Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 14 Pt 1


Official Report
New Hebron, California

Sapphira bit his lip and cast his eyes about the restaurant. His cheeks burned as a fellow on the other side of the room met his gaze and smiled. He averted his eyes and let out a sigh of relief when he saw Amelia making her way back toward their table. He wanted to bolt, already regretting his choice, but knowing if he backed out now, he’d lose a chance to sink his teeth in a nice juicy steak.

Two days passed since they’d retrieved his belongings from his old apartment and he couldn’t shake the feeling he’d betrayed his wife and daughter by giving so many of their former possessions away. He had little choice. He was relying on AEGIS to transition into his new life and without them he would find it difficult to move forward. They had certain conditions for giving their aid and dictating what sort of items they allowed him to keep. It was another way to ensure their control.

In turth, it wasn’t feasible for him to keep much of it. Amelia had limited space in her home to spare. He’d kept a few keepsakes and photo albums. They would either toss the rest, give it to Hailey or put it up to auction and sold in an estate sale. They would return the proceeds of to him, minus all the auction fees, transportation costs and AEGIS’ cut.

The whole ordeal left him feeling as if everything his life were spiraling out of his control and his current predicament did nothing to help.

He glanced down, his cheeks burning anew as he looked down into the plunging neckline of his dress. The location had been Amelia’s idea and to say it had surprised him was an understatement. Dominique’s was well beyond the price range Amelia specified when they’d first struck their little bargain.

She’d tacked on another price and it had been a doozy, at least, in his eyes. He must wear an outfit suitable to the locale, the ridiculous dress that seemed to reveal every little curve. When she divulged this new stipulation, he almost turned her down flat, but when she looked at him with the big hazel eyes he couldn’t bring himself to tell her no.

He’d spent every moment since slipping the damn thing on, regretting that decision. She hadn’t yet pushed him to get his ears pierced, or wear cosmetics, but she did persuade him to get a haircut. Though he’d resisted the idea at first, his hair was a little ragged and he kept hearing his mother’s voice in the back of his head lecturing him about grooming and hygiene. So he relented and submitted himself yet another assault against his dwindling masculinity. He felt as if he’d sold the final few bits of his manhood for a damn slab of meat.

His dress was skin-tight and displayed a helluva lot of cleavage, a cheaper version of the sort a celebrity whore might wear on the red carpet. He thought for sure his breasts might pop out of the little thing, but somehow they remained in place. When he brought his hand up to slip a lock of hair back behind his ear, he paused, and let out a long sigh. Why hadn’t he gotten his hair cut short?
He’d grown up in an age when men wore short hair and women kept theirs long. He hadn’t even given the idea much thought, so accustomed to the gender norms under which his parents had raised him, but he’d spent almost every moment since rethinking that notion. Why should he have long hair? He was a man… where it counted.

Deep in thought, he watched the agent move way from him and toward the restrooms. She wore a red number, that wasn’t as revealing as his outfit, but which helped show off her slender form. Not a curvaceous woman, her professional attire did little to show off her figure, but her little dress helped accentuate what little she had. It must have worked he couldn’t take his eyes off her. That’s probably why he didn’t take notice of the man as he approached.

It wasn’t until his shadow loomed over the table that Sapphira took notice. He damn near jumped out of his skin and let out a startled gasp as he stared up at the newcomer.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” he glanced down at Sapphira scratching the bag of his neck and slipping into the seat opposite him.

“Waddya, want?” Sapphira folded his arms across his chest, his cheeks burning anew as he looked up at the newcomer. The same fellow who’d smiled at him from across the restaurant a few moments ago.

“I saw you sitting here by yourself and I thought I’d come over and introduce myself. I couldn’t believe a woman as beautiful as you would be here all by yourself.”

“That’s because I’m not.” He answered back between gritted teeth.

“That explains it,” he smiled. “I’m Jerry. What’s—”

Sapphira leaned forward, and pounded his fist down onto the table harder than he’d intended, but not enough to cause damage. “I will only say this once, I don’t date men and if I did it wouldn’t be a fair-haired jiggaboo lovin’ nancy boy with jungle fever. So why don’t you get the hell away from me before I punch your skinny little ass in the face.”

Jerry’s eyebrows shot way up and he leaned back in his seat, mouth agape. “Um, what?”

“You heard me.”

“Right, well, I’m not sure what the hell just happened, but I know when to throw in the towel.” He threw his hands up on the table, stood up and walked away, all the while glancing back toward Sapphire and shaking his head.

Sapphira couldn’t be sure, but he might have heard the fellow mutter ‘crazy bitch’ under his breath as he moved away. He sat there, observing him for several long seconds, both fists clenched atop the table, only averting his gaze when Amelia returned slipping into the seat Jerry had just vacated.

“Everything all right?”

Sapphira shook his head and let out a long sigh. “Bastard thought he’d put the charms on me.”

Amelia craned her neck around, following his gaze, and slipped a hand over her companion’s. “Well, he is cute.”

Sapphira bit his lip, cleared his throat and grabbed a menu from off the table, unwilling to dignify her statement with a response.

“Cute? He ain’t my type.”

“Well, you better get used to it. With your looks, a lot of guys will be barking up your tree.”

Sapphira scowled, but didn’t say another word, opting instead to look over the menu. He knew the agent was right, but the whole encounter with that Nancy boy had left a bitter taste in his mouth. Confused enough, he didn’t need every horn dog skirt-chaser putting charms on him every time he stepped outside.

Their waiter came by to take their order and Sapphira damn near salivating over the prospect of a good steak dinner soon forgot about his discomfort. When the waiter returned with their meals, he was already loosening up. That might have had something to do with the drinks.

Far lighter as a woman as he had been as a man, it didn’t occur to him he’d get tipsy after a single drink. By the time he realized what happened he’d become too inebriated to care. Regret would come later.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 14 Pt 2


Official Report
New Hebron, California

It was clear to Sapphira, even drunk, that he had incurred Agent Van den Broeke’s displeasure, but as much as he strained his alcohol muddled mind the why was lost to him.

Amelia didn’t say a word, but rather folded her arms across her chest and gazed upon the other exemplar as he staggered through the parking lot. She watched him zigzag a dozen feet, dropped her arms and with a shake of her head grabbed him by the shoulders and guided him toward her car.

She unlocked it with the key fob and Sapphira burst into a fit of laughter. “Such a cute little car, Amy. Did I ever tell you it was cute?”

“No, I really don’t think so.” Amelia opened the passenger side door and motioned for the other exemplar to climb inside, but the other didn’t respond as expected. He smiled at her, closed his eyes and stumbled forward, collapsing into her arms. Before the agent could protest, Sapphira’s warm lips locked around hers.

Amelia shocked and repulsed by this contact pulled back, stumbling back from Sapphira before falling onto her rear end. She’d known about the other exemplar’s little crush for some time. It obvious enough from the looks Sapphira gave her from time to time, but their empathic bond assured that there could be no doubt in her mind. She had never expected Sapphira to act on her feelings, given his personality profile, but then again she had never expected him to get drunk.

She let out a soft laugh under her breath, struck by the absurdity of the entire situation and shook her head. When she climbed back to her feet, she found that Sapphira had passed out and collapsed into the car door opening.

She let out a long sigh of relief, glad that the other exemplar seemed to have developed such a low tolerance for alcohol post-transformation and grunted as she wrap her arms around Sapphira’s shoulders and guided his unconscious form the rest of the way into the vehicle. His body shifted and fell inside and his forward momentum pulled Amelia in along with him. Amy gasped, as her head bounced into his chest and landed in his lap.

The agent grunted, her cheeks burning as she jerked back and hit the back of her head on the door frame. She cursed, rubbing the spot with her palm and ducked out of the opening. She slammed the door shut, gritted her teeth and walked around to the other side of the car.

Once inside, she glanced at Sapphira and placed both hands on the steering wheel. She sighed, bowed her head and bit her lip before she put the key into the ignition, started the car and pulled out of the parking lot.

She stopped at the first light she came to when it turned red and once again glanced toward Sapphira. AEGIS frowned on fraternization between transition specialists and their charges for good reasons. They trained specialists to report situations like that which occurred, but if the agency determined that Sapphira’s infatuation with her might compromise her effectiveness then her superior would assign a new transition specialist.

Her superiors were right to distrust her empathic bond to the other exemplar. If she couldn’t convince them she wasn’t being influence, they would never put her back into the field as an agent. The only way to prove herself was to reform Sapphira Scott.

It was ironic that she should would be so eager to get back into the thick of things when she had resisted becoming an agent. Now, she couldn’t picture her life any other way.

She glanced at Sapphira still unconscious in his seat and bit her lip again. There was the whole matter of Chemosh. He was still out there and still a threat. If her instinct were right about Sapphira being the key to defeating him, then she intended to stick to him like glue.

The light turned green, and she sped through the intersection and turned right a few minutes later. Her home was a few miles away, and she was eager get back. She hoped she could wake Sapphira up once they got there. The prospect of attempting to lug his unconscious form into the house was not one that appealed to her and she lacked the upper body strength to even make the attempt. The neighbors might get the wrong idea if they saw her dragging him inside the building.

She let out a soft chuckle, imagining that detestable old judgmental hag across the street, Mrs. Steenburg peeking through the blinds and watching her maneuver Sapphira’s limp form into the house. The woman would jump to the wrong conclusion and call emergency services. She’d just have to cross that bridge when she came to it.

She turned the corner, about a block away from the house and stopped the car. Flashing lights lit up the entire street, both from the assortment of emergency vehicles and a flickering fire consuming a nearby apartment complex.

Given that the sky was dark and most of the surrounding buildings dwarfed the one on fire, was it any wonder she hadn’t caught sight of it until that moment? The street was in an older part of town and so narrow it only allowed one way traffic, the emergency vehicles blocked the way through.

With a long sigh, she pulled to the side of the road and studied the fire. She wanted nothing more to return home and hit the sack, but her instinct told her it would be a mistake. A fire wasn’t within AEGIS jurisdiction, but Amelia’s gut was screaming at her to do something.

Amelia never questioned her instincts, but this time, it gave her pause, what possible reason would it be necessary for her to be present?

There was only one way to find out. She sighed, again, gritted her teeth and exited the vehicle. Amy pulled her coat close, shivered, and approached the apartment building. She felt more heat from the flames the closer she got, but it was cold enough out she kept her coat zipped.

An officer stepped forward to block her approach, hands held up in warning. She stopped, slipped a hand into her coat pocket and produced her badge. “It’s all right, I’m Agent Van den Broeke with AEGIS, I was just wondering if—”

“This is a garden variety fire agent, we’ll call you if we find any vampires or little green men in the rubble.”

Amelia grimaced, shook her head and let out a long sigh. Because AEGIS dealt with any crimes deemed out of the ordinary, they sometimes ended up chasing the shadows of certain non-existent paranormal entities, like vampires and little green men. This often resulted in agents becoming the brunt of jokes at the hands of other law enforcement professionals.

Amelia bit her lips and slipped her badge back into her coat and glanced back over her shoulder toward her car.

“You know what, never mind, have a good evening officer,” she said offering a much more cordial response than he deserved.

He didn’t respond, but rather scowled at her as she turned away and started back toward her car. She sensed Sapphira through the bond, now awake, and more alert than she would expect. She couldn’t see Sapphira had disappeared from the passenger seat until she was within a few feet of the car and by then it was too late.

“Shit,” she cursed and spun around just in time to see a figure, clothed in red shoot past the local PD and firefighters and rush into the apartment building.

“Goddamnit,” she cursed again and slipped a hand inside her pocket to retrieve her cellphone. It was better if she reported it herself if Steenburg or Matthews found out through the news there would be hell to pay.

She was not looking forward to explaining this to her superiors.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 14 Pt 3


Official Report
1233 N Washington St.
New Hebron, California

Sapphira came awake with a start heart, hammering inside his chest as he cast his wide eyes about. He was inside Agent Van den Broeke’s car, but his memory of the night was murky. He shook his head and cleared his throat.

He recalled having a few drinks and getting drunk. He even had vague recollections of stumbling out of the restaurant with an irritated Amelia, but how he had gotten into the car was another matter. Cupping his face and messaging his temples Sapphira let out a long groan as memories of the sloppy kiss he’d stolen from the agent rose to the surface unbidden. His stomach seized up, not because he found her repulsive, but because he feared what that kiss might mean.

When he saw the time, displayed on the car stereo he bit his lip. He had never sobered up so fast in his life. He’d been drunk enough times to realize that much, but what if this was the work of his ‘increased healing factor’, as the technician had called it? Perhaps, his exemplar body had purged the effects of the alcohol from his system.

As his mind sharpened into focus, his vision took in more than just the interior of Amy’s little hybrid. A fire consumed a run down looking apartment building, a firetruck and other emergency vehicles surrounded it and blocked the street beyond. It didn’t take him long to spot the agent moving toward the emergency responders.

He heard screams. They didn’t seem to come from outside, but rather out of the open air. He bowed his head as a wave of pure unfiltered emotion washed over him. Terror. It was so palpable he was certain he could reach out and touch it, but it wasn’t coming from Amelia.

She was there too, but all he could sense from her was a general sense of wary doubt. He knew without being told where the wave of fear was emanating. The flames had trapped someone in the burning building. It was a child.

He reached out with his mind, and discerned that she was shivering in fear concealed under her bed. Her lungs burned as the smoke from the fire surrounded her and he sensed that the flames would soon consume her. The men and women fighting the fire without, but he feared they would be too late.

He opened the car door and was out and running toward the building with a speed he never would have been able to accomplish in his old body even in the prime of his life. He paid no mind to the rescue workers as he whizzed past them. Had he taken a moment to be looked down at himself, he would have noticed that his dress had vanished and he now wore the same accruements he’d worn when fighting Kwrump. He did, however, notice that his hair had changed color again, at it whipped around his face.

Bursting through the main entrance to the apartment building, the heat of the flames kissed his cheeks and the sting of smoke his eyes. He stopped and held his hand up to shield his face. He saw no clear path through the flames. Sapphira’s bit his lip, and he craned his neck his mind racing to find a solution. His flesh was just as vulnerable to flames as any other human. Though he might heal faster in his new body, it wouldn’t do him much good if burnt to a crisp.

He hunched over, one hand against a small portion of wall untouched by fire, and groaned as a high-pitched wail permeated the empty air around him. It was the child again, her terror had grown. His lungs burned. He coughed, overwhelmed by the child’s panic, ready to flee the building, but stopped himself. The pain faded and he looked around, realizing that it wasn’t his own lungs that were the source of the problem, but the child’s. It seemed, that it wasn’t just her fright or her cries for help that were being projected into his mind.

She wouldn’t last much longer.

Gritting his teeth, he held both hands out and furrowed his brows. He didn’t know if it was possible, but he was running out of options. As he stood there, deep in concentration, his awareness expand outward. The heat from the fire consumed damn-near everything, the wood, the paint, even the wiring and light fixture. The drywall was the only thing that seemed to resist, but it wasn’t immune.

He could have spent hours examining every little detail. There was a world of awareness he had never experienced before. He sensed every grain in the wood, every little kink in the wiring and every little flaw in the building’s construction, even those that would have been undetectable to normal human senses.

He reached out with his mind, focusing on the wall in his intended path and pushed the oxygen away from the burning flames. It worked. The fire died down in seconds. He threw his hand out blasting a hole through the already damaged wall with a single telekinetic wave and rushed through. Gritting his teeth, he groaned when his arms scraped against a jagged piece of drywall, but didn’t let that stop him.

When he made his way through, he found himself in a long hallway lined with doors, as he would expect of any apartment building, but it surprised him that the hallway was so intact. If the state of foyer had been any indication, he was certain the corridor would have been in a similar condition.

He didn’t reflect on it, but rather continued forward. He knew where he must go, he knew where the child had hidden herself and which direction he needed to go to reach her. About midway he looked up, noting that the flames were eating at the ceiling and surrounding walls. His expanded senses told him what he had already determined would happen, the ceiling above him was loosing structural stability. It would collapse any moment.

He picked up speed intent on getting to the girl, but before he made it another half a dozen feet, he sensed the ceiling give way above him. He picked up speed, but it was already too late. The whole thing came down with explosive force. He dove forward, but the attempt proved to be futile and he was buried under the rubble.