grimes?” 

Fredericks turned to eye the speaker, Special Agent Frank Harrelson, a young man with a name that evoked images of a hardened veteran on the cusp of retirement, but who was a rookie in every sense of the word. Frederick’s hand snaked up to adjust his tie, but he remained silent, cool gaze regarding the second man, Robert Grimes, a seasoned agent, with a thoughtful expression marking his face.

“Hell if I know Harrison. We’ll get our orders soon enough.” Grimes muttered, eyes darting toward Fredericks with an inquisitive expression.

Fredericks at last opened his mouth to speak, but you uttered even one syllable. A bright scarlet blur slammed into the Earth less than four feet away. He brought one arm up to shield his face and slipped the other inside his suit jacket to retrieve his firearm, but the cloud of dirt that arose burned his eyes. He peered out through the haze of dust, tears slipping down his cheeks.

Gunfire rang out, but it had not been Fredericks who’d opened fire.

“Oh hell,” a gravelly baritone voice said. “Would you cut that out?”

A clank of steel sounded from nearby and a single gunshot rang out, followed by a shriek of pain from Harrison. Nate blinked and swirled around, at last getting a clear picture of their assailant. He took a step as the armored figure’s head swiveled around to match his gaze.

“Easy there.” The figure let out a low growl, its eye sockets blazing scarlet-red as its gaze tilted down to peer at the gun in his hands. “I’m not your enemy. I’m your contact, dude.”

Fredericks raised an eyebrow, sinking his teeth into his lower lip. Dude?

“Ashley Harris?” He asked, lowering his gun. He knew of her armor, but hadn’t expected something that looked like it had crawled its way out of the deepest infernos of hell.
A series of mechanical whirs and snap hisses sounded from the suit as the face plate, chest and groin areas all retracted. A girl, shorter than the towering form of the suit which she wore, emerged climbing out from within the contraption and landed with a soft grunt and a crunch of gravel. Though the Agent had read her file, the photo hadn’t done her justice. When Fredericks laid eyes on her, he sucked his breath in and swallowed hard. She pursed a set of pouty lips and ran a hand through her shock of blond hair.

He cleared his throat, reminding himself he was a married man, and regarded the girl with what he hoped was a close approximation of cool disinterest.

“Sorry, if I startled you.” She sucked air in threw a thumb over her shoulder. “Still getting used to that thing.”

“Nabu,” she craned her head over her should. “Why don’t you—”

She never finished her sentence, instead her eyes fixed on a black and gray streak that came tearing down from the sky above. It impacted the ground, about ten feet away. Fredericks and his companions had their weapons out and trained on the spot, but when the dust cleared, Amelia stood eyes wild, and jaw set in a scowl. The agents exchanged glances, but didn’t lower their weapons.

“We have a problem.” Amy stood, both fists at her side, panting for breath.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 16 Pt 2

09/12/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
An Empty Lot
Tondzaosha, Idaho Idaho

“Amelia?” Fredericks licked his lips, regarding the newcomer with narrowed eyes.

“Nathaniel.” Amelia lifted an open palm, fingers spread out in a warding gesture. “It’s been a while.”

Fredericks regarded the superior agent, training his weapon on her head as he spoke.

“The Amelia van den Broeke I knew couldn’t fly,” he said, pausing to take in her appearance and let loose a long breath of air. “Nor was she quite so… attractive.”

“Strange things sometimes happen in the field, you know that Fredericks. Put that thing away, that’s an order,” she countered, meeting his gaze with a scowl. She glanced at the other two agents, but didn’t speak another word.

“Oh, for hell sa—” Ashley moved to put herself between them, but Amelia waved her off.

“I’m going to need some kind of verification.” Frederick’s eyes never left Amelia.

“You’re a single father of three, you were married for almost ten years when your wife passed away from breast cancer. You’re an avid birdwatcher, you collect stamps and your favorite television show is Wormhole Xtreme.”

“All information that can be found online. I need something a little more concrete.” Fredericks lowered his weapon, but didn’t holster it and snaked his fingers up to adjust his tie.

Amy arched an eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest, a mischievous glint lighting her eyes. “You once told me in confidence that you suspected that someone had broken a stick off in Deputy Assistant Director Steenburg’s a—”

Fredericks cleared his throat, held a hand out and slipped his weapon back into its holster. “All right, all right I believe you.”

“God, Amelia, look at you. Can you blame me for being suspicious? How the hell did it happen?”

“That would be need to know, Fredericks.” She regarded him, an apologetic frown creasing her lips. “Let’s just say I crossed paths with someone who’s not exactly from our neck of the woods.”

Fredericks eyebrows shot up, but he only nodded and glanced back over his shoulder and jerked his head at each of his companions. “This is Harrison and Grimes.”

“Harrison, Grimes, this is Special Agent in Charge Amelia van den Broeke, we served together in New Hebron.”

Amelia nodded, regarding both men before returning her attention to Fredericks. “Three agents? We have a foothold situation and AEGIS only sends three agents?”

“There are more, the strike team is securing the local police station.” Fredericks replied.

“Right.” Amelia nodded. “In that case we should get moving.”

“Why, what’s going on?” Fredericks asked, stepping toward the agent.

“There’s an energy field surrounding a pocket of trees near the Cherry Springs Nature Trail, and it’s expanding.”

“Energy field? What kind of energy field?” Ashley asked, lurching back into sight.

“No idea, but whatever it is, it can’t be good. Whatever Leoffa’s up to, I think it’s clear we need to put a stop to it.”

“Well.” Fredericks eyes flicked between the duo of agents at his side. “When do we get under way?”

Alexandra snatched her hand up, again adjusting the strange dark spectacles which Agent van den Broeke had instructed her to wear. She crinkled her nose and slipped a finger under the bridge, joining the two lenses together, rubbing the flesh on the crest of her nose and gritted her teeth. Curse be to whatever madman had created such a strange contrivance!

She growled and dropped her hands, sensing that the two men, seated on either of her sides, had tensed. She peered up and found herself gazingf into a set of eyes. Her cheeks burned hot, but the former king only met the stranger’s gaze and clenched her jaw in challenge.

“Van den Broeke.” Fredericks furrowed his brows and glared at her between pursed lips before turning back to eye Amelia seated in the passenger seat beside him. “Are you sure about this girl?”

“Fredericks,” Amelia said, glancing at Alexandra before meeting the man’s gaze. “I don’t think you understand just how dire this situation is, we need her.”

Fredericks eyed her, lips pressed together in a thin line before again peering back at Alexandra. “If you say so.”

The once-king curled her lips and emitted a low rumbling growl, but did not speak. Amy twisted her neck around and issued a warning glance. The tiny woman sank her teeth into her lower lip, drawing blood, and silenced herself. She did not like the way the tall man looked at her, eyes cool and disinterested, as if he were looking right through her.

The car came to a stop and the pair of agents beside her exited the vehicle. Alexandra set her jaw, peered through the open door and released a long sigh. Her hands went to the seat belt, another irritating contrivance, and released it by pushing down on the orange indent. Another time or place, she might have marveled at the ingenuity of the device, all the while grumbling at having her movement constricted, but she paid it almost no mind.

As she climbed out of the car three more vehicles came screeching to a halt a short distance away. She only paid them a cursory glance, even as men and women, resplendent in full AEGIS tactical gear came pouring out from within each of the vans. Instead, she kept her eyes peeled on the pulsating dome of amethyst energy which sizzled and cackled in the open air before her. Only when Ashley arrived, slamming into the ground and producing a slight tremor did she pause, but even then it only held her attention for the barest of seconds.

She swallowed hard, and craned her neck back, peering up at the wall of power which stretched into the sky for thousands of feet. It circled a section of wilderness twice again as wide.

If she had any doubts that Leoffa possessed the crystal, they evaporated as she gazed upon the monolithic shield. No sorcerer or sorceress could conjure such a thing without joining forces with other magic users… or by making use of a powerful relic.

“Well shit,” Fredericks voice wafted in from somewhere behind her, but she did not turn to meet his gaze.

There came a scuffle of movement just off to her side, and Alexandra watched Amelia approach out of the corner of her eye. The Special Agent in Charge didn’t speak, she merely peered up at the dome, both hands planted on her hips, lips creased in a thoughtful frown.

“Now,” she spoke after several long moments of silence. “How the hell do we get inside?”

“We don’t,” the once-king answered, sinking down to her knees, hot tears burning the corners of her eyes as they streaked down her cheeks.

“No, it wouldn’t be that—” Amelia stopped mid-sentence.

A portion of the barrier flickered and flashed, and Alexandra brought a hand up to shield her eyes. A segment of energy about six feet wide by eight feet tall, crackled and retracted into the surrounding portion of the energy field.

“Oh hell,” Amelia cursed. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Heart hammering in her ears, Alexandra rose to her feet. She glanced at Van den Broeke before striding toward the new opening.

“Wait!” Fredericks called after her. “You’re not going in there, are you?”

The little woman peered over her shoulder at him and shook her head. “What other choice do we have?”

“Van den Broeke?” Fredericks asked.

“It’s gotta be a trap, but Alex is right, we don’t have any other choice.”

Alexandra peered back at Amelia, frowned, and stepped into the opening.