B009.9 Family Matters

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Roughly at the same time

Basil was starting to doubt his sanity. Or at least, his memory. Sure, it was supposed to be inviolable, memories beyond the short term were supposed to be safe, but… every rule has an exception, right?

And right now, he was really doubting his memory. After Vasiliki had left, he had started working on his new armor design, and made some good progress – but then he had decided to see about setting his scripts back to work for some money, and…

They were not there. Not the scripts he had used.

Or rather, they were there, but they were useless. Half-finished, ideas and first attempts, but nothing functional.

He was sure he had used just these scripts for it, but now… it would not be the first time his memories were wrong. Only now there was the question of…

Where did the money come from?

Working through the account data, he found that it had been deposited in the accounts he had been using… about five and a half years ago. Way before he remembered setting them up in the first place.

Twinkle twinkle little star,

He shook his head, trying to focus. He had to track these. Normally, he would have Eudocia do it, but she was off playing with Prisca (she could only be at one place at a time, a limitation of her code). So he had to find out who had deposited the money himself, and why…

“How I wonder who you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky,” sang a soft voice.

Basil whirled around on his seat, drawing and throwing a dagger by sheer reflex.

A vermilion-coloured blade shot up, striking the dagger out of the air before it could touch the pure white face with the vermilion eyes.

He did not stop to think, or even feel confused about her being here – only an amateur would do that – but he vaulted over the table, away, towards the door to his store room.

I need weapons. But he had just finished taking most of them apart!

She followed, moving leisurely, but her many limbs nonetheless gave her enough speed to keep up with him as he ran through the door, slamming it shut, pulling the lever for the emergency seal.

There was a crash, and then the sound of a saw winding up, followed by the sound of screaming concrete and metal.

He looked around the storeroom – most things here were useless right now, and the few that were not would not cause any damage to her body. Her bodies were always insulated against electrical attacks, it was just necessary for being a Gadgeteer out in the field…

She was already halfway through the door, by the sounds of it, and the glowing orange line that was slowly travelling around the door.

What do I use, what do I use… He could not focus.

He blinked, and the door fell out of its frame. Her body contorted, somehow squeezing its entire mass through the frame without touching the edges. It was black, with fine silver details, and some transparent spots to show off pure white inner workings. Overall, it looked like some kind of snake-spider hybrid, coiling its long body up to form a spider’s abdomen.

“Then the traveller in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark,” she continued singing, never moving her lips – her voice just barely sounded mechanic.

Again, he ran, towards the back end of the store room and… and there was an opening there that he had not noticed before, leading into a hallway. Do not let her trap you! He took it, closely followed by her, using all twelve limbs without blades gripping the floor, the walls, the roof, to propel her forward, always just a step behind.

What do I do, what do I do, what…

His mind was running in circles, unable to come up with a solution, he just wanted to run.

“In the dark blue sky you keep, and often through my curtains peep; For you never shut your eye, ’till the sun is in the sky…”

A right turn ahead, just when he started to feel like she was catching up (he did not dare turn around to look), and he took it, hearing the tell-tale sound of sharp blades piercing the concrete. He ran, his legs already burning – strange, he had been working out for ages now, and he was already getting tired? – deeper into the dark-


He ran into a wall, unable to see it coming, and bounced off of it, falling backwards.

“As your bright and tiny spark, lights the traveller in the dark; Though I know not what you are, twinkle, twinkle, little star.”

Do not stop moving! he thought to himself, trying to get back onto his feet – and then something hard slammed into him, throwing him against the wall again.

His head rang, and though he could not see anything to begin with, he still felt his vision go black as his ears rang.

There was only one sound, really, the singing voice, gentle and soothing, as cold hands gripped him, propping him up against the wall as several lights on her body turned on, illuminating the room – though he saw little other than her skull-like face, those wide open vermilion eyes.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are,” she sang, just staring at him. “How I wonder what you are.” A slender hand with vermilion nails caressed his face, making him shiver with fear. “Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky…”

This is wrong. Fight! Fight her! You still have seven knives on your body! But he could not move, he was paralysed with fear!

More arms joined the two that were holding him, and the one that was caressing his face. These ones had no delicate woman’s hands, but instead claws with blades as long as his legs, no less than sixteen blades approaching his body, two of them aiming for his eyes… slowly.

He could not even speak.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are,” she sang as the blades stopped just millimeters above his eyes and body. “How I wonder what you are…”

They plunged in.

* * *

Melody was sitting on a chair in front of Director Ryan’s oaken desk, looking at the stout, muscle-bound man with the awful haircut – it was shaved around the sides and back, short on top and sticking up, like an extreme army buzzcut. It didn’t help that it was bright red, with some silver inbetween. He was wearing an immaculate maroon suit with a fitting tie on a black shirt.

To the side stood a tall and very thin man in his late thirties, with short black hair, a widow’s peak and a regal nose, with watery blue eyes, in a black suit and green tie. Sarah was there, too, as short as she was despite being twice her age, daughter of Chinese immigrants. She was wearing a simple skirt suit in blue, and looked very worried.

And as if all that wasn’t disconcerting enough, Patrid was there, too, in his usual white suit, with that goatee and the blonde, slick hair, looking like the devil incarnate. He was lounging – not sitting, lounging – on his chair, the only one in the room who seemed completely calm and relaxed.

<What’s going on?> she asked, feeling small and vulnerable. She’d just quickly tied her hair back and put on underwear and a knit dress, and her sandals. Nothing like presentable, but Sarah had insisted that it was urgent. <Am I in trouble?> She looked from the director to Sarah to Gerden, avoiding looking at Patrid. He still gave her the creeps, more than the Spiteborn or BigShit or Hastur ever did.

“Nono, you’re not Melly!” Sarah reassured her, or at least tried to – she was obviously still nervous, as her heartbeat proved. “We just need to… ask you some stuff. About this morning, and yesterday.”

Melody blushed. Dratz. They found out? <What about, exactly?>

“Your mother called us, told us that Miss Whitaker had dragged you out of their home in a rage, and that you then both vanished. And now you show up back here, alone, in a… worrisome condition,” Gerden said, looking quite… not unconcerned, but preoccupied, maybe?

She blushed even more. <She took me to Italy,> she began, making them stare in disbelief. Typing quickly, she poured out an answer, hoping to get this over with quickly. She had a bad feeling. <I was upset, and she thought some good ice cream might help. We ate some ice cream, talked, then went and…> She hesitated, not sure if she should continue. She didn’t want to get Irene into trouble.

“You can talk, Melody,” Sarah said, looking sympathetic. Why? “We won’t judge you.” Gerder and the director nodded. Patrid just watched her, looking barely interested. His gaze gave her goosebumps.

<We got drunk… Irene passed out, and I wasn’t well, but I didn’t want to go to the local UH division, so I… I used her cellphone to call her dad, and he picked us up and dropped me off here.>

She was barely finished when everyone but Patrid made an uproar, looking at her like she was insane.

You called the Dark without permission?” the director shouted, aghast.

You got drunk with a dangerously unstable metahuman?” Gerder shouted.

You drank alcohol!?” Sarah shouted at her, looking ready to faint.

“You called the Dark, on cellphone, for a ride? Glorious,” Patrid chuckled.

She felt like she was about to turn infrared in the face. <I hoped no one would notice, and I could just… go to sleep.> She couldn’t stiffle a yawn.

“Melody, putting aside the gross violations of protocol you committed,” the director began, making her feel even more ashamed. “You risked more than just bodily harm, are you aware of that?”

Gerder leaned closer, putting a hand on the desk. “Do you even know what that… girl… has done to others? On a whim? Her file is very extensive, and I’m absolutely sure it’s not nearly complete.”

<I am aware of it,> she said, her blush gone. Now she was looking coldly at them. It all makes sense. They think she… did things to me.

Well, she almost did, didn’t she? whispered a treacherous little voice in her head.

No. She stopped. It’s not her fault she got a power like that. Not a good sign, talking to herself like that.

“Aware?” Patrid asked, an eyebrow raised. He was the only one who seemed to be amused by this turn of events, while the others ranged from horrified to stunned.

She nodded at him, finally turning to face him fully. Apart from her, he was the only other metahuman here… he might sympathise more easily. <She told me everything. About her lack of control, and her problems, on the first day. The details, later on. I knew all that, and I went with her willingly.>

Gerder’s mouth was moving like a fish, opening and closing. Sarah seemed to be no better. The director was just stunned, while Patrid still looked amused.

“Y-you went with her, when you know that she’s a habitual rapist?” Gerden finally asked.

<I object to that term, Sir! She’s as much a victim of her power as anyone she abused with it!> she responded, the voice from the vocoder turning angry and hot. <And besides, didn’t the United Heroes vet her, before they let her join? Why is this still an issue!?>

“We did do some rudimentary testing, but…” Director Ryan began. Gerder continued, “There’s not much we can do to really vet someone of her power level. And besides, Lady Light insisted that she be taken in, and the Board agreed too readily.”

<Well, she IS kind of our l->

“Gwen Whitaker is not the leader of the United Heroes,” Patrid suddenly butted in, serious for once. “Keep that carefully in mind, Melody. We are lead by the elected board of directors, a board she is not and can not be a part of, as she does not fulfill the requirements for extended registration – it is only due to her reputation and history that no one tries to arrest her for illegal vigilantism and use of metahuman abilities, as she is not a formal member of the UH, despite being our founder.” He smiled again. “Though it helps that she could probably beat us all up if we tried, too. Doesn’t mean we don’t listen to her, though. But Miss Whitaker Senior has never sought nor accepted any official position of power, nor formally laid claim to the title of superhero. Do you understand what I am telling you?”

People are uncomfortable that she still holds this much power? It seemed pretty obvious. Like it doesn’t even matter that she’s spent the better part of a century doing nothing but fight the good fight and save billions of lives. She nodded, still.

“The problem here is that a minor who is under our protection went missing – along with possibly the second-most dangerous and unstable individual in the world!” Gerder said as forcefully as he could, making her (and Sarah) flinch. “Miss Stenton, I am sorry to say this, but for your own safety, the Board of Directors has to hereby formally forbid you from closely associating with Irene Whitaker, also known as Gloom Glimmer, beyond the direct, qualified scrutiny of a designated handler or superhero judged capable of protecting you!” he rattled off.

Melody turned white, then green, nauseated, then… shock and hurt turned into fury.

She jumped onto up, wishing more than ever that she still had her own voice, and didn’t need to type on a freaking vocoder!

<I refuse your orders, Sir! You cannot tell me who to be friends with!> she said, instead, sounding calmer than she felt – the vocoder wasn’t really built for the kind of emotional outburst she wanted to make right now. Before anyone could object, she continued, <We are teammates, and BFFs besides, and if you don’t want to let us associate, then I’ll leave. No one gets to tell me who my friends can or cannot be! And if I leave, consider the damage that’ll do to you all! My album sales are at an all time high, almost all fans of my music now support my superhero career, and I’m a freaking Gadgeteer to boot! The third-highest rated on your payroll, if I may say so! So you better think twice about telling me who I can hang out with!>

She turned and stomped to the door, not wanting to hear any reproach. She had to get away, before her nerve failed her. <Also, has anyone ever considered that ostracising Irene might be just the straw that’ll break the camel’s back? Ever thought about that!?> With those words, she slammed the door shut, stomping off.

Faintly, she heard Patrid’s amused voice say, “I told you so…”

* * *

Basil’s eyes flew open, and his heart lurched into triple-overtime.

Bending over, he would have thrown up if he had eaten anything recently. Instead, he retched dry, before he felt over his face, his eyes… they were still there. He was somewhere completely dark, but his eyes were whole, and the only pain he felt was a faint soreness in his muscles.

W-what is going on!?

Had he… really been attacked by Atrocity just now? No, that made absolutely no sense. He did not doubt she could circumvent his defenses easily, but why would she be here? And why would she leave him alive?

Blind, he felt around the room, until he found the empty doorway, and got up, walking forward – until he saw a faint light ahead. Turning a corner, he could see into his storeroom again.

The door to his workshop was closed, sealed.

Was it just a dream?

He stopped at the door, turning around to look at the way he had taken earlier. I did not make that. Months ago, he had started digging, using robots to create his lair…

Only when he thought about it, he did not have an robots around here, except for a few half-finished ideas and his ravenbots!

The memories of getting the money had been fake… were fake, too. Were his memories of constructing the lair fake, as well?

Is there anything I can be sure about!?

Only one way to find out, mate. Investigate.

He listened, and he ran to pick up a torch… a flashlight. Why had he used the other word in his thoughts?

Back down the hallway… smooth rock, it was dug right into the bedrock. No signs of claws digging into anything.

Again, the room. It was not very big, but smoothly made, yet without any lighting. There was nothing there, except…

He bent down, picking up an old, worn notebook. It was quite heavy, and he could see that several pages of a different kind of paper had been added to it, making it thicker than it should be.

The cover bore the words ‘Property of Macian. Hands off!

Macian again

He opened the notebook on the first page, and froze. It was covered in pictographs, just like his own, only… cruder? Or maybe just crudely drawn. Going through it, he found countless designs for all manners of gadgets, ranging from stuff he would be ashamed to work on – way too crude! – to force-fields! Nothing complete enough to use, most of it incomprehensible, but…

Then, suddenly, actualy writing took over. Notes from this Macian.

Intrigued, Basil took a closer look.

* * *

Some thoughts on my visions, and those of others I have been able to aquire


The Shaper, unbound from anything but imagination. -> Henry?

The Maker, mad and yet sane, rising ever higher. -> Me? Dunno if I’m sane or not, though my money’s on ‘bugfuck crazy’

The Dreamer, a gilded knight that glowed like the sun. -> someone with armor-based powers? too simple

The Defender, another era’s fallen idol, given a second chance. -> Heretic? But he wasn’t ever really an idol… maybe the Dark?

The Lover, wielding the primordial power. -> What can be considered a ‘primordial’ power? Fire? Intelligence? Technology? (the last one might be wishful thinking or simple self-importance)


The Shaper, unbound and gentle… -> certainly sounds like Henry. That boy is too nice for his own good

The Lover, driven by the primordial power. -> again the primordial stuff. Something really simple, but powerful?

The Dreamer, a gilded knight, brilliant as the full moon… -> Amanda is quite the dreamer? Might it be this literal? Probably not, heh

The Shepherd, a broken star that sought redemption… -> Hemming? … Perhaps Emyr? His power seems like a fit, as does his story

The Maker, a blazing well that sought to rise… -> seems familiar


The Orphan, abandoned but not lost. -> Connection to the ‘Orphan Star’?

The Defender, fallen but not dead. -> fallen as in defeated, or fallen from grace? A fallen hero?

The Lover, lost but not alone. -> first time this one’s mentioned without the ‘primordial’. No idea what that means

The Maker, broken but not shattered. -> could that be me? I certainly feel like I’m in pieces

The Emissary, driven but aimless. -> someone who has a mission, but doesn’t know how to complete it?

Who is Rei? She sings a lullaby no one hears. -> connected the Sleeper?

Who is the Sleeper? What’ll happen when it wakes? -> apocalyptic?

Who is Bree? Someone cries her name, but she can’t hear it. The crying person sounds so sad, I cried when I heard her voice (I’m not prone to crying).

What is broken may not be shattered. What is shattered may not be lost. What is lost may yet be found.

What is the Orphan Star? A person, or a power? (It seeks something that doesn’t exist, but it won’t give up. Ever) <- sounds like my kinda gal. Assuming its a female, of course.

On second thought, do these titles describe people or powers?

Note: Research presence or absence of power sentience!!!

A friend says:

All the Lost Ones shall Gather -> I’m plenty lost. Henry, too, as is Amanda. Does this mean we’ll all get together again? I’d love that. Amy would love Henry to bits. He should be able to fix her, too. Maybe we can be a family?

All the Brave Ones shall Advance -> Probably means that at some point, there’ll be something epically nasty to fight (can’t wait!)

All the Bright Ones shall Rejoice -> A happy ending? That’d be nice.

Are these prophecies? How certain could they be? Far as I know, precognition can only show possibilities, never certainties? Maybe the fact that several people over such a long time have similar visions means these are particularly probable probabilities? (probable probabilities – there ought to be a better way to phrase that!)

Where does Journeyman fit in? I don’t think he’s a normal metahuman. Something is… off. (I realise that I’m not one to throw stones here). I have a feeling I’ll run into him again. He did give me a nice idea for a gadget, though.

Note: Research instant barbecue machine!

There’s a connection between Journeyman and that ‘friend’. J mentioned him obliquely. (I can’t believe I just used the word ‘obliquely’ in a sentence)

What is this ‘a friend’? Is it some kind of metahuman? Or whatever is at the source of the powers? Maybe some kind of manager? There seems to be some biblical imagery tied into that – he sure seems plenty godlike, though he did claim that his appearance and manner depended on whoever witnessed him -> might have been me, making him seem godly and stuff

-> Lady Light & the Dark might know

Note: Try and contact them as soon as possible


* * *

The notes cut off at that point, and the following pages were all blank. Basil still leafed through the book, until the end, just to be sure.

Somehow, those notes make no sense, and yet they seem so reasonable… I think I might need someone to help me make sense of them.

He pocketed the notebook, then looked around the place one more time. It was empty, nothing else to be found. Then he went back to his workshop… which now felt much less like it was his.

I feel like something is going to break, too. I just hope it will not be my brain.

He went to the couch, turning on the television. Right now, he really, really needed a break, first of all.

An instant barbecue machine is a great idea, though.

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B009.7 Family Matters

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5th November, Early Morning

The morning had actually turned out warmer than expected – Basil still had to wear a jacket and a scarf, but at least there was not any new snow. Not that he disliked snow – far from it – frozen surfaces were bad for his grappling hooks and, subsequently, bad for him.

And I will have a lot less protection than before, once I have reworked my armor into something lighter and cheaper. He really had to get more money. Maybe I should have asked Mister Karlson for a job, he thought with a smirk no one saw.

He walked on past a fast food restaurant as he thought about yesterday evening – he had tried to talk to Amy, but she had been in a weird mood, and he had decided to wait for a better opportunity to take his first step in… well, he did not know if it could be called redeeming, but perhaps reigning her in? He should have talked to her at once, made his position clear, set boundaries…

Except the mere idea of getting into a fight with her made him physically ill. Just looking at Amy at breakfast had made him feel both ashamed, angry and wistful, all once, remembering the good old days.

I wonder if this is how Lady Light feels, every time she looks at the Dark. Was that what he was doomed to do? Spend the rest of his life trying to reign a mostly insane – and he could not deny it, Amy was not all right in the head (but neither was he, so he could not really throw stones) – supervillain in, always trying to preserve those beautiful memories of better days, trying to bring them back to life?

Maybe he was assuming too much – there probably were other, better reasons, more noble ideals and goals, maybe even something tied to Point Zero and their powers involved – but that would explain a lot of things. He only had a few years of those really good memories, and they were rather normal – Lady Light had a full score of years, an entire lifetime of being together with him, through an entire world war even before they got powers, and everything since then… Maybe that was the reason for conceiving Irene? A desperate attempt to draw them closer, to pull him back onto the side of the angels? It certainly seemed to work, he had never been as mellow and restrained as during the past decade.

Or perhaps a weapon to stop her older sister… because there certainly seems to be no other way besides bringing overwhelming power to bear against her.

But that, too was just speculation.

I would sure like to talk to them both. First, though, I need to stop distracting myself from the issue at hand. Amy.

He walked by the alley next to the restaurant just as he finished these thoughts, and caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. A trash can’s lid had moved.

I found Grimalkin in a place like this, he thought, and suddenly he hoped… maybe he would find him again? He sure missed that crazy red-brown eyed furball of a cat. Despite what it had done to Amy’s underwear drawer. Or maybe because of it. It had been rather funny, after the horror had worn off. I could keep him in my hideout now, so Amy could not object.

Reaching out, he lifted the trash lid – and a rat jumped out and scuttled away. So not Grimalkin. He put the lid back down and walked on towards his hideout.

I wonder what happened to him – where he is by now.

Shaking his head, Basil continued on his way to his hideout. There was a lot of work to be done. And maybe, tonight, he would feel up to confronting Amy.



* * *


The lift went down into the lair, and Basil was not surprised to find Vasiliki already there, in her winter school uniform, sitting on the couch.

“You know, your perfume is nice, but you wear too much of it,” he said in lieu of a greeting.

She looked up from her book (she was always reading something) and gave him a deadpan look. “It’s supposed to be noticable,” she said as she closed her book and stood up. “And I didn’t come here to discuss cosmetics.”

He shrugged, taking his jacket and boots off. “Why did you come here? You don’t usually come in the morning.”

“Since I don’t have school this week – again – I’ll be working in one of our restaurants, and I drew the afternoon shift,” she explained, brushing a few stray strands of hair behind her ear. “Anyway, I wanted to try an experiment with y-“

His head whipped around from where he’d been switching into his labcoat. “Experiment! Tell me more!”

“Weeeeeeell… you know how they say, Contriving and Gadgeteering can’t go together? I thought, maybe, there’s a way to get around that. Here’s what I was thinking…”



* * *


“Oh God, I think it’s alive!”


“What in the name of God are you doing!?”

“I always swore to myself I would laugh madly if this happened! I have been practicing the laugh ever since I got my powers!”

“Are you c- Oh shit, it’s trying to escape! Quick, we have to stop it before it gets out!”



* * *


“Let us never do this again,” she sighed, falling down onto her butt.


“Let us never speak of this to anyone,” she added.

“Agreed. I guess there IS a good reason why people do not do these experiments anymore. Though I have to say, it was rather… sporting, do you not think so?” he replied, sitting down next to her, looking very deliberately away from her.

“Well… yeah, but… how come I always end up indecent after these things!? Thank God I wasn’t wearing my costume, because I only have one left!” she replied, glad that he was not the peeping type (sometimes she thought he didn’t have a sex drive to begin with).

“Here, take my coat,” he said, giving her his labcoat. Of course he’d gotten out of it unharmed – though Vasiliki had to admit, his reaction time was insane to begin with. In fact, they should probably test him sometime, in case he had some kind of secondary power that sped them up.

Because it was either that, or being a grizzled veteran with finely honed instincts in disguise. And that was too ridiculous to consider, really.

Basil was many things, but not grizzled.

“Do you want a dragonskin suit? I should have enough material for one more,” he offered.

She thought it over. She really didn’t want to impose on his fading resources, but… her current costume was basically just fabric – she could only enchant objects she’d customized to meet her standards, and doing that to a fullbody skin-tight suit took time.

“I’ll take it. I insist on paying you back, though. If only in rates,” she said, giving him a look that dared him to give it to her for free.

To her surprise, he just nodded, his expression understanding. “Alright. We will work something out. How about you pay me in meals at your restaurant? Haven’t ever been there, but I hear the chain’s great. And I love Greek food.”

She shrugged. “Suits me. I’ll give you a card, then they’ll be putting it on my name.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You actually have a system for giving out free meals to people?”

She raised her nose up. “Paying people with food is common Hellenic family tradition.”

“Think I can join your family?”

She looked away. “D-don’t be ridiculous!”

“Huh? Why are you blushing?”



* * *


Around Noon

Melody stumbled back into her room, yawning. She really shouldn’t have gone drinking with Irene. They were too young! And she’d never even touched alcohol before, except for a sip of wine during Christmas or such. Of course, her body could take it – she’d emptied half a bottle of… something Irene had given her, and had barely felt her fingertips and toes prickle.

But still, they’d really lost track of time, and she’d never even considered the damage Irene might have caused if she got drunk – but she turned out to be the most pleasant drunk Melody could imagine (it turned out her power didn’t protect her from alcohol at all unless she wanted it to, and sometimes not even then). She’d just gotten quieter and quieter, and then fallen asleep.

Of course, that meant they were stuck in Italy, two underage girls without passports or anything. And Irene wouldn’t wake up.

She could have gone to the local United Heroes chapter, but… somehow, she really didn’t want this to become official.

Finally, she’d done something she never thought she would – she’d taken Irene’s cellphone and called her father (she didn’t want to disturb Lady Light at work, and something told her the Dark would be more understanding of the situation – besides, anything to distract him from doing Evil).

And… well, travel by Darkwraith was definitely not something she ever wanted to do again. He’d been a perfect gentleman, even seemed to find it funny what had happened – apparently, he already knew how Irene reacted to alcohol – and had taken her straight back here, dropping her off in the nearest alley, out of sight, telling her to ‘be a good girl’.

Look who’s talking, she thought as she pulled her sticky clothes off – the first half of a bottle hadn’t done much, but the following nine bottles of Italian spirit had done a number on her senses.

She stumbled out of her room in a bathrobe and into the showers, passing by a disgustingly chipper Aimi (who began to say something, then saw how messed up Melody was and wisely shut her mouth), and all but falling under the first showerhead, turning it on to ice-cold.

Brrrrr! Now, that helped better than any other remedy against a hangover… or whatever one would call her state. Not her field of expertise.

How did we even get the idea to try out Italian alcoholic drinks? Had it been Irene’s idea, or hers? She couldn’t quite remember…

Maybe Irene would remember, whenever she woke up. Her father had said it might take time, though.

I should probably go to sleep, she thought. No school this week, anyway. She turned the shower off, put the bathrobe on, and walked back into her room, wet and dripping. There wasn’t much chance of her catching a cold, but… she still sat down to dry her hair.

Turns out, she shouldn’t have, because someone knocked.

“Melody? It’s me, Sarah!” her handler said in a soft voice.

Oh, please don’t tell me I have an appointment. She at least couldn’t remember one.

“You have an appointment with Mister Patrid and Mister Gerden, from the Board of Directors.”

Dratz, why can’t they let me- wait, the Board of Directors!? What do they want with me!?



* * *


Later that evening

Dalia raised her glass high, shouting along with the other people in the club. The band had gotten a call-response thing going, and though she couldn’t, for the life of her, tell what she was supposed to say in response, she just shouted along with the others. The intervals were just big enough to take another draw from her drink, or call for a new one, and it was awesome.

She never could have gotten into a place like this! No way, even if she hadn’t so obviously been underage. Now the bouncers didn’t care if she was underage or not – she was hot, she was dressed up and obviously up for a party, so she was just waved in.

Suck on that, Zara! Bet’ya you never got to skip the line just for being hot! she thought in triumph as she emptied her glass and put it back on the counter, calling for a new one. Another advantage of being her, she could take a lot. As in, she was on her ninth drink, and she barely noticed a buzz – when she’d tried some alcohol back then, she’d dropped after just one drink! Now, her vision was a little weird and unfocused, but she could still tell where everything was and all!

And the guys. They were all looking at her when she danced by them, looked her body up and down, feasting on every bit of skin she was showing off… It made her feel so much more like a woman than she ever had before!

And, as if she wasn’t feeling good enough already, just then, she saw her. Good God, was she hot. She’d known that before, of course, but she’d never seen her dressed up for partying before!

Grabbing her new drink – something blue and gold and sparkly, with a name she couldn’t even pronounce – she danced her way through the crowd – I fucking love this – I don’t even need training to dance, it just works and towards her. There was already a throng of guys around her, trying to dance her up, but she just danced by all of them, teasing, playing.

She’d already taken the dancefloor over, as people began to dance around her, she had that much presence.

I should hate her for stealing my thunder. But she had to admit, she still had to learn a lot, and here was a chance for some of it.

“Didn’t ecssspect to find yyyyyou here,” she said, not noticing the slur in her own voice. “How come yyyyou can dshuust come in here and make everyone pay attentschion like that?”

She turned, looking at her, eyes and lips sparkling brightly. “I just do it!” she replied. “And aren’t you a little young for a Fleur de Lune?” she asked, taking Dalia’s drink and emptying it in one draft!

And yet, I just want to kiss her. How does she do that? “I can take ik!” Dalia said proudly. “I lick alcohol! Never knew it wash thish goot!” she continued, giggling.

She smirked, and took her hand. “I think I can do better than some alcohol! Come, let’s dance!”

Dalia was so focused on the warmth and softness of her hand, she barely noticed when she pulled her onto the dance floor, held her hand up in hers, put her other hand on her hip and started to move.

It started slow, in tune with the slowly winding up song the band was just getting into, and then sped up along with it.

And Dalia was keeping up. She’d never have believed it, but her every step was perfect, keeping up with her as they whirled around the floor, two unbelievably hot babes dancing in a way that was just barely out of the realm of indecency.

She was so warm, and she smelled so nice, and the room was so hot and loud and full and just…

The world whirled around them, and Dalia couldn’t even really tell what they were talking about, just that she felt so… fuzzy…



* * *


“Well, this is awkward,” Amy whispered as she twirled with the barely conscious girl, getting her off the dance floor without making a scene. She was emitting gentle waves of don’t notice us, and once she was sure they were unobserved, she picked her up like a baby (she weighed about as much to her) and carried her out of the club through the backdoor.

“Basil would kill me if I didn’t take care of you now, you know? What a bothersome girl…” She looked down at the pretty face with the badly applied make-up. “A cutie, though.”

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B002 Rising Stars (Part 6.2)

They were quite surprised when a black sphere shot them out of the air.

* * *

Polymnia’s vision went black for a few seconds as they hurled through the air. Spinning wildly, she almost emptied her stomach when she suddenly jerked to a stop.

<Polymnia, what happened?!>, asked her handler.

“Something attacked us, Sarah!”, she answered, trying to get an idea of their situation.

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