amadhay: (Default)
 The entire way to Freeman’s Hold, Croy-li had focused on the conductor. He focused on what he could make from it, how the parts of it that were still perfectly intact would come in handy. He thought about making a sleeping tank for Amaya now that he had it, but put that thought away as wishful thinking. He still didn’t understand enough about the hydraulic chamber to even begin to work on something that difficult and the information behind the ones used for the tank Amaya needed was guarded zealously by the Water temples.

In other words, he focused on anything that wasn’t: What does he need to talk to Khale about? Did I do something wrong? What did I do wrong? Am I in trouble? What does he know? Does he know about the mission?

It wasn’t easy, because sitting beside him on the public zip train was Barthew Base. He knew that the man had to have had a personal teleport or at the very least, a private car on the zip train. Yet there he was, sitting beside him, watching him with interest. He hadn’t said anything since Croy-li had pulled out a few tools, except to the people around him to assure them that he wasn’t doing anything dangerous.

They still had ten clacks left before they were in Freeman’s Hold and then it was still another thirty clacks walk to Kay Castle. He could bypass that walk by telling Khale he was coming and his brother would send a car for them, but he liked the walk. Normally.

“You turned it wrong,” Base said softly.

Croy-li looked up at him. “Sorry?” he asked. He didn’t even know what he was doing, how could Base? Except that he was the greatest mind in the past centuries.

“You were making a water heater. But if you keep the way you’re going, it’s going to explode and take out half of the train,” he said softly, so only Croy-li could hear him. “Right now you have most of a pressurized water bomb in your hands. So please turn that valve the other way and remove the light strip.”

Croy-li stared at him for a few breaths before quickly pulling up the light strip. He had only put it in there to see what was inside of the conductor. He hadn’t considered that the addition of that bit of fusing wasn’t a good idea. It was, indeed the beginning of a bomb. All he had to do was add some water, finish the pressurizing and it would have been ready to go. He ducked his head.

“Sorry,” he muttered. He stared at his hands, wondering when he had taken off his right glove. That could have done it. If the conductor wanted to explode, he might have been influenced to do with it what it wanted. He’d built bombs before.

“Were you unaware?” Base asked softly, plucking the conductor from Croy-li’s hands before the boy could do anything worse.

“I wasn’t paying attention,” he admitted sheepishly.

That made the phantom laugh. “You almost made a water bomb from a conductor because you weren’t paying attention?”

Croy-li’s shoulders were up to his ears. “Sorry.”

“No, it’s alright. Do you often build bombs when you aren’t paying attention?”

“If it wants to be a bomb,” he said softly.

Base watched him for a long moment. “What sort of technopath are you?” he asked.

“I’m mostly a data-path,” Croy-li corrected. “I feel the network and data and become part of it. I can speak with technology on an electric basis so long as it’s connected in some way to a network.”

“So this?” Base held out the conductor. “It isn’t. It’s on its own.”

Croy-li shook his head and took it from him. He gently stuck his hand inside and plucked the heart out. It buzzed loudly in his veins for a moment and he remembered he hadn’t put his glove on, but as soon as it started, it stopped. He showed the data chip that had once connected it to a main computer to Base. “It’s not much, but it’s enough of an echo of the machine. This isn’t connected right now, but up until you took it out, it was. It has a memory of being a part of something and more than that, it has a sort of personality. This bit felt abandoned and wanted to feel one more time.”

Base was watching him with such undisguised intrigue that Croy-li didn’t stop like he normally would. Ever since leaving the Argents with the Thief Lord, he had no one to talk shop with. None of his team understood it and none of them really wanted to. But Base understood, in some manner, and more than that he cared.

“So while I was working on it, it put the impulse through me to give it something big, something that would feel like being a part of the network again. The only thing that feels like that is being blown up. It’s an intense, immediate feeling, only it ends as soon as it starts. It could feel itself losing the memory of the network, and with as little as there was to begin with, it couldn’t imagine being a part of something else. I was just fiddling, but I’m easily led in one direction or another when I don’t really have plans.”

“And so it used the echo of the hydraulics chamber to put you in mind of…?”

“It was more the conductor. Electricity is all it knows, but it felt a sort of pain from the water of the tank when it leaked. My brain is always a little connected to whatever electric field there is. So maybe someone’s talking about bombs? Maybe I just remember building water bombs for Thief Lord. Maybe someone recently did this and it stuck with me.”

Base smiled again, leaning back into his seat. “Interesting. And you think it could happen with anything?”

“Maybe. I don’t think most toys are going to want to become bombs, but Amadhay’s toy mouse was made from the same parts that the laser guns are made from. That’s why I made a laser mouse.”

“Why did it explode?”

Croy-li shrugged. “I was four? Maybe I was missing some parts, put something in the wrong place, maybe Amadhay snatched it from me too fast.”

“Do you often find your inventions blow up?”

Croy-li looked away. “Sometimes, yeah.”

“Do you know why?”

“No,” he sulked. “They just do.”

Base nodded after a few more clicks of Croy-li’s sulking. “Do you have any plans for University?” he asked.

Hoping he knew where this was going, but not wanting to jump to conclusions, he shrugged as casually as he could. “I think I’m supposed to become the Herald’s liaison.”

The phantom waved his hand. “You’re already that and you do a wonderful job of it. What would you like to do besides that? Are you thinking of doing the tinkering track at University?”

Croy-li swallowed and looked hopefully to Base. “Um, do you think I should?” he asked.

Without a pause, Base shook his head. “No. I don’t. If you getting distracted or just experimenting can turn into you building a bomb, or worse, simply exploding, you would be a danger to the other students,” he said bluntly. “The normal tinker track wouldn’t be a fit to you and you’d probably be thrown out.”

“Oh,” Croy-li whispered, dropping his gaze to his lap. He tried not to focus on the way that stung. His idol was telling him to give up something he loved because he wasn’t good enough. Maybe the Thief Lord was right…

“But considering I have no students, there wouldn’t be the same problem if you came immediately to an apprenticeship with me. I think I’d be able to catch just what has you blowing things up a lot faster than any of the other Tinkers, and to be honest, it would be safer for me to keep an eye on you. You might accidentally make the next war machine because you were imagining swimming with our water Herald.”

It took Croy-li a few clicks to realize that he had really just heard what he thought he had. He looked up at Base to see an expectant look on the inventor’s face. “Mind you, I can’t officially offer you the apprenticeship until you’re done with Schooling, but with your brother’s permission, I’m sure we’d be able to add a few new lessons to your schedule. It would be in my warehouse, and anything you saw in there would have to be kept a secret.”

“You want me as an apprentice?” Croy-li whispered in disbelief, holding his breath.

Base smiled. “Yes, Croy-li. I would like to have you as my apprentice.”

“You never have apprentices,” he whispered again.

Base shrugged. “I haven’t had the time.”

The rest of the ride, Croy-li was shell-shocked. The Barthew Base wanted him as an apprentice. Even after he’d almost accidentally made a bomb. Even after he admitted that his stuff kept blowing up. He had to have known plenty of other starstruck inventing hopefuls who’d wanted his tutelage before and he’d chosen Croy-li. He couldn’t wait to tell his team. He couldn’t wait to go to the warehouse. He couldn’t wait to…

“Prince Croy-li?” Base nudged him to attention. “This is our stop.”

“Oh, right, of course,” Croy-li exclaimed, jumping to his feet. As he led Base to the exit of the train, he pulled his DS out and called his brother.

Khale answered immediately. “Are you staying in Verseins tonight?”

“What?” Croy-li asked, perplexed for a moment before realizing that he hadn’t talked to his brother since he’d been in the medical room. “No. I’m actually in Freeman’s Hold right now. I just got off the train. With Barthew Base.”

Khale chuckled lightly. “Alright. I’d offer a car, but I know that you won’t take it and Bart prefers horses. Can you ride?”

“Of course I can,” Croy-li responded, eyeing the train hub. There were three exits. One would take them directly to the streets, another would take them to food and the third would take them to gain a form of transport. Base was already heading to that one.

Good, because Bart loves horses. There’s a horse there that you can borrow. She’s my personal one, Sunny. I’m sure they’ll offer her to you. If not, I’d prefer you ask for her than take any other one.”

Croy-li rolled his eyes. “No one sabotaged a horse to get to me, Khale.”

You never know,” his paranoid brother countered. “And I would prefer you be safe.

“Fine, fine,” Croy-li assured him, though he had absolutely no plans of riding Khale’s ‘safe’ horse. He’d seen Khale ride her before and he was nowhere near the equestrian his brother was. He needed a smaller horse that didn’t move like the wind.

Base was standing next to a brown mare with wild eyes when Croy-li caught up with him. “What do you think?” he asked Croy-li, who gave the horse a wide perimeter.

“I think that if she doesn’t try to murder you outright, you should count yourself lucky.”

Base laughed. “Not much for horses?” he asked.

Croy-li shrugged. “I’m fine with them. I prefer the mechanical ones I can control, but there are worse animals.” He focused on the stallion beside Khale’s favored horse. Sunny, a light colored monster of a horse that stood towering all the others was showing love to the honey colored stallion beside her, rubbing against him. That horse was about Croy-li’s height, but built stockier.

“That one’s Sandy,” the stable master told him before giving him a double take and giving him a deep bow. “My prince,” he added. “I assume you’ll be taking Sunny?”

“No,” Croy-li blurted out when the man went to make quick work of getting the mare ready. She trotted around the honey horse, who didn’t move. Croy-li made eye contact with the stallion. “I think I’d like Sandy.”

Base chuckled under his breath, but the stable master nodded. “Of course. Anything you’d like,” he responded, grabbing a different saddle.

While Base got his horse ready, Croy-li stood back and watched the stable master. He’d never really paid attention to this part, but if he was going to be around Barthew Base, he decided that he’d make sure he didn’t disappoint him. If Base readied his horse, so would he the next time they took horses.

“Sandy was a good choice,” the stable master said conversationally now that he was comfortable with Croy-li’s presence. “He’s Sunny’s little brother and a bit easier to control. Sunny is good and all for the king, but she’s a bit too large for you, no offense. I’m sure you’ll be the same as your brother once you’re done growing. You look just like he did at your age, all legs.”

Croy-li shrugged, unsure if he was being complimented, insulted or simply being compared to Khale. “Thanks?”

“Alright, there we go. Remember to feed him once you get to the castle to make sure he doesn’t associate you with hard work and no reward.”

“Will do,” Croy-li promised, mounting the horse. Base sat atop the wild eyed mare a bit off to the side, moving with barely controlled energy.

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 Amadhay gave a low, husky laugh, watching Lizumeizei run around from one bubbling pot to the smoking pans. He had decided to attempt to make dinner for her, which was becoming the best entertainment he had ever arranged for her, and that included the tickets to the blood-debt tournament he had managed to get them the previous month. But even watching a blood elf take out an overgrown lizard Feral wasn’t comparable to watching Lizumeizei scamper around the kitchen, trying to salvage their dinner. The fish fillets were charcoal by now, the mashed potatoes something closer to the consistency of cotton candy, and the unidentifiable red glop hadn’t been edible since she got there.

“Lizumeizei,” she purred, coming up to the cat-kin’s side. “It’s okay. I didn’t expect you to be good at cooking.”

If anything, that seemed to make the failure worse for the man. “I just wanted to be able to have a nice candle-lit dinner with you.”

The girl held back a snicker. The idea of having a candle-lit dinner with anyone, much less Lizumeizei was unappealing, but the heartfelt attempt was cute. He got points in her book for it. “We can still have dinner. Take-out exists for people like us,” she teased him gently before turning off the fires. She considered doing the clean up, but figured it could wait until later. She took the man she might have called her twine if either of them were interested in labeling their relationship with any type of title past ‘friends’ by the hand and led him into his extravagantly furnished living room. She pulled him onto the couch and curled up with him, allowing the cat of her aelfe to take over and comfort him.

It was strange, she thought, that Lizumeizei was so upset over messing up making dinner. He tended to be cool as a cucumber. She had shown up on his doorstep weeks before Arne Riff had sprung her from Tierdom and he hadn’t even been slightly worried. She had told him that she was going to kill him that first time and he hadn’t even flinched, as if he had known that she wasn’t capable of doing it. He had just invited her in, made her tea, and talked to her for zoots, until she had been forced to go back to the Tierdormo palace so she wouldn’t be caught. That had happened for three weeks, until Arne Riff had taken her back and a week later put her back on active duty. When, after two weeks of no communication, she had appeared on Lizumeizei’s doorstep again, this time bloody and having a hard time with it, the cat-kin had taken her in, made her tea, and talked to her. She still wasn’t sure what she had said to him, but he wouldn’t repeat it, so she knew it had to be bad.

None of that had fazed him, but ruining a dinner that he had no reason to cook in the first place had? Something had to be going on that she wasn’t aware of, but she didn’t question him. Instead, she curled up with him on the couch, nuzzling her face into the crook of his neck when he curled up against her, his tawny cat tail wrapping securely around her waist.

“I’m up for trying some Over the Water cuisine, how about you?” Lizumeizei asked after about fifteen clacks of the two of them silently cuddling. Amadhay blinked rapidly a few times, having almost been deep in a cat nap. She gave a wide yawn before rubbing the top of her head against Lizumeizei’s neck. Lizumeizei purred.

“What was that?” she asked, stretching her arms out now that he seemed to be back into his normal headspace. It was rare that Lizumeizei was the one who needed cuddles, even though he was the more feline of the two of them. She wouldn’t pry just yet, but Amadhay was determined to find out what was occupying her friend’s mind so much that he was in a bothered state.

“Over the Water? I know a few good places that deliver.”

He wanted to get delivery? That was new. While Lizumeizei wasn’t completely against delivered food, (she had convinced him to get it a few different times by using her patented kitten eyes) he, as a rule, didn’t suggest it himself, preferring for them to go out or to pick up the food and carry it out themselves. She didn’t think it was a security thing, considering his house had some of the very best wards she had ever seen, and that was including the blood wards Ribbon had used to keep her in her room when the Palnoki had first captured her. But him not wanting to go out might be.

“Lizumeizei Qwuilleran,” she purred his full name against his furry cat ear, softly enough to be a whisper against his skin.

“Not hungry?”  he asked, tilting his head back so that he could look into her face. He had a knowing grin on his face, but it slipped off as he took in her expression. “What?” he asked, his tone going bland almost immediately. It was his business voice, which told her that she had failed at being innocent and was, instead, giving him a face that screamed out ‘Danger be this way!’

She sighed and sat up, noting that his tail didn’t move from her waist even when he sat up as well. “What’s going on? You’re acting strange.”

He shook his head, his face still perfectly blank. “Nothing that concerns you.” His normal smile cracked the blank mask and he petted her hand reassuringly. “Nothing for you to worry about. I promise.”

She frowned, but decided to let it drop. She didn’t talk about work with him, so she gave him the same courtesy. Even when she was extremely curious, she didn’t push him because she had learned that sometimes it was easier not to know everything about the people you were with. Atlas had taught her that.

“So, Over the Water?” he suggested again, giving her a suggestive smile.

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I could go for some Over the Water food.”

“Okay, so should I surprise you again or do you have something in mind today?” Lizumeizei asked, pulling her up off of the couch and back toward the kitchen.

She shrugged, knowing that he enjoyed it when she let him order for her. “Surprise me,” she said. She didn’t really know enough about Over the Water food to make an educated choice on what she’d want anyway, and Lizumeizei didn’t keep spare menus around. And considering their dates were strictly off the datastream except in terms of ordering food, she couldn’t even check a search engine on her DS to try and seem like she knew what she wanted.

He gave a soft exhale that Amadhay couldn’t help but think sounded more like relief than happiness. Once they were in the kitchen, he rolled up the sleeves of his expensive teal shirt and started working on cleaning up. Amadhay paused, trying to decide if she was enough of a guest to not help him out, but finally decided that clean up would go quicker with her helping. The faster clean up went, the faster they could order food. She was starving.

“So what have you been up to?” Lizumeizei asked, scraping fish remains from his pan. “You never did tell me why you cancelled last week.”

“Oh,” she stated, focusing on trying to get the red stuff out of his small pot. “There was a mission. Christein got really hurt. I had to heal him,” she said, making it obvious that she wasn’t going any deeper in depth there. She had come here to get her mind off of Christein, not to mope about him some more. He had made his decision, so she had to live with it. She had Lizumeizei. What did she want with her cousin anyway? Christein was every kind of fucked up and she was just as bad for wanting him. Lizumeizei didn’t have intimacy issues, like Christein did. And at least with Lizumeizei, she didn’t have to worry about her entire family—the ones that knew she was alive, anyway, which seemed to keep growing—having big fits and fusses about being with him. Arne Riff would be against it, but he was against everything that didn’t benefit him.

Why was she even comparing Christein and Lizumeizei? It wasn’t like she was going to bind to either of them. She was going to bind to some upstart clan leader Arne Riff wanted to join with, just as sure as Hynnkel was going to bind to Queen Fallora and King du Kay, Amaya was going to bind to the Prince du Kay, and Kelly was going to be bound to Lord Salazaen Skouras. It was all arranged already. She knew that. They all knew that. This was just her playing around before she was tied down, taking advantage of her blunderlust years—after all, she had started late. It was all it could be.

“Is that all that’s been going on with you?” Lizumeizei asked, suddenly behind her, rubbing her shoulders. “Because you don’t seem like you’re here tonight.”

“I’m here,” she immediately countered, turning to him and pressing a quick kiss to his lips. “I’m completely here. Just…a little thoughtful.”

“About what?” he asked, his green eyes boring into her red ones. She shrugged, hip bumping him so that he would move. She was going to try hot water on the red mess to see if that would get it out of the pot. Otherwise, she was going to have to toss the pot. He followed her, petting her hair gently. His hands were still wet, so she shouldered him away. Getting her hair wet only ever made it defy gravity. “You sure you don’t want to talk about it?”

She shrugged again. “It’s nothing major,” she lied. “It’s just both Christein and Benjy have been avoiding me. Well, I know Monkey has. I just haven’t seen Benjy in a week or two, and it’s weird.”

“You were complaining last month that he was following you like a lost puppy since you rutted with him,” Lizumeizei pointed out.

“I know. I just didn’t want him to disappear on me altogether. He is my friend, even if I don’t like him that way. I like being around him.”

Lizumeizei didn’t say anything for a few clacks, and Amadhay looked up from the mess of red gunk, which was trying to come out of the pot. He was staring at her with an expression she wasn’t sure how to decipher. When he realized she was looking at him, he gave her a smile.

“So, Over the Water. I’ll call it in,” he said, leaving her alone in the kitchen with the pot of something.

Trying to ignore his strangeness, she gave the pot a hesitant sniff. It didn’t smell like anything she would have wanted in her stomach, so she assumed it was probably some strange cuisine from Over the Water, where he was from. They had some strange food in his area. With a loud plop, the gunk flew out of the pot and onto the ceiling. She hadn’t even touched it.

She stared up at it. “What the…” she just kept staring at it. It didn’t move, just stayed a disgusting blob of red on the ceiling. She was considering getting a stool and the broom to poke at it when Lizumeizei came back into the kitchen, five clacks later.

“Alright, food will be here in about thirty clacks. I have a movie ready for us if…you…” he paused, but Amadhay didn’t look away from the blob. “What are you looking at?” he asked. A click later, he said, “Ah.”

“Yeah, um, I don’t think it’s dead,” Amadhay stated.

“Uh huh, um, Amadhay, could you move from under it?”

“Are you about to set it on a blaze of glory?” she asked, still not able to take her eyes from it.

“Well, I’d like to make it stop paralyzing you first.”

She started to argue that she wasn’t paralyzed, but now that she tried, she found that she honestly couldn’t look from the glop. She couldn’t move. She was frozen in her spot, staring up at it.

“That’s what I thought,” she heard Lizumeizei mutter. Also, she wasn’t positive, but she thought she might have seen the glop get bigger now that Lizumeizei was in the room.

“Lizumeizei, you might want to leave,” she said.

“Can’t. If I do, it’s probably going to eat you.”

“What deep water pit were you trying to feed me?” she demanded.

“I didn’t cook that. I don’t know where that came from.”

“Oh goodie.” She heard Lizumeizei moving closer to her, and knew when he had to be close because the blob began to move. “Lizumeizei. Leave.”

“If I move any faster, it will only follow me.”

“Who did you piss off?” she demanded.

“Oh you know, everyone.” A fireball grazed her face, slamming into the creature on the ceiling. The red became blistered, but it didn’t die. And it didn’t let go of Amadhay.

“I’m going to kick your ass after you kill this thing. You know that, right?”

“I’m sure that will be the first on your list of things to do,” Lizumeizei muttered. The blob gave a screech and then it launched itself off of the ceiling and at Lizumeizei. The moment it let go of the ceiling, it let go of Amadhay. Immediately, she activated her Gift and moved Lizumeizei out of the way. It hurt not giving her body the proper prep before jumping into it.

She dropped her Gift once Lizumeizei was out of the way, but stupidly stared at the glop again. “I think I’m stuck again,” she told Lizumeizei, who she had moved out of the kitchen. She was now in the doorway of the kitchen. The only way that thing was going to get to Lizumeizei was through her. “So, any bright ideas, my darling warlock?”

“I’m a Qwuill and you know it,” he stated, moving close behind her. She felt his tail curl around her. “I’m going to move you. It will attack me, let go of you, and you’re going to do a diamond orb.”

“I don’t know how.”

“An amber orb, then.”

“An amber orb won’t help you if it eats you,” Amadhay snapped.

“I believe in you. You can do it fast enough to keep that from devouring me.”

“New plan,” Amadhay said, narrowing her eyes as the thing began to bubble. “You run and pull me with you. It’ll have to let go to follow us. I’ll do amber orb and you do diamond.”

“It will catch me before I can do a diamond orb, Amadhay.”

“What can you do quickly? Actually don’t tell me, just do it now. It’s about to jump me.”

Amadhay couldn’t see what the cat-kin was doing behind her, but she could see the blob lengthening. It was turning into something. She felt magic at her back and in her peripheral vision, she could see the green of an emerald orb. She wasn’t sure how much good that would do with an amber orb. Not for the first time, she wished that someone would teach her a diamond orb. This would all be over if she knew how to do the most powerful of natural orbs.

She was seeing fangs. There were very large fangs and a protruding jaw to hold said fangs. Beady eyes were forming above the jaw. No nose, but very large horns on the head. How on Resor was this thing coming together from that tiny thing in the pot?

Lizumeizei tossed his emerald orb and she could feel him already starting on a new orb. The creature slammed into the kitchen sink and let go of Amadhay. She quickly moved her hands in the familiar motions of the amber orb as quickly as she could without using her Gift. It hurt too much to use it, so unless it was absolutely necessary, she wasn’t going to. She loosed the amber orb and it sunk right into the creature’s face, followed closely by a sapphire orb. Lizumeizei took her hands and helped her form the correct hand movements, whispering into her ear a few nonsense words that she repeated without thought.

A gleaming, glittering ball of purple and silver shone in her hands, an orb she had never seen before. The creature jumped at them. Lizumeizei interlaced his finger with hers and pulled her hands apart. The ball grew larger. She could feel a strain in Lizumeizei and the push of her own power and then he slapped their hands together in a loud clap.

The orb shot right out of their hands and into the creature’s mouth. It swallowed and slammed into the two of them, reopening its mouth to bite them. Amadhay kicked with all of her strength, knocking the oversized creature back enough for Lizumeizei to scramble from underneath her. She jumped on top of it before it could go after the cat-kin and gripped the creature by its lower fangs, ignoring the slippery feeling of its slobber, wondering what good that strange orb had been.

As soon as she thought that, the creature seemed to expand. It whined, shaking her off of it with a few powerful movements. And then it blew up. She closed her eyes and winced, readying herself to be covered in beast innards, but felt nothing. She opened her eyes when Lizumeizei nudged her on his way past her. Where the beast had been, was once again the red glop of disgusting. She watched as Lizumeizei muttered a few words of incantation too fast for her to catch, touch the glop, and then it just disappeared. She hoped he sent it far away, and not just to his lab upstairs so that he could check it out.

Lizumeizei turned back to her, the silver of his magic flaring in his eyes from overuse. “Now, where were we?”

“I think this is the part where I kick your ass?” Amadhay suggested, rubbing monster slobber off of her hands and onto his carpet before taking his hand and allowing him to help her up.

“I think food should be here soon,” he added, giving her a grin.

She sighed. “I don’t think I’m hungry anymore.”

“Oh come on, I promise this food will be dead when we get it.” He wiped sweat off of his forehead before running his fingers over the honey-colored braid, pulling it to lay on his chest rather than behind his shoulders. He kissed the corner of her mouth before sitting on the couch and holding his arm out in invitation for her to curl up beside him. “And it’s your favorite movie…”

She sighed again, but was unable to stay irritated with him when the first notes of her favorite movie hit her ears. He was the only one she felt comfortable watching it with, and she really had had the worst past weeks. She deserved some time just relaxing with her catboy, watching a sappy, silly romantic musical. She curled up next to him just as the lead female opened her mouth to sing about creating the world.

Next Chapter

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 In which benjy is hurt



“The blond one will be Mitch. He’s Palnoki’s Wrangler, you know of him, right? Good. The one with the ponytail will be Tenshu, Skeletal Smile. You’ll have to keep your eyes on him ‘cause he’s tricky.”

When Amadhay nodded, he grinned and began to tune his intercom headset. Bland static, pure white noise came from the device and made Amadhay tap her DS to check to see if it was still functioning. Amadhay shook her head at Benjy when she saw that it was.

 “Just remember that we’ll still have to find the cyborg after this, okay? She’ll be easy for you, Red,” he whispered. Something about that caught Amadhay, but she decided to think on it later.

When her DS stopped working, she nodded to Benjy. He tapped his intercom headset and said, “Ghost Sparrow reporting. Received?”

“Received,” Benjy’s communications operative immediately replied through the scrambling static.

“I’m doing a mission with Red Robin for Interrogation and the Info Depo, just so you know.”

“Understood. Carry on.” The cutoff of static to end the communication indicated the beginning of their mission.

“Right on,” Benjy smirked, “Let’s go Lil’ Red.” He faded out on her, going to find their marks. Since apparently Benjy’s information liaison kept tabs on where all known necromancers were at all times to keep Benjy safe, it had been easy enough to find the general location of Skeletal Smile. Luckily enough, it appeared that Skeletal Smile and Palnoki’s Wrangler were together, which Benjy had assured her was normal for the pair. All they needed to do was find the two in this small woods. She had already bet the phantom that they would be at the meadow clearing. It was where she and her sister used to go when they needed to talk in private.

While waiting, Amadhay had time to think. There was definitely something hokey going on. She had been too irritated about the interrogation to think about it earlier, but Atlas had really come too easily. She had gone in expecting a suicide mission, and had come out with one of their greatest enemies bending to her will. And there was something in the way that he looked at her. She couldn’t put her finger on it but—

“They’re behind the trees down there. Come on!” Benjy’s voice came excitedly. He didn’t even bother to become visible again.

The thrill of a real, honest mission excited her. All of her earlier irritation about being put on interrogation duty blocked out her worries and all she could focus on was the mission. She had a necromancer to take out. It would be her first. She was excited.

Her first sight of the men was a disappointment. The ponytailed one, Tenshu Tanhakinshu, had on all black, with black jeans, black canvas shoes, a black t-shirt with a skull on it, and even a black leather coat. He was ridiculously pretty and had a slim figure. She couldn’t see a muscle on him. His partner, Mitchell Hunnigan, was no better, wearing jeans, a blue plaid button down, cowboy boots, and a matching hat that threw his face into shadow. He was talking animatedly. While both looked vaguely familiar to her, neither of them looked like they were formidable foes. Still, she had to remind herself that she looked even less likely to be dangerous at only five feet and still plump from aelfe youth.

When the vampire suddenly froze, she knew it was time to move. Using her Gift, Amadhay zoomed down the hill at her top speed, ramming into Skeletal Smile and knocking him a good three feet from the Wrangler. Instantly, she let go of her Gift and in a much slower speed, she tucked into a roll and unfolded onto her feet before Skeletal Smile, who caught himself. He automatically drew his gun with his left hand while aiming his blade on her with his right.

Amadhay just barely skidded to a stop to avoid impaling herself. Blades were always dangerous if she wasn’t careful. She wasn’t too worried about the gun though, considering no one had ever managed to shoot her before. Skeletal Smile’s eyes shot just over her shoulder, and she followed his gaze to where the Wrangler was attempting to attack the only partially corporeal Benjy.

“You!” the pretty-boy hissed.

She was irritated that he wasn’t even looking at her when she was his opponent, not Benjy. She intended to show him why he should be paying attention to her with a quick, incapacitating jab to his ribs, but the necromancer just dodged her, still paying her no mind as he slid another knife out of his coat and threw it past her.

She watched it pass her, but it didn’t connect in her mind that she should have tried to stop it until it hit the mark right in the center of Benjy’s chest. She expected to see it go right through him since he wasn’t fully materialized, but it didn’t, and he instantly became completely corporeal, falling to his knees.

Amadhay and Benjy’s eyes went wide at the same time. “N-no. Please, don’t,” he managed to get out as Skeletal Smile dropped his weapons to clasp his hands together, making blue light surround Benjy. Amadhay started toward Benjy when he screamed in pain.

“N-no!” Benjy screamed pleadingly and she faltered, turning back to Skeletal Smile uncertainly. “Amadhay!” the phantom cried out, pushing her into action.

She had never seen something take Benjy down like that, but she knew she had to stop the necromancer at all costs. Lips moving rapidly, her eyes turned a deeper red as she focused the full power of her incantation on Skeletal Smile’s chest. A bright purple ball jolted her body as it shot out from between her outstretched hands, gaining speed before slamming into Skeletal Smile, dropping him to the ground.

The Wrangler cried out, but Amadhay didn’t even look at him, instead using her Gift to make it to Benjy right as he collapsed. He was jerking violently when she focused her eyes on the blade, readying herself to pull it out. Before she could, however, he went still and the blade faded from existence, leaving only a tag to float to the ground beside Benjy. His eyes were open, staring at nothing, the black slowly but surely turning to what she feared was his original green eye color.

She tried not to allow herself to lose composure. “Benjy?” she questioned softly, cautiously touching his chest where the blade had been, checking to see if the blade was invisible or truly gone. It was gone. She shook him lightly and after receiving no reply, she snatched the tag up, hoping for some clue of what to do for her friend. Right there on it, however, was her worst fear. The runes on it read to declare that it was a seal tag specifically designed to seal an Undead’s soul away. It had done its job already.

“Monkey,” she whispered, needing her cousin to come to help her, to fix this. She stared at Benjy’s dead eyes, feeling her own eyes begin to prickle.

She refused to cry. When Christein did not appear (which really he had no reason to do since he wasn’t really mentally linked to her, he was just incredibly observant), she chose to instead focus all her energy on fixing this. A seal could be broken. Her eyes narrowed as she turned them back to the body of the other man. She appeared beside the Wrangler, not even looking at him as she shoved him away from his partner, who, while barely conscious, was visibly in no small amount of pain. Giving neither a chance to do anything, she grabbed the necromancer by the ponytail and teleported back to base, instinctively knowing, or rather hoping, that the vampire wouldn’t dare to touch her Benjy’s body.

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November 2016

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