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Black Water, White Dragon (part 1)

The Water, chapter 1, part 4

Etin hurried down on her knees again to fill the other bucket, but with a wary eye still on Zanubegil and the surrounding peaks. They too were shivering. Giant rocks that had spent thousands of frosts and thaws to crack, finally saw their ending. The needle towering over Plains Ridge broke. Ravens' Hee tore apart. The standing stone above Isenhigh fell.

For a moment, Etin stopped to squint - was there someone up there? Maybe just an animal.

But then closer, much closer and much worse. The great, polished cliff just a stone's throw up the hill above the house, the cliff that had been there since aeons before Apple Hill farm was built, the cliff that had been safe and solid, protected them from the northwind - that cliff cracked and a rock the size of several men, tore away.

It thudded down on the ground below, crushing heather and turf.

Turned slowly and uncertainly once or twice, as if it was wondering about its new found freedom.

Hit the stream a few hundred yards above where Etin fetched water.

Speeded up where water and ice had scoured the path for hundreds of years.

Rolled, roared and thundered down towards where Etin was standing.

Pulled along dozens, hundreds, thousands of pebbles, stones, man-sized rocks. An impacable rockfall that thundered and sprang down towards Plainsvale and Apple Hill farm.

And to Etin.

She stood gaping for less than a moment, before finding her wits and legs. She grabbed the buckets and ran. She stumbled and got up. Stumbled again, slipped on the wet snow covering the heathered slope. Spilled the buckets. Wet all over her skirt, but she crawled up again - without the buckets. A stone the size of Papa's chest sailed towards her, but she threw herself aside.

Staggered, lurched to keep her footing.

Here a bare spot.

There a steady stone.

The tumbling rocks hit one bucket and crushed it. The other bucket rolled down to the sheepstall, like a bell-sheep with the flock of stones following behind it. The rockfall spread sideways, tore with it heather and moss and earth that the centuries had built up, but the sheepstall was halfway down the hill and held like a dam to the masses. They flowed like a thundering, billowing, deadly waterfall around the corner of the stalls, tore away a little of the walls and disappeared down the hill towards Plainsvale.

Etin breathed. No more rocks fell. Apple Hill was safe.

The buckets were gone, but that was hardly the worst that could have happened, and Etin trotted down to the yard again to fetch new ones.

But if the rockslide was over, the shivers weren't. They continued and grew stronger and stronger, larger and larger. Etin stopped to check if more fell from the cliff. They needed water, but lives were more important than doing dishes. She heard the glass panes tinkle. The pillars under the food loft creaked. Pine and birch and rowan lost their last snow.

And then came the last, the greatest quake.

It started as burst of flames around Zanubegil mountain. Black smoke cascaded skywards, billowed out the gate and down the valley, oozed out of every hidden crack and hollow and secret window up the mountain sides. The shakes revertebrated along all the ridges in all directions, and down the slopes right down to the valebottoms. Peaks fell and old snow and even older stone fell.

Zanubegil cracked open.

Long rifts tore open the ridges and mountain sides. Stinking smoke met the once fresh skies. Blazes of flame lit the depths momentarily. The cliff above Apple Hill opened - as if a gigantic divine knife clove through the rock like butter. The enormous, scoured cliff side cracked into hundreds of rocks - small and large. Some lay as a newly created scree in the opening, others still stood up above. Balanced, like a tossed coin occasionally lands on its edge.

Etin stood gaping - but closed her mouth fast and drew her shawl over nose and mouth when the awful, heavy smoke seeped down to her and scraped her nostrils.

"Help!" She was roused from her trance by a muffled and coughing voice from deep in the crack.

Something - someone! - moved in there, clambered over the new stone scree, waved their arms.

"Hello?" Etin crawled up the last bit of hill. It wasn't simple, with one hand on her shawl. She stumbled often - had she had any extra fingers, she would have crossed them to ward off sprains. The smoke was thick up here. Hot, acid, heavy and thick. She was sweating now, and coughed just like the person trapped.

The person shouted again, "here! Oh my, is there someone out there? Gods be praised! Help me!" A hand reached for hers, small, genteel, with large rings, but the nails were black and the fingers newly scraped. A face became visible through the smoke. That too, black from ashes, but his beard was trimmed, and Etin noticed a faint scent of rose water - even through the burning stench of smoke. Streaks of tears laid their tracks through the ashes. "Sweetest, kindest one," the dwarf sobbed. "Help us out of here!"

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Written by sidsel
Black Water, White Dragon (part 1)
The Water, chapter 1, part 4

Etin hurried down on her knees again to fill the other bucket, but with a wary eye still on Zanubegil and the surrounding peaks. They too were shivering. Giant rocks that had spent thousands of frosts and thaws to crack, finally saw their ending. The needle towering over Plains Ridge broke. Ravens' Hee tore apart. The standing stone above Isenhigh fell.

For a moment, Etin stopped to squint - was there someone up there? Maybe just an animal.
But then closer, much closer and much worse. The great, polished cliff just a stone's throw up the hill above the house, the cliff that had been there since aeons before Apple Hill farm was built, the cliff that had been safe and solid, protected them from the northwind - that cliff cracked and a rock the size of several men, tore away.
It thudded down on the ground below, crushing heather and turf.
Turned slowly and uncertainly once or twice, as if it was wondering about its new found freedom.
Hit the stream a few hundred yards above where Etin fetched water.
Speeded up where water and ice had scoured the path for hundreds of years.
Rolled, roared and thundered down towards where Etin was standing.
Pulled along dozens, hundreds, thousands of pebbles, stones, man-sized rocks. An impacable rockfall that thundered and sprang down towards Plainsvale and Apple Hill farm.

And to Etin.

She stood gaping for less than a moment, before finding her wits and legs. She grabbed the buckets and ran. She stumbled and got up. Stumbled again, slipped on the wet snow covering the heathered slope. Spilled the buckets. Wet all over her skirt, but she crawled up again - without the buckets. A stone the size of Papa's chest sailed towards her, but she threw herself aside.
Staggered, lurched to keep her footing.
Here a bare spot.
There a steady stone.
The tumbling rocks hit one bucket and crushed it. The other bucket rolled down to the sheepstall, like a bell-sheep with the flock of stones following behind it. The rockfall spread sideways, tore with it heather and moss and earth that the centuries had built up, but the sheepstall was halfway down the hill and held like a dam to the masses. They flowed like a thundering, billowing, deadly waterfall around the corner of the stalls, tore away a little of the walls and disappeared down the hill towards Plainsvale.

Etin breathed. No more rocks fell. Apple Hill was safe.

The buckets were gone, but that was hardly the worst that could have happened, and Etin trotted down to the yard again to fetch new ones.
But if the rockslide was over, the shivers weren't. They continued and grew stronger and stronger, larger and larger. Etin stopped to check if more fell from the cliff. They needed water, but lives were more important than doing dishes. She heard the glass panes tinkle. The pillars under the food loft creaked. Pine and birch and rowan lost their last snow.

And then came the last, the greatest quake.

It started as burst of flames around Zanubegil mountain. Black smoke cascaded skywards, billowed out the gate and down the valley, oozed out of every hidden crack and hollow and secret window up the mountain sides. The shakes revertebrated along all the ridges in all directions, and down the slopes right down to the valebottoms. Peaks fell and old snow and even older stone fell.

Zanubegil cracked open.

Long rifts tore open the ridges and mountain sides. Stinking smoke met the once fresh skies. Blazes of flame lit the depths momentarily. The cliff above Apple Hill opened - as if a gigantic divine knife clove through the rock like butter. The enormous, scoured cliff side cracked into hundreds of rocks - small and large. Some lay as a newly created scree in the opening, others still stood up above. Balanced, like a tossed coin occasionally lands on its edge.
Etin stood gaping - but closed her mouth fast and drew her shawl over nose and mouth when the awful, heavy smoke seeped down to her and scraped her nostrils.

"Help!" She was roused from her trance by a muffled and coughing voice from deep in the crack.
Something - someone! - moved in there, clambered over the new stone scree, waved their arms.
"Hello?" Etin crawled up the last bit of hill. It wasn't simple, with one hand on her shawl. She stumbled often - had she had any extra fingers, she would have crossed them to ward off sprains. The smoke was thick up here. Hot, acid, heavy and thick. She was sweating now, and coughed just like the person trapped.
The person shouted again, "here! Oh my, is there someone out there? Gods be praised! Help me!" A hand reached for hers, small, genteel, with large rings, but the nails were black and the fingers newly scraped. A face became visible through the smoke. That too, black from ashes, but his beard was trimmed, and Etin noticed a faint scent of rose water - even through the burning stench of smoke. Streaks of tears laid their tracks through the ashes. "Sweetest, kindest one," the dwarf sobbed. "Help us out of here!"
#fantasy  #fiction 
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Terra Dracones Part 3

They walked the rest of the way to the Keep in silence. When they arrived Aella stared at the building and sighed, she didn’t want to confront her masters and inform them that their mission did not yield information or treasure. Theon and Aella both walked into the foyer and was greeted by the luxury and wealth of the Keep. The inside of the Keep was extravagant with its expensive décor and the many rooms for those that served Etta and Seth. It also had a big training room with dummies, weapons, and a small training course so all the bandits could keep their senses sharp. The next biggest room in the keep was the dining room, where the masters held their special dinners and business meetings, or, in other words, meetings Aella wasn’t allowed to attend.

The house was located in the market district. Every day peddlers would line the streets outside and attempt to sell their goods and wares. The city didn’t have any “good” areas, unless you lived within the castle walls, but the Keep was located in a spot where everyone knew to mind their own business or else deal with the consequences. The outside of the house appeared to be one of the other small town houses in the city; this was so the bandits and thieves of Lux were safe from unwanted attention. Aella always expected the house to be enchanted, but always second-guessed herself because magic was banned in the land of outcasts and the common.

Aella looked down the end of the long hallway to see the office door ajar. Purple smoke leaked out of the small opening in slow curled patterns, Etta. She could tell her caretaker was occupying the room; Etta was the only person she knew that smoked enchanted cigarettes. Etta usually made Aella go to the docks and pay the sailors a large sum to bring back these banned items. She remembers it being the first thing Etta commanded her to do, making her a servant from the beginning.

Theon began to walk down the hallway to the source of the purple smoke but Aella grabbed his arm, “Let me do the talking, she will be easier on me.” Theon looked at her and nodded, he knew that out of all of Etta’s pets Aella was her favorite.

They opened the door to find Etta sitting behind the mahogany desk, cigarette in hand. The long fingers of her free hand were tracing the outline of a paper. Etta’s green eyes darted up to the two teenagers standing in her office. She quickly folded up the paper and tossed into the desk drawer. The two bandits sat in the vacant chairs across from Etta and waited for her to address them. Etta leaned back and began to play with the long silver braid that she always wore over her shoulder. Aella had always been jealous of the way Etta never aged. Her beauty was frozen in a twenty three year old body, never to age another day. Aella knew this was the result of Etta’s bloodline, half Elf and half common. She also knew that immortality was the only Elfvian trait Etta had.

Etta’s cat like eyes darted back and forth between the two of them. “I hope you two have brought me the gem, our client is not a patient person.”

Aella cleared her throat, “The old merchant did not possess the gem nor did he give us any information on where it could be.” With that Etta let out a small sigh. Aella sat up straight, she was preparing for whatever Etta was about to do.

“I send my two best. The two my husband and I have trained since they were young with our expertise, on a mission. Not any mission Aella, a very important one, and you come back without anything to show for it, not even a lead?” Etta stood up and walked to the other side of the desk.

“It’s not her fault, the old man didn’t have anything to tell us, he didn’t know. Maybe your lead was wrong.” Aella’s heart dropped when Theon talked. She didn’t know why he said such a thing and by looking at Etta’s face it was a big mistake.

A sinister smile appeared on Etta’s face. She turned her head slowly to stare at Theon. “Could it be your fault that no information was collected?”

“What,” Theon let out a laugh, “Like I can control what the poor do and do not tell us.”

Etta pulled herself from the desk and walked to stand in front of Theon. Aella saw Theon’s grasp on the chair tighten as Etta bent to look into his eyes. “Oh really, because it seems that with your attitude you may have scared the lead off. It also seems like you need an attitude adjustment.” Ella raised her long finger to Theon’s chin. His jaw tensed as she pulled her free hand back, getting ready to throw the blow. Aella’s heart was beating faster then it usually did when she sat in this office. Anger was rising in her throat, and before she knew it she was jumping out of the chair.

“It was my fault. I let the man get away, I told Theon to let him go.” The explanation came out louder then Aella expected, but she didn’t want to see Theon harmed by Etta’s hands. Etta placed her arms across her body and turned to face the girl.

“So both of you are to blame?”

“No, just me.” Aella stood with confidence; she thought that if she showed no fear Etta would harm her and not Theon.

Etta grunted, “You are trying to save him, aren’t you?”

Aella’s heart dropped, “There is no need to punish him when he did nothing wrong.” With that Etta came to stand in front of the girl she raised.

“Fine by me girl, but the boy must watch.” Aella swallowed, she did not like the tone of Etta’s voice, but she wanted to protect her friend. Etta went behind the desk and brought her hands to her neck. She fidgeted with the many necklaces that she wore. After struggling for a minute she removed a silver key. The key unlocked one the drawers with a click and she proceeded to grab a knife. Aella’s heart began to pound in her ears. She knew Etta wouldn’t kill her, but she also knew that Etta could leave her on the brink of death.

The drawer was closed and sealed with another click of the key. Etta laid the silver trinket on the desk and came to stand in front of Aella, “Are you sure you want to take the punishment for two?”

“Ella no, don’t do this!” Theon yelled. Etta turned to face him.

“I’d sit down boy, it’s for your own good.” She now turned to look Aella in the eye, “I will ask you again, are you sure?”

Aella looked at Theon, she could see his eyes begging her to let him take the other half of the blow. She looked at Etta’s face where the sinister smile still hung on her lips. She held Etta’s gaze and slowly nodded, ready to greet the pain.

Etta drew the knife up between them. She placed in on the girl’s plump lips, “I have taught you well my dear.” She removed the blade and in a swift motion she sliced Aella’s left cheek.

Aella felt the sting first, and then pain blossomed from the fresh wound. Before she could fully register the wound to her face Etta slashed once more. This time the sting came from her right collarbone. She felt the sting halfway across her chest and began to feel blood trickle down her breast. Etta laid the knife on the table. “Now leave, Seth will be home soon and I don’t want him to see the blood on his favorite rug.”

Aella let out a sigh of relief; Etta had dealt worse to her before. Heeding the directions they were given Theon stood up and Etta turned on her heel, getting ready to stride out of the room. Before she took her first step Theon yelled a warning, but it was too late. She felt the pain rising in her head and before she could spin around the darkness took her vision.

Photo credit link:

http://imagica-oceania.tumblr.com/image/144405563514

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Terra Dracones Part 3
They walked the rest of the way to the Keep in silence. When they arrived Aella stared at the building and sighed, she didn’t want to confront her masters and inform them that their mission did not yield information or treasure. Theon and Aella both walked into the foyer and was greeted by the luxury and wealth of the Keep. The inside of the Keep was extravagant with its expensive décor and the many rooms for those that served Etta and Seth. It also had a big training room with dummies, weapons, and a small training course so all the bandits could keep their senses sharp. The next biggest room in the keep was the dining room, where the masters held their special dinners and business meetings, or, in other words, meetings Aella wasn’t allowed to attend.
The house was located in the market district. Every day peddlers would line the streets outside and attempt to sell their goods and wares. The city didn’t have any “good” areas, unless you lived within the castle walls, but the Keep was located in a spot where everyone knew to mind their own business or else deal with the consequences. The outside of the house appeared to be one of the other small town houses in the city; this was so the bandits and thieves of Lux were safe from unwanted attention. Aella always expected the house to be enchanted, but always second-guessed herself because magic was banned in the land of outcasts and the common.
Aella looked down the end of the long hallway to see the office door ajar. Purple smoke leaked out of the small opening in slow curled patterns, Etta. She could tell her caretaker was occupying the room; Etta was the only person she knew that smoked enchanted cigarettes. Etta usually made Aella go to the docks and pay the sailors a large sum to bring back these banned items. She remembers it being the first thing Etta commanded her to do, making her a servant from the beginning.
Theon began to walk down the hallway to the source of the purple smoke but Aella grabbed his arm, “Let me do the talking, she will be easier on me.” Theon looked at her and nodded, he knew that out of all of Etta’s pets Aella was her favorite.
They opened the door to find Etta sitting behind the mahogany desk, cigarette in hand. The long fingers of her free hand were tracing the outline of a paper. Etta’s green eyes darted up to the two teenagers standing in her office. She quickly folded up the paper and tossed into the desk drawer. The two bandits sat in the vacant chairs across from Etta and waited for her to address them. Etta leaned back and began to play with the long silver braid that she always wore over her shoulder. Aella had always been jealous of the way Etta never aged. Her beauty was frozen in a twenty three year old body, never to age another day. Aella knew this was the result of Etta’s bloodline, half Elf and half common. She also knew that immortality was the only Elfvian trait Etta had.
Etta’s cat like eyes darted back and forth between the two of them. “I hope you two have brought me the gem, our client is not a patient person.”
Aella cleared her throat, “The old merchant did not possess the gem nor did he give us any information on where it could be.” With that Etta let out a small sigh. Aella sat up straight, she was preparing for whatever Etta was about to do.
“I send my two best. The two my husband and I have trained since they were young with our expertise, on a mission. Not any mission Aella, a very important one, and you come back without anything to show for it, not even a lead?” Etta stood up and walked to the other side of the desk.
“It’s not her fault, the old man didn’t have anything to tell us, he didn’t know. Maybe your lead was wrong.” Aella’s heart dropped when Theon talked. She didn’t know why he said such a thing and by looking at Etta’s face it was a big mistake.
A sinister smile appeared on Etta’s face. She turned her head slowly to stare at Theon. “Could it be your fault that no information was collected?”
“What,” Theon let out a laugh, “Like I can control what the poor do and do not tell us.”
Etta pulled herself from the desk and walked to stand in front of Theon. Aella saw Theon’s grasp on the chair tighten as Etta bent to look into his eyes. “Oh really, because it seems that with your attitude you may have scared the lead off. It also seems like you need an attitude adjustment.” Ella raised her long finger to Theon’s chin. His jaw tensed as she pulled her free hand back, getting ready to throw the blow. Aella’s heart was beating faster then it usually did when she sat in this office. Anger was rising in her throat, and before she knew it she was jumping out of the chair.
“It was my fault. I let the man get away, I told Theon to let him go.” The explanation came out louder then Aella expected, but she didn’t want to see Theon harmed by Etta’s hands. Etta placed her arms across her body and turned to face the girl.
“So both of you are to blame?”
“No, just me.” Aella stood with confidence; she thought that if she showed no fear Etta would harm her and not Theon.
Etta grunted, “You are trying to save him, aren’t you?”
Aella’s heart dropped, “There is no need to punish him when he did nothing wrong.” With that Etta came to stand in front of the girl she raised.
“Fine by me girl, but the boy must watch.” Aella swallowed, she did not like the tone of Etta’s voice, but she wanted to protect her friend. Etta went behind the desk and brought her hands to her neck. She fidgeted with the many necklaces that she wore. After struggling for a minute she removed a silver key. The key unlocked one the drawers with a click and she proceeded to grab a knife. Aella’s heart began to pound in her ears. She knew Etta wouldn’t kill her, but she also knew that Etta could leave her on the brink of death.
The drawer was closed and sealed with another click of the key. Etta laid the silver trinket on the desk and came to stand in front of Aella, “Are you sure you want to take the punishment for two?”
“Ella no, don’t do this!” Theon yelled. Etta turned to face him.
“I’d sit down boy, it’s for your own good.” She now turned to look Aella in the eye, “I will ask you again, are you sure?”
Aella looked at Theon, she could see his eyes begging her to let him take the other half of the blow. She looked at Etta’s face where the sinister smile still hung on her lips. She held Etta’s gaze and slowly nodded, ready to greet the pain.
Etta drew the knife up between them. She placed in on the girl’s plump lips, “I have taught you well my dear.” She removed the blade and in a swift motion she sliced Aella’s left cheek.
Aella felt the sting first, and then pain blossomed from the fresh wound. Before she could fully register the wound to her face Etta slashed once more. This time the sting came from her right collarbone. She felt the sting halfway across her chest and began to feel blood trickle down her breast. Etta laid the knife on the table. “Now leave, Seth will be home soon and I don’t want him to see the blood on his favorite rug.”
Aella let out a sigh of relief; Etta had dealt worse to her before. Heeding the directions they were given Theon stood up and Etta turned on her heel, getting ready to stride out of the room. Before she took her first step Theon yelled a warning, but it was too late. She felt the pain rising in her head and before she could spin around the darkness took her vision.

Photo credit link:
http://imagica-oceania.tumblr.com/image/144405563514

#fantasy  #adventure  #Terradracones 
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Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction

The Devil's Intern Part 3

The demonic elevator crashed dead center inside the devil's large office space. Its crooked doors popped open with Lu and his new intern stepping outside.

"Welcome to Hell!" Lu said, "My home away from home."

Joshua pinched his nose together. "I don't like the smell." he gasped. There was a foul odor of rotten eggs in the air. At least it wasn't burning meat, but rotten egg smells were bad enough. 

"You'll get used to it." the devil assured, "Let's meet the gang. Ah, here they are."

Both Lu and Joshua were welcomed by an assortment of familiar faces. A purple succubus Joshua had seen numerous times before. Lilith was her name. She had come up to the Gravely household before. The short, stubby bat-like demon Scrugs was also among the welcome committee. 

There were three other demons that Joshua recognized but didn't remember their names. He last saw them during Rosemary's game night at her house, and he recognized the larger of the three, Moloch, was the father to one of his friends, Dominic.

The last demon Joshua was completely unfamiliar with but he recalled Rosemary's stories about him. He looked as Rosemary described him. Some sort of centaurian creature with the body and head of an old spider. Six fingers in each had that carried a long staff. Six black eyes that rarely blinked. A scarf that covered most of his face. Dressed himself like a demonic pope with his ragged robes and papal tiara. 

Legion. That was the one Rosemary described. Legion, the dark sorcerer and priest of heresy. Joshua was sure that this demon never came up to his world, but what reason would he? The demon was described as being very old. No one knew how old exactly but he could recall Hell looking much, much different than it was now.

Lu began his role call. "Here's Lilith. My personal secretary."

"Ello there." The sweet succubus greeted with a curtsy. "Please to have you down here with us."

"And here's Scrugs, my personal assistant." 

"Hiya, Josh!" Scrugs also greeted.

"You already know these fellas: Balthazar, Ghuul, and Moloch."

"Wazz up!" the wild Balthazar hollered.

"Welcome to the hotbox, kid." the timid Ghuul said, giving the boy a short salute with his fingers.

"Sup." the hulking Moloch grumbled. Never was one for small talk.

"And last but not least. My loyal adviser, Legion."

"Welcome to our domain, young Master Wordworth." The old demon bowed his rounded head.

"Hello," Joshua gave a kind wave. "Nice to see you all again, and to meet some of you for the first time."

The demons noticed something off. The human boy wore something around his neck. It was a necklace with a silver chain. Attached at the end was an odd-shaped T. Yet the demons recognized that this was no letter.

"Watch it, everyone!" Balthazar screeched, hopping a couple steps back from the boy. "Kid's got a cross!"

"Keep it away. Keep it away." Ghuul urged.

"Oh, I'm melting." Moloch bellowed. "Oh, what a world."

"I'm sorry I didn't mean to hurt anyone." Joshua nervously said, covering his rosary with his hands. 

"The only thing you're hurting is their acting career," Lu assured, unconvinced by his friends' stale performances.

 "And their humility." the ancient warlock Legion grumbled, also dismayed by his fellow kin.

The demons all started to laugh. "Oh that's hysterical." Balthazar cried, "Kid thinks demons are repelled by crosses."

"Beware!" Scrugs playfully put his claws together to form a cross, "The power of the 'T' compels you."

"I think they make nice little earrings if you ask me." Lilith teased with the others.

Their laughter ended when one by one each demon was struck across their heads. From tallest to shortest—starting with Moloch to Scrugs—they all felt a blow from Legion's wooden staff.

"Holy objects and other relics should not be taken lightly." Legion scolded his fellow demons. "Now act your ages! You're being rude to our guest."

"Ah, we were just having a little fun," Balthazar said, rubbing the fresh lump on his head, "nothing too personal."

"Wait, I don't understand," Joshua queried, "Shouldn't my cross repel you?"

"Why would it?" Moloch asked.

"Because the Bible referred to demons as being angels who were cast out from Heaven," the boy went on, "and Lucifer—er, Lu, I mean—was their leader. And anything resembling Christ is suppose to be a defense against demons."

"A few truths do not account for the whole story." Legion bellowed.

"Meaning?"

Lilith explained, "There are actually no angels down here, love. Except for the boss of course. But he's a full-blooded demon now."

"Truthfully, I don't know what happened to my followers." Lu added. "I took the fall and was kicked out, and they were banished elsewhere. Not sure where." he shrugged off his old memories. "That's ancient history. Perhaps it's time to get to know the real story. Legion, if you would do the honors."

Legion bowed his head to his king. "As you command, my lord," With his dark power, his decrepit hand waved in the air. Old candles hidden in the shadows lit up, revealing a decorated mosaic depicting various demons and locations of the Inferno. The centerpiece bared the image of a humanoid being—with large teeth, red skin, and a pair of horns—engulfed in a sea of fire and smoke. The painted, dark eyes haunted young Joshua the more he stared at the mosaic. It resembled what his mother and the church always described about the deceitful devil of the old testament. 

"Our long, factual history began long ago after celestial beings fought a civil war with one another. In the outcome only three have survived. Together they founded a new paradise and crafted new lifeforms in their own image, to rebuild what was lost in their world. They created many worlds across many galaxies. Two worlds were the most promising, yet one was given more attention than the other. It became a kingdom of light. A sanctuary for the pure. What these beings did not know was that they were not the only ones to have survived."

"This is where things get good," Scrugs whispered in on Joshua's ear. 

After the elder demon hushed him, he continued, "There was one other to have survived. This entity, known only as Corruption, found its way to one of these worlds, and shaped its inhabitants in its own twisted image. According to the ancient scriptures, this was the birth of Hell and its demons. 

"Abandoned and forgotten. Violent and manic. The inhabitants soon preyed on one another. But there was one where was one that rose up. One that united all the demons under his rule. One that set out for conquest across other worlds and the realm of the light. His name would forever be remembered as the great adversary against God and his angels, Satan.

"Wait!" Joshua interrupted, turning towards Lu, "I thought your name was Satan."

"The terms 'Devil' and 'Satan' are not just names, but titles." the sorcerer corrected him, "Titles that are given to the one demon who shall rule all of Hell. Many bore those names and ruled over this realm with such power. And now that power and entitlement has been passed to Lucifer."

"How did you become the devil?"

"I killed the last one." Lu said with a greedy grin. "Now Hell's much more prosperous under my rule."

"Amen to that!" Lilith praised.

"So shall we begin the tour? We can stop at the gift shop later on."

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Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction
The Devil's Intern Part 3
The demonic elevator crashed dead center inside the devil's large office space. Its crooked doors popped open with Lu and his new intern stepping outside.

"Welcome to Hell!" Lu said, "My home away from home."

Joshua pinched his nose together. "I don't like the smell." he gasped. There was a foul odor of rotten eggs in the air. At least it wasn't burning meat, but rotten egg smells were bad enough. 

"You'll get used to it." the devil assured, "Let's meet the gang. Ah, here they are."

Both Lu and Joshua were welcomed by an assortment of familiar faces. A purple succubus Joshua had seen numerous times before. Lilith was her name. She had come up to the Gravely household before. The short, stubby bat-like demon Scrugs was also among the welcome committee. 

There were three other demons that Joshua recognized but didn't remember their names. He last saw them during Rosemary's game night at her house, and he recognized the larger of the three, Moloch, was the father to one of his friends, Dominic.

The last demon Joshua was completely unfamiliar with but he recalled Rosemary's stories about him. He looked as Rosemary described him. Some sort of centaurian creature with the body and head of an old spider. Six fingers in each had that carried a long staff. Six black eyes that rarely blinked. A scarf that covered most of his face. Dressed himself like a demonic pope with his ragged robes and papal tiara. 

Legion. That was the one Rosemary described. Legion, the dark sorcerer and priest of heresy. Joshua was sure that this demon never came up to his world, but what reason would he? The demon was described as being very old. No one knew how old exactly but he could recall Hell looking much, much different than it was now.

Lu began his role call. "Here's Lilith. My personal secretary."

"Ello there." The sweet succubus greeted with a curtsy. "Please to have you down here with us."

"And here's Scrugs, my personal assistant." 

"Hiya, Josh!" Scrugs also greeted.

"You already know these fellas: Balthazar, Ghuul, and Moloch."

"Wazz up!" the wild Balthazar hollered.

"Welcome to the hotbox, kid." the timid Ghuul said, giving the boy a short salute with his fingers.

"Sup." the hulking Moloch grumbled. Never was one for small talk.

"And last but not least. My loyal adviser, Legion."

"Welcome to our domain, young Master Wordworth." The old demon bowed his rounded head.

"Hello," Joshua gave a kind wave. "Nice to see you all again, and to meet some of you for the first time."

The demons noticed something off. The human boy wore something around his neck. It was a necklace with a silver chain. Attached at the end was an odd-shaped T. Yet the demons recognized that this was no letter.

"Watch it, everyone!" Balthazar screeched, hopping a couple steps back from the boy. "Kid's got a cross!"

"Keep it away. Keep it away." Ghuul urged.

"Oh, I'm melting." Moloch bellowed. "Oh, what a world."

"I'm sorry I didn't mean to hurt anyone." Joshua nervously said, covering his rosary with his hands. 

"The only thing you're hurting is their acting career," Lu assured, unconvinced by his friends' stale performances.

 "And their humility." the ancient warlock Legion grumbled, also dismayed by his fellow kin.

The demons all started to laugh. "Oh that's hysterical." Balthazar cried, "Kid thinks demons are repelled by crosses."

"Beware!" Scrugs playfully put his claws together to form a cross, "The power of the 'T' compels you."

"I think they make nice little earrings if you ask me." Lilith teased with the others.

Their laughter ended when one by one each demon was struck across their heads. From tallest to shortest—starting with Moloch to Scrugs—they all felt a blow from Legion's wooden staff.

"Holy objects and other relics should not be taken lightly." Legion scolded his fellow demons. "Now act your ages! You're being rude to our guest."

"Ah, we were just having a little fun," Balthazar said, rubbing the fresh lump on his head, "nothing too personal."

"Wait, I don't understand," Joshua queried, "Shouldn't my cross repel you?"

"Why would it?" Moloch asked.

"Because the Bible referred to demons as being angels who were cast out from Heaven," the boy went on, "and Lucifer—er, Lu, I mean—was their leader. And anything resembling Christ is suppose to be a defense against demons."

"A few truths do not account for the whole story." Legion bellowed.

"Meaning?"

Lilith explained, "There are actually no angels down here, love. Except for the boss of course. But he's a full-blooded demon now."

"Truthfully, I don't know what happened to my followers." Lu added. "I took the fall and was kicked out, and they were banished elsewhere. Not sure where." he shrugged off his old memories. "That's ancient history. Perhaps it's time to get to know the real story. Legion, if you would do the honors."

Legion bowed his head to his king. "As you command, my lord," With his dark power, his decrepit hand waved in the air. Old candles hidden in the shadows lit up, revealing a decorated mosaic depicting various demons and locations of the Inferno. The centerpiece bared the image of a humanoid being—with large teeth, red skin, and a pair of horns—engulfed in a sea of fire and smoke. The painted, dark eyes haunted young Joshua the more he stared at the mosaic. It resembled what his mother and the church always described about the deceitful devil of the old testament. 

"Our long, factual history began long ago after celestial beings fought a civil war with one another. In the outcome only three have survived. Together they founded a new paradise and crafted new lifeforms in their own image, to rebuild what was lost in their world. They created many worlds across many galaxies. Two worlds were the most promising, yet one was given more attention than the other. It became a kingdom of light. A sanctuary for the pure. What these beings did not know was that they were not the only ones to have survived."

"This is where things get good," Scrugs whispered in on Joshua's ear. 

After the elder demon hushed him, he continued, "There was one other to have survived. This entity, known only as Corruption, found its way to one of these worlds, and shaped its inhabitants in its own twisted image. According to the ancient scriptures, this was the birth of Hell and its demons. 

"Abandoned and forgotten. Violent and manic. The inhabitants soon preyed on one another. But there was one where was one that rose up. One that united all the demons under his rule. One that set out for conquest across other worlds and the realm of the light. His name would forever be remembered as the great adversary against God and his angels, Satan.

"Wait!" Joshua interrupted, turning towards Lu, "I thought your name was Satan."

"The terms 'Devil' and 'Satan' are not just names, but titles." the sorcerer corrected him, "Titles that are given to the one demon who shall rule all of Hell. Many bore those names and ruled over this realm with such power. And now that power and entitlement has been passed to Lucifer."

"How did you become the devil?"

"I killed the last one." Lu said with a greedy grin. "Now Hell's much more prosperous under my rule."

"Amen to that!" Lilith praised.

"So shall we begin the tour? We can stop at the gift shop later on."
#fantasy  #fiction  #horror  #comedy  #sinsofthefather 
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Written by Vyxyn in portal Stream of Consciousness

Be the King of your day

Good morning Sunshine!

Today is special because you are blessed

with a fresh start.

Now run with Lions!

Be the pride leader!

Roar the loudest!

Show people you are the King!

Now get out there and make this your hunt!

(Day)

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Written by Vyxyn in portal Stream of Consciousness
Be the King of your day
Good morning Sunshine!
Today is special because you are blessed
with a fresh start.
Now run with Lions!
Be the pride leader!
Roar the loudest!
Show people you are the King!
Now get out there and make this your hunt!
(Day)
#fantasy  #nonfiction  #adventure  #education  #philosophy  #spirituality  #culture  #opinion 
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Written by OnyxCity in portal Fiction

Beneath the Crimson Sky: An Original Prose Universe, Part 2

The Onyx City was a sprawling metropolis of glistening black structures, each bearing some resemblance to a familiar shape or form, only altered in some indescribable way. Wavering lines that met at impossible angles assailed Dusty’s vision and he gasped, shutting his eyes against the grotesque horror of the twisted distortion that was the world on this side of the gate. After several minutes of careful glances, his senses began to adjust, and he started to recognize patterns in the madness which his eyes could follow, allowing him to take a cautious step away from the spot on which he appeared upon stepping out of his own world.

     Much to Dusty’s surprise, the sky of the Onyx City was a deep red that almost blended into the rusty sand that covered the ground as far as he could see up to the horizon. Faintly pinkish clouds drifted like candy-colored smoke, their movements oddly unmethodical, with no two bursts of wispy vapor flitting in the same direction at the same time. There was nothing that he could identify as a plant in his direct vicinity, although Dusty wondered if the odd clump of onyx sticks that stuck out of the red sand to his left might be what passed for vegetation in this world.

     Impatient as he was to start for the tower, Dusty knew it would be unwise to leave without somehow marking the gateway. Looking over one shoulder, he saw an immense black mountain rising up behind him and realized he must have, in effect, walked out of the mountainside. Evidently the gateway was hidden in a mountain face in this world as well, and Dusty took the knife from his belt and scratched a large X in the onyx rock face approximately at the point where he stood upon appearing in the city.

     Turning back to the Onyx City, Dusty scanned the scene before him for some sign of the tower. Squinting his eyes brought the strange lines of the structures into something approaching a coherent focus, and Dusty was able to discern a long, narrow column that rose above the gleaming black forms in the center of the city. No other buildings approached the height of the column and Dusty felt sure it must be the tower from which he would derive the direction of the Western Paladin’s realm.

     Dusty walked forward toward the city, casting his eyes toward the crimson sky, carefully sheathing his knife as he tried to guess how much daylight might be left in this most alien world. The sun, a shimmering burgundy orb that cast an incongruously orange light over the landscape, appeared to be almost directly overhead, but Dusty was unwilling to trust his natural assumption that sunset was still a number of hours away. He quickened his pace, eager on the one hand to get to the tower and the mysterious paladin beyond, but also suddenly anxious to leave the unprotected expanse of red sand that lay outside the perimeter of the city.

     As he neared the Onyx City, the shining buildings seemed to grow more luminous and the disconcerting shifting of lines and shadows turned somehow familiar to Dusty’s sensibilities. He marveled at the structures that suddenly appeared not just natural, but desirable, as though there could be no other form but that which he now beheld, a great mass of elaborately gabled rooftops, elegantly carved pillars, and grandly intertwining walkways connecting huge complexes, the smallest of which must have stood at least fifteen storeys tall.

     The closest path into the city appeared to lead across a bridge of muted black, under which ran a stream that seemed to pulse more than flow, the water a dark, dusky green that reminded Dusty of the tops of the evergreens that dotted his homeland.

     “Hello.”

     Dusty was taken aback by the voice that spoke out of nowhere, and he froze, one foot poised in mid-air over the bridge that would carry him into the Onyx City.

     “Hello,” the voice repeated. The tone was feminine, yet flat, the voice of someone speaking with no intention or meaning, for no reason other than to see how it might sound.

     “Hello?” Dusty tried to make his voice sound confident and forceful, but all that came out was a hesitant whisper.

     “Hello.” The voice repeated, the tone now relieved, as though the first meaningless attempt at speech had quite unexpectedly yielded results.

     Dusty shrank away from the bridge suddenly. “Ah!” he cried out, any attempt to maintain his composure forgotten as he noticed the figure of a woman standing on the bridge before him, her pale, faintly yellowish skin and flimsy, bright white gown contrasting sharply with the black of the city behind her.

     “Hello. Hello, hello.” The woman tilted her head oddly from side to side as she spoke, approaching Dusty with a halting, disjointed gait that seemed to somehow defy the ethereal flow of the gown that fluttered about her.

     “Uh...,” Dusty trailed off, unsure of how to proceed. An almost painful awareness of the warning of the dangers of the Onyx City screamed in the voice of his memory. “Can I help you with something?” he finally asked, desperately hoping for a negative response.

     The woman took two more jerky steps toward Dusty, lifting her arms to either side, palms outward, in a bizarre gesture that might have been a shrug. “Help.” She repeated the word, the sound turning unnatural as it rolled past her lips. “Help. Can I help you. With something.”

     Dusty looked away from the woman, disgusted at his own hesitance, inwardly berating himself for wasting time fearing the strange woman, time he was sure he could not spare. She had made no actual threat, and he could not explain even to himself why her attitude, grotesque though it was, should bother him so, especially with the artifact calling out to him from its hiding place somewhere deep within the city.

     With a deep breath, Dusty addressed the woman firmly. “I don’t need help. If you do, I suggest you find someone else who can assist you with whatever you need. I’m afraid I must be going now.” With those words, Dusty strode purposefully forward, his footfalls ringing loudly on the onyx surface of the bridge, and he forced himself not to look at the woman as he passed.

     “Going. Now.”

     Dusty heard the woman’s strained whisper but stubbornly refused to turn back.

     “No!”

     The sudden high-pitched shriek of the woman tore into Dusty’s mind, and he spun around in time to see her stumble toward him, heaving herself in a confused jumble of frantically flailing limbs.

     “Get away!” In an instant the knife was in Dusty’s hand, and he stood ready as the woman came closer and closer, her head drifting to one shoulder as she fixed him with a sideways stare.

     “No!”

     “Stop right there! I don’t want to hurt you but I will if you make me!” Dusty raised the knife in preparation to strike.

     The woman suddenly stopped, her arms falling limply to her sides. She swayed slightly, her neck stretched noticeably as her head twitched even farther until her ear almost touched her shoulder.

     “No. Going now. Stay.”

     The thick, flat voice began to grate on Dusty’s nerves and he grew suddenly angry in spite of his shock at what he was seeing. “What? No! I mean...,” he trailed off, lost for words. “What’s your problem? Who are you anyway?”

     The woman’s eyes grew dull and her skin seemed to turn gray in an instant. “Just. A. Person. Just. A person. Just a person. Justaperson. Justaperson, justaperson, justaperson, justaperson...”

     Dusty jammed the knife back in its sheath and backed away, stumbling as his foot slipped on the slick polished onyx that was the road surface, catching himself just before he fell to the ground, and he realized he was no longer standing on the bridge. Turning quickly, he moved as fast as he could into the street, twisting around for one fast glance over his shoulder.

     The woman had moved to the side of the bridge, her twitching arms raised above her head. Dusty watched in horror as, in one swift movement, she suddenly dove into the thick, green water below.

     Dusty hurried back to the bridge and peered carefully over the edge. The woman’s face surfaced suddenly, her eyes flashing as her lips parted, sending a dreadful laugh floating up the bank to where Dusty stood.

     “Just a person!” she shouted between peals of raucous laughter. “Iamjustaperson!” With those words, the woman dove, her head and shoulders vanishing into the sludge.

     Dusty shuddered as he glimpsed a glittering flash of black as her back arched into the water. Where her legs should have been, Dusty could see a long, serpentine tail, covered with black, jewel-like scales that shimmered in the orange light.

     Turning back to the road, Dusty forced the image out of his mind. Glancing up at the sky, he noticed that the sun had moved several degrees during the time when he had been detained on the bridge. A deep feeling of unease rose within him and Dusty quickly started walking down the smooth, black road leading from the bridge into the depths of the Onyx City.

     There was no point guessing how long he might have spent walking on that shiny, onyx road, but Dusty nonetheless could not help feeling that hours must be passing while he remained almost as far from the center of the city as when he began.

     The streets of the Onyx City were of the smoothest, darkest onyx, polished to such a high sheen that more than once Dusty was forced to shield his eyes from the glint of the dusky sunlight on the glistening surface. Though he felt he was, in some sense, walking in a straight line, the top of the tower remaining visible above the rooftops almost directly in front of him, the road itself seemed to curve inexplicably at various points, his eyes registering bends and twists that did not actually divert his feet from the path he steadily forged ahead. The city was eerily silent and, by all appearances, surprisingly empty, though Dusty did see three tall robed figures emerge from an enormous domed building to his right and a squat, brownish homunculus that loped its way across the street, glancing warily at Dusty as it passed, to disappear into what looked like a dark, windowless theater.

     Weary of walking and growing increasingly nervous without anything to mark the passage of time, Dusty stopped, glaring at the top of the tower’s spire that seemed to peer smugly from its place in the elusive center of the Onyx City. His fingers danced nervously over the hilt of his knife and he glanced this way and that, suddenly overcome by the all too familiar feeling of being watched.

     From somewhere to his right, Dusty heard the unmistakable sound of a footfall. He spun toward the noise, straining his eyes to see into the darkness of the onyx alley that stretched before him. Suddenly, a voice rang out from out of the shadows that stopped Dusty in his tracks.

     “Dad, it’s him!”

     It was the voice of a young girl. Even in those three words, Dusty recognized the characteristics of his own dialect, the vernacular not of this world, but his own.

     “Hello? Who’s there?” Dusty called cautiously into the alley.

     The pace of the footsteps quickened, stopping just short of the street. Dusty could just make out the shape of a girl standing just out of reach of the sunlight. A larger form appeared behind her, visible only as a featureless mass peering out of the darkness.

     “You’re looking for the Western Paladin, aren’t you?” the girl asked eagerly as she stepped into the street. She looked to be about fifteen or sixteen, with bright emerald green eyes and long, blonde hair pulled back in a high ponytail. Her jeans, high top sneakers, and hooded sweatshirt appeared foreign and out of place among the glistening black stone that was everywhere and everything in the Onyx City, and she carried a small, army green knapsack on her back.

     Dusty did not answer the girl’s question immediately. The sight of the tall, skinny girl with the bright green eyes sent an ache through his heart and his thoughts turned back to the world he had left behind, the house in the country from which he had walked away, telling himself he would one day return, even while knowing he could never bring himself to set eyes on it again.

     “Wait a minute,” a deep voice resounded into the street. “Give the guy some room.” A tall man carrying a similar knapsack over a black softshell jacket emerged from the alley.

     “Uh, who are you guys?” Dusty asked, forcing his mind back to the present.

     “The name’s Paul. Paul D. Chambers,” the man replied, extending his hand. “This is my daughter, Allyson.”

     Dusty reached out slowly and shook the proffered hand, saying a silent prayer that the man would not morph into some vaguely humanoid abomination as he did so. “Pleased to meet you,” he muttered, more out of habit than any genuine feeling. He shifted restlessly from one foot to the other and glanced upward toward the top of the tower in the distance.

     “Dad, come on! We have to get going, there’s not much time.”

     “Patience, Ally. There’s always time enough for common courtesy.” Paul smiled broadly and turned back to Dusty. “Although she’s absolutely right, of course. Well, let’s get down to business. I couldn’t help but notice you looking at the tower.”

     Dusty gaped at the man standing before him. “Look, I don’t want to be rude but just what the hell do you think you’re doing? I can’t stand here and exchange witty banter with you right now, I have somewhere I need to be.” Dusty cast his eyes up to the steadily darkening sky as he spoke.

     “Ah, well, as long as you don’t want to be rude.” Paul laughed heartily before turning suddenly serious. “The truth is, I am aware that you are on some kind of, shall we say, quest and that time is of the essence right now. That’s why I’m here – why we’re here,” he continued, gesturing at his daughter.

     “What? Just how do you know so much about me?”

     “Oh!”

     Both men turned to Allyson as she cried out, pressing her hand to her forehead as she staggered, grabbing her father’s arm for support.

     “What is it, honey?” Paul’s tone was more curious than concerned, and Dusty glanced at him in confusion before turning back to the girl, pushing away the image of another girl standing in the middle of a bright garden path that floated unbidden through his mind as he beheld her.

     “Give me a minute...” Allyson steadied herself and straightened, her eyes shut tight, her head jerking minutely from side to side as though watching some scene play out before her. “Okay, here’s the thing,” she began, opening her eyes and looking earnestly up into her father’s face. “We need to leave. Now. Right now.” She took two steps backward toward the alley as she spoke.

     “Okay. Let’s go,” Paul replied, his manner turning suddenly brisk and businesslike as he turned, striding toward the darkness at his daughter’s side. Just before stepping off the street, he turned back to Dusty, who stood staring at the two people he had decided must be lunatics of some very special variety.

     “Well, sir? Are you coming? I really think you should come...”

     Dusty shook his head slowly and pointed tentatively down the street. “No,” he replied cautiously, “I think I’ll just be on my way now.”

     Paul’s expression turned grim and he nodded at Allyson, who retreated to the alley while her father quickly returned to the street. Dusty took a step back, hands half raised to protect himself as Paul scanned the street around them.

     “Look, I know this is weird, and I know it seems like we’re trying to interfere or something. The thing is that I can explain everything, and I will, but you really need to come with me and Ally right now. Trust me, if she says it’s time to go, it’s a really good idea to go.”

     “But...”

     Dusty was cut off mid-protest by a howling shriek that suddenly pierced the silent stillness of the Onyx City. The sound cut into Dusty’s brain, seeming to somehow emanate from within his own mind, even as a jolt ran through his entire body like an electric current. He looked at Paul, who cringed beside him, his eyes locked on a distant point down the street from where they stood as he grabbed Dusty’s arm, pulling him ineffectually in the direction of the alley.

     “What do you say we both go now, huh, friend?” Paul’s voice was steady but a desperate urgency seethed just below the surface of his words.

     “You know what?” Dusty said as he shrugged Paul’s hand off his arm, pushing the man into the alleyway before him. “I think that sounds like a great idea.”

     “Dad!” Allyson ran up to her father and threw her arms around his waist. “What took you so long?”

     “I’m sorry, hon,” Paul said as he hugged his daughter. “We were... delayed.” He glanced at Dusty, laughter in his eyes.

     Dusty stared at the man in disbelief. There was not much about the Onyx City that, in his opinion, could possibly be construed as amusing. Before he had a chance to consider the thought any further, another bone-rattling screech came tearing into the alley through the dark barrier behind him. Dusty, Paul, and Allyson started, instinctively moving closer together where they stood while clapping their hands over their ears in almost perfect unison. The action did almost nothing to block out the terrible shriek, which nonetheless sounded much farther away than the first cry. The sound faded rapidly before disappearing altogether, seemingly in the direction from whence Dusty had first approached the alleyway.

     After allowing several moments to pass, Dusty turned to Paul again. “Okay, so you promised you’d explain everything, now get to explaining.”

     “Shh!” Allyson glared angrily at Dusty, one finger pressed firmly to her lips.

     “What are you...?”

     Paul gestured at Dusty to quiet down. “Please! Just wait a minute, okay?”

     Something in Paul’s tone made Dusty uneasy all over again and he turned to look through the barrier, which appeared gauzy from the alley side.

     All seemed quiet on the street, and Dusty peered out as far as he could in either direction without leaning through the barrier. Directly across from where he stood, he could see another black void, which he now assumed led into another similar alley. He cast his eyes over a dull black shack of indeterminate shape and size that stood next to the entrance of a tall steepled building that he could see by pressing himself to the onyx wall to his right. He looked to Paul and Allyson, both of whom kept their eyes fixed on the street corner to the left of the alley.

     “What’s going on?” he whispered finally. “I don’t see anything.”

     “Just wait for it,” Allyson softly replied.

     With a frustrated sigh, Dusty looked back to the street. Five more minutes, he thought to himself. Or what I guess to be five minutes anyway. Then, I’m outta here.

     A sudden skittering sent a violent shudder down Dusty’s spine and he tore himself away from the wall and the view of the street beyond, revulsion twisting his features. “What the hell...? What the hell is that?” he cried out loud.

     “Shh!” “Quiet!” Paul and Allyson spoke at the same time, the look of terror on the girl’s face allowing Dusty to forget, for the moment, the creeping horror that had afflicted him upon hearing the terrible sound.

     Paul and Allyson exchanged a meaningful glance before turning back to Dusty where he had pressed himself against the onyx wall.

     “Look, we just have to wait for her to pass, okay?” Allyson hissed impatiently, fear dancing in her eyes. “She can’t come into the alley but, if we’re not quiet, she’ll hear us and then we’ll never get out of here.” Paul rested a hand on Allyson’s shoulder as she beckoned to Dusty before turning back to the street.

     “Who?” Dusty remembered to whisper as he took his place at the barrier beside Allyson.

     “The sandflea.” Paul spoke before his daughter could answer. “She’s the sandflea and, believe me, you do not want to run into her out there. Now, for the love of all that is holy, be quiet.”

     Dusty rolled his eyes but contented himself with watching alongside Paul and Allyson. He found himself growing somehow accustomed to the skittering, as had happened with the unnatural lines of the city’s structures, and he found himself focusing on a pattern within the sound, a pattern that seemed almost recognizable as he squinted into the distance.

     “Wha...?” Dusty stifled the cry in his throat as the form of a gigantic crawling mass came directly into view in the middle of the street. It was as tall as the steeple of the building down the street and appeared to walk upright, though Dusty had a strong impression that the thing possessed an insect-like collection of monstrously segmented legs. It seemed to shimmer and change from dark brown to gray to black in an undulating rhythm that Dusty suddenly realized followed the motion of its body that rippled and surged wildly as it lurched down the street. Something sat atop the strangely fluid body, something that Dusty’s mind screamed was a head but that bore no resemblance to any living organism he had ever seen before, and he shuddered again, sure that his sanity would slip away should he behold the dread creature for even one moment longer.

     “It’s okay!” The voice broke into Dusty’s haze of fear and loathing. “It’s okay, just hold on a little longer!”

     Allyson’s whispered encouragement soothed Dusty’s nerves and he found himself relaxing even as the thing heaved oddly and stopped in the street directly across from where they stood.

     “Ally, did you see...?” Paul muttered softly.

     “Shh, Dad, I’ll tell you after.”

     Dusty tore his gaze from the thing outside and gazed quizzically at Allyson. She smiled and shrugged up at him before indicating he should return his attention to the street.

     “The sandflea. Look! She’s going already,” Allyson whispered, pointing excitedly.

     Sure enough, the thing outside had resumed its forward crawl, and in another moment it passed almost to the point where they could no longer see it from where they stood.

     “Whew! She’s gone.” Paul took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “At least, I think she’s gone. Ally?” He looked to Allyson while Dusty slumped wearily against the wall once again.

     Allyson waited before answering, a faraway look in her eyes. “Yeah, she’s gone,” she said finally. “For now,” she added.

     “How comforting,” Dusty muttered. “What was that anyway?”

     Paul indicated to his daughter with a practiced go on, you tell it gesture.

     “Well, like I said, she’s the sandflea,” Allyson began. “I can’t say I know exactly what she is, I mean, neither of us really know. From what we can tell, she makes those awful screams right before she splits.”

     “Splits?” Dusty asked, his tone at once intrigued and disgusted. “What does that mean? You mean before she leaves or something?”

     “Um...” Allyson looked at Paul briefly, amusement flashing in her emerald eyes. “No, not ‘splits’ like that. I mean she literally splits.” She put her hands together and pulled them apart rapidly as she spoke. “You know? Like, splits herself. In two.”

     Dusty’s expression turned blank, all ability to even feel repulsed by what he was hearing draining from his body. “Oh,” he said flatly.

     Allyson giggled and tossed her ponytail, obviously delighted at Dusty’s reaction. “I know, I know, it sounds gross, right?” She giggled again before abruptly turning serious. “Well, even so... That’s why we call her ‘she,’ because it’s like she’s, you know, multiplying or whatever.”

     “Obviously that could be a very incorrect interpretation given our current setting, of course,” Paul interjected.

     “Yeah.” Allyson nodded her agreement.

     “Wait a minute,” Dusty started as he pushed himself away from the wall. “If it, she, whatever, splits, then there must be a whole lot of those sandfleas, right? I mean, you called her the sandflea...”

     Allyson nodded again. “You’re right. There are a whole bunch but only one walks around the city at a time. Every time one splits, that one goes and the new one takes her place.”

     “Goes?”

     “Yeah, there’s a... like a nest outside the city, way out near the mountains. Only the newest one stays here in the Onyx City.” She shrugged lightly. “We have no idea why.”

     “Have you seen this nest?” Dusty asked, morbid curiosity getting the better of him, even as more pressing concerns nagged at the corner of his mind. “How many are there?”

     “Sixty-seven,” Allyson answered. She indicated the street with a tilt of her head. “Until she splits anyway. Then she’ll be sandflea sixty-eight.”

     Dusty sighed deeply and ran a hand through his hair, turning his face up to the crimson sky. He felt like he had been traveling for eons without making any progress toward a destination that now seemed unreachable.

     “All right, enough of this,” Paul spoke out suddenly. “Now it’s really time we got down to business.”

     “Yeah, okay,” Dusty relented. “Well, I’m Dusty Grein. And you were right before – I’m trying to get to the tower so I can find the Western Paladin.”

     Paul and Allyson exchanged another glance.

     “We know,” Paul said almost apologetically. “We know who you are.”

     Dusty just gazed steadily at his companions, no longer surprised by anything they told him. “Really...?” he muttered, resisting the urge to roll his eyes again.

     “Yeah, look, I’m sorry, I know we kind of ambushed you back there...” Paul trailed off, flashing a boyish grin. “Well, what matters is that we’re here now.”

     Dusty gave a half-hearted smile of his own, resigned, for the moment, to listening.

     “So, here’s the explanation I owe you,” Paul continued. “My daughter and I are, well, let’s just say, travelers. We’ve traveled to many different worlds, although as you’ve undoubtedly noticed, we’re from the same world as you.

     “Allyson here is a seer. Her visions have gotten us out of some pretty tight spots, I’ll tell you that. Like before, with the sandflea.”

     Dusty flashed back to the sight of Allyson stumbling, eyes closed and hand to her head.

     “But mostly, Ally’s visions tell us where to be and when. It’s that simple. See, it was in a vision that she saw you on your way to the tower and the Western Paladin beyond.”

     “Is that right?” Dusty crossed his arms over his chest. “What else did you see?”

     Allyson shrugged modestly. “I know you’re looking for the Tall One. And the artifact.”

     Dusty narrowed his eyes at the girl, unwilling to confirm her remark or to show how disconcerted he was at the knowledge of his quest that she possessed.

     “I know it must seem strange,” Paul offered, “but we’re here to help you. That’s truly why we came looking for you. Just to help you.”

     “Hmm...,” Dusty murmured noncommittally. There was no denying that it would be useful to have someone with him on his journey, which had already proven to be as difficult and as dangerous as promised by the guardian before he left his own world. Still, he did not trust that anyone would offer such assistance without some kind of ulterior motive.

     Dusty looked from Paul to Allyson, considering what they had told him and what they might be holding back. He quickly made a decision, one that would hopefully allow him to find what he came for and return to his world as fast as possible. He looked grimly to the rapidly darkening sky before speaking. “All right. If you want to help, fine, I won’t stop you. I might even be grateful for the favor.” He tried to clear his mind, suddenly overcome with a deep and abiding exhaustion. “I understand the city will change at sunset. So, I suggest that we head for the tower and try to get there as fast as possible. Although I’ve been walking for hours, it seems, and I haven’t gotten any closer at all, so...” Dusty trailed off.

     Paul and Allyson looked visibly relieved at Dusty’s words, a reaction that added to his unease rather than relieving it.

     “Don’t worry about that,” Allyson said cheerfully. “I know how to get to the tower.”

     “Oh?”

     “Oh, yeah,” Allyson said with assurance. “Shall we?”

     A strong sensation of déjà vu settled over Dusty as he followed Allyson through the barrier into the street, and he wondered, as Paul’s grin flashed in the corner of his eye, whether he might still live to regret his decision.

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Written by OnyxCity in portal Fiction
Beneath the Crimson Sky: An Original Prose Universe, Part 2
The Onyx City was a sprawling metropolis of glistening black structures, each bearing some resemblance to a familiar shape or form, only altered in some indescribable way. Wavering lines that met at impossible angles assailed Dusty’s vision and he gasped, shutting his eyes against the grotesque horror of the twisted distortion that was the world on this side of the gate. After several minutes of careful glances, his senses began to adjust, and he started to recognize patterns in the madness which his eyes could follow, allowing him to take a cautious step away from the spot on which he appeared upon stepping out of his own world.
     Much to Dusty’s surprise, the sky of the Onyx City was a deep red that almost blended into the rusty sand that covered the ground as far as he could see up to the horizon. Faintly pinkish clouds drifted like candy-colored smoke, their movements oddly unmethodical, with no two bursts of wispy vapor flitting in the same direction at the same time. There was nothing that he could identify as a plant in his direct vicinity, although Dusty wondered if the odd clump of onyx sticks that stuck out of the red sand to his left might be what passed for vegetation in this world.
     Impatient as he was to start for the tower, Dusty knew it would be unwise to leave without somehow marking the gateway. Looking over one shoulder, he saw an immense black mountain rising up behind him and realized he must have, in effect, walked out of the mountainside. Evidently the gateway was hidden in a mountain face in this world as well, and Dusty took the knife from his belt and scratched a large X in the onyx rock face approximately at the point where he stood upon appearing in the city.
     Turning back to the Onyx City, Dusty scanned the scene before him for some sign of the tower. Squinting his eyes brought the strange lines of the structures into something approaching a coherent focus, and Dusty was able to discern a long, narrow column that rose above the gleaming black forms in the center of the city. No other buildings approached the height of the column and Dusty felt sure it must be the tower from which he would derive the direction of the Western Paladin’s realm.
     Dusty walked forward toward the city, casting his eyes toward the crimson sky, carefully sheathing his knife as he tried to guess how much daylight might be left in this most alien world. The sun, a shimmering burgundy orb that cast an incongruously orange light over the landscape, appeared to be almost directly overhead, but Dusty was unwilling to trust his natural assumption that sunset was still a number of hours away. He quickened his pace, eager on the one hand to get to the tower and the mysterious paladin beyond, but also suddenly anxious to leave the unprotected expanse of red sand that lay outside the perimeter of the city.
     As he neared the Onyx City, the shining buildings seemed to grow more luminous and the disconcerting shifting of lines and shadows turned somehow familiar to Dusty’s sensibilities. He marveled at the structures that suddenly appeared not just natural, but desirable, as though there could be no other form but that which he now beheld, a great mass of elaborately gabled rooftops, elegantly carved pillars, and grandly intertwining walkways connecting huge complexes, the smallest of which must have stood at least fifteen storeys tall.
     The closest path into the city appeared to lead across a bridge of muted black, under which ran a stream that seemed to pulse more than flow, the water a dark, dusky green that reminded Dusty of the tops of the evergreens that dotted his homeland.
     “Hello.”
     Dusty was taken aback by the voice that spoke out of nowhere, and he froze, one foot poised in mid-air over the bridge that would carry him into the Onyx City.
     “Hello,” the voice repeated. The tone was feminine, yet flat, the voice of someone speaking with no intention or meaning, for no reason other than to see how it might sound.
     “Hello?” Dusty tried to make his voice sound confident and forceful, but all that came out was a hesitant whisper.
     “Hello.” The voice repeated, the tone now relieved, as though the first meaningless attempt at speech had quite unexpectedly yielded results.
     Dusty shrank away from the bridge suddenly. “Ah!” he cried out, any attempt to maintain his composure forgotten as he noticed the figure of a woman standing on the bridge before him, her pale, faintly yellowish skin and flimsy, bright white gown contrasting sharply with the black of the city behind her.
     “Hello. Hello, hello.” The woman tilted her head oddly from side to side as she spoke, approaching Dusty with a halting, disjointed gait that seemed to somehow defy the ethereal flow of the gown that fluttered about her.
     “Uh...,” Dusty trailed off, unsure of how to proceed. An almost painful awareness of the warning of the dangers of the Onyx City screamed in the voice of his memory. “Can I help you with something?” he finally asked, desperately hoping for a negative response.
     The woman took two more jerky steps toward Dusty, lifting her arms to either side, palms outward, in a bizarre gesture that might have been a shrug. “Help.” She repeated the word, the sound turning unnatural as it rolled past her lips. “Help. Can I help you. With something.”
     Dusty looked away from the woman, disgusted at his own hesitance, inwardly berating himself for wasting time fearing the strange woman, time he was sure he could not spare. She had made no actual threat, and he could not explain even to himself why her attitude, grotesque though it was, should bother him so, especially with the artifact calling out to him from its hiding place somewhere deep within the city.
     With a deep breath, Dusty addressed the woman firmly. “I don’t need help. If you do, I suggest you find someone else who can assist you with whatever you need. I’m afraid I must be going now.” With those words, Dusty strode purposefully forward, his footfalls ringing loudly on the onyx surface of the bridge, and he forced himself not to look at the woman as he passed.
     “Going. Now.”
     Dusty heard the woman’s strained whisper but stubbornly refused to turn back.
     “No!”
     The sudden high-pitched shriek of the woman tore into Dusty’s mind, and he spun around in time to see her stumble toward him, heaving herself in a confused jumble of frantically flailing limbs.
     “Get away!” In an instant the knife was in Dusty’s hand, and he stood ready as the woman came closer and closer, her head drifting to one shoulder as she fixed him with a sideways stare.
     “No!”
     “Stop right there! I don’t want to hurt you but I will if you make me!” Dusty raised the knife in preparation to strike.
     The woman suddenly stopped, her arms falling limply to her sides. She swayed slightly, her neck stretched noticeably as her head twitched even farther until her ear almost touched her shoulder.
     “No. Going now. Stay.”
     The thick, flat voice began to grate on Dusty’s nerves and he grew suddenly angry in spite of his shock at what he was seeing. “What? No! I mean...,” he trailed off, lost for words. “What’s your problem? Who are you anyway?”
     The woman’s eyes grew dull and her skin seemed to turn gray in an instant. “Just. A. Person. Just. A person. Just a person. Justaperson. Justaperson, justaperson, justaperson, justaperson...”
     Dusty jammed the knife back in its sheath and backed away, stumbling as his foot slipped on the slick polished onyx that was the road surface, catching himself just before he fell to the ground, and he realized he was no longer standing on the bridge. Turning quickly, he moved as fast as he could into the street, twisting around for one fast glance over his shoulder.
     The woman had moved to the side of the bridge, her twitching arms raised above her head. Dusty watched in horror as, in one swift movement, she suddenly dove into the thick, green water below.
     Dusty hurried back to the bridge and peered carefully over the edge. The woman’s face surfaced suddenly, her eyes flashing as her lips parted, sending a dreadful laugh floating up the bank to where Dusty stood.
     “Just a person!” she shouted between peals of raucous laughter. “Iamjustaperson!” With those words, the woman dove, her head and shoulders vanishing into the sludge.
     Dusty shuddered as he glimpsed a glittering flash of black as her back arched into the water. Where her legs should have been, Dusty could see a long, serpentine tail, covered with black, jewel-like scales that shimmered in the orange light.
     Turning back to the road, Dusty forced the image out of his mind. Glancing up at the sky, he noticed that the sun had moved several degrees during the time when he had been detained on the bridge. A deep feeling of unease rose within him and Dusty quickly started walking down the smooth, black road leading from the bridge into the depths of the Onyx City.
     There was no point guessing how long he might have spent walking on that shiny, onyx road, but Dusty nonetheless could not help feeling that hours must be passing while he remained almost as far from the center of the city as when he began.
     The streets of the Onyx City were of the smoothest, darkest onyx, polished to such a high sheen that more than once Dusty was forced to shield his eyes from the glint of the dusky sunlight on the glistening surface. Though he felt he was, in some sense, walking in a straight line, the top of the tower remaining visible above the rooftops almost directly in front of him, the road itself seemed to curve inexplicably at various points, his eyes registering bends and twists that did not actually divert his feet from the path he steadily forged ahead. The city was eerily silent and, by all appearances, surprisingly empty, though Dusty did see three tall robed figures emerge from an enormous domed building to his right and a squat, brownish homunculus that loped its way across the street, glancing warily at Dusty as it passed, to disappear into what looked like a dark, windowless theater.
     Weary of walking and growing increasingly nervous without anything to mark the passage of time, Dusty stopped, glaring at the top of the tower’s spire that seemed to peer smugly from its place in the elusive center of the Onyx City. His fingers danced nervously over the hilt of his knife and he glanced this way and that, suddenly overcome by the all too familiar feeling of being watched.
     From somewhere to his right, Dusty heard the unmistakable sound of a footfall. He spun toward the noise, straining his eyes to see into the darkness of the onyx alley that stretched before him. Suddenly, a voice rang out from out of the shadows that stopped Dusty in his tracks.
     “Dad, it’s him!”
     It was the voice of a young girl. Even in those three words, Dusty recognized the characteristics of his own dialect, the vernacular not of this world, but his own.
     “Hello? Who’s there?” Dusty called cautiously into the alley.
     The pace of the footsteps quickened, stopping just short of the street. Dusty could just make out the shape of a girl standing just out of reach of the sunlight. A larger form appeared behind her, visible only as a featureless mass peering out of the darkness.
     “You’re looking for the Western Paladin, aren’t you?” the girl asked eagerly as she stepped into the street. She looked to be about fifteen or sixteen, with bright emerald green eyes and long, blonde hair pulled back in a high ponytail. Her jeans, high top sneakers, and hooded sweatshirt appeared foreign and out of place among the glistening black stone that was everywhere and everything in the Onyx City, and she carried a small, army green knapsack on her back.
     Dusty did not answer the girl’s question immediately. The sight of the tall, skinny girl with the bright green eyes sent an ache through his heart and his thoughts turned back to the world he had left behind, the house in the country from which he had walked away, telling himself he would one day return, even while knowing he could never bring himself to set eyes on it again.
     “Wait a minute,” a deep voice resounded into the street. “Give the guy some room.” A tall man carrying a similar knapsack over a black softshell jacket emerged from the alley.
     “Uh, who are you guys?” Dusty asked, forcing his mind back to the present.
     “The name’s Paul. Paul D. Chambers,” the man replied, extending his hand. “This is my daughter, Allyson.”
     Dusty reached out slowly and shook the proffered hand, saying a silent prayer that the man would not morph into some vaguely humanoid abomination as he did so. “Pleased to meet you,” he muttered, more out of habit than any genuine feeling. He shifted restlessly from one foot to the other and glanced upward toward the top of the tower in the distance.
     “Dad, come on! We have to get going, there’s not much time.”
     “Patience, Ally. There’s always time enough for common courtesy.” Paul smiled broadly and turned back to Dusty. “Although she’s absolutely right, of course. Well, let’s get down to business. I couldn’t help but notice you looking at the tower.”
     Dusty gaped at the man standing before him. “Look, I don’t want to be rude but just what the hell do you think you’re doing? I can’t stand here and exchange witty banter with you right now, I have somewhere I need to be.” Dusty cast his eyes up to the steadily darkening sky as he spoke.
     “Ah, well, as long as you don’t want to be rude.” Paul laughed heartily before turning suddenly serious. “The truth is, I am aware that you are on some kind of, shall we say, quest and that time is of the essence right now. That’s why I’m here – why we’re here,” he continued, gesturing at his daughter.
     “What? Just how do you know so much about me?”
     “Oh!”
     Both men turned to Allyson as she cried out, pressing her hand to her forehead as she staggered, grabbing her father’s arm for support.
     “What is it, honey?” Paul’s tone was more curious than concerned, and Dusty glanced at him in confusion before turning back to the girl, pushing away the image of another girl standing in the middle of a bright garden path that floated unbidden through his mind as he beheld her.
     “Give me a minute...” Allyson steadied herself and straightened, her eyes shut tight, her head jerking minutely from side to side as though watching some scene play out before her. “Okay, here’s the thing,” she began, opening her eyes and looking earnestly up into her father’s face. “We need to leave. Now. Right now.” She took two steps backward toward the alley as she spoke.
     “Okay. Let’s go,” Paul replied, his manner turning suddenly brisk and businesslike as he turned, striding toward the darkness at his daughter’s side. Just before stepping off the street, he turned back to Dusty, who stood staring at the two people he had decided must be lunatics of some very special variety.
     “Well, sir? Are you coming? I really think you should come...”
     Dusty shook his head slowly and pointed tentatively down the street. “No,” he replied cautiously, “I think I’ll just be on my way now.”
     Paul’s expression turned grim and he nodded at Allyson, who retreated to the alley while her father quickly returned to the street. Dusty took a step back, hands half raised to protect himself as Paul scanned the street around them.
     “Look, I know this is weird, and I know it seems like we’re trying to interfere or something. The thing is that I can explain everything, and I will, but you really need to come with me and Ally right now. Trust me, if she says it’s time to go, it’s a really good idea to go.”
     “But...”
     Dusty was cut off mid-protest by a howling shriek that suddenly pierced the silent stillness of the Onyx City. The sound cut into Dusty’s brain, seeming to somehow emanate from within his own mind, even as a jolt ran through his entire body like an electric current. He looked at Paul, who cringed beside him, his eyes locked on a distant point down the street from where they stood as he grabbed Dusty’s arm, pulling him ineffectually in the direction of the alley.
     “What do you say we both go now, huh, friend?” Paul’s voice was steady but a desperate urgency seethed just below the surface of his words.
     “You know what?” Dusty said as he shrugged Paul’s hand off his arm, pushing the man into the alleyway before him. “I think that sounds like a great idea.”
     “Dad!” Allyson ran up to her father and threw her arms around his waist. “What took you so long?”
     “I’m sorry, hon,” Paul said as he hugged his daughter. “We were... delayed.” He glanced at Dusty, laughter in his eyes.
     Dusty stared at the man in disbelief. There was not much about the Onyx City that, in his opinion, could possibly be construed as amusing. Before he had a chance to consider the thought any further, another bone-rattling screech came tearing into the alley through the dark barrier behind him. Dusty, Paul, and Allyson started, instinctively moving closer together where they stood while clapping their hands over their ears in almost perfect unison. The action did almost nothing to block out the terrible shriek, which nonetheless sounded much farther away than the first cry. The sound faded rapidly before disappearing altogether, seemingly in the direction from whence Dusty had first approached the alleyway.
     After allowing several moments to pass, Dusty turned to Paul again. “Okay, so you promised you’d explain everything, now get to explaining.”
     “Shh!” Allyson glared angrily at Dusty, one finger pressed firmly to her lips.
     “What are you...?”
     Paul gestured at Dusty to quiet down. “Please! Just wait a minute, okay?”
     Something in Paul’s tone made Dusty uneasy all over again and he turned to look through the barrier, which appeared gauzy from the alley side.
     All seemed quiet on the street, and Dusty peered out as far as he could in either direction without leaning through the barrier. Directly across from where he stood, he could see another black void, which he now assumed led into another similar alley. He cast his eyes over a dull black shack of indeterminate shape and size that stood next to the entrance of a tall steepled building that he could see by pressing himself to the onyx wall to his right. He looked to Paul and Allyson, both of whom kept their eyes fixed on the street corner to the left of the alley.
     “What’s going on?” he whispered finally. “I don’t see anything.”
     “Just wait for it,” Allyson softly replied.
     With a frustrated sigh, Dusty looked back to the street. Five more minutes, he thought to himself. Or what I guess to be five minutes anyway. Then, I’m outta here.
     A sudden skittering sent a violent shudder down Dusty’s spine and he tore himself away from the wall and the view of the street beyond, revulsion twisting his features. “What the hell...? What the hell is that?” he cried out loud.
     “Shh!” “Quiet!” Paul and Allyson spoke at the same time, the look of terror on the girl’s face allowing Dusty to forget, for the moment, the creeping horror that had afflicted him upon hearing the terrible sound.
     Paul and Allyson exchanged a meaningful glance before turning back to Dusty where he had pressed himself against the onyx wall.
     “Look, we just have to wait for her to pass, okay?” Allyson hissed impatiently, fear dancing in her eyes. “She can’t come into the alley but, if we’re not quiet, she’ll hear us and then we’ll never get out of here.” Paul rested a hand on Allyson’s shoulder as she beckoned to Dusty before turning back to the street.
     “Who?” Dusty remembered to whisper as he took his place at the barrier beside Allyson.
     “The sandflea.” Paul spoke before his daughter could answer. “She’s the sandflea and, believe me, you do not want to run into her out there. Now, for the love of all that is holy, be quiet.”
     Dusty rolled his eyes but contented himself with watching alongside Paul and Allyson. He found himself growing somehow accustomed to the skittering, as had happened with the unnatural lines of the city’s structures, and he found himself focusing on a pattern within the sound, a pattern that seemed almost recognizable as he squinted into the distance.
     “Wha...?” Dusty stifled the cry in his throat as the form of a gigantic crawling mass came directly into view in the middle of the street. It was as tall as the steeple of the building down the street and appeared to walk upright, though Dusty had a strong impression that the thing possessed an insect-like collection of monstrously segmented legs. It seemed to shimmer and change from dark brown to gray to black in an undulating rhythm that Dusty suddenly realized followed the motion of its body that rippled and surged wildly as it lurched down the street. Something sat atop the strangely fluid body, something that Dusty’s mind screamed was a head but that bore no resemblance to any living organism he had ever seen before, and he shuddered again, sure that his sanity would slip away should he behold the dread creature for even one moment longer.
     “It’s okay!” The voice broke into Dusty’s haze of fear and loathing. “It’s okay, just hold on a little longer!”
     Allyson’s whispered encouragement soothed Dusty’s nerves and he found himself relaxing even as the thing heaved oddly and stopped in the street directly across from where they stood.
     “Ally, did you see...?” Paul muttered softly.
     “Shh, Dad, I’ll tell you after.”
     Dusty tore his gaze from the thing outside and gazed quizzically at Allyson. She smiled and shrugged up at him before indicating he should return his attention to the street.
     “The sandflea. Look! She’s going already,” Allyson whispered, pointing excitedly.
     Sure enough, the thing outside had resumed its forward crawl, and in another moment it passed almost to the point where they could no longer see it from where they stood.
     “Whew! She’s gone.” Paul took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “At least, I think she’s gone. Ally?” He looked to Allyson while Dusty slumped wearily against the wall once again.
     Allyson waited before answering, a faraway look in her eyes. “Yeah, she’s gone,” she said finally. “For now,” she added.
     “How comforting,” Dusty muttered. “What was that anyway?”
     Paul indicated to his daughter with a practiced go on, you tell it gesture.
     “Well, like I said, she’s the sandflea,” Allyson began. “I can’t say I know exactly what she is, I mean, neither of us really know. From what we can tell, she makes those awful screams right before she splits.”
     “Splits?” Dusty asked, his tone at once intrigued and disgusted. “What does that mean? You mean before she leaves or something?”
     “Um...” Allyson looked at Paul briefly, amusement flashing in her emerald eyes. “No, not ‘splits’ like that. I mean she literally splits.” She put her hands together and pulled them apart rapidly as she spoke. “You know? Like, splits herself. In two.”
     Dusty’s expression turned blank, all ability to even feel repulsed by what he was hearing draining from his body. “Oh,” he said flatly.
     Allyson giggled and tossed her ponytail, obviously delighted at Dusty’s reaction. “I know, I know, it sounds gross, right?” She giggled again before abruptly turning serious. “Well, even so... That’s why we call her ‘she,’ because it’s like she’s, you know, multiplying or whatever.”
     “Obviously that could be a very incorrect interpretation given our current setting, of course,” Paul interjected.
     “Yeah.” Allyson nodded her agreement.
     “Wait a minute,” Dusty started as he pushed himself away from the wall. “If it, she, whatever, splits, then there must be a whole lot of those sandfleas, right? I mean, you called her the sandflea...”
     Allyson nodded again. “You’re right. There are a whole bunch but only one walks around the city at a time. Every time one splits, that one goes and the new one takes her place.”
     “Goes?”
     “Yeah, there’s a... like a nest outside the city, way out near the mountains. Only the newest one stays here in the Onyx City.” She shrugged lightly. “We have no idea why.”
     “Have you seen this nest?” Dusty asked, morbid curiosity getting the better of him, even as more pressing concerns nagged at the corner of his mind. “How many are there?”
     “Sixty-seven,” Allyson answered. She indicated the street with a tilt of her head. “Until she splits anyway. Then she’ll be sandflea sixty-eight.”
     Dusty sighed deeply and ran a hand through his hair, turning his face up to the crimson sky. He felt like he had been traveling for eons without making any progress toward a destination that now seemed unreachable.
     “All right, enough of this,” Paul spoke out suddenly. “Now it’s really time we got down to business.”
     “Yeah, okay,” Dusty relented. “Well, I’m Dusty Grein. And you were right before – I’m trying to get to the tower so I can find the Western Paladin.”
     Paul and Allyson exchanged another glance.
     “We know,” Paul said almost apologetically. “We know who you are.”
     Dusty just gazed steadily at his companions, no longer surprised by anything they told him. “Really...?” he muttered, resisting the urge to roll his eyes again.
     “Yeah, look, I’m sorry, I know we kind of ambushed you back there...” Paul trailed off, flashing a boyish grin. “Well, what matters is that we’re here now.”
     Dusty gave a half-hearted smile of his own, resigned, for the moment, to listening.
     “So, here’s the explanation I owe you,” Paul continued. “My daughter and I are, well, let’s just say, travelers. We’ve traveled to many different worlds, although as you’ve undoubtedly noticed, we’re from the same world as you.
     “Allyson here is a seer. Her visions have gotten us out of some pretty tight spots, I’ll tell you that. Like before, with the sandflea.”
     Dusty flashed back to the sight of Allyson stumbling, eyes closed and hand to her head.
     “But mostly, Ally’s visions tell us where to be and when. It’s that simple. See, it was in a vision that she saw you on your way to the tower and the Western Paladin beyond.”
     “Is that right?” Dusty crossed his arms over his chest. “What else did you see?”
     Allyson shrugged modestly. “I know you’re looking for the Tall One. And the artifact.”
     Dusty narrowed his eyes at the girl, unwilling to confirm her remark or to show how disconcerted he was at the knowledge of his quest that she possessed.
     “I know it must seem strange,” Paul offered, “but we’re here to help you. That’s truly why we came looking for you. Just to help you.”
     “Hmm...,” Dusty murmured noncommittally. There was no denying that it would be useful to have someone with him on his journey, which had already proven to be as difficult and as dangerous as promised by the guardian before he left his own world. Still, he did not trust that anyone would offer such assistance without some kind of ulterior motive.
     Dusty looked from Paul to Allyson, considering what they had told him and what they might be holding back. He quickly made a decision, one that would hopefully allow him to find what he came for and return to his world as fast as possible. He looked grimly to the rapidly darkening sky before speaking. “All right. If you want to help, fine, I won’t stop you. I might even be grateful for the favor.” He tried to clear his mind, suddenly overcome with a deep and abiding exhaustion. “I understand the city will change at sunset. So, I suggest that we head for the tower and try to get there as fast as possible. Although I’ve been walking for hours, it seems, and I haven’t gotten any closer at all, so...” Dusty trailed off.
     Paul and Allyson looked visibly relieved at Dusty’s words, a reaction that added to his unease rather than relieving it.
     “Don’t worry about that,” Allyson said cheerfully. “I know how to get to the tower.”
     “Oh?”
     “Oh, yeah,” Allyson said with assurance. “Shall we?”
     A strong sensation of déjà vu settled over Dusty as he followed Allyson through the barrier into the street, and he wondered, as Paul’s grin flashed in the corner of his eye, whether he might still live to regret his decision.
#fantasy  #fiction  #horror  #proseuniverse 
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Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction

The Devil's Intern Part 2

Internship Week began!

All the adults from various businesses all across Brimstone met and interviewed with their assigned students. They talked and shook hands. Some students were ecstatic to work with their representatives while others were only interested in getting a grade for their assignments. 

Among the students and adults were Rosemary, Joshua, and their friends all gathered around Mrs. Gravely and Mr. Marlow. Both Mrs. Gravely and Mr. Marlow were dressed in their talk show attire. Following them around was their trusted cameraman from the studio they worked at. Some of the kids gathered around them briefly to get their five seconds of fame, without the two adults noticing them.

"I'm Marcus Marlow!" Marcus spoke to the camera.

"I'm Carmen Gravely!" Carmen also said.

"I'm Krystal Lotsadeux!" Krystal joined in.

"Ooh, good opening," Mr. Marlow commented, "And it's time to see What's Hot in Brimstone." 

"We're here at Brimstone Elementary for a very special week," Mrs. Gravely told the viewers. "This is an event called Internship Week where the fifth graders are tasked with well established business here in our town, to learn more about them and to maybe one day become successful in their future careers when they're older."

"That's right Carmen," Mr. Marlow agreed, "Our special intern for the week is Krystal Lotsadeux, heiress to the Lotsadeux estate, and she'll be learning from us on how to look good on camera."

"Good thing I already do." Krystal commented. The two adults laughed.

Mr. Marlow then told the viewers. "Come join us later after the commercial break as we show dear Krystal around the studio as our special guest star."

The camera man shouted cut. A thumbs up from him was a clear sign that he got what he needed.

"Oh this is gonna be exciting." Carmen Gravely said. "You kids are taking your first, big to adulthood."

"It's a big honor and responsibility," Marcus Marlow added, "You all ought to feel proud."

Mrs. Gravely then focused her attention towards Joshua, "So Joshua, Rosie tells me that you'll be interning with Lu for the week."

"Uh, yeah," a nervous Joshua said, "It should be... well... I'm not entirely sure there's a word to describe this."

"I know that Lu can be... over enthusiastic. But he generally has a good heart deep down. Very, very deep down. And don't worry, he promised not to do anything too hectic or showboating."

The fire alarm suddenly rang inside the gymnasium. The students and adults moved away from a corner where a massive fire erupted. The fire then shot up and formed a rectangular archway. At its core it birthed a swirling portal. The spectators watched fearfully as odd shadows encroached the haunting doorway.

Out of the fire portal were a clan of heavily armored soldiers. Eight of them marching out of the open mouth. The portal's flames reflected off their polished black armor. Their horned helmets masked their faces but their visors were focused straight ahead. Their arms hauled large machine guns unlike anything manufactured on earth and their backs were sheathed swords. The rhythmic stomps from their metal-clad boots sent tremors throughout the gymnasium.

The soldiers finally came to a halt. They turned and faced each other, weapons at their shoulders. Then out of the same portal was another large figure. It was a large throne made of black gold. Sitting upon his throne was the devil himself, giving his most sinister of smiles to the crowd. His scarlet eyes, his well-dressed red suit, his black hair moussed back that it resembled a pair of horns, and his small goatee below his lips. The towering throne was hauled by dozens of people below it. They were very frail, their dirty, grey skin was close to the bone. They were also hairless and dressed in tattered rags. The servants all looked similar to each other which made it difficult to determine their gender, but they also looked to close to being human. 

The throne came to the stop. A couple of the souls ran in front of the throne and made themselves into a human stairway. Lu waltzed his way down their back, some of the servants groaned as he walked down.

"Well at least it's not too hectic," Carmen said.

"Where is he?" Lu called out with enthusiasm. His smile grew ever so wicked. "Where's my intern at?"

The crowd then pointed at Joshua. "Um, right here, sir." The boy gulped.

"Josh, Joshie, good to seeing you, lad!" Lu rushed forward to the young Wordworth. His cold hand snatched up the boy's and he wildly shook it all about.

"Always a pleasure to see you, sir,"

"Sir? Whoa now, you don't have to call me sir. Every time I hear that I have to check over my shoulder to make sure my Father's not there. Call Lu! Or call me Lucifer, Satan, The Big S. Call me whatever you'd like, just don't call me late for dinner."

The devil turned to his throne. "CARD!" he angrily demanded. One of the souls hurried over from the throne to the devil's side. The soul's weak arm, which shook like a dead twig in a wind storm, held up a small business card. 

The devil swiped it away from the soul and growled. "Now go be useless elsewhere!"

One of the guards grabbed the soul by its throat and heaved it back to the fiery portal. The other guards forced the slaves to carry the heavy throne back to their realm as the doorway closed permanently behind once they entered back through. Now only Lu was the sole remaining demon among the human world. 

Lu's attitude changed back to his chipper state. "For you, Mr. Wordworth."

"Thanks but I already have your card." Josh kindly said.

"Not mine. Yours." the devil corrected. "I just had these crafted overnight."

Joshua then took the card. A small smile formed on his face as he read his name off the card, and it mentioned him being a trainee. It was his very own business card.

The gymnasium doors then burst wide open. "Joshua Wordworth!" Everyone jumped when they heard Principal Wordworth holler at his son. "You are not going anywhere, young man!"

Both Joshua and Lu stared at the madden lady. Sweat dripped off their foreheads and their hearts raced faster than ever. 

Mrs. Wordworth calmed herself and held up a lunchbox. "You forgot your lunch in the car." The principal walked to her son and gave him his lunch. Joshua smiled and thanked his loving parent. 

Mrs. Wordworth's smile morphed into a scowl as she looked at Lu. "I want my son to come back in one piece. You hear?! Or so help me God-"

"I can give you two guarantees, ma'am," Lu interrupted. "One: Pops won't help ya. Two: he'll be fine. Now excuse me for I think some pastries call for my attention."

Lu walked away from the group and towards where the bakers were at. He gobbled up as many free samples he could fit. 

"Alright Joshua," Gloria Wordworth added, handing her son his backpack, "I've packed your books, your pencils, your bible, a few bottles of holy water to protect yourself from Satan and his followers' possession. Do you still have your rosary?"

Josh pulled out his mother's rosary out of his shirt to help assure her confidence. "Right here." he muttered.

"Good. Be safe, my son. You are my greatest gift from God."

She hugged and kissed her son goodbye just as Lu returned. The crowd and students went on with the fair. Lu kissed his wife and stepdaughter a farewell and led Joshua outside. There in the middle of the street was the crooked elevator that always appeared inside the Gravely home. Joshua always saw it whenever he was over but never set foot inside it, fearing its demonic power.

"I thought that was part of Rosemary's house?" he asked.

"Oh no," Lu assured his young intern. "This isn't just an elevator. This contraption allows us to travel from your world to mine, crossing through different dimensions in any direction I so choose. What? Did you really think that my world was directly below yours? My boy, you've got a lot to learn, and I'm just the teacher to show you."

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Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction
The Devil's Intern Part 2
Internship Week began!

All the adults from various businesses all across Brimstone met and interviewed with their assigned students. They talked and shook hands. Some students were ecstatic to work with their representatives while others were only interested in getting a grade for their assignments. 

Among the students and adults were Rosemary, Joshua, and their friends all gathered around Mrs. Gravely and Mr. Marlow. Both Mrs. Gravely and Mr. Marlow were dressed in their talk show attire. Following them around was their trusted cameraman from the studio they worked at. Some of the kids gathered around them briefly to get their five seconds of fame, without the two adults noticing them.

"I'm Marcus Marlow!" Marcus spoke to the camera.

"I'm Carmen Gravely!" Carmen also said.

"I'm Krystal Lotsadeux!" Krystal joined in.

"Ooh, good opening," Mr. Marlow commented, "And it's time to see What's Hot in Brimstone." 

"We're here at Brimstone Elementary for a very special week," Mrs. Gravely told the viewers. "This is an event called Internship Week where the fifth graders are tasked with well established business here in our town, to learn more about them and to maybe one day become successful in their future careers when they're older."

"That's right Carmen," Mr. Marlow agreed, "Our special intern for the week is Krystal Lotsadeux, heiress to the Lotsadeux estate, and she'll be learning from us on how to look good on camera."

"Good thing I already do." Krystal commented. The two adults laughed.

Mr. Marlow then told the viewers. "Come join us later after the commercial break as we show dear Krystal around the studio as our special guest star."

The camera man shouted cut. A thumbs up from him was a clear sign that he got what he needed.

"Oh this is gonna be exciting." Carmen Gravely said. "You kids are taking your first, big to adulthood."

"It's a big honor and responsibility," Marcus Marlow added, "You all ought to feel proud."

Mrs. Gravely then focused her attention towards Joshua, "So Joshua, Rosie tells me that you'll be interning with Lu for the week."

"Uh, yeah," a nervous Joshua said, "It should be... well... I'm not entirely sure there's a word to describe this."

"I know that Lu can be... over enthusiastic. But he generally has a good heart deep down. Very, very deep down. And don't worry, he promised not to do anything too hectic or showboating."

The fire alarm suddenly rang inside the gymnasium. The students and adults moved away from a corner where a massive fire erupted. The fire then shot up and formed a rectangular archway. At its core it birthed a swirling portal. The spectators watched fearfully as odd shadows encroached the haunting doorway.

Out of the fire portal were a clan of heavily armored soldiers. Eight of them marching out of the open mouth. The portal's flames reflected off their polished black armor. Their horned helmets masked their faces but their visors were focused straight ahead. Their arms hauled large machine guns unlike anything manufactured on earth and their backs were sheathed swords. The rhythmic stomps from their metal-clad boots sent tremors throughout the gymnasium.

The soldiers finally came to a halt. They turned and faced each other, weapons at their shoulders. Then out of the same portal was another large figure. It was a large throne made of black gold. Sitting upon his throne was the devil himself, giving his most sinister of smiles to the crowd. His scarlet eyes, his well-dressed red suit, his black hair moussed back that it resembled a pair of horns, and his small goatee below his lips. The towering throne was hauled by dozens of people below it. They were very frail, their dirty, grey skin was close to the bone. They were also hairless and dressed in tattered rags. The servants all looked similar to each other which made it difficult to determine their gender, but they also looked to close to being human. 

The throne came to the stop. A couple of the souls ran in front of the throne and made themselves into a human stairway. Lu waltzed his way down their back, some of the servants groaned as he walked down.

"Well at least it's not too hectic," Carmen said.

"Where is he?" Lu called out with enthusiasm. His smile grew ever so wicked. "Where's my intern at?"

The crowd then pointed at Joshua. "Um, right here, sir." The boy gulped.

"Josh, Joshie, good to seeing you, lad!" Lu rushed forward to the young Wordworth. His cold hand snatched up the boy's and he wildly shook it all about.

"Always a pleasure to see you, sir,"

"Sir? Whoa now, you don't have to call me sir. Every time I hear that I have to check over my shoulder to make sure my Father's not there. Call Lu! Or call me Lucifer, Satan, The Big S. Call me whatever you'd like, just don't call me late for dinner."

The devil turned to his throne. "CARD!" he angrily demanded. One of the souls hurried over from the throne to the devil's side. The soul's weak arm, which shook like a dead twig in a wind storm, held up a small business card. 

The devil swiped it away from the soul and growled. "Now go be useless elsewhere!"

One of the guards grabbed the soul by its throat and heaved it back to the fiery portal. The other guards forced the slaves to carry the heavy throne back to their realm as the doorway closed permanently behind once they entered back through. Now only Lu was the sole remaining demon among the human world. 

Lu's attitude changed back to his chipper state. "For you, Mr. Wordworth."

"Thanks but I already have your card." Josh kindly said.

"Not mine. Yours." the devil corrected. "I just had these crafted overnight."

Joshua then took the card. A small smile formed on his face as he read his name off the card, and it mentioned him being a trainee. It was his very own business card.

The gymnasium doors then burst wide open. "Joshua Wordworth!" Everyone jumped when they heard Principal Wordworth holler at his son. "You are not going anywhere, young man!"

Both Joshua and Lu stared at the madden lady. Sweat dripped off their foreheads and their hearts raced faster than ever. 

Mrs. Wordworth calmed herself and held up a lunchbox. "You forgot your lunch in the car." The principal walked to her son and gave him his lunch. Joshua smiled and thanked his loving parent. 

Mrs. Wordworth's smile morphed into a scowl as she looked at Lu. "I want my son to come back in one piece. You hear?! Or so help me God-"

"I can give you two guarantees, ma'am," Lu interrupted. "One: Pops won't help ya. Two: he'll be fine. Now excuse me for I think some pastries call for my attention."

Lu walked away from the group and towards where the bakers were at. He gobbled up as many free samples he could fit. 

"Alright Joshua," Gloria Wordworth added, handing her son his backpack, "I've packed your books, your pencils, your bible, a few bottles of holy water to protect yourself from Satan and his followers' possession. Do you still have your rosary?"

Josh pulled out his mother's rosary out of his shirt to help assure her confidence. "Right here." he muttered.

"Good. Be safe, my son. You are my greatest gift from God."

She hugged and kissed her son goodbye just as Lu returned. The crowd and students went on with the fair. Lu kissed his wife and stepdaughter a farewell and led Joshua outside. There in the middle of the street was the crooked elevator that always appeared inside the Gravely home. Joshua always saw it whenever he was over but never set foot inside it, fearing its demonic power.

"I thought that was part of Rosemary's house?" he asked.

"Oh no," Lu assured his young intern. "This isn't just an elevator. This contraption allows us to travel from your world to mine, crossing through different dimensions in any direction I so choose. What? Did you really think that my world was directly below yours? My boy, you've got a lot to learn, and I'm just the teacher to show you."
#fantasy  #fiction  #horror  #comedy  #sinsofthefather 
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Written by Lashay in portal Romance & Erotica

I just wanna

suck him dry

under the table

Bon appétit

While his mouth

is wet

from the pie a la mode

I fixed

from scratch

We'll both dig in

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Written by Lashay in portal Romance & Erotica
I just wanna
suck him dry
under the table
Bon appétit
While his mouth
is wet
from the pie a la mode
I fixed
from scratch

We'll both dig in
#fantasy  #nonfiction  #romance 
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You kill yourself...what happens next to your essential being?
Written by AlSalehi

After, Life

There is this strange sense I feel,

outside of myself.

I see the plates of the earth moving,

leaves aging and falling,

winds blowing fast and dry.

I hear sounds like hawks screaming,

and somehow,

as this world is turning,

I,

am nowhere.

Copyright © 1986-2017

Al Salehi

All Rights Reserved

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You kill yourself...what happens next to your essential being?
Written by AlSalehi
After, Life
There is this strange sense I feel,
outside of myself.
I see the plates of the earth moving,
leaves aging and falling,
winds blowing fast and dry.

I hear sounds like hawks screaming,
and somehow,
as this world is turning,
I,
am nowhere.


Copyright © 1986-2017
Al Salehi
All Rights Reserved
#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction  #nonfiction  #horror  #adventure  #poetry  #science  #philosophy  #mystery  #spirituality  #culture  #opinion 
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Tell us some quotes from one of your characters. Some backstory or a link to a story written with that character in it would be a nice addiction. Tag me!
Written by a060147 in portal Fiction

"so shut up and stay here until i get back."

The bird lays motionless in her paws, small rib cage racking with every breath. Heartbeat quickening too much and then not; pulse becoming more and more sporadic by the minute. There isn't much time, she knows. There can't be that much luck left. While fleeing into the warehouse -- little-brother-turned-bird in tow, injured paw screaming with each step -- had seemed like a good idea at the moment, her plan had ended exactly then. Run from pursuers here, deposit brother there until she could find the old woman again. She'd never actually anticipated him getting trampled by equipment, or her paw being crushed under a wheel. She'd never thought she'd be a second too late. But here she is, glass-eyed from both the shock and the pain. Trying to pretend this wouldn't be her brother's deathbed.

She speaks first, in the quiet of the air. Her throat purrs uneasily. "I-I'm so --"

"I'm okay," he breathes. "We're okay. I should've listened to you in the first place. Those carts -- those things really pack a punch, don't they? Never thought they were that heavy when we were human." His gaze is more focused than she'd expected when he fixes her with it, clacking his beak, and it takes control not to drop him. He doesn't seem to notice. He lets out a laugh that sounds more like a wheeze. Continues: "At least I reminded that old woman of her grandson, right? That probably kept her from turning us into snails or something."

Damn that old woman. Damn her and her games, her questions, this stupid curse she'd placed on the both of them. Who are they to pay off their parents' debt? Who are they to suffer for some obscure exchange someone else had made in the past? Her feline pupils trail the injured, feathered body of her brother, still holding on. A broken wing, a useless leg, and a fractured rib cage. Probably. This is -- no, she couldn't think like that -- this may seem like his deathbed for now, but he still has time to live. Three days, at most. But they'd already gotten this far. Three days might be just enough.

And she sure as hell isn't about to spend the rest of her life as a cat.

He's opening his beak to speak again; she cuts him off. "I'm going to find her," she growls. "I'm going to find her, and when I do, she's changing everything back to the way it was before this mess. We're going to return home to Auntie safe and sound, we're going to be human again, and I'm getting you that book you wanted."

"So shut up and stay here until I get back."

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Tell us some quotes from one of your characters. Some backstory or a link to a story written with that character in it would be a nice addiction. Tag me!
Written by a060147 in portal Fiction
"so shut up and stay here until i get back."
The bird lays motionless in her paws, small rib cage racking with every breath. Heartbeat quickening too much and then not; pulse becoming more and more sporadic by the minute. There isn't much time, she knows. There can't be that much luck left. While fleeing into the warehouse -- little-brother-turned-bird in tow, injured paw screaming with each step -- had seemed like a good idea at the moment, her plan had ended exactly then. Run from pursuers here, deposit brother there until she could find the old woman again. She'd never actually anticipated him getting trampled by equipment, or her paw being crushed under a wheel. She'd never thought she'd be a second too late. But here she is, glass-eyed from both the shock and the pain. Trying to pretend this wouldn't be her brother's deathbed.

She speaks first, in the quiet of the air. Her throat purrs uneasily. "I-I'm so --"

"I'm okay," he breathes. "We're okay. I should've listened to you in the first place. Those carts -- those things really pack a punch, don't they? Never thought they were that heavy when we were human." His gaze is more focused than she'd expected when he fixes her with it, clacking his beak, and it takes control not to drop him. He doesn't seem to notice. He lets out a laugh that sounds more like a wheeze. Continues: "At least I reminded that old woman of her grandson, right? That probably kept her from turning us into snails or something."

Damn that old woman. Damn her and her games, her questions, this stupid curse she'd placed on the both of them. Who are they to pay off their parents' debt? Who are they to suffer for some obscure exchange someone else had made in the past? Her feline pupils trail the injured, feathered body of her brother, still holding on. A broken wing, a useless leg, and a fractured rib cage. Probably. This is -- no, she couldn't think like that -- this may seem like his deathbed for now, but he still has time to live. Three days, at most. But they'd already gotten this far. Three days might be just enough.

And she sure as hell isn't about to spend the rest of her life as a cat.

He's opening his beak to speak again; she cuts him off. "I'm going to find her," she growls. "I'm going to find her, and when I do, she's changing everything back to the way it was before this mess. We're going to return home to Auntie safe and sound, we're going to be human again, and I'm getting you that book you wanted."

"So shut up and stay here until I get back."
#fantasy  #fiction  #adventure  #childrens 
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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by BrittneySowards in portal Trident Media Group

AURORA

AWAKENING

         I dreamt I was flying - high up into the clouds. I felt free and alive, more than I ever have before. I just kept going up, up, up - until there were no more clouds. I was in wide, open Space. I suddenly felt exposed and alone. I looked down at the Earth and became afraid. I wanted to go back down, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. I just kept going farther and farther away.

         “Aurora… Aurora…”

         Aurora opened her eyes and grimaced at the bright room. Alfred was standing next to her. She sat up on her bed.

         “Aurora, I was just checking on you. You’ve been asleep for a long time,” Alfred said.

         “How long have I been asleep?”

         “It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon.”

         “I don’t even remember falling asleep…”

         “It’ll be alright. You needed your rest. Want me to cook you something? Or get you anything at all? You must be hungry.”

         “Yes, I am,” Aurora admitted.

         “Alright, if there’s nothing in particular that you would like, I’ll whip you something up.”

         “Okay sounds great, Alfred.”

         He smiled and left the room.

         Aurora stood up. She was still wearing her clothes from yesterday. Yesterday. It felt like just a dream. What had happened after dinner? Did I just fall asleep? She checked her cell phone. 4 missed calls and 3 new text messages. All from Lucille.

        ‘Lucille, I’m fine. Just needed some rest. Will talk to you soon.’ she texted back.

        Later that evening, Lucille came over. There was no way that Aurora could keep the information from Lucille for long or cover up the truth. She was very demanding and could spot a lie a mile away. Plus she was her best friend and Aurora knew she could trust her. She just didn’t exactly know where to begin with the story or if Lucille would even believe her.

         “So what happened yesterday evening? I need to know,” Lucille said.

         Aurora told Lucille everything and when she was finished Lucille just stared at her. Aurora stared back waiting for a response.

         “Well that is the craziest thing I have ever heard,” Lucille said. “I can’t believe that’s why you’re parents died… People were trying to get you?”

         “I guess… I’m not sure if I believe all of it or not. Especially the special abilities part,” Aurora started. “I guess I just don’t know what to believe. It feels like my entire world has been turned upside down. I mean, I’m glad I have answers now, but the answers are just... too crazy, you know?”

         “Yeah,” Lucille agreed, eyes wide. “Did your Godfather say anything about what was going to happen in New York?”

         “No," Aurora shook her head. I actually forgot to ask him. Things just got too overwhelming...”

         “You should ask him next time you see him.”

         “Yeah I should,” Aurora agreed.

          "We have to figure this out...” Lucille said with a sigh.

GONE

         “Lyra is a small constellation. Its principle star is Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky. Lyra is visible high in the northern hemisphere from spring through autumn. In the winter months, it is visible low in the northern sky.” Mr. Lopez stated. “Take a look at the board to see what the constellation of Lyra looks like.”

         Mr. Lopez hit a button on his presentation pointer to show the next slide of the PowerPoint presentation – a photo of the constellation of Lyra. Lucille was hardly paying attention to what he was saying. She was picking at her cuticles thinking about Keenan.

She looked over at Aurora. She was staring at the board, eyes wide open. I don’t see how she can be so interested in this pointless stuff.

         Mr. Lopez clicked to reveal the next slide. “Lyra is bordered by Hercules, Vulpecula, Cygnus, and Draco,” he said.

         Suddenly there was a loud thudding sound. What was that? Lucille and the other students looked around the room. All except for Aurora. Her head was down on her desk.   

        What the- ?

         Mr. Lopez noticed and flipped on the lights. Lucille got up from her desk and walked over to Aurora. She tapped on her shoulder.

         “Aurora, are you alright?” she asked with fear in her voice.

         Aurora didn’t respond.

         Mr. Lopez made his way over to Aurora’s desk.

         “Oh my gosh, is she dead?” a student named Laura gasped.

         Other than that, the room was silent. All of the students were watching in horror to see what would happen next.

         Mr. Lopez tapped on Aurora’s shoulder. “Aurora? Aurora! Are you okay? Wake up hunny!”

         “Is she breathing?” Lucille asked.

         Mr. Lopez lifted Aurora’s head. Her eyes were closed. He held his hand up to her mouth and felt her warm breath.

         “Yes, she’s breathing,” he replied. He lifted her up from her desk and held her in his arms. “Class, I want you to turn to page two hundred and sixty four in your science books and start reading. I’m taking Aurora to the nurse.”

         “But she’s my best friend! Let me go with you,” Lucille said.

         Mr. Lopez was about to object, but realized he didn’t have time to waste arguing with her. “Alright, let’s go,” he said.

         Mr. Lopez, carrying Aurora, and Lucille left the classroom leaving the worried students whispering behind. There wasn’t going to be any reading getting done in there.

         Mrs. Jenkins, the school secretary, gasped when they all came into the school office. “What on Earth happened?” she asked.

         “Aurora passed out at her desk. She hasn’t woken up. I need you to call an ambulance,” Mr. Lopez said.

         Mrs. Jenkins got on the phone immediately.

         Mr. Lopez carried her past Mrs. Jenkins desk and down the small hallway to the nurse’s office. Lucille followed. The door was already opened, but the room was empty. He walked in and laid her down on the small cot.

         “Lucille, go find Mrs. Williams. I want her to take a look at Aurora before the ambulance gets here,” Mr. Lopez said.

         Lucille quickly left the room to find the school nurse.

         Mr. Lopez bent down in a squatting position beside the cot that Aurora was laying on. “Aurora? Wake up please,” he demanded. “Aurora, wake up.”

         Suddenly Aurora’s eyes opened wide and she gasped, filling her lungs full of air.

        She whispered, “I- I- I remem-“

         “You what?” Mr. Lopez asked.

         Then she closed her eyes again and she was gone. Not dead, but clearly not here.

FLASHBACK

         “Kira, you need to listen to me. I don’t know how much longer we can stay. Most everybody has gone. We should too. We are not safe. Our baby is not safe.” Adonis glanced over at his daughter sleeping snug in her cradle. He took Kira’s face in his hands and looked deep into her purple sparkling eyes. The look of worry was all over his face.

        Kira placed her hands on Adonis’ hands. “Adonis, my love,” she said softly. “I understand your concern for I feel the same as you. I will speak to the other members of the Lyran Federation, but this is our home and as a fellow member of the federation, it is my duty to help our citizens that have remained here. You know what will happen. They will let you and her go, and I will have to stay. I know in my heart that is the right thing to do, but you don’t agree.”

         Adonis grabbed onto Kira's arms. “No, Kira. You must come with me. I cannot leave you."

         “One day soon you may have to. To save our baby.”

         Supreme Commander Deonor Korrik stood at his crystal white podium in the center of room. He faced the group of fellow Lyran Federation members and spoke. “Members of the Lyran Federation, we meet here today to discuss our current situation with the Alpha Draconians. To sum up the recent events – one thousand of our Vegan citizens left on V.S.S. Storm for safe passage to Orion. Five thousand of our Vegan citizens left on The Alrosa for safe passage to Sirius. Currently Arcturus, the Pleiades, and planet Earth are being considered as options. Possibly Venus and Mars. Forty-five million Vegan citizens have been murdered and the numbers are increasing every day. I believe it is our duty to get as many of our citizens to safety as we possibly can and as soon as we possibly can. V.S.S. Coventry One is being prepared as we speak for five thousand more of our citizens. We have three thousand citizens aboard our ship and around ten thousand more on the ground. These citizens are cowering in fear in their homes, being turned into slaves, or into dinner. We need to act and we need to act now!”

         S.C. Korrik slammed his fist onto the podium. Although he was trying to keep his composure, Kira could see how visibly angry he was, and was also easily able to see how deep down he was starting to feel hopeless. She could see shimmers of sweat appearing on his dark skin. Usually he was a very unemotional being trying to appear as a strong leader, but all of the negativity on their home planet was causing everyone to get shook up.

         Ronaya, a red-headed, pale-skinned Federation member and good friend of Kira spoke. “Sir,” she said. “When will V.S.S. Coventry One be ready to leave? I’ve had many citizens ask me, and I promised them I would return with an answer.”

         “I have been informed that it will be ready to leave by the end of today or at the latest, tomorrow morning,” S.C. Korrik said.

         “Thank you sir,” Ronaya said.

         “Anybody else have any questions?” S.C. Korrik asked.

         “I do,” Kira replied.

         “Go ahead.”

         “As you know, I am very concerned about our citizens and getting them to safety, but also with the increasing destruction all around us every day, I am concerned with our safety as well as our families and other citizens aboard our own ship. With two of our ships already destroyed, who is to say that our ship will not be next? I do not want to abandon our dear home and give it up to the Alpha Draconians, but how far are we willing to go? How long will we wait and what needs to occur before we leave as well to find safety for ourselves?”

         “Kira, I think about this every day and I’m sure other members of our Federation have thought the same thing,” S.C. Korrik sympathized. “I believe that there will be a time when we will need to go, but right now we need to try to save as many as our people as possible. We need to focus now on V.S.S. Coventry’s departure. I am employing seven thousand more Giants to go to the ground and rescue as many citizens as possible, as well as to destroy as many Draconians as possible. Captain Berenk is working now to get into contact with our allies to arrange more safe passages for our citizens. I will get into contact with you all again at this evenings meeting to discuss whether V.S.S. Coventry is ready for departure and to where it is departing to.”

         “What if we send our families and the citizens aboard this ship to safety and only we stay behind?” Kira asked.

         “We will have to vote,” S.C. Korrik answered. “All in favor of sending our families and citizens to safety while we stay behind raise your hand.”

Kira raised her hand. She knew this way was the only way Adonis and Aurora would be safe. Even if she had to stay behind, she was willing to do whatever it took to save her family. She had to act quickly before their ship was targeted and wiped out by the Draconians.

         She looked around the room. Two male Federation members, Reynar and Eusto, raised their hands. Ronaya looked like she was about to cry. She had three children whom she would have to leave if the vote was passed, but she perked up in her chair and strength poured over her face. She raised her hand. Five more Federation members raised their hands. There were three more who sat with hands unraised.

         “We all need to agree if we are going to do this,” S.C. Korrik said.

         That was a part of their code. If not every member of the Federation agreed to a decision, the decision did not occur. Two more Federation members raised their hands. The member who was left with her hand unraised was a Cat Person like Kira and Adonis. She sat beside of Kira. Her name was Greeta and she had just given birth to a baby boy not even a month ago. Kira put her hand on her shoulder and felt Greeta’s sadness rush into her own body. Greeta sat looking down at her hands deep in thought, searching for a solution other than this one. She knew there were none. She slowly raised her hand.

         “The decision has been made,” S.C. Korrik said. “I will speak with Captain Tanin of The Explorer to prepare transferring the citizens aboard this ship to his. I will also advise Captain Berenk to find a safe place for them to go to as well. If no one has any more questions, let’s get back to our families and start our goodbyes, until we congregate again at this evenings meeting.”

COINCIDENCE

         Aurora opened her eyes. It was too blurry to make out anything. She rubbed them and saw Lucille sitting in the corner of the room in a wooden chair. She was in it sideways with her legs dangling over the arm of one side of the chair and her head resting on the back of it with her arms folded on her stomach. Her long strawberry blonde hair was held back with a red headband. She was barefoot. Her pink flip flops had fallen to the white-gray tiled floor.

         Aurora slowly sat up in bed. She had an IV stuck in her arm and was under a white cotton blanket in a hospital gown. Her body ached.

         “Lucille,” she said.

         Lucille didn’t move.

         “Lucille!” Aurora said, louder this time.

        Lucille jolted awake.

         “Aurora!” she exclaimed, happy to see that she had woken up. She sat up in her chair. “Are you alright?”

         “What happened?” Aurora asked, confused.

         “You passed out in Mr. Lopez’s science class. Don’t you remember?”

         “No,” she answered. “The last thing I remember was sitting in his classroom. He was talking about Lyra.”

         Lyra…

         She looked off into some unknown in the distance.

         “Aurora, snap out of it. What is wrong with you?”

         “I don’t know.”

         “I’m going to go tell the nurse you are awake.”

         Lucille got up from her chair and left the room.

         What happened? she asked herself searching the far corners of her mind. Lyra…

         Lucille and a young woman walked into the room. She hand brown hair up in a ponytail and long bangs. She was wearing teal scrubs and white tennis shoes.

         “Hello Aurora,” she said. “I am your nurse, Marjorie. How are you feeling?”

         “I am a little sore," she admitted. "but other than that I am alright.”

         Marjorie walked up to Aurora. “Let me check your vitals.”

         She took off the stethoscope that was wrapped around her neck and held it to Aurora’s chest and listened for a minute.

         “72. Great,” Marjorie said. “Now breathe in deep... Good.” She moved the stethoscope to Aurora’s back. “Breathe deep again... Good. Now breathe normally… Good.”

         Marjorie put her stethoscope back around her neck. She took off a blood pressure cuff that was hanging on the wall behind Aurora’s bed and wrapped the cuff off her arm.

“You’re just going to feel a little bit of pressure,” she said, as if Aurora had never had her blood pressure taken before. After a moment she said, “It’s a little on the high end, but nothing to be alarmed about.” She put an understanding hand on her shoulder. “You’re in high school. High school is stressful, especially these days. I’d say the cause of your fainting was stress related. Let’s check your temperature, and then I am done here.”

         She took off the blood pressure cuff.

         “Is that alright, Aurora? Do you feel okay to go home?” Marjorie asked.

         “Yes, of course,” Aurora answered with a grin to try to mask her sad confusion.

         Marjorie placed a thermometer in Aurora’s mouth. It didn’t take long to beep to let the nurse know it had found it. Marjorie removed the thermometer from Aurora’s mouth and looked down to read it.

         “97.9. Yep you are going to be fine,” she said with a smile. “Just relax. We contacted your Godfather, and your butler Alfred is on his way to get you.” She left the room.

         “I knew you would be fine,” Lucille said. She sat down on the edge of the bed. “So what should we do until Alfred gets here?”

         “What’s there to do in a hospital room?” Aurora asked.

         Lucille laughed. “Well we could watch TV. Hand me the remote.”

         It was sitting on an overbed metal table wheeled onto the other side of the hospital bed. Aurora reached over and grabbed the remote then handed it to Lucille.

         “Here you go. Good luck finding something on that,” Aurora joked motioning towards the small TV hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the room.

         Lucille pressed the on button on the remote.

         “…we have reporters at the scene now. Police are outside of the school directing students to safety, while the rest are inside trying to capture the shooter. Edge-”

         Lucille turned the channel. “The style channel… perfect.”

         “Wait! What was that?” Aurora asked.

         “Just some woman on the news,” Lucille replied.

         “Turn it back.”

         Lucille turned the channel back to the news.

         “…we have a hotline ready for parents whose children are at Edgemont High School. Please do not try to call the school. The number to call is at the bottom of the screen. Stay home and stay indoors. Let the police handle this. Moving on to Chris with the weather and then we’ll be back for more updates.”

         “Let the police handle what? What happened at our school?” Aurora asked. Her stomach churned.

         “I’m going to call my Mom,” Lucille said. “I haven’t told her I’m here anyway. Someone’s got to take me home.”

         Lucille took out her cell and dialed. “She’s at work, but she’ll answer.”

          "Mom!” Aurora heard Lucille say into the phone. “What happened at our school? …I’m at the hospital... No I’m not hurt… I didn’t get shot! What are you talking- …Aurora passed out in class and I rode with her to the hospital… No Mom she didn’t get shot. Why do you keep asking us if we got shot? …A shooter! What do you mean? …Oh my gosh…”

         Lucille looked over at Aurora with horror.

         “What?” Aurora whispered, concerned.

         “There’s a shooter at our school right now,” Lucille replied.

         “What are you talking about?”

         “Okay. Okay,” Lucille said into the phone. “I love you too. Bye.”

         She pushed the end button on her cell phone and put it back in her purse. “Mom’s leaving work right now. She’s coming to pick me up. Oh my gosh! I need to call Keenan! I- I can’t believe there’s a shooter at our school right now. We could be there right now. If I wouldn’t have came with you to the hospital… If you wouldn’t have passed out in your desk… How random is it that you passed out anyway?”

         “I guess it’s pretty random,” Aurora admitted.

         “This is crazy…” Lucille said as she dialed Keenan’s cell number.

         Tell me about it.

HIDDEN

         Keenan kept as quiet as he could hiding there in the darkness. His phone vibrated in his pocket. He looked at the bright screen. It was a call from Lucille. He had to ignore it. A rush of worry washed over him, though he was promised she would be alright.

         At 11:10 a.m. he had raised his hand and asked to go to the restroom. Instead of going there, he went straight to the Janitor’s closet and closed the door behind him. He didn’t know why he was supposed to, but he did it because his father had told him to, and he knew from experience to do exactly what he said.

        11:11

        11:12

        At 11.13 a.m. he heard the first gun shot. Then the screams.

Title: Aurora

Classification: Fiction

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Young Adult

Word Count: 11,295 (and counting...)

Type of Work: Novel

Target Age Range: 16-18 Young Adult, 18+ Adult

Hook: As a child, Aurora Spencer was taken in and hidden by her parent’s best friend after they were mysteriously murdered. Now that she is a teenager, she, along with her best friend Lucille, is trying to uncover the secrets of her past. Some even out of this world. She finds that being aware of those secrets is unlocking abilities within her that she will need to use to stop the corruption the world is headed towards. Will she find out who she really is? Can she save the world?

Synopsis: Aurora has always known that she was not a typical teenager. Her parents were murdered when she was a child, her sister mysteriously disappeared, and she was taken in by her parent's best friend whom she calls "Godfather". Little did she know, on the night her parents were murdered, the murderer was actually after her. Knowing that Aurora has secret abilities, someone or some group is out to get her. Godfather is aware of all of this. He protected Aurora and her sister on the night of their parent's death by sending Aurora's sister to live with their Aunt and Uncle, and by faking Aurora's death, changing her identity, and bringing her to live with him in his mansion full of antiques and mystery.

        Godfather is a very mysterious man who seems to be always working away from home. Aurora is starting to question what is keeping him away. One day Aurora questions their family butler, Alfred, by asking him why Godfather is going to so many meetings. He seems nervous and ends up mentioning that Godfather doesn't want anyone knowing what he is up to. Alfred refuses to tell Aurora the truth, so she decides to enlist the help of her red-haired best friend Lucille. They sneak into Godfather's office and find a secret email containing details about a mysterious meeting he is having with someone in New York City. While snooping through his file cabinet, Aurora and Lucille find the photos of the crime scene of Aurora's parents murder.

        That evening Aurora further questions Alfred trying to get more information about her Godfather. He tells her that it is up to him to tell her the truth, so Aurora confronts Godfather at dinner. Godfather tells her he wasn't planning on telling her until she was eighteen years old. Aurora rebuttals the argument by stating that she is almost eighteen, so he should just go ahead and tell her. Godfather ends up telling her the truth. He tells her that when she was a child, she had precognitive psychic abilities and she was extremely intelligent. Her parents had to end up taking her out of school, because her teachers were asking too many questions. They ended up calling Child Protective Services and the police and even F.B.I. got involved. They offered millions of dollars to Aurora's parents, so they could do tests on her. Her parents refused, and they moved away trying to hide. That's when Aurora's parent's murder occurred. After that, Aurora no longer used her abilities and they were eventually forgotten. Godfather warns her that if she continues on the path of learning the truth about her life, that it is going to awaken those abilities again. Aurora, filled with rage over the news of the truth of her parent's death, says she is ready.

        Aurora starts having dreams and visions about an extraterrestrial humanoid couple named Adonis and Kira and their baby. They are in a space ship flying over the planet Vega located in the Lyran constellation. The Draconians are destroying their planet and killing the civilians. Kira, part of the Lyran Federation, is working with her team members to rescue the civilians and escape to a nearby safe and hospitable planet. The problem is that Adonis and their baby will not be able to stay with Kira. Adonis is a civilian, so he has to escape to safety while Kira has to stay on the ship and continue the work of the Federation until the Draconians are defeated.

        These dreams and visions affect Aurora mentally and physically causing her to sleep more and even pass out. During a hospital visit, Aurora and Lucille, who is staying in the hospital with her, find out that there was a shooting at their high school. The school ends up implementing stricter rules for their "safety" and the rest of the country follows. This causes riots and chaos bringing the country to a more militarized police state.

One night, Aurora ends up stuck in the middle of one of the riots and is in danger. She gets saved by a boy named Luca. She ends up passing out and he carries her to safety.        

        While she is half-conscious, she begins having visions of Kira and Adonis and their baby, and all the truth comes out to her. SHE is the baby. She is an extraterrestrial. She was sent to Earth, the next planetary victim of the Draconians, to help destroy them once and for all. Her Earth parents adopted her. Godfather is one of the human's who know the truth about the extraterrestrials and their mission. So he has been her protector and followed her through her life even before she was adopted. When she comes to, Luca is still there with her, feeling this need to keep her safe and be connected with someone while the world around them is falling apart. They quickly fall in love.

        After Aurora tells Godfather that she knows who she really is, he tells her that the Draconians are who are after Aurora. They enlisted help from human's, in exchange for power and wealth, to gain power and control over the world while they hide behind the scenes. They found out the Lyran's sent one of their own to hide as a human to keep watch over the Earth and help destroy the Draconians. They are who are responsible for Aurora's parents death.

        "Aurora" exists at a time in the future where it's normal for people to have robots in their homes, self-driveable cars, and flying cars are even in the works. Lucille's boyfriend, Keenan, states that they already invented flying cars a long time ago, they just didn't think the civilians were smart enough to use them. Keenan lives in a "smart house" with robots for cooks and maids. His parents are rich and there are some rumors that they are in the C.I.A. or even some secret society. Lucille has never considered the rumors to be true, but once she overhears a conversation between Keenan's mother and father, she starts to question who they really are too. She asks Aurora and Luca for help feeling that Keenan's parent's are somehow connected to Aurora.

        Keenan finds out what they are up to and tells his parent's not knowing that it is going to lead to Lucille's death. Although he knew the truth about his parent's all along and was enlisted by them to spy on Aurora until they were ready to kidnap her, he honestly is in love with Lucille, and horribly regrets his decision. After Keenan's parents murder Lucille and dump her body, they come after Aurora ready to kidnap her and finish what they started a long time ago. They kidnap Aurora and lock her up. They laugh at Aurora and tell her the truth about them working for the Draconians, because they are sure that it is the end of her.

        The Lyran's wish to save Aurora, but the Earth is surrounded by weaponized satellites that would wipe them out when they got into it's atmosphere with their ship. The Supreme Commander says there is nothing they can do. Kira, desperate to save her daughter and filled with guilt from sending her to Earth, ends up discovering a way to block the satellites.

        Keenan, who is extremely angry over the death of his girlfriend, finds out where his parent's are keeping Aurora. He tells Luca where she is and they go to rescue her. Keenan's parents try to stop them and Keenan ends up killing his mother and then taking his own life. Luca fights Keenan's father, but is not even close to being as skilled in fighting as he is, and gets severely injured. That's when the Lyran's step in and save the day.

        They take Aurora and Luca aboard their ship. Aurora meets her real parents. Adonis and Kira go against the Supreme Commander's orders and refuse to let her stay on Earth and continue the mission. They plan to take Aurora to safety. Aurora refuses to leave Luca and planet Earth. She states she is going to continue the mission and save Earth and it's people from the Draconians. Kira and Adonis can't stop her and have to let her do what she wishes. They fly her and Luca back to Earth and this is when the story ends.

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AURORA
AWAKENING
         I dreamt I was flying - high up into the clouds. I felt free and alive, more than I ever have before. I just kept going up, up, up - until there were no more clouds. I was in wide, open Space. I suddenly felt exposed and alone. I looked down at the Earth and became afraid. I wanted to go back down, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t. I just kept going farther and farther away.


         “Aurora… Aurora…”
         Aurora opened her eyes and grimaced at the bright room. Alfred was standing next to her. She sat up on her bed.
         “Aurora, I was just checking on you. You’ve been asleep for a long time,” Alfred said.
         “How long have I been asleep?”
         “It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon.”
         “I don’t even remember falling asleep…”
         “It’ll be alright. You needed your rest. Want me to cook you something? Or get you anything at all? You must be hungry.”
         “Yes, I am,” Aurora admitted.
         “Alright, if there’s nothing in particular that you would like, I’ll whip you something up.”
         “Okay sounds great, Alfred.”
         He smiled and left the room.
         Aurora stood up. She was still wearing her clothes from yesterday. Yesterday. It felt like just a dream. What had happened after dinner? Did I just fall asleep? She checked her cell phone. 4 missed calls and 3 new text messages. All from Lucille.
        ‘Lucille, I’m fine. Just needed some rest. Will talk to you soon.’ she texted back.


        Later that evening, Lucille came over. There was no way that Aurora could keep the information from Lucille for long or cover up the truth. She was very demanding and could spot a lie a mile away. Plus she was her best friend and Aurora knew she could trust her. She just didn’t exactly know where to begin with the story or if Lucille would even believe her.
         “So what happened yesterday evening? I need to know,” Lucille said.
         Aurora told Lucille everything and when she was finished Lucille just stared at her. Aurora stared back waiting for a response.
         “Well that is the craziest thing I have ever heard,” Lucille said. “I can’t believe that’s why you’re parents died… People were trying to get you?”
         “I guess… I’m not sure if I believe all of it or not. Especially the special abilities part,” Aurora started. “I guess I just don’t know what to believe. It feels like my entire world has been turned upside down. I mean, I’m glad I have answers now, but the answers are just... too crazy, you know?”
         “Yeah,” Lucille agreed, eyes wide. “Did your Godfather say anything about what was going to happen in New York?”
         “No," Aurora shook her head. I actually forgot to ask him. Things just got too overwhelming...”
         “You should ask him next time you see him.”
         “Yeah I should,” Aurora agreed.
          "We have to figure this out...” Lucille said with a sigh.


GONE
         “Lyra is a small constellation. Its principle star is Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky. Lyra is visible high in the northern hemisphere from spring through autumn. In the winter months, it is visible low in the northern sky.” Mr. Lopez stated. “Take a look at the board to see what the constellation of Lyra looks like.”
         Mr. Lopez hit a button on his presentation pointer to show the next slide of the PowerPoint presentation – a photo of the constellation of Lyra. Lucille was hardly paying attention to what he was saying. She was picking at her cuticles thinking about Keenan.
She looked over at Aurora. She was staring at the board, eyes wide open. I don’t see how she can be so interested in this pointless stuff.
         Mr. Lopez clicked to reveal the next slide. “Lyra is bordered by Hercules, Vulpecula, Cygnus, and Draco,” he said.
         Suddenly there was a loud thudding sound. What was that? Lucille and the other students looked around the room. All except for Aurora. Her head was down on her desk.   
        What the- ?
         Mr. Lopez noticed and flipped on the lights. Lucille got up from her desk and walked over to Aurora. She tapped on her shoulder.
         “Aurora, are you alright?” she asked with fear in her voice.
         Aurora didn’t respond.
         Mr. Lopez made his way over to Aurora’s desk.
         “Oh my gosh, is she dead?” a student named Laura gasped.
         Other than that, the room was silent. All of the students were watching in horror to see what would happen next.
         Mr. Lopez tapped on Aurora’s shoulder. “Aurora? Aurora! Are you okay? Wake up hunny!”
         “Is she breathing?” Lucille asked.
         Mr. Lopez lifted Aurora’s head. Her eyes were closed. He held his hand up to her mouth and felt her warm breath.
         “Yes, she’s breathing,” he replied. He lifted her up from her desk and held her in his arms. “Class, I want you to turn to page two hundred and sixty four in your science books and start reading. I’m taking Aurora to the nurse.”
         “But she’s my best friend! Let me go with you,” Lucille said.
         Mr. Lopez was about to object, but realized he didn’t have time to waste arguing with her. “Alright, let’s go,” he said.
         Mr. Lopez, carrying Aurora, and Lucille left the classroom leaving the worried students whispering behind. There wasn’t going to be any reading getting done in there.
         Mrs. Jenkins, the school secretary, gasped when they all came into the school office. “What on Earth happened?” she asked.
         “Aurora passed out at her desk. She hasn’t woken up. I need you to call an ambulance,” Mr. Lopez said.
         Mrs. Jenkins got on the phone immediately.
         Mr. Lopez carried her past Mrs. Jenkins desk and down the small hallway to the nurse’s office. Lucille followed. The door was already opened, but the room was empty. He walked in and laid her down on the small cot.
         “Lucille, go find Mrs. Williams. I want her to take a look at Aurora before the ambulance gets here,” Mr. Lopez said.
         Lucille quickly left the room to find the school nurse.
         Mr. Lopez bent down in a squatting position beside the cot that Aurora was laying on. “Aurora? Wake up please,” he demanded. “Aurora, wake up.”
         Suddenly Aurora’s eyes opened wide and she gasped, filling her lungs full of air.
        She whispered, “I- I- I remem-“
         “You what?” Mr. Lopez asked.
         Then she closed her eyes again and she was gone. Not dead, but clearly not here.


FLASHBACK
         “Kira, you need to listen to me. I don’t know how much longer we can stay. Most everybody has gone. We should too. We are not safe. Our baby is not safe.” Adonis glanced over at his daughter sleeping snug in her cradle. He took Kira’s face in his hands and looked deep into her purple sparkling eyes. The look of worry was all over his face.
        Kira placed her hands on Adonis’ hands. “Adonis, my love,” she said softly. “I understand your concern for I feel the same as you. I will speak to the other members of the Lyran Federation, but this is our home and as a fellow member of the federation, it is my duty to help our citizens that have remained here. You know what will happen. They will let you and her go, and I will have to stay. I know in my heart that is the right thing to do, but you don’t agree.”
         Adonis grabbed onto Kira's arms. “No, Kira. You must come with me. I cannot leave you."
         “One day soon you may have to. To save our baby.”


         Supreme Commander Deonor Korrik stood at his crystal white podium in the center of room. He faced the group of fellow Lyran Federation members and spoke. “Members of the Lyran Federation, we meet here today to discuss our current situation with the Alpha Draconians. To sum up the recent events – one thousand of our Vegan citizens left on V.S.S. Storm for safe passage to Orion. Five thousand of our Vegan citizens left on The Alrosa for safe passage to Sirius. Currently Arcturus, the Pleiades, and planet Earth are being considered as options. Possibly Venus and Mars. Forty-five million Vegan citizens have been murdered and the numbers are increasing every day. I believe it is our duty to get as many of our citizens to safety as we possibly can and as soon as we possibly can. V.S.S. Coventry One is being prepared as we speak for five thousand more of our citizens. We have three thousand citizens aboard our ship and around ten thousand more on the ground. These citizens are cowering in fear in their homes, being turned into slaves, or into dinner. We need to act and we need to act now!”
         S.C. Korrik slammed his fist onto the podium. Although he was trying to keep his composure, Kira could see how visibly angry he was, and was also easily able to see how deep down he was starting to feel hopeless. She could see shimmers of sweat appearing on his dark skin. Usually he was a very unemotional being trying to appear as a strong leader, but all of the negativity on their home planet was causing everyone to get shook up.
         Ronaya, a red-headed, pale-skinned Federation member and good friend of Kira spoke. “Sir,” she said. “When will V.S.S. Coventry One be ready to leave? I’ve had many citizens ask me, and I promised them I would return with an answer.”
         “I have been informed that it will be ready to leave by the end of today or at the latest, tomorrow morning,” S.C. Korrik said.
         “Thank you sir,” Ronaya said.
         “Anybody else have any questions?” S.C. Korrik asked.
         “I do,” Kira replied.
         “Go ahead.”
         “As you know, I am very concerned about our citizens and getting them to safety, but also with the increasing destruction all around us every day, I am concerned with our safety as well as our families and other citizens aboard our own ship. With two of our ships already destroyed, who is to say that our ship will not be next? I do not want to abandon our dear home and give it up to the Alpha Draconians, but how far are we willing to go? How long will we wait and what needs to occur before we leave as well to find safety for ourselves?”
         “Kira, I think about this every day and I’m sure other members of our Federation have thought the same thing,” S.C. Korrik sympathized. “I believe that there will be a time when we will need to go, but right now we need to try to save as many as our people as possible. We need to focus now on V.S.S. Coventry’s departure. I am employing seven thousand more Giants to go to the ground and rescue as many citizens as possible, as well as to destroy as many Draconians as possible. Captain Berenk is working now to get into contact with our allies to arrange more safe passages for our citizens. I will get into contact with you all again at this evenings meeting to discuss whether V.S.S. Coventry is ready for departure and to where it is departing to.”
         “What if we send our families and the citizens aboard this ship to safety and only we stay behind?” Kira asked.
         “We will have to vote,” S.C. Korrik answered. “All in favor of sending our families and citizens to safety while we stay behind raise your hand.”
Kira raised her hand. She knew this way was the only way Adonis and Aurora would be safe. Even if she had to stay behind, she was willing to do whatever it took to save her family. She had to act quickly before their ship was targeted and wiped out by the Draconians.
         She looked around the room. Two male Federation members, Reynar and Eusto, raised their hands. Ronaya looked like she was about to cry. She had three children whom she would have to leave if the vote was passed, but she perked up in her chair and strength poured over her face. She raised her hand. Five more Federation members raised their hands. There were three more who sat with hands unraised.
         “We all need to agree if we are going to do this,” S.C. Korrik said.
         That was a part of their code. If not every member of the Federation agreed to a decision, the decision did not occur. Two more Federation members raised their hands. The member who was left with her hand unraised was a Cat Person like Kira and Adonis. She sat beside of Kira. Her name was Greeta and she had just given birth to a baby boy not even a month ago. Kira put her hand on her shoulder and felt Greeta’s sadness rush into her own body. Greeta sat looking down at her hands deep in thought, searching for a solution other than this one. She knew there were none. She slowly raised her hand.
         “The decision has been made,” S.C. Korrik said. “I will speak with Captain Tanin of The Explorer to prepare transferring the citizens aboard this ship to his. I will also advise Captain Berenk to find a safe place for them to go to as well. If no one has any more questions, let’s get back to our families and start our goodbyes, until we congregate again at this evenings meeting.”


COINCIDENCE
         Aurora opened her eyes. It was too blurry to make out anything. She rubbed them and saw Lucille sitting in the corner of the room in a wooden chair. She was in it sideways with her legs dangling over the arm of one side of the chair and her head resting on the back of it with her arms folded on her stomach. Her long strawberry blonde hair was held back with a red headband. She was barefoot. Her pink flip flops had fallen to the white-gray tiled floor.
         Aurora slowly sat up in bed. She had an IV stuck in her arm and was under a white cotton blanket in a hospital gown. Her body ached.
         “Lucille,” she said.
         Lucille didn’t move.
         “Lucille!” Aurora said, louder this time.
        Lucille jolted awake.
         “Aurora!” she exclaimed, happy to see that she had woken up. She sat up in her chair. “Are you alright?”
         “What happened?” Aurora asked, confused.
         “You passed out in Mr. Lopez’s science class. Don’t you remember?”
         “No,” she answered. “The last thing I remember was sitting in his classroom. He was talking about Lyra.”
         Lyra…
         She looked off into some unknown in the distance.
         “Aurora, snap out of it. What is wrong with you?”
         “I don’t know.”
         “I’m going to go tell the nurse you are awake.”
         Lucille got up from her chair and left the room.
         What happened? she asked herself searching the far corners of her mind. Lyra…
         Lucille and a young woman walked into the room. She hand brown hair up in a ponytail and long bangs. She was wearing teal scrubs and white tennis shoes.
         “Hello Aurora,” she said. “I am your nurse, Marjorie. How are you feeling?”
         “I am a little sore," she admitted. "but other than that I am alright.”
         Marjorie walked up to Aurora. “Let me check your vitals.”
         She took off the stethoscope that was wrapped around her neck and held it to Aurora’s chest and listened for a minute.
         “72. Great,” Marjorie said. “Now breathe in deep... Good.” She moved the stethoscope to Aurora’s back. “Breathe deep again... Good. Now breathe normally… Good.”
         Marjorie put her stethoscope back around her neck. She took off a blood pressure cuff that was hanging on the wall behind Aurora’s bed and wrapped the cuff off her arm.
“You’re just going to feel a little bit of pressure,” she said, as if Aurora had never had her blood pressure taken before. After a moment she said, “It’s a little on the high end, but nothing to be alarmed about.” She put an understanding hand on her shoulder. “You’re in high school. High school is stressful, especially these days. I’d say the cause of your fainting was stress related. Let’s check your temperature, and then I am done here.”
         She took off the blood pressure cuff.
         “Is that alright, Aurora? Do you feel okay to go home?” Marjorie asked.
         “Yes, of course,” Aurora answered with a grin to try to mask her sad confusion.
         Marjorie placed a thermometer in Aurora’s mouth. It didn’t take long to beep to let the nurse know it had found it. Marjorie removed the thermometer from Aurora’s mouth and looked down to read it.
         “97.9. Yep you are going to be fine,” she said with a smile. “Just relax. We contacted your Godfather, and your butler Alfred is on his way to get you.” She left the room.
         “I knew you would be fine,” Lucille said. She sat down on the edge of the bed. “So what should we do until Alfred gets here?”
         “What’s there to do in a hospital room?” Aurora asked.
         Lucille laughed. “Well we could watch TV. Hand me the remote.”
         It was sitting on an overbed metal table wheeled onto the other side of the hospital bed. Aurora reached over and grabbed the remote then handed it to Lucille.
         “Here you go. Good luck finding something on that,” Aurora joked motioning towards the small TV hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the room.
         Lucille pressed the on button on the remote.
         “…we have reporters at the scene now. Police are outside of the school directing students to safety, while the rest are inside trying to capture the shooter. Edge-”
         Lucille turned the channel. “The style channel… perfect.”
         “Wait! What was that?” Aurora asked.
         “Just some woman on the news,” Lucille replied.
         “Turn it back.”
         Lucille turned the channel back to the news.
         “…we have a hotline ready for parents whose children are at Edgemont High School. Please do not try to call the school. The number to call is at the bottom of the screen. Stay home and stay indoors. Let the police handle this. Moving on to Chris with the weather and then we’ll be back for more updates.”
         “Let the police handle what? What happened at our school?” Aurora asked. Her stomach churned.
         “I’m going to call my Mom,” Lucille said. “I haven’t told her I’m here anyway. Someone’s got to take me home.”
         Lucille took out her cell and dialed. “She’s at work, but she’ll answer.”
          "Mom!” Aurora heard Lucille say into the phone. “What happened at our school? …I’m at the hospital... No I’m not hurt… I didn’t get shot! What are you talking- …Aurora passed out in class and I rode with her to the hospital… No Mom she didn’t get shot. Why do you keep asking us if we got shot? …A shooter! What do you mean? …Oh my gosh…”
         Lucille looked over at Aurora with horror.
         “What?” Aurora whispered, concerned.
         “There’s a shooter at our school right now,” Lucille replied.
         “What are you talking about?”
         “Okay. Okay,” Lucille said into the phone. “I love you too. Bye.”
         She pushed the end button on her cell phone and put it back in her purse. “Mom’s leaving work right now. She’s coming to pick me up. Oh my gosh! I need to call Keenan! I- I can’t believe there’s a shooter at our school right now. We could be there right now. If I wouldn’t have came with you to the hospital… If you wouldn’t have passed out in your desk… How random is it that you passed out anyway?”
         “I guess it’s pretty random,” Aurora admitted.
         “This is crazy…” Lucille said as she dialed Keenan’s cell number.
         Tell me about it.


HIDDEN
         Keenan kept as quiet as he could hiding there in the darkness. His phone vibrated in his pocket. He looked at the bright screen. It was a call from Lucille. He had to ignore it. A rush of worry washed over him, though he was promised she would be alright.
         At 11:10 a.m. he had raised his hand and asked to go to the restroom. Instead of going there, he went straight to the Janitor’s closet and closed the door behind him. He didn’t know why he was supposed to, but he did it because his father had told him to, and he knew from experience to do exactly what he said.
        11:11
        11:12
        At 11.13 a.m. he heard the first gun shot. Then the screams.




Title: Aurora
Classification: Fiction
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Young Adult
Word Count: 11,295 (and counting...)
Type of Work: Novel
Target Age Range: 16-18 Young Adult, 18+ Adult
Hook: As a child, Aurora Spencer was taken in and hidden by her parent’s best friend after they were mysteriously murdered. Now that she is a teenager, she, along with her best friend Lucille, is trying to uncover the secrets of her past. Some even out of this world. She finds that being aware of those secrets is unlocking abilities within her that she will need to use to stop the corruption the world is headed towards. Will she find out who she really is? Can she save the world?
Synopsis: Aurora has always known that she was not a typical teenager. Her parents were murdered when she was a child, her sister mysteriously disappeared, and she was taken in by her parent's best friend whom she calls "Godfather". Little did she know, on the night her parents were murdered, the murderer was actually after her. Knowing that Aurora has secret abilities, someone or some group is out to get her. Godfather is aware of all of this. He protected Aurora and her sister on the night of their parent's death by sending Aurora's sister to live with their Aunt and Uncle, and by faking Aurora's death, changing her identity, and bringing her to live with him in his mansion full of antiques and mystery.
        Godfather is a very mysterious man who seems to be always working away from home. Aurora is starting to question what is keeping him away. One day Aurora questions their family butler, Alfred, by asking him why Godfather is going to so many meetings. He seems nervous and ends up mentioning that Godfather doesn't want anyone knowing what he is up to. Alfred refuses to tell Aurora the truth, so she decides to enlist the help of her red-haired best friend Lucille. They sneak into Godfather's office and find a secret email containing details about a mysterious meeting he is having with someone in New York City. While snooping through his file cabinet, Aurora and Lucille find the photos of the crime scene of Aurora's parents murder.
        That evening Aurora further questions Alfred trying to get more information about her Godfather. He tells her that it is up to him to tell her the truth, so Aurora confronts Godfather at dinner. Godfather tells her he wasn't planning on telling her until she was eighteen years old. Aurora rebuttals the argument by stating that she is almost eighteen, so he should just go ahead and tell her. Godfather ends up telling her the truth. He tells her that when she was a child, she had precognitive psychic abilities and she was extremely intelligent. Her parents had to end up taking her out of school, because her teachers were asking too many questions. They ended up calling Child Protective Services and the police and even F.B.I. got involved. They offered millions of dollars to Aurora's parents, so they could do tests on her. Her parents refused, and they moved away trying to hide. That's when Aurora's parent's murder occurred. After that, Aurora no longer used her abilities and they were eventually forgotten. Godfather warns her that if she continues on the path of learning the truth about her life, that it is going to awaken those abilities again. Aurora, filled with rage over the news of the truth of her parent's death, says she is ready.
        Aurora starts having dreams and visions about an extraterrestrial humanoid couple named Adonis and Kira and their baby. They are in a space ship flying over the planet Vega located in the Lyran constellation. The Draconians are destroying their planet and killing the civilians. Kira, part of the Lyran Federation, is working with her team members to rescue the civilians and escape to a nearby safe and hospitable planet. The problem is that Adonis and their baby will not be able to stay with Kira. Adonis is a civilian, so he has to escape to safety while Kira has to stay on the ship and continue the work of the Federation until the Draconians are defeated.
        These dreams and visions affect Aurora mentally and physically causing her to sleep more and even pass out. During a hospital visit, Aurora and Lucille, who is staying in the hospital with her, find out that there was a shooting at their high school. The school ends up implementing stricter rules for their "safety" and the rest of the country follows. This causes riots and chaos bringing the country to a more militarized police state.
One night, Aurora ends up stuck in the middle of one of the riots and is in danger. She gets saved by a boy named Luca. She ends up passing out and he carries her to safety.        
        While she is half-conscious, she begins having visions of Kira and Adonis and their baby, and all the truth comes out to her. SHE is the baby. She is an extraterrestrial. She was sent to Earth, the next planetary victim of the Draconians, to help destroy them once and for all. Her Earth parents adopted her. Godfather is one of the human's who know the truth about the extraterrestrials and their mission. So he has been her protector and followed her through her life even before she was adopted. When she comes to, Luca is still there with her, feeling this need to keep her safe and be connected with someone while the world around them is falling apart. They quickly fall in love.
        After Aurora tells Godfather that she knows who she really is, he tells her that the Draconians are who are after Aurora. They enlisted help from human's, in exchange for power and wealth, to gain power and control over the world while they hide behind the scenes. They found out the Lyran's sent one of their own to hide as a human to keep watch over the Earth and help destroy the Draconians. They are who are responsible for Aurora's parents death.
        "Aurora" exists at a time in the future where it's normal for people to have robots in their homes, self-driveable cars, and flying cars are even in the works. Lucille's boyfriend, Keenan, states that they already invented flying cars a long time ago, they just didn't think the civilians were smart enough to use them. Keenan lives in a "smart house" with robots for cooks and maids. His parents are rich and there are some rumors that they are in the C.I.A. or even some secret society. Lucille has never considered the rumors to be true, but once she overhears a conversation between Keenan's mother and father, she starts to question who they really are too. She asks Aurora and Luca for help feeling that Keenan's parent's are somehow connected to Aurora.
        Keenan finds out what they are up to and tells his parent's not knowing that it is going to lead to Lucille's death. Although he knew the truth about his parent's all along and was enlisted by them to spy on Aurora until they were ready to kidnap her, he honestly is in love with Lucille, and horribly regrets his decision. After Keenan's parents murder Lucille and dump her body, they come after Aurora ready to kidnap her and finish what they started a long time ago. They kidnap Aurora and lock her up. They laugh at Aurora and tell her the truth about them working for the Draconians, because they are sure that it is the end of her.
        The Lyran's wish to save Aurora, but the Earth is surrounded by weaponized satellites that would wipe them out when they got into it's atmosphere with their ship. The Supreme Commander says there is nothing they can do. Kira, desperate to save her daughter and filled with guilt from sending her to Earth, ends up discovering a way to block the satellites.
        Keenan, who is extremely angry over the death of his girlfriend, finds out where his parent's are keeping Aurora. He tells Luca where she is and they go to rescue her. Keenan's parents try to stop them and Keenan ends up killing his mother and then taking his own life. Luca fights Keenan's father, but is not even close to being as skilled in fighting as he is, and gets severely injured. That's when the Lyran's step in and save the day.
        They take Aurora and Luca aboard their ship. Aurora meets her real parents. Adonis and Kira go against the Supreme Commander's orders and refuse to let her stay on Earth and continue the mission. They plan to take Aurora to safety. Aurora refuses to leave Luca and planet Earth. She states she is going to continue the mission and save Earth and it's people from the Draconians. Kira and Adonis can't stop her and have to let her do what she wishes. They fly her and Luca back to Earth and this is when the story ends.


#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction  #romance  #adventure 
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