amadhay: (Default)
 Phellimore was a very different type of place than Roadesia. Though the air was the same, or at least similar enough that she didn’t notice anything, everything else was different. While she was used to a fair amount of trees and forest, the city in which they set their shuttles down upon was a veritable jungle. The people all had rather feline appearances and actions, and she wasn’t entirely certain who the natives were, considering she recognized a few cat-kins—or at least people who looked like cat-kins—interspersed with what she could only call cat Ferals and talking cats. The clothing ranged from fully clothed, like herself and her entourage, to wearing only scraps to cover genitals, to wearing absolutely nothing. And it wasn’t just the talking cats who opted for the latter.

There were no roads or pathways and there seemed to be an unspoken rule that if one could walk in the trees, above everyone’s heads, they should. The only hint of technology was the docking port, and if she hadn’t already known better, she wouldn’t have believed that Resor had a good system of trade with this planet, specifically one where the transporters of the planet moved Roadesian goods to this planet, where they were subsequently shipped onward.

She smiled at Harpess, who was relaxed, walking beside her. Kit Rain, on her other side, was quite a bit more tense and he flinched every time someone leapt over their heads from tree to tree. It amused her to see him so uncomfortable.

“Don’t spend much time in the wilds?” she asked innocently, receiving a sharp look.

“These aren’t wilds. This is a city,” he corrected her as if someone might be insulted. She doubted it.

She snorted, but didn’t say anything more to the man, instead focusing on the trio who led them. All three stood on their hind legs and stood about Kit Rain’s height. Each wore a single length of cloth wrapped about them similarly to Amadhay’s, but it was their only clothing and was as sheer as hers, not that their fur left anything visible. The one closest to her, which looked like a puma, glanced back at the three of them and Amadhay’s bodyguards. She wasn’t sure that she liked the look in its eye, but it didn’t look long. It exchanged looks with the lion and tiger at its sides before shaking its head slightly.

They were led to a tall tree with a growth in the base that opened enough for them to walk into it. The puma entered, while the other two stood on either side of the entrance like guards. Prillo and Faeo looked to her for orders and she looked to Harpess.

“They stay outside,” the woman said softly. “But we are allowed to enter with you.”

“Goodie,” she muttered.

“You could have had the company of the lord and his knight. It would have been more appropriate. You were the one to turn them down.”

She had. Phellimore was still too close to Resor. If Benjy or Christein were to spot her, she was sure that they would make her go home. Or at least they’d try to. She didn’t want to fight with them just yet. “I know,” she said. “I’m not complaining about your presence. Simply a little stuffy in this get up,” she lied, using her obvious inexperience to cover up for her.

Both of the humans grunted in acknowledgement before gesturing for her to enter first. She made a face. She recognized that that was the custom, but given how utterly unsafe it was, she wasn’t particularly interested in following that one. She had no idea what was inside the tree. It could be an ambush for all she knew.

She smiled dumbly at Kit Rain, gesturing for him to go first, who she knew was impatient for everything to be over, and he went through first. She followed quickly after him before Harpess could follow his lead, wanting to be between them if anything happened. What she lacked in strength, they had in surplus and it made sense to be between the walls of muscle.

They walked a foot or so forward before finding the puma, who was pausing on a spiraling staircase, waiting for them to catch up to it. It led them up, all the way to the top and pulled a sheer curtain to the side to allow them to leave the tree and walk forward to a sort of balcony, high up, above many of the trees surrounding them. It would have been a horrible place to be during an air attack.

Sitting around a trunk that seemed to double as a table were three more large cats. One of them sat in a seat, sprawled out like a person, but the other two sat on the floor. The one laying more than sitting caught Amadhay’s eye because it was the only one clothed, in a bejeweled top that was definitely holding magic, but a kind that she’d never seen before. Thoughtfully, she fingered the amulet on her necklace, feeling her own magic swirling inside and letting out the smallest bit to touch the other magic. It moved, unseen aside from a faint glitter in the air that only she and—apparently—the cat-people noticed, because they all watched it approach the jewel and circle it.

The one whose jeweled gown was being touched by Amadhay’s magic gave a mouth twitch that, on a different face could have been a smirk. It sat up, slowly, before moving to them on all four. Once it was before them, it stood up, eyes on Amadhay, making Kit Rain and Harpess close in tighter on either side of the girl.

It caught her magic around one paw and held it forward, making a soft sound in its chest.

“He says, ‘I think this belongs to you,’” The puma stated, clarifying her presence as translator.

Amadhay flushed at being so blatantly caught and reached out to take the magic, but paused, making eye contact with the lynx who stood only a little taller than herself. “No offense meant,” she stated, soaking her magic without touching it to make it clear that she wasn’t weak. It was obvious they thought she was, since they were acting like predators. She wasn’t their prey, and she wanted that to be plain.

It didn’t seem like she impressed them, however, because the lynx turned his back on Amadhay and sprawled out on his side. He was telling Amadhay that none of them were frightened of her by exposing his sensitive bits.

“Magi Hei, Momma Zue and Poppa Ferv receive you, Consort of the Master of Resorian Magi.”

Amadhay was almost positive that the three in the room understood Roades and that the translator was only there as an excuse for them to speak in their native tongue without being rude. Though that was still speculation, she was certain that they didn’t think she could hear them talking, given that the humans certainly couldn’t. She smiled nicely as they conversed in strange noises.

“Momma Zue would like to remind that the Resorian contract has expired and been null for several cycles now,” the translator said. Amadhay was pretty sure that the black panther was the ‘Momma’ Zue, the Phellimorian equivalent of an empress. Her green eyes gave a long blink, locked on Amadhay. In fact, all four of the cats were staring at Amadhay, which made her uncomfortable. She didn’t like being the center of attention when she wasn’t putting herself there.

“Expired?” Kit Rain demanded in a tight voice. The translator nodded. “We apologize for the inconvenience, then and appreciate you allowing us to dock regardless. We will leave immediately.”

The other cat, a serval who had to be the Poppa, their emperor, looked lazily to the man. His unblinking stare stayed on Kit Rain and Amadhay knew the human was uncomfortable, but he didn’t move. Dealing with large cats was like dealing with vampires: no sudden movements, show no fear, don’t try to intimidate.

“Poppa Ferv wants to know if Resor no longer wants their agreement.”

“We do,” Kit Rain assured them. “We are unprepared, however, to do any negotiations and for that, I apologize. If we had known, we would have brought a kylit with us.”

The translator didn’t wait for the other three to respond, and by doing that, made Amadhay sure that it was more than a translator. “You have. The Consort of the Master of Resorian Magi is kylit.”

“What is your aelfe?” Harpess asked, looking skeptically to Amadhay.

“Leopard,” she answered uneasily, not taking her eyes off of the ‘translator.’

“You should have mentioned that before now,” Kit Rain said quietly, as though to keep the others from hearing, which was impossible given the space they were all in. He cleared his throat to get attention back to himself. “Our envoy here is still new. We don’t have the proper diplomat to—“

“Christein and Benjy are authorized to make diplomatic decisions and, as the emissary of this mission and consort to the Grand Mage, I am allowed to stand as him in the event that it is necessary to make any Roadesian Army decisions. So, unless there’s an actual reason for you not wanting to reinstate the deal, I will wait here while you retrieve them.”

Amadhay was glad that she’d read the books Lizumeizei had sent for her. She needed some time alone with these people to find out why they were looking at her as they were, and if alerting Christein and Benjy to her presence early was the price of learning that, she would deal with that.

Kit Rain tensed and looked at Harpess, “Christein and Benjy,” he muttered to the woman, who simply nodded in a knowing way. “Of course, Lady Consort,” he said stiffly before he left.

She looked pointedly at Harpess. “Two sets of eyes is better than one,” she said, dismissing the woman.

“Don’t insult them. Try not to talk until we come back,” Harpess whispered before leaving as well.

Once it was just her and the four cats, she squinted at the translator. “I’m taking a guess here, but are you the, uh, I don’t want to insult you by calling you the wrong one,” she sighed dramatically. “Are you the Sissy?” she asked.

The translator, or rather the Sissy, looked to the panther, who no longer looked so lazy. She tilted her head at the same time as the Poppa, and the Magi sat up slowly. “Why do you ask that?”

“Just curious,” Amadhay said with a shrug. “Making conversation. Just, one thing. If you’re going to pretend to be a translator, you should probably make sure you’re speaking when they speak or after, because it’s noticeable when you don’t.”

The Sissy hissed, but the Magi relaxed and, apparently taking cue from him, the Momma and Poppa calmed their tails. In a low, grumbling noise, the Poppa spoke to the little puma, whose tail was twitching angrily.

Amadhay watched closely. While the puma didn’t look much like the blank panther or serval, she acted like them. She walked as comfortably on her hind legs as Amadhay, and that was strange here, much less than she did it with so much grace. Only the “royalty” did that because it was hard to get respect from other planets when they already looked like animals rather than intelligent beings.

“I’m Amadhay,” she introduced herself. “What’s your name?”

“What does it matter?” the Sissy snapped.

“Because I think we could be friends,” she answered honestly, looking around them. She had only seen cats so far. Did the food-animals live somewhere else or were they just good at hiding?

“Not interested,” she growled.

“Alright.” Amadhay turned her attention to the Magi, who would either be the Sissy’s older brother or her uncle. The first born of all Phellimore natives became a magician and the royal magician was an important part of the ruling body. She had a feeling he was the brother, because he seemed younger than both the Momman and Poppa, but older than the Sissy. “How about you? Friends? I’d like to learn about that cool magic there.”

The magi rolled to his feet and crossed the room again. For a brief moment, Amadhay felt uncomfortable when she was all alone, with four large cats, but she brushed it off. They could try to intimidate her all they wanted, but they wouldn’t hurt her. They wanted something from her. She could tell.

“Are you nervous little kylit?” he purred into her ear. “Do you talk when nervous?”

Amadhay smiled. “No, I attack when nervous,” she answered, pushing his muzzle away from her face. Their brief staring contest was cut off by a low growl that had the magi move back from her and look at the Momma. Her teeth were bared and Amadhay mentally counted how many knives she had on her. She wasn’t sure if her gift would work this far from Resor, but she was willing to try if it came down to it.

“I like her,” the Magi said in response to whatever the Momma was growling at him. The Sissy hissed and spit at him, but the Poppa kept his eyes on Amadhay as she side stepped so that her back was to the entrance.

He growled at her when she started to take a backwards step down the stairs. Immediately, the cats turned their attention back to her.

“Oh, Mumu, look, you’re scaring her,” the Magi purred, looking and sounding strangely pleased. “Calm little kylit. We mean no harm.” He looked to the Sissy, who gave half of a growl before he interrupted her with his own.

She eyed Amadhay mistrustfully. “The Magi would like to offer you permanent asylum on Phellimore given that you do not leave.”

Slowly, Amadhay tilted her head in question, narrowing her eyes. “And why would I be interested in that offer?” she countered.

None of the cat people blinked, giving her a long look before exchanging glances. “Are you unaware of the price for you?”

Amadhay gave a long blink. Arne Riff put a price on my head? She thought incredulously. How did he know I was out here? She chose her words carefully. “Hmm. How much of a price?”

“Alive, 30 million Galactic Credits. Dead, 15 million.”

It definitely wasn’t Arne Riff in that case. While the Hakinato clan was wealthy, she wasn’t sure if even with the combined Phoegani treasury he could scrounge together 30 million Galactic Credits. That was equivalent to nearly three times as many Roadesian chips. Whoever it was, wanted her alive pretty badly to half the price for her dead, but not enough to even offer a prize for her dead.

“And who, may I ask is the bounty for, specifically?”

The Sissy spat in irritation. “For you. It is for you.”

“For the Consort of the Master of Resorian Magic.”

Ah. It was about Lizumeizei, not her. She would have breathed a sigh of relief if the price didn’t imply that whomever it was knew that she was a good bargaining chip. Moreso, she knew that a dead bounty implied that they had an idea of just how hard she would be to capture. That was…problematic at best, and she decided to think about it at another time.

Instead, she smiled sharply. “And should I decline the offer?”

“Then we cannot promise your safety in leaving the planet,” the Sissy hissed, only to be reprimanded with growls from the others.

“We will not threaten you,” the Poppa stated, his words slower and a bit stilted.

“Good to know,” Amadhay responded, keeping eye contact with the lesser threat, the Sissy. “Because I came here with people who would die to keep me alive.” And you’re about to meet two who would kill for me. She smiled with that knowledge, but chose not to disclose it. It was better to keep that knowledge close to the chest, otherwise it might get around.

“Are you threatening us?” the Sissy purred, giving Amadhay a much sharper smile than the aelfe could have possibly given.

“Never,” Amadhay assured over her head, looking to the three representatives of the world. “I am merely warning in such a case that action must be taken.”

The posturing and threatening could have gone on until someone attacked, but instead it was cut short by rushed footsteps. She tilted her head forward in respect at the entrance of her cousin and friend, and looked directly to the true power in the room, the Magi. He may have attempted to seem less powerful through titles and by giving respect to the Momma and Poppa, but Amadhay knew that he would have been capable of destroying Lizumeizei at his absolute best. And that meant that her team’s main strength was gone.

You could kill him easily enough, that same dark voice muttered in the back of her head and her arm twitched, something she covered by tucking her hair behind an ear. “Momma, Poppa, and Magi, I present to you Christein Hakinato, Lordling of the Hakinato clan and Sir Benjym Base, Knight Loyale of Empress Kellinara’s regime.” She had gone deep into her memory for the correct titles of her cousin and friend and still wasn’t sure she was completely correct.

She supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised that the rulers focused on Benjy. Empress Kellinara was well known, the primary figurehead of Resor’s Galaxy-wide known history and recognized by many planets in their system as the conqueror of earthlings, savior of worlds, and Herald Supreme. Her Knight Loyale and her Knight Royale were nearly as well known, though Benjy had put a lot of effort into disappearing the last century or so.

She glanced to her friends and recognized that she had done them a disfavor by having them first know of her presence in front of an audience. Still, it did well for her, because Christein’s entire posture screamed out that he wanted to murder someone, and he was focusing instead on the Momma and Poppa, who seemed to recognize his posture and were just as bothered, since they kept glancing to him.

Benjy, on the other hand, was much more composed. He stood tall, eyes on Amadhay and giving a protective aura that even someone as blind and dumb to magical and emotional auras as herself could recognize. She smiled sweetly.

“So, about those negotiations, hmm?”

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)

Christein was scoping out the crowds again. He knew it wasn't necessary. Those that knew his face wouldn't be interested in what he was doing—unless they saw Amadhay, of course, which he was pretty good at avoiding. And then those that would be interested in what he was doing wouldn't know his face. That was the great thing about invisibility.

When he got back to the table, both Amadhay and Ben were absent. It didn't take too much thought to recognize that they were probably together. Even though it irritated him that the girl would ditch him, even for a short while (which he knew it had to be considering she hadn't said anything to him and she wouldn't leave without saying something to him), with Ben, he recognized that it only made sense to let her have her time with the phantom as well. He knew that she had a strange kind of relationship with the man, even if she refused to admit it beyond that short time when Ben had been truly dead, that verged on a possibly romantic relationship. It was only fair that she spend time with him before the two of them went off for Goddess only knew how long. Especially since, even if he died on the mission, it would take a necromancer out in space to keep Ben from coming back to her, which pissed him off.

He wasn't the only one she would miss and he needed to come to terms with that. Especially since he was denying himself any untoward feelings for his little cousin.

So with the two of them out of the picture, Christein didn't much feel like sitting around and eating by himself. He had only wanted to get food to be sure that Amadhay ate something. So instead, he crowd-gazed, checking out the different people milling around the shopping center. There were groups of blunderlusters in abundance, especially ones wearing brightly colored clothes and talking louder than anyone had any right to do in such a crowded, public place. They were joking around, playing with each other, running back and forth and disturbing the peace, but in such a way that most of the older patrons simply smiled benignly after them.

He'd never been able to have that sort of freedom. He'd only had a few friends when he had been their age, and the sorts of friends he'd had wouldn't have been going out in public and playing around. They had, almost expressly stayed in caves, learning of the Old Ways and making plans against his father. Those had been his blunderlust years. He hadn't been like Hynnkel, who'd had a friend almost from the moment he had been born to wander around with and make idiotic mistakes that would just be excused as blunderlust. He'd been held to a different standard from birth.

Just thinking about that made him angry. Angry with his brother, his father, the happy teenagers, even Amadhay, whose freedom was always so distracting to him at the worst of times.

His eyes caught sight of a familiar pair of teenagers. There was Amaya, Amadhay's nearly identical sister, and her closest friend, the Prince Croy-li du Kay. The two were on either side of a young, dark-skinned girl with thick hair in matted coils. Neither of them had noticed him yet, which he counted as a blessing. The last thing he wanted was to gain the attention of the girl who could make this relatively relaxed and enjoyable trip into a horrible nightmare. The last time he had seen his younger cousin, she had shot him. He didn't really want to see what she would do this time.

Casually, he stood up from the table, leaving his bags. He sneaked easily to the corner of a food stand, slouching so that he would blend in with the shorter people of the crowd around him. He kept a close eye on Amaya, determined to get far enough way that she wouldn't spot him.

“So, the bathroom's over there,” his cousin told the little girl in a much too loud voice, pointing to the same bathrooms Amadhay had gone to. He should warn her. “Do you need me to go with you?”

The little girl gave Amaya a look to tell her that the suggestion had been unwarranted. “No, Lady May. I can go to the bathroom alone. I promise.” She hugged a small, rather ugly doll to her chest before smiling a wide smile at the teenagers and dashing off to the bathroom.

Amaya rolled her eyes and glanced at Croy-li. “Don't give me that look. I know Ten told me to go with her, but I didn't feel it was necessary, okay?”

Croy-li rolled his eyes right back at the girl. “Just know it's your funeral.”

“Oh come off it, what could happen to her in a bathroom?”

“She could fall in?” the dark-skinned teenager jokingly suggested before rolling his neck and running a hand through his dyed-teal hair. “How long do you think it'll take Tenshu to get her a present?”

“Forever and a day,” Amaya replied. “You know he's probably going through every toy store here to find something perfect for her. Or a bunch of things perfect for her.”

Tenshu. Tenshu Tanhakinshu was here, in this mall. Christein smirked and, with a certain feeling of predestined inevitability, he pulled the slip of dark fabric, his mask, from his back pocket and pressed it to his face, feeling the familiar magic form to his face and conceal his identity. This would be an excellent time to get a little revenge on the necromancer. He and his partner had been a giant pain in his butt for the past year. Between killing Ben, kidnapping Amadhay, beating him unconscious, threatening the three of them, and just being nuisances in general, he wanted to give Tanhakinshu a taste of his own medicine. A time when he wasn't with his partner seemed like the best chance he was going to get. And he knew that the necromancer's vampire partner wasn't around, because Melani had just reported last spotting him Over the Water yesterday, during his debrief on her mission there.

He looked up to the second level of the mall, where the toy stores were all located. If the necromancer was attempting to buy a toy for the little girl, then he was sure to be up there. With ease, Christein fell into his invisibility Gift, knowing that even with his mask, that his irregular height and tell-tale limp would give him away long before he could find the other man otherwise. He walked right past his little cousin, who continued talking to the prince as though she had no worries in the world. Deftly avoiding running into other people, Christein limped up the stairs to the second level and searched for a head covered in auburn hair. Auburn wasn't a common natural hair color for Roadesian natives, and considering the hair trends seemed to be bright, unnatural colors, he felt pretty sure that he'd be able to find the necromancers by his hair.

The first three toy stores were a bust. There was no trace of the man, not even a hint of his necromantic abilities to indicate he'd been there in the past ten clacks. Christein had almost resigned himself to using a tracing spell when he caught a glimpse of long, straight, auburn hair turning a corner. Forcing himself through a group of aelfe around Amadhay's age and making them look around, spooked and yet excited, he quickly followed the hair around the corner.

And there he was. Tenshu Tanhakinshu stood at the window of a toy store, eyeing the display with a strange intensity. He had his arms crossed over his narrow chest and his hip cocked the way Amadhay did when she was in thought. His narrowed eyes were focused on a set of porcelain dolls, a variety set of different ethnicities. One, Christein noted as he sneaked closer to the man, taking care not to let him know he was there, looked surprisingly like the necromancer, with long auburn hair in a ponytail, green eyes, and olive skin. It even wore a necromancer's seal on its black dress. Tenshu nodded to himself just as Christein made it close enough to touch him.

“Definitely that one,” the man muttered to himself just as his DS went off. He answered it. “If you're calling to tell me you lost Semi, I will kick your ass,” were his first words to the other person, but they were drowned out by screams. Tenshu jerked to a straight-backed position, listening carefully. “Cole, slow down. I can't hear you. Where are you?” he called loudly into the DS, turning from the shop and straight into Christein.

Christein turned visible as Tenshu was knocked back to the floor by his own force. The smaller man looked up at him in horror as Christein smirked cruelly. “You have something of your own to worry about,” he taunted.

Tenshu looked around, assessing the situation for a moment, before moving forward into a crouch. “Really, Christein? You honestly think you can take me on your own?” he scoffed, making Christein angrier.

The taller man clenched his fists, ready to attack him, but the necromancer was faster. With an incredible ease, Tenshu swept his hand up, as if swatting at Christein and though the gesture didn't touch Christein, the blast of black magic did. It slapped Christein away and into the railing of the banister separating the second level from the air above the first level. Christein hit with a sickening sound, telling him that something had probably broken. He gave a soft groan, pushing himself up on his elbows and watched as

 the necromancer got to his feet.

“I'm here, I'm coming. I'll be down in a click,” the necromancer assured the person on his DS. “What? She what? Shit.” Tenshu didn't notice Christein standing and following him as he picked his way through the crowds. People were moving in masses in the same direction as him, pushing against him. “Don't let her move or the spell will increase, do you hear me, Cole? If you let her move, it will get worse.”

Christein was gaining on Tenshu, his appearance making it easier for him to intimidate those around him into moving and less likely to push back against him when he shoved them out of his way. His ribs hurt, and that was a major motivator to getting him after the other man. He wanted reparations for all the pain the necromancer had put not only him, but Ben and Amadhay through in the past year. He hadn't been able to do anything for her while she was with the Palnoki, especially since every time he'd come close, the damned necromancer had shown up and nearly killed him. But now? Now he could certainly get some sort of payback when someone needed him and he wouldn't be able to help because he was too weak.

He caught up with Tenshu at the bottom of the stairs. The necromancer seemed to know he was there, because the man turned at the last click, but it was still too late, because Christein grasped him by the throat and slammed him down, onto the stairs. He put too much force into it, and it knocked the breath right out of the necromancer, slamming his head against the corner of a step. Tenshu winced, the reality of the attack hitting him slowly. He clawed at Christein's hand, trying to get enough breath into his lungs to speak.

The aelfe clenched his hand even tighter, a sneer taking to his face as the necromancer began to turn a shade of blue to tell him that the asphyxiation was taking a very real toll in his body.

“Le...t go,” Tenshu managed in a whistling whisper, weakly snapping his fingers.

At the snap of his fingers, Christein felt a jolt, almost like lightning running through his veins and jumped back, letting go of Tenshu. The younger man gulped in air, gently touching his throat as the aftereffects of his curse rushed through Christein's body. The aelfe trembled for a few clicks, giving the necromancer time to refocus, grabbing for his DS.

“Cole, is she still alright? Croy-li?” Tenshu made it to his feet just as Christein recovered from the curse. Both of them heard a harsh, angry cry that sounded alarmingly similar to Amadhay’s voice. Tenshu wavered on his feet as he tried to run in that direction, pushing himself against the stair’s railing and stumbling awkwardly. All Christein could assume was that the necromancer was having a hard time getting himself back to normal after nearly being strangled.

Although he kept his ears attuned to Amadhay’s voice, Christein kept his focus on the necromancer. He refused to let the man go, even if it meant not helping Amadhay. Making sure that he could never touch her again was far more important than checking on her when she had Ben to keep her safe if she needed it. He doubted she needed any help. Truth be told, he had very little doubt that the necromancer was in fact, trying to save someone from her.

With that in mind, the aelfe focused inwardly, keeping his eyes tracking Tenshu, who was closing the distance between the stairs and the oversized fountain that separated the shopping area from the food court. He only had one chance to do this, one chance to catch the necromancer with enough magic to incapacitate him long enough for Christein to catch up and dole out the last, painful, blows. The necromancer was far superior with magic, but Christein had quite a bit more brute force and that roughness to his power was what was going to help take him down.

Christein could feel his magic gathering in his hands, could see the darkening of his skin from dark olive to brown as he lifted them and aimed at Tenshu, muttering the incantation as quickly as he could. The necromancer made it to the fountain just in time for Christein to easily plant a target right on his back. “Boom,” the chameleon aelfe said, using his trigger word to shoot dark brown from his hands and into the other man’s back, hitting him hard enough to knock the younger man into the fountain headfirst. It immobilized him as Christein limped as quickly as he could to get to him. Mentally, he counted the clicks as they passed, knowing that he had thirteen before the spell faded away. 4…5…6…7…8

One brave little man tried to stand between him and his prey. Christein didn’t even give him more than a quick look, his eyes flashing red to tell the man that he had no chance. It didn’t stop the man from attempting to tackle Christein away. His tail lashed forward and smacked the man away faster than he could take another step, making Christein smirk. 11…12…13.

He wasn’t quite to the necromancer when his curse ended, but he was close enough that Tenshu was only able to push out of the water and hack out several coughs, trying to get the water out of his lungs, before Christein landed a blow to the back of his head in time with a loud explosion from the other side of the fountain. Tenshu drooped forward in the water, barely keeping his nose and mouth above the water while Christein paused, considering leaving him here and checking on the other side, but a loud, strange laugh that was definitely Amadhay’s confirmed that all was fine. Instead, he focused him attention back on Tenshu, who had managed to lift his upper body and turn so he wasn’t lying face-first in the water.

His auburn hair floated in the water beneath him as he took in labored breaths, trying to focus his eyes on Christein. The lazy focus of Tenshu’s eyes told Christein that the necromancer was only barely holding on to consciousness. He punched him again, and was unpleasantly surprised when the necromancer tried to shock him again. Luckily, the power behind the attack was waning and it only felt like a minor shock, not the full intravenous lightning he had dealt with before. Unluckily for Tenshu, it only served to make Christein angrier. Grabbing the front of the necromancer’s shirt, he lifted him into the air and slammed him into the statue of an ancient Ora ruler, hard enough to put cracks into the rock. Now, instead of just spewing from the statue’s palms, water was dribbling from the cracks and there was red staining the light color. Red that had to be Tenshu’s blood.

Christein grinned savagely. “Looks like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he taunted the necromancer, who seemed to be having a hard time keeping his eyes open. “Here, let me help you with that.” He tossed Tenshu back into the water and watched with a strange glee as the man struggled to sit up above the water. He was failing. His head kept falling under the water and the abject terror in his green eyes only served to make Christein more excited. He limped through the water, toward him, only to be stopped by a body flying into his path, through the statue.

The contained pandemonium broke out all around him and now that his focus was off of Tenshu, he could see that everything was quite a bit more problematic than he had thought. People were running around, screaming and hiding. A few bystanders even seemed to be injured, though he was almost positive it wasn’t from his battle with Tenshu. The statue was completely destroyed, there were abandoned bags and food everywhere.

The body that had been thrown through the statue was Ben. And on the other side of the water spout that had once been a statue, were both of his little cousins, the Prince du Kay, and the little girl. The little girl lay at the edge of the fountain, obviously unconscious, with Amaya next to her, struggling to stand in front of her. Amadhay was standing with her back to him, facing off against du Kay, a strange red and black speckled aura coating her and thankfully hiding her physical attributes from any onlookers that had yet to already flee. He could hear the sirens of the Local Force coming closer.

He glanced at Tenshu one last time, before realizing that getting a few more hits in to an already dead man wasn’t worth the chance of being caught by the Local Force. “Ghost Sparrow,” he snapped at Ben, who was slowly getting to his feet. Ben snapped his attention to him. “Erase evidence of us,” he ordered the phantom, who immediately looked ready to argue, his eyes on Amadhay.

“I will get Red Robin,” he said through gritted teeth, already making his way around the spout and toward her. He didn’t look back to Ben, simply expecting him to do as he ordered. While he didn’t have any higher ranking than Ben, he was supposed to be the leader of their upcoming mission, which he used to give him leverage this once.

“Red Robin,” he called, trying to get her attention away from the Prince, who looked as if he wanted nothing more than to get to Amaya and the little girl, not fight Amadhay more.

Her code name did nothing to get her attention. She cackled as she tossed a ball of strangely colored power at du Kay, who held up a small, opaque, shield, which bounced the ball right back at her. She absorbed it without a flinch. “Red Robin!” he tried again, louder this time.

She still didn’t look at him, though du Kay did. That click of inattention to her was apparently all she needed, because before either of them could blink, she was smashing du Kay’s shield against his own face, bloodying his nose. When he let go of the shield to grab his face, she dropped the shield to the ground and pulled her arm back, letting her power cover her fist.

She’s going to kill him, Christein realized just before she let her fist fly.

Before it could hit, however, Amaya, who no one had been paying attention to, knocked into Amadhay from the side and both sisters fell to the ground. Amadhay reared to attack her, but almost as if an off switch had been flipped, she lost the red glow. Something was whispered between the two sisters, and Amadhay’s eyes went searching, moving away from Amaya, who fell back in a crumpled heap. For a moment, he thought that Amadhay was looking for him, especially when she relaxed at spotting him. But then her eyes moved past him, into the fountain.

Before he could follow her eyes, she was standing in front of him, panting and holding her side as if she were injured. “You should take these and leave. I’ll help Benjy.” She pressed their forgotten bags into his arms. He started to argue that they should both leave, but she interrupted him. “You’re noticeable. You need to leave. I’m fast. Benjy is a phantom. They can’t catch us and we need to not leave a trace, especially not in videos. I wasn’t wearing a mask. So go. I’ll catch up with you.”

There was something in her words that didn’t sit right with him, but he did take the bags from her, noting that she had given him Ben’s bags as well. She was right, in a way. He was noticeable even when invisible. If they caught sight of him, they were in trouble. She, on the other hand, was small and could get in and out easily where he couldn’t. Ben could go completely incorporeal if he needed to, he could even go partially corporeal and still get the information out that they needed.

He nodded. “I’ll wait for you at Ben’s,” he told her, and she nodded. “If anything goes wrong, you call me.”

“I know. Go.”

Next Chapter

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“You won’t forget to be at the station at eight, right?” Benjy called after the two of them as they were leaving the store. He had taken a bit longer than either of them to gather up his purchases, and Christein had ushered her away, trying to leave the phantom behind. Now she thought she knew why. He hadn’t wanted him to accidentally tell her anything.

Christein shrugged uncomfortably. “Don’t worry, I won’t be late. We won’t miss the ship.”

We being who, now?” Benjy asked, glancing casually at Amadhay, who gave him a brilliant smile.

“Amadhay’s just helping me pick out clothes. She’s not coming. It’s just you and me.”

Amadhay looked from Benjy to Christein and back, thinking over what the two had just told her. Their mission was at eight and they had to meet at a station to go on some ship. Meaning both of them were leaving her for this mission. Curious that Christein had forgotten to mention that to her. Curious that he had managed to keep putting off telling her anything about the mission, actually. Except that they were leaving tonight. At eight. For some reason, the time seemed important, that they were leaving at eight and not some other time. Why was eight so important? And what station had ships? Didn’t he meant the dock?

Benjy grinned down at Amadhay. “Maybe I should have you pick out my clothes too. How should I dress to pretend to be Christein’s best friend?”

“Like yourself,” she automatically answered, still trying to solve her puzzle. What happened at eight? Why was it important that they leave at eight?

“He’s not my best friend,” Christein snarled.

“It’s either me or Benjy. I’m pretty sure it’s him.”

“Aw, she bumped me up from rival. See how sweet our Mayday is?” Benjy joked, walking with the pair as they left the store. He took the bags Amadhay had been carrying, only to have them snatched from his hands by Christein, who was already overloaded with bags full of clothes.

“She’s not ours,” the aelfe muttered.

“Then whose is she?” the phantom countered.

“Her own,” Amadhay answered loudly to remind the two that she was, indeed, still with them.

“Well of course you’re your own,” Benjy said, not sounding the least bit put out by her statement. “But who else’s are you? You can’t be only your own. How selfish would that be?” he teased.

For some reason, that reminded Amadhay of a recurring fight she’d had with Ribbon, where the woman had claimed that she only cared about herself, that in the fifteen years she’d been alive, that she had never put someone else’s best interests before her own.

“Then I guess I’m yours,” she said before thinking the statement through. She looked at her cousin, who was glowering. “Both of yours.” Ben’s face dropped for a moment when she said that, but he kept grinning.

“So, how about food?” Christein suggested, giving Benjy a dark look to imply that he wasn’t invited.

“Eh,” Amadhay shrugged. “I’m not really hungry.”

“You haven’t eaten and you were feeling faint earlier,” her cousin reminded her, turning his attention back to her.

She tried to shrug it off again, being Benjy joined in. “You were feeling faint?”

“I was just feeling a little odd,” she corrected. “It could have been anything.”

“But you haven’t eaten, and I’m hungry, so let’s get food.”

“Yeah,” Benjy jumped in, “Let’s get food. The food court is pretty amazing. It should even have something for the picky eater,” he gave a glance Christein’s way. “And it’s close, so we can eat immediately.”

Amadhay sighed, but knowing that the decision had already been made, allowed her favorite males to lead her to the food court. It was weird, she thought, how both of them were being so attentive. Benjy hadn’t bothered with her in a few weeks. Christein had actively been ignoring her until the previous night. Now, when they were leaving at eight, they were being more attentive, more understanding and both of them kept touching her. Benjy had his hand at the small of her back while Christein had an arm swung over her shoulder, all the bags weighing both of them down. They had her walking slower than her normal gait and she found that she was incredibly suspicious.

They were hiding something from her, and she was pretty sure it had to do with the mission. They were lavishing her with attention, which was odd purely because the two of them weren’t fighting or trying to steal her away. They were being decent to each other, which was a rarity. It was as if they were being extra careful to make her happy.

If it had just been Christein, she would have understood it. He felt guilty about what had happened the previous night. She had assumed he was trying to make up for what he saw as a lapse in reason, a failure to her. In fact, if it had just been Ben, she wouldn’t have been suspicious. He had been avoiding her for some reason, and when he did that, even with good reason, he always paid her twice the amount of attention he normally gave her to make up for it. But both of them? On the same day?

It had to have something to do with the mission. The mission both of them were going on at eight, where they would meet at a station for a ship.

The realization smacked her just as they made it to the food court.

“What do you want?” Benjy asked her.

They weren’t just going Over the Water. They were going into space. Christein was the spoiled aelfen lord and Benjy was the accompanying friend. Christein needed clothes more befitting of his title because he was supposed to be pretending that he was some empty headed aelfen lord. Benjy had asked about dressing as his friend because that was his role. They were leaving her for an interplanetary mission. They would be gone far longer than a few days or weeks. If she was lucky, they’d be back in 10 months.

And they hadn’t planned on telling her.

“Amadhay?” Christein interrupted her thoughts. “What do you want to eat?”

She gave him a false smile. “I dunno. Surprise me,” she said before tugging at her curls. She had yet to put the needles back in her hair, having chosen to just stick them into the knife sheath in her sleeves.”I should go fix my hair,” she added, veering away from the men, who were heading towards food.

“Okay,” Benjy smiled at her. “We’ll be at that table,” he gestured to one in the center of the food court, partially hidden by an oversized plant. She nodded at the two, who headed to the table to set their bags down. Before she could head off, however, she saw something in Ben’s bag that caught her attention. There was a sword hanging out of his bag. A sword that was calling out to her. She paused, checking to see that both Christein and Benjy were watching her, before smiling and heading to the bathroom.

Once in the room, she pressed gently against the door, thinking the enchanted words to lock it from the inside and keep others out. She needed to get her thoughts together and there was no better place to do that than in the solitude of the bathroom.

Christein and Benjy were both going on a mission of interplanetary colonization. She didn’t know why they were going, how long they would be gone, or even for a fact that they would be back. Going off-planet wasn’t like going offshore. A ship in the water could sink and drown them or be hit by pirates, but it was highly unlikely if it were a mass passenger ship. A ship in space had many more problems. It was like a submarine. It had to keep oxygen flowing through the giant hunk of metal, not crash into anything else in space, try not to crash land, then on top of that, if they were to land on a planet, there was a high likeliness that the natives would be hostile and a low likeliness that they would be breathing the correct air. Even before getting into space, they had to get out of Resor’s atmosphere and, even with all the innovations towards space craft in the past century or so, over half of the space ships deployed burned to a crisp before even leaving the planet’s atmosphere. Those were all possibilities for her friends.

Then, on top of that, there were no friendly faces. On a ship full of humans and animal-kind, tension would run high quickly and almost immediately, the tables would turn from Roadesian society to a new, space society, where humans were the top of the social ladder. If that happened, they might just choose to kill off Christein and toss Benjy into space. She couldn’t stand that. They needed her with them. The mass hive mind tended to bend a bit more, be more willing to take direction from a woman, especially one in power.

She called Lizumeizei.

“What’s up, luv?” he answered immediately, a tiny image of him appearing above her wrist DS.

“I need you to get me in somewhere.”

He tilted his pretty head. “Where?” he asked.

“I need you not to ask questions, just do it. You have pull where I don’t.” She shoved herself up to sit on the countertop of the sink. His worried face turned to the blank slate he used for business.

“Are you asking me to use my sway to get you somewhere you don’t belong?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered honestly. “It will be dangerous and I need it done immediately.”

“Is it for Lord Phoeganis?” he asked, a certain bite in his voice telling her that he wouldn’t help her if it were.

“No,” she said, trying to keep eye contact with his image so that he knew she was being honest. “It’s personal.”

He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Since you seem to want to keep me in the dark, you’ll have to do it on your own. Just tell whomever is in charge that you’re either the Grand Mage or Qwuill Master’s consort and need immediate accommodations. They’ll see to it that you are treated as I would be, which will probably be more extravagantly than you would like. Suck it up and make sure to present yourself with grace. If I’m tying you to my public name, I’m going to need you to behave with decorum and not sully it.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m not going to tell people that I’m your whore, Lizumeizei.”

“You aren’t,” he said seriously. “You’re telling them that you are my second, and my intended knot. That’s what consort means here.”

“That’s not what it means here,” she argued. “I’d prefer to use the term promised.”

“Since you aren’t that just yet, you shouldn’t. I can assure you that they will understand what you mean. If that’s all?”

She paused for a moment, surprised that he was not only giving in as easily as he had, but that he was now dismissing her. They had barely talked since she’d dealt with the white witch and stone mage for him. In fact, she was feeling like she needed to say more to him, to assure him that she wasn’t just using him. He needed to know that.

“Lizumeizei,” she said before he could disconnect. He paused, looking to her exasperatedly. She changed from apologetic and assuring to worried in a click. “What’s wrong?” she asked softly, frowning at his image.

He rubbed his face. “I’m just dealing with a lot right now. It’s probably best if you don’t come around for a bit.”

“Is it the Huron clan?” she demanded, clenching her fists. She may not have much time, considering she had to ditch Christein and Ben, make arrangements to become part of the colonization, pack up her bags, and get there all before eight that night, when it was already two in the afternoon. But she could make time to strike some fear into their little hearts. She was already deciding where she’d hide Mother Sari’s baby boy to remind them once and for all that she could hit them where it hurt. No one was allowed to bother her Lizumeizei. No one.

“I can deal with it on my own,” he snapped. “The last thing I need is for you to mess things up any more than you already have.”

She stared at him for a long moment. He didn’t apologize. “Uh. Okay,” she said, reining in her temper.

Lizumeizei was dealing with pressure that she didn’t understand. She knew that. As the Qwuill Master, he was possibly the most powerful Qwuill for hire in all of Roadesia. His information system was astounding and he was wanted for hire as an informant or mercenary mage by all manner of powerful, important people. As the Grand Mage, he dealt with a whole different set of duties, being recognized as the most skilled mage in all of Roadesia. He was under scrutiny as the Qwuill Master, under threats as the head of the Silver Guild, the second most powerful wizarding guild in the world, regularly under threat of a coup as the Grand Mage on the Roadesian Army’s panel, and as her paramour, under a different type of stress. He needed some time to himself to figure everything out, to balance it out, and she had been taking up a lot of his free time, she realized.

Her going away would be good for him as well.

She nodded. “Alright then. That’s all I needed.”

“Good.” When she started to reach to disconnect, Lizumeizei stopped her by saying her name.

“Hmm?” she asked, trying for an air of calm and reserve she wasn’t feeling.

“Stay safe.” She smiled at him, ready to tell him to do the same, but then he added, “I love you.”

He hung up before she could respond. And then, before she could call him back, there was a soft knocking on the door.

“Amadhay, are you alright in there?” came Ben’s soft voice.

“Yeah, I’m coming right out,” she assured him, using her Gift to put the needles back into her hair. It hurt, it hurt much more than it ever had for her before. Even with exhaustion and being around Arne Riff, it had never seared at her skin to use her Gift before. She swallowed it down and patted gently at her hair. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do since she didn’t have time to do any more without either man becoming suspicious. It was then that she realized she hadn’t put her ever-present mirror spell on herself that morning.

He’s controlling it. She suddenly decided, trying to remember if she’d used her Gift or teleported at all that day. She hadn’t until just now, she was positive of it. That meant she could have been under Atlas’ influence all day. She had known there were too many coincidences. Stalia on the train, Christein needing clothes, meeting up with Ben, the outfit being perfectly Christein’s size. What was he planning? He had to be planning something, something to do with her and the mission. If she hadn’t already been decided, then that realization would have made her completely certain that she was going with them.

The two of them needed protection from Atlas Palnoki.

Next Chapter

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Amadhay wasn’t sure if Christein knew that she’d noticed him paying for the clothes with a black credit card. She had, and considering she knew his resources were limited, (being only what Arne Riff deigned to give him for successful missions, which was far, far less than he deserved and less than even a quarter of what other Phoegani agents received for much smaller jobs than he regularly did,) it wasn’t his. That meant that it was a Phoegani credit card, which meant that he was spending Phoegani money. And that told her that he had been given a clothes budget.

She knew exactly how many shirts and pants he had in his closet. She had counted several times when she was bored and waiting on him. He had sixteen white button up shirts, thirteen black ones, two formal shirts of the Hakinato teal, four black pants, two dark jeans, and one pair of pinstriped pants that were shades of gold and silver for court. Putting his court clothes aside, that left twenty-nine shirts and six pairs of pants. She had personally ruined one white shirt, two if she counted her lipstick on the one he was wearing. The last few missions had taken out one of his worn black pants, and at most five other shirts had been torn from missions. He wasn’t nearly out of clothes, so she had known from the moment he said he was, that he had been lying to her. She just hadn’t cared, assuming that he was trying to butter her up for some reason by allowing her to pick out clothes.

She hadn’t expected him to buy all of them. She had honestly only expected to be able to get him two outfits and then buy the one at the other store herself and force him to take the gift. Unlike him, she had an inheritance from her dead parents, as well as the basic living sum Arne Riff gave her (because she was his ward but living outside of the homestead), the nice amount Anne and Nolando sent her bi-weekly (which was the real reason Arne Riff was giving her money to live outside the homestead, so not to be shown up by them even though no one would have known but the four of them), plus her Phoegani pay (which, while also not as much as other agents received, was still nothing to stick up her nose at). So she was hardly hurting for money. But then, he’d bought all of it. It had come to nearly 2,300 credits, but he had bought it. He hadn’t even flinched or seemed like it was physically hurting him to spend money like he normally did.

And that told her that his character for this mission was important. He was being ‘modern’ for the mission, not because he wanted to. What was bothering her, however, was how many clothes he was buying. He had said that he needed ten outfits, which meant that he was buying enough for months, not just a week or so. How long was this mission going to take? Surely if it was going to be long, he would have told her…right?

He flashed her a grin as they waited for the sales clerks to neatly fold and bag all of his clothes. “Thanks, Mayday. I wasn’t sure what to get,” he told her.

She smiled back up at him. “We aren’t nearly done, you realize that right?”

He gave her an amused look of surprise. “Oh really, and where else do you want to go?”

“It’ll be a surprise,” she told him, knowing that his retainer for this mission must have been ridiculously large if he wasn’t reminding her that credits didn’t just appear out of nowhere. She couldn’t imagine why Arne Riff would have approved a budget as large as Christein’s seemed to be. Why would it be so important that Christein look like an average twenty-something aelfe?

“I’m not sure I trust your surprises,” he told her warily. “I’m not wearing anything tight or glittery.”

She giggled. “Oh drat, you found me out,” she teased. “I was going to dress you in a skin tight, glittery one piece.”

“Glad I caught you before we got there,” he replied, grabbing up the bags on the counter. There were five of them, all very full.

“Silly Monkey,” she said, rolling her eyes. “C’mon now. You’ll like this one.”

“Oh, I will, will I?” he asked, following her as she led him out of the store.

“You will,” she grinned back up at him. “It is entirely up your alley. I saw something when I came here with Lando and Anne,” she noticed the way he became slightly tense at the mention of his brother and sister-by-Binding and wondered what the two had said to him. “And it just screamed out your name. I wanted to get it for you then, but…”

“You didn’t want to deal with the two of them,” he muttered bitterly.

“Nah, I just didn’t know your measurement,” she countered, even though it was a lie. She’d memorized his measurements shortly after she had started being able to buy him presents with her own money. She could recite them in her sleep, but he didn’t have to know that.

“Right,” he said, sounding unconvinced.

She smiled up at him. “C’mon,” she said, choosing not to continue with the conversation, in favor of leading him to one last store. She couldn’t grab his hand and pull him along, since he was loaded down with bags he’d refused to allow her to carry for him. She had a niggling suspicion that he had done that purposely.

He gave her a half smile and trailed behind her. When she glanced back at him again, she noticed that he was having trouble keeping up with her. He did on his best of days, considering her speed and the fact that he had a limp, but his limp seemed more noticeable today, which might have been because he was carrying so many clothes, and thus was weighed down quite a bit. Whatever the reason, she slowed her pace. She tried to do it subtly, but knew that he knew when she slowed down because his half smile turned a bit sharper, the same way it did anytime she tried to do something he thought was pitying.

He walked faster.

She sighed, but didn’t walk any faster, pretending to like the strolling walk she had taken to keep closer to him. “So what else do you need for this mission?” she asked casually.

His step faltered for a moment. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that you’re getting clothes for your missions and got a large clothes budget, so is there anything I missed that you need? Undies? Socks? Ties? Formal wear? Please tell me I can buy you new formal court wear, because those pants are hideous.”

“Those were a gift from my mother,” he argued.

“They’re still uglier than a rabid rat Feral,” she quipped with a shrug.

He rolled his eyes. “I suppose I probably need court wear.”

“Anything else? What’s the temperature going to be on this mission? Should I be getting you some warmer clothes so you don’t freeze your tail off?”

“What you’ve chosen so far is fine,” he answered without answering her question.

She didn’t look at him, trying to stay casual. If she looked curious, he would clam up and she’d never get anything out of him. “So no extremes? I mean seriously, Monkey, if you’re going to need a coat, you should tell me. What about a swimsuit? Or what about sneakwear? Do you have any good sneakwear? I know that Cowboy ripped your old sneaksuit.”

Christein gave a long sigh and she chanced a glance at him out of the corner of her eye. He wasn’t looking at her, instead looking away from her, at the crowds around them as if he were looking for someone. She followed his eyes and surveyed the crowd as well, but didn’t see anything suspicious, so assumed that he was just avoiding eye contact.

“C’mon, gimme something to go on,” she pleaded.

He sighed again. “I suppose I probably need an insulated jacket. It can’t be bulky, but it has to regulate my body temperate no matter how cold it is.”

She paused for a moment, “Why?” she asked.

“No questions. It’s classified.”

Classified against her? She was liking this mission less and less. First he wouldn’t tell her where he was going, then he wouldn’t tell her how long he would be gone, now he wouldn’t even tell her the type of weather he’d be experiencing. She needed to figure it out or else she’d be worried the entire he was gone.

“Okay,” she said, shrugging. Christein looked at her suspiciously and she looked away from him again, but then glanced back as she said, “As long as you come home, it doesn’t matter.”

He flinched.

He might not come home to her.

She took a deep, settling breath and tried to push the tension out. I’m just reading too much into it. He’s probably just been told specifically not to tell me about it. Me pushing him is making it hard on him.

She didn’t believe herself for a moment, but she did stop questioning him. “Here we are!” she said after a few clicks of silence, smiling back at him. The store in question was a specialty store. It specialized in one of a kind leather, formalwear, sneakwear, magic objects, and weapons. It was basically an all-purpose store for assassins, mercenaries, peacekeepers, and hero-complexed do-gooders alike. And right in the front window was the outfit she’d known was meant for Christein three months ago. Good, she thought, no one bought it yet.

She heard Christein’s sigh of relief as they entered Rose’s Toybox. This store apparently had his instant seal of approval, unlike the other one, where he had only grudgingly admitted it was a good store after she’d created a third outfit for him. She had known he would like this place. It smelled of leather and gunpowder, and it oozed danger, suspense, and competence.

So much competence that once they were inside the rust painted doors, they were stopped by the store’s equivalent of a bouncer. “I need you to check your weapons up here,” she said, flashing her fangs. Amadhay just stared at her for a moment, until she recognized her as a blood elf, one that she had seen before. She opened her mouth to say something, but the elf put a single finger to her lips to tell her not to. Glancing at Christein, who was reluctantly handing over his knives, she nodded at the woman and handed her a single knife. It was always better to do as blood elves wanted. Their tempers were legendarily short, especially when they weren’t obeyed.

The elf raised an eyebrow. “All of your weapons,” she told them.

Christein cursed under his breath before reaching under his shirt and removing his twin pistols.

Amadhay eyed her challengingly. “Why?”

“Everyone gives us all weapons,” the elf stated. “We don’t want any bloodshed in here.”

“But doesn’t that only put the magic users in a superior position?” she countered.

“Magic dampeners,” the elf replied, gesturing to the glowing crystals evenly spaced throughout the store. “Any fights in here would have to be hand to claws and we keep those to a minimum.” She gave a sharp smile that told Amadhay she was merely prey to the elf and could be happy that she was meeting her in the store, rather than out on the field. It was a smile meant to intimidate her and it did its job perfectly. “No one fights in here. We don’t care about grudges you bring in. You leave your weapons at the door.”

Amadhay paused for another long moment before removing the second knife from her right arm sheath hidden under her jacket and the pair from her left. She reached into her boot and pulled out the knives from her calf straps and, only after the woman looked pointedly at her hair, removed the needles she had chosen to use as hair pins. Her hair tumbled into her face and the elf offered her a black lace ribbon.

Christein shifted behind her as Amadhay eyed the ribbon for a long moment. “No thanks,” she finally said, giving the elf the kind of smile that showed exactly how much she trusted her and her ribbon. The elf shrugged before gesturing that they could go on.

Once the two of them stepped into the actual store, Amadhay felt her magic go stagnant. The dampeners were good. She glanced up at Christein and took his scowl to mean that he felt it too. It was an impressed scowl, so she knew that mean that the longer he was in the store, the more he found himself liking it. She counted that as a success for her.

“Just about everything in here is awesome, so you can pick out whatever you’d like,” Amadhay told Christein, who laughed at her.

“Why thank you for your permission to pick out my own clothes,” he teased her. His eyes weren’t on her, though. They were trained on a gorgeous red leather, belted jacket. She wanted to see him in it. She wanted to see him in it with the other outfit beneath it.

So first, she had to go and get that gorgeous outfit. She smiled at him, gesturing for him to go on ahead of her. “I have to check on something,” she said in a tone that, if Christein hadn’t been completely enraptured with the jacket, he would have found suspicious. Instead, he just went forward to get a better look at the jacket. She grinned and rushed to an attendant.

“Hey! Yeah, hi,” she exclaimed, getting his attention. He was a relatively short man, maybe about five inches taller than her, which put him at five foot five, and gave her the idea that he was most likely a born-vampire before he even turned to her. When he did turn and she saw the familiar blood cult symbol on his collar, she knew she was right. “I need the outfit in the front window. Can you get that for me?”

The long look he gave her made her incredibly uncomfortable, before he pointedly turned his eyes away from her.  It was dominance play and she hated it. She hated vampires.

“I doubt it would fit you even if we rolled it up,” he taunted her, choosing not to even look at her as he spoke, his attention instead going back to polishing a set of blades. “Try the baby vamp store, unless you want to try something…” he licked his lips as he slid his finger over the sharpened edge of one of the blades, leaving a line of blood. His wound closed almost immediately and the blood bubbled on the blade before disappearing, “Specially done for you.”

She narrowed her eyes, knowing exactly what he was doing and hating that she had to deal with this any time she had to bother with vampires. Not only was it incredibly inappropriate for a worker to proposition a customer, but it was an insult to be seen as a lesser being purely because of her appearance. She recognized her height made her seem like an easy target, but she wasn’t. She wouldn’t be in this store if she wasn’t a real deal. She’d seen the blood elf turn away people who were poseurs. Yet here was this dim, bland vampire propositioning her and expecting to get away with it just because she was small and he was a vampire. She regularly dealt with vampires—both dead and alive—that could have eaten him for breakfast.

He had moved on to polishing a sword when she smiled sweetly at him. “I’m not getting it for me,” she said, trying to rein her temper in. If he worked here, she was sure he had some sort of strength. Otherwise, he would be a liability and they didn’t seem the type to hire liabilities. She didn’t really want to have to get violent and chance being thrown out, or worse, get into a fight and broadcast that Red Robin was there. She had a pretty distinctive fighting style when she got into it.

He pointedly looked right over her head. “Unless there’s something you wanted to say to me, I have work to do.” When he set the sword down and made a less than subtle gesture toward his crotch to leave no question about his intentions, she lost her temper.

She gripped his wrist. He gripped her wrist on top of his, flashing a fangy smile. Great, she thought, noting the elongated fangs, not only was he a blood practitioner, but a blood gorger. That explained his cockiness. She rolled her eyes and pushed in closer to him. “I want that outfit from the window in my arms in one clack. Otherwise, I’ll break your ribs too.”

“Too?” he asked right before she kicked his knee backwards, gripped his wrist tighter, and pulled him right over her shoulder, stomping on his shoulder once he was down. She heard the pop of it dislocating and let go.

“Don’t underestimate me just because I’m small. I can kill you faster than you can breathe.”

The born-vampire hissed at her, but got to his feet, holding his arm. “All you had to say was that you weren’t interested,” he snapped.

She narrowed her eyes and didn’t cringe when he popped his shoulder back into place, even though she knew how much it must have hurt. Blood gorgers always put her on edge. They didn’t seem to feel pain like normal born-vampires, not to mention they were possibly more depraved in their sexual interests than dead-vampires, which made him dangerous if he had his sights set on her.

Right,” she drawled sarcastically. She waved her hands for him to get her the outfit. She had to make herself seem more predator than prey, not submissive in the least or he would keep her as a target, and with the bruise on his pride from her dislocating his shoulder, he wouldn’t be too gentle.

“There are strict no fighting policies in here.”

She smiled sweetly again. “I’m sure there are strict policies against threatening and propositioning customers, too. So I won’t tell if you don’t.”

For a long moment, she was positive that he was going to try something, but after a few more clicks, he nodded at her and, skirting past her carefully so that he didn’t touch her, he went to gather the outfit from the window. Only once he was out of visual, she gave a silent, full bodied sigh before looking over the sword he had been polishing. Blood Thirst was the unoriginal name engraved into the blade of the sword and, when she eyed it carefully, she saw a film of red smoke on it. She took a step back, but the sword kept the dark tint, beckoning to her.

She glanced over her shoulder to see that Christein was nowhere to be seen. It was only her and this sword. She reached out hesitantly, knowing that it was never a good idea to touch an enchanted blade, but unable to hold back her curiosity. There was something about the sword that called out to her, something that made her need to touch it, to hold it, to use it. Her fingers were almost on the blade when the vampire returned with the leathers.

“Don’t touch that,” he warned her sharply. She turned her eyes back to him, not pulling her hand back. “Or touch it. I don’t care. Our insurance covers death of stupidity.”

She frowned, pulling her arm back reluctantly. She glanced back at the sword before shaking her head and turning back to the vampire. “I’m good,” she said as casually as she could.

He gave her a sarcastic smile. “I’m sure,” he said before pushing the leathers into her chest and dropping them. Only because she was fast, did she catch them before they could fall to the ground.

“What are the measurements?” she asked before he could leave her.

He turned an irritated glare back to her. “Didn’t think to ask that before getting them?”

“I just need to be sure.”

“I’m sure they’ll fit you just fine,” he said with as much sarcasm as he could before leaving her in the darkened corner of the room.

She frowned after him before sighing. “Fine,” she muttered. “I think they’re right anyway,” she said to herself before going to find her cousin, who was, unsurprisingly, looking at magic blades. She didn’t have to look at them very hard to know that they were true aim blades, which she knew Christein had been wanting for a few years. She’d been planning on getting him some for his birthday this year, or possibly Binding Day. It was strange to her that he now had money, probably enough that he could get himself a handful and still be able to afford the outfit she was holding if his nonchalance about it was anything to go by. She wasn’t even sure if she had that much to burn.

“Monkey,” she said quietly, getting his attention immediately. He gave her a lazy smile before taking the leathers from her arms on top of the red jacket. Up close, she could see the glimmer of magic on the jacket, telling her that it was both magic resistant and heat regulating. The spells had been fixed on there by unique magic, an adept skill she still lacked. He weighed them in his arms for a moment.

“A bit heavy, don’t you think?” he suggested. She gave him a dark look.

“It’s armor, Monkey. If it isn’t a little heavy, then what’s its point?” He nodded slightly, looking over the black leathers in his arms. “And don’t tell me that you don’t want to take armor. It’s specially made to not look like armor, but still keep you safe. You need it.”

“Well, don’t be disappointed if they don’t fit me,” he told her gently after a moment of deliberation. “You know these were probably made for someone shorter than me.”

She didn’t say anything. He hadn’t looked at the mannequin in the window. It had been nearly his perfect measurements, long in the legs, narrow in the hips, thick in the arms and chest. It even had a hole where his tail would go. If these hadn’t been made with him in mind, then there was apparently some unreasonably tall, rich animal-kind walking around.

Strange coincidence, now that she thought about it. A flash of suspicion hit her so hard that Christein gave her a questioning look. “What?” he asked her when she wavered on her feet for a click.

Coincidences do exist, not everything goes back to him. Atlas would have no reason to have put in an order for Christein to get armor. He was trying to kill him. She tried to convince herself, shaking her head at her cousin. “Nothing. I’m fine, just haven’t eaten yet.” When Christein gave her a worried look, she waved him off with a smile and a laugh. “C’mon, go try it on! I wanna see you in it!”

“I think you’d rather see me out of it,” he muttered, allowing her to usher him to one of the private dressing rooms.

“Not this time. This time I want to see you more clothed,” she teased him as she got him into the dark curtained back rooms. There were three stalls, gendered by the dolls hanging on the doors. The one in the center, holding a My Curious Immortal doll was for the non-gendered creatures, the one with the fully dressed My Secret Goddess doll was for women, and the one with the shirtless My Mystery Escort doll on the door was for men.

Christein knocked brusquely at the door and, upon receiving no response, pushed the door open. “Stay out here,” he ordered Amadhay when she moved to follow him.

She pouted. “But Monkey, I can help you. You probably won’t be able to figure out how to put it all on on your own.”

“If I can’t, then I shouldn’t get it, now should I? You won’t be there to lace me up on the ship.”

The ship? As soon as the word slipped from Christein’s mouth, he cussed under his breath. Before she could say anything, though, he closed the door tightly. She moved to the door and pressed her palm against the smooth wood. “What ship?”

“Amadhay?” the voice came from the other side of the room, meaning that it wasn’t from Christein. She turned in surprise, genuinely happy to see Benjym Base in the curtained doorway, a long cloak in his arms.

“Benjy!” she gasped, running to him. He grinned at her as she launched herself into his arms. He hugged her for a moment, lifting her off of her feet before setting her back down. “Where on Resor have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages!”

Benjy chuckled at her. “Just out and about on missions,” he told her in such a casual voice that she knew he was hiding something from her. Whenever she asked about his whereabouts, he would tease her, rile up her curiosity, maybe even joke about it. For him to give her a straight answer told her that there was more to it.

“What are you doing here?” he asked her before she could try to push him into answering more questions. “I’ve never seen you here before. I doubt they have anything your size unless you custom ordered.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m here with Christein,” she said. The light in his eyes dimmed for a moment at her cousin’s name. “He’s in the dressing room.”

“Hullo then, Christein,” Benjy said loudly enough for the aelfe to hear him. He received a grunt in response. “I didn’t realize that the two of you were together.”

Amadhay blinked in question a few times before Christein burst out of the changing room. “We’re not,” the man said defensively, stomping to a stop behind Amadhay. “We’re First Family of the same damned clan,” he stressed as if to emphasize why they weren’t a couple rather than that they weren’t. It made her smile. “Come on and help me get this on,” he added as an order to Amadhay before returning to the dressing room, his shirt only partially on, bracers untied, and pants awkwardly twisted.

“He’d be lost without me,” she whispered to Benjy before dashing after Christein.

She closed the door between her and the phantom before drinking in the sight of her scowling cousin. He was looking at himself in the mirror, twisted back to attempt to right the leather pieces on his back. His chest was partially bare, where the leather pieces for his chest were falling apart and giving her a full view of his muscled chest. His sandy olive skin, darker than her own by a few shades was dusted with a light spattering of hair on his lower belly, which was strange for a reptilian aelfe and even stranger for him, since she knew he kept himself smooth to avoid friction problems from the few energy or fire based spells he used. His pants were twisted to rights, but partially open, giving her the view of his black underwear. His bracers had been abandoned.

She started with the bracers, taking first his left hand down and retying the black laces tightly enough that they wouldn’t move, but not tight enough to cut off circulation, and then she let go. Making direct eye contact with her, he gave her his right arm, allowing her to tie those as well.

“I need you to bend down so that I can get to your back,” she said softly, batting her eyelashes lightly. He leaned forward into her, taking his time until his face was almost to hers.

“Lace my front first,” he ordered.

She blinked rapidly a few times, her fingers fumbling, before she looked away from his face and down to her goal. She shifted the breastplates so that the faux vest partially covered them to hide the obvious defensive armor behind it. Tying the front of the vest together, she gently pressed his chest so that he would turn for her. He did.

It wasn’t until she was lacing together his back vest that she realized he could have done all of this on his own. The leathers had been loosely laced together when she had given them to him, so he had unlaced them purely for the purpose of having her lace him back up. This was so incredibly intimate that she paused, looking past him, into the mirror. His eyes caught her gaze and they both stared at each other for a long moment.

“For just two cousins, you sure are taking a long time in there. Are you sure there isn’t something you wanna tell me?” Benjy called from the door, making Christein jerk forward. Amadhay rolled her eyes, but didn’t try to catch his gaze again, instead finishing lacing his back.

“I can take it from here,” Christein muttered, nodding at the door. “Better get out there before Ben starts making incestuous First Family jokes.”

She touched the loose lacing holding his pants together, but he flinched. “Seriously, Amadhay. I’ve got this, get out,” he said again, his voice firm.

“But Monkey,” she whined.

“No. Out.” He turned and pushed her to the door. She dug her heels in for a moment before giving in and going out of the room, running right into Ben, who had been directly outside of the door. Christein slammed the door closed behind her.

“How long’s he gonna take in there?” he complained in a winningly joking tone, holding up a pair of aquamarine pants that were far too short for him. “I wanted to try these on.”

She giggled. “Benjy, I hate to break it to you,” she paused, looking up at him with a smile, “But I just don’t think that’s your shade of blue.”

He barked out a laugh. “Well you may just be right,” he said, making a show of looking at the pants again before setting them on the returns rack. He was now wearing the hunter green cloak he had been carrying and, just looking at it, she knew it had been custom made for him. It was long enough to hit his calves, thick enough that she was almost positive it was insulated and probably regulated temperature, and had a hood that easily covered the black hair that wasn’t tucked into the cloak, and threw his angular face into dark shadows. It made him look mysterious, nothing like the joking man she was used to.

“I like that on you,” she told him softly, smiling up at him when he winked at her.

“Good. I do like to set the mood right for you,” he teased.

She rolled her eyes. “You’re such a tease.”

“I think that’s you, actually.”

She grinned at him again, ready to throw more flirtations in, when the door to the dressing room opened to reveal Christein. The black leather of the outfit settled nicely against his skin, somehow managing to look comfortable and threatening at the same time. While it didn’t look like armor, it certainly wasn’t something the man should wear when he was trying to come across as unassuming. The red jacket only emphasized the casualness of the outfit. While it, too, gave him a dangerous vibe with the belt buckles closing the jacket not only at his torso, but also at either wrist and at his neck, the dark red also softened the black to look more fashionable. His normal steel-toed boots were the only things breaking his image.

“New shoes,” she decided.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)

“Ya know, Monkey,” Amadhay started seriously, “If you grew your beard out, you would look dead on a monkey.” She smiled up at her cousin, staring fixatedly on the short, but very present hair growing on his face.

Christein sneered at her, leaning back against a wall and crossing his arms. “Aren’t monkeys supposed to be fast, physically?”

“Okay,” she conceded, “You don’t move like a monkey, but everything else is right.” She dropped onto the ground to sit near his feet with a soft huff, glancing up at his face in time to see him roll his eyes.

“Just be glad that you don’t have two different legs,” he told her, referring to the fact that one of his legs had been cut off when he was small and regenerated an inch longer than the other.

“I am,” Amadhay replied simply, staring at his feet as she decided what her next move would be. The two of them had been waiting for their target for twenty clacks so far and she was doing her best to keep them entertained, despite his best efforts not to engage with her.

He flicked her off. “Shut it.”

She gave him a sweet smile, “I’ll bite it off if you don’t put it down,” she warned him, now looking up at him as he loomed over her.

“Good thing I regenerate then, huh?” he spit on the ground only a little away from her knee, giving only the barest of smirks at her look of utter disgust. “How long are we going to have to wait for this guy?”

“Ah dunno,” Amadhay replied, scooting away from the spit with a single quick motion. She pinched his leg. “Spitting near me is unacceptable, Monkey,” she told him, trying for an imperious tone. Instead, she simply sounded whiny. To make up for it, she let out a glob of spit between his feet.

In retaliation, he gave her thigh a quick, hard kick. “Shut it!” he repeated, then, muttering more to himself this time, added, “Damn, talk about stupid people.”

Amadhay rubbed her leg, watching him thoughtfully. Ever since she had come back from Palnoki, especially after she had gone to Arne Riff to override his and Nolando’s decisions for her, Christein had been much colder to her. She was just trying to amuse them as they waited for their mark. He didn’t have to be so angry and uncooperative. He never had been before.

“For shears?” she responded, trying to annoy him this time. “Don’ be so mean tah me, monkey-breath.” She quickly stood as she spoke, not wanting to give him an easy kicking target when she recognized the irritated glint in his eye.

“You’re acting like an idiot,” he snapped. “Smart people have a right to criticize the stupid.”

He wasn’t even looking at her. Amadhay was ready to counter with ‘And how would you know, idiot?’ when he held his hand up into her face. “Here he is…”

Amadhay followed his gaze to a middle-aged human that Amadhay had been positive she had killed earlier that evening. Immediately, she knelt in the shadows, trying to blend into her dark silhouette as a smirk eased onto her red lips. This is what they had been waiting for. She watched Christein shift into the shape of their target’s knot, the one he had killed a zoot ago while Amadhay had taken care of the kids.

Watching him, she sighed, wanting to do the deed herself. It had been a while since she could really enjoy her job. If she was being honest, she really meant that it had been a while since she had been allowed to work with Christein or Benjy, which was the only time this felt right. Since coming back with such good intel on the Palnoki, all worries about her loyalty had been wiped clean and she had been able to go back to bloody and violent missions. It was the only thing keeping her sane, the knowledge that she still liked killing, and she did like killing, no matter what she might sometimes think when she was alone and thinking about Ribbon.

Regardless, knowing that it was Christein’s mission, she stayed out of the way. “Do your magic, monkey boy,” she whispered.

Not a monkey,” he hissed at her before running up to the man. Still guised as the man’s late knot, he spoke to him as her for a few clacks, gathering information that she wasn’t privy to. She wasn’t entirely positive why she had been brought on this mission, considering it had gone so smoothly. Christein had told her that there would be difficulties because the man had bought a guard, but so far she had yet to see hide nor tail of anyone who might attempt to intervene.

Once Christein was apparently satisfied, he gave a sharp, derisive laugh that she could hear all the way back to the building, before shifting back to his own form. The man took a step back, looking around as if searching for something, before focusing back on Christein. Her cousin seemed to enjoy the man’s horror of realizing that he had been terribly misled, just before he slit the man’s throat. There was something strange about the man’s expression though. She just wasn’t sure what it was.

“What else were we supposed to do?” Christein called over to Amadhay, who relaxed from her crouch and slunk forward, brushing possibly imaginary dust from her crimson coat, black tank top and shorts. The heat of this area had caught her by surprise earlier, so she was indecently underdressed for the job, having had to ditch her normal sneaksuit to keep from overheating. The full body black outfit was now tucked away safely at a Phoegani safe house a few blocks away.

She gave a one-shouldered shrug, eyeing the body, slumped beside her cousin. Yes, that was definitely the same person she’d thought she had killed. “Make sure he’s dead. He plays really well.”

Christein scowled and knelt by the body. Taking the seemingly dead man by his hair, he slashed the head completely off at the neck with his knife. He then tossed the head to Amadhay before standing at his full height. “There, he’s dead. Let’s go.” He was already walking away from the body.

Amadhay blew her hair from her face, irritated that the wind was fighting against her symmetry, but mostly appeased by the head she held in her hands. It felt somewhat like their old lessons, when Christein would show her best ways to kill a person or toss her body parts to help her past her original squeamishness. This was her comfort zone with him.

“Monkey, you’re so cruel,” she told him with a slightly endeared smile.

She had drowned the man and then watched as his body tangled with anchors, yet he had somehow, still been alive. She wanted to look into that, because that was something she might expect of a magic-use or vampire, possibly even an elf, but not a human. Not a human who was, as far as she knew, unconnected to all of the major names and associations. Still, the brusque execution was so purely Christein that she couldn’t help but be amused and ignore her curiosity about the man. She dropped the head when Christein turned back to her.

He gave her a disarming smile and handed her his blades. “Here, have a present.”

She frowned, staring at him in confusion, taking the blades so that they didn’t fall. He was fastidious about care for weapons, especially his own, and the last thing she wanted with him in this strange mood, was to somehow damage his favorite blades by dropping them. “What?”

“She did it,” he stated as he turned away from her, thrusting his thumb over his shoulder at her and holding his hands up as two Arachin Local Force officers stormed up.

Another day, Amadhay would have loved the present. But today she was incredibly irritated with her cousin, given the way he had just played with her emotions, how he kept messing with her head so much that she wasn’t sure if she was his favorite person or someone he wanted to be rid of. She was tired and just wanted to go see Lizumeizei. Mostly thought, she didn’t want to fight two full-grown Arachins on her own, especially not the half-scorpion-man that reminded her all too much of Sha’adahk.

“Jackass,” she muttered at him before launching herself at the scorpion guard faster than any of them could react. Wrapping her arm around one of the scorpion’s legs, she hid the weapons behind the bend of its knee. Sliding the blades into her empty sleeve-sheaths, she pressed her forehead against the reinforced leg armor and then started sobbing.

“Help me!” she cried to the Local Force, who eyed her skeptically, but had yet to attack, holding his stinger up in the air but not yet poised to do harm to either aelfe. “He just killed my uncle!” The wolf-spider started toward Christein, looking from the decapitated body to the head next to Christein’s steel-toed boots. “I told him I didn’t want him and…and he assaulted me!” It only took the briefest of thoughts to add a glamour and a deep purple bruise appeared on her neck, with the bruise Christein had actually left on her thigh deepening to a black against her sandy olive skin. “And my uncle tried to stop him and he…” she burst into harder sobs, her large, now brown eyes overflowing with fake tears. “He-he killed him!”

“Banshee!” Christein swore at her when the wolf-spider attacked. He was almost impaled by one leg, but managed to get a knife right into his soft abdomen and tore down to his spinneret, cutting the spider-man open and killing him almost instantly.

The scorpion shook Amadhay off of his leg just in time for Christein to slit his throat. Amadhay brushed herself off, looking to the three bodies and mentally calculating how much time they had to leave before the Local Force sent more officer to check on the fallen arcachins. Christein grabbed Amadhay before she could say anything, slamming her back into the shadow of the building and pinning her against the wall.

“You little banshee,” he cursed at her again, his teal eyes glimmering with anger.

She pursed her lips at him. “I loves you,” she told him sweetly. “We can go now,” she added calmly. He didn’t move, so she raised both eyebrows. “Well?”

He slapped her hard enough to make her cheek hit the wall. When she looked back at him, her eyes wider than she had intended, he let go of her. There wasn’t even his normal flash of guilt or shame to accompany his loss of temper. Otherwise not moving, Amadhay carefully yawned, stretching her mouth out to try to make some of the pain go away. Besides that seemingly bored reaction, the same she had learned to respond to his father’s slaps, she took the pain stoically. Even if she wasn’t used to that kind of abuse from Christein, she was, indeed, used to it.

He gave her no acknowledgment, turning from her to glance up to the rooftops. The clicks following were silent as he walked a few paces but when she had yet to follow, he looked over his shoulder and just as calmly as she had, said, “Well? Are you coming or not?”

She shrugged. “I dunno. I was thinking about just walking around, seeing the sights while I’m here. Not every day we get to come to this little rats nest,” she told him, walking backwards. “So seeya next time,” she told him. She didn’t want him to see how much he had hurt her.

“Amadhay!” Christein’s yell of her actual name made her jerk and jolt backward. He only used it when he was surprised. “Duck, you fucking idiot!”

She turned back to him and jolted to the side just in time to avoid being hit by a micro-arrow. “Geeze, Baron, no need to be so loud,” she blustered, turning to try to determine where the arrow had come from.

He didn’t verbally warn her this time. Instead, Christein just tackled her to the ground, just in time as another one sped into the wall right where she had just been. When she let out a soft oomph from the force of his body hitting hers, he clamped a hand over her mouth. “Shut up and stay down,” he ordered. He pulled her closer to him so that they were side-by-side on the dirty concrete of the alleyway, hidden by shadow. She tried to pull away from him, her eyes scanning for any sign of their attackers, but he clamped on tighter, pressing her lips against her teeth and making it hard for her to breath when he accidentally covered her nostrils as well.

She bit his hand, making him curse lightly, and he removed it. In her ear, he whispered the things he was going to do to her if she bit him again. She completely ignored him, glaring at the arrow lodged in the wall just past her. She had better things to imagine than his threats, such as gutting whomever was shooting her with their own arrow. Had everyone completely forgotten who she was? In the past four months, she had found more people trying their luck with her than ever before. She was Red Robin. There was no way she was taking being shot at lying down. Looking at the three arrows, it wasn’t too difficult for her to see where they had come from.

“Someone’s gonna die tonight,” she sang.

When Amadhay tried to get up, Christein kept her pinned. “Idiot!” he hissed, clamping his hand back over her mouth. “Now they know we’re still here.” When she gave him a look that told him she was going to remove fingers with her next bite, he removed his hand but added, “And I hate to break it to you, but people die all the time, even without our help,” in a hiss.

Another micro-arrow shot into the shadows, as if the archer knew they were there but not quite sure where. It missed them by a foot.

“Do you want to die as well?” she snarled at him, her red eyes glinting.

Christein glanced up, as if seeing something. “No, not so much,” he answered her before standing up. He melted into the darkness of the bricks, using his second Gift to blend in with the wall quickly. “Stay down.”

Amadhay rolled her eyes as well as her body from where Christein had left her. Her hand reached out and snagged the micro-arrow sticking up from the pavement and rolled it between her fingers, waiting. She crawled almost out of the shadows, only enough for Christein to see her and become distracted. She grinned where she knew he was from the slight shift of the smooth wall when he moved.

“Get back,” he ordered. She ignored him, waiting for her chance when another micro-arrow hit the pavement only a hair away where she lay.

“Gotcha,” she whispered, jumping up. Christein reached for her, but a long, silver arrow just barely missed Christein’s head, forcing him to pay attention to his surroundings and take his eyes from her, allowing her to dart up the emergency fireway.

She kept an eye on him as he ducked back down into the shadows, visible once again, and knew when he found that she was no longer where he left her when he hissed her code name. “Red Robin!” She knew he used her full code name to remind her that they were on a mission, his mission. “I’m in charge here! You listen to me.”

She snorted, “Sometimes,” she muttered. “But not this time,” she whispered, shifting in her Gift to give herself an extra push for the running jump she’d need to make it from the smooth ramp of the fireway, onto the rooftop. It was an easy feat, through she had to tuck into a roll to soften the blow of the metal rooftop. She hated this city. The rooftops were made for people to walk across them, which meant that there was no cover when she made it there, especially with the bright light shining into her eyes.

It took her a moment to adapt to the difference in light, and when she did, she stood face to point with a micro-arrow, this one more dangerous than the last with a tranq-shaft and needle head rather than the normal magically imbued steel. Now they were trying to sedate her? She stood slowly, hands up in the air on either side.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” a mature voice told her, making her raise an eyebrow as she took in the sight of a man, most likely human if she had to guess. He had tracking goggles on, which made her grin.

“Good for you,” she stated, glancing away from him, across the rooftop. There was no one else around, but she knew that he hadn’t shot the full arrow. That wasn’t a standard Local Force weapon. It was a specialized one, and since the man in front of her was definitely Local Force, given his full black ensemble with the appropriate golden studs on his belt to indicate he’d been an officer for seventeen years, she doubted he had a pundit weapon on him. Only a recently demoted pundit member would be using the advanced micro-arrows, mostly because BI Weapons Division had only come out with that, particular, one a few months ago.

“Tell your friend to surrender and no one will get hurt.”

“Besides the two arachins and that human, right?” she reminded him with a grin, glancing down to the shadows where her cousin was being suspiciously quiet. Had he left?

“You’re still an innocent in this,” the man started, making Amadhay laugh aloud.

“Oh, that’s good. I needed that,” she joked, smiling at him. No, there was Christein. He had apparently heard her laughing and was now cursing at her. She thought she heard something about obeying order, but she couldn’t be too certain.

“Look, I’m going to make this quick for you, okay?” she smiled sweetly, and just as she was reaching for the arrow she’d stuck in her waistband, another of the long, silver arrows landed between her feet. She raised her eyebrows, looking at the officer before her.

He gave her a fake smile. “My partner isn’t as willing to just take you in as I am.”

She nodded slowly, scanning the rooftop again. “And you, you’re just trying to be a good guy, shooting an unarmed girl right between the eyes.”

As expected, that made the man lower his arrow to her chest. It wouldn’t hurt any less if he shot her there, and considering it was only a sedative, it didn’t matter either way, but it gave her a slightly better time to react. She just needed to find his partner, because even at her speed, one of those micro-arrows shot in such a short distance, and with such little room for her to avoid it, would probably hit. She saw something shift out of the corner of her eye, but it wasn’t a Local Force given there was color, so she ignored it and instead focused ahead of her. The other had to be somewhere ahead of her to have made that shot.

“Well, my partner seems to think that you’re more dangerous than you look.”

She raised her eyebrows, looking to around. “Me? I’m just having a little fun.”

He nodded down to the bodies and Christein, who was leaning against a wall, in plain sight. “That fun for you?” he asked before holding up another micro-arrow, this one with a nasty looking mixture in the shaft, dead-vampire venom. Dead-vampire venom would probably drop her in less than a second if even a drop got into her system. Apparently, he wasn’t falling for her innocent girl tricks. “Would this be fun for you?”

There, she thought, spotting something behind the closest lightbeam. That was why she couldn’t see them, because they were hiding in her blindspot. She wasn’t sure if it was luck or if they had recognized her sensitive sight to be her weakness. Either way, it didn’t really matter now that she’d found them.

Again, she smiled sweetly. “Well, I can’t say this has been fun. And it’ll probably really suck for you, but thanks for playing.”

Two micro-arrows were loosed at the same time, hitting right where she’d been standing. She teleported away, to the partner, and easily slit the woman’s throat with the sharpest edge of the micro-arrow, pausing after to stare at the blood on her neck before closing her eyes and stamping her magical three-fingered claw mark on her face to claim the kill. It was all very quick, quick enough that the man hadn’t even turned yet. She closed the distance between them in a click with her Gift and paused for a moment, the arrow lifted to his throat.

“No, please,” he started to beg, but Amadhay didn’t feel like listening. She kicked his legs from under him, making him fall backwards, not wanting to stab him in the throat. One was enough for the night. He dropped his bow and she picked it up, using the quick shoot setting to shoot him with his own micro-arrows until he stopped moving. At that point, she kicked him a few times to make sure he was truly dead before stepping back, bow still in hand.

She checked the macro holder to see that there were still a few micro-arrows in the system. With a grin, she lazily aimed and shot them in Christein’s general vicinity. None of them came close to him, but that didn’t make him less irritated.

 “Red!” he yelled, and she could her how irritated he was, which made her decide to just leave the weapon and rejoin him. “If you’re the one fucking shooting me, you’re dead.”

Amadhay reappeared just out of his reach, purposely looking as sweet as possible, attempting to coax a laugh from him. “Me?” she asked innocently, hopping back when he made to grab her.

“We’re leaving now,” he ordered, glancing nervously back at the silver tipped arrow that had barely missed him.

“Okay,” she responded, not sure why he seemed so nervous. She had taken out the first responders. They had time before any more Local Force showed up and nothing to connect them to the crime given how no blood had stained their clothes. All they had to do was walk away.

“I’m not playing. Don’t make me have to carry you,” Christein warned.

She held up her hands in defense. “I won’t. I’m right behind you,” she promised. But when he disappeared, most likely teleporting back to base to report his findings, she stayed where she was. His mission was over and she didn’t have to listen to him anymore.

“What is his problem?” she asked no one, walking away from the scene. When there was only silence in response, she rolled her eyes, pushing her hair back against the wind as she made it down the abandoned block, heading for the safe house to pick up her clothes. This part of Ratigattan was always so deserted and she couldn’t help but feel like it was made for a good murder drop off, especially considering almost every job she’d had in this city had led her here. Pushing murder from her mind, she looked at her wrist DS to call Lizumeizei. It was weving night the following night and she wanted to know if she could come over sooner, like that evening, and just spend the night and day with him. She smiled when she got to the image of her cat-kin and she clicked on his icon to call him.

Suddenly, a full sized arrow zoomed past her, slicing a lock of her hair in half. She watched as it dropped down to the ground. She stared at it, feeling a stabbing pain in her chest, a tell-tale sign that something had gone terribly wrong and she was asymmetrical. She ended the call before it connected to Lizumeizei’s DS.

“I’m about to give someone a slow and painful death,” she said, glaring now at the arrow that had made her imperfect. She noted that the tip of the arrowhead was silver while the rest was a normal wood. It was definitely different from the tiny micro-arrows that had been zooming at them previously, but it also wasn’t the same silver one that had been shot at Christein either. This was made to kill, not tranquilize and capture.

Christein snickered from the shadows, becoming visible where he was leaning. He looked casual, but there was a tension in his body that made her think he was ready to run. “Bet you wish you had followed orders, huh? Little Miss Perfect ain’t so perfect now.”

“YOU ARE DEAD!” Amadhay roared, fighting both the urge to kill her most beloved cousin and the urge to find the broken hairs and tear them all out. She could fix her hair later.

Christein held both of his hands in the air so that she could see he had no arrows. “Hey, I didn’t do it,” he immediately replied, knowing how serious Amadhay might be about honestly killing him. “I know how you are about symmetry, remember?”

She did. Christein had once had the most perfectly symmetrical face Amadhay had ever seen. He had been verging on pretty. He had been the one to indulge her need for symmetry as a child because he understood it where the rest of their family didn’t. She still wasn’t completely sure what had happened, but she knew the basics of the story. Christein had propositioned one of Amaya’s servants—or friend as she truly was—because she was so cute. Blu, the girl, had decided the best way to say no was to cut his face. He was now left with several different jagged claw marks on his face, going from almost the center of his forehand and diagonally down to his ear, straight across his cheek and to the bridge of his nose, and a single one cutting right through his lip. The cat-kin had almost blinded him in his right eye. All of his symmetrical beauty was gone, instead replaced with rough skin where the scar had healed with thicker skin, making him look dangerous instead of pretty, a fact he tended to hide by brushing his hair over that side of his face.

 Amadhay had a vague acquaintanceship with Blu, vague in that she worked as Amaya’s servant and thus, had been under Amadhay’s scope of interest, regardless of her being the light Herald. Honestly, the two of them had never really gotten along though there had never been any real animosity between them. There had been no real feelings either way until she had come back from the Madra job and first seen Christein with those scars marring his face. She hated anyone who could willingly ruin something of such symmetrical beauty as Christein’s face had once been. Honestly, she just hated anyone who would dare hurt her cousin in general.

Amadhay was brought back to the present danger and hatred when another silver tipped arrow sliced through the skin on her left arm. Christein was luckier, having jumped as soon as one of the arrows shot into the wall an inch from his face.

“Shit,” he muttered, glaring at it as if willing it to change.

“Whoever is shooting at me had better stop!” Amadhay warned. She hated arrows. They were always harder to avoid than bullets because they made so little sound until it was too late to move.

“Red, we need to leave. Now,” Christein ordered softly, reaching for her.

She moved away from him, squinting in an attempt to see the rooftops. It was too late for her to just leave. Someone had to pay. “I’m going to kill you either way for ruining my hair, but I may show some leniency.”

A scoff came from high up, probably where the shooting was coming from. “Ooh, so scared,” another girl’s voice rang out, tauntingly. “Scared of a hair-drama faie. Come at me then.”

Amadhay started, looking in surprise to Christein. That voice had sounded alarmingly like one she knew very well. His pained expression told her that he already knew. Before he could respond to her, two figures dropped down, with one in front of Amadhay and the other in front of Christein, separating the two.

A familiar feline-kin girl looked down sharply, her eyes glowing strangely behind a pair of goggles. She tried to fan-kick Amadhay, who easily dodged, but still knocked the aelfe down with a bright clap of light right in front of her face. There were few people who could use light in its pure form.

“Christein. I should’ve known,” a male voice hissed. There was yet another voice Amadhay recognized. She groped at the ground, trying to get back up, but someone, who she was sure was the cat-kin, kicked her back down.

“Cur,” she hissed, but waited until she could see without blotches in her vision before trying anything again.

The first thing she saw was Christein throw a punch and get blocked by a man whose back was to her, his dark hair pulled into a loose braid. “What are you doing here, Hynnkel?” he demanded, obviously pointedly trying to keep the man’s back to Amadhay. She tried to get to her hands and knees, but the cat-kin knocked her back down, this time to her back.

“Just trying to clean the streets of filth,” Hynnkel’s voice shot back, sounding disgusted

Amadhay froze, her muscles tensing. If that really was Hynnkel, and it was, then the still hidden archer most definitely was Amaya, her sister. The same sister who she had utterly betrayed nearly a year ago, before faking her own death. The same sister who had sworn that the next time she saw her without Nolando around would be her last breath. Amadhay kicked the cat-kin away from her and another silver-tipped arrow hit the ground alarmingly close to her head.

“Don’t you hurt my Blu-belle!” Amaya called out.

She caught Christein looking past Hynnkel, to Blu, who stiffened when she glanced up and caught him. Amadhay’s eyes narrowed as she managed to kick off of the ground and up to her feet, never taking her eyes off of the auburn haired girl. In that instant, the thought of just teleporting away completely disappeared from her mind. She now had the chance to deal with Blu, the “cute cat-girl” who kept catching both Benjy and Christein’s attentions. She recognized her in a recognition of scent and coloring way, since puberty had definitely hit her hard, carving an attractive, pale, round face with pink lips, long, muscular legs, a chest larger than her own, and generous curves that never for a moment made her look anything close to cute. She wondered if Benjy would still call the catgirl cute when she was dead. She shot up and at Blu faster than anyone else could move.

Anyone other than Hynnkel, that is. She always forgot his ability to stop time. Suddenly Hynnkel was between them, his reaction time faster than anyone she had ever met, with his lips pulled back in a vicious snarl. “Leave her alone!” he growled.

Amadhay stopped short, her hair going forward into his face. “Woah,” she said softly, wondering how aware he had to have been of the entire situation to know what she had been about to attempt. No one had ever been able to stop her when she used her gift to full capacity, not since she had found the ultimate speed Sha’adahk had been trying to train into her. The wind suddenly stopped, making her hair fall.

“Kitty’s got bite,” she joked with a smirk before punching Hynnkel in the chest with a glowing red hand. He went falling back into Blu even though she was sure that she had only been able to graze him. The shape of her fist was scorched into his shirt, but it hadn’t burned through the fabric, meaning it hadn’t touched his skin. She faltered when his eyes widened, studying her face and she became aware that she wasn’t wearing her mask. It, like all the rest of her sneaksuit, was at the safe house. This wasn’t the first time in the past few months that she’d made this kind of mistake. It was the first time that it could really hurt her.

“Mayday?” Hynnkel spoke, staring up at Amadhay in stunned disbelief. Amadhay quickly looked away from him, hoping he would convince himself that she wasn’t herself, just as another arrow sliced through her hair.

At the sound of a thud, Amadhay glanced back in time to see Amaya hopping from the roof, onto a fireway across the street from her. Her sister chose another one hiding place in the shadows, closer this time, but Amadhay kept her eye on her, easily seeing her in her bright colors through the darkness of the poorly lit street.

“Step away from them, or the next arrow will be in your forehead,” Amaya ordered. She turned her bow at a slant and added another arrow. “And Christein. So nice to see you. Move and you’ll get one in your shoulder. ‘cause you’re family.”

Amadhay rolled her eyes, glancing back to Hynnkel, who still hadn’t taken his eyes off of her. “I can move faster than your arrows, idiot,” she snapped, glancing back to Amaya just as Blu pounced from behind Hynnkel, pinning her to the ground. She mentally cursed at herself for her inattention as her head hit the pavement.

“Good luck with that,” Amaya retorted sarcastically, and Amadhay watched her feet come forward, out of the shadows so that she was completely visible. “Hynnky. You okay?” she asked, making Amadhay glance at him again. He was still on the ground, his back to Christein, whose eyes were on Amaya and her bow. He had an easy target, but Amaya never missed, so she hoped he wouldn’t attempt anything.

“Fine,” Hynnkel spat to Amaya, standing up. He clenched his jaw as he gently pressed his fingers where Amadhay had punched him and bits of fabric fell away under his fingers, revealing his unmarked chest. He didn’t move any closer, but he looked down at Amadhay with a constrained anger. “We thought you were dead,” he accused her. She squirmed under Blu, the superior weight of the cat-kin keeping her effectively pinned, and considered putting a last click glamour up, but recognized that it was already too late. “Where have you be—”

Christein interrupted him by plunging a knife into Hynnkel’s side. “Shut up, you piece of shit.”

Amadhay and Blu both moved at the same time. Blu sat up, forgetting to hold onto Amadhay and instead turning to help Hynnkel. She didn’t get anywhere however, because Amadhay pulled one of the blades Christein had given her from the sheath in her sleeve and stabbed Blu in the back, aiming for the spine but just missing when an arrow came at her and she had to move. She shoved Blu off of her and rolled away to miss being shot. She felt a second arrow just barely miss her face as she rolled to the wall.

Blu cried out and dropped down, falling onto her side. Amaya didn’t say anything, but another arrow flew at Amadhay, nearly hitting her as she forced herself to her feet. Hynnkel tilted his head back, gritting his teeth as he fought Christein to get the serrated blade out of his side. He could have easily used any of his Gifts to beat Christein back, but his focus was on getting to Blu, not fighting his brother anymore and that gave Christein the upper hand. Amaya wouldn’t shoot at him, not with Hynnkel that close. She might have been able to shoot him, but it was far more likely that Christein would use his brother as a shield if she did.

Christein tugged the knife out and glanced at Amadhay, who was pulling a second blade out as she used her Gift to avoid another of Amaya’s arrows, “Finish her off now, Red,” he ordered, stabbing Hynnkel again, but not able to get it as deep this time, now that Hynnkel was expecting it. “While Hynnkel’s down!”

The brothers struggled and then Christein’s back was to Amadhay. She moved from the wall and then had Blu by the hair, holding her just so that she could use her as a shield against any of Amaya’s arrows. Immediately, the arrows stopped coming, which allowed Amadhay to focus on the cat-kin. Before that, though, she made eye contact with Amaya, pulling her friend’s head back so that she could see the fear in both of the girl’s eyes. Looking down to Blu’s pained face, Amadhay felt a warmth that always came with this. Blu was panicking and forgetting everything she could be doing, which made Amadhay smirk. She loved that look, the moment of absolute fear right before she killed someone, when their entire body was giving the acknowledgement that it was the end for them.

Amadhay had the knife to Blu’s throat hard enough to draw a line of blood on the girl’s porcelain skin. She gripped the knife harder, staring at the line, feeling her breath quicken. She tensed her muscles to slit her throat, but paused again, just long enough to miss her chance.  

“Now, Amaya!” Hynnkel barked, making Amaya loose arrow after arrow, the first one embedding itself into Christein’s shoulder.

At Christein’s cry, Amadhay dropped Blu, turning to see what had happened to him. She stood staring at the arrow in his shoulder long enough that she just barely missed getting an arrow shot through her hand. She dropped the knife and moved away from Blu, as the barrage of arrow was forcing. Amaya was trying to force her back against the wall, but Amadhay didn’t let her, instead using her Gift to speed through the arrow and to Christein’s side.

“Sorry, Baron,” she whispered, keeping Hynnkel, Amaya, and Blu all in her vision. Amaya notched another arrow and Amadhay knew that this one was aimed at her eye. If she allowed herself to, she could take out Amaya easily, but she wasn’t going to, and that made the entire situation incredibly dangerous for her and Christein because her sister didn’t have the same hold back. She ignored Hynnkel as he tried to tug Christein’s knife from his side, deciding that he was no longer a threat. Her only worry was getting Christein safe from the arrows. Hynnkel and Blu were distracted with their own hurts, but Amaya wasn’t. “But our lives come before ending hers, and that archer is dangerous.”

Christein gestured angrily towards Amaya, who was slowly but surely coming closer to them.“It’s just Amaya. You know sh—”

Suddenly Hynnkel’s short sword was all the way through Christein. Amadhay hadn’t even seen him pull it, much less get close enough to them to cut Christein down. Christein dropped when Hynnkel let go of the sword, falling to the pavement with his face making a horrible crack against it.

Hynnkel pinned Amadhay against the wall before she could so much as breathe, his hand around her throat. He didn’t squeeze, but there was something in his eyes that she’d only seen once before, when he’d been cursed. He didn’t say anything, only stared at her with a strange shadow in his eyes.

“What is it with men pinning me against walls today?” She tried to sound brave, but all she could think was Oh Goddess, Monkey. Is he alright? He’s regenerating, right? It will heal, right? He’ll be fine, right?

He slapped her hard enough to make her cheek hit the wall. It was the opposite cheek that Christein had slapped earlier and this slap made her eyes tear. Before he could react, her grabbed her face and turned it so that she was looking at him again. “She had better not be dead, Amadhay. And don’t pretend you’re not Amadhay, because I know you are.”

“Hynnky!” Amaya called from where Blu had fallen. Amadhay and Hynnkel didn’t look away from each other, though Amaya’s voice did seem to make the shadow back away and his mahogany eyes were a little softer, but still angry, still dangerous. “The stab was off. She’s bleeding pretty bad, but it’s not fatal if we get her to Squirrel.”

She tried to punch him in the side where Christein had stabbed him but he caught her hand with ease. “If Red Baron is dead,” she hissed when he slammed her hand against the wall. “I will start with Goggles, go to Archer, and then save your death for last.” Even as frightened as she had to admit she was, she was serious with the threat. She didn’t care that she had promised herself that she would never hurt Amaya again. She couldn’t see Christein over Hynnkel, but she thought she could just hear his wet breaths. He wasn’t crying out anymore, and she didn’t know what that meant.

“If you kill those two, I will take your fucking soul,” he threatened her, the shadow coming back full force and a strange red began to take over his eyes.

Amadhay watched the red with no fear. “I don’t have one left to take,” she stated simply, remembering the last thing Hlala had said to her. You are so covered in bad that your astral is almost gone. You’re barely even alive anymore. What happened to you?

Hynnkel leaning into Amaya until the red coated his entire eyeball, unlike her own simply over her irises, was all she could see. Images began playing through her mind.

There was a baby, a beautiful little girl with olive skin and a head covered by curly, black hair. She was suddenly aware it was her. There was a smoky fog reaching for the baby, crooning for her to help it. The baby reached out and a dark shadow smothered her hand, tried to follow the little hand up to her tiny face until she opened sky blue eyes. It dropped away from her.

The image disappeared and she stared at Hynnkel for less than a click that seemed like an eternity before another image hit her.

It was Amadhay again, a little girl dressed in all pink, the color of the soul Splinter, for a funeral. She had been to so many funerals, but this one was the funeral of her parents, she was suddenly sure. She stared at the ashes as they were thrown into the air. She wasn’t crying, but staring. Christein stood beside her, holding her hand. “It’s alright if you wanna cry,” he told her, but wouldn’t look at her.

She had simply stared at the ashes. “Why would I cry? Everyone dies.”

She took a deep breath and tried to fight away from Hynnkel, but she didn’t get anywhere.

Little Amadhay stared at a bird whose wing was broken. Hynnkel’s voice came out. “We can take it to the healers.”

She frowned and looked at him. “But then the snake won’t get food.” She pointed at the large snake slithering toward the frightened creature. She smiled. “That wouldn’t be fair.”

“Stop it,” she started to cry.

An older Amadhay lay in her bed, her head on top of a book of spells. She was muttering learned words in her sleep, summoning words. “Darelevan,” the dark voice whispered to her sleeping form. She kept muttering and a red fog started toward her. It was on her lips when her eyes snapped open. The sky blue was beginning to get a hint of red. She looked around, but the red fog was leaving her.

She focused all of her power on the words she needed. She couldn’t say it, because he had a feeling that speaking the curse aloud wouldn’t do her any good, she needed it at its full strength. The red eyes regarded her with amusement.

“You are mine.” The words echoed.

“Hynnky, she’s doing something weird…” Amaya warned.

A purple mist was beginning to form around Amadhay. She was determined to get out of this. The red eyes regarded her for a moment before Hynnkel’s lips slammed against hers. Amadhay gasped and Hynnkel opened his mouth. Amadhay felt herself choking on something, something shoving its way inside of her but she couldn’t stop it.

“What are you doing!” Amaya yelled, tugging on Hynnkel.

The last dregs of whatever Hynnkel had given her caught in her throat, but went down as Hynnkel was pulled back by Amaya, who was suddenly given the task of holding up the man who was a foot taller and close to twice her weight.

Amadhay stumbled away, falling to her knees. She could see Christein. Someone, she supposed that it had probably been Amaya, had removed the sword from his body. There was so much blood.

“A…Amadhay?” he whispered, opening his eyes only a bit. He coughed up blood.

Amadhay crawled to him as Amaya got Hynnkel to lean against the wall. Amadhay wrapped her arms around Christein gently, nuzzling her head into the crook of his neck. She held in a scream when a new arrow pierced her back.

Christein moaned. “Amadhay, I, I can’t hold on.”

“It’ll be okay, Monkey,” she promised softly as she teleported them away.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which Christein deserved it



“What is going on?” Christein demanded, gripping the arm of a new, young member as a loud sound of an explosion came from the medical bay.

“Someone is destroying the med bay!” the red haired girl squeaked. She quivered, frightened out of her mind and he gave her arm a hard squeeze to get her attention.

“Is anyone down there?”

“Rea for sure, but I was the only one there with her when the woman started attacking.” She flinched, glancing back toward the medical wings as another loud boom came from that direction.

Christein’s eyes narrowed. “You abandoned her?”

“She told me to!” she squealed. “She told me to go find Red Robin. To tell her that her cyborg woke up.”

Christein nodded and let go of the girl. “Good. Go find her then. Get Ghost Sparrow too.”

The moment he was no longer holding her, she ran off like a frightened rabbit, which irritated him. She would be useless to them if she panicked at the first sign of danger. He mentally made note to look into her training.

But not this moment.

He continued to di Carlime’s medical wing, taking care to be as silent as possible so that he didn’t give away his position until he was ready. He could still hear the sounds that, now that he knew it was a cyborg, could associate with lasers. That was a good sign. If the cyborg had already killed di Carlime, there would be no reason for her to continue wasting energy shooting with no target. Reaching for his pistol holster, he became aware that he had come into a cyborg-dragon fight without his own weapons. That was incredibly stupid.

Cursing himself, he began to retreat, but didn’t make it far when the sound of a laser boomed right next to him and the wall crumbled. Luckily, he was able to dodge out of the way and wasn’t hurt. Unfortunately, he was now out in the open and the cyborg was standing right on the other side of the debris.

He stayed still as she moved through the hole of the wall, watching her as she strode forward. She almost passed right by him, but for some reason her attention jerked from her intended path down the hallway and to him.

“Hakinato,” she spat, focusing on him.

Weaponless, he couldn’t think of anything to do but kick at her, so he did. The moment his foot made contact with her body, pain blossomed. The metal grafts cyborgs used in place of skin were, without any doubt, superior to his fleshy foot, even when covered by his thick soled, metal-toed boots.

She scoffed, grabbing him by the throat and pulling him up from the ground. “I’m not supposed to kill anyone, but I’m sure Atlas will make an exception for one of the Hakinato’s,” she mused, a cruel smirk on her lips.

He listened as her lasers warmed up. A standard cyborg laser modification took four clicks to warm up. One click. Two clicks. Three clicks. Fo—the cyborg was hit from behind and dropped Christein, turning her laser at the last click to a new target. She missed. Instead, di Carlime came rushing at her, fire blowing from her mouth even as she ran forward.

Christein watched the cyborg move almost as fast as Amadhay could when using her Gift, but even that wasn’t fast enough to avoid the dragon’s fire when it was going as wide as it was. Christein thought he was lucky not to be hit by the fire, himself. While the cyborg was busy fighting di Carlime, Christein made it back to his feet and backed away from the fight. There was nothing he could do, pistol-less and taser-less. He had loaned Amadhay his taser earlier and now was regretting doing that without knowing when and where she was going to drop the Palnokian cyborg. All of this could have been avoided if Amadhay had followed proper procedure for capture of more powerful people, especially when said person was Atlas Palnoki’s own bodyguard.

Speaking of Amadhay, Christein thought, where on Resor is she? The scared girl had run off to find her nearly five clacks ago, definitely enough time for Amadhay to have heard that something was going on down here and come to check it out. This was her specialty, taking down more difficult creatures that were altered from natural in some way. She was good at taking them apart, most likely from all the time she spent with Ben and di Carlime. For that matter, where was Ben? He would have been just as good as Amadhay in this situation, having more knowledge from his extended life than most of the rest of the Phoegani put together (with the possible exception of Darach. Darach probably knew more than Ben).

Regardless, neither of them were there to back him up, so he needed to think up a game plan because di Carlime was running out of air. He could see it, and if he could see it, he was sure the cyborg could too. The moment di Carlime was out of breath, she’d stop spewing fire, and the moment that happened, she would be at the mercy of the cyborg. If the cyborg took out di Carlime, he could be sure that he was a dead man.

He looked around him for something to use against the cyborg, but only saw debris of the walls and medical supplies like bandages, gauze, and syringes. None of those would help him, he decided, though he did linger on the syringes. He assumed that somewhere on the cyborg, she had normal skin instead of metal grafts covered by fake flesh. All cyborgs did; he assumed it reminded them of a time when they weren’t more machine than Goddess-bodied creatures. It didn’t matter, though, because not only would it be a guessing game trying to determine where her skin was real flesh, but he had to find something to put into the syringe and he didn’t like his odds. Christein felt that he had no other choice. He ran at the cyborg, expecting that the surprise attack would work best.

He was right. He slammed into the cyborg just in time, because di Carlime finally had to take a breath, and the cyborg had been so focused on the dragon that she hadn’t been expecting him to knock her down. But he did. The force of his body slamming into hers made them fall into the debris of the wall.

There was one problem though: Christein was on fire. Even though he knew that he would regenerate, the fact the he was on fire was an all-consuming thought. He writhed on top of the cyborg, who was trying to push him off, but for every inch she gained from him, his struggles kept her down. The fire was burning his flesh, but it was only burning her clothes and hair until finally, she tossed him off of her and he was able to roll to extinguish the flames.

“Did you really think that would hurt me?” she taunted, getting to her feet.

“Not,” he panted, “Really.” His body was already growing new skin to replace the burned one.

“Then what did you really think that would accomplish?” the cyborg demanded.

“This,” the seemingly forgotten di Carlime stated before jamming a syringe into the cyborg’s exposed real flesh side, where there were slight burns. She emptied the liquid into her body. Almost immediately, the red-haired woman began to seize, falling back down to her knees and then to her face. She shook for a few clicks before all movement ceased.

Christein sat up slowly, wincing at the tightness of his new skin. “Is she down?” he asked.

“She should be. I just put enough tranquilizers in her to take down a Feral six times her size,” di Carlime responded blandly, her eyes already moving to discern the damage done to her wing. “Where is Amadhay?”

“I don’t know,” Christein immediately responded, which was his automatic response to that question. At the look the dragon gave him, a look that said she would rip him a new one if he didn’t answer her seriously, he held his hands up. “I honestly don’t know. Last I heard from her, she was going after her,” he jerked his thumb at the fallen woman. “That was zoots ago.”

“I don’t like this,” di Carlime muttered, eyeing the body thoughtfully.

Christein snickered disdainfully. “What is there to like? Your wing is trashed. We have a drugged, incredibly dangerous cyborg out for only Goddess knows how long. And who knows where Ben or Amadhay are. They should have been here if they were on base, but obviously they aren’t.”

“Well I don’t know how true all that is,” a male voice drawled from behind him. By the time Christein had turned full circle, di Carlime was being tasered. He watched her go down before looking to the man who had done it.

He was obviously a dead-vampire, if his iris-less, black eyes and the blood drying on the side of his mouth were anything to go by. The blonde hair and high-crowned hat fit the description Ben had given of the vampire Amadhay was supposed to be bringing in. For the moment they stared at each other, Christein couldn’t help but to wonder if any of the captives Amadhay had brought in today had been properly detained. He was going to guess not.

“How’s that reboot going, Scarlet?” the vampire asked, looking to the cyborg but not making a move toward Christein. Christein didn’t make any moves either. He knew when he was outclassed. He had no weapons on him and his body was already hurting from its last healing. Even at his peak and with his pistol, he doubted he would have been a match for a dead-vampire, especially one who had recently eaten.

“Slow,” the cyborg slurred.

“Are you going to need help getting up or is it going faster than that? Atlas just called us all in to the gate.”

“Di’n’t get whad I needed,” she muttered.

“Then what the Water were you doing? Playing peek-a-boo?” the vampire demanded in irritation. “I’ll have Tenshu grab it on his way out.”

Grab what? Christein thought. He started to back away, thinking that the attention was off of him enough that he might be able to get out.

“Tsk, tsk. Where do you think you’re going?” the vampire asked Christein, turning his unsettling, large-pupiled eyes back to him. He playfully squeezed the taser, making it light up menacingly. “I still have plans for you.”

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which riff learns something



“There is a Palnoki member trussed up in my office, and I want to know why. What happened?” The Lord Pheoganis, Arne Riffle Hakinato, roared.

Amadhay and Christein both straightened up, Amadhay averting her eyes in hopes the man wouldn’t see that she had been close to crying. Arne Riffle approached the duo, merely glancing to the limp body over Christein’s shoulder before focusing his cerulean blue eyes on Christein. “Debrief,” he ordered as his security detail lined up behind him.

Amadhay swallowed quickly before stepping forward to indicate that it was her mission. “Base and I went to gather Skeletal Smile, Palnoki’s Wrangler, and Borg Queen. We were apprehending the two men when Base was,” her voice caught in her throat and she glanced to Benjy’s body. An impatient noise from Arne Riff made her eyes snap forward. “He was attacked. I fell his attacker, the necromancer, and we put him in your office. But Benjy…” she cleared her throat. “Base is dead,” she finished, her words hard. Her normal stoic face for debriefing their leader was showing cracks and she hated it. She couldn’t stop herself from glancing back to Benjy’s body, however, noting the stiffness of him.

“Benjym Base is already—” he looked from Amadhay to the body over Christein’s shoulder, this time looking to the light brown hair, hair that should have been black. “Oh.” He glanced back down to Amadhay, this time catching her eyes focused on the body and she mentally cursed herself for being caught. “Oh. Get the necromancer, then, and have him unsealed.”

“Yes, sir,” Amadhay replied instantly, moving to the office before the words left her lips.

Christein tried to keep up with her, but she inevitably made it to the office first, storming into the room and grabbing the Palnoki member by his shoulders, pulling him up. She kicked him in the stomach before he could register surprise at her abrupt entrance. The man coughed, his gag suspiciously missing, and fell back, eyeing her in mute surprise. It all happened in a matter of clicks and by the time his body fully hit the ground, Christein was at the door.

When Christein entered, she backed from the necromancer at the pointed look her cousin gave her. Behind him, Arne Riff entered the room, eyes first going to the man laying on the floor, breathing hard but cursing viciously, and then to the girl, standing as far from the necromancer as she could.

“Well?” he demanded, cutting his eyes from Amadhay, to Christein. Christein set Benjy’s body gently on the floor beside Skeletal Smile and Amadhay started toward the body. When she noted that her uncle was watching her, she, instead, crossed her arms over her chest,  and pressed her back against the wall, attempting to appear less invested in Benjy’s revival.

“Unseal him. Now,” Amadhay ordered from her corner.

Christein moved back to stand beside his father, watching the scene dispassionately. She understood why he appeared not to care about Benjy, even though it bothered her. He was doing the same thing she was trying to do and having much more success. He didn’t want Arne Riff to have any reason to question any of their actions. He was trying to cover for her, just like always.

Skeletal Smile wiggled his tied arms behind his back, looking to Amadhay, who narrowed her eyes. Her body seemed to move out of sync with her mind before her mind slammed back into place when she tried to use her Gift to move to the necromancer with ultraspeed. She glanced at Arne Riff, who looked at her expectantly. She always forgot that she couldn’t use her Gift around him until she tried.

Either way, the jolt made her feel slightly better, if a little sore. She tried not to show the pain radiating down her spine as she moved behind Skeletal Smile, leaning down to untie his hands. When her hair fell, hiding both her and Skeletal Smile’s faces from the view of the men standing in the doorway, she wondered when her ponytail had come undone.

Using the obstructed view to her benefit, she put her lips to Skeletal Smile’s ear as her hand lightly glowed a heated red. She pressed it to his back, letting the warmth of her power seep into the burn at the top of his shoulder from her earlier blast. “You fix him, or I will kill you so slowly that you’ll wish Lord Phoeganis had you,” she whispered before backing up, letting the rope fall to the floor behind him.

The red was actually a quick spell she had learned to heat her meals and couldn’t get any warmer than her body temperature. While her body temperature was warmer than his was, it certainly wasn’t going to hurt him, but he didn’t know that. He didn’t know that she didn’t know any quick or subtle lethal spells, and she certainly wasn’t going to tell him that.

She glanced at Arne Riff and Christein, both of whom were eyeing her suspiciously, though Christein’s eyes held a warning for her. Giving them a quick nod, she was back in her corner by the time Skeletal Smile put one of his hands to Benjy’s chest.

Skeletal Smile looked at Amadhay and, keeping eye contact with her, he moved his fingers around, as if he were gently massaging Benjy’s chest. He quirked a challenging eyebrow at her, which she responded to by narrowing her eyes threateningly. She didn’t like the way he seemed to be taunting her when she was the one with the power. He didn’t know it, but that was the moment he became her personal problem. One that she was going to exterminate as soon as her Benjy was alive again.

When a dry heaving came from Benjy’s body, she broke eye contact with Tanhakinshu. The most noticeable thing, aside from the breathing, was the darkening of Benjy’s hair. While not black, it was losing its color, desaturating to a gray. His eyes were screwed tightly shut, which gave her hope. Those unseeing green eyes had been disturbing for her in a way that nothing else had been.

The breathing came easier as the silver blade reappeared in his chest as if it had never dematerialized. Amadhay made eye contact with the necromancer once again, and his hand slowly trailed up the blade, as if taunting her.

‘You’re welcome,’ Tanhakinshu mouthed before he gripped the handle of the blade. Yes, it was far too personal to think of him as his codename any longer. He was officially Tanhakinshu to her, an enemy of Amadhay, not the Phoegani’s Red Robin.

She flinched when he pulled the blade out of the phantom’s chest and shot forward. Ready to hurt the necromancer, she shoved Tanhakinshu away, in the direction of the door. However, when the phantom began to inhale, she forgot all about the other man and dropped to her knees at his side, eyes widening as his chest rose and fell once, twice.

She only had eyes for Benjy. Her Benjy, whose hair and eyes were black again, whose skin was still pale as porcelain, but warm again. Benjy was coughing, lying there on the floor, very much alive,  again, or at least as close as he was going to get. She held her breath when he stopped coughing and just laid there, unmoving.

“Benjy,” she said, gripping his hand. “Benjy?” She asked worriedly when he stayed limp. He squeezed her hand weakly. “You’re okay!” she exclaimed, sniffling back a cry. “Goddess and Escort, you’re alive,” she whispered.

There came a disgusted noise from the door. She wasn’t sure if it came from Christein or his father, and she didn’t care. She heard shuffling and a cry from the necromancer which she assumed to mean that they were leaving her alone with Benjy.

“Ama…Amadhay…” he coughed again, putting the hand she was holding to his head. His skin was still paler than normal, but warmer now.

She swallowed back a sob, making herself stronger. “Yeah, Benjy. It’s me,” she responded, placing a kiss to his forehead. “Are you okay?” she asked.

He groaned. “It hurts.” She heard the door close firmly. She didn’t look up.

“Benjy,” she closed her eyes, “I am so happy you’re still alive.”

“Comparatively,” he joked, looking at her. “Hey now,” he said slowly, forcing himself to sit up. “You’ve been crying.”

“Allergies,” she lied with a shrug. She knew that he knew that she didn’t have any allergies that affected her eyes, but hoped he would just let it go. He did, though she could guess that it had more to do with the apparent exhaustion it was being brought back from the dead than because he took her signal.

“I think I’m going to just nap here for a moment.”

“You probably don’t want to do that,” Christein said, making Amadhay start. She looked up to find him still standing at the door, his face expressionless. “Lord Phoeganis is going to want his office back sometime soon.”

Benjy’s eyes snapped open. “I’m in Arne Riff’s office?” he demanded.

Amadhay nodded. “We had the necromancer in here so—”

“You got Skeletal Smile? What about the vampire?”

Amadhay shook her head. “I had to—”

“You let Hunnigan get away?” he demanded, suddenly appearing to feel better enough to take issue with her decisions.

Benjy,” she protested. “You were dead.”

Benjy paused, taking in her expression. He looked past her, to Christein, who was still expressionless, but he nodded at Benjy. “You can’t just fail your missions like that,” Benjy scolded her softly, turning his head back to face her. Amadhay let go of him with a slow nod. Benjy started to apologize when he saw her face close up, but she didn’t give him a chance to speak.

“No. You’re right. I shouldn’t have saved you,” she snapped. “I should have just gone after Hunnigan. And then found Johannes. And then interrogated them. Then I should have gone back and made the necromancer fix you.”

It was true. She recognized the truth the moment she said the words. Both Benjy and Christein watched as the realization came over her that he could have been unsealed at a later time. She had failed a mission for no reason other than her emotions. She stood up and moved robotically to the door, ignoring Benjy’s calls after her. Christein gave her a long look before allowing her to pass him.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay hurts christein



Only after calling in to his information operative with the basic details about them having Skeletal Smile, Ben needing assistance, and that he was going out into the field to help Red Robin, did Christein allow her to pull him back with her to where she had left Ben.

She couldn’t be bothered to care that the vampire was gone, though Christein was vocal about it. He checked the area quickly before returning back to where she was sitting with Ben’s corpse.

“Did you even incapacitate him before leaving?” he wanted to know, but when he looked at her, he choked back more rebukes. She was just sitting there, holding the hand of a dead body, staring at empty eyes as if waiting for them to light up with life again.

He could just look at Ben and know that he was dead. He had seen paintings of Ben before he’d become a phantom and the dark green eyes and light brown hair fit the description. The only explanation for him to have returned to his original coloring, minus the still deathly pale skin, was that he was dead. Or rather, that he was truly dead. Still, for Amadhay, he kneeled on the other side of her and checked for a pulse. “Gone,” he sighed, pulling his hand back and looking at her. “He’s dead. I’m sorry.”

Amadhay simply shook her head as if it didn’t matter. “It’s a seal. It can be undone. I, we, have Skeletal Smile. He is at my mercy for at least twenty more clacks. He will undo it.”

Christein chose not to question what would happen in twenty clacks. He preferred plausible deniability when it came to his younger cousin. “He might not come back,” he whispered instead, taking her hand from the corpse and holding it between both of his.

She needed to know that. Once phantoms were sealed by a necromancer, it was rare that they came back. It either took an incredibly strong necromancer to force it or a strong desire from the phantom to continue with this existence. He wouldn’t lie that he doubted Ben had that draw. Ben wasn’t with anyone, his only friends (as far as Christein could tell) were him and Amadhay (and it was pushing it to call him Ben’s friend), he was in a job that was slowly eating at what was left of his soul, and Christein was hard-pressed to think of something that the phantom could want to come back to besides them or the job.

But he couldn’t seem to get Amadhay to understand that.

“No,” Amadhay shook her head decisively. “He will come back.”

“Amadhay, I’m serious. He might not come back.”

“So am I,” she responded, glaring just past his ear. He was actually glad to see that. Her going back to not glaring directly meant that she was better. “He. Will. Come. Back.” She enunciated each word intelligibly, as if he simply weren’t hearing her right.

When she made to touch the dead body again, Christein pulled her away, disgust and other things that he refused to think about prevalent in his mind. “Why are you so insistent?” he demanded, grabbing her by the shoulders. “He’s dead, Amadhay. He has always been dead!” he shouted, shaking her, trying to shake the sense into her and the infatuation out.

Other people she knew had died on missions with her, even other friends. He hated that she was so broken by Ben’s death. A small part of him recognized that it was a good thing that she was so obviously in love with Ben. But a larger part of him hated it. Would she be that broken if he were the one dead?

“Stop it,” she said shakily, shoving him back from her.

“Why?! He’s dead, Amadhay!” He yelled again. He cupped her cheeks to make her look at him and not the dead body. “If you love him so much, let him do the one thing he couldn’t in peace!”

Amadhay froze, her eyes glittering unhappily, but no tears marred her face. “I hate you,” she whispered.

Christein recoiled as if he had been slapped. “Amadhay…”

She didn’t look at him, instead moving back to Ben’s body and trying to lift him. The corpse outweighed her by about 100 lbs and was well over a foot taller than she was. It would have been funny if she weren’t so serious about it, if Ben weren’t dead. No, Christein corrected himself, It would be funny if it weren’t her.

“Here, let me help,” Christein muttered, but fell back when she lifted one hand to tell him not to come any closer. He watched as she fumbled, falling under the weight of the body of Benjym Base. She sat down on the ground and looked ready to cry.

“Mayday,” he said softly, moving closer to her. She didn’t stop him this time. “I’m going to help you.” She shook her head, pushing at his hands weakly. “Come on. We’re going back the base.”

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay is compromised



“Christein!” she yelled again, hoping that he was near enough to hear her this time.

Her grip on the necromancer’s hair loosened and they both dropped to the floor. “Christein, please come help me,” she cried out, her voice wobbly as she tried and failed to get to her feet. All she could think about was Benjy. Benjy was lying on the ground, getting colder by the click. Benjy was lying still and he was never still. Benjy might not wake up. Benjy might not smile at her again or tug on her hair or surprise her with little gifts or annoy Christein anymore. Benjy was—

Christein appeared and began swearing like a pirate. When she looked up at him, hoping—no, knowing that he would fix everything for her, he scowled at her.

“Amadhay, what the deep Water pit is your problem?” he demanded, his true irritation showing in the slip up of using her name rather than title. She felt for her mask, which was still in the same pocket she’d put it in earlier, before taking a step towards Christein. It was then that she realized that he was staring not at her, but at Skeletal Smile, who was limp and slightly battered on the floor beside her. She started to speak, but Christein cut her off. “A, you were only supposed to bring ‘em here. He’s no good nearly dead. And B, where’s Ghost Sparrow and the other two targets? You failed.”

She was tired of that word failed. She was tired of hearing it aimed at her and she was tired of caring about it. Right now, all she could care to think about was Benjy’s body lying in the woods, not moving, and Christein wasn’t helping. Amadhay glared directly at him, not caring that it was disrespectful or that she needed something from him. She glared to make him stop talking—rather yelling—at  her and it worked. He paused. He stared at her with his eyebrows slightly raised and his lips pursed to say more but no words were coming out.

 “Benjy is dead, Monkey,” she told him in a slightly wavering voice, trying to sound like herself. She wasn’t feeling like herself, but she knew that with every word, she was a step closer to helping Benjy, so her voice got stronger with each word. “He’s back at the acquisition point. I didn’t cover him like I should have and now he’s—” she broke off and Christein moved toward her.

“He was already dead, Amadhay, that’s kind of the point of being a phantom,” Christein said slowly, reaching to help her up. That sentence sent her from strong to hysterical. He didn’t understand. If he didn’t understand, then he wouldn’t help her. He had to help her. She couldn’t do it on her own.

“He’s sealed, Monkey. The necromancer sealed him.” She whispered before looking at the limp body of the pretty man. It only made her angrier, more hysterical. He was still pretty when damaged while Benjy was dead and cold and didn’t look like himself anymore.

“He is dead until that piece of trash unseals him and I’m too damn weak to carry him so I need your help!” she practically screamed, pushing herself to her feet. Without a second thought, she turned from Christein, putting her full attention on the necromancer and kicked Skeletal Smile at the wall.

“Don’t do that,” was all Christein snapped at her. When she turned her glare back to him, he flinched. “I’ll help!” he exclaimed, reaching out to pull her away from Skeletal Smile before she could do him any more damage. “I’ll help,” he said softer when her glare weakened and she rubbed her eyes roughly. But she didn’t cry. Assassins don’t cry.

At Christein’s insistence, they moved Skeletal Smile to a more secure area, a room she had never seen before, and bound him to keep him from escaping. She would admit to not using nearly enough rope for protocol on Palnoki members because she was in a hurry, but Christein didn’t say anything about it. Just as she was tightening the last rope binding his legs together, she noted that he seemed to be coming to. With a glance at Christein, who was watching her closer than was normal even for him, it took all of Amadhay’s willpower not to just kill Skeletal Smile then and there. Instead, she took satisfaction in gagging him tightly and silently hoping that he would choke on it and die. 

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 in which amadhay meets darach



Just as she had expected, Christein was outside of the Interrogation Department, waiting for her.

Snatching her mask off, she grabbed him before he knew she was behind him, making him flinch purely on instinct. She hugged him from behind, thinking about her mask for a moment and forcing her cousin to turn his head at what had to be an uncomfortable angle to look back and down at her. There was something strange about the way Atlas looked at her.

“Monkey! Darach Devalier. Atlas’ll give me more if I bring him in. But…” She trailed off as she realized what bothered her. Atlas was looking at her the same way he did when they were both at parties and he didn’t know she was looking. Though she didn’t want to believe it was possible, given that Atlas knew that Arne Riff was Lord Phoenagis, proven when he hadn’t reacted to her purposeful slip up in using her uncle’s first name, rather than his title. Atlas knew who she was. That was a rather frightening thought.

She shifted to stand in front of him when Christein gave her an impatient grunt to imply that she should move. She gave a shrug, pushing the situation with her identity to the back of her mind to focus back on the current problem. She gave a meek smile before admitting the problem. “I have no clue where he’d be.”

“Darach? I know Darach. He’s the head of the whole Information Department. I have to report to him a lot.” A man with black hair in a long braid became visible next to them, his headphones radiating soft music. He had a tendency to sneak up on them like that and Amadhay honestly still couldn’t tell how he did it with music playing yet not have them notice. He still refused to tell her, which was just as frustrating as it had been for the past three years, since it had the potential to make her even better at her job. For a moment, Amadhay wondered why he was even in this part of the building, before coming up with the only likely conclusion: he’d been looking for them for some reason.

Christein scowled at him, attempting to grab Amadhay’s arm, though she easily sidestepped him. “Ben, will you shut up? She asked me, not you.”

Benjy turned his music up loudly as he turned on his heel, walking backwards down the hall away from the interrogation rooms. “What? Sorry, can’t hear you,” he called as he headed off, but just as he started to turn the corner, he called back to her, “Info Depo’s this way, Amadhay.”

Amadhay wiggled her fingers over her shoulder in a wave to Christein, calling, “By the way, there’s a puddle of kitten pee I need you to clean in there,” back to him as she caught up with Benjy.

 Benjy waited until he was sure she was following him to add, “Which you would know if you actually followed the rules and reported your mission findings.”

She made a face as she grabbed his arm and linked hers with his. “I do too report my findings,” she argued. “To you and Monkey and Lord Phoeganis. I figure if it’s important enough, someone else reports the rest.”

The phantom rolled his dark eyes. “Dolt,” he told her fondly, “Now they’ll think you’re a new recruit or something.”

She grinned up at him. “What they don’t know can’t hurt me,” she teased before giving him a look that meant she needed to pick his brain. “Do most people report directly to Darach?” she asked, wondering if it was strange that Atlas wanted him. She had honestly never heard of a Darach Devalier in the Phoegani, and it bothered her that he would know someone that she didn’t. So, really, this was her trying to determine if Darach was well known, or if she should be wary that Atlas was asking for specific people.

“No,” Benjy answered, tilting his head to tell her to turn left. “He’s under Lord Phoeganis and the same level as Head of Delegations and Head of Procedure.” He paused, giving Amadhay an interested look. “So it’s strange that Lord Palnoki would want him.”

“That’s what I thought,” she admitted, “I’ve never heard of Darach.”

“And the only reason I know Darach is because I’m the Voice of the Masses.” He opened an unmarked door that she assumed led to the Department of Information Requisition. “And, of course because I’m the one they send on all the most important information retrieval missions.”

“Like they used to send me on the good ol’ bloody missions,” she countered, feeling decidedly glum. She was tired of boring missions. It had been three weeks of locating and scoping missions. This was the first mission she’d had since Madra that wasn’t the absolute worst. Which was surprising, considering that she had been pretty sure, going in, that it was a suicide mission.

“Oh yeah,” Benjy said, steering her by the arm down a long hallway with far too many doors. “What happened to Madra? I thought you had to go there?”

She flinched slightly at the reminder of the botched job that had her on interrogation duty. “Noneya,” she replied as good-naturedly as she could, not really wanting to talk about it.

“Oh,” Benjy said, eyeing her closely for a moment before he squinted at her. “So you met someone?” he asked cautiously, turning his music down low enough that she couldn’t hear it anymore, though he kept the headphones covering his ears.

Her first question was why he wanted to know. Her second was why he would assume she met someone from that short of an answer. She didn’t ask either. She really didn’t want to talk about this.

“Maybe,” she said sweetly, giving him a faked giggle and a small shrug. The image of Lizu flashed before her eyes. She hugged Benjy’s arm tighter.

“What does he look like?” he asked casually.

She gave a real giggle this time. “A girl.”

“Eh? Really?” he laughed, “Didn’t think of you like that.”

Amadhay gave him a soft shove. “You know you’re still my only,” she teased.

“That’s a downright lie,” he snorted.

She giggled, letting go of his arm and waiting until he was looking at her to flutter her eyelashes prettily. “Well you’re still my favorite,” she flirted.

“Only because I put up with you,” he replied casually as they reached the information desk.

Amadhay gave him a side-glance. While that was incredibly true, she wasn’t sure that she was comfortable with him recognizing the truth in the statement. “So where’s this Darach?” she asked him, changing the subject. Then she added, “And what should I say to convince him to come with me?”

“I heard my name?”

The duo turned to stare at the tall man who stood in the doorway just off from the empty main desk. He was as pale as Atlas, yet with black hair and eyes. A single gold streak was swept from the front to the back of his hair. His suit was impeccable and when Amadhay gave him an admiring look, she could feel the strength of the distaste Benjy threw at him.

Benjy nodded down at Amadhay. “She has a message for you.”

Darach’s pitch-black eyes flickered over Amadhay and she felt as though she were being carefully categorized on sight. He licked his thin lips. “I’ve never seen you before. But you’re not new, are you?” He gave a smile, but it did nothing to diminish the feeling she got from him. It was like he was missing something. She barely suppressed a shiver at the sight of his teeth, razor sharp and in two perfect rows.

She critically went over her own appearance in her mind, not looking away from him, to determine if she was presentable for him, and to try to decide how he was most likely categorizing her. Tight black sneakpants, creaseless and unwrinkled, she was someone who was regularly in the field, moving around and needed her pants to be more like a second skin so they wouldn’t inhibit her in any way but would save her skin from needing grafts if she went skidding. Black ankle boots, low heeled and zipped to the top with the bottoms of the sneakpants tucked in, she was vain and liked the idea of fashion, while still being functional. She hadn’t been out in her preferred field today, too clean. Red top, long sleeved and tight enough to show off her curves, meaning she used seduction as one of her preferred methods. Sleeves loose enough to hide blades and telltale bumps to imply that she was armed, dangerous. No mask, but a single ribbon, red, holding her hair back in a ponytail at the center of her head. Perfectionist and well-known.

She felt quickly to be sure that the bow was centered, with equal ribbon hanging on either side. She saw him take that in and the briefest lights of knowledge coming to him. She wondered if it was the need for symmetry or the red that gave away her identity, but she knew the moment he knew that she was the Phoegani’s assassin Red Robin and Lord Phoeganis’ protégée, Amadhay.

She smiled. Her crimson eyes locked onto Darach’s and she entwined her fingers together in front of her. “I was hoping that you would come with me to an interrogation room where I’m holding Atlas Palnoki. He asked, specifically, for you.”

Darach’s eyebrows shot up. “Ar-Atlas? Atlas Palnoki? What is he doing here? I’ll come.”

His slip up wasn’t missed by either of the other two. Benjy made a pointed noise for her attention while Amadhay only narrowed her eyes the barest of a fraction for a split click. She kept her smile firmly on her lips. “I brought him in today for questioning,” she alerted the man, turning on her heel.

Darach moved from his doorway to follow her. “Ah…? Really? Interesting,” he paused, glancing at Benjy once more before making after Amadhay, who hadn’t paused. “He’s probably extremely bored now.”

“He is,” she answered, before pouting dramatically. “And he won’t talk to me anymore.”

“But he asked for me? Figures.”

Amadhay wasn’t sure what to make of that, merely looking back to him with a smile. “Mmmhmm. So come along, will you?” she suggested, implying that he could move faster.

‘Don’t trust him,’ she caught Benjy mouth out of the corner of her eye. She turned on her heel and appeared before him, giving him a chaste kiss on the cheek before whispering, “Do I ever?”

And then she was back before Darach, leading him to the interrogation room. Benjy smiled after her and shook his head, but then he decided to follow them, slowly. She didn’t mind.

Next Chapter

amadhay: (Default)
 In which the game begins



Atlas Palnoki was snoring gently on his favorite couch for naps, his glasses perched crookedly on his nose.

When a presence flooded his mind, he opened his eyes to find a familiar girl from his past with a blade to his throat. Even with the highly charmed piece of black fabric pressed onto her face to attempt to hide her identity, he knew it was her. Pushing his glasses up, he arched one eyebrow at Amadhay Hakinato, still lying down. In the click it took him to recognize her, he noted that she looked just like she had when she was four, only a little taller, dressed quite differently, and with tell-tale red eyes.

When she smiled coolly down at him, he let his eyes linger a click too long on her scarlet painted lips. “Hello there,” she said lazily. “Plan on coming with me easily? Because I would love to rough you up.”

His eyebrows rose when her eyes turned the hauntingly familiar sky blue as she glanced away for a click when his kitten softly meowed. She didn’t look down at the kitten, but to the wall, before her gaze settled back on his face, seemingly without recognition. He wondered if she truly didn’t recognize him or if she was playing at something. The uncertainty was tantalizing.

He sat up, forcing her to pull the blade back so as not to draw blood, his red eyes not moving from hers as the blue instantly shifted back to red at his attention. He took a deep breath and then looked away, running a hand through his ruffled polar hair. “Can I bring my kitten?” he asked, knowing from her unneeded blink that she thought it strange how uncaring he was about the situation. He thought it was rather cute that she truly seemed to think that she had the upper hand.

He held back a grin when Amadhay’s face twitched in suppressed irritation. He could tell that she had probably been given express orders not to do any real damage to her target, so he had a feeling that she was being unusually careful, and it was obvious that she didn’t like it. She gave another unnecessarily long blink before she looked away, glaring at the floor for a moment before looking to the black kitten. Seeing it, tension eased in her face as she gave a small smile before looking back to Atlas as calmly as possible.

“You may bring the kitten,” she allowed imperiously, backing up enough for him to scoop it up.

Atlas cradled the kitten against his chest carefully. “His name is Mayday,” he told her slowly, “He’s only eight weeks old, so I need to take care of him still.” He paused, gauging her reaction.

Amadhay paused for a click, looking curiously at the kitten. He watched her face closely as her eyes widened for a full click. She even touched her face, as if to be sure that her mask was still in place. He could almost see something wriggling in the back of her mind, but she shut it down, or at least closed off the thoughts from her expression. That was a major difference from the little Amadhay, the ability to not show what she was thinking. Instead of allowing him to see what she thought about the cat having her nickname, she simply shook her head at him. He was a bit disappointed that she didn’t give him more.

He started to say something else, but didn’t get the chance, because  he didn’t even see her move, but by the time he was aware she was doing something, it had already been done. She reached out, quick as a flash and grasped his throat. With the flex of a surprising amount of power for a spell he didn’t recognize from her softly spoken cues, she teleported them to a new building.

The shift took Atlas by surprise, though he wouldn’t admit it. He hadn’t been aware of her pure, unfiltered abilities. He was going to have to have words with his information teams. Rumors had often claimed that she was a proficient magic user, but proficient was hardly the word he’d use now that he had felt the power she had just expended. She didn’t even show any signs of exhaustion, and he could still taste the amount of power it had taken to teleport them into this room of this obviously warded building. If he’d been able to see auras, he was sure that hers would be silver, the second most powerful.

“Ah. Okay,” was all he said before taking in his surroundings. It didn’t take much effort to discern that she had moved him to the Phoegani. She was an operative for them. Besides that, he knew it was the Phoegani building because it had to be.

The bland walls and sparse furniture, save for one table and two rather uncomfortable looking chairs, screamed of an interrogation room. Interesting, he thought, noting the fact that Amadhay was, by trade, a capturer, torturer and mostly a killer, not an interrogator. This was a bit different than he had planned, but he could work with it.

Keeping up with illusions, he turned bored eyes to Amadhay. “So. Why am I here?”

Drawing her hand back from his skin, where it had lingered longer than necessary, Amadhay stepped back from him and to the doorway before checking behind her, out of the room and into the hallway. Her somewhat blank look gave him the idea that she had been expecting someone else to be here when she got back with him.

She obviously wasn’t sure what to do now, but she attempted to cover up that lack of knowledge as she crossed her arms beneath her chest and gave him a haughty smirk. “Wouldn’t you like to know,” she taunted.

“I’ll bet you would too,” he said casually. At her quick look of irritation, he gave her a small smile, his eyes laughing. Glancing up from her, he watched as another, less interesting masked member of the Hakinato clan approached from the hall. The male’s eyes never left Atlas as he moved as quickly as he could with a bum leg, his reptilian tail lashing dangerously back and forth to indicate some dark emotion Atlas didn’t know, but could guess at.

He came up from behind Amadhay before she could turn to see where Atlas’ eyes were trained, tapping her shoulder as he glared at Atlas. “Did you find any trouble?” he asked from outside of the room, only half-teasing, and not looking at his younger cousin in favor of watching Atlas as if the man were going to try to make a run for it.

“I wish,” Amadhay responded, relaxing with his presence.

Atlas looked curiously from the male to the rather younger girl. It gets more interesting by the moment, he thought, noting how close the cousins allowed themselves to be, how possessively Christein laid his hand upon Amadhay’s shoulder, how she all but worshipped him with her eyes. She pointedly looked from Atlas to Christein, her eyes pleading. “Please tell me you have a real mission for me now. Please, Baron.”

The uneasy look she gave his way told Atlas that he made her uncomfortable and that she wanted to be away from him as soon as possible, which he found vaguely irritating, though it would only be temporarily problematic. Besides that, he assumed that her eagerness had more to do with a want to get back to her normal fare of work instead of continuing on with this hoax of a mission. Who in their right mind had sent Amadhay to gather him? He wanted to thank them. Whomever it was had made everything much more fun for him.

“Interrogation,” Christein apologized, finally looking down at her. “Ask him the questions from the card right there.” He pointed to the single white card on the table.

Atlas and Amadhay both looked at the table and then back to Christein with unimpressed looks. He gave an apologetic shrug to Amadhay, not even glancing at Atlas this time. Amadhay gave an aggrieved sigh, making Atlas raise his eyebrows at her, look at the table and then back to her questioningly.

“Come on,” she snapped angrily, swinging and missing, barely keeping herself from punching a wall. She was very hands on in ushering Atlas to the table, after giving an angry glare just past Christein and slamming the door shut between them.

While Atlas sat down and placed the curled up Mayday on the table, Amadhay looked around. He wondered why she took such a long time looking over the room, before deciding that she had probably never been in an interrogation room before and was just trying to get her bearings. She walked around for a moment, which Atlas watched with his chin propped up on one hand and a purposefully bored expression on his face that he knew would annoy her. Finally, Amadhay seated herself on the edge of the table, picking up the card and placing it in her lap.

When she looked the card over and rolled her eyes, he knew that he was in for a treat. If he knew anything about the girl (and he dare say he did), he knew that a roll of her eyes meant she was about to mix things up. “What’s your favorite color?” she asked, staring up at the ceiling, mimicking his purposely bored manner so perfectly that he knew she was trying to get into his head.

“Sky blue,” Atlas said with a small smile. Mayday uncoiled himself and stretched before walking over to Amadhay. He sat down in front of her, blinking his large eyes. She smiled at the kitten, lifting him onto her lap.

He purred when she pet him, and she focused on Mayday, rather than Atlas, when asking her next question. “Fondest memory?” she asked, her tone implying that she couldn’t be bothered to care, though he had to wonder what her endgame was.

Ever one to play along, however, Atlas tilted his head up to the ceiling, blinking three times before answering. “Wow. That’s a lot of memories. Hm. I think right now it would be when Tenshu Tanhakinshu joined my family.”

Amadhay smiled when Mayday rubbed his head against her hand, both of them making adorable feline sounds. “And what is your sexual orientation?” she asked, not looking up from her namesake.

That question surprised him. He smirked, waiting for her to look at him to answer, but she didn’t, drawing out the silence instead.

“I go both ways sometimes,” Atlas said loudly.

Amadhay’s eyes flickered up at him, but then focused back on Mayday as the kitten hopped off of her lap and peeked over the edge of the table, meowing. Interesting, he thought, watching her as she watched his kitten. He wondered if she even noticed how hard he was studying her.

“And who is your current intimate partner?”

Mayday inched forward on the table and pounced on Atlas’ hand as he answered. “Which one? I have several.” He bopped the kitten’s chin lightly, waiting for Amadhay’s full attention.

Her eyes slowly moved from Mayday to Atlas’ hand and then up to the man’s face, making eye contact before asking, “How many are there?”

“Not many right now. One’s a witch, one’s a human girl, one’s just died…would you like to join their ranks?” he asked conversationally, holding her gaze.

Amadhay smirked slowly, giving him a long, appraising look. “I don’t see why not,” she replied, not looking away from him.

“I wasn’t being facetious,” he stated calmly, still keeping eye contact even as he stroked his kitten’s ears gently.

“Neither was I,” she responded seriously before her crimson eyes moved up and studied the asymmetrical hairs on his head, straightening her own ponytail so that it stood center on the back of her head.

Mayday meowed a question at Atlas, whose eyes stayed fixated on Amadhay’s face as he said, “No, I doubt it.” His hand, though, ran self-consciously through his shock of white hair. He knew she was mentally counting all the different points of asymmetry, but aside from the hand in his hair, he didn’t let it show that it bothered him.

Amadhay glanced away, and then looked at Atlas from under her eyelashes. She bit her bottom lip, drawing his eyes to her scarlet painted mouth. It was only once he was fully drawn in that she asked her next question. “What is Project Apocalypse?” she asked softly.

“None of your damn business,” he responded in a polite conversational tone, looking away from her. Inwardly, he laughed. She wasn’t subtle, but then she didn’t need to be. She was a minx, knowledgeable about her assets and observant enough to know how to use them best to her advantage. Mayday meowed loudly at him, making him aware that he had stopped petting the kitten, a sure sign that Amadhay had affected him.

Amadhay shrugged, giving him a perfectly uninterested look that told him more than she meant it to. “Okay. I don’t really care, you know. Just following the script,” she explained, again giving him a sly look. Her eyes were sky blue again, making Atlas wonder if she controlled that even though he knew that she couldn’t.

“I doubt asking me about my favorite color and how many lovers I have is on that card,” he answered, suddenly needing to look anywhere but her. Her eyes, while drawing him in were also bothering him. Those were the eyes of an innocent and had no place on her otherwise purposely seductive form. He focused instead on Mayday, who hopped off of the table, skidding on his bottom for a moment across the tiled floor. The kitten padded back to the table and sniffed around the chair Amadhay had chosen not to sit in.

“True enough,” she replied with a laugh, though Atlas noticed her, thankfully red, eyes narrowing as she watched him pointedly try not to look at her. “I guess I spiced it up a little bit.”

“Well, why would you care?” he demanded bitterly, focusing solely on Mayday, who sniffed under the seat. She said nothing as he did that, simply stayed where she was. He finally looked back at her. “Can I go back to sleep now?”

Atlas watched Amadhay’s nose twitch before she scrunched up her face, looking down at Mayday and his little puddle. The kitten had relieved himself beside the leg of the table. Both of them eyed the puddle for a moment before looking to each other again. Atlas wondered if she would clean it, but instead, a positively vindictive look flew across her face before she focused on him again.

Instead of saying anything to explain that, or even comment on the kitten’s mess, she tried an apologetic face on Atlas, which merely made him suspicious though he, of course, didn’t show it. “I can’t let you go back to sleep until you give me something, just one little bit of information that I can report to Arne Riffly so he won’t chew me up.”

If anything, it was the fact that she called the Lord Phoeganis ‘Riffly’ that convinced him to give her something to go with, something that sounded important enough to whet the appetites of her superiors. “Fine. Tell him Project Apocalypse can’t even be completed yet until a member of the Palnoki, Tenshu Tanhakinshu, becomes a father. Now let me go.”

Amadhay nodded, a slow smile making her beautiful. Obviously, she thought he had given her more than he had, but he couldn’t regret it when looking at that smile. It was just for him. She pulled her legs up, onto the table and crawled to his side. “Whoops, I lied,” she whispered to him. “You know you can’t go anywhere. Lord Phoeganis’ll still want more. Torture, interrogation, the whole mile.”

Atlas knew that better than she did. In fact, from the beginning he expected much worse than to continue to be stuck in a little room with her flirting little bits of information out of him. Her manner in telling him that, however, was what irritated him. It made all of her flirtations ring hollow and made her seem so much more false than he knew her to be. Allowing his disdain to show, he gave her an exasperated sigh, no longer even attempting to look at her as he pulled his feet up onto the table, placing them just to the side of her. He rested his head on the back of the chair, closing his eyes, and said, “Fine. I. Will. No longer. Speak. With you.”

Amadhay knelt before him, but when he didn’t look, she moved her lips to his ear “Hope you change your mind about that,” she whispered coyly. With nothing left to say, she stood and walked to the other edge of the table before hopping quickly to the floor.

As she was leaving, he peered after her, watching curiously as she sashayed from the room as if she had an audience to see her perform for him. She closed the door tightly behind her, but he knew she caught his yelp following Mayday’s pounce on his socked foot with two clawed paws when he heard a soft giggle strongly reminiscent of an adorable four-year-old with symmetrical pigtails.

Next Chapter


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