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Hi guys!
So today I was going over messages and came to check up on the group, and it turns out that yesterday (October 19th) was the 1 year anniversary since this group was founded!
However, I am not entirely sure what to do with that information. Do you guys think we should hold a contest or something? Maybe promote some deviations or anything of the kind.
Leave your ideas in the comments!
And, as always, stay amazing.
~Maria

PS. The search for Admins continues! Send me a note if you're interested either in a Co-Founder position or a Contributor position!
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CASTLEVANIA - HUNTRESS: Burden of Duality (pt. 6)PART 6 – Burden Of Duality,I had to stop it. We had to think clearly.“Are you telling me...”“Yes. Right now, you have two options. Your choice.”My heart was beating loudly.“I never wished for your death, Adrian. It’s you who wants to die.”Alucard’s gaze was slow and inviting.Seeing how bestial he became… it was no wonder he felt that way. He was torn between honoring his mother’s last plea… and his newly-found disappointment that put all the humanity at risk. Much like his father’s vengeance did. It was one hellish duality that existed in creatures like us.“I do not wish to die, Ilona… I merely wish for the pain to cease. Sometimes, the only cure for such state is death.”“Such a pessimistic view. Death is never the solution, though.”Regardless, I understood his philosophy. It was about the pain of our existence. The pain of solitude. The pain of being feared, rejected and misunderstood. Of being used… and shunned away. We coped with it each on its own, the ways we estimated were the best for us. And sure, we both persisted somehow. But, the initiate pain still remains. It sticks with us and even when we try to peel layers of it off… forget it… bury it… it still never goes away. There’s always more of it. In different shapes, forms and people. Different decisions. And it never truly disappears.“What will it be, lady Bathory?”It's an open invitation. One I'd normally never neglect.Dhampirs are rare. And even if we weren’t rare as species… it was almost as if we were designed for solitude. Take it from me… and from Adrian. There are plenty possibilities, be it humans or vampires… but we fit to none, not even amongst dhampirs as well. Chimeras aren’t going to like other chimeras just because they fit the classification.“It’s too late for us to...” I utter, trying to compose myself anew. It was easy to give in to someone like Adrian… so easy to get lost in his eyes, his embrace, and in his lips. But there was no point in it.“It’s just been a little over a year,” he noted, and to him, it was. Technically, it was true. I put him to slumber so he could regenerate, supplied him with blood that was filling the tubes of his coffin in order to keep him fed and healed. I did the alchemistic modifications that could be viewed as magic. They required a sacrifice. And since I didn’t want to slaughter people… I had to find other solutions.“You chose to fight him over me. You chose the bloody coffin over me, to rot under Gresit for… who knows how long… if…” I whispered, reminding him of what he knew too well. He didn’t need a reminder.“It was beyond my…”“It wasn’t! That’s the point! It wasn’t!” I lost my patience. I shouldn’t have, for it only demonstrated how frustrating it still was for me. How it still hurt me. I had to calm down.“It wasn’t beyond your power of regeneration. You merely gave up,” I whispered.“I merely chose her wish over yours… and, for that, I apologize. Someone needed to oppose my father. Those capable enough refused to defy him; those who couldn’t merely decided to join him on his quest. You are one of the rare ones that had the luxury to stay neutral. I didn’t have that option. I had to stop him. For she was my mother after all, and her wish was my burden to carry. Not yours as well. I don’t blame you for choosing neither.”I looked aside, unable to face him any longer. We both carried our pain the best ways we could.“To you... I was…”I stopped myself from saying it. There was no point in doing so anyway.“You still are,” he said, surprising me along the way. I think it surprised him too… to bluntly state something like that.“If so… why did it have to be me?” I was still whispering. Had I spoken any louder… my voice would eventually break. My emotions would show. Some huntress I was.“Because you were the only one I could count on. Humans… vampires… dhampires… are all corruptible. Some would turn on me because they were afraid of my father. He was stronger, after all. Others would turn on me because he’d torture them. Force them. Kill them. But not you. Selfish as it may sound… he would never lay a finger on you, and I had to use it to my advantage.”My sigh was heavy. I needed a moment, not because I wasn’t aware of it all, but because it was rather difficult to remember it. To relive it. After all, I loved Dracula more than I loved my own father. That’s why it wasn’t an option for me to assist Alucard in taking his life. I loved them both. So, the easiest thing I could do… was to join the guild of hunters and live as a vagabond. To just be on the road. Busy with killing other monsters. Always on some quest... far away from home. Until the moment he got fatally wounded and I had to go back.“It wasn’t just a year for me, Adrian,” I spoke after some time, in my real voice. “The alchemy required something in return of keeping you functioning in that system. While you were resting… well, recovering under Gresit…”I couldn’t end that statement… but Alucard figured it on his own.“You got transported. To another time.”“Times. Dimensions, even. Centuries ahead… thousands of years apart, even.”That was a lot to take in.“In your mind… right?” he wanted to confirm.“My mind is the only place where I constantly reside... is it not?” I asked. The concept of time travelling… was complicated to perceive. I spent a lot of time in other worlds… but the flow of time there was different comparing to this one. For him, it was about a year. In this world, it was about a year for me too. But in other worlds…“I see. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. There shouldn’t have been such a price.”“My magic… required such a sacrifice. In order to maintain the Gresit system over your coffin, with Gorgonas and other keepers animated as living traps... I had to give up something precious to me.”“Your time,” he gently stated, guilt was written all over his face.At that time… we thought Alucard’s own powers would be enough. But, he couldn’t exactly match Dracula… not while the old vampire still had the power over the castle. In addition… Alucard had to use all of his own power to heal his wounds.“My dhampiric time, yes. So…”“It’s reversible, though,” he immediately offered a solution. “If you…”“It was my choice, I accepted it as it is.”I didn’t need an exchange. I didn’t need him to sacrifice his own time in order to restore the balance. I didn’t need it. After all… my dhampiric time could be dealt with in more than one way. So, there was no need for him to do anything. Unless he wanted to.Not to mention I’ve got to meet him in his other… forms. Not to mention we also had… a connection there. It wasn’t all that bad to pay the price.“Ilona…”“Don’t you dare pity me. I lived quite a life in those... other times.”That was the truth. I’ve met some interesting people… hunted some interesting monsters… and bedded some interesting men. Geralt was one of them. It’s good our dimensions intertwine from time to time, like it happened the night before.Dante was a pretty good lay too, though he didn’t appreciate me flirting with Vergil. I tried with a sloppy excuse of mistaking him for Dante since they were twins, but it didn’t work since Dante wasn’t a fool, and I wasn't particularly good liar. The whole situation was a bit of a mess, but things are fine between us now. Or at least they were when I left. I doubt I will see him anytime soon, if ever again, since he was living in a further future than I wanted to jump into again. Once was more than enough.The one I’d want to visit again, though… would be Arikado Genya. But, the same route applies to him as to Dante. Farther the future, longer the time. It took me a while to master the teleportation to the point where I wanted to return in, so I wouldn’t play with any of it again. I was the happiest in time I was born in. Call me sentimental… but I am beyond happy to return home.One thing bothered me, though. I wasn’t happy about learning about Erzebet… Countess Elizabeth Bathory. What a legacy for our family name. We were as much despised as we were famous. Not the future I wanted for my descendants.Luckily, side-effect are already taking their toll. I’ve already started losing some of those memories from the future. It’s probably a matter of time before I lose them all. But, that’s a story for some other time.While I am here… now… I have to live here and now. As a dhampir, whether I like it or not.We are either regarded as monsters… or considered abominations that needed to be avoided. We are feared just as much as vampires. We are hardly ever accepted for what we are. That’s why I keep posing as human. Why I live as human. Why I suppress my true nature until other magical users can’t even point that something is supernatural about me. And that’s why only halflings… mutants… get me so well. That’s the sole reason why I would choose Geralt or Dante or Aricado over any lord someone’d throw at me. Outcasts are just attracted to the similar types… because they share a feeling of that emptiness no one who is whole can truly get. Mono-races can’t comprehend it even if they tried. There are some exceptions… but generally, we are largely misunderstood. Adrian was heavily misunderstood.I closed my eyes, feeling the remnants of energy. Must be the fight. Must be all the lust. Similar setting provoked the sensations. I started getting glimpses.“Not all of them betray, you know,” I said, trying to peek at the core of his sadness, buried underneath his apathetic exterior. Adrian was always sensitive, deeply, wonderfully… always so gentle and full of understanding and compassion. That’s a part of him that was inherited from Lisa. And she nurtured it quite well. But there was also darkness and rage in him, well-managed behind his perfect manners and his undeniable charisma. The same kind of charisma that could make him into another Dracula, if he decided to release it that way to the world.It certainly started showing with those bodies on spikes.“You can tell they betrayed me?” his smile was filled with sadness.“I can literally sense it.”It was coming from a nearby room. The doors were wide open. The remnants of energy were circulating… like particles. Adrian approached my standing point.“What else can you sense, I wonder?”Breeze. White linen sheets, swinging from and around his bed. Curtains, moving around the opened window. And blood. There was a strong scent of blood. I followed the scent right into that room. And found it perfectly rearranged. No blood. No breeze. Windows were closed. Sheets were clean. The scent of fresh jasmine was filling the place. Jasmine… like at that time. The room looked the same as… when we…“It must be overwhelming,” he stepped into the room where he was betrayed… and where he committed double-slaughter. But this room had other meanings before it became this… execution spot for those two.“There’s so much despair. Those twins… preyed on you… on your hospitality… generosity… your kindness… and your vulnerability,” I said, feeling goosebumps all over my skin as I got all those sensations simultaneously. They fucking restrained him with that fucking wire. Hell, I’d have taken their heads where they stood. Bloody heathens.“I am not sure I am glad you didn’t suppress your magic as well. Given how you suppressed your very nature,” he stated.No wonder… he… felt so bitter. I felt his deep need to be loved… to be understood. All of his loneliness, after the Belmont guy and that speaker, Sypha… after they parted ways with Adrian, leaving him to tend to the keep and the castle… that loneliness affected him, and distorted his mind. His expectations. His faith in humanity, even.I was overwhelmed indeed. It was worse than I previously thought it would be.“Why haven’t you said anything?” I asked, feeling offended a bit. He should have told me about this the moment I entered the castle. Clarify it. After all… we were supposed to be… closer than this. He didn’t have to play the Tepes card with me. He didn’t have to be The Impaler with me. We were supposed to understand each other.“What would that change? I am already like my father. I don’t see humans are worth of being saved.”He lowered his head, bending down. I wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so I observed his movements. He reached for my boot… slowly taking the hilt and pulling the dagger out of it. He rose to face me.“Stop playing the role of monster with me, Adrian. I’ve had enough of it.”“Maybe you can’t see, Ilona... but I am a monster. And we agreed.”“Stubborn son of a…”He turned the hilt towards me, holding the dagger by the tip of the blade.“…devil. We only agreed I’d kill you if you became like Vlad… and that it would be in a fair fight. But right now, I am quite sure you aren’t what you are presenting yourself to be,” I said, taking the dagger but dropping it down on the floor. We were staring at one another.“That’s part of the problem, it seems, huntress Bathory… if you don’t recognize that the one standing before your very eyes is your target.”“Bullshit,” I raised an eyebrow.“My, my… I see all those inns affected your vocabulary. What affected your eyesight, though?” he towered over me. Damn, those twins got him well. I felt like personally chopping them to shreds after sensing what they did to trigger his current transformation. He was so hurting it was starting to hurt me as well.“Oh, my eyesight is perfect; I can see things clearer than ever. Do you want to know what I see now?”“Please… enlighten me,” he said, not without irony.“A hurt child that needs to be comforted,” I moved threads of his hair from his face, putting it behind his shoulders.“Oh, really, a child?” he rose an eyebrow.“You certainly act like one.”He gave me a long look.“What kind of comfort did you have in mind?”Remnants of their energy completely faded. What I was getting with all of my senses now… was mutual. And familiar. This room affected us both, it held too many memories. Such a shame it had to be soiled with blood. Such a pity it had to traumatize him so.“You know what kind, Adrian. Don’t act all naïve with me.”That was all the confirmation he needed. He pushed me onto sheets, enclosing my body with his own. My heartbeat was fastening. My hair spread on the soft surface in long, wavy threads. I was trembling… but not because I was afraid. We were covered in bruises and marks from the fight… pieces of our clothes were torn… but, neither of us seemed to mind.“Who’s naïve again, dear huntress?” he asked, lowering his head down. His hair brushed against my cheek. His lips felt warm against my own. He was holding my wrists pinned next to my head, as if I could suddenly change my mind and leave. As if I’d leave now.“The one who asks the obvious.”“You should have killed me while you had the chance,” he said. I kissed him instead, putting my knees around his waist, closing them to ensure he wouldn’t change his mind and stop this either.“Still puzzled about one thing. You said it was... just comfort, Ilona?” he teased, his tongue gently brushing against my lips. I missed the way he kissed. I missed the way he was holding me in his arms. His scent… his strength… his gentleness… his roughness. I missed all of him.“Just shut up, Adrian.”Our tongues intertwined. Suddenly, everything that wasn’t related to his touch seemed irrelevant. All those memories, all those people, all those experiences… couldn’t compare to this. To him. Because it was Alucard. Adrian.And because it was all about him… all of this time.---------------------------------------------------Istvan… or rather, Stephen V Bathory, as he was widely known… was one of those types that ‘normal’ people would consider - to put it bluntly – insane. And there were several reasons for that.He was exceptionally bold, exceptionally charismatic... and exceptionally cruel. Those components rarely mixed well, so they haven’t proved to be an exception in his case either. He wasn’t always a good warrior; he became good in time… and with the help of adequate, carefully selected warlords by his side. However, he was greatly favored by the fortune, more often than not.And lady Fortune comes in quite handy when you fight wars. During his youth, Stephen befriended Vlad Tepes. He used to be his war alley against the Ottoman empire. Vlad’s cruelty was widely known, and while his tales sowed fear in all of his opponents, stories about man that would become my father were almost as equally terrifying. But, not all the tales about him are scary. Some of them attest to his loyalty and his bravery.He led his army into what seemed like a suicide mission… against an army thrice as big. He led his people against all odds. During that battle, his horse was killed under him, and he end up bleeding from six wounds. In the crucial moment, Pal Knizisi’s army arrived and general saved my father's life, taking him to the camp where the wounded were placed.Somehow… he refused to give up and die. Such was his persistence, and his loyalty to his duty and his own allies. At least something about him was admirable. He also had a sense of justice, albeit subjective. He loved to honor his own ‘code’ – the one where self-perseverance and self-indulgence always came first. Even after meeting the woman he’d later marry.Oddly enough, he met Justina on the battlefield. He was mortally wounded, bounded to die from excessive bleeding. He was brought in the camp, already half-dead. But then… my mother, who attended to the wounded, nursed him back to health and he fell in love instantly. He was mesmerized by her. That’s how the story went anyway.Once he got better, he asked for her hand in marriage. It was sudden, it was crazy, and un-expecting. At first, she rejected him. He was human, after all… he was too bold, too young, too impatient, too direct. Despite being a great war-lord, despite being overwhelmingly charming, handsome and alluring, she politely declined his offer. She was already betrothed, by her family, and promised to a vampire. Political in nature, that marriage should have secured her posture among nobles, making her flourish and prosper.However, whatever Istvan Bathory desired, he eventually got. For a human, it was almost impossible to wed a vampire, especially the one of her caliber.Somehow, he obtained mother’s affection and love. He was cunning - he plotted against her arranged marriage, managed to take her from her family, and managed to bed her despite all the odds. There was just something about Istvan’s advances that made her fall for him, even if I’ll never be able to truly understand it. It’s not up to me to understand it either.Stories say… he was trying hard. He was dedicated, full of love, full of attention, full of promises he’d later break. But, there’s was certain inevitability about my father, some sort of strange appeal he had which made people lured in, as puled by some invisible string towards him. For a human, he had charisma. He was sort of bewitching. He also had something utterly vicious.I guess women were attracted to solving his darkness more than anything else. Women often think they can change men. In most cases, this presumption leads to disappointment. I do believe that mom didn’t have such delusions, but again… when in love, all creatures behave quite… unlike themselves.Once my father managed to get mom’s hand in marriage, he behaved like a perfect husband. He seemed to adore her. He showered her with love, attention, gifts… everything.But, after some time… their differences started to show… and bother them.The fact that he was growing older, and she stayed young despite being hundreds of years older than him… made him envious. Despite him being quite strong, so strong that he was even a match to her… he wasn’t really as strong as some vampire would be. This bothered him, for he had to put large effort just to match her vampiric strength already.He started envying her graciousness, the attention she was receiving both as his wife and the lady of the castle. She got a lot of admirers among his friends. Many were openly in love with her.In time, he started disliking everything he used to like about her. Her looks. Her movements. Her beauty. Her pride. Her fangs.“Behave more like a human,” he’d ask of her. “For me, for this castle, for the people. You are standing out too much.”She would frown, placing her hand over her already growing belly. If she wasn’t already pregnant with me… she would have left. She would have abandoned him. I wish she did. But, with me on the way… she had second thoughts. She wondered whether he would change after meeting his child.Unfortunately… that never happened.Instead of repairing whatever was left of their marriage… when I was born, he was dissatisfied by the fact that he didn’t get a son. To this day, I am bitter about how he never treated me like his child solely because I was born of ‘wrong’ gender.“Look, Justina… just look at her fangs. Girls shouldn’t have those… she looks like a beast. Can’t you do something about it?!”My father wasn’t always disgusted by me, or by my mother. In fact… at one point, he wanted to give her the world, and to me… well, he tried to behave like a proper father. Back when he just met her, he was so mesmerized by her beauty, by her wits, grace, by her vampiric nature. To him, she was always so calm and so mysterious. Like divinity. Sometimes, he’d behave that way around me too, praising me for small achievements. But, most of the time…“Little beast. Hide those fangs when you are in presence of others… or you’ll scare everyone shitless!” he’d say, reaching for me as if he’d slap me.“Stephen!” mother would snap, turning at him. “Let my daughter be.”Her menacing aura didn’t bother him.“Your daughter. Well-put. She is truly yours, isn’t she?”“Careful,” she’d say in her calm, but dangerous tone.“But is she mine?” he would ask despite hearing her warning, mocking us both by his claim. “Are you my child, Ilona?”I would freeze, asking myself whether I truly was his. We were simply too different. Still, hearing those words from him made me feel really hurt.“If hungry, would you drink from me?” he’d continue, mocking me. Whatever appetite I had, I’d lose in those moments. “Would you open my vein and drink my blood, daughter? Little beast.”“Don’t talk to her like that,” my mom would say, “… or else.”She was slowly losing her patience.“Or else… what, dear wife?” his grin was unpleasant and offensive. “What are you going to do - suck me dry?”“I will take my child and return home. My home,” she’d retort, looking at him over her glass.“No, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t dare to leave me. Your family rejected you, remember? You offended them by marrying a human. Dragoslav hates you to this day for choosing to marry a Bathory instead of marrying some noble bloodsucker of his choosing.”“Don’t think for a second that we vampires are like you humans. Do you really think I have nowhere to return to? Every household - Jakšić, Knisizi, Branković… every single noble family would accept me, should I chose to part from you. That aside… I am powerful enough to hold my own castle.”“Then go, Justina. Take her and go,” he’d smirk, looking at me with such evil eyes I couldn’t believe they were truly my father’s.“Mom…” my own eyes would fill with tears. I didn’t want to leave. Despite him being like that… I didn’t want to leave Hungary.“Your father is drunk, my darling. It’s not him you see now. He’s going to bed, he’ll sleep on this, and we are going to have a very long conversation after he wakes up. Then, your father will see sense. And he will apologize to his one and only daughter, much like he’ll bow his head down to his own, darling wife.”He rose from his seat. He threw his cup towards her, but mother blocked the cup with her hand, not even looking at it. She never removed her eyes from him. She pushed the cup, smashing it against the wall. His drink spilled… and the metal clung against the stone floor, echoing.“How dare you send me off in front of my little girl?!” he’d yell, as if he didn’t insult me just a moment ago. “How dare you mock me for being human? You think I am weak, Justina? Ilona! Come. Come to your father.”“No,” I’d say.“You think I am WEAK?” he’d turn at mom again. He’d pull his sword out. Silver sword, at least one meter long. My heart had skipped a beat.“I think you are pathetic,” she’d say, and her eyes would start glowing. She was intimidating, like all monsters when cornered. We can’t help but act as who we are.“To make her hide her fangs… and make her act as a human child… you are a pathetic father, and pathetic husband. You knew she wouldn’t be a human once you got with me. You knew you’d have a half-vampire. So why do you suddenly…”“If you gave me a SON, he might not turn out to be a beast!”Those words hurt even more. Her more than me, I think. After me, they tried to have more children, but it seemed the fortune turned their back on them. Or maybe it was just mother. She didn’t want another child to tie her to the man she no longer loved.To conceive… a female vampire needs more effort than a male vampire. Sometimes, those attempts need alchemy, or magic. And mother had magic in her blood. It seems she lost a lot of it when she gave birth to me. To have another child… would be too much effort to ask of her.“Gender has nothing to do with it and you know it. You are just trying to get rid of me, because I no longer keep your interest. Much like you don’t hold mine.”I was too young to realize that my father found a mistress. Several mistresses, according to what I know now. Some of them were human women, some of them were female vampires. Former friends of my mother’s. Out of some strange reasons… women of both species found him attractive. And daring. As a man, he was something I couldn’t comprehend, and thank good God for that.“You do hold my interest, you damn creature. You damn well know that you do,” he’d approach her then… and he’d try to kiss her. It was disturbing. Naturally, she wouldn’t allow it. She’d push him away, making him more furious than before.The main reason he wasn’t able to be faithful to her… was because he believed he was unworthy of her. So, he’d find ‘lesser’ women, had some fun on the side, all while being envious of mother, and in some way, always in love with her. It was a very difficult marriage. Comparing to him, she was on the range of a goddess. He always felt inferior, despite all of his power and glory.“Turn me,” he’d ask in moments when he’d try and make things right. “Turn me into the creature of the night, so I can be like you. Like her. Like my Ilona. Everything will be well then.”In moments like those, I’d cry because I knew he didn’t mean it. If he was ever turned… he’d be the cruelest vampire to ever live. He’d torture us even more than he already did. But at times, I wished for him to be like me. Just to feel better around me. And for me to feel better around him.“I don’t think it would make any difference,” mom would say. “You’d just behave the same. Personality has nothing to do with what species we are, Istvan. I will turn you if you prove to me that you’d change.”“You just don’t want me to be the stronger one!!!” he’d lose his temper instantly, proving her point immediately.Then, he’d go to Dracula, asking him to turn him instead. But, Vlad Tepes didn’t think Istvan really needed to turn. He needed to change. But as always… my father would refuse to change, not seeing that the problem was in his general behavior.That and… well, he loved being human, after all. Deep down, he hated vampires. He didn’t want to be one, even after Dragoslav offered to turn him. He didn’t want to be sired by mom’s family. Also, he changed his mind the last moment, realizing he loved his mortal life more.Mother did her best to make me not feel ashamed of being a halfling. But, I was ashamed, mostly because of dad and his whole household. I was ashamed of our family, cousins… of servants, and other children… ashamed of how strong I was… how fast I was… of how different I was.My father’s words deeply affected me. So badly I tried my best to cover any sign of my vampiric nature. Tried to fit in his human world. Tried to make him love me. It would make my mother sad… but she’d let me do how I felt. I acted human when I was surrounded by humans. In presence of vampires, I just felt like I wasn’t vampire enough. With my uncles… my grandparents… I always seemed to lack in some manner. Never a full vampire, but just a half. And a bad half.Only after meeting Adrian Tepes… I realized I wasn’t the only one who had these problems. Being born out of completely different sorts of creatures, I felt like I belong to neither. But Adrian was different in one sense. His father never felt inferior to his mother like mine did. His father supported him. My father never supported me. His father loved his mother… while mine was obsessed with mine, but in an unhealthy way.I wasn’t like Adrian in the least, despite being born as the same kind of creature. And it showed.Even now, I pose as a human because it’s easier to function that way. I mask my scent… I mask my fangs. And magic that’s in my blood. It’s just easier that way.Until the hunt requires… that I change. Like I changed for him tonight.----------------------------------------There was no point in resisting it, he could feel me as much as I could feel him. There’s just something about dhampir physiology that worked better than with any other species, with any other guy, from past or future alike. This version of Adrian… was the version I fell in love with. The one I will love for the rest of my days. I knew it then… I know it now.Certainly, there are plenty of men to fool around with, but only one could be named the love of one’s life. For me, that was Adrian. In thousand years from now, it will still be him. Don’t ask how I know.“I dreamt of you,” he said, his lips were sliding down my neck, placing butterfly kisses all over my skin. “In my slumber… I dreamt of you.”We did make love before we parted, despite his state. He could handle a little pain, he claimed. Back then, it seemed like a fitting way to end things. Moreover, it was sort of an agreement… that we could move on. Live our lives without pressure of getting back together. Hell, we even agreed upon killing one another if the situation required. But look at us now. Maybe this was to be expected, after all.“I hope those were the most pleasant of dreams,” I whispered. Secretly, I hoped we would make even better ones.
CASTLEVANIA - HUNTRESS: Constellations (pt. 5),PART 5 - ConstellationsIt became so much easier. And much more clearer. I saw better… heard better… I could sense him better altogether. It was like someone lifted some veil, showing me fragments of reality that were hidden by my weaker, human half. It’s been a while since I got in touch with my vampiric side.The last time I did, it also included Alucard. Funny how some things come around. ---------------------------“Come Adrian… greet our guests,” Lisa encouraged her son to approach the two of us. He just finished studying so he appeared in the dining room. The moment we saw one another, a strange sentiment sparked in both of us. A thought I didn’t expect to get at all. That boy and I… were the same. He had a certain scent… that no vampire or other human possessed. It was a scent similar to my own. I was staring at him, unable to avert my eyes. He looked about my age. He had the most beautiful golden locks I have ever seen. He carried himself with grace no other boy had. He had elegance that many grown nobles lacked. Those were manners taught by his mother. “Good evening, my ladies,” he spoke softly, bowing his head to express his respect. Our eyes met, and I saw that golden gaze was filled with wonder. He must have been surprised to realize that there was another one of his kind in this world. Dhampires were rare. Especially those bred by human fathers and vampire mothers. “Adrian. You’ve grown so much,” my mother smiled, rising from the dining table to curtsy. I followed her example, doing the same to greet lady Lisa’s son. I thought he had to be her child, since they looked the same. To think Dracula fathered a child… was almost unbelievable to me. “Lady Justa,” he kissed mother’s hand by the protocol, but called her by her nickname, expressing fondness. Mom gently smiled, rising her hand to pet his head. “I believe you haven't met my daughter, Ilona,” mother presented me. “I think you two will get along well.” I didn’t know what to do, for I already followed the protocol... so I wasn’t sure what to do next. “My pleasure, lady Bathory,” Adrian took my hand to, placing a short kiss on it before I pulled out. My cheeks were burning. “Lord Tepes,” I mumbled, not looking at him again. “Come, let’s dine,” Lisa smiled. “After that, you two can get better acquainted. Adrian... you may show her around the castle.” I wasn’t sure that we would really get along. Out of some strange reason… that boy Adrian made me quite nervous. I couldn’t say why. ---------------------------------------------“Is this really the best you can do?” the full grown Alucard challenged me, repelling my attack once again. He sounded disappointed. My blades were useless, much like my transition to my bestial side. Vampire or not… I was no match for Dracula’s son. I hissed, trying to slice him as we kept fighting, each focused on placing as much damage as we could on one another. My tunic was slashed at several places. Blood was dripping from various cuts, healing fast, but leaving stains. I had several bruises. Parts of my body still hurt from the kicks and falls. I threw both daggers on the floor, annoyed. “Disappointed?” I asked, putting parts of my hair behind shoulders.“Only in your choice of companions,” he retorted. I summoned the hilt of my sword, making it levitate and fight his own. Our weapons battled separately from us. “A treat we share, it seems. I find your companions questionable as well.” “Truly, it's something we have in common... among many other things,” Alucard said. I teleported behind him, grabbing his arm and putting it against his back. He turned is head, looking down at me. Who would have thought we would come to this. ------------------------------------------------Even as children… we were different. He was gentle, sweet and outgoing. Closed off at first, though, as if he wanted to be careful around others. The fact we were both dhampires didn’t mean we would immediately like each other. We knew that even then. But we grew to accept each other's differences.“So… you are a dhampir as well,” I began talking, looking around Adrian’s room. To me, it was the most magnificent place in the whole Castlevania. It was arranged and designed for a child… with so many wondrous books and tools, just at Adrian’s disposal in there. One of those tools was a large looking glass. It made me feel a little bit jealous. My own room was much smaller… and not nearly as interesting as his own. “Mother tells me we are quite rare,” Adrian said, taking a seat in front of the desk. “So… what do you like doing, Ilona?” He was so polite, trying his best to get to know me. “Reading with mom. Riding my pony. Learning new skills. And… obtaining swords.” “Swords?” Adrian was puzzled. “How come?” “Well… I just like them, I guess,” I said. “I thought girls usually like other things, like dresses and dolls. Banquets and balls. Things like that.” “So, you know a lot of girls?” I asked, rising my eyebrow. “No… but I read in some books what girls usually like.” “You read some rather strange books.” He didn’t, though. “I don’t. Maybe you are just a strange girl.” A point well made. “Who are you calling strange?!” I asked, rising my voice. Footsteps in the hallway made our little dispute end. It could have been mom… or lady Lisa… but somehow, you could just tell it was neither. That kind of moving... “It’s him,” I whispered. “You can tell?” Adrian was surprised I got that so quickly. “Anyone can,” I exclaimed. Vlad Tepes appeared in his son’s room. I turned towards Alucard, smiling. “What are you up to, the two of you?” Dracula asked, checking up on us.“Swords,” Adrian responded. “Lady Bathory here says she is into swords.” “Well, lady can like whatever she likes. Can’t she?” Dracula said. I grinned wider. “She can. Even if it’s strange,” Adrian said, and Dracula smiled at his son’s remark. “Come now, everyone has some sort of preference. I do hope you two find some shared interests.” Everyone wanted us to get along, even if we weren’t all that compatible. Out of courtesy, and out of duty or requirement, we tried. First, we tried as children. Then, as young adults. And later, as adults. For the sake of our families. And for the sake of what we both began to feel. ---------------------------------------I hissed, squeezing his throat even harder, but that was hardly going to cause a real damage to another dhampir. I felt his blood throughout his whole body, it was as if I could hear it as well as I could hear my own. It was singing in my ears. Is he… doing this on purpose? “Cheap trick, Adrian.” “If it’s working, I wouldn’t call it cheap,” he said, grabbing my wrist and squeezing it. It was starting to hurt. His eyes were intense, much like his grip.“It’s merely distracting, nothing more.” He sent me flying. I tried to brace myself for the impact, but the pain was too sharp. I hit the wall, and then landed on my feet... but I needed a moment to process what was going on. He wouldn’t allow it. He rushed straight ahead, and his sword was rushing from behind, ready to pierce my back. I hissed, opening my arm. My own sword flied towards me. The hilt landed in my palm and I closed my fingers around it. Adrian’s sword clashed with mine, but this time, I was following it much better, for I was better prepared comparing to the attack beforehand.“Still playing around?” Alucard raised his eyebrow. “Come now. Don’t make it boring.”“You are enjoying this a little bit too much,” I said, opening my fingers and releasing my sword. Instead of falling on the ground, it started levitating. That alone required a spell, and I was out of spells for a whole year. I wasn’t sure whether it would work… but I guess that some things just come back to you. Like using swords… or riding horses. Spells weren’t as easy, but they functioned on the same principle. “Living as a human… made you unprepared,” he said, allowing me to get more into casting my own energy into my weapon, which started to battle his own sword. I was frustrated. He wasn’t supposed to give me time to get readier. “Sealing the tomb made me unprepared,” I responded bitterly. “It required a lot of my magic, as you already know.”My magic spread throughout my own sword, feeding it with additional energy. It was on the offensive now, sending his own sword back. “How could I forget?” he asked. “I couldn’t even if I tried.” “Statements about past won’t get you far.”“They’ll get me far enough, Ilona.” The way he’d say my name… had that annoying effect on me. It would make me shudder, as if his voice held some special sort of magic. My name sounded like a spell from his mouth. It simply wasn’t fair. “Stop the trick, Adrian,” I warned. “No tricks. But tell me… is that distracting to you?” he smiled. The damn dhampir smiled. “Not in the least,” I kicked him in the stomach, and he blocked my next punch, holding my fists with his own hands. “Oh, forgive me. I forgot that the witcher must have healed that craving,” he added, not without malice. “One witcher for me and… how many hunters were there for you?” I asked instantly, trying to overpower his strength, though I expected my efforts to be futile. I was a strong dhampir… but I was a female dhampir. He still possessed Dracula’s blood in his veins. His bloodline was much older, therefore stronger. “Not many,” he said coldly. His eyes were like dark holes… pitch black, with glowing yellow centers that would turn red once he got into… more savage mode. My own must have looked quite similar. I tried to kick his feet and trip him, but he expected that move. He stood his ground without losing balance, with elegance many could envy him for. “It will take much more, Ilona. Much… much more… than that.” “What happened to them?” I asked. He didn’t immediately respond. “Haven’t you seen?” “I was referring to the hunter and the scholar. The two from the prophecy.” “They wanted to cleanse the rest of the world from evil,” he responded ultimately.“Leaving you all alone after…” I couldn’t stop myself, I spoke it out loud. “… killing my father?” he filled in on his own. “What did you do to the witcher?” “I didn’t impale him, if that’s what you worried about. He is safe, sound and travelling far away.”“Unlike your hunters, greedy boy.” “Get serious,” Alucard said, pushing me hard against the wall. The surface cracked under me, and I felt sharp pain in my lungs, feeling his fast fingers squeeze around my throat.“I am serious, you bastard. You are just too strong,” I gasped, kicking him with my knee. When it didn’t produce the desired effect, I dug my hand into his chest, piercing my claws into his milky shirt, tearing it with sharp nails... and digging deep through his soft, pale skin. I felt his slow, steady heartbeat under my palm. The warm liquid rushed through the wound.“I will rip it out,” I warned. If I close my fist around his heart…“Will you, though? Or will you just keep on threatening?” Alucard asked, his lips now close to my ear. His blood was flowing around my fingers, but it was me who was sweating now. I tried to move, but I couldn’t. His grip kept me firmly against the wall, one hand against my torso, and the other still on my neck. “Tell me you didn’t kill anyone else,” I plead. I didn’t want him to turn into Dracula. His disappointment with human kind… shouldn’t make him despise all of them, like it was the case with Vlad Tepes. “I killed many,” Adrian bluntly stated. “Those who came to hunt me. Those who tried to kill me. So… don’t think I won’t kill you just because you are you,” he warned coldly. “I know that. But what would she say… if she saw you like this?” I asked, stopping defying him altogether. I could still pluck his heart out... but...“Playing dirty now, are we?” he asked, still not losing his composure. Bringing Lisa into this wasn’t my dirty move, though, it was just an observation. Which evidently triggered something in him. “Would your mother like who you've become?” I asked. He blinked. “Is that despair talking, or just fear?” he asked me back. “Me? Afraid of you?” I rose my eyebrows. “What a wishful thinking, Alucard.” “Then why are you shuddering so much, Huntress?” Good question. Why was I shuddering indeed? ------------------------------------------------ Growing up… he was one of a few friends I had. I was comfortable around him. Honest with him. I confided in him. Merely because he was like me. But at one point… that had all changed. --------------------------------------------------“They are beautiful,” I said, looking at the stars from his window. Adrian was looking at the night sky too, pointing at constellations he recognized on the sky. “That one is Virgo. There, we have Andromeda. Also, there’s Orion… and Ursa Major.” I wasn’t looking at them as much as I was looking at his expression. We were about… sixteen then, if I recall correctly. The first time I figured I wasn’t looking him exactly as a friend. The moment I caught myself staring at him more than I stared into the precious stars. “Polaris is so bright tonight,” I said, trying to participate in the conversation rather than keep admiring Adrian’s handsome features. The brightest star in constellation of Ursa Major was called Polaris. My mother taught me about stars, she loved them dearly. I loved them as well, even more with someone like Adrian who could speak about interesting things. “Bright indeed,” Adrian nodded. “You know the myth behind this constellation?”“Ursa Major, the little bear… was Zeus’ son with Callisto. They were both turned into stars to avoid Hera’s retribution.” “Indeed. And the constellation of Virgo?” “It’s about Demeter’s daughter, Persephone. Took by Hades, who made her the Queen of the Underworld. Spica, the brightest star from that constellation, was the brightest in May,” I recited, remember stargazing with mom from the balcony in our castle. “You really like stars, don’t you?” Adrian asked, smiling softly. “I like stories about them. I find them comforting, in a way.” “Comforting?” “Beautiful and silent. Whenever I feel bad… I just look at them and I feel better. They fill me with hope.” He nodded. We both looked at the sky, keeping silent for a while. “I thought sword fights make you feel better,” Arian teased. “They do.” “So… are you up to a sword fight, lady Bathory?” “Not now when it’s so peaceful. Read the atmosphere, you dimwit.” Adrian did read it… and better than I did, obviously. “Why are you so nervous, Ilona?” he asked, smiling. His eyes were glimmering.“I am not,” I realized how high my pitch has become. I was defending myself. What for? “You are,” his condescending smile irritated me. His etereal beauty too. “I am not,” I insisted. “If you say so,” he didn't want to argue. Out of some reason, he was smiling still. “If you could choose a star you like the most… what star would you choose?” he asked, turning towards me. “I don’t know. I mean… that question is somewhat stupid.” I looked up, trying to decide. I felt his hand on my wrist, gently pulling it. I got goosebumps. I knew where this was going. “Maybe Spica…” I wanted to respond, only to find him lowering his head down. My heart was beating faster. Suddenly, the response didn’t matter… much like his question didn’t. What mattered was the texture of his lips… the softness... the warmth... and his gentle kiss that made me blush. I liked the way he did it. He read the atmosphere really well indeed.--------------------------------------------------------Both our swords clanked on the floor. The way he was kissing me now was hungry… raw… and really intense. Nothing like when he kissed me for the first time. We weren’t those dhampires anymore… we were entirely different. “Stop it,” I whispered with my hand still around his heart, threatening to pull it out of his chest. “Stop it?” he asked, but kissed me harder instead. His lips were ferocious. “Adrian!” I was gasping for air, but not so much for air as I gasped for relief. The intensity was over the top. “Rip it out. Come on. Rip it out, and crush it between your fingers,” he challenged, grabbing my chin so I wouldn't turn away. He pressed himself against me, making me feel his body. It felt firm… and it felt warm.“Don’t think I won’t kill you just because you are who you are,” I whispered. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”He released my throat only to grab my hair. It was exciting. It was dominant.“You aren’t the monster you want them to believe you are,” I placed my free hand over his stomach, pushing him a bit. I couldn't think when he was so close. “How do you know?” he asked, pressing his lips against mine once more. It made me feel dizzy. It made me lose my focus. “You are hurting,” I whispered, separating my lips from his own. I removed my claws, now pressing my hands against his chest, allowing him to heal. “You were betrayed and you are hurting… but it’s still not too late for you. Please, Adrian…” “We had a deal, Ilona. We had a deal… that if I ever became like this, you will end me. Don’t be a coward now,” he said.“You are making it difficult for me,” I said, feeling his hard, stiff body against mine. “Good. It’s not supposed to be easy anyway.” “You want to punish me as well,” I noted. “For leaving.” “For not choosing me. For not staying by my side. You betrayed me too,” he said, but that statement didn’t stop him from kissing me once again. “I can say the same thing. I told you not to go against Vlad. I warned you. I told you not to defy him. You had a choice. You could leave with me… but you choose to fight him instead.” It was hard to keep a conversation when we got like this. It was difficult to speak between such kisses.“It was the only way,” he said, deepening the latest kiss further. His tongue entered my mouth, playing with my own muscle. It made it almost impossible to keep talking. “It wasn’t!” I stopped him, feeling my cheeks burn up. He still has it, that power to make me feel infatuated all over again. Like I am sixteen again.“Her wish was to protect humanity,” Adrian stated. “But it doesn’t matter now.” “It matters. You made me entomb you under Gresit! You made me choose as well!” He wasn’t the only one who was hurting. We were both messed up by our previous choices. “Well, this time is no different, I guess. You will have to choose once again.” He released me. I stepped away from the wall, looking at him. “And if I refuse?” “Then you refused,” he cynically retorted. My lips were still tingling with the sensation he produced. Stupid creature. “Is it really my death that you wish for now… or is it something else?” he asked. I frowned, and bit my lip. Again, he read the atmosphere all too well.
JOJO:TCOV - Thin Line Between Love and Hate (pt.5),PART 5 – The Thin Line Between Love and HateIt was a strange feeling, that kiss. Once it happened, it was all she could think about, even days after. She would also get that odd tingling in her belly whenever Dio was nearby. It was as if she was getting hotter. Her skin would somehow burn up. She’d blush just thinking about his lips.Any chance he got, Dio’d snatch another kiss from her. In the backyard, where she painted or sculpted. In the carriage, when she went to the city to buy various items. In the library, where she was reading. In fact… most of their kisses happened at the library. It was her favorite place, after all.Once, he even kissed her in her bedroom. They were almost caught by the maid, which made Vera extremely ashamed, but Dio was quite pleased. After that, Vera avoided Dio… but not because his behavior was unfitting, but because she was doing something entirely inappropriate.She also didn’t go to church as much as she used to… and neither has she visited her secret place. Somehow, everything other than Dio… even her studies… became less important. Suddenly, she caught herself following his schedule. His interests. Thinking of ways she could make him feel good.In all of that, she had an epiphany. This must be love. The same feeling JoJo felt around Erina. More than once, and not without jealousy, Vera noticed that JoJo was bewitched by the girl. And now… something was telling Vera that she was getting bewitched by Dio in a very similar way. She understood Jonathan a lot better, and while she did regret that she never had something similar with him… she had to admit to herself that she always felt attraction towards Brando. Dio, despite being unkind comparing to JoJo, still caused her to feel a certain way. She wanted to kiss him, to feel his warmth. She wanted to touch his golden hair and feel his arms around her when he hugged her.It was the most beautiful feeling in the world… and the scariest thing in the world. To have such a power over another being… was really unsettling.As she was contemplating her recent inappropriate behavior with Dio, the chalk broke between her fingers, and smeared over the paper. She pressed it too hard. Since the line was now wrongly placed, Vera sighed, fixing her drawing the best she could. She realized she was smiling, though. Smiling… and blushing.“VENERA!”A sudden, joyful call made her jump, but once she saw his happy face, Vera couldn’t get mad.“JoJo, you jester!”In mere moment, she folded her paper and hit JoJo with it. He grinned widely.“What made you so occupied? You are barely spending any time outside!”“Just drawing. Look who remembered he had a sister,” Vera pulled his cheek, and JoJo grimaced.“Sister?” he repeated after her, in a bit lower tone. He brushed the place that she pinched just a second ago.“I am your sister… am I not?” she asked, but she understood why JoJo felt uneasy. She shared that sentiment. But, with him liking another girl… and with her now liking Dio…“Well… if you put it that way… I guess so,” JoJo responded, taking a seat next to Vera. “But, I prefer if you just stayed my VeVe.”Vera bit her lip, thinking of what she did in his bedroom once he was deep asleep. If only… he… if only he felt the same way, then she would have indeed been his VeVe. But, since he liked someone else…“What would Erina think?”“What would she think?” JoJo didn’t understand why Vera was asking.She sighed.“JoJo, it’s not very… common… to have a girlfriend and call another one yours. I think it’s frowned upon.”“Why would it be? I mean… it’s different,” JoJo got a bit uncomfortable. Vera has already been.“I know what you mean. That’s why I thought that calling me your sister would be appropriate,” she explained.“Do you call Dio your brother?” JoJo asked. His expression was serious then.“Why does it matter?” Vera asked too.“You didn’t answer.”“It’s different,” was the best answer she could give to Jonathan.“Ah… I see.”JoJo was looking at her folded drawings.“Has he done something?” he asked. Vera squeezed her papers, blushing along the way.“What would he do, JoJo?”“I’ve just noticed that he is… spending more time with you lately. What’s going on?”She looked at JoJo now.“He is just being… considerate.”“Vera… when is Dio ever considerate?” JoJo asked, getting slightly annoyed along the way.“Are you assuming that he is up to something?” she asked.“Not you too,” JoJo realized. She was defending Dio. This was something he never thought he’d hear.“What?” she looked at him in a way she never did before.“Just… be careful, Vera,” JoJo warned her, getting up.“Hey… what is that supposed to mean?” she asked, now angry.“That of all people… you probably know him the best. You don’t need me to tell you how he can be,” JoJo said. “See you later.”That was twice that he called her by her name. And twice as serious.------------------------------Vera was heading back home from the city when she saw her. JoJo’s girl. She was walking with a basket in her arms, looking really sad. Disturbed, even. In all times Vera saw her… she never seemed that way. Not even once. Something must have happened.“Miss Pendleton?” Vera called.The girl turned towards her, and once she recognized Vera, she turned her head away.“Hey, Eri… miss Pendleton!” Vera rushed after her.“Please… don’t,” the soft whisper came out of the blond girl.“Is something wrong? Has JoJo done something?”It was a strange thing to ask, Vera figured. JoJo would never harm this girl. Or anyone. Ever. When did she start thinking this way?“Please, miss Joestar… just leave me be. I want nothing to do with your family,” she uttered, stepping away from Vera.“Wh… hey… do you want to talk about it? Whatever happened… I apologize on my family’s behalf… but I am sure we can talk this…”“I am leaving with my father, he is going to work overseas. We are headed for India,” Erina said. “So, please, miss Vera… tell JoJo not to look for me anymore. And please… take care of him.”Vera was surprised… it was all too sudden.“Miss Pendleton…”“Goodbye, miss Venera.”With that, Erina passed her by, rushing so Vera couldn’t keep up. Vera did hurry… but in the opposite direction. She needed to talk to JoJo.---------------------------------Once she arrived at the manor… she saw them in the hallway. They were fighting, and they were bloodied. Both of them.“JOJO! DIO!” she screamed, but none of them was about to stop. On the contrary. They never looked as hell-bent on beating one another as in that very moment.“Come and get it!!” Dio yelled and JoJo rushed head on. Dio seemed to have the upper hand, but JoJo refused to back down. Dio kicked him, but JoJo managed to grab both of his fists, and then… he head-butted Dio, to which Vera screamed, covering her mouth with both of her hands.“I will keep beating you until you cry! Dio, you scumbag!!” JoJo was out of control for the first time since Vera arrived at Joestar’s residence.“Stop! Both of you! Stop!” she run towards them. The mask fell from the wall. Dio started crawling away from JoJo. Vera was shocked to see tears in his eyes.“Why… why did you do this to me?” Dio asked JoJo in a broken voice… vulnerable voice that she never heard before.“What?!”“You brute!” Dio yelled, reaching for something behind his back, and still taking a fighting stance.Vera got in between.“You two, stop at once!!”“What is this ruckus?!” the powerful voice resonated from the upper floor. Vera was relieved to hear sir Joestar.“Father!” JoJo called.“Boys will be boys, but JoJo, you struck Dio when he was defenseless. That’s not what a gentleman would do!”Vera, who got there later, didn’t know how or why that fight begun. But, to see Dio cry… that was a first.“It’s not like that!” JoJo yelled, clenching his fist.“I don’t want to hear it! Both of you, go to your rooms! Scaring Vera like that, on top of it all. You two have no manners at all. You behave like savages!!”JoJo and Dio looked at her. Vera didn’t look scared, though… she looked serious.“I will punish you both later!” sir George threatened again. Boys were looking at one another with hate that was never this strong. Sir Joestar made them go to their rooms. In the meantime… Vera noticed that the mask clinked, and something looked like it went inside of it. She must be imagining things.She walked over, approaching it. She reached for the stone face, getting an eerie feeling as she picked it up from the ground.VENERA.It wasn’t a sound. It was a feeling. A cold, hard feeling of blood… spilled over the stone, thousands and thousands of years before. Warm blood that covered the marble surface. Warm skin, sliced by a cold, iron dagger.And a scream. That, she could feel it inside of her veins. It was if her blood was screaming. She suddenly felt dizzy, as if she’d faint. Still, Vera shrugged it away, and put the mask back at its place.She really disliked that ominous piece.---------------------------------------Vera went to JoJo’s room. She chose to see him first… because there was that unsettling feeling she couldn’t shake off. She needed to understand what that fight was all about. Despite liking Dio… she had to remind herself that she should listen to both sides. And because of that, she had to check on Jonathan’s reasons.“We need to talk, JoJo.”“Would it be of any use?” Jonathan wondered out loud, sitting on his bed. Vera sat next to him.“What is that supposed to mean?” she asked, turning her golden eyes towards him. He didn’t respond.“JoJo… is this actually about Erina? Did you fight with Dio because you needed a way to express your anger regarding her departure? I know Dio and you don't get along, but to fight him like this...” Vera had to guess. But, judging by Jonathan’s next reaction, she saw that wasn’t exactly the case. JoJo’s eyes widened in shock.“Erina’s… departure?”“Apparently… she is going… to India. With her father. You didn’t know?”JoJo clenched his fist, and then gritted his teeth.“Damn… that… Dio!”He rose in fury, ready to storm out of his bedroom, ready to fight Dio again.“Hey, hey!”Vera grabbed JoJo’s sweater, stopping him for a moment.“What does Dio have to do with anything?”“He has to do with EVERYTHING!”“JoJo… explain this so I can understand. Please.”Her heart felt cold. Something about the whole situation was rather… ominous.“He turned you against me,” JoJo simply stated.“What are you talking about?” she was half-offended, and half-confused. JoJo sighed, rubbing his nape.“I saw you two in the garden… several days ago,” he explained, not looking at Vera. She felt her cheeks burning up. She let go of his sweater.“That…” she uttered.“I am not judging you, Vera, you are free to like whoever you like,” JoJo turned towards her. He sounded somewhat disappointed when he said that, though. She had to compose herself.“Why do you think it won’t be of any use to talk to me? We sometimes don’t see eye to eye… but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell me. Are we not… close enough? Can’t you still share your reasons for that fight with me?”“He did something repulsive, and learning about it would only break your heart. Given how… you two…”JoJo didn’t have to end that sentence. Vera understood.“JoJo… the reason I am here, and not in Dio’s room right now… is because I believe I still trust you more than I trust him. I know, it’s ironical, I know, but that’s how I feel. And if that’s not good enough reason to explain this to me… I don’t know what that reason should be.”“Well, I know of one reason you shouldn’t know about this. You don’t want to know it if you are in love with him.”She already had a bad feeling about Dio once she saw him fighting JoJo. Being in the dark felt worse than not knowing. Believing in the sweet lie was sweet for the time being… but it’s not like Vera was completely blind when Dio was concerned.“JoJo… I need you to tell me why you beat him so hard that he ended up crying in front of your father.”JoJo bit his lip, controlling his rage.“He kissed Erina.”“He… what?” Vera asked, and her heart started sinking in icy despair. “He… why?”“Out of pure spite, Vera,” JoJo said. “He kissed her because he knew it would humiliate her. Humiliate… me. I didn’t get… we didn’t get to kiss. He wanted to be the first one just… to make me feel this way.”“Oh, JoJo…” she couldn’t withhold her tears. She was standing in front of him… shaking.“She doesn’t want to even… look at me. Talk to me,” JoJo sounded desperate, and as if he was on the verge to cry himself.“Jonathan…”Vera reached for him. She put her hands around his neck. She had to get on her tiptoes in order to hug him.“I am sorry,” she whispered as he hugged her back. “I am really, really sorry for being so blind.”----------------------------She stormed in Dio’s room, finding him lying on his own bed.“DIO!” she yelled.“Learn some manners, Venera!” he rose up, glaring at her. He was in the bad mood, he didn’t need hysterical girl to worsen it up.She approached him entirely, grabbing him by the shirt.“Why?” she asked, cold determination visible in her eyes.“Why what?” he feigned ignorance. He was too assured of his power over her.“Why did you do it?” she asked, pulling him closer. Her eyes were glowing. He wondered if that was reflection from the chandelier… or rather strange play of light.“Why did I do what?” he asked again.She slapped him, making his already hurt jaw hurt even more.“BITCH!” he grabbed her wrist.“Why did you kiss her?!” she asked, pulling her hand, but Dio refused to lose his grip.“Ah. So, JoJo is still insisting on that nonsense!” Dio smirked, seeing Vera so frustrated over the matter. It meant it hurt her. And if it hurt… she was in love with him still.“Are you saying you didn’t do it?”“I didn’t,” Dio bluntly lied, smiling. “Do you really believe I’d kiss some random girl just to spite him?”“You really take me for such a big fool?” Vera asked. She slapped him with her other hand, making him really furious. Dio pushed her on the bed, towering over her.“You spoke to JoJo rather than speaking with me. You also believed him before you believed me. It’s me you are taking for a fool, Venera… rather than me taking you for one.”“Release me,” she warned. Dio maybe wasn’t able to beat JoJo in that stupid fight… but he did have strength to overpower such a fragile girl. He squeezed her wrists, getting atop of Vera.“You like him still… don’t you?” Dio smirked. “Stupid girl. You had me, Dio… but you still want that stupid oaf!”He leaned down.“Or… is it the fact that I kissed someone else unbearable to you?” he asked, getting really close to kissing Vera again. Her eyes were now almost completely yellow… and her pupils were almost invisible.“So, you admit to kissing her,” Vera’s scornful tone made him smile even wider. “You kissed that poor girl by force!”“And it meant nothing. It was plain, it was boring… unlike how it feels when I am kissing you.”“You snake!”Her voice changed. It got deeper. It got stronger.“I kissed her… so what? I only kissed Erina Pendleton… because JoJo didn’t get to kiss her. Just like he didn’t get to kiss you! I was first! ME! Not Jonathan… ME!”She screamed. Once she did, veins showed on her throat, and the ground started shaking. She was screaming, with eyes completely yellow, and high pitch caused Dio to get off her, putting his hands to cover his ears.The scream shattered his chandeliers. All candles got turned off at once. And then… there was only silence.“You didn’t,” Vera suddenly said. “Maybe you kissed Erina first… but my first kiss was with JoJo. It was him. Not you. And for that, I am really glad.”“You are lying, you witch. You are lying.”“I don’t. We kissed first, on the very first day you arrived. We also kissed in his room. And multiple times. So, you are nothing special to me, Dio.”His eyes narrowed down.“You are lying, Venera. The whole show from a moment ago happened because you hurt. Your emotions triggered something, and you lost control over it. That’s exactly how special I am to you.”“You were never secial. I was just getting to know more about you so I could see how you really are. And what I see is a cunning, envious little man who has to use others so he can achieve his devious aims.”“Careful now.”“No, Dio, you are the one who needs to be careful. You aren’t the only one who can play this game.”“Young master Dio, are you all right?”Servants were gathering in front, wondering what the noise was all about.“Go ahead, tell them. Spread your web of lies. Tell them how I am a witch. Tell them that I am crazy. I have my own story to tell.”She sat under the broken chandelier, taking shards of crystal.“What are you up to, stupid girl?” Dio asked, looking at the show she was putting on.“Your word against mine.”“Young master!”“What do you think you are doing?” Dio asked, grabbing her by her wrist and pulling her up.She screamed again, and the servants barged in.“Miss Vera!”“DIO!” Sir Joestar appeared on his door, shocked by what he found.“Father, help me!” Vera slapped Dio’s hand, and rushed towards sir George. “Father!”It was the first time she called him so. She started crying, hugging him tightly.“What happened?!” sir George asked. She was sobbing in his chest, and sir George looked at Dio.“What did you do?”“Nothing!” Dio shouted. “I did nothing, she… she…”He didn’t know what to say… not in that moment.“She had an episode! Father! She is ill! She broke the chandelier… she also…”“Father, Dio hurt me… I just asked him not to fight with JoJo, and he pushed me out of the blue! It hurts.”Only then, Dio noticed the marks on her hands. Scratches from the shards on her skin. They were bleeding.“Dio, how could you do this to your sister?!” sir George asked.“She is not my SISTER!” Dio roared. “She is a filthy little liar, and her place is in an asylum!”“Father, I am scared of him,” she sobbed, whispering to sir George. “Please… don’t let him hurt me. I just wanted Dio to see reason.”Sir George hugged Vera, picking her up.“Let’s treat your wounds,” he gently kissed her forehead. “And you, Dio… I shall deal with you later.”As he turned to carry Vera out, Vera’s eyes met Dio’s. And as he stood by, she smiled to him. It was a really vicious smile. Very witchy-like.Dio frowned, promising to himself that she'd regret this. He still didn't know how... but he knew that she will.
PSYCHO-PASS : PARADIGM SHIFT - Pale Turquoise (1)
PSYCHO PASS : PARADIGM SHIFT (sequel to 'Coping Mechanisms')PART 1 - Pale Turquoise,Akibara Shizuka entered her new office.It hasn’t been that long since she got promoted, but three weeks should have been enough for anyone to get used to their new posture. Right? Except… she still couldn’t get used to that office. It was close to Kasei’s, and there was just too much space around her. After sharing her previous office with Division One, her new surroundings just seemed too quiet… and too vast. She didn’t bother with keeping plants… for they’d just die under her ‘care’. She knew she’d eventually have to personalize that area, but she was still too lazy to do so. She also delayed sorting her hard-copied cases and all the papyrology. Some of her boxes were still unpacked. She couldn’t bring herself to arrange the office… because she didn’t feel it as her office. And her new position… didn’t feel like a promotion at all. It felt rather like… a confinement cell. Because it was just that. Confinement.She found it funny how she was still heading to Division One’s office per habit, taking the wrong turn each time she entered the bureau. And once she took the wrong turn, she would have to stop for a few seconds… and change her direction, remembering that the position she once held was given to another Inspector. That girl will start working any day now. Shizuka was trying not to think too much about it… but again, there was no helping it. She had to wonder… what kind of person this Tsunemori Akane is. Shizuka sighed, putting her dark green coat over the chair. She glanced at the city, admiring the view. One thing to like about that office, at least. She poured herself a cup of coffee, and started reviewing recent reports on her monitor. There were a few live consultations with her colleagues from Division Three, but nothing too complicated… or too crazy. The crime rate seemingly dropped… and the police officers weren’t as busy as before. Shizuka was somehow relived… thinking how her team… her previous team… won’t have to be too preoccupied at least for the time being. She wanted to drop by and see how they were doing. She really did. But, somehow… she couldn’t bring herself to go there. Not yet. Because… if she did… she’d have to put on a brave face. She’d have to smile. And… she was too tired to trying to fake anything. For whole three weeks she’s been reinstated, she didn’t get to go out on the field. Not even once. She wondered if there was any need for her to have a Dominator anymore.First several days were the hardest. She constantly fought the urge to cry… and withheld that pain inside. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. She wasn’t supposed to feel this alienated. And yet… she did. Just like Kasei planned. She went through all the reports, and stopped at specific file. Inspector Ginoza Nobuchika was always the first one to submit his reports. She read it, thinking how he successfully closed another case on his own. It wasn’t a demanding case, but it still required effective and swift action. “… was recorded by the street scanner. The suspect refused to take therapy and threatened to jump from the window once he got cornered by Enforcers Kogami and Masaoka…” Shizuka was staring at turquoise letters on her screen. Masaoka was the one to stop the suspect from committing suicide. Gino reported fairly, objectively. He didn’t exactly praise the work of Enforcers, but he wasn’t discrediting them in any way either. She liked that about Gino. He could perfectly separate his head from his emotions when his work was on the line. And Kogami… she wondered how Kogami felt as of recently. He didn’t call… not even once. The untraceable device was still active, of that she was sure… but Kogami… didn’t call in whole month. She missed having those… late night conversations with him. Just… hearing his voice. There was something soothing in his voice. His touch as well. She missed everything about him.But, the change was inevitable, really. What she did with Gino… must have affected him more than he was willing to admit. It was, by no means, a small matter. And all three were now in tight spot because of it. It must have been really… awkward to work together now. She wondered if they acted as if everything was as normal as before. She sighed, putting her hand to support her face. What a mess. She took a sip of her coffee. Coming to think of it, she only met Gino twice since she was transferred. The first time was at the parking lot… and the second one was in their building. His schedule got a bit hectic so his working pace was changed a few times, enabling them to avoid one another for the time being. Strangely enough… they didn’t meet despite living on the same floor. She didn’t know what to make of it. There were still unresolved things between them, but… it appeared those things had to wait.Other than Ginoza… she saw Karanomori. She went to her lab for the regular checkup. It wasn’t as awkward as Shizuka expected it to be. On the contrary. She felt like everything remained the same once she saw Shion in her lab, smoking. After hearing her relaxing tone, and seeing her laid-back attitude, Shizuka felt very much at ease. “Pale turquoise, Aki-chan. Your hue is as good as ever. Nothing is out of the ordinary, and your CC remains low. Are you using prescription pills again?”Shizuka was thinking about the plastic bottle in her desk. “No… I’ve stopped using suppressants. I am on a… different regiment,” Shizuka smiled, fixing threads of her burgundy bob after she put Shion’s scanner off. Shion liked the new look. Her hairstyle was longer, more layered than the previous one. “Is it escapism again?” Shion wondered. Shizuka seemed healthier. Less exhausted… less tired… but not exactly in the right mood. Shion didn’t expect her to be either. She knew that leaving Division One would make her melancholic. That’s how she presumed Shizuka was using some sort of hue-treatment. She must have dealt with her stress in her standard manner. “Escapism indeed,” Shizuka confirmed. It was different this time, though. With all the spare time on her hands, Shizuka decided to take Hitagawa Kana’s recorded holographic sessions to further expand her escapism durability. She had to stop being afraid of the Psycho-Leap. She had to stop postponing the after-effects of her forced recovery from the Butcher case. She felt she was ready… after watching her father’s conducted interviews with his patients. She finally felt she was ready to embrace this ability. To finally accept… that she wasn’t like others, never has been, and that she never will be. No matter how many suppressants she took. Instead of being half-assed escapist, she will be the exceptional one. She will have to be. And… if she manages to fully embrace that she is an escapist… without feeling any remorse… she might be able to overcome her anxiety and turn her skill into a weapon, rather than just mere convenience. No one knew this… but Shizuka was at war. Firstly with herself… then with Kasei Joshu… and with the Sibyl system itself. After the recent discovery that there were people that Sibyl can’t judge, she felt quite angry. If Sibyl can’t judge everyone equally, it means the system can’t be considered fair. And if the system wasn’t able to be fair, why rely on it? There was more than one thing that Sibyl was hiding about its very nature. However, Shizuka wasn’t sure what exactly that was. She was yet to discover. Having Sayo in mechanical department… was just an opportunity she couldn’t waste. Her best friend was discreetly looking at inconsistencies in the system… looking for any clues that didn’t seem to fit. And she did it patiently, so she wouldn’t be suspected of snooping around. She had to play it smart. Her hue didn’t suffer for it… because Sayo was more curious about learning things rather than worrying about her color. Sayo was resilient, intelligent girl despite her need to constantly fool around and joke about stuff. She was recently occupied with learning about Bifrost, giving Shizuka all the information she could gather. That part still hasn’t changed. This new position at CID might provide useful, Shizuka thought. She might be able to dig even deeper, if she is careful enough. But, in order to achieve that… she will have to have something to rely onto, rather than just putting Sayo through all that trouble. She will have to count on her own hue, regardless of how difficult it may be in the future. And she can’t lose. Against Sibyl… she can’t lose. That’s why she needed to completely master her ability. To be able to recover from any kind of shock… or stress. And so… she practiced every day. She got into meditations. Self-hypnosis. Autogenic trainings. It had to work. All her episodes… all her effort… gave her that pale turquoise color that Shion recorded for her latest report. “It goes without saying, Aki-chan… that everyone in Division One misses you. You really… shouldn’t have taken that promotion,” she heard the analyst say. There was something rather unusual in Shion’s voice in that moment. Almost as if… she felt a bit sad.“I miss you all too… but, it is what it is,” Shizuka shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t look so gloomy, Shion. It doesn’t suit you.”The blonde laughed at Shizuka’s remark. “I guess it doesn’t. Well… come by when you have time. You don’t have to ostracize yourself just because you aren’t in Division One anymore. We are still friends, you know?”“I hope so,” Shizuka smiled too. “I will come again soon.”“Please do. I need to pester a proper girl to go shopping with me, instead of always forcing poor Ginoza-kun.” The blonde winked. Shizuka smiled, putting her new green coat over her shoulders. “Indeed. Let’s buy all the outfits that you like.” She greeted Shion on her way out. Her chest tightened, but she ignored it.Still… she was missing them all so badly. -----------------------------It was a particularly bad day, that day. She was working the second shift. The rain wouldn’t stop falling the entire afternoon. Her meeting with Kasei was brief. At this point, she was just a consultant who assisted other inspectors with their active cases. Nothing more. Some promotion that was. By the end of that meeting, she felt so infuriated she had to immediately do something about it. She went to the gym to vent out. She was beating her sparring doll at the hardest level, and she still felt unrelieved of the pent-up anger. So, this is how he felt. This is how he felt all this time. Cornered… helpless… furious. It was frightening that she had to reach this point to truly understand the depth of his solitude. She still felt awful, so she went to shower. When she returned to her office, she found another added report. Another closed case. Gino was working as hard as ever. All of them were. Just… without her. It was kind of hurtful that he didn’t ask for her assistance. He hasn’t even come to look for a consultation. She knew he wouldn’t need her for crime-solving of cases of this simplicity… but it only emphasized how meaningless this new position was. Some supervisor she was. She closed her eyes… thinking. Kagari was probably playing his games on his portable device. Yayoi was checking out the map of the areas that were covered by the street scanners. Masaoka was oiling his metal arm, making it functional for another case. Gino was probably sitting in silence, staring at his monitor. And Kogami… was lost in his thoughts, chasing his old ghost. Shizuka inhaled. She could see them all so clearly in her mind. She wanted to smile, but the smile refused to come out. It became the grimace of pain instead. Come on. None of them died. You’ve lost team mates before. This isn’t something to stress over for. They will be fine. And you will be fine. You have an objective. Go through with it. What a pain. She reached underneath her desk, pulling the box out. She opened it, and took several items from it. A notepad… a digital scanner… the new wrist-com… a recorder. Three photo-frames. She arranged them next to her computer. The first frame contained her picture with Mio from her graduation. The second one was with Kogami and Gino after she joined the Division Three to be Kogami’s new partner. Sasayama sneaked into the shot, hugging them all and adding that surprised, yet happy moment, frozen in time forever. And the third one… was the most recent, taken shortly after Shizuka joined the Division One. Risa took that photo, sort of to encourage Shizuka’s transit to the new unit after she left Division Two. To think she was so nervous… to work by Gino’s side… and to work with Kogami after his demotion again. She thought she’d never fit in with the rest of the team. Who would have thought that she’d end up liking them all so much? She smiled sadly, placing that frame as a central frame. She also wiped her eyes. Just in time, because she heard steps. “Senior inspector Akibara?” Soft voice belonged to a girl. She was petite… dressed in a business suit, white shirt and a pencil skirt. She was fairly well built… as if she was an athlete. She was still feminine, though. She had a nice body. Her tomboyish hairstyle threatened to take away from her attractiveness, but then, those wide, big eyes that exuded honesty substituted any lack of femininity. She had such a sweet appearance, this Tsunemori Akane. Her voice was pleasant too. Shizuka bet Kagari will instantly like her. He had a thing for this type of girls.“How can I be of assistance, Inspector Tsunemori?” Shizuka placed her elbows on the table, leaning towards Akane from her seat. Time to fake a smile or two, she thought. “I was told… to pay you a visit before I go and meet other members. I am here… to formally introduce myself.”The girl bowed down; somewhat surprised by the fact that Akibara already knew her name.“I am glad, Inspector. Please, have a seat.” “Thanks… but I am good.” Tsunemori looked around. Shizuka was glad she at least put one painting in that gloomy space. “Kandinsky’s ‘In Blue’ from 1925.”Small talk could ease this heavy atmosphere.“It’s… beautiful,” Akane was looking at the painting for a moment longer. She seemed surprised Akibara didn’t use hologram for the display, but a real reproduction of the abstract painting. She looked at Shizuka.“I hope I will be capable enough to take your position. I will try and honor it the same way you did.” Honor it, huh? Shizuka almost laughed, not to Akane’s naive remark, but at the bitter irony of it. This was probably Kasei’s deed as well. Making Tsunemori come all the way here… and unintentionally rub salt into Shizuka’s wound. As if… Kasei was hoping she’d make her upset. Jealous, even. Shizuka bet Kasei just wanted to disturb her hue this way.“You already have the capacity,” Shizuka said, leaning back into her seat. She kept observing the young girl. “After all… your hue and your grades are all exceptional.” “I still have a lot to learn,” Tsunemori seemed too modest to Shizuka. “I hope I will manage to do well.” “I am sure you will. You will catch up in no time.” She wanted to say more. Much more. And give another kind of advice to this girl that was just starting this job. Shizuka’s head was filled with thoughts she couldn’t tell to anyone else. Her hands were tied... and her mouth had to remain shut. For the time being.She looked at the frame on her desk. “Division One is full of capable people. They will take care of you. There’s no need to be nervous, you will be quite safe in their hands. Which reminds me...” Shizuka reached for the box under her table once more and pulled an item from it. Then, she walked towards Akane, stepping in front of the girl. She was slightly smaller comparing to Shizuka… but not too much. They were about the same height. “My credential badge. I won’t be needing it anymore, so… since you are my successor… you should just add your own data, and use it from now on.”Tsunemori’s eyes widened. “This…” she hesitantly reached for Shizuka’s hand. She didn’t seem comfortable. Shizuka had to remind herself that she probably looked intimidating to the young Inspector. Akibara had those sharp facial features, much like Kiyoka Tezuka… and to someone who didn’t know anything about her, she probably seemed a little bit scary. She didn’t want to come off as scary to this girl, though. Akane… had nothing to do with what was happening between Akibara and the Sibyl System. She won’t be collateral, because Shizuka was reasonable enough not to allow her emotions to cloud her judgement. Shizuka opened Akane’s palm and put the holo-badge in it. “Are… are you sure you wouldn’t want to keep it as a memento?” the girl asked, rising her eyes towards Shizuka. That observation told Shizuka a lot about the girl. That she was kind. And considerate. “I already got the new one, being promoted and all. Just… take it and copy your data to it.” In truth… it was much harder to hand it over than she thought it would be. “Thank you, Seni…”“Not a senior. Just an inspector. However… since we’ve been properly introduced… please, just call me Akibara.” Akane opened the badge and waited for a moment. Then, she activated her bracelet… and added the data to the badge, copying her registration number and other requirements. “May I ask something personal?” Shizuka couldn’t help but wonder.“Y-yes?” “Why did you choose the Ministry of Welfare?” Having seven hundred points on her entrance exam meant that Akane could choose between three ministries… and work other jobs. She thought about it. Her response was simple. “I thought this might be the place where I can contribute the most.” She seemed so… decent. Nice. There was no doubt she will fit well with the rest of the team. Shizuka couldn’t help… but feel slightly envious. And she disliked herself for it. “If you need anything… you can talk to me. Should you need any sort of assistance, I will be happy to help,” Shizuka said. “Thank you, Inspector Akibara. I am looking forward to our cooperation.” “Likewise.” Shizuka offered her hand to Tsunemori. Inspector accepted it, and they shook hands. Shortly after, Tsunemori’s wrist-com started beeping, and the girl looked at Shizuka, feeling the slight panic as the sound repeated. It was an emergency… the very day Tsunemori got posted. First day, and it’s already an active case. How unfortunate. “I have to…” “I understand.” “Thanks for giving me the badge,” Akane put it in her pocket.“It belongs to Shepherd Two… and it’s you now.” Akane noticed how Shizuka’s voice softened. “Inspector… I…”“You’ve got this,” Shizuka said. Tsunemori bowed her head once again. “I will do my best!” she saluted… and then… she headed out in a rush. Shizuka looked through the window, thinking how the rain got even heavier. No matter how she felt about the whole situation, Shizuka wasn’t going to let Kasei create any sort of animosity towards this girl. Instead… the amount of animosity that Shizuka already harbored for Kasei just increased considerably.She picked her coat, putting it over her shoulders. She had enough of idly sitting down, flicking trough reports. Suddenly… her own bracelet started beeping, in the very same manner like Akane’s. Her holographic display opened up, showing up a name.Her heart skipped a beat. Her finger trembled before she pressed the button to activate the line.“Abolition block,” he said, in that cold, calm tone that she sometimes disliked. But, this time… it was the most welcoming sound of them all. “Already on my way,” she said. -----------------------------------Akane was late. She was running, trying to catch her breath as she was breaking through the crowd that gathered in front of the abolition block. She showed her badge to the mascots of CID that were blocking the entrance, heavily panting. The rain was soaking her hair… her clothes… but she run towards the tall, slim man who was already at the scene. “Excuse me! Are you Inspector Ginoza?” she asked, just in case. He turned to face her, closing the line on his watch. He just ended the call. “That’s me. What a bad luck that you have to deal with an incident right after you got posted.”Akane still had a hard time to breathe from running so much. However, she saluted to Ginoza, and introduced herself to her new partner.“I’m Tsunemori Akane. I’ve been assigned to the CID as of today! Pleased to meet…”Ginoza interrupted her with calm tone, but sharp gaze. “Sorry… but the CID is very short on manpower. I can’t treat you like a newbie.”In that moment… she somehow knew this job would be nothing like what she’s been prepared for during her studies.----------------------------------------She took the shortcut to arrive sooner. She risked the speeding drone, for she drove too fast. The area was restricted, and there were warning mascots that were guarding entrances and exits from the buildings, marking the area and keeping people away.In the distance, there were two figures. A man and a woman, both soaked much like she was at this point. She smiled at the thought that no member of CID knew how to carry umbrella, herself included. She reached for her pocket and shown her own credentials to the mascot. They let her through. She walked towards the scene, approaching Ginoza and Akane’s standing point. Ginoza was informing Akane about Okura Nobuo, filling her in the necessary details. The girl seemed shocked by Okura’s refusal to take treatment, as well as his probable usage of incompatible drugs. Gino then threw the CID jacket at the girl, noticing only then. The long, dark-green coat. Hands in pockets. Shizuka was heading towards them in long steps. She was removing strands of her hair from her face. The sound of vehicle made them all look turn their heads. “A paddy wagon…” Akane uttered to herself. As she was occupied by watching the vehicle that was parking, Gino looked at Shizuka, taking his own jacket out of his bag. “Don’t meddle,” he warned, handing her his jacket but Shizuka shook her head. “I wouldn’t dream of it.” Shizuka came prepared. She reached inside of her coat and pulled the bag out. From the bag, she pulled her own jacket out, following the procedure. She removed the coat… and put the jacket on. Ginoza was doing the same. “She is the new Shepherd Two. She has to do things by the book,” he remarked. “You mean, per your instructions,” Shizuka dropped her coat next to his own, and reached for her hair. She tied it into a ponytail, inhaling the smell of the rain on the asphalt. “I mean according to Sibyl’s norms.” That was just like him. She couldn’t believe she missed this side of him as well. “I am glad to see you too.” Akane saw Shizuka only then.“Inspector! What are you…” “Just supervising. Pay no attention to me,” Shizuka smiled warmly to the girl. “And don’t think of this as some sort of test. I am merely here to assist, should this case require it of me.” Paddy wagon opened its doors. The section with Dominators opened.Ginoza was fixing his jacket as he was talking to Akane.“Don’t think that the guys you’re about to meet are humans like us. Their PP crime coefficients exceeded the regulation value. They are people of bankrupt character.” “Hey,” Shizuka glared at Gino. Even if it was considered normal to label them this way, it was still too much not to consider them humans. “Normally, they’d be completely isolated as latent criminals…”His voice faded in the distance as Shizuka was now observing the wagon. She could see Kagari’s red hair… Kunizuka’s hight ponytail. Shizuka’s heart stopped again. There was an overwhelming sensation of seeing them all again.“They are beasts used to hunt beasts,” Ginoza spoke somewhere in the distance. Shizuka made a few steps in their direction.“They are what we call ‘Enforcers’…” They started to get out of the wagon, one by one… and each in their own pace. Kunizuka was the first one to see her.“Akibara-san.” Yayoi was surprised… just for a moment. “Kunizuka. It’s good…” Kunizuka approached her… and slowly hugged her. It was a short hug… but more than Shizuka hoped she’d receive from someone as stoic and cold as Yayoi was. This must mean… “You too,” she said. Just as she moved by, Kagari put his arm around her shoulders. “A true escapist, aren’t you? The whole month passed, you know!” “I know. Sorry… I was just… coming around.” She squeezed him shortly. It was Masaoka’s turn to greet her. “You look well, Shizu-chan. That solo work must have been productive.” “Nowhere near, pops. I wish I could say I was doing better, but… it’s actually just… pretty boring office work.” He ruffled her hair with his hand. “Let’s have a drink sometime soon.” He headed towards the others as well. He was curious to see the new Inspector too. And finally… there was…“Shinya,” she whispered. “Shizuka,” he spoke as well. He wasn’t looking at her. He was just standing… with his hands in his pockets... unable to pass her by… but also unable to face her. Others already gathered in front of Ginoza. And the new girl. Kogami was looking at her.“How is it?” he asked. “The new position?” “Just as bad as you presume it to be.” More silence. “I miss you.” He finally looked at her, turning those grey eyes towards hers. It wasn’t… ‘missed’… or ‘have missed’… it was present tense. Miss. She was missing him too. Every day. “I miss you too.” He looked at Gino. Then at the girl. He stepped towards them. “Don’t be hard on her. She is only just beginning,” he heard Shizuka. Kogami didn’t say anything. He joined the rest of the group, waiting for instructions.-------------------------------Much like she assumed, Kagari instantly expressed he liked Tsunemori, making her blush a little. He protested when Gino decided that they should split in two groups, deciding that Kagari and Kunizuka should go with him, and Masaoka and Kogami with Inspector Tsunemori.One would think he did it because he had personal issues with both of his Enforcers… but he merely did it to provide better learning experience for Akane. Gino could put his own matters aside when it came down to his job. And, when it came down to experience… both Kogami and Masaoka… were resilient, and both of them were Inspectors before. Gino merely thought Akane would learn faster if she learned from them. She could also learn what not to do, observing Kogami. He hoped she wouldn’t repeat Shizuka’s mistakes.“Should I go with them… or...?” Shizuka stood by Gino’s side, taking her Dominator from the charger. “Let Kogami and Masaoka handle this. Don’t assist her. Don’t help her. Not yet. She has to do this on her own.”Maybe he was right. But again… Okura Nobuo wasn’t someone who should be handled by a newbie.She was learning about Dominators. Masaoka was explaining the instructions. But then… Shizuka noticed… the way she was looking at Kogami.And there it was… that magnetism of his, working his way under everyone’s skin, regardless of whether he intended it or not. Tsunemori seemed… in awe. And Shizuka couldn’t blame her… not in the slightest. She’s been there too many times. It was for a moment… but Shizuka caught Tsunemori’s expression. There was no doubt.“Do you think she’ll be able… to tame the Hound?” Gino asked, getting close to Shizuka from behind. He leaned over her. He didn’t do anything, and yet… the tingling sensation crept into her, reminding her of the night that changed everything. His voice changed as well. She realized she was losing her breath. “Gino…” “After the case is over… we need to talk.” She wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Kogami was telling something to Akane. Shizuka paid attention, trying to hear what was talking about. “So when you don’t like how I do things, use that and shoot me.” Bold. Was he so sure that the girl wouldn’t pull the trigger if she had to? Well… Shizuka couldn’t. It made her look bad in front of other members, back then. “… the Dominator will work on us too,” Kogami coldly said, leaving Masaoka to deal with Akane’s confusion. “Fool,” Gino uttered. “Damn it,” Shizuka said. Everybody split, searching for Okura. Shizuka went after Kogami, and Kagari and Kunizuka went ahead. Gino followed them while Masaoka was instructing Akane on how to perceive the case… and their surroundings. “Kogami… you shouldn’t have told her that,” Shizuka said, and Shinya just shrugged his shoulders.“Did I say something wrong? I am an enforcer. She’s an inspector. If she dislikes how I operate, then she…”“It’s not the issue here. The issue is your tone. She is your owner now. You mustn’t…” <i>You mustn’t disobey. You mustn’t act out of Sibyl’s will. You will be killed… you fool.</i>“It’s bad enough that you left, Shizuka. Don’t tell me how to treat someone who is here to do your work.” She dragged behind him, feeling her heart sink. So, he was hurt. Still. Like she was. She would have been glad… but she wasn’t. She was just sad to see him this way. “You have to let her learn. You have to treat her well.” He stopped. “I will treat her normally. Don’t get so worked up over a few statements.” He kept walking, and Shizuka followed, observing the surroundings. Kagari was the first one to find the target. He even fired the Paralyzer, but Okura was on drugs and it didn’t work. Since he took a hostage, a young woman that went through severe trauma before they arrived, Okura decided to use her as human shield. Paralyzer then switched into Lethal Eliminator, threatening to annihilate the girl as well. The Oracle activated… signalizing to everyone that Okura was beyond rehabilitation. It meant that he should be annihilated. Everyone moved again. Masaoka and Akane caught up to Okura first… and he made them drop Dominators by threatening to harm the girl again.“Psycho hazard,” Kogami said. “She’s contaminated.” The victim… Okura’s hostage… had dark blue hue and CC of 110. “Kogami… don’t do anything rash,” Shizuka warned, going after him. “I will just do… what Hounds do.” “Using Masaoka and Tsunemori as decoys while we approach him from the side?” “Careful now… thinking like an Enforcer… may lower your hue down to mine.” The way he said it… the way he looked at her…“He took your bait,” Shizuka simply stated, referring to Okura. Kogami was hard to chase once he started running like that. Shizuka aimed her Dominator at Nobuo… but the blast would obliterate the girl too. The moment was wrong. She cursed under her breath, getting down the same stairs that Kogami used. Meanwhile… Nobuo tried to use the Dominator to shoot Masaoka… or Akane. He dropped the hostage girl while trying to shoot. He was also really surprised to learn that Dominators couldn’t be fired by just anyone. In that surprise… he didn’t see. Kogami lifted his own Dominator towards Okura.“My deepest sympathies.” He pulled the trigger… killing the target. Shizuka lowered her own gun. Kogami was always faster. The hostage girl screamed. Akane seemed a bit shaken… but also relieved. Shizuka put her Dominator in the holster, approaching Masaoka. “Damn… using an old man and a newbie as a decoy… you sure have some big ones, don’t you, Kou?” Masaoka remarked. Shizuka cleared her throat, crossing her arms over her chest. Kogami looked at Shizuka. He didn’t have to smile to show how he was amused by that taunt… and her reaction. He had that cheeky, daring stare that made her stare back at him in sheer stubbornness. So what if he was all big in all the right places? “I’ve just been earning my paycheck, pops,” he said, while Masaoka reached for Okura’s severed arm to pull his Dominator out of it. The hostage still screamed, horrified by their relaxed tones. They must have looked like psychopaths to her. Just as Shizuka wanted to say something to comfort the girl… Akane approached her.“We are with the PSB. You are safe now. Please, rest at ease! Calm down… we are here to save you!” “No… no…” It turned out… her CC rose over 160. Everyone measured her hue. Enforcers stood there… with their guns out… and the girl was freaking. Which meant… “Akane…” Shizuka whispered. “Don’t use violence on her!” Akane plead, stopping Masaoka from pulling the trigger. “She should be taken in protective custody!” Shizuka offered her hand to the hostage.“Please… come…” “NO!” The woman headed back, terrified. In attempt to flee from Enforcers… she fell down the stairs. It was a nasty fall. “Masaoka… Akane…” Shizuka tried to reason with them, but Akane insisted that the victim should be processed in peaceful manner, while Masaoka insisted on the Paralyzer. They went on… and on… while Kogami went after the woman. Shizuka went after Kogami once more. She’d never seen him that way. Never. He never seemed that cold… that emotionless… and that ready to pull the trigger. The woman threatened to set herself on fire… lying in a pool of spilt gasoline. She held a lighter… ready to make everything explode. And Kogami just stood there… over her… with Dominator pointed at her. “Shinya?” Shizuka’s Dominator was in her hand even before she stopped to think about it. “Shinya… that’s enough.” “Isn’t this… a familiar scene?” he asked, turning his irises towards Shizuka. “More than once. More than one crime… you held that gun pointed at me and you weren’t able to shoot.” “What is this really about?” Shizuka asked, looking at the man she still loved. “Come on… this isn’t like you. Shinya…” “It’s exactly like me. I am a latent criminal. And this is what latent criminals do.” “I won’t be pretentious… and assume this has anything to do with my transfer. But, I will ask you… why are you behaving this way?” He looked at her.“Because it’s how an Enforcer should act, Shizuka. Shoot when he’s supposed to shoot. Do what he needs to do. Just like you… an Inspector… must behave as well.” Yeah... right. “Why, Shinya?” “Because I won’t do anything that may put you into jeopardy,” he said. “If it says… that I have to shoot… then that’s exactly what I will do.” Her hand trembled. “Kogami… don’t… I am asking you not to shoot…” “What do they have against you, Shizuka?” he asked. So, that’s what this was all about. “I can’t… I told you, I can’t… tell you…”“Then it’s worse than I thought,” he exclaimed. Dominator was glowing. “Don’t make me shoot you. Please. For all we’ve been… don’t make me pull the trigger,” she said. “I won’t. But… there’s someone who needs to learn… what exactly she has to deal with.” Akane. Was this… to see how Akane would act... react? More silence. And more of his detached, cold stares. Shizuka’s hand was getting heavy. “Kogami-san!” the voice was heard. He turned towards the young Inspector. “Please don’t,” she pleaded, referring to the woman covered in gas. “She’s the victim here.” Not even her tone… her sweet voice… appealed to Kogami. His hand was firmly aimed… ready to fire the lethal shot. “Akibara-san… please… reason with him…” Akane’s tone made her feel even worse to how she already felt. Kogami looked at Shizuka. Masaoka also looked at his former owner. Kogami dared her, she realized. It was as if… he was telling Shizuka…“Enforcer Kogami… is just acting according to Sibyl’s will,” Shizuka said, lowering her Dominator. Kogami’s gaze was still glued to her. “You are an Inspector. Act like one,” Shizuka said. “You have to carry out the will of Sibyl.” He slightly lowered his head. Good, he thought. You can still read me well. I hope you know what you are doing, Shinya. Kogami’s eyes slid towards the woman on the floor. Akane warned him. She did. But… once he was starting to pull the trigger… she screamed in distress.“DON’T!” She fired the shot. She did what Shizuka never could… and Kogami dropped down on the floor, only half-surprised. After all… there was no better way… to show a rookie exactly what she was getting herself into. While Akane reasoned with the hostage… calming her down… Shizuka went towards Masaoka. “Damn, Shizu-chan… what an ugly first case.” “Indeed, Masu-san. Ugly indeed.” “You and him… are still a handful, though,” old Tomomi smiled at Shizuka. “Still communicating in that way only you two understand. How come you’re still an Inspector?” “I wonder about that every day,” she admitted. “But he’s still an ass. I am going to have a chat with him once he wakes up. Seriously, being so mean towards the rookie…” “He’s been rebellious ever since you left.” “He was rebellious even when I was with you. So… that’s hardly on me,” she smiled.“Well… true. But, don’t go too hard on him. Paralyzer shots hurt like Hell.” “I hope they do.” Akane… was such a softie. Gentle soul. But also… a badass. The shot towards the hostage girl surprised everyone. Tsunemori most of all. “Inspector Tsunemori,” Ginoza’s group arrived at the scene, with Ginoza being the one to pull the trigger that incapacitated the woman, “I’ll expect you to thoroughly explain your handling of this situation in the report.” Well. There was that, Shizuka thought. Gino is going to go really hard on her for this. “Inspector just wanted to try another method,” Shizuka tried to justify her actions.“I didn’t ask for your opinion, Senior inspector. I want an explanation from my new partner, not the previous one.” Shizuka shrugged her shoulders. “Suit yourself, Ginoza-san.” She headed towards Akane, putting a hand on her back. “Poor thing. Getting so upset over something so trivial as shooting someone like Kogami. Why would anyone stress over something like that? You did us all a favor.” Ginoza frowned. Kagari laughed. “My, my…” “This newbie we got sure is a piece of work,” Masaoka laughed as well. There was no other way, Shizuka thought. Until she talks to Kogami… she will keep on feeling bad about shooting him. She just hoped he’d wake soon enough to wipe off Akane's gloomy expression.-------------------------------------------“Akibara,” Gino approached her as she was removing her jacket, and putting her new coat back on. “Ginoza,” she coldly stated, putting her stuff in the vehicle. Gino wasn’t going to discuss the case in front of Enforcers. He was about to accompany them back to the Bureau. He already sent Akane home to calm down. But, he wasn’t done with talking to Shizuka. “My place, in half an hour. No excuses.”
Romance

Mature Content

Reader Inserts
Jack x Elsa - The TumbleMoans and squeals filled the tiny apartment as the television blared the latest romance movie. In the kitchen, Elsa shook her head as she gulped down the last of her water. She crossed over to the living room where her younger sister, Anna, sat cross-legged in front of the television, cradling her head in her hands.“Oh Anna, could you just stop that? It’s all the same scenes, over and over again,” she scoffed, gesturing to the wide-eyed damsel on the screen.Anna pouted as she turned to face her sister. “It’s different! The context is different, the characters are different.”Chuckling, Elsa lifted her winter jacket off the coat rack and slipped into it. “Right. Like I haven’t seen that scene right there where the girl slips, the guy catches her somehow, and they stare for three seconds, and then kiss.”Anna’s eyes turned dreamy. “And what’s wrong with that?”“One, there’s nothing for her to slip on.” Elsa counted off her fingers. “Two, the guy must have miracle hands to catch her like that. Three, the weight of her body would have pulled him down on top of her.”“Ah pfft,” Anna waved a hand in dismissal. “Details, details.”“Things like that just don’t happen in real life, I’m sorry to break it to you.” Elsa shrugged as she pulled on her boots.Anna scurried over to nudge her sister playfully. “But but what if it happens to you?? You’re going for hockey practice right?”“Yeah, thought I’d put in some time before next week’s game.” Elsa grabbed her hockey stick and slung her bag over her shoulder. “And no, it’s not going to happen to me.”A wide grin split Anna’s lips and she wiggled her eyebrows at Elsa. “What if you meet that Jack Frost from the boy’s team and you two end up like that scene?”Laughing, Elsa shook her head. “Oh my dear sister, if I do meet that Jack Frost, it’ll be blood on ice. Not romance on ice.”“You never know.” Anna’s sing-song voice prompted Elsa to give the hopeless romantic a smack on her head.“I’ll be back soon, dummy.” “Tell me how it goes,” Anna called out to her departing sister. As the door closed, Anna sniggered to herself. “Those who mock love will cry for love, sis.”Speak of the devil.Frowning, Elsa stared at the lone male figure skating the length of the ice rink. She was sure no one would come at this hour to the rink but she had figured wrong. And why him, of all people?As the lanky Jack Frost shot the puck right into the net, he whooped and twirled on his skates. His boyish voice echoed in the large arena, drawing a wince from Elsa.She sighed and stepped out onto the ice. “Jack, what are you doing here?” she called out.Jack twisted his head and glanced over his shoulder. He whistled. “Oh look who it is. If it isn’t the snow queen, Elsa,” he said in a sing-song voice.Elsa glared daggers at his back. If only looks could kill. She waved him off. “Get off the rink. I need to practice.”Jack clicked his tongue in mock disapproval. “It’s that attitude that earned you the title of snow queen, Queen Elsa.”He skittered over the ice and swerved right in front of her. An impish grin made its way across his face. “Make me get off the rink then.”Elsa’s eyes burned a cold blue. “Get. Out. Of. My. Face. Jack.”A lazy shrug lifted his shoulders. “Alright then. How about you and me race? Winner gets the rink.”Taken aback, Elsa’s brows lifted in question. “What? Is this some kind of joke?”“No, I’m serious.” Jack held his hand out. “Don’t you want to beat the best player on the guy’s team?”Her eyes narrowed at him. It seemed like too good a deal to pass up. Beating him would wipe that smug look off his face and give her the full rink to practice. It’s not like she would lose.“Deal.” She gave his hand a firm shake.Jack's lips curved up higher, accentuating those dimples that she often heard his fans squeal about. As if a small divot in the skin was anything to scream about like a maniac.The two of them skated to the end of the rink. Elsa bent down and stretched as she got ready. Seeing her enter her competitive mode, Jack chuckled. "Wow who knew the Queen would be so pumped up to face me huh?"Elsa sent him a glare but refused to reply him verbally. Just wait, Jack. I'll make sure to lay your ass on the ice, she swore."OK?" Jack confirmed with her that she was ready. When she nodded, he sprung into position with his head tucked down. "Ready.. " he said. "Go!"He launched into motion, leaving Elsa standing dumbfounded for a second. Her lips curled into a snarl at being fooled to wait for his countdown. "You bastard!" she shrieked as she shot down after him.A peal of laughter filled the rink. Elsa streaked down the ice, barrelling forward as if her life depended on it. Jack was still far off in the distance, almost halfway down the length of the rink.Nothing she couldn't catch up to. Her eyes narrowed, her focus intent on the irritating, well-shaped back of Jack. She increased her pace, hands swinging in sync with her legs. Her skate blades carved up the ice beneath her without mercy. Within seconds, the distance between her and Jack closed. She could hear his rhythmic breathing matching hers. A smile lifted the corner of her lips. She pumped her legs faster, swinging to the left to overtake Jack. As she drew even with him, she threw him a victorious smirk as if to say “Fuck you”.Her eyes no longer focused on the ice, she didn’t notice a yellow object - what could possibly have been a banana peel thrown by Jack after eating his snack - directly in her path. As her skates cut through the uneven surface, it sent a jolt up her leg. Her balance lost, she wobbled and yelped as her momentum sent her forward. No longer on two feet, her eyes widened at the sight of the closing distance between her face and the hard surface of the ice. “Elsa!” she heard Jack cry out behind her. His voice distorted into a drawn-out, hollow sound that echoed in her eardrums. She tilted her head to see him fly in front of her, almost like Superman but without the cape and the muscles on his shoulders. He threw his arms forward to catch her and in that instant, the only thing that ran through her mind was “Damn you, Anna”.The seconds that passed felt like hours. The warmth of his hands as they touched her back. The concerned look in his eyes as he held her. The redness of his lips. The flushed cheeks. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all, she thought.Then, the crashing fall followed. The jolt of pain in her arm. His girly yelp. His fingers digging into her back, as if the pain wasn’t enough. And then the ice making contact with her back. Tumbling to the floor in a tangle of limbs, Jack ended up on top of her, unable to cushion the brunt - or rather, any part - of the fall. As they looked at each other through squinted eyes filled with agony, a trickle of blood from Elsa’s lips stained the ice below her with a romantic red.Blood on ice, indeed.An hour later, Elsa burst into her apartment with a dark expression. Calling out from the couch, Anna grinned at her sister. “How did it go with Jack?”Elsa glowered. Yanking her boots off, she threw them to one side and glared at Anna. “It hurt!”A knowing smirk lit up Anna’s face. “Oh I know it does. Love hurts-”“Not love, you idiot!”Anna frowned, her gaze following Elsa as she stomped off to her bedroom. “Then what?”Sending her sister one last, furious look before she slammed the door, Elsa screamed, “My ass!”
Horror
Adventure
the bionic brazilian: supersonic weaponthe oc story will be a new one, so get set for some hyperdrive.rated pg-13 for gunfire, peril, sexy fanservice, language and violencelet's go.speeding in the race for the gold, there were athletic warriors and team players.one such racer is a beautiful, brazilian named alicia.alicia perez was a long-legged wonder and full of speed and she never stops racing and with her muscles and arms and legs being powerful, she was a fast one and with pretty blonde hair and tanned skin, she was a speedy warrior with a lot to prove.racing at the 2016 olympics, she has won the hearts of many in her own country and she was loved by her friends, helpers, coachers and everybody who knows her.she loved to be a bodybuilder and she flexed her muscles since she was 12. by 23, she was a young gifted lady with street cred for her athletic moves.then she was exercising, at the gym, she wearing red reebok shoes, silver t shirt and black/gold leotard, she was a well built woman.after playing loud techno music in the zumba class, she took a break. ''whew! that was a good workout''''tell me'' said one trainer ''do you always workout?" "a lot, my friend. in fact, i'm so powerful, i could either whip you into shape or you can meet me at the office" "and if i fail?" "well, i say the former''''well, if you'd like, how about a date?" "maybe, but i have other choices, right now, i am taking a break'' she gets up but then the trainer talks some more ''mmm, you're sweaty but i like you'' ''really, is it sweet sweat?" said the teacher in a flirty way. ''yes, now take a break, honey" then she was walking in her sexy get up and the boys drooed at her and one wolf whistle later ''baby, you looking fine'' ''oh hush, don't waste your energy looking at me like a piece of meat hehe" ''oh i know what i can, i can do y-'' she put a finger on his lip and says ''shh, i got a man remember?" she left and he was speechless but bewildered.at home, she washed her gorgeous body as she was showering and then using soap bars, she was sure to keep the body lean and toned. when she was cleaned up, her husband, alfonso was smitten. ''preciosa, how was the gym?" ''it was great and it was such a good time'' ''man, at least i train hard'' ''baby, you look so sweet'' ''am i?" ''yeah'' ''mommy!'' said manny and is their kid and they have a proud life as parents.7:00 pmafter a chicken garlic dinner, she went to manny's room and said ''have you cleaned up your room?" "yes'' ''goodnight sweetie" she kissed goodnight to the kid and then went to bed,5:00 ama van filled with thugs enter the home and enter the room of alicia and then was carried by the thugs and without saying or screaming a word, she was in the van.then came a scientist using her as a lab experiment and then she was sleeping but drugged by a syringe. rather than operating her, she was given, arm bands, leg bands, silver boots, and lasers and missiles in her wristband.then she wakes up! but in horror as she saw the scientist and then thugs looking at her ''wake up, princess!" ''grr! what the hell have you done to me?!"''am i lab animal for your sick treatments?!" ''no, i created a superweapon, powerful enough to make my own army'' ''grr i am for love, not war or even death!!"she roared and breaks free and used her arms to smash and used her hands to open and break the chains on her legs and used a laser to slice the thugs and then screaming for his life the scientist whimpered like a stupid coward. then she retorted ''any last words before a rip your fucking head off!?!" ''help me!!" she grabbed his neck SNAP! she tore him a new one and she was ready to escape but how?''how am i ever gonna escape?" "ah, i know but what about my boots? am i a robot? what the hell's going on here?" she turned the boots on and then beep! it turns into rocket fuel and she flies and CRASH! she flies and zooms 800 m.p.h. as she looks for a way home "sweet alfonso, i hope you are near me"then worried for his wife, alfonso cried ''alicia, where are you-'' ''you were saying?" she landed in the nick of time and kissed her husband. ''ah, baby you are home but where are you?" "i was captured by bad men and drugged me and i was having flashbacks and nightmares but i am here'' ''what is with the metal on your body?" "well, arm bands with weapons and my boots can fly into rocket fuel'' ''wow, are you a super lady?"''no, i am; the bionic brazilian'' ''the supersonic weapon" she winked and pets his hair. ''mama! what h-'' ''baby, i got me powers and strength'' ''wow, wait till i tell my friends about this" "easy boy, i am your mama, remember?" she hugged the both of them and concluded her day.time may tell if there is a superwoman but to her and to the world, she is the supersonic weapon.part 1 over
Science Fiction
Identity WipeOriginal Identity: Sandra Lirik“There’s no way you can help me vanish tonight?” “I’m sorry, ma’am.” The coordinator tilted his head to face Sandra as they walked down the dimly lit hallway. His narrow eyes crinkled in an apologetic smile. “Tomorrow afternoon is the best we can do.”Sandra tossed her long, wavy hair behind her shoulder with a frustrated flick. Her manicured fingers dug into the strap of her bulging handbag. “And no one will find me here?”“Yes.” Coming to a stop at a metallic door, he pressed his palm on the reader. The door slid open with a whoosh. He gestured with a flourish to the opened room. “Please stay here tonight.”She pursed her luscious lips, eyeing the coordinator with a raised eyebrow. When he didn’t budge, she sighed and entered the room. The space was utilitarian with a kitchen bar to the far right, a corridor leading to more rooms, and a large living room on the left.Seated in the corner were a young man and a teenage girl. Her eyes widened. She spun around to give the coordinator a piece of her mind but the door whooshed back into place. The locking of the deadbolt echoed in the expanse.“Come join us,” the man called out. “I know it wasn’t what you expected but the guy said they were having budget problems.”Biting on her bottom lip, she turned with a huff. The man’s eyes twinkled as he beckoned her over. She stalked over to the group of couches and beanbags that lay scattered on the floor. The click of her stilettos on the floor made the teenage girl wince and shrink further into her seat.Sandra dropped into one of the couches and folded her arms across her chest. “Just because they don’t have enough money, they decide to put us Runners together in the same shithole?”The man’s lips twisted into a cringe. He shrugged. “I guess that’s the price we have to pay for an illegal Identity Wipe company.”“Great,” she mumbled. “So what's next?”“Something about taking a pill to rewrite our biological identifiers.”Sandra twisted her head to look at the corridor leading towards, what she assumed were, the bedrooms. “I’m going to check those out.”“We tried,” a soft feminine voice piped up.Sandra turned back to see the teenage girl’s eyes flit away from her. “What?”“There’s a glass door. We tried the reader but it denies us access,” the man explained.She frowned. “Why would they do that?”“Beats me,” he chuckled. “So they rewrote your identity profile already?”“Yeah. You?”“Same.”She activated her ocular program and a translucent box popped up over his head. It listed his name as Tom Le Ocip and his occupation as Actor. His new rating was a solid 4.6 but his age was off. She pointed to the box. “You’re 228 years old?”Tom laughed. “Oh no. Apparently, it takes some time to rewrite the profile. In the meantime, some old data is retained in weird ways.”He pointed to the box that hung over her head. “So your new name is.. Lynn? Sweet. But..” He frowned. “For a rating of 4.2, cam girl seems like the wrong occupation.”She stiffened. Catching her reaction, he flashed an empathetic smile. “It’s okay. I think I understand why you’re running now.”“How about you?” he turned to the teen whose hands were wrapped around her knees.Sandra read the girl’s profile - her new name was Kyler Verenge, occupation was Student, and rating was 4.75. Her eyes softened. It must be hard for a young girl to restart her life under a different identity. She murmured, “Kyler is a beautiful name.”The girl met her gaze. Anger flashed in her eyes. Her lips quivered. “That’s my real name.”Startled, Sandra’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. “I-I’m sorry.”“So what are you running away from?” Tom’s laidback voice drew Kyler’s attention. When she didn’t respond, he poked her shoulder. “It’s not like we’ll ever meet each other again after this. Your secret will die here.”Kyler let out a long, shaky breath. Her fingers dug into her leggings. “My family.”Sandra felt a stab of pity. She placed a comforting hand on Kyler’s shoulder, only for the girl to shrug it away. She reluctantly retracted her hand.“I can’t be the perfect daughter they want anymore.” Kyler’s voice shook. “If I’m going to do something terrible, I don’t want them to know.”“I’m sorry,” Tom said quietly.“What about you?” Sandra gestured at him.“Me?” Tom gave an awkward chuckle. “In my line of work, there’s no room for mistakes. One mistake could lead to death.”His gaze shifted from Kyler to Sandra and then back to the floor. “And it happened.”Sandra gulped. She ran her tongue over her dry lips. “Made what? A mistake or..?”Tom looked at her, a glint of mystery in his eyes. His lips curled upwards into a crooked smile. “Guess I’m not as innocent as I look, right?”Original Identity: Kyler AnThe front door opened with a trill. Three pairs of eyes swiveled to see a skinny woman walk in. Dressed in a tuxedo, her eyes were hidden behind dark shades. In her hand, a thin IPad. Her lips parted in a Cheshire grin as she studied the looks of surprise from the three people in the room.“How are my naughty criminals doing?” she simpered.Kyler froze. Color drained out of her face. “I’m joking, my dears,” the woman chuckled.The woman who now went by the name, Lynn, and the mysterious man, Tom, gave nervous chuckles as they looked at each other. Between them, Kyler let out a small huff of relief.The woman smiled and assumed an official tone. “I’m going to be your point of contact during this process. You can address me by my call sign, Double. Do you have any questions at this stage?”Lynn spoke up. “Will you be ensuring that the three of us never see each other again? Because I’m not comfortable with this.”Double tapped the IPad with her bony fingers and flashed that same smile which was starting to unnerve Kyler. “I understand your discomfort, San- I mean, Lynn.”Correcting herself with a smirk, Double ignored Lynn’s glare. “As you know, we operate illegally. If you want to vanish and rewrite your profile without going through the government’s background checks, then there’s a price to be paid. Rest assured though that the three of you will not see each other again.”Kyler stole a glance at Lynn who simmered in frustration. Her eyes drifted to the woman’s painted nails. It was a deep shade of red and stood out markedly on her skin. She couldn’t tear her gaze away from it, the blood-red color filling her vision. She gagged on the rising bile, a hand flying to cup her mouth.“Are you okay?”She blinked several times to clear her vision. Tom and Lynn looked down at her with sympathy and worry. She bobbed her head and croaked out, “I’m fine.”Double didn’t seem to care. She waited for all attention to turn back to her before resuming, “As I was saying, your current rating can still be changed if you want. After all, it will affect the quality of your new life. So, any requests?”“I’m fine.” Tom laughed and crossed his arms behind his head. “I’m basking in my newly earned reputation.”Double’s thin lips pulled upwards in a simper. “How about you, Kyler? Are you okay with lowering your old rating?”Kyler nodded, squirming as Tom and Lynn turned to her, shock written on their faces.“Lynn, any requests?”“N-no,” Lynn’s gaze flickered back to Double after breaking eye contact with Kyler. “But when will the face surgery take place? I need my new face to be completely unrecognizable.”“After you take the pill, my dear,” Double chuckled. “Whoever is chasing you won’t recognize you anymore.”Kyler watched Lynn’s expression shift from anxiety to relief. As the corner of Lynn’s lips curled up, a surge of red-hot anger filled the young girl’s veins. She glared at the abominable woman through the bangs that covered her eyes. Her fingers dug into her arm as she forced herself to remain still. “I’m going to give each of you a pill.” Double held up a packet containing three tablets. She strode towards them and shook the tablets out of the packet and into her palm. She held out her palm towards Lynn, then Tom, and handed the last tablet to Kyler.“Once you’ve taken it, we can move on to the next phase.”Kyler swallowed her pill. She eyed the other two adults who did the same. “Now you’ll feel the effects of the pill in a bit.”Double removed her sunglasses, revealing a red, unblinking eye. Her lips parted in an unnatural grin as she took in the horrified looks. Paralyzed with fear, Kyler’s vision blurred. Her feet grew number, the sensation rippling up her body as the meaning of Double’s words became clearer. Her head jerked up in slow motion. Lynn and Tom swayed in their seats as they lost all motor function. She gritted her teeth and tried to rise to her feet. Before anything happened to her, she would dispose of that bitch! Her trembling fingers wrapped around the knife hidden in her leggings. She gripped it hard and pushed herself to her knees.Ignoring Double who moved away from her, she crawled at a snail’s pace towards Lynn. The woman keeled over backwards onto the couch. As Kyler pulled herself up, Lynn stared at her in horror.Kyler’s eyes glazed over. With effort, she pointed the weapon at Lynn and hissed, “Sandra, you bitch!”Those were the last words that left her lips before her vision swam and everything turned dark. “Sleep tight, my criminals,” Double chuckled.~ ~ ~Kyler’s eyes fluttered open. Darkness greeted her. After several blinks, she could make out the ceiling above her and the cold, hard, metal bench propping her body up. Her neck was stiff from the uncomfortable position. It cracked as she shifted her weight around. She swept her eyes around for a light source, finding a flat-screen TV that covered the whole wall. A light grey illuminated the screen.“Hello?” she called out tentatively, her voice small.Her words were eaten by the confined space. A soundproof room.She got up shakily to her feet. She took one step. Then two. Her knee bumped into something. She yelped. Stumbling, she crouched down, one hand cradling her bruised knee. As she huffed in pain, her frantic mind conjured shadows that moved in the corner of her eye. She hugged her knees closer to her body as the deadly silence crept towards her. Silent tears trickled down her cheeks. She wished she had never chosen to hunt Sandra down. Why had she thought it was such a good idea at the time? Where was she now? What did Double want with her? Shuddering, she rocked back and forth for ages. Then, the glare of a bright light startled her. She yelped and threw her palm up to shield her eyes. When nothing else happened, she lowered her hand. She looked up to see a picture on the television screen.Her brain took a while to orientate itself. When it did, her eyes widened in shock. The picture on the screen showed a man tied to a pole with lacerations over his bare skin. His head lolled forward, eyes vacant and dead.Kyler shrieked. The picture changed to a body floating face down in a bathtub. “No, no!” She scrambled over the bench and lunged for the TV. Her heart pounded furiously in her chest as her fingers searched the screen for a button to turn it off. The pictures continued flashing through morbid scenes of death, taunting her, breaking her.She ran her fingers down the whole length of the screen. Nothing.A picture of a dead teenage girl took over the screen. Before Kyler could avert her eyes, a familiar bunny toy in the picture caught her attention. A chill ran down her spine. Gulping, Kyler took a step back to look at the screen. A girl with similar features as she lay on the floor of a bedroom, her eyes wide and terrified. On her neck were ligature marks. Kyler’s face turned ashen. Her bottom lip trembled. She crumpled to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut. Tears pooled in her eyes. She gasped. “Val.”Original Identity: Thomas ThurtThomas Thurt, or the man who went by the name of Tom, pulled off the face mask that morphed his features. He winked at Double. Her mask had also been removed, revealing her partially robotic body. “Don’t you hate putting that mask on?”She shrugged and pointed a metallic finger at the door. “Let’s get on with it.”“Kill joy.” Muttering under his breath, Thomas pressed his palm on the reader. The door slid open with a whoosh. Inside the dark room, Kyler shielded her face from the sudden onslaught of light. “Come on, Kyler,” Thomas gestured at the girl. “It’s over now.”Peeking out between her fingers, Kyler’s eyes widened in fear at the sight of two unfamiliar faces. Whimpering, she scurried back into the darkness.Pity clouded Thomas’s face. He took a step into the room with his hands held up. “I’m Tom, remember? You can scan my profile if you want.”The sound of feet shuffling was followed shortly by a gasp. A thin smile spread across Thomas’s lips. Most people reacted that way after learning he was an undercover cop. He hadn’t been lying when he mentioned he made a mistake at work. That mistake had cost him a demotion to where he was now - stuck in this fake Identity Wipe company that acted as a honeypot to catch fleeing criminals.Day in, day out, he would get cozy with the potential suspects. Gather clues, oversee the situation, and manage the interrogation process. His partner, Double, supplied the pills that allowed them to monitor the suspect’s biological signals - heart rate, brain signals, the whole lot. Interrogation became a matter of showing the crime scenes that happened in the past 36 hours and analyzing each person’s reactions through their advanced software.Sometimes, the Runners didn’t turn out to be criminals. Those were good days. Today, the day of Halloween, wasn’t. The girl stepped out of the shadows, hobbling unsteadily. Her neat hair was now in disarray. Grief and despair shone through her eyes that were colored red from crying.Thomas led her out of the room and into the bright corridor. She stood behind him and Double as he opened the glass door that led to the same vast space that the three of them had sat in. Disoriented, she looked around, trying to piece things together.Seeing her confusion, Thomas gestured to the corridor they had come from. “The room you were in? That was the bedroom that you guys assumed you didn’t have access to. Only it’s more of an interrogation room.”A flicker of understanding passed across her face. She shuddered. “Does that mean I’m under arrest?”He flashed a kind smile and shook his head. Beside him, Double gestured to the woman seated on the couch and said, “She is.”Kyler turned to see Sandra slumped down with her hair covering her face. Anger boiled in her veins and a rush of adrenaline launched her towards the woman. Double reacted faster and blocked her path. One arm wrapped around the teen’s waist, Double held the screaming girl back.“You killed Val, you bitch!” Kyler shrieked as angry tears formed behind her eyes. “How could you do that to my sister??”“She can’t hear you, Kyler,” Thomas pressed a firm hand on her shoulder. “Her experiences are being pulled into our record as evidence.”Kyler crumpled like a leaf in Double’s arms. Double shushed Kyler as the girl sobbed into her suit. “How did you even end up here?”“L-location tracker. V-Val planted it on her.” Her voice faltered. “Why did she kill Val?”Thomas met her gaze with a grim smile. “Let’s find out, shall we?”24 hours earlierSandra: You’re sure no one else is in?Val: Relax. Only my sister. She’s asleep in her room.Sandra: Are we doing this?Rustling sounds of clothes being shedVal: Not today.Sandra: Why did you call me over then??Val: No need to be pissy. I’ll still pay you for the hour and give you a 5-star rating.Bedsprings creak.Sandra: Why then?Val: I’ll be honest. I need money to leave this goddamn house.Sandra: Running away?Val: Yeah, with my sister.Silence.Sandra: I wish I could help but I don’t have enough either.Val: Really? Because I know you’ve built a decent nest egg.Sandra: Come on, Val. You know I’ve been saving up to increase my rating. Move up in life.Val: Same here.Sandra: I’m stuck in a hellhole my whole life with no opportunities, no way of adding color to my life. I’m sorry but I need this more.Val: Well, I didn’t want to use this on you.Wheels roll on the floor. Keys clack. A gasp.Sandra: How did you get that??Val: If people knew you had illegal plastic surgery, there goes your rating.Sandra: No, please no. Val-Heels clack furiously on the floor.Val: I just need some of your cash. You can earn it back easily.Sandra: N-no…Val: Or else I click this button-Sandra: Please, Val.Val: There goes your identity profile. All your hard work. All those years of fuckin-Thump on the floor. Sounds of struggle. Strangled cries.Record ends. Duration: 7 minutes.Case title: Perfect Identity.
XezbethShifting his body to a comfortable position on the thin mattress, Ritesh adjusted his laptop so that the pale glow from its screen bathed his face. The blue light from the screen illuminated his tiny bedroom and its sparse furnishings. A few feet away from his mattress, his ironed school uniform hung from a makeshift hook. His only proud article of clothing was placed far away from the clump of unwashed shirts and pants sitting in the corner inside a cardboard box.Anxiety written on his face, Ritesh bit his nails. Tomorrow was the last day of the student council election race. His last chance to get rid of his most formidable opponent, Satyadevi. The thought of that proud elitist taking the coveted spot of student council president made his blood boil. A girl, no less.He swore under his breath. He would take that bitch down and put her in her rightful place. A smirk made its way across his lips as his fingers clacked over the rusty keyboard keys. No matter, his plan would not fail. Ritesh stared at the page he landed on. A picture of a horned demon decorated the background, letters in red spelling out the name of the company “Xezbeth”. Below it was the company slogan, “Fake news at the tip of your finger”.It was his first time using the website. He had heard there was a promotion going on this week which made the options affordable to him. He navigated through the site, avoiding the flashy ads, and finally landed on the purchasing page. “Select target for fake news,” he read the instructions out loud. He typed Satyadevi’s name into the textbox and uploaded her photo. Next was a drop-down box that read “Select type of fake news”.His mind spun as the dozens of options presented itself. Racism, political beliefs, morals, religion… he simply selected one.After clicking through a few more pages, Ritesh got to the payment page. He sighed in relief upon seeing the 25% discount applied to his order. With a triumphant grin, he clicked “Pay”, letting the website suck in his money through his Google Wallet account.Seconds later, an email popped up, confirming his purchase together with a statement of anonymity and protection from legal liability. Ritesh closed his laptop and placed it on the floor beside him. As he lay in bed, he dreamt of a glorious victory. ~ ~ ~It was standing room only as hundreds of students crammed into the large hall to hear the final speeches of the candidates for the student council election. Ritesh, current favorite to win the election, delivered his speech with conviction and passion.Waves of boys shouted their approval as he outlined programs to help poor students and measures to curb the increase in feminism. His eyes glowed with glee as he clicked to the next slide to show the fake news Xezbeth had cooked up.“Look at this!” he exclaimed in feigned horror and disbelief. “How can we let the likes of Satyadevi take charge when she has secretly sided with the extremists?!”He shook an accusing finger at the fake article of Satyadevi collaborating with radical elements. Proclamations of outrage erupted from the student body, sending a thrill through Ritesh.After a few sweet seconds of revenge, he thumbed the next button on the clicker to advance to his concluding slide. When the computer didn’t respond, he frowned and pressed the button harder.A loud electronic buzz filled the room. He spun around to see the large screen flicker before turning black. Confused, he beckoned to the tech support people behind the stage but they ignored him, wide eyes staring at the screen.It was then that he noticed the discomforting quiet that blanketed the student body. A sense of impending dread sent a chill down his spine. Gulping hard, he turned to face the screen.Ritesh’s eyes bulged in their sockets at the sight of his own face on the screen. “Are you getting this?” Fake Ritesh in the video clip said to the cameraman.The camera zoomed out to fake Ritesh with his pants down taking position behind a donkey. Knowing what would happen, Ritesh shook his head violently. He spun to face his audience and yelled, “This is fake!”He waved his hands in desperation. “Can’t you see this is photoshopped?? It’s from a movie scene!!”The moans and groans from the video clip drowned out his pleas, as its transfixed audience soaked in the depravity of the act. When the clip ended, boos resounded through the hall. “No, no, this can’t be,” he mumbled, backing away from them as crumpled paper and dirty shoes rained down on the stage. Two staff members hurried to drag him away before the student mob climbed up onto the stage. He barely registered their presence, his eyes glazing over in shock. His limbs went slack as he saw his dream disintegrate in front of him. The hands holding him steady abruptly let go and Ritesh found himself slumped in a rickety chair. His mind went blank as he tried to process what had happened. A snigger shook him from his thoughts. “I thought you always said guys are superior to girls, Nitesh.”His gaze traveled up to meet a pair of cunning, brown eyes. “Satyadevi,” he whispered.The girl bent down until her breath tickled his ears. “You’re not the only one who can buy fake news, idiot.”Ritesh paled. He stared at her, wide-eyed, as she straightened up. A mere girl had stolen his position. Crushing defeat slammed into him.Not waiting for a reply, she walked out onto the stage to deafening cheers and into a new era for increased women’s rights.Alone backstage, a single tear rolled down Ritesh’s cheeks. He mouthed a silent “You win” to no one in particular.But they were both wrong. Neither of them were the real winners.Xezbeth was.
GodsknifeALOX-7 was the name that had been given to the moon orbiting the gas giant Kiber Prime. It was basically irrelevant to most of the universe. Most things are. But nobody there knew it by that name, Exion they called it. The inhabitants had never been contacted by the rest of the universe, there was no reason to.The inhabitants had barely gotten the use of the Atlatl down, they were as smart as men, but not advanced enough to interact with them. Their bodies were raptor like, maybe more ostrich like. They were able to use tools thanks to two three jointed arms coming from the base of their long swan like necks. Each arm had a three fingered hand with one thumb. They had evolved from pack hunters, giving them strong sharp toothed jaws and muscular legs for fast running.Once, while transporting various supplies to a nearby planet a small spacecraft dropped a shipping unit of utensils while within ALOX-7's atmosphere. This was the extent of ALOX-7's interactions with earth.This is the story of that box of utensils.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------There was a great crash in the sky, it looked like a great ball of fire. Fire could be seen coming down from the skies. Black ash stained the white deserts. A small group of warriors may be called from the village to investigate, it could be a sign from the gods.A warchief was sitting in the house of the shamans, His hide armor and bone helmet afixed, the stone walls surrounding him, carvings of the gods and spirits surrounding him staring him down. He spoke to the high shaman, "We cannot let the raiders to the north take our land. We have no need to investigate whatever may have come from that event in the sky. It's to our south, the raiders are coming from the north, there's no reason to go there. We need all our fighters to protect the settlement."The shamans looked to each other, red paint covering the white of their scales, animal bones decorating their aged heads. The high shaman spoke to the warchief, "It is of the gods, if we go to it there may be a higher chance of victory."The warchief replied, "The gods have never done anything for a war. Not in my life, nor my ancestors.""What is your clan?""The Izeta Clan, my father was Arzen of the Izeta Clan. I am Ereze of the Izeta Clan." Ereze raised his chin with respect.The shamans looked down upon him. The High Shaman spoke, "You and two of your fellow warriors shall go into the desert to investigate the event. The soul of your father shall guide you home, and your respect for the gods will be a second shield when you battle the raiders.”-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ereze went with two of his most loyal warriors; Karkar, a large fighter who barely spoke from an allied village, and Oro, a young warrior with speakaled scales. They left at midnight, when the red of the planet they orbited consumed the sky.The deserts were calm when it was dark. It wouldn't seem so in the day, with the raiders, with the beasts. But at night it was quiet, it was calm, even for just a few moments.Oro asked while walking through the sands, "What do you think we'll find once we get there?"Ereze replied, "Honestly, nothing."Oro was confused, "You believe it will test our faith?"Ereze made a slight buzzing noise with his teeth, "I believe the shamans were mistaken.""The shamans were guided by the gods.""They are flesh and blood, they can mistake prophecy for dreams."Oro tapped her claws a bit in anger, but she said nothing.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Karkar spotted something on the horizon, charred black sand with something in the center. There were strange objects all over the ground.Oro pulled out her spear when she saw it, there were boxes, it was boxes scattered on the ground. They were too perfect though, not like a box one would shape from clay, but like one that one would draw in the ground with a stick. It was like a perfect shape, and it was made of unknown material.Oro struck the box with her spear, interested but terrified of how it would react. To her shock the spearhead shattered. It was completely broken. Oro hissed in anger.Ereze ran over to inspect, he picked up the box and shook it. Sniffed its parameters. Karkar spotted the strangeness of the boxes and threw one against a large stone.To everyone's surprise the box opened. Not like it had been broken, but some sort of unlocking. Strange shimmering appeared from inside, it was a glistening of the stars' reflection. Strange tools were inside, they were of an odd grey shimmering material, they looked like knives.Oro asked, "Are these the gifts of the gods?"Ereze grasped one of the shining knives and cut Oro's spear's shaft in two; nobody had ever seen sturdy material chopped by a knife so easily. It only took a single strike, it could take hours to do that with a stone or bone knife. Ereze dropped the knife in shock, and replied to Oro, "For once, they are gifts of the gods."-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The three of them took as many boxes as they could take, twenty five they carried to their village. Each box brought new chances to their people, new gifts from the gods. With blades like that they could win any war, they could become heros, they could rule every land and village known with peace on honor.They entered the village near dawn, the young were playing and the old still asleep. It was so calm, yet so fragile, one invasion and they'd all be dead or slaves. The fighters of the village screamed to the sky to honor their returning comrades, those watching the three of them enter the village looked inquisitively at their boxes, rotating their heads in curiosity.A youngling, his scales still blue, pulled on Karkar's tail and asked, "What are those?"Karkar repliead, "Knives, probably from the gods."The youngling's eyes widened. Ereze tapped Karkar with the back of his axe, "You shouldn't tell him that you fool. We must first see the shamans, these must be inspected."They entered the temple to meet with the shamans. They removed their bone helmets, laid down their weapons and walked into the temple.Smoke of burning fire surrounded them. From out the smoke the shamans emerged. The high shaman spoke, "What have you found from the fires?"Ereze took one of the boxes from off of his back and opened it revealing the knives inside. He spoke to the shamans with excitement yet honor, "These items at the inspection. They are knives like none had ever seen before." He raised the box to show the blades, "They're gifts from the gods, with these we can beat back the raiders. They can chop through wood in a single slash. If we use them as spearheads-"A Shaman cut him off, "Similar weapons have been heard of wielded by evil spirits, demons from the stars. They may easily be cursed objects."Ereze exclaimed, "They are a gift! They will save our village and all allied villages!"The high shaman replied, "We shall inspect them, if we prove them valid by the solstice then they may be used. Until then they are to be kept here.""We may not be alive by the solstice. We must use them now."The shamans muttered among each other, "if we follow what the gods wish they shall protect us.""Countless villages are forever burnt to ashes and buried underground, what do the gods think of that?""The gods choose what they may. We must follow tradition or we fight for nothing.""If we lose we fight for nothing!"Ereze ran out in shame.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Oro, Ereze and Karkar left again, back to the boxes, this time with fifteen warriors, each with a spear, an axe and a club. Three more were taken less encumbered.Oro asked Ereze as they headed out into the desert, "Why are we going there again?"Ereze replied, "We need more boxes, even if we can't use them now they'll be so useful once they're allowed.""The shamans won't like this.""They never do."-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------When they got there they packed the boxes upon their backs. They opened some boxes revealing not only knives but also spoons, pans and other such tools. The warriors began to attach the knives to their spears and axes in place of the stone heads. They attached the unbreakable shimmering spoons to their limbs, bodies and necks over their hide for protection and put them on their clubs to increase their power. They discarded their helmets and used large pans instead.Oro objected, "This isn't what the shamans would want."Ereze replied, "It's what the gods would."-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In the desert, on the return journey, a large beast was encountered. Creatures of that sort had been seen before. It was the type with large fangs and four clawed legs that made it faster than the wind. Some warriors spotted its black scales on the horizon. With most encounters with creatures of that sort it would take several spears to kill. But one throw of a spear tipped with an unbreakable knife and the beast was dead. The warriors looked over the bloodied corpse, they knew these were truly weapons of the gods.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ereze entered the temple once more. His warriors waiting outside loyally. All the warriors he kept outside were of his clan.Ereze bowed his head to the shamans, "Hello again."The high shaman replied, "You were gone."Ereze was amused, "I was getting more of the god's knives.""You weren't meant to.""The god's told me.""We speak for them."Ereze was filled with joy and rage, "If you follow what the gods wish they shall protect you."He pulled out an axe, its head a gleaming knife of the gods. He struck the high shaman's neak, slicing off his head in a single slash. The others tried to run but they couldn't, it took a single strike for each of them to fall.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ereze walked out of the temple, the orange blood of the shamans staining his hands and arms. He told one of his warriors, "It is done, the gods have spoken. This time through knives instead of tongues."They called the village together along with everyone in nearby villages. Ereze spoke for all to hear, "The gods have gifted us weapons like none other. We now have knives and other such goods made of an unbreakable material. We must henceforth head into the deserts to the south, and bring back their containers."Someone shouted from the audience, "We must get these quickly. The northern raiders may come any day."Ereze replied, "We must get them now. For we will not simply defend, we must take the battle to them, with these weapons and this armor we may destroy their villages like they did ours, we shall win the war."Ereze passed Oro on the way out, she spoke to him, "You killed the shamans, did you not?"Ereze replied, "The gods did so. I was but their hands."Oro rotated her head in curiosity and asked a rhetorical question, "Is that not what they all say?"Ereze changed the subject, "The mating season is coming up. You and I could create a good bloodline. We'll need it if I am to be a leader."Oro gave no reply.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------A thousand warriors from nearly twenty seven villages marched north. They wore spoons as armor, pots and pans as helmets. Knives as axe heads and spearheads. Spoons were affixed to shields for reinforcement. Ereze led the charge, Oro to his left and Karkar to his right. In his hands was a massive axe, a cleaver as its head.Oro giggled as they marched, "We are fighting with pots and pans."Karkar replied, "If a spoon makes us heroes there's no shame in that spoon."Oro said, "We aren't heroes yet."Ereze shouted, "Yet? We will win this battle. They are already calling me Ereze godsknife. We'll be told in stories for generations to come."-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Soon the terrain changed from desert to plane. They were in the home of the raiders. But this was their raid now. They swept along the land like a swarm of demonic pests. The raiders didn't stand a chance. They were the ones being raided now.The spears of the gods ripped through the northerner's hide armor and shields. And the northerner's stone spear tips shattered on the spoons that made the attacker's armor, just like Oro's did on the box. There was no battle with the knives of gods, only victory.Soon Ereze marched his warriors home, slaves that were once raiders marched with them. And loot and treasure was carried that had been taken from their ancestors. The spoils of war were marching home at last.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ereze made his new home in the temple the shamans once lived in. The confederation and the raiders were united now, though the raiders didn't want to be, justice they called it, you loot us we loot you. Ereze's village was the heart of an empire now, and they named it then, Erezehome. It was named after the hero of their empire; Ereze of the Izeta clan, high chief of the empire, the godsknife, slayer of the false prophets, raider of the raiders.Erezehome had grown. When Ereze had been born it was about three hundred strong. It had become two thousand strong now that it was so close to the boxes. And so close to Ereze.Karkar led the warband, they found new villages, and took them under the wing of the empire. When working together the villages used fire and heat to reshape the knives and other utensils, they turned what had been before shaped like spoons and knives and the boxes that held them into true spearheads and armor.Every piece of their warriors' bodies were covered in unbreakable material, their axes and spears had radiant shining heads that could cut into any lesser material.It was not just weapons that this new material made use of. They created axes that cut down plants for wood and built structures twice as fast, more than twice. They could plant food and sow the land more efficiently with tools made from these things, and cut plants with better blades. They were the gods now.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ereze sat upon a throne of jewels and bones. Oro was by his side. She kept the records now. Record keepers began to stylize their illustrations more and more, the symbols represented but were no longer depictions.Oro came to Ereze with news, "The boxes, the gifts of the gods. They're running out."Ereze asked, "What do you mean?""It's been years since you first found them. There are no more boxes in the sand.""We will melt more down. We have time, we won't worry about running out for a long time."Oro explained further, "We are losing material every time we bring them to the forge. We are only gaining people, only gaining uses. Even if we use the material we have today we will not be able to keep up with the new uses, the new people.Ereze replied, "Then we shall each go, you to the southeast and I to the southwest. Both of us in search for more of the material beyond the borders.""How many warriors shall each of us take.""We must both go alone. My empire is built on the tools of the gods. If we speak to others of losing them they will tear us apart.""Is your empire so meaningless, that when you lose the power of your weapons it falls apart.""Call me a cruel leader, but I am no fool. What do you think has brought this empire to the beautiful conclusion that it is today? Loyalty, it has always been fear, the knowledge that I can wipe them out, you will go into the desert, as will I, I shall hear no complaints."-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ereze walked for hours. For once there was nobody to guard him, his armor was of the gods' material, but a lonely soul is protected by armor.Ereze walked past the place where children once played, they worked now, shining grey axes in their hands.He walked by the field where they first found the boxes. It was empty now, all the digging in the world couldn't get that.Beyond the known lands Ereze came upon a deep canyon, he could swear he saw Oro on the other side of it.As he walked on he came upon a strange creature. It stood upright, though it had arms and legs, and such a short neck. Its body was made of a grey material, it was made of the material of the gods.Ereze raised his head in honor, "Creature, may you be a god that I see on this sunburnt path? Have you come with more material?"The creature made an odd screeching sound then spoke, "Native language optimized. Greetings alien lifeform, it seems a community from your species is using [redacted] to advance their civilization, we will fix that, all violators will be destroyed."Ereze replied, "You seek to destroy my empire?""I seek to protect your race. I only need to burn a few villages to purge all stolen goods."Ereze said under his breath, "May the gods protect you if you truly protect us."Ereze jumped onto the creature, constricting it with his body, and pushed all his weight onto the creature's body, sending it deep into the canyon below.The creature's body shattered when they reached the bottom of the canyon, as did Ereze's.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Oro continued down her path, she reached a great canyon, swore she saw Ereze on the other side.She walked past the deserts, through to a dismal swamp. Maybe here something could be found here. The blues of the foliage surrounded her.Desperately she felt through the wetlands, her foot felt something. It was a hunk of something, she pulled it out, reddish, lumpy and porous. It felt like the material of the gods', it even looked a bit like it when degraded. The workers may be able to do something with this, could it be shaped into something? Maybe with this new source of the material things could be done better. At least there was hope, hope she had done something good for her life and maybe this world may become something more than it was before.
Time Travelers Need Not Apply The city streets were calm that morning; children played without care, men went about their work - the bakers, the butchers, the blacksmiths. Autumn had come and harvest would soon begin. The city walls held strong, with steady stone and archers perched at every tower.Then they heard the noise, like thunder or a bear's roar; huge machines that crawled across the ground and flew through the sky. Some cowered at the noise, others looked to see what was happening. Women brought their children inside their homes; the city guard readied their bows atop their high towers.What army could have such machines? Even the Emperor of Byzantium or civilizations of the East could not hope to create such terrors. Soon, soldiers of some sort began to appear on the horizon, their banner was three stripes, white, blue and red. They wore strange green armor and held bizarre tubes as weapons, they were tall and strong, stronger than the city's men, stronger and taller then any known to man.They seemed like angels at first, that or devils. But an archer shot at the strange soldiers, they were men, they bled. Then a howling noise could be heard and some strange object flew out, the walls were hit. The city walls crumbled before the citizens' eyes. No siege, no battle.These were not angels nor devils, these were men, men nine hundred years hence.☜-------------------------------------------------☞It seemed at first that the Janus machine was a failure. That nothing had come from it. Founded in secret by the British government in 1992 it had been in production since then. The idea was to use quantum physics to examine the past, they thought all they would get was readings, they didn't even expect to get images, hoping for little more than numbers about natural occurrences. It was turned on in 1999, February, most of the people at its facility were presumed dead and the project was thought a failure, people had disappeared, people but soon the English county where the Janus project was conducted began to experience a strange phenomenon.The project was meant to simply give a clearer look at the past, but it ended up creating a bridge using quantum physics that not even our worlds greatest scientists could explain. After some tests it appeared that an area of nearly ninety square miles was a chaotic bridge to the year 1100. The two time periods connected at the same point in the world, and the rift was tied to earth's gravity so the planet's movements were irrelevant. The time periods moved together, meaning that two hours in 1999 was two hours in 1100. The final discovery was that changes made in 1100 do not affect the present, meaning that it was its own separate timeline.This made it so that as long as it was irreversible then 1100 would essentially be its own nation or at least like a group of nations, with travelling between the same as traveling from one place to another, and with technology and understanding developing to control time period while in the affected zone.By August both populations knew of each other and their ability to travel to each other without consequence of changing the future. A treaty was signed between President Bill Clinton of the USA, Emperor Alexios of Byzantium, President Vladimir Puitn of Russia, Emperor Henry IV of The Holy Roman Empire, Prime minister Tony Blaire of England and King Henry I of England, declaring that the nations of both times shall be treated as equals, and that their sovereignty should be recognized by each other, with the exploitation of the nations of the past being forbidden by the nations of the future and the cultures and way of life of the past being respected in any possible trade or communication between timelines.☜-------------------------------------------------☞It was the Lord's year 1101, but it was the year 2000 everyone seemed to care about. It had been little more than a year but the streets of Constantinople had begun to change. It might not have been clear most days, but occasionally you'd see something wrong, an anachronism, a nobleman walking down the streets could sometimes be seen with some gadget he had gotten from the future. Or a merchant could be seen coming from the harbor proudly sporting the futuristic style of dress.Was it really true? That these future men lived so well? That even their peasants lived better then the Emperor? That even their children could show miracles unknown to the Pope? That even their simpletons knew more of the way of the world then the alchemists?He walked through the streets, his green eyes full of hope, he was still young, barely a day over sixteen. He was rich, for his era, his father a merchant, he was studying to be a surgeon himself. Alexander was his name, it was an ancient name, a proud name.Alexander walked through the marketplace, trying to see if there was anything from the future there. He saw some metal screws that were supposed to be from the future, no proving it either way. He spotted a strange machine, a box of odd gears and such, being presented as a machine from the future, he came up to the seller curious as to its validity, "This machine, where did you get it‽ What does it do‽"The seller looked up at Alexander, "It's a machine from the future that works on mysterious principles."Alexander became skeptical of the claim that it was truly of the future, "What does it do though?"The seller replied scriptedly, "What would it do, the future men do strange things."Alexander walked off, the machine was a bunch of gears and bits of metal scraped together made to look futuristic and confuse people not willing to think critically about what they see. Everything does something. Why would the men of the future make a machine that does nothing? It did do something: convince gullible people with money to spare to waste it on a trinket.Alexander walked to his home. A large enough house for the city, red brick, it had been his grandfather's and his great grandfather's before it passed to his father. His father was out on a trading ship, but maybe when he returned to Byzantium he'd be carrying some news of the world of the future.Alexander's sister was home, Sophia was her name. She was a young girl of fourteen, black of hair and blue of eyes. She wished to be a lady to some European lord some day, she had a courtly demeanor to her, she would fit in well, but her birth meant that it would be far from likely.Sophia greeted Alexander at their doorway, "Hello again dear brother."Alexander bowed his head mockingly, "Hello again dear sister.""You didn't bring your sword? It's dangerous out there.""Don't worry, I'll be fine. I can be undefended one day."They walked inside and sat down to talk further. Sophia asked, "Have you seen anything of the future again?"Alexander replied, "Nothing real. I hope to hear of more when father returns.""Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to rush into this other time. It's a strange and unwelcoming place. The neighbors and others of the city have moved to live there with hope, but we cannot know what happened on the other side, they never wrote back. The future folk are powerful enough to wipe us out, the only reason they haven't is our insignificance.""That's not true. They haven't wiped us out because they are kind. They at least take those who wish to enter their realm, take those fleeing from famine or the crusaders. The future brings wonderful things that we cannot dream of-""It also brings terrors that may be unspeakable. They could destroy our way of life, take away everything we hold dear. The future isn't some adventure for you to quest on, it's a world of strange and terrifying things that we can barely know of, we do not know what they may want for us. We know they cannot be true worshippers of Christ as the crusaders declared them an enemy for their deviance and heresy."Alexander slammed his fist on the table, "The crusaders will attack anything they see that has more money than them. They sacked our cities when passing through our land, their pope excommunicated us too. I'd sooner trust a tomcat on theology then a European!"Sophia spoke softly to calm the conversation down, "I'm just saying to be wary. Our way of life may die with the future's corruption, we must protect our tradition. It's a good thing our emperor is wise in that regard, wary of everything the future men say, Alexious knows not to let them destroy us. Unlike the Holy Roman Emperor, who they say is dressed in future suits and hats now.""Well, unlike Henry, Alexious has a brain in his head. But we always knew that." Alexander smirked."Oh, I forgot to mention. I found one of your leeches in the kitchen again this morning, please keep those things to yourself."Alexander blushed, "I need them to practice my bloodletting. I can't learn everything from manuals."☜-------------------------------------------------☞That morning Alexander was awoken early, not that there was ever much of a standard time to wake up. There was something happening in the streets outside his window. There seemed to be a rapidly forming crowd. Alexander walked outside and asked a man in the crowd, "What has happened here? May I be of some service?"The peasant replied, "Some future man was stabbed, damn fool was walking around in the middle of the night with his… daughter."Alexander was slightly disturbed but mostly excited, "I'm a surgeon, or at least I'm training to be one. I'll get my tools."Alexander rushed into his house and back out to get the instruments he needed to heal the man. The peasants let him through. The person laid down was like none Alexander had ever seen before, he was tall, strong and well groomed to an extent few in Alexander's world could reach. The wounded man was dressed in strange clothing that he knew to be in the futuristic style. In his hand was a device that looked like a black box with some sort of tube in front. A future girl stood above him, her hair a strange pink color and bits of metal sticking out from her face.Alexander assessed the future man's wounds, they weren't too bad, a slash more than a stab. Alexander addressed the crowd, "I can save him, possibly, but I'll have to bring him inside."☜-------------------------------------------------☞While Alexander was patching up the wounded, Sophia waited downstairs along with the future girl. She was about the same age as Sophia but she looked completely alien. The strange jewelry that seemed to have been affixed into her skin was what stuck out to her at first. Sophia had nearly fainted when the future girl was first let in at seeing how gruesome she looked. Besides that her clothing was strange, she wore a baggy hooded coat and pants that revealed much of her strangely hairless legs.The appearance of this stranger made Sophia think of tales she had been told of savage pagans who sacked Rome in ancient times. But this stranger is peaceful, despite her grotesque appearance. She must have been frightened, tapping her feet, her father had been wounded. Why wouldn't she be afraid?Sophia remembered her hospitality, she asked the stranger, "May I get you something to eat."The stranger blushed, "Oh, I'm fine."They looked at each other for a moment, Sophia's eyes lingered on the stranger's exposed and hairless legs, they were beautiful in a way. She was pretty in a strange exotic way, like a queen from across the sea. Sophia asked, "And what may your name be?"The stranger replied, "Ashley. Yours?"Sophia replied, "My name is Sophia, my lady."Ashley laughed a bit, her teeth were white as pearls, "Don't call me my lady. I have no royal title to speak of."Sophia had heard that the future men lived mostly under republics like those of ancient times, though she at least expected there to be some sort of nobility. Sophia asked, "What brings you here?"Ashley blushed, "I've been travelling across the past with my father, my father wishes to write a book on the culture of this world, fearing it will soon be destroyed. He wishes we had never made contact at all."Sophia replied, "Well, it seems to be good for us that you're here.""My father says that in a few years time we'll have destroyed your cultures. Destroy your national identities, your way of life.""Why would that be a fear? All identities are destroyed. Look at your people, are you not our descendants?"Ashley smiled at that, "I've been feeling the same way. I kind of forgot that you don't have nation states here.""Nation states?""Sorry if my Greek isn't that good, or if the concept is foreign to you. It's nothing you have to worry about."☜-------------------------------------------------☞His knife was steady, cutting away the flesh that may be corrupted as his sutures bring the skin to a close. His oil was hot as dragonfire, it fused the skin that way, holding in the blood. Blood… blood! He thought to let blood and prepared his leeches thusly. This was his first real surgery, but it seemed like a good idea to let some blood out. Maybe to help with the bleeding, though he had just cauterized the wound.The blood began to stop gushing out of the cut. And the wounded began to return to the world of the living. He clenched his teeth in pain and sat up then addressed Alexander, "Thank you. I would have died if you hadn't been there."Alexander replied, "I'm sorry I can't do more. You'd be much better off in a future hospital-"The wounded cut him off, "No, no. I respect your culture. You're just as good a surgeon as ours, maybe better." It was clear he was lying. The tone of voice he used was like that one would use with a child. "I'm very sorry if anything I am doing would go against your customs."Alexander replied, slightly confused, "No worries about that sir. Do you wish to tell me your name?"The wounded replied, "Aaron. And what may yours be?""Alexander." The two shook hands. Alexander said, "I assume you'll be staying with us.""Oh no, I have to get on my way.""Sorry, but you cannot get back to the future like you are now. And it would be disregarding my hospitality to let you attempt to."Aaron obliged, "Oh, I would not want to disrespect your tradition. We'll stay here for as long as you want. I'm sorry if my daughter isn't respecting your culture, she can be inappropriate to you people." If Alexander was a worse person it wouldn't be good to say that, but it seems Aaron assumed the best.Alexander thought to himself, I don't think she's the one who isn't respecting us.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander and Sophia prepared a meal for their new guests. They prepared some fish that they had gotten from the market. It wouldn't be what the future folk were used to, but it may be enough to fill their bellies.Sophia set the table for Alexander, Aaron and Ashley. She hadn't cooked for four in a long time. Her father was always out with his caravan and she hadn't gotten guests since who knows when.After Sophia set the table Aaron stated, "I am vegetarian, but to respect your local customs I will oblige in eating it."Sophia asked, "What may that mean?"Aaron replied, "It means I do not partake in eating meat.""Then it's good that this isn't meat, its fish."Aaron tried to seem polite, "I will accept your definition of that as correct, even if it is not mine."Ashley rolled her eyes. Alexander then joked, "We have that here, we call them peasants."Ashley broke her reserved demeanor and began to laugh. Aaron scolded her, "Don't laugh at their beliefs", he didn't seem to have realized that what Alexander said was a joke.After a few odd moments of silence Ashley asked, "How old are you both?"Alexander replied, "I am sixteen years old and my dear sister is fourteen years old."Ashley was surprised, she must have expected them to be much older than they were, "I can't believe you're really that young, I'm fifteen, how am I older than Sophia? God, you guys shouldn't be living like this, you should be going to highschool and worrying about, like, homework or your first crushes or something, not living out here struggling to survive!"If Alexander and Sophia's father had heard one of them say something like that he would have brought down hell upon them. But the future man showed himself less direct, "You shouldn't say things like that around them, you might offend their sensibilities. They shouldn't be living like we do, that's a colonialist attitude, they are living in their traditional Byzantine way of life. We shouldn't expect or want them to be like us."Alexander replied, "I would honestly much rather be living like you two do."Aaron replied in a voice one would use when speaking to a child, "Oh, don't say that, your way of life is sacred to you."Alexander came close to drawing his sword, "Do not tell me what is or isn't sacred to me in my own home! By God's blood this is my own house and you shall not insult me here."☜-------------------------------------------------☞The future folk went up to the room where they were staying. It had been known that they would not want to stay together due to the future custom of only couples sleeping in the same room, but it's the best they had.Alexander put his ear to the door, there was some noise coming from the guest room. He could hear Ashley's voice say something, "...They aren't something to be hidden away from the modern world, we need to use our resources to help them, they may look different but they are the same humans as we are… What do you think it would be like if I was born here, do you know what they'd do to me, what they do to people like me..."After a few moments he could hear a muffled replay from Aaron. Then Ashley stormed out of the room seeming offended, she told Alexander, "I'll be sleeping with Sophia- sleeping in Sophia's room tonight."☜-------------------------------------------------☞Ashley opened Sophia's door that night. Ashley was surprised, she hadn't had something like this happen before. It's not like it was a man coming into her room, her virginity was not threatened, though she had heard of future folk having deviant relations that would have been forbidden by the church of 1101.Ashley seemed upset. She slept in clothing more revealing than Sophia had expected, it wouldn't be hard for one to imagine her naked. She was somehow more threatening like this, she was no longer just sitting meekly, now it was dark and her piercings were shimmering in the shadows. She was somehow both monstrous and beautiful like some eldren spirit or fey creature.Sophia asked, worried about the answer she'd receive, "Why are you here."Ashley replied, "I'm to sleep in your room tonight. Sleeping in the same room as my father was not a good idea."There was only one bed, but it was big enough to give them space. Sophia had been in the same room as other girl's before, but those were all girl's of her time, girl's with the expectations and traditions of her culture. Before this night the most exotic person she had even shared her house with was a Russian. And this barbarian was far more bizarre than a Russian.The two tried to be silent for a bit but soon it became awkward. Ashley asked Sophia, "What do you want to do with your life?"Sophia replied hesitantly, "I wish to marry into nobility."Ashley responded, "Why? You could do so much more. Would you really want to marry some stuffed up lord twice your age, would you want to wake up next to a face you do not love every day?""It doesn't always matter what I want, I need to think about my future child, and about my current family. That's just the way the world works."Ashley put her hand on Sophia's shoulder, it felt soft and gentle, "Not anymore. The future exists now. A new world exists now!""I have to do my duty in the society I live in, I can't just become you like… even if..."Ashley slid her hand down from Sophia's shoulder towards her chest, "Even if what?" Her touch was gentle yet strong, the type of touch Sophia wanted her future husband to show her.Sophia blushed, "I believe I know what you want from me, but it isn't allowed. Maybe for your people but not mine.""We are all one people, we are all human. If something is wrong it is wrong, culture shouldn't matter." Her eyes were like glistening stars of the unknown, her skin like morning snow, her body made Sophia wish to go against all she had known to be holy.Sophia rolled over, "I'm sorry. Some things can't happen, at least not tonight."☜-------------------------------------------------☞The future folk left the next day. Aaron was to return to his home in the city of New York with his daughter. He wasn't happy about what happened that night, though he seemed to be accepting of it, nobody would know the future folk's law on such things, about any of what transpired. Alexander wished he had some more time to ask them of the future's wonder, but they were gone too early.☜-------------------------------------------------☞One night Alexander awoke to good news, his father had returned home from his caravan. His father looked different since when he had last seen him. He'd taken on the future style of dress, wearing the type of suit that future men were often wearing, he shaved his face as future men almost all did, and on his head he wore a wide brimmed hat from the future that kept the sun from his eyes. But he didn't look happy in any of it, he looked emotionally destroyed.It was nearly dawn when he had entered his home, and he fell to his knees as he did. Alexander was the first to greet him, once he had heard something he rushed downstairs, his sword at his hip in case the person downstairs was not his father.He almost thought it was not his father at first. He had changed so much, but when he saw the man's face he knew who it was.His father looked up at him, "Alexander? It has been nearly a year since I have seen you."Alexander replied, "Over a year.""It is so then.""Father? You seem upset.""Thebes.""Thebes?"His father smiled for a second before reverting back to his exhausted tone, "You really haven't heard? The future nation of Russia tried to make first direct contact with Thebes. A stray arrow from Thebes' guards hit one of Russia's men and they responded with a force unknown to our world. I was there when it happened, my entire supply of goods was ruined, I returned home without profit. The walls crumbled like children's blocks, it was like God had turned on us."Alexander was shocked, there was no way they could survive for much longer with a setback of this sort, "What are we to do now?""We will do what many others have done. We will move to the future. The nation of America has taken in many foreigners, we can have a better life there, maybe one better than even we had here before."☜-------------------------------------------------☞They packed in the morning, there was almost nothing to pack though. Alexander took his sword, some of his surgeon's tools and the clothes he would need. Alexander's father informed him that none of those would do him well in the future.Sophia was devastated when she heard they were moving, she always loved Constantinople, the high society, its bustling streets, she'd never see any of it again. Her father assured her that the future would contain cities twice as large and twice as civilized. But it wouldn't be Constantinople, it wouldn't be home.They traveled across the Balkan mountains, there would be passage to the future only through the kingdom of England, meaning it was needed to cross the Balkans. The mountains were hard terrain but shortly they joined a larger group of travelers headed to the future as well.☜-------------------------------------------------☞The mountains were frigid compared to the warmth of Constantinople. Alexander could be happy to have a cart to sleep in, he did not have to worry about his legs, many of the others were stuck walking. The mountains of the Balkans were desolate, rugged and unpleasant, their natural beauty killed by their difficulty to traverse.Sophia sat next to him, she looked out upon the barren landscape. It was a shame that they must travel in such bleak weather. Alexander put his hand on his sister's shoulder to comfort her, "Don't fear the future, the unknown is like the night's darkness, you'll think it hides nightmares but it hides the same world that the day reveals. The future is full of wonders, it's just our world with better technology so that people live better lives."Sophia replied, "It is not just fifty or a hundred years, it is nearly a thousand, they are as far away from us as the second century. It is like us interacting with the Pagans and Barbarians of that era. Their culture is not ours, you've seen them, their deviancy, their strange behavior. They have no love for God, they only know their own deviant desires. They are as the mythic Atlanteans were, decadent and self obsessed.""You don't know that, you do not know what standards they follow, what laws govern what to them is deviancy."Sophia spoke quietly, as to prevent her father from hearing, "Their women act as men, Ashley did at least. She almost turned me to sin. How would I live in such a dark and distorted world, one where I work as a man would, dress as a man would, I'll be forced to live the life of a man in the future."Alexander comforted her, "We do not know their customs when it comes to men and women, we cannot know what you may or may not be permitted to do.""How can we live somewhere you know nothing about?""We are all born to a world we know nothing about. The future holds technology beyond our wildest imagination, the lives that will be granted to us there are better than the ones we had before. Whatever you wanted for yourself in the past the future will give you a thousand times over."Sophia replied bitterly, "I wished to marry a gentleman in the world of the past. Now it seems I'm unlikely to marry at all. I'm to just degrade myself with any boy or girl who catches my fancy aren't I?"☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander was about to reply, but he was cut off, a sound rang out throughout the mountains. The first thing they heard was the voice, "Deus vult!", then came the fire, and a sound like a thunderstorm. Smoke and fire rose out of the earth like hell had been dug up. Bodies consumed in the nightmarish blaze of flame and ash, lives snuffed out, about half the travelers had been burnt to death, as if all the fire and ash from hell had chosen to smite them. It smelled of sulfur and death, death of a proportion and power none there had seen before.A few people from the party took the time to examine the area, though there was little time to waste. One traveler explained "The crusaders have turned their holy war to the future, they're adamant on destroying the 'deviant' nations of the future, and all those who wish to travel there. The weapon used must have been of the future, something similar to Greek fire, though the man that used it and any potential comrades have been destroyed by the fire, so it should be safe to travel on."The travelers continued their journey, there was nothing else to do. Their dead were but ashes, there was nothing to bury.☜-------------------------------------------------☞They continued across the mountains of the Balkans and into the forests of Germany. The German landscape was easier to cross, lush forests grew around them and the land was flat and temperate.Eventually a steel vessel came upon. Alexander's father explained to him, "This vehicle is a ship of the future, it may not look seaworthy but it is faster than any ship that you have seen in Byzantium, it can take us to Britain by the end of the night."Alexander knew to trust his father on matters of this sort. He had been closer to the future then anyone else Alexander had met, well except for Ashley or Aaron, but they weren't there so it did not matter. Plus, nobody from Alexander's time could build a ship of metal.After paying a toll the travelers were ferried to the British isles, and to the patch of land where time was distorted. They were assured by the ferrymen that this place would send them to the future, though the exact nature of how is unknown, the best idea would be to wander around or rest and hope that the future would meet them shortly.It was dark, Alexander's father had been right, the ship was fast. The travelers decided to sleep, the future may see them in the morning. If they were lucky enough they'd awake in the future.☜-------------------------------------------------☞That night Alexander dreamed of the future, of the massive cities of high iron towers, of the warriors with weapons of fire and thunder, the great universities and libraries. He wished to be a part of it, he was excited to be a part of it, to finally see the meeting of heaven and earth, where blackness and the night sky was blotted out by shining cities of infinite light.Sophia dreamed of horrors, of the noise and light of eldritch cities of steel, of the crusaders wielding new weapons with her new home as their target, the dark knowledge that god had forbidden. She saw only chaos in her path, fear consumed her mind, to step where earth had sunken into hell, and the stars were black as fiery cities had turned god's sky to darkness.☜-------------------------------------------------☞When they awoke there was no grass underneath them, they were on a floor of concrete. Futuristic soldiers watched them closely, they wore black armor that was a strange mix of metal and cloth with black glass covering their faces. It was like demons or phantoms were watching over them. A man in a blue suit in the futuristic style walked up to Alexander's father and spoke, first he tried old English, then old German, then finally he tried old Greek, "Are those your children." This world felt cold, alien, it was hard to even see their warriors as human, nor their structures are real.Alexander's father nodded his head. He was then brought back to a back room as Alexander and Sophia were then to wait outside. Eventually he came out and told his children, "We're free to go."Sophia asked, "And what would it mean if we are not free to go?"Her father replied, "It is better not to think of that. They allow all merchants and our kin through, I fear most of the commoners we traveled with will not see as lucky a fate."☜-------------------------------------------------☞They left the next morning, they took a boat similar to the one they had seen in the past, it was made of metal like the other one, but it was painted in blues and whites. It was a fast and sturdy ship, able to get them across an ocean in no time. The future men had no need to sail near islands, they needed not even sails.They came upon the city at night, its lights nearly shocked them, the stories were true, it outshined the stars. It was like seeing heaven's light, the yellowish white light was a more beautiful sight then any had ever seen. The steel towers were taller than they had imagined, like castles of giants shooting up from the ground. It is like they had reached up to heaven itself.When they entered the city they did not know what to do. A guide had gotten them good houses, he was assigned to them, but he barely told them anything other than where to go, he didn't speak Greek well.They were at the docks as they entered, it was bright, it didn't even feel like night, felt more like dusk. As they were led through the city they began to feel as if they had made a mistake, it was unimaginably large, thousands of uncaring souls walking by them, and howling iron monsters rushed through the center of the streets. Debauchery and degeneracy commonplace as well, women walked around nearly nude and signs and stores that would be called heresy in Byzantium surrounded them. Sophia asked, "Where are we to stay?"Her father replied, "I was able to buy a small apartment in the city the guide will lead us there. We will stay there. He will help us adjust after that."And, eventually, they came to their new apartment. At first Alexander and Sophia did not know what they were gazing upon. It looked like a stone tower. Alexander asked, "I see a tower, but I doubt we'll be inhabiting that?"His father laughed a bit then replied, "The apartment will be a small part of the tower, a few of its rooms."They went into the tower, the rooms inside looked like daylight, like as if they had put the sun in a bottle. Their father told them to step into a strange metal room, he then pressed a button and they began shooting up. Sophia screamed at first until she realized it was meant to do that.Alexander asked, "Most people in this building seem to be from our time? Why is that?"His father replied, "We must stay together for safety, I have heard the people do not take well to all of us coming here. Also, the government of the city likes to send us all to the same place. It is easier for all parties."☜-------------------------------------------------☞It was hard at first, everything they knew the world to be was gone. Their father spent the last of his money taking out a loan for a storefront. The people of the city had a taste for exotic meals, so anyone from the past who could cook well could make a living selling medieval cuisine. As a business venture it was definitely a step down, but it was the best they could manage after losing so much.Alexander and Sophia were to go to school the next year as autumn came in. But they still have a few months before that was to be done.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander seemed to be socializing well with the other boys in the neighborhood, they had all come from the past as well. He was able to make himself at home better in the future then both his family members. And he tended to enjoy going out into the wider city and seeing the marvels of the future. Some things were easier to adapt to then others, ice in water was a favorite of many.Alexander was fascinated by the serpentine vehicles that slithered under the city. "Subways" they called them. He decided to start using them, he didn't actually have anywhere to go, but he enjoyed spending time with them.He was taking the subway on a new route, he wanted to see where this one would take him. Everyone could tell he wasn't from this century, he still wore a sword at his belt. Nobody looked at him twice, he was far from the only medieval person there.Alexander got off at a new station. This one was fairly large, large was good, many people, many new things. He looked to some boxes in a window that produced illusions, "televisions" they called them, he was always fascinated by them since he first saw one. This one was showing some sort of fight. From what he knew of American language one of the people was yelling "Get back to your own century."From what Alexander could tell someone was attacking a person from the past. He'd heard tales of native's hatred towards the men of the past. Hearing that they were discriminated against in some regions, though it seemed like it was mostly in the backwater south of this strange country. From what it seemed while New York was a great civilization, the southern regions of the country were little more than barbarians.It was rare for Alexander or his family to see much hatred from the natives. He just heard of it a lot. He honestly wished people would stop talking about it so much. Though he did know America elected its leaders, and he had heard that this new Bush fellow wished to become leader and he did not like the past folk much.He stepped inside the store that the illusion boxes were in. He wouldn't be able to afford one, but there might be other stuff there. The store sold many assorted items, many of them were based around the city, seemingly for travelers to use. Small depictions of the towers he had seen upon the skyline, or the great green statue he had seen in the water, or that strange banner that read "I 'heart' NY".He picked up a tiny statue he thought looked interesting, it was of one of the towers being scaled by an ape. There must have been some legend about it.He slid it over to the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper told him "Ten dollars." The shopkeeper was a tall thin man, native to this time, a bit older than Alexander.It was a bit overpriced, but he liked it anyway, and slid over the money. Alexander was able to converse in English now, at least a bit, "You sell a lot of these small statues, what does the ape mean?"The shopkeeper smiled, "There's an old movie where a giant ape scales that tower." Alexander had some idea of what a movie was, he knew it was something like a play.Alexander replied, "Ah I see."The shopkeeper looked down at him, "Where did you move here from?"Alexander replied, "Constantinople." Anybody would know which one just from looking upon him."Ah, I see. How are you enjoying your time here?""Oh, New York is much better. I have learned more of the world than I ever thought there was to know. Constantinople is nothing more than a footnote compared to what I now know. I've seen so much, my old beliefs, garbage, it is like as if I had gotten knowledge from god himself."The shopkeeper replied, "Yes, that seems to be how it is. The world is much bigger than you must have thought it was. There is so much more to learn here, all the science and technology of thousands of years of history are here for you. It's certainly a step up from peasants and lords back in your time."Alexander smiled back at him. Suddenly someone rushed into the conversation, she was upper class for this city, whatever New York's version of a noblewoman was. She scolded the shopkeeper, "You shouldn't be insulting their culture like that, how would you like it if someone insulted your home like that? The people of the past are wiser than us, they live humble lives without the vanity of today." She then turned to Alexander, looked at him like one would to a child, "I'm sorry that man was so insensitive to your homeland…" she pulled out some money, the green kind that future folk used, "I know I could never repay the damages done to your people but here is some repayment from my people to yours."Alexander could call himself many things, but he was no beggar, he ran off, escaped the situation while he still had his honor and his ape statue.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Sophia looked out at the metallic skyline. She never learned most of the building's names, she remembered the empire state building. Something about the term 'empire' reminded her of home. The people of New York did not know most of the things she had known in the old century, they had no nobility, no grandiose places, no valiant horsemen, no princes who'd give flowers to ladies before they marched off to war. This place was a city of tall unfeeling towers, their warriors were dishonorable snipers, their monuments were that of steel and glass, their leaders shadowy and scheming.She didn't know what she would do with this strange life she had been handed. In this city she'd be from the past, but if she returned to Constantinople she'd be from the future. She would not be marrying any nobility here, the closest thing would be one of the shadowy oligarchs she'd seen images of, and even then it would do nothing for her family. She couldn't improve the status of her family, though she could advance through the system of wealth that this world had.She heard a ring of her doorbell, she still hadn't gotten used to the sound of this bell, it didn't sound real. She looked through the hole in her door, it looked like someone from this time period. She scanned the person's face for a moment before realizing who it was.It was her. Could it really be her? She remembered her name, Ashley. She looked somewhat the same, the same green eyes that shone like a summer's forest in the darkened hallway. Her hair was different from what it had been before, it was blue now, Sophia would never understand that girl's hair.The doorknob felt like fire in her hands. She wanted to just leave the door locked forever. But she couldn't.Sophia did not know what to think about this. She feared this strange woman as much as she wished to see her again. What would her life in this world be like now, what could this creature make of her? Was she supposed to lie with her like she would a man? If she acted like most of the women of the future world did she would be little more than a man. But this wasn't just a girl of this world, this was Ashley, this was someone Sophia knew.Ashley flashed her strange half smile, "Hello. It took a long time to find you. When I heard that you might have moved to the city I looked all over for you."Sophia replied, "What is it you wish to talk of." She tried to seem as medieval as she could.Ashley laughed, in Constantinople ladies did not laugh like that, though this was not Constantinople, "You know what I'm here to speak of. You know what happened that night. You remember sharing my room."Sophia could not reply. She wanted to say it was not allowed, but who was it not allowed by? Ashley put her finger on Sophia's lips, her hands were gentle, she possessed all the traits that Sophia would want in a husband, she wasn't in the body that Sophia expected, but she was beautiful in a strange and exotic way.It was like for once she was truly without the world, if only for a moment. Sophia didn't leave that night, she was of this city now and obeyed its laws. The future and past were no longer relevant, her eyes were not that of New York nor Constantinople nor any other city, her eyes were just eyes, her skin was just skin. If it was only a night they were together without the world around them.☜-------------------------------------------------☞The apartment was like a castle, but it was colder, it was mazelike. Alexander returned home to his friends, other medieval lads who had moved there with their families looking for work and leisure. There was Ode, a small boy of fifteen who had traveled from medieval England with his grandfather after the death of his mother. There was also Taki, a Dane of seventeen whose family had come hoping for work in America's army. They would have seen each other as foreigners in the past, but now they were all in one place, and they all felt like they were from one medieval world, one identity. Even those from beyond the lands of Christendom, the Mongols, Moors, and Persians were part of this new medieval identity too. They had all come from their own primitive world and entered this new utopia to seek a better life.Alexander rushed home, he had the ape statue in his hands, when he saw his friends on the street corner he pulled it out to show them, most of them hadn't left the medieval neighborhoods. They marveled at the intricacy and detail of the statue. Taki asked, "Did an ape really climb that tower?"Ode objected, "No, it must be from some sort of coat of arms."Alexander explained, "No, it's from something like a play. American's love their entertainment. I bought it at a store in one of the wealthy parts of the city."The boys seemed interested in that. Ode asked, "I've heard that the natives dislike us, you should be careful there, you're a commoner and foreigner."Alexander replied, "Everyone in the city is a commoner. We could be the city's elite if we work hard enough."Ode replied, "Yeah, but you don't see a lot of us folk at the tops of those big towers, do ya?"Taki added, "Do you really expect the king of America to have one of us in his court?"Alexander retorted, "We don't have a king, I learned that the hard way. The city elects its leaders, like they did in ancient Rome."Taki laughed, "You Byzantines are so obsessed with Rome. You're only a bit better then the Germans. Me and my father would have been guarding you prissy emperor if we hadn't decided to fight here instead.""I'm a byzantine no more. I'm an American now. We're here now, we must act as it."Ode objected, "I don't want to be an American, they're a deviant culture, godless heathens who cannot control their citizens. They lack any respect for society and culture. Any respect for the natural hierarchy of the world, forgoing the wisdom of nobility for mob rule. As we discussed earlier, they don't even have a king, they'd rather have men choose their leaders then god."Alexander retorted, "You've come here? What do you expect to be? You're living in America, I'd suggest being American."Suddenly they heard someone approaching from behind. They'd seen him before, he was a tall Englishman by the name of Willmot, they'd all seen him around the neighborhood but nobody actually talked to him. He put his hand on Alexander's shoulder, "You've forgotten who you are, little roman. You don't really want to become as twisted and evil as the folk of this land. But don't worry little roman, the crusaders have turned their holy war west. Soon they'll have a kingdom in this place. No more of this pagan democracy."Alexander jerked his body away, "I've seen what the crusaders really do, they set off a bomb in my caravan."Willmot grinned, "A caravan of cultural traitors.""If we were treasonous for coming here, then why do you stand where you stand.""Oh, I have my reasons." He had a mace at his side. Alexander was starting to have an idea of who this person was. Alexander wanted to pull out his sword, to duel him in the streets, but his will was strong and his arms were tired. He left, saw where the situation was going.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Sophia's head was resting upon Ashley's shoulder, Sophia wasn't sure what to do now. She had never been with a woman before, outside her mind she had never been with anyone, what was she meant to do afterwards. Her view of Ashley's body shifted from that of the affectionate, to the anatomical, she began to notice how hairless she was, how pale her skin was, her perception shifted from that of lust to that of fear.Sophia began to realize how bad this was, this would be considered an abomination against god. What would her family think? She might be safe within the city though, it was known that the city had no laws on moral issues lesser then murder or theft. Sophia wished she'd been born an American, she'd know a freedom she could never know, even in New York she still was living with those of her time.Her emotions were not tied to her heritage. The way she saw Ashley's body, the feeling in her blood, the love and lust she felt when they were together, that was not something affected by the circumstances of her birth.Suddenly she heard a knocking on the door, whoever this was it wasn't someone to use the doorbell. Ashley got up first, she seemed to recognize the knock. She rushed to be somewhat dressed before answering the door.It was someone that Sophia recognized, Aaron. Thank god it wasn't someone from the past. Aaron seemed angry though, he spoke to Ashley sternly, "Why are you here, I've been looking all over for you?"Ashley replied, "I was just visiting an old friend."Aaron looked around the room, "You're visiting someone from the past. And she's naked. I won't let you exploit this girl.""I'm not exploiting her, I love her.""She can't understand what she's doing, her culture doesn't understand what you're doing to her. You also can't just do something that goes against someone's culture, it's wrong to just disregard her beliefs like that."Ashley seemed angry, then she realized something, "You don't even know who she is do you? You've met her before, but she's not a person to you is she, nobody is."☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander was returning to his apartment, it wasn't good to be outside as the sun began to set, even in a city made of light. More and more past folk seemed to have sympathy for the crusaders.As he was rushing towards his apartment building he saw someone he recognized rushing the other way. It was Aaron, pulling his daughter somewhere. Alexander tried to be polite, "Aaron! Hello!"Aaron looked at him and handed him a slip of paper, "Here, if you need some social help." He then ran off.Alexander looked at the paper, it was a ticket of some sort, it read, "free admission to any class at the 92y for underprivileged youth." He pocketed it and ran towards his apartment.The apartment stairs felt infinite, they always did. Alexander never got into the habit of taking an elevator, never remembered to.☜-------------------------------------------------☞When he entered his apartment Sophia was weeping. She was tucked in a corner with a blanket over her back. Alexander rarely saw his sister upset, at the very least she was better at hiding it.Alexander asked her, "What's happened?"She batted him away, "You couldn't understand."Alexander tried to guess, "You saw Ashley and Aaron again today?""As I said you wouldn't understand."Alexander sighed, "I'm smarter than you think. You loved Ashley, did you not? You have no reason to fear me, we are in the city of the future now, you will not be punished. And even for our people, instances of cases like your own were common in ancient Greece, you will never have to fear me as long as you are my sister.""It isn't you whom I fear. It's not fear that plagues me brother. I thought that the future men were different.""Aaron was opposed?""He was opposed for he did not see me as Ashley's equal. We are not their equals. They say it's the south that hates us, but here they see us as children, they wish to protect us but they see us as lesser. The nobles of this city will back up the crusaders if they come for me."☜-------------------------------------------------☞No matter how condescending he was Alexander would still take advantage of Aaron's gift. He couldn't afford a class at the Y but he could get them with the gift. He chose a music class, he'd always liked music, well everyone likes music, but he'd always wanted to play an instrument.When he got there he was surprised on how clean the building was, Constantinople lacked the technology for cleaning, nobody cleaned his apartment or the streets or the subways. This place was strangely clean. Someone must have cleaned it more than anywhere else.Alexander entered a white room, he was early, everyone else had something to do. Soon enough a few others entered the room. An older man who he presumed to be the instructor told Alexander, "Hello, you must be the 'underprivileged youth' that Aaron talked about coming. We'll be waiting for a few minutes for more people to come."Alexander released his sword was at his belt, they must not allow that here, unsure he said, "I'm sorry about the sword, if you'd like me to-"The instructor interrupted him, "we wouldn't want to suppress your culture."It was often hard for Alexander to remember that he was visibly medieval. He had the same color skin as everyone else, the same eyes, the same hair, but he talked differently, his mannerisms, his dress (even when he tried to dress more modernly).Alexander decided to interact with some of the other students waiting for the class to start, he went up to a girl who looked like she was bored. He tried to be polite like the future folk would, "Hey, how's… life."She seemed startled at first, but when she realized who, or what, he was she became passive in her nature, the people of the city were told to be trusting of those from the past. She told him, "Life's good. We're actually here for a class."Alexander replied, "Yes, I'm taking it.""Oh, you do know that they're not going to be using your people's music…" The instructor looked at her sternly, "Not that's yours in any worse. You can probably play your… style if you want."She hadn't heard his style, hell he hadn't even heard his style yet. But the world only saw him as one of his people.The rest of the class only got worse, they were too afraid to teach him. It was pointless interacting with future folk, they'd never see him as human, they had all the mercy for him, but no respect. Their acceptance for the past folk was false, as they did not accept them as equals.☜-------------------------------------------------☞Alexander left, he'd paid no money thanks to Aaron, he had no reason to stay.The subway was delayed that night. Some crusader had stabbed five people with a sword. They don't let future folks have knives on the subway, but they never stopped Alexander with his sword, not when they heard his accent. To the common past folks the condensation of the future men was an insult if anything, but to the crusaders it was a shield, it was how they marched their holy war to the new century, nobody would be so offensive to question their motives so they were let to slaughter heretics of the future and past alike.But for Alexander it was just a train being held up, for most people that was all a stabbing was. And for many of the future folk that may be a sacrifice of tolerance, especially when the crusaders are more concerned with killing assimilated past folk then they are with killing future men.He thought of all he had seen on the ride home. Though of all he could do and couldn't do. All the free passes all the restriction, he wanted to slash all of it down, to take his sword and slay the eyes that saw him as the other. His culture told him things to, told him not to forgot from where he came, fuck culture he thought, every tradition, every rule, ever piece of his culture that effects me, fuck it, by gods blood fuck it all. Never did me any good. The Medieval was of swords and kings is gone, it is time for a new one.☜-------------------------------------------------☞There was a knocking at her door. Sophia hoped it would her brother, maybe her father, but it was far too early for either of them to be back. She had hoped it was Ashley, but the knocks were too fast, too strong.Sophia looked through the peephole, it was a tall man who she'd seen around the neighborhood before. There were a few other men behind him. Nervously she opened the door. The tall man walked in the room, and introduced himself, "Hello young maid, I am here to see the matter of a crime against our people. I am Sir Willmot of the isle of Manhattan."Sophia wanted to laugh, nobody had knighted this zealot, but she saw chainmail under his clothes and a mace by his side, one of the men at his side held a helm and shield for him. He was not a man to be taken lightly. Sophia replied to him respectfully, "If there has been a crime then best let the police deal with it-"Willmot cut her off, "It is not a crime those heretics have any desire to punish. We have seen a young girl of the future folk exit your apartment, we have gathered evidence from talking to the people of the building that she had slept with one from this home. If you know if it is your father or your brother you must tell us in the name of the Lord."Sophia asked, cowering away from the men at her door, "Will you hurt her?""The hore who exited this abode? She's not of our kind, we hold no sway over her. It is the one who has lived here who stands accused of pre marital sex and if confessed to be guilty shall suffer the punishment."They had to be talking about Ashley, who else could have it been. These men thought it was her brother or father who had slept with her, an assumption that could save Sophia's life. She could lie, throw her kin in front of herself, they'd confess to something they did not do to protect her. And no doubt she'd suffer worse consequences for lying with Ashley then her brother would. But Sophia could not bring herself to punish a member of her family to protect herself. She bowed her head, "It was me."Willmot laughed, "You want me to think it was you we saw exiting? The girl had pink hair.""That's not what I meant. I was the one to lay with her." Saying the words of her confession sent shame and guilt through Sophia's bones. She had committed a crime against nature, given into lust when thrust into a time filled with it.Willmot spoke with the authority of God, "You hereby stand accused of violating the law of your people and your god, for violating nature and giving into acts of lust with one of the same sex. How may you plead?""Guilty." She mumbled it at first, spoke again so that she may be heard, "I plead guilty."Justice was swift to these men, Willmot pulled the mace from his side. A million things rushed through Sophia's head, the streets of New York, the streets of Constantinople, the streets of ancient empires, the streets of nameless towns, towns of nameless streets, the mountains of her homeland, the blinding light of the future cities, Alexander and her playing when they were small, tea on a sunday morning, mass on a sunday morning, a thousand priests she'd seen, a thousand merchants she'd seen, a thousand passers by, young couples kissing, Ashley kissing her lips, Ashley's lips, Ashley...The Mace swung down upon Sophia's head with the force of justice. And justice was swift.☜-------------------------------------------------☞The police never came, they don't handle anything between past folk. They wouldn't want to disrespect their culture.
Crime
Adult

Mature Content

Military

Mature Content

Short Story
The woods are watching (Plus story) by MegaMasterKing
Unknown
Devil's Triangle - Location Blips 5.4The night was young. Only a few tables in the pub were occupied by office workers wanting to destress after a long day. Light country music blared from the speakers, accompanying the clink of glasses and raucous laughter.Sitting across from Thomas in the cozy corner booth, Sandra giggled as she sipped from her beer mug. “How long has it been since you were on a date?”Thomas shifted in his seat and combed a hand through his hair. “It’s been a while,” he chuckled nervously, trying not to let his eyes flit over Sandra’s body. She looked gorgeous, even in a simple tee and shorts. Her clothes hugged her body, accentuating her curves. He breathed in the light fragrance that wafted from her. She had applied date perfume. He smiled. He too had gone out of the way to wear his favorite checkered shirt and jeans, and spray some cologne on his skin. “Alcohol helps, you know,” Sandra said.Thomas eyed his full beer mug and contemplated downing it. Thinking better of it given the nervous fluttering in his stomach, he shook his head. “I’ll wait for the food first.”Shrugging, Sandra took another sip. “Suit yourself.”As if on cue, a waitress materialized in front of their table carrying their plates. She placed it down on the table, gave a quick smile and left after murmuring “Enjoy your food”.Thomas took a whiff of his burger and fries. The wholesome aroma brought a smile to his face. He looked over to Sandra who was licking her lips at the sight of her chicken chop. “Does it look the same as before?”She met his gaze and bobbed her head. “Exactly like how I remember it. I can’t wait to taste the meat! But before that..”Sandra fished out her phone and aimed the camera at her plate. A white flash illuminated the table, followed by the sound of the shutter. Chuckling, Thomas picked up his cutlery and stabbed a fry with his fork. “I didn’t know you were the kind to take pictures of your food. Mind if I start eating first?”“Oh no go ahead. I just need to post this on my Insta.” Her gaze was on the phone as her fingers flew over the touch screen. “And…. done.”Sandra plopped her phone down on the table next to her plate. “I only started taking food pics in recent years, I guess.”Her movements were graceful as she cut into the chicken and took a bite. A contented hum left her lips, her eyes squeezing shut. “Oh that is good. So juicy.”“So what made you start taking pictures of food?” Thomas said as he bit down into his burger.“Professional reasons at first.” Her voice was muffled as she chewed.“Professional?”“Yeah.” She swallowed and dabbed at her lips with the napkin. “Times have changed. Celebrities need to be active on social media and show how they live. It makes them real to the fans.”“Wow.” Thomas’s eyes widened. “That sounds… tiring.”Sandra gave a small shrug. “You get used to it after a while. I find it kind of fun.”Licking his lips, Thomas finished the last of his burger and turned his attention to the fries. He didn’t follow any celebrities, so he had no idea how things worked. But he did read the news. And he recalled how crazy fans could be. The Internet only made it easier for them to stalk their idols.“But wouldn’t that mean you have less privacy?” he pondered out loud. “I mean I assume fans would bother you online as well.”He looked up from his food to see the slight downturn at the corner of her lips. Realizing that he might have hit a nerve, he placed his fork down and reached for her hand on the table. Unaware of Thomas’s gesture, Sandra brought her hand to her forehead. Massaging the throbbing pain between thumb and index finger, she gave a cynical laugh. Her eyes averted his gaze as she remarked with a bitter tone, “You have no idea how much shit goes on in the virtual world.”Thomas retracted his hand. A wave of pity washed over him as he watched Sandra take a chug of her beer. What had she been through when she left for the city? Was she happy with the path she had chosen? Is that why she was back here now?He opened his mouth to ask a deeper personal question but was cut short by a peal of laughter from Sandra.“At least they know I’m not dead or in trouble now!” she chortled.Thomas flashed a wry smile as he speared the last few fries with his fork. He suspected she was joking to avoid further questions. Were he a closer friend of hers, he would press further. The thought brought on a tinge of sadness as he decided not to pursue the topic.“How about you?” Sandra broke his reverie. “Are you active on Insta? Facebook? Twitter?”He chuckled and shook his head. “I'm not that active on any of those. No one would know if I were dead or alive, I guess.”Sandra threw her head back as she laughed, one hand covering her mouth as she did. “Oh that’s a good one!”Happy to see her enjoying herself, Thomas broke into a grin. He lifted his still-full beer mug up high. “Want to toast now since I’m done eating?”“Ah yes,” Sandra wiped away the tears of laughter that pooled at the corner of her eyes. “No better time. What should we toast to?”Thomas hummed in thought for a moment. “To our meeting after so many years?”“Sure!” She lifted her mug. “And to many more meetings.” Her eyes twinkled at him and he couldn’t help the flush creeping up his cheeks at her implied meaning. He grinned sheepishly and touched the side of her mug with his. “Cheers!”“Cheers!” She chugged down the remaining beer. A satisfied breath escaped her throat as she ran her tongue over her lips.After Thomas took three big gulps, he placed his mug down on the table. Seeing she had finished hers, he gestured to the empty mug in her hand. “Want another one?”“Sure,” she chirped.Thomas turned and lifted a hand to beckon the waitress over, but she was busy entertaining another group. As his gaze raked through the crowd, he glimpsed a towering man at the entrance glowering in his direction. He frowned, looking around for anyone that could be the target of such a glare. Most of the crowd were huddled closer to the bar and the nearest couple was seated two booths away. His gaze zipped back to the stranger. The two men locked sights. Thomas gulped under the intensity of his unflinching glare. Everything about the man spelled trouble - from the unkempt hair and bruise on his jaw to his leather jacket and scuffed jeans. He seemed vaguely familiar, his name on the tip of Thomas’s tongue, but he couldn’t put a profile to that face.Instinctively, Thomas reached for the holster at his hip. His fingers touched air and he cursed inwardly. Of course he hadn’t brought it with him. He was off-duty, why would he bring a fucking gun to a date?His eyes flickered to the cutlery on the table. Better to be armed in case anything were to happen. The stranger was probably a local, but that didn’t mean a fight wouldn’t break out. He slipped his hand over the knife handle and gripped it hard, readying himself.Noticing the tense vibe and Thomas’s odd actions, Sandra raised an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”When she followed his gaze, she tensed. The piece of meat in her mouth turned dry. She coughed and swallowed it down. Thomas’s attention shifted back to her. Seeing the fear in her eyes, his free hand reached over to squeeze her wrist. He kept his voice low and reassuring. “Don’t worry. Everything’s fine. It’s probably some loser wanting to rant.”Sandra shook her head vigorously, her eyes flitting from him to the stranger and back to him again. “I know that guy.”The imposing stranger stood unmoving at the pub entrance as he stared Thomas down. Keeping one eye on the suspicious man, Thomas split his attention to Sandra sitting across from him in the booth. His probing eyes implored Sandra to finish her sentence."That guy's a teacher from the school.” Sandra said in a hushed tone, her voice carrying a slight tremor.“Really?” Thomas voiced incredulously. He watched the stranger stalk towards them, never breaking eye contact. He couldn’t tell if the man was packing heat - both hands were tucked into the pockets of his oversized jacket.“What does he want with us then?” Thomas whispered, his eyes never leaving the man.Sandra placed an elbow on the table, her hand cupping the side of her face in a failed attempt to hide from the stranger. She hissed, her voice tinged with a mixture of fear and anger. “I don’t know. He’s a damn pervert, that’s all I know.”Shit. He had a feeling he knew who this guy was. There were complaints about harassment in the past, but he had never dealt with him before. He took a deep breath and exhaled. Sparing a glance at Sandra, he gave a stiff smile. “Just remain calm and act normal. It’ll be fine.”He turned his gaze back as the man reached their table. His grip tightened around the knife. “Look who we have here,” the man crooned, his gravelly voice causing the hairs on Thomas’s arm to raise. “Sandra, fancy seeing you here with a young boy.”The man’s emphasis on the word ‘boy’ had Thomas clenching his jaw as he shot a glare at the tall stranger.With reluctance, Sandra lowered the hand shielding her face. She cleared her throat and looked at the man with a tight-lipped smile. “Bartley, this is Thomas. He’s a policeman.”“Is he now?” The man called Bartley sniggered and looked Thomas up and down. “I don’t see his gun.”Thomas summoned his most menacing voice as he fixed Bartley in a blistering stare. “I’m officially off-duty but that doesn’t mean I won’t enforce law and order where necessary.”Laughing, Bartley took his hands out of his pocket - causing Thomas to lift the butter knife - and held them up in mock surrender. “Hey chill, man. I’m not here for a fight.”No gun. Thomas relaxed a little. His hand lowered but he kept a firm grip on his weapon. Bartley tilted his head towards Sandra. “I happened to know that Sandra was here.”Her eyes widened. She stuttered, a hint of panic lacing her words. “H-how did you find out where I was?”A low chuckle rumbled Bartley’s chest. He dug a hand into his pocket and Thomas tensed, bringing his knife closer and ready to strike.As Bartley drew out the object in his pocket, Thomas’s heart thumped furiously in his chest. Adrenaline surged through him. He may be smaller in size than Bartley but his speed would at least catch the man off guard. The tip of the object came into view. Thomas held his breath. The glint off the screen had him blinking his eye and it took him a second to realize it was only a phone. Relieved, he loosened his grip on the knife.Bartley tapped on the screen and turned the phone to face Sandra. He wiggled it in front of her, taunting her. When she took a closer look, the color drained from her face. Seeing her reaction, Bartley sneered. “If you don’t want people knowing where you are, then don’t geotag your pictures.”Thomas sneaked a glance at the phone. It was the picture of chicken chop that Sandra had snapped not more than thirty minutes ago. A wave of anger lanced through his body. He shot out of his seat, the metal legs of the table screeching against the floor as he did. Thomas was a head shorter than the man but that did not stop him from shoving his face into Bartley’s. Furious eyes burnt into the lecherous man as he snarled. “For that, I can charge you with stalking. You won’t even be able to hold down a job in this town with another mark on your record, you hear me??”Bartley’s cheeks puffed out as he held back his anger, knowing better than to start a fight with a policeman. He held his ground in the staring contest for a little longer to soothe his ego. Then, he gave a disparaging nod. “You think you’re the boss here eh? Prove it then.”When Thomas didn’t back down, Bartley deflated. His eyes flitted around to find an excuse and he made a sweeping gesture at the bar. “Can’t I be here to grab a beer?”The deadly silence that greeted him served as an answer. Bartley took a step back in defeat. “Fine, whatever.”His shifty eyes swiveled back to Sandra and he threw a smirk. “See you around, Sandra.”Thomas’s gaze followed Bartley until the man had exited the pub. He huffed, ran a hand through his hair, and turned back towards their table. He plunked down into the seat and whistled. “Wow that was intense huh.”When he looked up, the expression on Sandra’s face shocked him. Her face was pale, her eyes unblinking and unfocused. Her bottom lip trembled as she wrung her fingers in her lap. In an instant, she transformed from a confident, sexy woman into a small, scared girl. “Hey it’s okay. He’s gone now,” Thomas comforted as he reached out to touch her arm.His fingers had barely skimmed her skin when Sandra recoiled in fear, a whimper escaping her lips. Hurt and worried by her reaction, Thomas withdrew his hand and murmured an apology.“I… I’m sorry, Thomas. I have to head home now.” Sandra mumbled as she gathered her belongings and got up.Hurriedly getting to his feet, Thomas said, “Let me send you back. It’s not safe with Bartley somewhere out there.”Sandra gave a small tilt of her head as she slung her bag across her shoulder and rushed towards the entrance. Before she could leave without him, Thomas took out his wallet, fished out a fifty dollar note, and threw it on the table. He caught up to her before she walked off elsewhere and directed her back towards his car.The drive back was blanketed by a total silence that hung over them like a thundercloud. He tried many times to start a conversation but all he could get out of her was a hum of acknowledgement. When he pulled up to her doorstep, she didn’t even look at him as she said “Thank you for the ride.”He watched her enter her house and when the lights came on upstairs, he finally let out a sigh of exasperation. So much for his date. Yet more than that, he worried about Sandra. Sure, Bartley was an ass, but her reaction to his advances were even more concerning. She wasn’t letting on much, but he could tell she was hiding something. Something had traumatized her and he only wished he knew what it was.

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Hello Deviants!

We present to you: StoriesWeThinkUp. Basically, this group is for all sorts of stories. From fanfictions, to original stories, and even poetry! There is no limit how many stories you can put up.

Please just make sure to put the story in the appropriate folder, for easy access. Also, please do not put your stories in the featured folder. Thanks, and don't forget to have fun!
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Founded 8 Years ago
Oct 19, 2013

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Global

Group Focus
Literature (Mainly Stories)

262 Members
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:iconxihaveabladdictionx:
XihaveaBLaddictionX Featured By Owner Edited Apr 2, 2020  Hobbyist Writer
ty for letting me join! the people here create awesome stuff and helped provide me with inspiration for my English creative writing exam.
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:iconfunstorytimestudios:
FunStorytimeStudios Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2018  Professional Traditional Artist
Osmosis Jones Fanfiction-Zap! (Ch. 1-2)
Audra.
In Old English it means "noble strength"; in Lithuanian it means "storm".
Both definitions describe Audra's character. She was just your typical white blood cell. 15 years old, black eyes, sky blue membrane, hair pulled back in a short ponytail with three, goopy-like ends.
So what makes her so special? Out of all the seventy-eight-trillion cells in the body of Frank, what does she have that everyone else doesn't?
Answer: nothing. She is just a regular cell, in a regular body trying to do her part to help make Frank strong and healthy.
She does have one tiny, little, itty-bitty minuscule trait that makes her stand out from the rest of Frank.
Audra can control electricity.
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Bloodline: 10:15am 
The music in the car was loud.
But that's how Osmosis Jones liked it. Audra knew that no ma
  Theodore Tugboat fanfiction- TATNT
Prologue
The sun was just starting to set over the Big Harbor. Theodore tugboat was starting to head home to the Great Ocean and Tug and Salvage Company Dock. It had been a very busy day at work, pulling barges and docking cargo ships. As Theodore was taking his place for story time, he started to remember that it was only a few weeks ago that the Dispatcher had sent Oliver the Vast back to his own harbor.
No matter how hard he tried, the memories of Oliver taunting him and bumping him were still lingering within his mind. Focusing on his work at the Big Harbor had helped Theodore for a while, but it seemed like he would never be able to get Oliver out of his mind.
After story time, and all the tugs were in there docks, everyone pulled their hats down, said goodnight, and fell asleep.
Theodore closed his eyes and tried to dream about being an ocean tug. "I hope that there aren't any new tugboats in the Big Harbor for a long time," he thought as he drifted off to sleep.
_________
  WOY fanfiction-Lonely,Why I Do What I Do
Dominator grumbled to herself as she kept marching forward. Her hair was messed up and sweaty, her armor was ripped and torn to pieces, and her plans for destroying the galaxy had blown up in her face- figuratively and literally. She growled in frustration. How could she, the most powerful being in the galaxy, loose to a bunch of DORKY LOOSERS!? It infuriated her. But at the same time puzzled her. She had a massive army, a powerful lava/ice suit, and an impenetrable spaceship. She had the power and intimidation to back it up. She was smart, clever, and cunning-they were all idiots and buffoons! It made no sense!?
She angrily swiped at the bubble, almost causing it to burst.
"HOW DID I LOSE TO A BUNCH OF DORKS!?"
Dominator stopped walking. She plopped herself down and rested her fists under her chin. She floated there in her orbal bubble, angrily growling to herself and gazing at the infinite space below her. She had no money and no food. She was tired and angry and upset.
She was exact
  Veggietales fanfiction-Masquerade (ch.1)
A/N: This takes place in the 3d world and sometime after the rumor weed episode. Other characters/places from the 2d adventures will be in here as well. Info and a picture about my oc will be posted on my page. Please like and review some of my other stories. This is also a combined parody of Marvel's "Ant man" and WB's "Batman Beyond". Jade, , and other characters that aren't from the Larryboy/Veggietales universe are my oc's.

Jade's POV~
How's that for a title: "My First Job."
I know, such a great title. It really pulls in the reader. I bet you're reading this and thinking to yourself, "I wonder what kind of job it is? Is it like my first job as a kid, when I worked at my local grocery store, bagging groceries?"
Well it's not.
And, no, I didn't work at a shelter, or mow my neighbor's lawn, or wash my parent's car, or do extra chores around the house.
My first job might not have been as "exciting" as being a bagger at the grocery store, but it did lead to one of the mos
  MLAATR fanfiction-Metal Mind and Human Heart
The Lancer raced down the sidewalk like a madman. It was a beautiful Thursday morning in Tremorton and most of the citizens were spending it in the park or going for a nice walk around town.
He was spending it running for his life.
He had just robbed the Tremorton National Bank. He was doing a good job of it-pointing his lance at the frightened citizens who were there making deposits. He stood tall and spoke loudly and clearly, making sure that everyone could hear him. He had demanded that the bank tellers kindly deposit everything they had into his sack and they were very cooperative about it. It just goes to show that a person could make a living as long as they had a powerful weapon to help them achieve their dreams. Everything was going so well…
Until one of the workers had secretly pressed the alarm.
He immediately fled the scene. He knew that the police would show up in a matter of minutes and he didn't want his good day to be ruined so quickly. As he fled, he counted the a
  
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:iconshokuali30:
ShokuAli30 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2017  Student Writer
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:iconcha0sinnagi:
Cha0sINNAGI Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thankyou for letting me join! 
I appreciate it :)
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:iconmajoli11:
Majoli11 Featured By Owner May 30, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Sure thing!
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:icongeneralarin:
generalarin Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Quick question: is this group just for written stories or are comic stories allowed?
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:iconmajoli11:
Majoli11 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
We mainly focus on written stories, but comic stories are also allowed ^w^
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:iconpaceeion-ponys:
PACEEION-PONYS Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
u could try a story cover design contest and the winner gets some points or something like that
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:iconbowtiesarecool15:
BowtiesAreCool15 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I realized I messed up and put my XReaders in fanfiction ^^; Is there anyway I can fix it?
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:iconmajoli11:
Majoli11 Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
sorry for the late reply omg
no problem! just tell me which one it is and I'll move it for you ^.^
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:iconhuntress-of-horror:
Huntress-of-Horror Featured By Owner May 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so very much for letting me join this group
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:iconmajoli11:
Majoli11 Featured By Owner May 6, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
No problem! Everyone's welcome here :D
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:iconartlover44433:
artlover44433 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015  Student General Artist
Is there a way I can move/remove my stories from a folder? I accidentally put them in the wrong one.
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:iconmajoli11:
Majoli11 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
If you tell me what story it is, I can move/remove it for you :)
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:iconravenstar125:
Ravenstar125 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for letting me join! Oh and, I accidentally submitted my story to the wrong folder, how can I move it? Sweating a little... 
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