Ch 13

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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 1
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 2
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 3
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Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 4
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The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 13 Pt 1
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The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 13 Pt 2

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 1


Official Report
427 Evergreen Terrace
New Hebron, California

Sapphira’s eyes snapped open, and he sat bolt upright fists swinging, but his blows only met empty air. Which was fortunate because given his enhanced strength he might have injured someone. He sat there panting for a moment, then closed his eyes and took slow deliberate breaths.

Memories of Kwrump’s attack were still vivid in his mind, and remembrances of the fight dominated his dreams. He’d even re-witnessed his daughter’s death, but this time the great brute of an exemplar had been the one to kill her.

He let his eyes flutter back open, sighed, shook the hair out of his face and glanced down at his chest. His breasts were large and firm, the that damn near any woman would be envious and most any man would love to get his hands on. He cupped them, sighed again, and slid his hands down the side of his body.

Most women these days seemed to think they needed to starve themselves, to be beautiful, but Everett never understood that line of thinking. Women had curves for a reason why try to deny what nature had given them? His new form, was the sort any man would drool over. He had curves in all the right places, not that he was overweight.

That didn’t make him feel any better. In fact, it only made the whole thing worse.

He stood, pulling the shirt he’d slept in over his head with both hands, unfastened the hooks on his bra and moved across the room. When he reached the opposite wall, he stopped in front of the full-length mirror that donned the wall. The woman who looked back at him, didn’t resemble the old Everett Howard, in any sense of the word. The only way in which her appearance mirrored his image of himself was the scowl that marred her beautiful features.

He cupped his bare breasts and glanced toward the door, worried that Amelia might intrude upon his solitude, but the door remained closed. He still wasn’t sure how to process the events of the previous night, he’d inherited a set of powerful abilities from Ashtar, but they were unreliable and difficult to control.

After, he’d healed the agent, they’d both sent escorted off to the hospital, and upon waking from unconsciousness the doctor informed him they were both in perfect health. The oddest part was that Amy’s shoulder showed no sign Kwrump broke it.

It was late when they’d arrived back at Amelia’s place and by then the Agent had just enough presence of mind to show him to his room before the two of them both collapsed into their respective beds in exhausted heaps.

He couldn’t guess the time, he saw no clock and had yet to acquire a wristwatch, but if the sunlight spilling into the room through the blinds was any sign, it was well into late morning. In over fifty years he hadn’t slept past seven on more than a few occasions.

He glared at his reflection one final time, re-clothed himself, minus the brazier, retrieve a fresh outfit from the shopping bags he’d thrown in the corner before slipping out of the room. He came face to face with Amelia, who had a mug of coffee clutched in her delicate hands.

“God Dammit” She exclaimed and took a few furtive steps back avoiding splattering the front of her shirt with coffee. “Didn’t expect you to be up. I was just about to check in on you.”

“Sorry if I startled you,” he said, and scratched the back of his neck and grimaced, almost yelping, as his nails tore into his soft skin.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m a little extra jumpy after last night. There’s a fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen if you’re interested,” she said throwing a thumb over her shoulder, motioning down the hallway.

“Gave up coffee years ago,” he muttered under his breath and then added, “High-blood pressure” as an explanation, but paused when he realized that didn’t apply to him any more.

He bit his lip, his cheeks burn as he looked about the hallway, before holding up his chosen apparel for the agent to see. “I’d love some, but, first, if you don’t mind, I always start my day out with a nice hot shower.”

She took a sip from her mug and nodded to the door on her left. “Knock yourself out. Bathroom’s just right there, there are clean towels on the right side of closet and fresh soap in the bottom drawer of the vanity. You can even use my shampoo if you don’t mind smelling like lavender meadows.”

Sapphira watched the agent take another sip from her mug and scuttle down the hallway. When she’d disappeared from view, he pushed the bathroom door open and swung it shut behind him.

He closed his eyes and pulled his shirt over his head. He tried not to focus on the way his breasts jiggled when the fabric caught on them, but he might as well have tried to stop breathing. His eyes snapped back open and he let the shirt fall from his fingers.

He pursed his lips as his hands slipped around the waistband of his jeans. The button and zipper were familiar enough, but as he slid the pants down from his waist, he damn well saw a difference. He’d never, in his many years, worn a pair of slacks that were so form fitting. The saleswoman at the shop had called the damned things skinny jeans, and he understood why.
It took more work getting them off than he was accustomed. He had to guide them down his hips and legs, all the while hopping back and forth, before he pulled them free. A set of simple white panties followed, falling free with far more ease, something for which he was grateful.

He looked down at the pile of clothes on the ground scowled at them and glanced at himself in the mirror. His eyes took in the site of his erect nipples, he scowled and folded his arms across his chest. The exemplar shivered, retrieved a bar of soap and a wash cloth from inside the closet and stepped into the shower, sliding the frosted door shut behind him.

He fumbled with the unfamiliar faucet, at first, but steaming hot water rained down on him in no time. It wasn’t the first shower he’d taken since being transformed, but it was different in one significant way. Before, he’d clenched his eyes shut throughout most of the process and struggled hard to pretend that everything was as it should be. This time, he was letting reality setting in. He was stuck as a woman. He’d best familiarize himself with his new anatomy as much as it galled him to admit, even if it was just to himself.

He glanced down at his breasts and frowned, his heart pounding inside his chest. It was bizarre cruel twist of fate that had put him in this situation to begin with and try as he might he couldn’t come to terms with it.

He lathered his breasts and forcing his hand to make slow and methodical movements. They jiggled each time he brushed against them or he scrubbed hard enough. It was an odd sensation, but one with which he would have to become accustomed. He might have been a woman, but goddamnit, if he would be a sissy crybaby about it.

When he finished, he moved his hand away from his breast, moving up and down his body, caressing every curve and every inch of his voluptuous new form. As he did so, he became more and more aware of something that was unexpected. His explorations aroused him.

His sex drive had been, for the most part, non-existent for over a decade and now to have it return with such intensity, and worse, in such a strange new way, went beyond disconcerting.

Without even realizing what his hands were doing, he found that his index and middle fingers were inches from his vaginal cavity. He froze, biting his lips and his heart still hammering inside his chest.

What the hell was he doing?

He almost stopped altogether, but as he stood there, warm water splattering upon his now erect breasts, he had a thought. One which made his cheeks burn, all the more.

What if Amelia were to walk in on him?

That didn’t seem to be a showstopper. His heart beat harder and he slipped his fingers inside the opening and shivered at the sensation. He moaned and closed his eyes calling out the agents name.

What would have been a quick and nonsexual self-exploratory shower became much more prolonged and much more erotic affair. He became lost to the slow sensual movements of his hands, one plunging fingers in and out of his opening the other, rubbing his nipples.

He might have gone on for hours, if it weren’t for a series of dull thuds against the hollow bathroom door, that snapped him out of his masturbatory explorations.

“Liv, you all right, in there?” Amelia’s voice called, muffled and dull, through the door.

“Y-yeah,” he called back, but his voice faltered. He cleared his throat jerking both hands away from his body.

What the hell had gotten into him?

“I’ll be out in a minute,” he called again and gritted his teeth forcing away all thoughts of the agent out of his mind.

Given her vicinity that proved to be difficult, but he steadied his breath and concentrated on finishing his shower. As hard as that proved to be the humiliation at being found out, was more than enough incentive to keep him from giving it another go.

When Sapphira stepped out from the shower he dressed himself. He didn’t glance in the mirror or pause, even when he experienced the still unfamiliar sensation of an emptiness between his legs when he pulled his panties into place or his breasts pushing against the fabric of his t-shirt.

Once dressed, he pulled his hair out of his shirt, the wet strands dampening the shoulders and back of the blouse. He had been an old-fashioned kind of man, but he had been a single-father raising a daughter by himself. He knew what was necessary to maintain longer tresses like the ones he now sported. Soon, he told himself, he would get a haircut and get his locks shorn down to a length just a little easier to maintain.

With a sigh, he glanced at the mirror and searched through Amelia’s vanity. There he found what was looking for, a brush. He gritted his teeth and glared at the dark-skinned woman in the mirror, one more time, before he got to work. As much as he hated what he saw, he wasn’t about to let his hair get tangled and matted. He’d never experienced it himself, but, as a single father, he had a good idea, from experiences with his daughter, just how unpleasant that might be.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 2


Official Report
427 Evergreen Terrace
New Hebron, California

Not long after Sapphira, dressed, hair brushed and sporting a towel around his head stepped out of the bathroom. He felt his cheeks burning and feared the agent might take notice, assuming it was even visible on his dark cheeks, but then he realized that it was a moot point. She must have sensed his emotions through the bond, he had no hope of hiding such things from her.

She seemed almost amused when he stepped into the kitchen. Her face was blank, but there was enough mirth being projected through the bond, that Sapphira was certain, that Amelia knew what he’d been up to in the shower. He thanked his lucky stars they could not read one another’s thoughts. It would be so much more problematic and embarrassing for both parties involved.

He avoided making eye contact, instead spotting and moving toward the coffee maker. He turned his back to the agent and cast his eyes about. A rack under the cupboard held the mugs, and he took a moment to compose himself as he retrieved a cup and poured himself a drink.

He gripped the mug in both hands, sighed and turned to face Amy who had seated herself at a little dinette just a few feet away. He paused, gritted his teeth, and sat across from the agent, not daring to meet her gaze.

His hands slid across the table, gripping hold of the sugar dispenser and was about to pull it toward himself, when a hand reached out and clasped itself around his. He jumped and jerked back, his seat sliding back several inches and looked up meet Amy’s gaze.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” Amelia smiled, pulled her hands back and slid them under the table.

“Don’t worry about it,” he mumbled under his breath and shook his head as the agent’s face stretch into a smile. He paused, his heart leap in his throat, struck by just how pretty she was when her face lit up. He licked his lips and frowned. “About what happened when I was in the showe–”

Amy winced, held both hands up and Sapphira stopped mid-word staring back at her with wide eyes.

“Please, I have a good idea what you were up to and what you do when you’re alone is your business. Just, do me a favor, let’s not talk about it. This whole thing is strange enough without adding that discussion to the equation. If either one of us does it, we don’t talk about it, okay?”

“Okay.” Sapphira nodded and looked down before snatching up the sugar dispenser and pouring far too much of the sweetener inside. Sapphira intended to never do it again, but was just a little disconcerted to find that despite his resolve a considerable part of him wanted another go at it.

“Thank you, by the way, for the mall, if you hadn’t healed me… Well, let’s say the prospect of having my arm in a damn sling for weeks, if not months, on end doesn’t sound pleasant,” she said staring into her empty mug.

“And if you hadn’t shot that bastard when he was coming at me, I might be six-feet under the ground right now. I think we’re even,” he answered back bring the coffee cup up to take a long sip and almost spitting it out when his mouth filled with its saccharine-sweet tang. Was it him, or did the brew taste a little funny? He might have gotten a little over-zealous with the sugar, but something told him that wasn’t it. Then he realized, he had a different mouth, with different taste buds. No wonder it tasted strange.

The agent nodded and smiled back at him. She thought of mentioning that he had saved her from Kwrump too, but pursed her lips and kept her mouth shut. She got the sense he would downplay any such response by the other exemplar.

“So.” She cleared her throat and changed the subject. “We need to talk about your belongings from your previous life.”

He blinked and leaned back in his seat. “You don’t mean to say I can keep some of them, do you? I thought the whole point was to make a new life for myself.”

“It is, but AEGIS isn’t heartless, the agency realizes that sometimes people need a piece of the past to hold on to before they can move on to their future,” she replied smiling back at him. “We’ve made arrangements to have your assets transferred to your new identity, minus some expenses. From what I understand you have quite the nest-egg, which should help you re-build your life.”

“Expenses?” He leaned forward and gritted his teeth. “What expenses?”

“Did you read the papers you signed? It was all listed in the contract. You don’t think AEGIS is a charity, do you? We can only do so much with the money the government gives us. We have funds set aside for those who cannot pay themselves, but even then without the help of certain, wealthy beneficiaries we wouldn’t even have that. For people like you, who have the money, it falls to you to flip the bill.”

Everett fell back into his seat and shook his head. He might have questioned the legality of what the agent had said, but he knew it was a moot point.

Everett Howard was dead, speaking from a legal standpoint, his property should have gone to his closest living relative. Though he liked the idea of Hailey inheriting his possessions, he was a realist and realized that he needed funds to start a new life. AEGIS would not flip the bill when there was already money available. Besides, they were a government agency, if they were doing it, they’d make it legal.

“I get your point,” he ran his hands through his thick tresses and folded his arms across his chest. “When do we get this show on the road?”

“Today, if you want. I can be ready inside an hour. The sooner we get this done with the better.”

Sapphira nodded. “All right, let’s get to it then.”

 

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 3


Official Report
Oak Creek Apartment Building
New Hebron, California

Sapphira grimaced and shivered as a gust of cold air greeted him. He climbed out of the agent’s Yamato Ante and glanced back at the vehicle with a shake of his head. Everything about the car exuded femininity, from the too-quiet whirr of the engine to the dark shade of violet. It was not a man’s car, at least not in Sapphira’s mind and for someone who’d had his masculinity assaulted it was like he’d climbed out of the personification of his transformed body.

“Damn hybrids,” he grumbled under his breath as he watched Amelia walk around the car toward him.

The agent shivered and tucked both hands into her coat pocket. “Damn it’s cold.”

Sapphira nodded, but didn’t reply, electing instead to crane his neck around to look up at his old apartment building. It had only been a few days since he’d last stepped inside, but it seemed like much longer. He glanced at the agent as she approached and without missing a beat stepped in sync beside her.

He felt his eyes widen as he approached, realizing the extent to which his eyesight had failed him in his twilight years as got a better look at the building. The place was far more run down than he’d ever remembered. He gritted his teeth and moved past the dirt stained windows and discolored walls. In its heyday the apartment complex had been for middle-income families, but the area had fallen on hard times, like most of the city and as a result had become host to a much lower income bracket. Like it or not that also meant a higher crime rate.

Sapphira had only come to live there within the last few years and not for, what one would expect to be, the most obvious reasons. Money was not an issue and hadn’t been for a long time.

The agent moved forward, but Sapphira stopped, remembering the time on the Ante’s dash and moved in the exact opposite direction with quick, furtive steps. If he hurried maybe he could…

He never finished the thought, but rather took off running, feeling his heart hammering inside his chest as he rounded the corner. Amelia called after him and dashed forward in pursuit, but with his enhanced capabilities, she stood little chance of keeping up.

He ran for two blocks and stopped when he caught sight of the University. He paused, long enough to marvel he wasn’t winded at all, and glanced across the busy intersection. The light changed, and he stepped forward choosing his steps as he made his way across the street.

Located just a few blocks south of one of the worst crime areas in all of California, New Hebron State University was also, one of the two rated schools in the state. It was his old apartment building vicinity to the college, not its rental cost or even its proximity to his daughter’s place of death, that had attracted him to the area.

He heard Van Den Broeke, coming but didn’t pause or wait for her. The time for explanations would come, but there was a chance he could catch site of his intended target before she made her way into the building. Sure enough, a familiar vehicle appeared rewarding his efforts. When he saw that familiar Yellow Secura pull into the school’s parking lot, he a smile stretch across his face.

“Hailey,” he whispered the girl’s name, fighting back tears as he watched her climb out of the car and make her way into the school, oblivious that he was watching.

“Who?”

Sapphira spun around to face the agent who was standing there blank expression on her face and breathing only a little heavier than usual. To have caught up and only seem the slightest bit winded, Amy must have been in amazing shape.

The exemplar swallowed hard and craned his neck around just in time to watch the girl step inside the school and let out a long sigh before returning all his attention to the agent. Amy folded her arms across her chest, arched an eyebrow and gritted her teeth. “Liv, an explanation would be nice.”

“Hailey’s my granddaughter,” he shook his head and walked back the way they’d come.

“Your granddaughter?” The agent asked, lurching forward so she could step in sync with the other exemplar. “You know it would be inappropriate for you to ma–”

“She doesn’t know me from a can of paint!” He snapped back at her before she complete her statement.

With a sigh, he gritted his teeth, closed his eyes and shook his head before they snapped back open and he fixed his gaze on the agent. “Hailey was raised by her father’s parents. Her dad was pretty much useless… He got himself killed, in some work place accident, after my Clara become pregnant, but his mother and father seemed to be decent enough folk and a whole hell of a lot younger. After that bastard killed my daughter and put a bullet in my hip, I couldn’t get around. So they–”

“Raised her,” Amelia finished this time, she was the one to cut Sapphira short.

Sapphira nodded his lips trembling as he fought back tears. What the hell was wrong with him? Damn female hormones were turning him into a blubbering fool. He cleared his throat and tried to steady his voice as he resumed speaking. Once or twice his voice wavered, and he knew he had failed to mask the pain. The agent, was a sharp one, and he doubted she’d missed it. She said nothing.

“I used to write to her, when she was little, but I got no response and one day, I received a package in the mail. Her other grandparents had sent back every single damn letter unopened. I gave up after that. When she got older, and I figured she was old enough to start college, I hired a private eye and sure enough, I found out she was going to school here,” he said throwing a thumb over his shoulder without looking back.

“I took it out into my head I would become a presence in her life. I thought maybe with my final few years, I could find some happiness again. So, I moved my ass out here, found an apartment, even went so far to buy her some flowers, but then I saw her…” He shook his head and felt his lips tremble. “She looks just like her mother, could damn well be her twin. I’ve tried damn near a dozen times and I always chicken out. So, I memorized her routine and I keep watch over her. At least, I can make sure she stays safe. It’s more than I ever did for her mother.”

In other circumstances, Amelia might have found the statement disquieting and his behavior stalker-esque, but she could sense nothing but good intentions from the other exemplar. A fear which she understood all too well motivated him. She had no one in this world, Alex the closest thing she’d ever found to a soul mate had left her, her parents and siblings had disavowed any relation to her and her aunt, the one relative who had cared for her, had passed away just a few years ago.

She put a hand on Sapphira’s shoulder and smiled. “It’s hard, I know.”

They both paused and looked into one another’s eyes. For the briefest of moments, the two understood each other at a level that would never have been possible without their bond. Both saw within one another, a very lonely soul. Each had lost so much and both had had their lives changed by factors neither could control.

Sapphira coughed and through his hand over his shoulder, this time back toward the apartment building. “We gonna do this thing or not?”

“Yeah,” Amelia nodded and cleared her throat. “Come on.”

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 13 Pt 4


Official Report
Oak Creek Apartment Building
New Hebron, California

“To be honest, I’m kinda surprised that old bastard had anyone in his life who’d want any of his shit.” Tom Corden, the super grimaced craning his neck back to glance at the two women.

Sapphira gritted his teeth and glared at the man, but didn’t say a word. He knew if he allowed himself to speak, he’d end up giving his identity away. Not that he cared much for the Tom, he was a layabout who spent more time avoiding the tenants than doing his damn job and the two had shared a mutual dislike almost from the moment they’d met.

The elevators had broken down, which, considering the building’s age they did regularly. A matter which Sapphira well knew and Tom, who was oblivious to Sapphira’s identity, was intent on telling them. So, the building superintendent led them up the stairwell. Before his transformation, Sapphira could not use the stairs. In those instances where the elevators weren’t working he’d stayed inside and paid to have his groceries delivered.

Tom babbled on, which was pretty well in keeping with what Sapphira expected out of the man. “Most of the building’s tenants hated the man. Honestly, as often as he butted heads with the other tenants, I’m a little surprised the owner never booted him out. Would have saved me a lot of headaches. I’m just glad he’s out of my hair.”

Sapphira balled his fist up, ready to strike the man from behind, but the agent gripped a hand on his shoulder and he clenched a fist around the handrail instead. He paused glared up at the man as he continued to ascend the stairs and only followed when Tom glanced back down the stairwell at them. When he resumed, he didn’t take notice of the hand-print left by his fist in the aluminum, or the bits of paint that flaked away when he started back up the stairwell, but the agent did.

Amelia, pursed her lips and kept her hand gripped on the other exemplar’s shoulder, squeezed a final time, which Sapphira interpreted as a warning and let her hand slide away.

“Seems a little strange, you’d think this granddaughter would have visited Mr. Howard at least once or twice over the years,” Tom paused at the top of the stairs waiting for the two women to catch up.

“I can’t comment,” Amy said meeting his gaze once they’d reached the top. “My client did not disclose what manner of relationship he had with his grandfather.”

Tom shook his head and turned away mumbling something under his breath about ‘lawyers’. Amelia pursed her lips and exchanged glanced with Sapphira before the pair of them followed the little man. Finally, he led them to Everett’s apartment, not hesitating once as he swung the door open and showed them inside.

“You two gonna be all right, going at this alone? Ms. Atkins in three-eleven, has got a clogged bath drain she wants me to look at.”

Amelia nodded and folded her arms across her chest. “Yes, Mrs. Corden, I believe we should be just fine.”

“Uh, that’s just three doors down if you need anything,” He threw thumb and over his shoulder and only lingered long enough to get a nod of acknowledgement from Amelia before departing.

“Layabout.” Once the door had shut behind him Sapphira shook his fist at it and gritted his teeth, glancing over his shoulder at Amelia. “Only reason he’s so eager to get to Atkins place is ’cause he’s got a thing for her. Don’t blame him if I were a little younger…” He paused and gritted his teeth and glanced down at his breasts cheeks burning bright. “Well, if I were a little more male, at least, I would be barking up her tree too. A comely young widow like that—”

“That’s not relevant, is it?” Amelia folded her arms across her chest and shook her head. She seemed impatient and uncomfortable through the bond and he got the sense she wanted to be anywhere, but there. “Why don’t we get this over and done with?”

“Believe me, I’m not looking forward to this anymore than you are. I’m ready to get underway, if you’re done playing at being the executor of my estate.”

Amelia grimaced and shook her head. Sapphira was not the first nor the last AEGIS had given a new identity. Presenting herself as a lawyer acting as Everett Howard’s executor was the modus operandi in such a scenario, but that didn’t mean she had to like it. When her aunt had passed away Amy had acted as executor and heir to most of her estates, and it hadn’t sat over well with the rest of the family. This whole thing was bringing back a lot of unpleasant memories.

She sighed and nodded. She’d briefed Sapphira on what they would do, including her brief stint at play acting as the lawyer of the ‘deceased’. So, there wasn’t much to do, but get to work. They were taking inventory of Everett Howard’s estates, and while, yes, they were cataloging his belongings. They would also sort through them and determining which items he wanted, and AEGIS would allow him and those which they would dispose or, in which, he’d pass along to his granddaughter.

Sapphira did not waste time, moving through the apartment and find his way through the living room and into the adjoining bedroom. Amelia hesitated watching him move and once he had disappeared cast her eyes around the place. Everett Howard’s living quarters were tidy, but more than that, they were spartan and lacking a woman’s touch.

A recliner, an entertainment center with television, and a single tv tray were the only pieces of furniture. It was the home of a man unaccustomed to company. Everett Howard had lived a very lonely existence. The only decorations which stood out like a sour thumb were several dozens photos of two women. If their clothing styles had not been so dissimilar, styles separated by decades, she might have assumed they were sisters. Instead, she realized they must have been Everett’s daughter and his wife.

She bit her lip, glanced over her shoulder and followed Sapphira into the bedroom. There would be no putting this off, no matter how much she wished it were over.

 

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 13 Pt 1

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
3412 Abby Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

A long soft sigh escaped Amelia’s lips. Birdsong wafted in from out of the darkness and she jerked upright, eyes wide and hands sliding over her belly. She panted, scanning the tiny room, before swallowing and pursing her lips.

Where was she?

Light spilled in from a small window adjacent to the bed atop which she rested and she peered through it. A large elm’s branches spread out into the sky, blocking her view of most of the street beyond.

“Oh thank god,” a voice said from the doorway and Amelia’s head jerked sideways to face the newcomer.

Amy blinked, watching the blond girl, unable to look away. “Ashley, what the hell are you doing here?”

“Well,” Ashley grinned leaning against the door frame one hand on her hip. “It’s nice to see you too.”

The agent released a lengthy breath and let out a low throaty chuckle with a slow shake of her head. “I mean, it is a relief to see a familiar face, I just didn’t expect you to be here.”

“How did I—” Amy stopped looking around the room.

“Get here?” Ashley finished folding her arms across her chest. “It’s a long story, but the short answer is I found you and brought you here.”

Amelia arched an eyebrow. “And the long answer?”

The younger woman pursed her lips, stepped into the room and closed the door behind her.

“Probably best if no one else heard this,” she winced and ran a hand through her shock of flaxen hair. She moved across the room, sat beside Amelia on the bed, placing a hand on the agent’s knee. Then with a long release of air she spoke. “I guess I should start by telling you that Sapphira’s in the hospital.”

That caught Amy’s attention, she regarded the other woman, eyes going wide. “What?”

“She collapsed a several days ago, after taking a call from an Idaho area code. And before you ask, I don’t know what’s wrong with her. Nobody does. I wish I had better news.”

Amelia pressed her lips together and bowed her head. A tear ran down her cheek, but she wiped it away before peering back up at her companion.

“Probably, the work of one of our friends,” the agent said with a slight quiver in her voice. “I have reason to suspect there’s a mole inside AEGIS, they were probably afraid Sapphira would come to my rescue when I disappeared.”

Or else raise hell if I turned up dead. Amelia added, but didn’t trust herself to voice that notion.

Her heart ached at the image of Sapphira sitting inert in a hospital bed somewhere. Throughout this entire ordeal she hadn’t once considered trying to contact her partner. Why was that? She swallowed reflecting back to Ashtar’s warning that she was being influenced and tasted bile in her throat. Maybe, Leoffa had influenced her in more ways than one.

“Shit,” Ashley cursed. “I was afraid it was something like that.”

“Tell me the rest,” Amelia said biting the inside of her cheek.

Ashley did, apprising her of her travels to Tondzaosha, witnessing the police taking her into custody and everything from there up to finding Brian van den Broeke trapped within his strange luminescent prison. She would have continued, but caught a gleam in Amelia’s eyes and paused, regarding her friend, eyebrows furrowed.

Amelia didn’t speak, instead thinking back to when she’d reached into Leoffa’s mind. There had been a brief flash and images very like those described by Ashley. There must be some connection.

“What happened after that?” Amelia asked, stroking her chin, her lips pressed in a thoughtful expression.

“Well, I tried for a good thirty minutes to reach him, and then… well, things got even stranger…

“Okay, that’s not working.”


Ashley threw a fist out in frustration. It impacted the space above Brian van den Broeke and a dull metallic thud sounded.


“Perhaps, you should hit it again, miss. I’m sure it will work better the fourth time.” Nabu’s voice intoned in her ear.


Ashley growled under her breath, but didn’t dignify him with a reply. Instead she turned away and clenched her eyes releasing a steady breath. “I don’t suppose you have any ideas, Nabu, do you?”


“No, miss, this is quite beyond my area of expertise.”


“I hate to say this, but if there’s nothing I can do here, it may be time to—”


“Miss, as loath as I am to interrupt, I am detecting a spike in energy readings.” Nabu spoke, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Perhaps you may wish to give it another look.”


Ashley spun around as a high-pitched screech rang through the air. The lights above Brian‘s inert form pulsated and intensified and he sat bolt upright…


“Andy!” He screamed the name, repeating it over and over, hands clutching the side of his head.


The lights swirled faster and faster, growing so bright that Ashley winced and brought a hand up to shield her eyes. A whoosh of air blew into her and she braced herself as a surge of energy cascaded out in every direction. The illumination grew so intense that she closed her eyes and averted her gaze.


Once her vision cleared, she lowered her hands and moved toward Brian. He watched her approach with wide eyes.


“Impostor, betrayal… sword. Blood gushing.” He mumbled peering past Ashley’s armored form almost as if she were not even there.


He hugged his knees and rocked back and forth, several long sobs escaping his lips. “She will die.”


“Who?” She demanded, her voice coming out as a low guttural growl through the suit’s voice changer.


He didn’t answer, instead he threw his head back and a raw, wheezing manic laugh sounded from his mouth. “The one who was king… her blood everywhere,” he mumbled. “My brother who’s now my sister. Times ticking… ticking… out through the window…”


“Fuck.”


Ashley didn’t hesitate. She lurched forward, armored form shooting through the bedroom window, glass shattering and cascading across the front lawn in her wake. Heart hammering in her chest, her destination already in mind, she shot into the open sky above. She couldn’t say why, but she was certain that he’d been speaking of Amelia. It sounded like the ravings of a madman, but somehow she understood that the danger was real.

“You just left Brian there?” Amelia cut in her disbelief reflected in her emerald eyes.

“I freaked out…” Ashley grimaced one hand kneading the back of her neck. “I didn’t stop to reflect, I just acted.”

“If it makes you feel better, I came back for him after. He was still there, at least in the physical sense, but mentally… Well, let’s just say he’s a few bricks short of a load.”

Amelia’s lips trembled and a sob escaped her lips. “All because that woman was trying to get to me.”

She wiped the tears from her eyes and regarded her blond friend who was now shedding a few tears of her own.  When the agent spoke her voice trembled. “So? I guess you found me.”

Ashley nodded, swallowing hard. “Uh, yeah. I figured since the police had you, you’d probably be at the station, and sure enough that’s where you and the girl were, unconscious in a pool of blood. Shit, I thought you were dead. After I went back for your brother, I brought everyone here.”

“Kruhl?” Amy asked, but her friend just blinked. The agent sighed, closed her nice and massaged her temple. “The short blond woman.”

“Oh! She’s fine, I think. She hasn’t woken up yet. There was blood all over her when I happened upon you guys, but I couldn’t find any cuts or scrapes, I guess none of it was hers.”

“And Brian?” Amelia asked staring back at her swallowing hard.

“Asleep, last I checked.” Ashley brushed the hair away from her face. “And there’s something else…”

Amy gaze intensified her eyes boring holes into the other woman. “Um, I didn’t know any safe places… and who to trust. I didn’t even know what was wrong with you so I, uh…” she trailed off wincing under the scrutiny of her friend’s gaze.

“You what?” Amy asked a sinking feeling forming in the pit of her stomach.

“I worried you would need medical attention and since the files Malcolm gave me said your mother was a nurse…”

“Oh, god,” Amelia sighed glancing around. “Don’t tell me this is her place.”

“No! Actually,” Ashley jerked her head from side to side. “But she’s here. She said this place belonged to a friend.”

Amy sighed and gritted her teeth. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, her mother gets thrown into the mix.

Oh hell.

 

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 13 Pt 2

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
3412 Abby Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

“Um.” Amy groaned, slipping a hand over her belly, as a slow gurgle rumbled its way through her abdomen. She’d had some minor queasiness over the past few days, but she’d been hoping the worst of her morning sickness was passed. It seemed she’d been wrong.

“Goddammit, not again….” she trailed off and closed her eyes. “I think I need the bathroom.”

“Uh, sure.” Ashley said, her brows furrowed and she gestured across the room. “It’s right across the hall.”

Amy lurched to her feet, hand still clasped over her stomach and sprinted toward the door. She swung it open and was through the one on the opposite side of the hallway in seconds. Without preamble, she fell to her knees in front of the toilet and hurled her guts out. When she finished, she collapsed atop the seat, panting and chest heaving for breath.

Ashley rushed into the bathroom after her at the sound of retching and stopped outside the door, arm resting on the frame peering in. “Amy, are you all right?”

Amelia collected loose hairs from her face, sighed and peered back at her friend. “I’m fine, it’s because… I’m pregnant.”

“Oh,” Ashley stared back, eyes widening. “I had no idea.”

“Sapphira and I were going to tell everyone after I got back. If you spill the beans…”

“Say no more,” Ashley mimed turning a key in her mouth. “Your secret’s safe with me.”

Amy stood and shook her head. “If Sapphira doesn’t wake up, I don’t know what I’ll do. I can’t raise a child by myself. I don’t have any idea what to do. Never once in a million years, did I ever let myself hope I’d get pregnant an—”

A dull thud sounded from the hallway and Ashley peered back. Amelia’s heart leapt into her throat on catching the blond’s wide-eyed grimace.

“Uh, Mrs. Van den Broeke, I didn’t see you there,” Ashley spun away from the doorway and Amelia’s mother appeared lugging a plastic storage container in her arms.

Serena van den Broeke turned, regarding her eldest child, eyes wide. “I-I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop I was just bring up some—”

“Oh hell.” Amelia groaned placing both palms on the vanity.

“There’s no way I heard that right. You can’t be pregnant, that’s not how it wor—”

Amelia glanced back at her, interrupting her elder. “No, it’s not, but regardless I am pregnant. Look, it’s hard to explain, but sometimes strange things happen to AEGIS personnel in the field. A while back something happened to me and well let’s say… it changed a lot of things.”

Serena stood there, mouth agape. “That’s… not—”

Amy gritted her teeth, a scathing reply on the tip of her tongue, but Ashley interjected. “It sounds unbelievable, but she’s telling the truth. I was there, and… she’s not the only one who experienced changes.”

Serena lowered her head and sighed. “I didn’t mean to, I mean I wasn’t say—”

“Forget it,” Amy waved her hand lips curled into a snarl. “We have bigger concerns, like trying to help my fucking brother.”

“Ashley dear, would you take these?” Serena asked holding the plastic container out to the younger woman. “You can take them down to the room at the end of the hall. Amelia and I need to speak alone.”

Ashley bit her lip, glanced at Amy, who nodded. She took the tote out of the elder Van den Broeke’s hands and disappeared down the corridor. Serena watched her depart before slipping inside the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

“Amelia, I…” She bowed her head and reached up cupping her daughter’s face. The agent flinched, but didn’t back away as her mother continued. “For years, I imagined what I would say to you if I ever had the chance to see you again and that day when you were in the hospital, I realized how unprepared I was. All those speeches, all the imagined conversations flew right out the window.”

Amelia brought both hands up and pulled her mother’s arm down. “This is hard for me.” Hot tears cascaded down her face. “I never thought I’d see any of you again. I’d put that part of my life behind me, but the wounds still cut deep and every time I look at your face… I’m so very angry.”

“You have every right to be. I was a terrible mother, if I could take back—”

“Can we not do this right now?” Amelia asked a sob racking her body. “We’re not out of the woods yet… not by a long shot.”

She slipped past her mother and slipped back into the hallway amidst a torrent of protestations from the other woman. Amelia didn’t glance back, but started down the hall. Stopping about mid-way she put her back to the wall, sank to her knees and wept.

A pair of arms enfolded her and when she looked up, peering into her mother’s eyes. She stiffened, gazing at her elder with wide eyes, then all her resistance crumbled away and she melted into Serena’s arms.

Amelia swallowed, forced back tears and looked Serena in the eyes. In the course of a few days a magical sword had thrown her across a room and landed her in the emergency room, she’d watched a good agent die for no good reason, was betrayed by someone she’d believe was her long-lost brother made over into a sister, learned that her actual brother may have been driven mad by the very same person, and discovered that the love of her life was unconscious in a hospital bed in a ‘not-coma’. Not to mention, she had to contend with her goddamned morning sickness.

“I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.” A sad smile touched Serena’s lips. “But judging from some of the things your friend said it couldn’t have been easy.”

“Damned hormones.” Amelia’s voice quivered. The excuse sounded hollow even to her ears, but her mother only smiled and nodded. “Um… I should probably apolo—”

“No.” Serena cut in shaking her head. “I wasn’t there for you when you needed me the most you have nothing to apologize for.”

“Maybe not then,” Amelia said fresh tears burning her eyes. “But you helped me today and that counts for something.”

Serena smile widened for a second, but then it slithered off her face replaced by a more somber expression. She climbed up and held her hand out. “Come on, let’s get you off the dirty floor. We wouldn’t want you to catch something. You’re expecting, you need to think of the baby.”

Amelia took her mother’s hand and stood with a grunt of effort. She didn’t speak, but pursed her lips tears streaking her cheeks.

“Uh… I should see if there’s something I can do for Brian,” the agent said at last.

Serena face looked stricken, but she nodded. “I tried talking to him, but he’s just not all there. I don’t know if anyone can help him.”

Amelia sighed and placed both hands on her hips. “I have a better chance than most. Remember how I said something strange happened to me in the field? Well, this body isn’t the only thing that was changed.”

Serena’s eyebrows shot up and she peered at her daughter, lips pursed. “What are you saying?”

Amelia flattened her lips together and sealed her eyes, reaching out with her mind. Serena, gasped and peered down at her feet as they rose from the ground. She threw her arms out windmilling them through the air. She remained suspended there for several long moments hovering just a few inches above the ground then Amelia’s eyes snapped back and her feet plopped back onto the hardwood floor with a light thud.

Serena peered at the other Van den Broeke eyes round and eyebrows disappearing into her bangs. “Good lord, how did you do that?”

“Telekinesis.” Amelia shrugged and folded her hands. “I can do a lot more, telepathy, mental projection, and some things I’m not sure have a name. Plus, I have an enhanced healing factor, faster reflexes and… I still have my psychometric retrocognizance.”

Truth be told, she hadn’t done a full test run, but she had a good idea what she was capable of if Sapphira’s power set was any indication. It seemed only logical that the agent would have the same abilities as the one from whom she’d inherited them, but it was not an assumption she had put to the test.

“So you’re going to, what, probe your brother’s mind?”

Amelia nodded. “It may be the only way I can reach him. Someone has done something unnatural to his mind,” she shuddered reflecting on Allison’s retelling of events and her own vision of her brother when she touched Leoffa’s mind. “I don’t believe he can come out of it without some drastic intervention.”

“Unnatural? Sounds like it could be dangerous.” Serena winced. “Are you sure this is something you want to do?”

“No,” Amy admitted. “But it’s something I have to do. Brian became involved in this because of me, I can’t just abandon my brother when he needs my help.”

“Okay,” Serena sighed. “Just be careful, okay? I’d hate for you to get hurt.”

Amelia smiled, tears sliding down her cheeks and lips trembling as she moved down the hallway. Whatever happened, it felt good hearing those words from her mother.

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