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The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 17 Pt 1

09/19/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Tondzaosha, Idaho

“Dammit, I didn’t mean now,” Amelia cursed, rushing after Alexandra as she moved through the opening.

Fredericks and Grimes came in on her heels and Harrison wasn’t far behind. Just before Van den Broeke made it through, the hole shimmered and retracted. Fredericks leapt through, barely clearing the much smaller opening.

Grimes wasn’t so lucky, the barrier closed around his leg, severing it just below the kneecap. The agent screamed, shrieking so loud that Amelia winced and grated her teeth. Blood splattered the ground on both sides and oozed down the wall which crackled and sizzled wherever the agent’s vital fluid touched.

He collapsed to the ground with a dull thud, moaning and clutching at his severed limb. Fredericks collapsed to his knees, hands grappling with his belt buckle.

“What are you doing?” Alexandra demanded, finger sliding under the nosepiece of her shades.

“I’m making a tourniquet. He’s going to bleed out and die if we don’t cut off the blood flow,” Fredericks answered between gritted teeth, sliding his belt from the loops with a single sweeping flourish of his arm.

Alexandra watched him work for several long minutes, her face an expressionless mask before she turned to Amy, a frown creasing her lips. “This is what Leoffa wanted, to isolate us and cut us off.”

“Why?” Amy asked, eyes never once leaving Fredericks and Grimes.

The tiny woman shook her head and frowned. “I don’t know, but if she’s confident enough to allow us in, it’s likely she doesn’t see us as a threat, or… she needs something from us.”

“I do not like the sound of that.” The agent winced and retrieved her gun from within her shoulder holster. She pulled the clip out, inspected it and slipped it back in place before peering back at the once-king.

To some carrying the weapon might seem pointless given the scope of her new abilities, but to the agent who was not yet confident with them, the familiarity of the weapon offered reassurance that she had yet to gain. At the very least, it could provide her with a backup should her powers fail her. She hadn’t toted it around all this time for nothing.

Fredericks glanced up at Amelia, Grime’s blood had stained his dress shirt and splattered his face, but with his suit coat acting as a bandage and his belt as a tourniquet the other agent stood a much better chance at surviving. “I can’t leave him like this. He’ll be an easy target to anyone who might come along.”

“Dammit,” Amelia cursed, slicking a hand through her mop of dark hair. “She wanted this and we walked right into her trap.”

“What’s our move?” Fredericks asked, craning his neck up to peer at her.

Amelia planted her hands on her hips and peered out through the barrier where the remaining AEGIS personnel and Ashley in her god-awful suit of armor had congregated.

“Ashley,” she spoke, but the suited figure remained motionless, peering into the glowing barrier.

“ASHLEY!” she repeated, cupping both hands around her mouth.

Ashley bit her lip and stepped forward, rapping her gauntleted fist against the sizzling wall. Nothing happened.

Amy clenched her jaw, threw her hands out, and extended her senses.

Before her the barrier was a shimmering luminescent wall of pulsating and thrumming power, but beyond it she sensed nothing. Brilliant explosions of energy exploded from her open palms, bursting with a brilliant flash of light each time one stuck the barrier, but her attacks only splashed against the surface.

Ashley opened fire from the other side, blasting the dome with a tiny canon that rose from the wrist of her gauntlet. A bright scarlet burst of light hit it, but that too proved futile. Several agents even pulled their weapons out and opened fire, but their bullets came ricocheting back toward them, forcing them to dive to the ground..

Well, shit.

Amy ground her teeth and fell to her knees at Fredericks side, glancing down at Grimes huddled on the ground taking short jagged breaths.

“I could heal him,” Amy said, pressing her lips together in a thin line. “I doubt his leg would grow back, but at least the wound could heal over.”

“Didn’t you say the last time you tried something like that, you passed out?” Fredericks said.

“No!” Grimes cried, grabbing Amelia by the arm. “You get that bitch.”

Amy nodded and rose to her feet, balling both fists at her side. It looked like it was going to be up to her. She looked around for the once-king and found her a short distance away, staring at the barrier with wide-eyes. “You know any way of getting through that thing?”

Alexandra threw her head back and forth. “Perhaps, with Waldere I could do it, but…” she trailed off biting her lips.

“Then we find Leoffa, and we make that little bitch take it down.” Amelia regarded her, fire smoldering in her eyes.

Alexandra nodded. “It won’t be easy.”

“I wasn’t expecting it to be,” Amelia said, peering down the nature trail which sprawled through the trees behind them. “It doesn’t look like we have much choice though, does it?”


A low growl rumbled from Ashley’s throat and through the voice modulator in her helmet it came out sounding like the shriek of something straight out of every child’s nightmares. She clenched her fists and pounded them against the barrier, but other than a tingle which ran through the armor and across her arms, nothing happened.

“Fuck,” she cursed and spun away from the dome, staring back out toward the assembled AEGIS personnel. One man took a step back upon making eye contact with her, but she ignored him. As ineffective as her armor was against the shield, she doubted the others would be a lot of help.

She sighed, bowed her head and mumbled Nabu’s name. “Any ideas?”

“Indigo Knight once found success penetrating a force field by charging the exterior of his suit’s armor plating to match the energy signature of the shield. I can’t say whether it will work with a so-called magical barrier, but it might be worth a try.”

“What about bringing some of our friend’s through,” she asked, waving vaguely at the AEGIS strike team.

“That wouldn’t be advisable, unless you want to fry their flesh to a crisp,” the AI answered, his voice dull and dispassionate, but somehow was filled with sarcasm.

“All right,” Ashley replied, turned back to the shield and eyed it, both hands on either hip. “I don’t see that we have anything to lose. Let’s give it a shot.”

“Oh yes, very good,” Nabu replied. “Now you should feel a slight tingle…”

Ashley sucked air in, as stinging hot pin-pricks cascaded up and down her body. She gritted her teeth against the pain and shivered. The young woman reached a hand out and touched the shield, grunting as the sensation began rattling around inside her head. When she pushed, the barrier wouldn’t give. Forcing out short breaths, she tried to pull her hand back, but nothing happened.

“Fuck,” she repeated her earlier curse. “This is just great.”

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.

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 15 pt 2

08/08/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
Tondzaosha Police Station
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Kruhl glanced down at herself and swallowed. For the first time since her transformation, she wore clothes that fit, but she wouldn’t say she liked them. They displayed her body in ways that made her cheeks feel as if they were aflame.

She tugged at the thick fabric which hugged her breasts and sank her teeth into her lower lip. The short sleeveless tunic, Serena had called a vest, was a soft shade of pink, and made of a material that might have been some kind of leather.

Six metal-lined holes, called grommets, adorned the front, and a string made of the same fabric as the tunic was woven through them. It ended about two-thirds of the way down the front of the garment, leaving a fair bit of her abdomen exposed. The bottom of the vest ended just above her navel.

Her black belt, thicker but of the same material as the vest, sported an over-sized metal buckle, fastened through a double set of metal eyelets. Though the former warrior king could not fathom why, the grommets ringed the entire length of the belt.

The tight-fitting ‘jeans’ were almost as bad as the vest. Overall, Kruhl did not find them too cumbersome for day to day use, but they would limit her range of motion in combat. Gaping tears exposed the flesh around both of her knees and portions of her upper legs. She had supposed the garment was damaged when Serena had first handed it over to her, but much to her consternation, the Van den Broeke matriarch revealed that it was, in fact, intended to be that way.

She wore black boots which came up to her mid-calf. They sported several buckles with no discernible purpose. She scowled and peered down her shirt, though her chest was now enshrouded in what she now knew was called a brassiere, the undergarment was visible even from her vantage point and she could see the crack between her breasts protruding beneath the vest.

She felt ridiculous, but as she peered down at her form, she realized that there was a certain visual appeal to her ensemble. She swallowed and turned away, shaking her head and growling under her breath. You are Kruhl, Son of Wurdan, she reminded herself, you will not succumb to the allure of this flesh. You are not some simpering doe-eyed human girl, you are a warrior of great renown.

Though she moved towards the door with quick steps, both fists clenched at her side, she experienced an unexpected pang of regret just before slipping out of the room.


Agent van den Broeke found her in the hallway just a moment later. The taller woman flattened her lips and folded her arms over her breasts. “We need to talk.”

Kruhl nodded, regarding Amy with gleaming cat’s eyes. “Yes, we do.”

Amelia held her hand out, directing the shorter woman toward the room she’d just vacated. Kruhl released a weary sigh and spun around on the balls of her feet, before popping the door back open and stepping inside. The agent followed her in and closed it behind her.

Kruhl studied the eldest Van den Broeke sibling for several long moments, before slipping atop a bed. When she was seated, she turned her eyes on Amelia once more. The agent did not take a seat, instead she kept her arms tucked over her chest and regarded the once-king between narrowed eyes.

“Listen Kruhl, I don’t know exactly how to say this, but while I realize you have a bigger stake than any of us in this, I think maybe it would be best if you sat this one out.”

Kruhl blinked, but did not speak. Instead, she rocked her head back and forth, a scowl creasing her delicate features. When at last she spoke, it was in a quiet, halting tone. “That would seem the wisest course of action.”

Her stomach lurched and the tiny woman cupped her face with both hands, tears streaking her face. She was pathetic, a sad shell of her former self. She was weak and entirely useless on the battlefield. Her father would weep to see his son in such a state. Still, despite everything, she had assumed she would fight alongside the agent when they at last faced off against Leoffa. It seemed… wrong.

She glanced up at the agent, eyes burning with fire even as tears soaked her cheeks. “No! I must be there, I must see this through to the end. I would never be able to live with myself, if I did not.”

“Look, I understand, but—”

“But Nothing!” Kruhl howled, leaping to her feet. “You do not understand! With Leoffa at her full might, she may very well be as powerful as Odalrik and even were she not, she has both the power of the crystal and Waldere at her disposal. With them she is far more dangerous.”

Amy regarded the other woman, hands on her hips in a severe, almost chastising posture. “I don’t really understand what you think you can—”

“There is still a chance that I can win back the loyalty of the sword.” Kruhl locked gazes with her. “It has the power to dispel most forms of magic, it may mean the difference between victory and defeat.”

“Okay,” Amelia said, leaning back against the wall. “There’s nothing to stop anyone else from trying, is there?”

“No,” Kruhl admitted. “But the sword knows me, I may still hold some sway over it. It gives me a better chance than most.”

“You speak about that thing as if it were a conscious, reasoning being,” Amy said, her voice taking on a musing, almost sing-song quality.

“It does not think.” Kruhl shook her head. “Not in any way I have ever been able to determine. It’s magic resonates with those who wield it. It’s capable of distinguishing the traits for which its creator’s sought for those who would come to wield it, nothing more.”

“You realize what you’re asking me, right? If you fail, you will become a liability. We can’t afford for Leoffa to take advantage of that.”

“I know,” Kruhl spoke, her words intersected by a sob. “But you cannot ask me to sit idly by. Leoffa, is a monster, at least, partially of my making, I cannot allow her to wreak havoc upon this world without at least trying to stop her.”

Amy nodded and released a long sigh. “Okay, good enough. Be ready, the team from Salt Lake will be here soon.”

The agent turned to leave and Kruhl threw a hand out, rushing after her. “Wait!”

Amy spun back around and pressed her lips together, but Kruhl spoke before she could say anything.

“I asked you a few days ago, if you would give me a new name. Have you pondered upon it?”

Amy sighed and licked her lips. “With everything that has happened, I haven’t really given it a lot of thought, but one stuck out. Alexandra, it’s the feminine form of Alexander, one of our history’s greatest conquerors.”

“Alexandra,” the tiny blond repeated the moniker. “It sounds like the name of a warrior. Thank you, it will suffice.”

Amy placed a hand on either of the second woman’s slender shoulders. “If we come out of this alive, we’ll see about assigning you a transition specialist. I won’t lie to you, adapting to life here, will not be a walk in the park, but AEGIS has some experience helping people adapt to transformed bodies. We’ll help you in whatever way we can.”

Alexandra quivered, craning her neck down to peer at one of the agent’s hands, before peering back up to meet the agent’s gaze. “Is it not your people’s custom to have multiple names?”

Amy nodded. “There’s an entire process involved in creating a new identity. There are a whole slew of records that AEGIS will have to fabricate across a number of government agencies. Not to mention all the paperwork involved. It’s a complicated process. Let’s just focus on what’s ahead of us and we’ll figure everything out later.”

“Very well,” Alexandra nodded and bit her lip.

The once-king believed her when she claimed it was complicated, if for no other reason than she’d understood almost nothing of what she said. The agent smiled, released the other woman’s shoulders and shuffled toward the door. “I know it’s been difficult, but I understand what it’s like living life in the wrong body, I’m always happy to talk if you want a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.”

She exited the room and Alexandra cocked her head and wondered, how could a shoulder be sympathetic?

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 15 Pt 1

08/01/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
3412 Abby Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

“God, just look at you, Andy!” Brian stared at his elder sibling, eyes wide with apparent shock, his cheeks still glistening with tears and a slight quiver in his voice. “You’re so…. feminine.”

Amy batted a stray bit of hair away from her face, regarded her brother between pursed lips. “Please don’t call me that, it’s Amelia now.”

“Right,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m sorry, I always figured you must have transitioned, but I mean seeing you like this is another thing entirely.”

Amelia bit her lip and forced a smile on her face. “Just stick with the right name and pronouns and we’ll be fine.”

“Of course.” Brian nodded, and pulled away, eyes taking in his surroundings for the first time, eyes somehow growing wider when he took in Serena still standing nearby. “Wh-where are we?”

“Somewhere safe,” Amy answered, rising to her feet.

Serena rushed forward, enfolding her eldest son in her arms. Brian stiffened, but soon returned the gesture. When mother and son broke away, Brian slipped from the side of the bed. He wobbled on his feet, but braced himself on the nightstand to the right of the bedside.

Serena wrapped her hands around his shoulder to provide support. “Your muscles may have atrophied, maybe you should lay back down.”

Brian clenched his jaw and shook his head. His eyelids slid closed and he took a deep breath. It was almost as if someone flicked a switch. His back straightened and he stood, frame rigid. When his eyes opened again, he released the air from his lungs and stepped forward. He moved with no sign of frailty or the least bit of trouble.

“What? You don’t think Amelia’s the only exemplar in the family, do you?” He asked, gazing about the room, taking in the shocked expressions of his sibling and mother. His eyes briefly scanned over the sleeping form of Kruhl, but he only pressed his lips together and sighed.

Amelia furrowed her brows and folded her arms over her chest. “Ashley, the person who found you, said she tracked you down through the AEGIS database. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s Psionic Strength?”

“Yeah,” he confirmed. “That’s what the representative from AEGIS figured too.”

“Psionic strength?” Serena arched an eyebrow. “That’s not an ability I’ve ever heard of.”

“You’ve heard of telekinesis, right?” Amelia asked. “That’s more or less what it is, Brian’s just using it to strengthen himself.”

“Except, that seems to be all I can do,” he pursed his lips and frowned. “I mean I tried the other stuff, but it just doesn’t come.”

“What about you? Last time I checked your retrocognizance doesn’t let you enter people’s minds.” His gaze fixed on the agent, a frown creasing his mouth.

“I was exposed to something,” she said, meeting her brother’s gaze. “It happens sometimes to AEGIS personnel.”

“So you’ve got freaky mind powers now and you work for AEGIS?” He asked eyebrows disappearing into his bangs.

“Yes, to both, but it’s not just mind reading. I’m faster, stronger, I can levitate things, and before Ashley found me I’d just gotten done healing a gaping stab wound in our friend’s abdomen.” She nodded toward Kruhl without actually looking at her.

“Holy shit,” Brian blinked. “Sounds like you—”

Brian jumped, craning his neck around to glance across the room. Amelia followed his gaze and locked gazes with Kruhl. The once-king was sitting up and had slipped her feet over the bedside. Her sleepy gaze took in her surroundings with a dull, dispassionate stare. She glanced down at her abdomen, then back up at the agent and pressed her lips together in a tight frown.

“How?” She asked, peering back down at her uninjured belly, fingers tracing over the fabric of her oversized nightgown.

“It’s a long story,“ Amy glanced around and shook her head. “I think it’s time we all sat down and had a long chat.”

“Well,” Ashley said, slipping into the living room with a lengthy sigh. “I have contacted AEGIS, they’re mobilizing a unit out of Salt Lake and they should be here within five hours.”

Amy nodded, but didn’t say a word. Instead, she clasped both hands and closed her eyes. Salt Lake was a good two and half hour drive from Tondzaosha, five hours was more than reasonable considering the preparations they would need to make. In fact, it was much sooner than she’d expected.

“Thank God,” Amy said and leaned back into the sofa before glancing back at her younger sibling. Brian, though he pretended otherwise, was still very weak, he’d scarfed down the turkey sandwich and tater bites their mother had prepared for them and kept sneaking cursory glances at Amy’s half-finished sandwich.

Both Amelia and Serena attempted to usher him back to bed, but he’d outright refused. With his abilities, there wasn’t much they could do to keep him in bed without calling upon her own considerable powers.

Amelia sighed and grabbed the plate and set it down on the coffee table between them. “Here, have at it.”

Brian barely blinked before snatching up the sandwich and crammed half of it into his mouth.

“I would have made you another sandwich, Brian.” Serena swooped in to retrieve the now empty plate.

Brian shrugged, a sheepish grin spreading across his features. “Eh, why waste good food?”

Serena rolled her eyes and slipped out of the room, only to return a moment later standing in the doorway.

“Ugh, so,” Brian asked. “AEGIS, huh? I guess they pay pretty good money.”

Amy smiled and nodded. “I do all right for myself. It helps to be the youngest Special Agent in Charge in AEGIS history.”

He met her gaze, but didn’t answer. His mouth parted as if to speak, but he soon clenched his mouth shut again.

Amy pursed her lips, but didn’t press him. She knew her brother was having a hard time knowing what to say. Hell, she was pretty much in the same boat. After they’d had their little powwow about Leoffa things had gotten a fair bit more awkward.

“I’m sorry,” she said at last.

“For what?” He blinked.

“Leoffa went after you because of me, if I hadn’t—”

“Hey, no, no, no,” he rose to his feet, nearly tipping over before he lurched forward and slipped onto the couch beside her. “People do nasty shit all the time, what Leoffa did to me is on her and only her. Don’t go blaming yourself.”

Amy ground her teeth. “I should have been there, Brian. I always assumed it was better if I put my past behind me, but if I’d kept in contact, she wouldn’t have been able to pull one over on me or at the very least I would have gotten to you sooner.”

“It’s possible,” he agreed. “But you had no way of knowing what would happen.”

“Don’t you think you’re being hard on yourself, Amy?” Ashley asked, seating herself on the opposite her friend. “What that woman did to your brother was terrible, but you can’t blame yourself.

“We need to figure out our next move. She gave you twenty-four hours to get out of town. She must have something big planned.”

Amy glanced at her brother, brows furrowed in concentration. She worried for him. She wasn’t sure they had expelled the shadow of Leoffa from his mind, and he had no recollection of ever being captured by the sorceress. Even his memories of what she did to him, while within his mind, were fuzzy.

“I have a theory,” the agent said after several long moments of reflection. “I think Odalrik wanted me for a reason. It’s possible she was after my retrocognizance. I had the sense that she was looking for something and if Leoffa has it…”

“Okay, say you’re right. What would she have been looking for that would be so important?” Ashley asked, arching an eyebrow.

“I could think of one thing,” Kruhl said from the corner, her yellow cat’s eyes gleaming in the darkness. “It would explain almost everything.”

“Before Reesha banished Odalrik, he was rumored to possess a gemstone imbued with incredible power, called the Crystal of Ban-Sher’i. I ordered his keep searched after we defeated him, but none of my people could ever find it. If he had it on his person when he came to this world, it’s possible Leoffa stole it from him. Only a magic-wielder with a powerful foci like a staff could make use of it. If Leoffa possessed it, and she had no staff with which to wield it…”

“Perhaps she could not use it,” Amelia nodded, a few more puzzle pieces clicking into place. The staff Leoffa had wielded within Brian’s mind had been no more real than the sorceress herself. The only time Amelia had seen her with an actual staff was after she had defeated Odalrik. It was very possible she had not possessed one until then.

“Is there any reason you didn’t mention this until now?”

Kruhl shrugged. “I never believed it existed.”

“And if it exists?” Serena asked from the doorway. “How dangerous is it?”

Kruhl’s lips curled into a sneer. “All I know is that Odalrik was said to fear its power.”

“Oh, hell, I do not like the sound of that at all,” Ashley said with a drawn-out groan. “So Leoffa may or may not have this magical crystal, and nobody knows what the goddamned thing can do. How does this help us?” Ashley eyed the siblings and then Kruhl.

Amelia leaned back in her seat, hands running through her long locks. “It doesn’t… at least not yet.”

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 14 Pt 2

07/25/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
3412 Abby Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

The sorceress’s staff glowed a brilliant florescent violet, and a great lightning bolt thundered into the agent’s shield.

Power crackled, sizzling against Amy’s barrier, and she set her jaw, grunting against the strain. Light cascaded all around her, pulsating and throbbing into her shield. The agent let out a piercing scream. Tears streaked her face and Amelia looked away, the illumination growing too intense.

‘You are not alone,’ A voice whispered in Amelia’s ear. ‘You have the power to defeat her. Like me, she is but a shadow, an imprint of her true self. Your cause is just, your will is righteous, yours is the greater power.’

“Ashtar,” Amelia whispered the name, heart pounding in her chest. She squared her jaw and swung back to the sorceress.

The light, like everything else, was an illusion. It could only blind her if she let it. She blinked and the illumination dulled to a soft glow.

A smile touched the agent’s lips, and she pushed out, hands joined. Her shield burst out, and a sweeping wall of energy cascaded across the pavement and struck the sorceress.

Leoffa crossed both arms over her face, staff, held in the crook of her arms, glowing a brilliant violet, as the attack swept over her. Her feet slid across the blacktop and her hair whipped back behind her shoulders, but she planted the weapon in the asphalt and anchored herself in place.

Before her first attack had abated, brilliant white bolts of energy burst out from the Agent’s hands. Leoffa howled, raised her staff, sending out her own blasts of power rushing to meet them. The projectile lights slammed into each other with a powerful concussive detonation that rippled out in every direction.

Energy fizzled through the air, searing into the forms of the fallen children, and each dissolved into nothingness with a loud agonizing shriek. Amelia winced, but blocked the images out of her mind, reminding herself that they were just illusions.

She risked sneaking a glance back at her brother. He was watching the entire confrontation, his child’s eyes wide and face expressionless.

‘Come on, Brian.’  She thought, willing him to do something, anything to help himself, but he didn’t even so much as bat an eyelash.

Amelia peered back in time to catch the sorceress sending another blast whizzing out from her staff, but Amelia grabbed it out of the air and tossed it over her shoulder.

“You’re going to have to do better than that.” The agent moved forward, stepping through the children’s ashes.

Leoffa smiled, a spark of malicious glee alight in her eyes. “Oh, I’m just getting warmed up.”

Amelia dropped her fists, both of them coming alight with a brilliant white luminescence. “Bring it, bitch.”

Leoffa brought her staff up, slamming it into the blacktop with so much force cracks appeared, stretching in ever lengthening lines. The ground rumbled and Amelia hurtled forward, flying toward her opponent, but a shape rose from asphalt hurtling toward her, forcing the agent to dive away.

An arm protruded from the ground, formed of concrete and stone, its fingers curled into a fist and pounded into the ground in the agent’s wake. Heedless of the danger, Brian’s child form stared into space, wide-eyed and unmoving. Amelia dove toward him, throwing up a shield around them both when she was close enough.

A massive fist came down on the barrier, and Amelia clutched her brother tight, gritting her teeth against the pressure. “Brian, please,” she pleaded. “This will never end if you don’t help yourself.”

He did not reply, and Amy spun back around as the fist again impacted her shield. She spread her hands. A wave of force rippled out and sent the giant hand careening away. She hurled bolts of energy after it, blasting away at it, marring its surface with cracks and fissures.

Thunder crackled in the sky above and Amy glanced up just as a bolt of lightning crashed into her protective barrier. Blinding bright light filled her vision, and her shield shattered, the resulting concussive shock wave sent her soaring away. She blinked away the light, as she had the last time, but by then it was already too late. The giant fist hurtled into her and she tumbled to the ground, collapsing in a heap of broken bones, mangled flesh and shards of asphalt and rock.

Time slowed, and though the agent tasted blood in her mouth, she forced herself to move. She told herself that it was all an illusion, a trick of the mind, but it did nothing to lessen her pain or mend her broken body. She pushed herself up, shrieking in agony and groaning in pain with each movement, but somehow she climbed back to her feet.

Leoffa was waiting.

The sorceress lifted her foci. A gust of wind blasted into the agent. Amy brought her arm’s up to ward off the attack, but she didn’t act soon enough. The blast of air caught the Agent square in the chest and sent her hurdling over the ground and into the brick wall of the school building.

Light shot out from Leoffa’s staff and fragments of the blacktop rose and shot toward the agent, molding and shaping around her torso, arms and legs. Amy clenched her teeth, bursts of energy sizzling out from her fists, but each attempt to blast away the asphalt only proved more futile than the last. Every clump she sent hurtling away was replaced by two more. Before long, her body was covered.

“Well, I was hoping for more of a fight,” Leoffa’s lithe form stepped forward. “But I suppose it doesn’t matter. In the end, victory was all but assured.”

The sorceress hoisted her staff, and light pulsated from within the gem. She tipped it forward, and a beam shot out, and blasted into Amelia with brilliant violet intensity.

Time slowed to a crawl, and a piercing cry rang out. Amy’s head throbbed, and she felt a heaviness fall over her eyelids. She struggled to fight it, but it felt so… wonderful. She could just let everything go and all her worries, all her troubles would just float away. The purple luminescence burned even brighter and her eyelids drooped closed. A plaintive sigh escaped her lips. Sleep, she needed to sleep.

“Let her go!” A voice called out and Amelia’s eyes snapped back open.

Brian stood facing the sorceress, fists clenched at his side, jaw set and the fire of defiance burning in his eyes. He no longer wore a child’s face or body, but his adult frame.

“Well.” Leoffa’s face stretched into a grin. “Look who’s come out to play, at last.”

The beam of light redirected, slamming into Brian, its energy crackling and growing more intense. The younger Van den Broeke, crossed his arms across his face as if to shield himself and by some miracle, it seemed to work. A shimmering dome of energy surrounded him and the light slammed into the surface with a massive burst of illumination.

“Of course,” Amelia whispered, realization dawning on her. This was Brian’s mind, whether he had powers in the actual world was immaterial. The only limits here were those he placed upon himself. Amelia realized the same held true for herself.

A Telekinetic wave surged out from the agent, the asphalt which encased her limbs and body shattered to dust raining down on the pavement below. She hovered in the air for a second, then she dove feet first, soaring toward the sorceress who had all her attention focused on her younger sibling.

At the last minute, Leoffa spun around, but not in time to defend herself. Amelia’s attack struck her opponent and sent her reeling away. The sorceress planted her staff and righted herself, sending a blast of sizzling energy at brother and sister, but Amy batted the bolt of power away and Brian’s shield absorbed it with barely any effort.

Amelia threw her hands out and Leoffa’s slender frame shot into the air, her staff falling from stiff fingers, and clattered into the pavement with a dull thud. Brother and sister met one another’s gazes, Brian nodded and Amy pulled her arms back, before throwing them out again. The sorceress rocketed toward the oak doorway, her arms windmilling through the empty air.

She shot through the opening, but she whipped a hand out, grasping hold of the wood with such ferocity her fingernails scratched the varnish. Leoffa gritted her teeth and threw her second arm out, leveraging herself enough that she had begun to pull herself free.

For a moment it seemed as if she might make it, but then Brian stepped forward, threw his palms out and Leoffa hurtled back into the opening. The door slammed shut, and her shrieks of rage could be heard muffled through the door. It rattled as if struck by a pair of massive fists, but remained closed.

A heavy chain and padlock appeared in Brian’s hands. He hurled them across the playground and the chain struck, wrapping around the doorway three times before the padlock closed with an audible clack.

Brian turned back to Amelia, threw his arms around his elder sibling and wept. The playground faded into darkness and the next thing Amelia knew they were back in the real world, Brian’s arms around her, openly weeping. Tears of her own stained her cheeks and she clung to him tight. At last, she had her brother back.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 14 Pt 1

07/11/2020

AEGIS Seal

Official Report
3412 Abby Ln
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Hands reaching out, Amelia clasped them over her brother’s temples, releasing a long breath. She peered back over her shoulder, where Kruhl lay unconscious. Her tiny form was wrapped in a nightgown which was at least two sizes too big. She looked so peaceful laying there on the twin bed. Amelia found it hard to believe, she’d been so close to death just hours before.

Serena Van den Broeke stood at the foot of the bed peering at the pair of siblings, concern etched all over her face and mirrored in her eyes.

The agent released a second breath and returned her attention to Brian. His eyes were glued to the ceiling and open so wide she almost expected them to pop out of his skull. A manic grin had spread across his face and he remained frozen in place unmoving but for the rising and falling of his chest.

A single sob escaped the agent’s lips and tears streamed down her cheeks. She clenched her eyes shut and furrowed her brows, sucking in her air. She reached out, feeling for her brother’s mind.

It felt… wrong.

Throbbing, pulsating light filled her vision and a piercing shriek rang out from Brian’s mouth just before everything went black.

“Shhh…” a voice hissed in her ear and Amelia’s eyes snapped open.

A boy, no older than eleven or twelve peered into her eyes, his left index-finger held up to his mouth. “She’ll hear you, Andy.”

Amy winced at the usage of her dead name, but did not speak. Instead she took in the boy’s features and sucked in a breath through her teeth.

It was Brian.

Boy-Brian scurried away and Amelia sat bolt upright throwing an arm out, but stopped when she caught sight of her hand. It seemed smaller than it should have been. She swallowed and peeked down at her chest a wave of nausea wash over her at what she found. Her chest was flat. She wore a pair of baggy black jeans, and a black t-shirt emblazoned with an Effervescence logo, a female-fronted band that had been very popular in her youth.

She reached up, hand snaking behind her neck. Her long tresses were done up in a pony tail. She forced herself to breathe and looked around. Her heart pounded in her chest as she eyed the familiar Kim Possible bedsheets and Star Wars and Linkin Park posters along the north wall. It was her childhood bedroom, her place of refuge from her father and his frequent fits of rage.

Here was where she could imagine herself being a girl, and where she hid what few feminine accouterments, she’d been able to obtain. She had been fond of the light blue summer dress, which she’d hid, along with everything else, inside the bottom of the old wooden chest inside her closet.

How many lawns had she mowed, and cars had she washed just to raise enough money to buy what little she had only to have her father throw it all out?

She groaned and closed her eyes, shuddering as a remembered wave of anguish and anger flooded through her. She grated her teeth and opened her eyelids, forcing thoughts of the subsequent beating out of her mind.

She resisted the urge to snoop around, she knew where she was or at least where she seemed to be and considering the decor and the outfit she’d been wearing, she gathered she was inhabiting the body of herself somewhere in her early teens before her father had outed her as trans.

A sharp pang of dysphoria, and overall sense of wrongness washed over her. She trembled, clenching her teeth. It was so wrong, this wasn’t her body. She’d spent years transitioning and undergoing Gender Confirmation Surgery. To find herself back where she started all those years ago, was so very disheartening.

It wasn’t real, she reminded herself with a firm shake of her head. This was all a facsimile, a recreation created by Brian’s mind. She would not allow it to get the best of her.

She wasted no time speculating on the how or why, but peered about the room one last time and slipped through the doorway. Blackness lay on the other side, a void so deep so abiding that it seemed to stretch on forever.

She sprinted across the void, wide eyes peering around, but if there was anyone or anything else inhabiting the emptiness, she caught neither sight nor sound of them. She glanced back, but the doorway leading into her old bedroom had disappeared.

When she turned back a figure stood within an old oak doorway out from which spilled a wafting violet mist. She fingered at long golden tresses with one hand and in the other she gripped a gnarled staff atop which an amethyst gemstone had been affixed. When Amelia first spotted her, she was looking away, but the moment her eyes fell on the woman, she jerked, turning to face her.

Amelia couldn’t say why, but there was a bit of Leoffa in her features. Perhaps it was the intensity of her gaze or the curve of her lips when she curled them into a sneer, but the agent knew she was looking upon the Sorceress, or at least some kind of representation of her.

“He is mine.” The girl shrieked and lifted her staff. A bolt of sizzling violet energy shot out from the gemstone, but Amelia threw both hands up in a warding gesture and brought up a protective shield around herself. Brilliant bright light cascaded against the barrier and grew so intense that it illuminated the darkness into pure white luminescence.

Amy gasped, her feet swept out from under her and her stomach lurched as it swept her away. When her vision cleared she was standing on a rocky outcropping overlooking a river. There had been no sense of landing or transition from falling. One moment, she was simply there.

“Shhh!”

She spun around, Brian stood a few feet away and he looked about eight or nine years old this time. His wide-eyed gaze focus on the canyon. She snatched a hand out, this time grabbing her brother by an arm.

“Brian,” Amy asked. “What’s going on here?”

He stared at her, child’s eyes wide, but otherwise expressionless.

Amy licked her lips and met her brother’s gaze. “Listen Brian, it’s me your older sis—brother Andy,” she paused stumbling over the use of the male term and her dead name and winced as if she’d dealt herself a physical blow. “I’m here to help, but you have to let me in.”

“She’s coming,” Brian said in a drawn out whine before tugging on her arm. His wrist slid way and he took off running disappearing into the treeline.

Amelia started after him, but she got only a dozen feet before realizing he was nowhere in sight.

“Dammit,” she cursed stomping back over to the outcropping. “What the hell is going on?!”

She stood there, jaw clenched breathing air in between her teeth. Finally with a lengthy sigh, she surveyed her surroundings. She recognized this place, she realized, it was Snake River Canyon. Her family had taken a weekend trip there about eighteen or nineteen years ago.

She again glanced at herself and sure enough her appearance had shifted again. Now, she was sporting camouflage pants and a shirt with the words “I have issues”.

The area was lush and vibrant with color and she took a moment to appreciate the beauty of her surroundings. Butterflies flittered all about her, and somewhere in the distance the sound of bird song wafted through the air.

She had hated the outdoors as a child, and though still not one for camping Amelia had developed an appreciation for the grandeur of nature as an adult.

Still, she sensed that she needed to hurry. She wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but her brother was hiding from Leoffa for a reason.

Moving into a copse of trees she paused, peering around. Had she heard something? The agent lingered, hoping to detect some signs of movement, but save for the occasional bird call or the crinkle of leaves on the wind, nothing seemed outof the ordinary. She continued on, but when she’d taken maybe a dozen steps, an old oak doorway appeared in her path and the sorceress rushed out, amethyst staff radiating light.

“Leoffa,” Amelia spoke a small thread of tension in her voice hoping that the woman would reveal herself, but she only smiled.

“What do you want with my brother?” Amelia demanded, but the other woman only laughed.

“ANSWER ME!” Amy screamed out.

A tight smile touched Leoffa’s lips, but she did not respond. Instead she raised her staff. Wicked emerald energy lanced out, and Amy brought her hands up forming a protective barrier with her mind. Brilliant illumination filled her vision, followed by a sensation of falling.

When the light cleared Amelia stood within a schoolyard encircled by a ring of children. This time, she barely glanced down at herself, but she noted she was even smaller than before.

Just like that, Brian was standing before her, he looked only about a year younger than the last time. He brought his finger up to his lips, but Amelia snatched a hand out and gripped his arm.

“For God’s sake Brian!” Amy scowled. “Tell me what’s going on!”

Brian blinked, but didn’t move or speak. Then, his head jerked sideways and his eyes widened. “She comes.”

One child drew closer fists balled at her side, a dozen more followed in her wake. It was Isabel Wilson, a cruel-tempered girl who had taken a liking to torturing the two Van den Broeke siblings. She was taller than most of the males in their class until puberty hit. She went from a plain Jane who bullied half of the children in the school to the object of every boy’s desires. It had always struck Amy as an odd turnaround, but one which Isabel quickly adapted to. She used her looks to manipulate others to get what she wanted and she did it well.

The Isabel that stood before them, had not yet been visited by the puberty fairy and she looked every bit as mean as Amelia remembered. Her old bully did not say a word, instead she rounded on the elder sibling and sucker punched her in the gut. Amy doubled over, gasping for breath and she felt a set of arms around her. She looked up, peering into her younger brother’s eyes. Anger burned in them, a wild untamed blaze.

“Leave Andy alone!” He screamed out as Isabel grabbed Amy by the back of her hair and grinned down at her eyes alight with malicious glee.

Isabel’s fist came down and Brian lurched forward attempting to break the bully’s hold, but she elbowed him in the ribs and the blow struck home.

Amelia fell onto her back, and Isabel lost her grip. The agent rolled away, and sprang to her feet, fists raised to counter, but before she could manage it, dozens of high-pitched shrieks of rage sounded from all around the playground. A throng of children surged forward and both brother and sister were buried under a writhing mass of bodies.

Pummeled by dozens of tiny fists, Amelia attempted to break free, but there were just too many of them. She curled up into a ball and gritted her teeth screaming out in rage and agony. She had almost given up hope when realization set in.

“This isn’t real,” Amy whispered eyes flying back open.

“This isn’t real!” She repeated, emitting a high-pitched shriek. She was a powerful exemplar it was about time she started acting like one. What more this was the domain of the mind, a place in which her powers were uniquely qualified to give her the upper hand.

She threw her hands out, tunneling them through the mass of tangled limbs and steadied her breath. Power crackled at her fingertips and a wave rippled out, sending their attacker’s bodies flying in every direction, sparing only herself and Brian.

Amelia’s form rose into the air and she peered down at her slight frame. She didn’t look particularly intimidating in her current form, but that was about to change.

The agent shook her head, long black tresses cascaded from her scalp and her body exploded upward and outward, breasts and posterior ballooning out into her more familiar feminine proportions. She barely paid it any mind, but focused her attention on a familiar form approaching from out of an oak doorway perhaps a dozen yards away.

Leoffa moved through the playground, paying no need to the bodies scattered about the blacktop.

“Brian.” Amelia’s eyes darted to her brother cowered on the ground in a fetal position. “This is your mind, she can only hurt you if you let her. I don’t know what she’s done to you, but you’ll never be free if you keep running.”

“It’s pointless agent,” the sorceress said slamming her staff down into the ground. Shards of concrete shot out spraying Amelia and her brother in their faces. “It’s all he knows now”

“I’m here now.” Amelia floated forward, imposing herself between the sorceress and her sibling and clenched both of her fists.

“If you want him, you’ll have to go through me,” Amelia said again raw power radiating out from her, arching into a barrier around the siblings.

A slow smile crept onto Leoffa’s face and a throaty chuckle escaped her lips. “That’s what I was hoping you’d say.”

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 13 Pt 2

07/04/2020

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.

The Fall of Kruhl | Ch 13 Pt 1

06/27/2020

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 12 Pt 2

06/13/2020

 

Official Report
Tondzaosha Police Station
Tondzaosha, Idaho

Amelia’s eyes cracked open. She attempted to sit up, but only managed to pull herself up about an inch before she struck an invisible wall and settled back into place. She turned her head,  peering about, sucking air in through her teeth.

She recoiled as she caught the gaze of a creature slouched over a shelf. It gurgled, long tentacles writhing and gyrating in the air as a trio of blood-red eyes fixed on her. A strangled moan sounded from the reverse wall and she shuddered and looked away. She peered straight into the eye of what most resembled a lime Jello mold, the second monster gazed at her with its one great unblinking eye, quivering there on its shelf.
She gazed back at the first creature, and then a third one roosted upon a shelf along the eastern wall which resembled an enormous round bird with big black eyebrows. It cooed, emitting a dozen loud warbles before taking a nosedive off its shelf and landing in a stack of crates.

Neither of the other two monsters moved, and she bit her bottom lip, eying a row of implements stacked around the blob creature.  There was a box of glass bottles, each filled with a different-colored liquid, most look innocuous, but one of them hissed. Next to the box were arrayed a dog’s skull, a playground ball which glowed purple and a mannequin head which had the most ghastly grin on its face, and whose eyes kept blinking.

There were dozens more, some on the stranger side, but most tended toward the more gruesome, like the statue which was exuding something that looked like blood from its mouth.

She did not understand where she was or how she’d come to be there, but she had a good idea who’d brought her.

Amy thought back to her very brief encounter with Ashtar, and the warning which the alien consciousness had passed on to her.  She’d needed time for her enhanced healing factor to work through the tranquilizers and time was up. With Ashtar’s help the agent created a partitioned construct within her own mind to trick Odalrik into attacking it instead of her actual consciousness and, failing some convoluted means of deception on her enemy’s part, the ploy had worked.

She set her jaw and moved to sit up, but again hit an invisible obstruction. When she lifted her arm, it would only move up a few inches. The agent pushed out with all the strength she could muster, and nothing happened. If there was some way she might break through, it would not be with physical force.

She let her eyelids slip shut,  released a long breath and extended her senses. She felt nothing save for the hammer of her heart, and the blood coursing through her veins. It was almost as if someone had encapsulated her within a dome of transparent GUNQ.

Shit.

Her eyes snapped back open as the sound of gunfire rang out. The walls and doorway stifled it, but it was still discernable. Shrieks of rage, followed by brief bouts of silence and more gunfire.

“LEOFFA!” A voice screamed from somewhere outside the room, again muffled, but still audible and clear. “Show yourself!”

Amelia froze, her heart pounding in her ears, as her mind raced. She had no idea who was fighting on the other side of that wall, but she didn’t think it boded well for her at all. The agent gritted her teeth,  and furrowed her brows.

A wave of power rippled out from her palms and she grunted as it rebounded on her and into her chest. She panted and clamped her jaw shut against the pain. In retrospect that hadn’t been the brightest idea, but she had to try something.

She took several deep breaths, attempting to steady herself and reached deep within herself ensuring that she’d done no damage to the child before releasing her breath and opened her eyes again.

What chance did she have at making an escape, if she couldn’t breach the invisible field around herself?

She sighed, as she reached out with her mind, probing the surrounding space attempting to find a hole in the barrier, but found none. The agent slumped back and growled under her breath. It didn’t look as if she’d be going anywhere soon.

“Ashtar,” she said clenching her eyes shut and emitted a soft moan. “I don’t suppose you have any ideas, do you?”

No answer came and she sank her teeth into her lower teeth, letting out several choice curses. “Of course.”

A high-pitched wail sounded through the air and Amy’s eye’s snapped open. She sat bolt-upright, only realizing that the barrier holding her in place was gone, a few seconds later. Amy peered around the room, eyes locking on the door, before she leapt from her resting place and bolted through it.

She stopped, holding her breath in her throat. Kruhl lay off to one side in a pool of her own blood, three more bodies lay scattered about the room, either dead or unconscious. A figure stood, a familiar gem-topped staff clutched in one hand and Waldere stained with blood, raised over another figure curled up in a fetal position.

She narrowed her eyes, centering them on the figure which she presumed to be Odalrik.

She squared her jaw and balled both fists at her side. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

The figure spun around, and she felt her eyse grow wide. No, not Odalrik, it was Teressa. All at once, the second part of Ashtar’s warning rattled about in her mind. You are being influenced, not all is as it appears. The shadow of the goddess’s words rang through her mind and at last the last puzzle piece fell into place.

So little about their predicament had made sense until now.  The phone line cutting out, the computer burning up and the dark cloaked apparition were all her doing. At last, her true enemy stood before her.

Teressa must have seen something on her face or else decided to end the ruse. She charged toward her would be sister. Amy, however, was ready for it. She threw her hand out and  sent her attacker slamming into the opposite wall.

“Who are you?” Amy moved toward her, both hands clenched, eyes burning with anger. Whatever doubts she had evaporated when her opponent attacked.

Teressa did not answer, instead scowled and eye hder captor like a predator ready to pounce on its prey. Amy was not intimidated, least of all because the other woman was pinned to the wall, but she’d faced down gods and giants. Though her opponent had shown she could be dangerous, she was no Chemosh.

“Who are you?” the agent repeated her question between clenched teeth.

“You know I would have thought an AEGIS agent wouldn’t have been so easy to fool. I barely even had to try, all the effort I put into imprisoning poor Brian, and I could have just—”

Amelia jerked her hand back, motioning at the wall behind her, her face now a mask of rage as Teressa went soaring across the room and slammed into the reverse wall face first.

“You played me.” She launched herself at the other woman, hand gripping the hair on the back of her scalp. Teressa, whose face was red from obvious pain, attempted to kick out at her, but Amy slid aside and sent another wave of force to pin her legs against the wall along with the rest of her body.

A light whimper rang through the air, and Amelia glanced back, eyes searching for the source. It was Kruhl. Good lord, the once-king was still alive, but from the looks of things she wouldn’t be for long. She snaked her tongue over her lips and returned her attention to her captive.

“I will only say this once.” Amy growled. “Tell me who you are and what you’ve done with my brother.”

In answer the faux-Van den Broeke emitted a loud, guffawing, almost manic laugh. “And why should I do that? Go ahead waste your time with me, while poor little Kruhl bleeds to death. It’s the least of what he deserves.”

Amy froze, another puzzle piece falling into place as realization dawned on her. For the other woman, this was personal and knowing what she did of Kruhl’s past that could mean only one thing.

“Leoffa,” the agent uttered the name, knowing at once her suspicions were true. Kruhl had presumed her former lover dead. While getting impaled through the gut was often fatal, especially in less advanced societies, like Kruhl’s, it was not unheard of for someone to recover.

The agent glanced over her shoulder for a second time, heart hammering in her chest. Kruhl didn’t have much time and she couldn’t afford to waste what little she had left on the imposter. She licked her lips, already settled on a course of action.

Leoffa was not going to cooperate.  The agent clenched her eyes closed, placed both hands on either of the woman’s cheeks and reached out to touch her mind.

 

Amelia jerked away, sharp stabs of pain shooting through her skull as she took air in, in short jagged breaths. She’d sensed Brian, his presence was as discernible as if he were standing opposite her, looking his sister in the eyes. She caught sight of pulsating green lights and a figure resting in a bed. When she reached for his mind, everything went black and she staggered back gasping for air.

“Brian.” She spoke the name and peered up at Leoffa, already preparing herself for attack, but the other looked about as bad as the agent felt. She was hunched over, both hands braced on the wall, her face pallid and the sword and staff had fallen to her feet. Only her eyes revealed the anger which burned within.

Amy ground her teeth, raised her hands and hurled a blast of telekinetic force toward her opponent, but the other woman sank to the ground and grasped hold of the sword. When the blast hit, nothing happened, and Leoffa glared back at her, scooped up the fallen staff and rose to her feet.

“I have no desire to end your life, agent,” the sorceress said planting the staff on the floor, the tip erupting with brilliant violet light. “Nevertheless, I am prepared to defend myself.”

“Yeah,” Amy replied, narrowing her gaze and holding both hands ready. “That’s why you attacked me.”

“Forgive me, I was caught up in the excitement of battle. I believed you a threat, but you are a reasonable enough person. I think perhaps we could come to an arrangement. Even if my life doesn’t matter to you, you might feel differently about Kruhl. Even now her life slips away, allow me to walk and you may yet save her.”

Amy glanced to her side, where Kruhl was resting. She saw the diminutive woman’s chest rise and fall, but she was as pail as a ghost and the pool of blood around her was getting wider. Time was running short. Sapphira had once healed Amelia with her abilities, the agent might be able to do the same for Kruhl, but only if the little woman were still alive.

The agent pressed her lips into a thin line, suspicious by the abrupt turn around but willing to listen. The woman had lied to her from the very beginning and that didn’t generate a lot of trust.

“I know you have no reason to trust me, but if you let me leave with the sword, I will not lift a finger to harm you for twenty-four hours. You have my word.”

A slow nod of her head followed a long release of air. She didn’t like it much, but if the sorceress was on the level, she’d take the risk. “Very well, we’re agreed.” She said, forcing a quiver out of her voice.

Leoffa nodded, gave Amelia a warning glance then turned away taking several ginger steps before peering back at Amy. “Leave this place, and I will allow you safe passage, but should you stay, I will destroy you. You have a day to decide.”

She turned away, moving through the wreckage of the police station before stepping out into the open air and disappearing into the shadows. Amy only hesitated a moment before spinning around, rushing toward Kruhl and lunged to her knees at the other woman’s side. Blood seeped into the fabric of her slacks, but she paid it any mind.

Hands whipped out, hovering over Kruhl’s wounded abdomen, and the agent closed her eyes, stretching her senses. Kruhl’s presence was faint, save for her wound which burned scarlet bright in the agent’s mind. It throbbed, reverberating through Amy’s awareness as if the pain were her own. She pulled her hands away to clutch at her stomach, but stopped herself, instead willing her senses deeper. The flesh was jagged and raw about the edges, like torn fabric. Her insides weren’t any better, the attack had left them shredded to a pulp, and blood and stomach acid were gushing out.

Amy bit her lip as her fingers tingled. She concentrated on the injured flesh, willing it to mend, and, to her surprise, it began to knit together. Her stomach exploded in burning and throbbing with each pulse of healing energy. Her insides burned with searing hot pain which radiated from her body and into Kruhl’s wounds. She doubled over, keeping herself from collapsing atop the injured woman.

Sapphira had once described the healing process to her, how by mending the flesh of another you took their injuries upon yourself, or at least the pain from them. She hadn’t imagined that it would be so intense, but it was the most agonizing experience of her life.

As the last of Kruhl’s tissue knitted together, the edges of her consciousness were tugged toward the darkness. She blinked and shook her head, attempting to shake it away, but she soon found herself laying upon the cold floor. The last thing the agent heard before drifting into unconsciousness was the steady cadence of metal clanking on ceramic tiles.