The Earth Daughter

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  1. Hello people, and welcome to my book. Excuse the mess, transferring from Word to online always screws up my formatting, but I'll get it looking better soon. I hope you enjoy it, as I have enjoyed writing it, and I look forward to support as it continues to be written.

    Part one
    Jane sat on the bed; a layer of blood soaked into the sheets and stained them red. It ran into her clothes and her hair and gathered in a pool around her apart from the few drops that got though the mattress and dripped onto the floor. The blood was caused by her but the reason behind it was her father, a small pudgy man who was scared of the world and made himself feel big by beating up his daughters and his wife. He did not tell anyone about this however because it was not exactly a thing you bragged about, but it still gave him the satisfaction.
    Jane shivered, she felt cold as the blood from her wrists ran out in a plentiful amount but it was not just the loss of blood that made her feel cold. An unnaturally cold bite was in the air, one that belonged to the heart of winter, not the eve of summer as it was. Jane thought it was an important point - if summer didn't come, the plants would die and the bees would not come and if there were no plants and then there would be less oxygen and more Carbon in the air, which would be bad for people as a whole. She laughed softly and then cringed in pain as her wrists protested against the movement by shooting fiery pain all across her body, it was amazing what things she thought of when lying half dead on her bed, but then she had had even more abstract thought patterns.
    Tears escaped her deep green eyes, not that she wanted them to; they simply appeared and ran down her face, like small, salty drops of water. Which, thinking about it for a second, was exactly what they were. Not that Jane could think properly right now, she didn't have enough blood to think properly and so things that were meant to be obvious where not really such. She wondered if this sort of thing would happen if she had a Familiar to protect her, but then, with the way Shadow could be, she doubted it.
    The reason she had cut her wrists - again, it was a regular thing for her- was a result of her father's actions and Jane knew he was going to punish her for trying to kill herself but she would cross that bridge when she came to it. She was too busy bleeding and worrying about the weather. It annoyed her that no matter how she cut her wrists or how much blood came out she never passed on, there was several times when she bled so much that a normal person would not have a drop left in their body but she still awoke the next day. She would still collapse from blood loss and still feel the great amount of pain that was associated with slashing any part of your body open with a sharp Implement, but never die, a fact that irked her a lot - what was the point of not dying if you were still going to collapse and shiver from the other side effects of slashing your wrists wide open and watching the red river run out onto whatever you happened to be around at the time?
    She never knew why she had such a thin frame either, it was not like she was underfed - her father tried but she always got plenty of food to eat, mainly though Eliot's adventures in the kitchen - but no matter how much she ate she always stayed thin and weak, it was like the world was taunting her with a combination of weakness and an inability to die and she did not like being taunted in the slightest, it was one of her peeves, along with her dad's continued existence and broccoli, whoever invented broccoli must have really hated everyone with a taste-bud. But then, Mr Broccoli Inventor might not have had taste buds.
    The things the mind thinks of when laid in a pool of blood and nearly in the grasp of unconsciousness are far beyond the control of the person whose mind it is - not that Jane had much control over her mind to begin with. She just had to go along with the ride and hope it was not too bad. This time she thought of her second father - not an official father but one who had adopted the mantle none the less - and his Familiar. She thought of Eliot and Silverfang’s tomfoolery. She thought of times when Eliot cooked a plethora of different foods. She thought of times when she watched a movie, using Silverfang or Eliot as a cushion to lay her head on. She also thought of times when her sisters, Beth and Nehvna, would come round and they would have a party. These were the happy days away from this drab and dreary household. It was better than thinking about where she was. She also remembered - too much lesser delight, not that she had the energy to complain about it right now, being so far into the grip of unconsciousness - days with her mother, they were nice but she had left Jane all alone with her father and for that Jane eternally disliked her mother. Or at least wished to, but she knew if her mother turned up tomorrow, she would throw her arms around her and leave with her.
    The blood had managed to get though the mattress in a much larger amount and was now pooling on the ground, despite her strange inability to die she was in no way immune to unconsciousness, something that happened to her in the middle of her memory of happy days.

    Jane woke the following day, and sat up, her body ached from last night, and her wrists still had ugly slashes on them, but they had stopped bleeding at least. Jane ran her fingers though her hair, matted and marred by blood, sweat and dirt. However, despite the blood she had leaked out earlier, her hair was not as stained as she thought it would be.
    "Heh, so I got blood-proof hair now" she muttered to herself, before stripping out of her blood stained clothes. "Good job there's no P.E today" She further commented. Jane then looked over at the wardrobe, and sighed. Another day of school was not necessarily a good thing. Sure it got her away from the house, but the kids at her school where assholes all the same. She did have a few friends there, but they were few and held no sway over the popular kids, and where basically friends to have friends rather than any meshing of personalities. Throughout the course of dressing, Jane wondered how the school day was going to turn out, until she came to the skirt. She always thought that the skirt was far too small to be practical, since it barely covered her ass, and any stray gust of wind made it reveal everything. But then that was probably why her dad had bought it, for that amusing thought. Never the less, it was the only skirt she had, and so she put it on, and finished with a set of socks, and her shoes. All the clothing she had was tatty and ragged, since her dad never replaced anything, even when it was falling apart, and there where holes in it. Jane tried not to think about it, since it was pointless to complain or moan about it. Jane then looped the tie around her muggy white shirt and wondered who thought it was a good idea to tie a noose around their neck for whatever reason.
    Lacking a better option, and without the ability to jump out of the window - something she had thought about, but they were stiff and she couldn't get them open however hard she tried - Jane headed down stairs, and immediately saw her father, Mark. He was all fat and no brain, but that wasn't why Jane hated him. He was dressed smart, as if he was going out to a high class work, or probably just to taunt Jane, which was his favourite pass time. Jane flicked her eyes to the clock, which read just past eight, plenty of time to get to school.
    "What are you doing in that getup?" Mark asked, his tone slurred as if he had been drinking already, which would not be surprising.
    "I am going to school, dad" She told him, politely and formal, but with a distinct monotone; something that always irritated Mark. Probably because it was how her mother talked to him
    "What'tha 'ell you going there for on a Sunday?" He asked, or rather demanded. Mark never asked anything of Jane.
    "It's Monday, dad" she replied, in the same tone, picking up her school bag, if the dilapidated mass of fabric she was using could be called that. When she turned back, however, Mark was right in front of her, which made her flinch and then he slapped her, a rough crack across her face.
    "Dun ya call me a liar, ya lil bitch" He ordered, before grabbing her chin and dragging it to meet his eyes. "Na ya get 'ome time-like today. Got summat ta do" he slurred, the smell of his breath making Jane want throw up, or at least grimace, but that would just have gotten her into more trouble.
    "Yes, dad" she told him, and got slapped again, more roughly this time, the blow leaving a harsh red mark on her face.
    "An’ don ya be usin' that tone!" he growled. Jane lowered her head, keeping her eyes to the ground and kept silent, but the drunken Mark took offensive even to that.
    "An’ don ya be lookin' so bad!" He exclaimed, raising his hand to slap her, however, it never came, and the only sound that Jane heard was Mark's confused grunt, and then an acknowledging grunt, before waddling back off to the kitchen. Jane looked up, and met the soft smile of Shadow, Mark's Familiar. Somehow, he managed to make that smile look warm, and menacing at the same time. Jane would have preferred to be slapped by Mark all day, than be saved by Shadow. He was wearing his usual black over-coat, frayed at the edges, and looking much in the same condition as Jane's clothing. She wondered if it was Mark's idiocy, or constant inebriation that made Shadow appear scruffy, but she was too scared to ask, the implication of Shadow being scruffy would not be well received.
    "I hate it when he does that to you. Nothing worse that bruised fruit" He muttered. The scar down one eye moved softly as he spoke, and Shadow absently raised a finger to scratch it, before moving to stroke Jane's slapped face.
    "Shadow, I...” she started, before the black-clad Familiar placed a finger on her lips.
    "Save your words, dear. They are not needed here. Now go to your place of learning, and return as Mark ordered, he is taking you to work again tonight" Shadow told Jane, his tone soft, and his words harsh. Jane knew exactly what he meant, and knew that it entitled, but somehow she just didn't care.
    "Ok. I’m going now" she muttered, in her standard tone. There was no reason to use anything else for Shadow.
    "Learn well, and save your energy, you know how he hates it when you drop to soon" Shadow told Jane, opening the door for her with that weird smile of his, and then shutting it behind her, not even mentioning her lack of words as she walked down the path to the gate.
    It took Jane a good half-hour to get to the school, mainly because of the cold - she always shuffled when it was cold - but also because she was pondering why she didn't see anyone else, walking towards the school. When she arrived, however, the question was answered by the large clock. It read '7:32am' or there about. Analogue hands where hard to read precisely. But it was clear the clocks at her house where set forward an hour, another one of Mark's schemes - Shadow was never so childish and surreptitious, when he did something, it was out in the open - just to get her out of the house. Or even just so she had an hour to wait at school for things to start. Seeing no reason in standing around in the cold, Jane headed inside, and was greeted with the noise of a Buffer, polishing the floors before the children came in, stomping their boots all over the floor. The Caretaker at the helm of the Buffer seemed as if Jane knew him, and not in a 'seen him around school' kind of way. But, Jane could not put a name to the face, before he turned around, letting out a soft sound of surprise.
    "Ahh, didn't expect to see anyone else here so soon. You really that eager?" he asked, switching off the Buffer to have a conversation.
    "No, my clocks where just set forward an hour, something else my dad thought would be funny, or some such. Never really been able to keep up with him" She replied, causing the man to lean on the buffer. His clothes looked rather expensive - if well worn - for a Caretaker, but she didn't bring it up.
    "Sounds like you and your dad don't get along" He commented, a fatherly tone, as if he had raised more than one child in his time. Jane laughed at his comment, and took a breath.
    "Well, put it this way. You don't randomly hand out super powers that let me pull peoples arms off, do you?" She asked. The man stroked his chin a few times in a classical thinking pose.
    "Hmm, I did. But then I got in trouble for it, and so I am currently suspended from randomly handing out super powers that let people pull off other peoples arms" He told Jane, which made her smile in amusement. "Hehay. A smile, we are getting somewhere" The Caretaker continued, fluidly moving from behind the Buffer and appearing in front of Jane. "So, this odd red mark that is rather out of place with the rest of your cold-flushed cheeks. Did your father think that would be funny?" He asked, his tone suddenly turning icy, and deadly serious. Jane knew there was no point trying to avoid the subject, and so she shook her head.
    "No, that was because I told him it was Monday, when he claimed it was Sunday. And then because I sound like my mother. My mum and being told he is wrong are two things that he really doesn't like" Jane told the Caretaker, with a sad, but relegated tone. The Caretaker, who had been listening intently, nodded.
    “Right. So, kind of guy you’d wish would fall down the stairs into a pool of acid, with acid-breathing piranhas in it?” he offered, to which Jane laughed, it was a very amusing idea.
    “Where are you going to find acid-breathing piranhas?” She asked.
    “Hmm, possibly Generia. They have some great tea, and some weird wildlife” He commented.
    “Right….So, what’s your name? I feel bad calling you ‘The Caretaker’ all the time.” Jane admitted.
    “Ohh, names. Right. I’m Kaban Saal, nice to meet ya” He said, holding out a hand, rather well-manicured, considering he was pushing a Buffer all day.
    “Lovely to meet you, Mr Saal. My name is Jane, Jane Everwood” She told Kaben, shaking his hand, before shivering. She hadn’t really noticed the temperature before, but now it was really getting to her. “Do they not switch on the heater or something?” She asked, rubbing her arms.
    “Na, they don’t do that till about eight or so. Saves money. If you want, I can show ya a place I like, when the school is being all cold and shit” He told Jane, who contemplated it for a while. It couldn’t exactly be any worse than being in here, so she nodded, and followed Kaben to this ‘place’.
    She was led down a few hallways, and took a couple of turns to a part of the school she had never been to before. It was old, there wasn’t any classrooms around, and there was a basic feel of neglect. However, viewable though the window was a beautiful, luscious garden. It was amazing that the garden could flourish in such cold, there were even a few tropical trees, where the country never got hot enough to grow. Jane stared at the garden in wonder, and Kaben picked up on this.
    "Lovely place, no?" He asked, grinning as they approached the door.
    "Yea, it is. How do you even get it like that?" she asked, expecting some sort of greenhouse idea.
    "Ahh, I just ask it nicely" he replied, to which Jane scoffed.
    "Yea, like that ever worked" she said sceptically.
    "Well, maybe they just didn't ask the right questions" He told her, before opening the door to the garden. It was very warm, warm enough to make Jane forget about the biting cold of a few seconds ago. "Ok, I’m impressed" She exclaimed, sitting down on a chair, fashioned in the shape of a log stump. It had a high back, enough for Jane to lean back comfortably.
    "Yep, it's pretty cool. So, just chill here for a while, I gotta get back to work" He said before waving. "Don't be late for class" He coo'd on the way out.
    "Tsk, how could I be late? I got nearly an hour" she muttered, before leaning back. It was very relaxing, and didn't take long for Jane to fall asleep.
    Nearly an hour later, Jane was woken by a loud bell echoing though the school. It always rang ten minutes before the start of every class, to give students enough time to get where they were going, but it was still a shock.
    "Sleep?" she asked herself, still not quite believing that she had pulled it off. Most nights took her hours to drift off, and other nights it never happened at all. So, to be taken so quickly, in such a short time, was a miracle. As the sound of the bell died away, Jane could hear...whispers around her. Mostly incoherent muttering, but there was one thing she heard, repeated throughout the entire garden, by whatever it was that was talking. 'She's here'. Suddenly the garden felt a lot less relaxing and comfortable, taking on a more ominous aura to it, which made Jane very uneasy. Hastily wiping away the drool from her sleep, Jane made a quick departure from the garden, with the whispers following her down the hall, and until she got to the main part of the school. There, she saw people milling about, getting to their classes and groaning about the day ahead. Jane didn't recognize must of them, and some she wished she hadn't made eye-contact with, because that would lead to some problems later on in the day. However, one girl - rather down cast, with her eyes on the floor - did spark a slight smile in Jane, and so she walked over to the down-cast girl.
    "Hey Emily! Good to see you" She said, snaffling the girl in a hug before she could react. She let out a sharp 'eep' before Emily relaxed, and returned the hug.
    "O..ohh, h-hi Jane" Emily stammered, always being a shy, retiring sort of girl with Jane.
    "So, I wasn’t in yesterday, anything happen?" She asked, to which Emily nodded.
    “Catherine did. And her friends" she mumbled, to which Jane sighed.
    Right. I’ll deal with that at lunch, or so. But, can't let that bother us. We got class to get to. So, let’s get to it" She exclaimed, Emily gave her a look - that look that wondered if the person was all there, or even there at all - but followed her down the hall way, talking about the girls of today, and how they look as if they put on make-up with a shovel, about guys who have more fingernails than brain-cells, and about general life. Eventually they got to the tutor room, and there they all had an annoying twenty minutes before school actually began to see who was in and who wasn't. Both Jane and Emily had the same opinion of it, and that opinion would have been used to allow the garden Jane was briefly in to grow more than it already had.
    Entering the room, Jane saw that her and Emily where the last ones in, the tutor was giving them the look of annoyance, since they were so late - not late exactly, but they were the last - but it was ignored. Jane found her place and Emily sat next to her, prompting the tutor to start blathering about stuff that was supposedly important. However, ten minutes into this, when the tutor was reeling off up-coming events that no one was going to go to, something clattered into the room. Of course, everyone leant over to see what it was, and where all blinded by the ensuing flash that emitted from it. There were many cries of surprise, some of pain, and then sight began to clear again, but, there were two men, big and ugly looking in the room as well.
    "Glad I got your attention. Now, we are looking for someone. Someone special. Shouldn't be too hard to find her, but I do need your attention here" The man in the front said, before pulling a pistol - with silencer - from his jacket and killing the tutor, spilling her brains all over the wall. The ensuing pandemonium did not hider either man, as they grinned and headed though the sea of students, pushing over whoever got it there way, until they made it to Jane's seat. "Well hidden" he muttered, ignoring Jane's look of confusion - her and Emily didn't seem to be running around screaming like the others, just staring - before pointing the gun at Jane and pulling the trigger, but the gun never fired. "A jam? Now?!" He asked generally, but clearly annoyed. The click seemed to bring Jane out of her haze, and so she flipped her desk in the man's direction, who made an incoherent curse as the desk flew towards him. She then turned to Emily, so they could run together. Emily was the one person in this school Jane wanted to protect, and she would do anything for that opportunity. However, behind her, there was the muffled sound of two silenced gunshots, and then Emily was covered in blood. Jane's first thought was that Emily had been shot, and this made her extremely angry, but her vision started to gray, and her legs felt so weak. Realization dawned on her, just as she fell forward, into Emily's lap, to die.
    "Going to sleep the day away, or something?" A voice asked, to which Jane slowly opened her eyes, and frowned. She was, in the reception, Silverfang's grinning face looking down at her. All she could do was stare, and mutter 'wha' a lot, so Silverfang took the initiative.
    "Apparently you and a few of your classmates just suddenly collapsed in Tutor, so they brought you down here, and called the people listed to come get you - of which I am very happy it was me and not him" Silver explained, the last word dripping with venom. "I was at home when the call came in, Eliot had gone to do some Eliot stuff, so I had a free to come get you" he explained, but Jane simply shook her head softly some more.
    ", she...” Jane said, trying to explain what she had just seen.
    "Ohh, Emily is fine, she wasn't one of the ones that took an unplanned nap" Silverfang joked, but Jane was still shaking her head.
    "I...died in her lap...” Jane uttered softly, plastering a confused, but rather worried look onto Silverfang's face.
    "Sounds like one 'ell of a vivid dream" a man said from behind them, as Jane looked around, she saw it was the Head Teacher, rather exotically named 'Laas Nebak'. A very friendly tone, but also a great disdain for the letter 'h'. She wondered how this man had ever gotten such a high position with his informal tone, but maybe he had a different tone for more important stuff. He was, amazingly, making a pristine suit, perfectly ironed, look scruffy. Oddly enough, he looked a lot like the caretaker she had seen around; to the point they could be twins. "But, don't worry, no matter what you saw there, it didn't 'appen" he explained, before looking to Silverfang. "So, your 'er guardian, right?" he asked, to which Silverfang nodded. Silverfang had a look on their face, like He knew him from somewhere, but couldn't quite put his finger on it. "Well, take 'er 'ome then. Don't do anything to rough for a while. Just, chill" He suggested.
    "Ok" Jane replied, still groggy but awake enough to stand. "Right, then let’s get back to the house" she exclaimed, slurring a word or two but remaining steady. Silverfang stayed at her side to keep her stable. Jane still had a strange, confused look plastered on her face, but she managed to keep her thoughts on the road ahead, instead of on her very confused mind.
    It took them a lot less than she thought to amble back to Eliot's place, but that was probably the cold giving them a great nudge. But then, the cold always gave people nudges when it came to getting somewhere. Once Silverfang had opened the door and escorted Jane to the couch, he then took off into the kitchen to get her a drink. Jane closed her eyes for a second as Silver potted around; she was so sure it had happened, unlike any other dream, it wasn't fading from memory. She could clearly see Emily's face, so terrified.
    "Here you go" Silverfang announced, snapping Jane out of her not-quite-asleep state. Jane smiled and took the drink, sipping it a few times before placing it on the nearby table.
    "Thanks by the way" she said to Silver with a shy smile.
    "Thanks for what?" He asked.
    "Bringing me here, being supportive. Helping with my confusion and - you haven't done this one yet, but I hope you will - not telling Eliot the details" She said, reeling off each reason for thanks.
    "Ohh, sure, especially the last one. You can count on me" He told Jane, who smiled and moved in close, planting her lips on Silver's. He seemed a bit shocked at first, but then let himself relax. It was a warm kiss, different from anything she had ever had before. With a hint of dog breath. She could feel her heart pounding against her chest as they locked their lips together. This was one of the best feelings she had ever felt and knew it must be that strange emotion she never thought she would feel. Love.
    However, it was cut short by a key entering into a lock, which swiftly broke up the kiss.
    "Anyone home?" Eliot shouted, opening the door.
    "Yea I'm here and I got a carry-on as well" Silverfang told Eliot, who laughed a bit.
    "Aren't you meant to be at school?" Eliot asked Jane, keeping the door open for another girl to walk in.
    "Ohh, I got this bug thing along with several other people, and so they let me go" She explained, smiling at the new girl. "Morning Beth" she said, waving rather groggily at her.
    Eliot stood at an average height with an average build and average length hair. He was very average to look at but it was his heart that set him aside from everyone else, he never turned down anyone who needed help and never hesitated extend his hand to any who needed it. Beth, however, was physically Eliot's opposite; she stood a foot taller than most people in the street and had a wide chest - with equally big breasts - and broader shoulders than most girls had. She seemed to have the physique to handle herself in a fight, but Jane never found out if she had the mentality for a fight either.
    "Hello Beth, how are you?" Silver asked, also grinning like a goof. Beth made everyone grin like a good.
    "I've been good thanks, work has been rather nice lately as we are fully staffed" She told him, before walking over to were Jane sat and hugging her. As much as Jane tried to hide it Beth always knew how her baby sister was feeling without her ever saying a word and right now there was something seriously bothering her but she decided not to press the point just yet.
    "Where are Nehvna and Satyr?" Silverfang asked Beth as they followed Eliot into the kitchen as standby in case something he was cooking blew up, it was not easy cooking for seven people on your own especially when Eliot had a habit of experimenting with the cooking ingredients.
    "Nehvna is trying to convince her little angel to come outside when we left, she told us she would catch up but she hasn't yet. Satyr is somewhere else, probably reading a book or something" Beth told Silverfang as Eliot started telling them what he was going to cook and read out the ingredients needed for the dish, he always liked help in the kitchen.

    "Sorry I was a pain to everyone I really didn't mean to be" Avrion said with a sad face that looked like it was about to cry, but then every face Avrion pulled looked like it was going to cry. That and the fact that her frame was more akin to a stick than an actual person made Avrion look very weedy but that was not the case. For the most part, Nehvna would usually tell Avrion - in several different ways - to stop being so depressive and smile more. Then she would follow it with a compliment about how nice Avrion's smile was and how she would love to see it more often. However, this particular time, she was more interested in - and worried about - Jane's arms, who had gotten up from the couch and was milling around randomly. As luck would have it, Nehvna happened to glance over just as Jane was brushing some hair behind her ear, who had shown off the top part of her wrist, and looked like it carried on a lot longer than just her wrist.
    "What the bloody hell happened to your arms?!" Nehvna demanded, nearly screaming as she saw how far they went up her arms, to the elbow.
    "Oh nothing to worry about it" Jane said with a nervous smile, Nehvna was always kicking off about every little scrape or bruise so cuts running all the way up her arms would not put her in a good mood.
    "That is some cutting Jane, what do you mean there is nothing to worry about?!" she screeched again before grabbing Jane by the hand and dragging her upstairs.
    "Ow, that hurts you know" Jane said, being yanked upstairs.
    Once upstairs Nehvna sat Jane down on a stool - despite her protests - and simply stared wide-eyed at the cuts for a few seconds before muttering to herself and turning to a box labelled 'Jane's Box'. Something that Eliot had been keeping around since she often came - or was brought by Silver - sporting a myriad of wounds. She picked out some disinfectant and poured it onto a cotton bud, then began to dap at the cut, ignoring Jane's sharp intake of breath that signalled it was hurting. She dapped it all the way up her arm, and then the other arm, and showed no interest in the glares she was getting as the treatment hurt, a lot.
    "First I need to get you some clothes while you get a shower" She told Jane, who noticed her school outfit was now rather bloody from her wrists, and messed up with some sort of mud, from when she had lent to far on Silver without him expecting it, and fallen over. "I have been a bit preoccupied to notice my clothing" she told Nehvna, who shook her head softly.
    "Into the shower with you, I'll pick something out" she told Jane, walking into the bathroom and fiddling with the shower before getting it to a good temperature. Emily stripped off to her nude, and pretended not to see Nehvna's look of horror as she saw all the caked blood on her back, but did move more quickly to get into the Shower.
    She let the water run on her body for a while before turning to the shampoo. She reached out for the bottle and squeezed some onto her hand before working it into her hair and washing it off; the soap came off an odd red with brown as the water cleaned off the tinges of blood that had soaked into her hair, as well as all the dirt that had come from months of not washing.
    It took her a while to actually get some semblance of cleanliness due to her lack of being able to have a shower at her own house; her father didn't like her having any sort of luxuries that might make her life in the slightest bit easier. She repeated the lathering a few more times, cleaning her back in the process, until the water returned to its natural colour, she then grabbed the conditioner from the shelf and began to rub it into her mass of now pink hair.
    When she was finished Jane turned the shower off and stepped out, rubbing herself dry with a towel before wrapping one round all the hair she could manage to fit in it. It was a good feeling to be clean and she did not get the feeling very often so every time she did she cherished it because it would be a long time before she got another chance.
    Jane then headed into the bedroom to check what Nehvna was pulling out of the wardrobe.
    "You are one serious mess" Nehvna said as she took off Jane's towel and began to blow dry her hair, Nehvna was not bothered in the slightest by the total lack of clothes that Jane was currently showing since she had been around her and other naked women a lot so she was comfortable with female nakedness. "Come here, your arms need bandaging" She told Jane, who sat down on a stool - the same stool she had sat down on before - and waited patiently while Nehvna rubbed a cream into both cuts and all the way up her arm before wrapping the entire length up in bandage once again. Nehvna brooked no argument when it came to Jane's well-being, and so sometimes used a less than friendly tone on her, but Jane never really took offense to it. When it came to knowing Jane, everyone had a certain amount of skill in First-aid; it was required when you lived around a girl such as her.
    After that was done, Nehvna ran a comb though Jane's hair as she dried it, making sure that each part was properly dried and combed before moving onto the next part and working on that.
    "You could defiantly be a hair dresser or something to that extent you know" Jane told Nehvna who blushed at the complement.
    "I am not that good Jane" She told her, it was not true since Nehvna was amazing with all things hair, Jane's hair was originally brown but it was Nehvna who dyed the whole length of it pink.
    It was extremely hard work considering how much there was but Nehvna managed to do it perfectly.
    "You are better than good Nehvna, you are amazing" she said as Nehvna finished combing through Jane's hair and switched the blow dryer off, she then picked up two sets of clothes from the bed and held them up so that Jane could see them, Jane picked the plainer set of clothes - a simple t-shirt and jeans - and put them on. Nehvna preferred the brighter, flashier style of clothes and so she always wore a long dress that complimented her tall frame. After Jane had finished putting the new clothes on, being careful of her wrist and - with the help of Nehvna - gotten all her hair out of the back of her t-shirt she and Nehvna headed down the stairs, Jane's layered mass of hair swaying slightly as she walked.

    Back at Jane's house, her father was very drunk, and doing his usual drunken blathering about what he was going to do when Jane came home from School. However, one of his many friends/henchmen had called him up to say he had seen Jane leaving the school early with someone else, and that he would have chased her down if he wasn't doing his job at the moment he saw her. Mark let out a few drunken mumblings, before cursing. He then turned to Shadow, and slurred drunkenly.
    "Where’d ya go 'f you'd leave?" He asked, cryptically, but Shadow got it.
    "Well you can always try the Library, she seems to frequent that place a lot. Failing that, I don't really know for certain where she could be, there are a lot of places around for her to be. She could even be hiding in one of the houses" He explained, sighing slightly as he spun such a tale that even someone that was not a complete idiot like Mark was might believe him. Mark grumbled for a bit about not having a definite address then headed downstairs to get his coat and shoes. His mind was filled will all the nasty things he would do when he finally got his ungrateful daughter back. He thought them just punishment for running away rather than spiteful - and pointless - violence. Even Shadow was getting bored of it and he loved to fight things. But what Mark did to Jane was not fighting and as such, he was glad that the time had finally come. It had taken a while, but it was here, at last and was well worth the wait.
    Shadow nodded as Mark headed out of the door and down the road, waking at a pace that was brisk but not hurried. Shadow then left though the back door and headed down the opposite road, he knew exactly where he was going and his pace was casual. He arrived when he wanted to arrive, even if he did not want to arrive at that time he changed the time he wanted to arrive to the time he had arrived. It was a principle thing and he wouldn't let anyone change it, not even Mark, whose hold over Shadow was a lot more tenuous than what he thought it was. Shadow couldn't help smiling as he walked down the road, he was about to do all the things he enjoyed, all in one day. It was a good day. But then, all days when he got to break into somewhere, beat people up, kidnap someone, break stuff and even bring much needed pain and subsequent death to the obnoxious, nasty dislikeable man he had been forced to spent a good deal of time with was a good day. Little could ruin this day. Except the weather, Shadow's smile disappeared in a grumble and he wished it would hurry up and warm up, all this cold was not something he liked, but then he cheered himself up again by realizing he didn't have to put up with it for much longer. He didn't have to put up with much more here for much longer. Shadow's smile returned as he continued down the street. Today was going to be the best of days.

    Jane sniffed the air as she walked down the stairs, Eliot had obviously gone to the kitchen and was adding the finishing touches to his cooking as it made the air smell rather nice, this does not mean the actual food was nice however, simply that it smelt good. "What you got cooking Eliot?" Nehvna asked as she walked into the Kitchen, leaving Jane to go to the front room where she quickly snuggled up against Silverfang, feeling very close to him now. She was still a bit embarrassed but tried not to make it show.
    "Food. It will be done soon" Eliot said, he never gave a definite answer of what he was cooking before it was done.
    "Well I hope you are not going to try that puke flavoured risotto again" Nehvna joked as she got out a collection of glasses and began filling them up with different drinks.
    "Don't worry about that, I am making meat this time" he said, throwing a few more herbs in to the pan.
    "Ahhhh, it has been a rough today" Jane said, not caring about proper speech as she snuggled into Silverfang who starred at her.
    "Rough today? I think you need speaking lessons" Silverfang joked, earning him a punch in the arm from Jane.
    "I am allowed to have crappy speaking" She told him as Eliot came into the room with a massive plate piled high with nose-caressing meat.
    "Grubs up" he said setting the large plate down and putting some smaller plates next to it.
    Everyone attacked the pile of meat and piled their plates high with it before sitting back, despite the large amount everyone had taken there was still a fair bit left. Jane bit into one of the chicken pieces and the flavour exploded in her mouth, the herbs went perfectly with the meat and made the whole thing beautiful.
    "This is great Eliot; you really can cook well sometimes can’t you?" Jane announced loudly, backed by agreements from everyone else.
    "Well I just got lucky that's all. I threw a load of leftover meat into a pot and chucked in a ton of herbs. The result was not too bad" he said with a big head, popping a piece of beef into his mouth before there was a knock at the door.
    "Who are we missing?" Eliot asked himself, heading to the door and opening it. As he opened it, however, he was greeted by the sight of a fist, which quickly connected with Eliot's face, knocking him back from the door and sprawling him out on the carpet. His tattered, pitch black overcoat swaying slightly in the breeze and his one eye - the other had a large scar over it and the eyelid was shut - scanned the room, taking in each person in it calmly. Shadow then shut the door as if he had just entered a room full of friends rather than a room full of people trying to cause him serious harm.
    "Hello" He said casually actually greeting the room like he wasn't about to fight half the room's inhabitants as Silverfang growled. He had gotten up from his seat and his fists where clenched, ready to fight. Nehvna, Jane and Beth had all gotten off the couch and backed against the wall, as if it would do anything when Shadow took out the Familiars and walked over as he obviously would.
    Silverfang had sprouted fur and his fingers grew into claws, his teeth grew longer and sharper, till they resembled a set of wolf teeth rather than human teeth. "Sit down, pup, I have just come for Jane, you don't need to get involved" He told Silver obviously highly confident of his skills and the inevitable victory he would have if Silver tried to fight him. However, a plate of meat flew at his face and showered the room with bits of food. The plate itself was a problem though, so he battered it away, shattering it into shards as an angry Silver punched Shadow in the kidney.
    As Shadow was recovering from the blow, an arrow penetrated Shadow's shoulder and forced him back, reeling in pain from the combine assault. Shadow let out a grunt of pain as Silverfang moved in to take advantage of the long-shafted distraction, dropping another powerful punch into the open side. However, Shadow was not going to let himself get beaten by some half-arsed wolf and a bow wielding whatever Avrion was. He blocked the incoming strike with his left hand - grimacing as the arrow in his shoulder painfully reminded him that it was still there. Then, with his right fist he sunk a vicious punch into Silverfang's gut, and the followed up with a cross to his jaw from the left hand. The arrow was really irritating him now, but from the way Silverfang collapsed onto the floor, it wouldn’t be a problem for much longer.
    He then turned to see who had shot an arrow at him as a second arrow - obviously waiting for a clear shot - grazed his cheek. Avrion hastily drew a third arrow but Shadow was no longer there to shoot when she had nocked the arrow. Avrion frowned for a second before Shadow - who had re-appeared behind her - punched her in the side, cracking her ribs. Avrion's face contorted in pain as she collapsed, her bow clattering to the ground, now useless.
    With both Familiars out of action Shadow sighed and gripped the arrow shaft, he then pulled it out with something that was a mix between a growl and a cry of pain as he realized the arrow was barbed and had caused more damage coming out than going in.
    "Dam, that is sore" he muttered casually, not hurrying since the other two that could do anything against him where on the floor in rather large amounts of pain. He rolled his shoulder a few times and wiped away the blood before stepping over Avrion's body and turning to look at the three girls. Nehvna was looking at Avrion with a look of concern and fear, but she couldn't move with Shadow in front of her. Beth looked distracted, cursing silently for some reason but Shadow didn't bother finding out what. She also appeared to have a small look of fear, as if unsure what Shadow was going to do now, but not nearly as much as Nehvna, who was on the verge of tears. Jane, in contrast to her two sisters, was glaring at Shadow determinedly, as if she could stop his advance with a glare.
    "Well, you're coming with me now Jane" Shadow said, equally as casual as he had been since entering the house and fighting the two Familiars.
    "Like hell I am" she growled, swinging a rather inexperienced punch at Shadow who, a lot more experienced that Jane, swatted the punch away and returned one of his own, punching her the same way he had punched Silver. The effects were also similar, as Jane creased up, gasping for air. Shadow did not deliver a second punch though, instead he picked Jane up and there her over his shoulder before heading for the door.
    "Good day" He said generally to the house hold as he reached the door, his tone was polite and had no trace of sarcasm in it. Shadow then opened the door and stepped through it; still remaining as casual as the moment he had walked in.

    Jane thrashed, kicking and punching and screaming as Shadow carried her down the road, Shadow however, was rather bored at the fact that she was still resisting. After several minutes he decided to say something about it, not that what he said was very nice, but then he had just kidnapped her from the house and carried her over his shoulder like a package down the road - the few cars that passed ignored him, which he was grateful for - and that was not very nice, so he was not going to start being nice now.
    "Please stop them butterfly farts you call punches, it's getting slightly annoying now" He said, huffing at the effort it required to kidnap one girl. Not that it was a very tactful kidnapping, but then he was not a very tactful person. As he walked down the pavement - Jane did not give up her punches despite how ineffective they were - he saw someone, stood in the middle of the pavement, clearly waiting for Shadow. The most peculiar thing was that he had a sword in his hand, but from this distance he could not make much of the sword's details out. Nor anything about the person, which he did not really like the idea of. He huffed again, wondering who this person was. The man appeared serious however, so he dropped Jane - she let out a short scream before she hit the pavement and was knocked breathless - and dropped down next to her.
    "Don't move, I got to deal with this" he said, clipping on some pitch black handcuffs , the same the same colour as his coat, around her wrists. Jane didn't see where they had come from, but then he could have an entire utility vest under his coat for all she could see. Shadow then stood up and faced the man, who was closer now and walking towards him slowly. From this distance Shadow could make out the blade was sheathed, the man had not drawn it yet, which was odd. With a sigh this time rather than a huff, he drew his own sword, its blade so black it stole light from the surroundings and it made his coat seem a much lighter colour in comparison.
    The man had significant muscles and his stance showed that he was obviously experienced with the blade despite not drawing it yet, so Shadow adopted his Familiar Form, the tattered overcoat he wore grew darker, till it matched his sword in contrast and the frayed edges of it turned into a pristine, fully buttoned version of itself. His face changed as well, the area where his eye was scared and shut turned skeletal, which made his calm look all the more menacing.
    "Such hassle" he muttered to himself, striding towards the man who was completely unfazed by the sudden change and - from what he could see - was wearing a fox mask.

    Beth punched the floor in anger, Nehvna was trying to take care of Avrion and had diagnosed that Shadow had broken ribs with his punch.
    "He didn't even switch, Two Familiar in their forms and he took them both out while still in his Human form" She growled, slapping Silverfang to get him to wake up, a method a lot less refined than what Nehvna would have done, but then Beth was a lot less refined than Nehvna when it came to medical stuff. Silverfang woke up with a groan and stood up, stumbling for the door.
    "Got….to save…Jane" he said, opening the door and stumbling out of it, despite Nehvna's protests - and Beth's, but less enthusiastically - which caused Beth to simply sigh and move on, slapping Eliot now rather than Silverfang.
    Silverfang stumbled down the road, clutching his side from the pain, his jaw also hurt, but he would have looked rather stupid clutching his jaw and Silver didn't want to look any more stupid. He already did that enough as it was. Silver stumbled down the road, holding onto a garden wall at one point and taking a breather for several seconds, he hadn't been in this much pain for a while, that Shadow really packed a punch, he saw now what Jane meant by he couldn't get past her father's Familiar.
    After several minutes of stumbling and leaning on wall to keep himself standing he reached Jane, who was lying in the middle of the road, he quickened his pace from amble to quick stumble, gritting his teeth at the increase in pain. He arrived and got down on his knees next to her. She was shivering from the cold and so he took off his jacket and wrapped around her, hoping to warm her up slightly. With that done, he scouted the surrounding area and found a few, rather interesting things. Half an immensely black blade - so black it made darkness seem light - was laying on the ground, scrap marks leading up to it showed that it had landed at an angle and at some speed as well. Oddly, there was no blood around, but then Jane's whole body shivered quite violently and Silverfang was beginning to feel the bite of the cold as well, so he put the questions to the back of his mind and picked Jane up, immediately putting him down again as his side roared in pain.
    He had ignored it before but it had now come back with a vengeance. He clutched it and cursed a few times, then looked down at Jane again. There were some shards scattered around Jane, black as the blade shard but in many, finer pieces. However, Jane herself was more important at the moment. She must have been frozen, the clothing she was wearing was thin enough, made for comfort not warmth and even with Silver's coat it was cold enough out to cut though that with little effort, making Silverfang worried about Jane's health.
    He growled in vexation and he was so fixated on Jane and her predicament that he did not notice the man with the Fox mask approach until the man spoke.
    "Do you need a hand?" He asked, causing Silverfang to jump, let out a strangled yelp of surprise and then take a sharp intake of breath as pain ran though his body again. The Fox-mask hid the man's features and his emotions, and but that didn't stop Silverfang glaring suspiciously. Masked people didn't simply appear next to a fur lined man standing in front of an unconscious girl and offer to help without so much as a question of the situation.
    Things like that just did not happen; the man's sudden arrival was too precise to be Happenstance, or even coincidence. It had to be planned. The man must have read Silverfang's wariness as he offered an explanation.
    "I came here at the request of his Sister, it was quite a rush, but I managed to get here on time, however, I could not see to the girl as I had to make sure Shadow was properly gone and not just hiding somewhere close by" He explained, his voice sounded odd, as if the mask had a voice-box in it that changed the tone of his voice. However odd that was and the phrase 'his sister' was also rather odd, but Silverfang was more interested with the fact that the fox-mask man had fought Shadow.
    "You fought Shadow? How, he is like, seriously strong" Silver said in disbelief, trying to save his own ego.
    "Yes, he is quite a monster in strength, but there is always a bigger fish" the Fox masked man told Silver and though the voice-box distorted it slightly, the tone sounded as casual as when Shadow had broken into the house. "Now, we should see to that side of yours" he said, pulling his scabbard out of its resting place in his belt. For some reason, Silverfang knew he wasn't going to try anything with the sword and so didn't move to stop him. The man then tapped the handle against Silver's side and he suddenly felt an indescribable feeling. After a few seconds he was left with a mild case of pins-and-needles but his side did not feel as if had Shadow caused a large amount of pain there barely half an hour previously, his jaw felt a lot better as well.
    "Err, thank…" Silver started, but the fox-masked man was no longer there; Silver frowned but then realized that Jane was shivering and so picked her up and headed back to the house at a much greater speed than he had headed out at.

    For the second time in so many hours Jane found herself resting in bed, the key difference this time was that everyone was in the room rather than just Silverfang and everyone looked worried. Also, Beth's beautiful, perfectly curvy-bodied Familiar Satyr was also there, looking on with a slightly worried look. Avrion looked as if she was a bit doped and so when she opened her eyes the first thing she asked was if Avrion was feeling alright.
    "I’m fine, Shadow broke a few ribs, but Satyr managed to fix me up" Avrion replied rather slowly, but her smile never faded. Jane nodded and then turned to Silverfang, who seemed the most relieved that she had woken up.
    "Thank you for finding me Silver" Jane said, blushing slightly as she looked at him. His fur had retracted and his face - and the rest of his body - was now smooth. "I'm sure your all curious as to what happened, so gather round and I will recite it the best I can" Jane said, everyone then moved around, sitting on the bed at different angles so they were in a semi-circle around Jane, who cleared her throat and began.
    "As Shadow was carrying me down the road, a guy stood in the way, he was an odd sort of guy, with a strange, fox mask on" She told them before Silverfang piped up.
    "I met him, he used a voice box to hide his real voice for some reason and his sword thing was really odd. He tapped my side with the handle and the pain just vanished, I tried to thank him but he had vanished as quickly as the pain did" Silverfang told everyone, before nodding towards Jane, signalling her to continue.
    "He was definitely an odd guy. He even made Shadow go into his Familiar form just by standing there with this sheathed sword. Anyway, Shadow dropped me from his shoulder - which really hurt by the way - and then clipped these things on my wrists and as soon as they locked, my arms went dead. All the feeling vanished in that moment and they flopped uselessly. I think I'll call them the Arm-Deadeners" Jane mused, going off on a tangent before Beth coughed, causing Jane to snap back, if slightly slowly.
    "What? Ohh yes, Shadow. Anyway, after those Arm-Deadeners got clipped on, Shadow moved towards the Fox-mask guy. I was interested in what was going to happen, so I tried to pull myself into a better position to see. However, it was awkward, and by the time I had, Shadow's sword had been severed and he had a narrow, but long - and clearly deep, from what I could see - opening caused by a sword on his coat. The odd thing was that despite the wound underneath the coat there was no blood and the fox guy's sword was still sheathed.
    Shadow then backed up and fell into the shadow he was casting on the ground - which was amazing by the way, I never knew he could do that - and as he did that the Arm-Deadeners crumbled into tiny shards, which I was grateful for. But, as I moved to get up, I suddenly felt a bit off balance. It was like getting out of a swimming pool after being in there for a good while.
    Then, a couple of seconds later I closed my eyes, to see if it would help abate the odd feeling, then I must have fallen unconscious because the next thing I remember was waking up on this bed" Jane finished. Beth - and pretty much anyone who wasn't Satyr - appeared rather enthralled by the story, as if they were getting into it.
    Satyr, however, was thinking - as usual, she was always the smartest person of the group and always the thinker - about the story.
    "To be able to stand toe to toe with Shadow you would need a Powerful Familiar at the very least, but from Jane's story the man didn't have a Familiar with him, just a sword that remained sheathed for the parts Jane saw. And the time-frame for drawing his sword, severing Shadow's and delivering a blow to his chest, then replacing the sword is not big, only a few seconds at most. Combine that with what seems like a blood-drinking sword and I can think of only one person that would do that. Sean Woodhouse" Satyr said, speaking her thoughts to the group.
    "But why the hell would he be around here? Isn't he busy being rich and famous?" Silverfang asked. The town they were in was far away from any kind of famous place so it was not like he was simply going slightly out of his way.
    "Why don't we ask him?" Jane said to everyone, smiling at them as if she had not just woken up from being dragged down the road by a far-to-calm familiar for what he was doing then saved by one of the most famous people on the planet, a man with a name no one would not immediately recognize. However, with the looks she was getting Jane quickly continued. "I mean, he has to still be in the area right? So we could contact him" She tried to explain, but Satyr shook her head.
    "No, there are only a few Teleporting tricks, known to the stronger, older Familiars but most of them have quite a long range. Shadow's shadow trick is known as one of the shorter ones and even that has a maximum range of 40 miles" Satyr told Jane. Silverfang snapped his fingers as if he had just remembered something.
    "The Fox-mask man said that he had come at the request of 'his Sister' not 'my Sister' which means it was someone else's Sister that had called him here, to this exactly spot, at this exact time to rescue Jane" Silverfang told everyone.
    "Going off the assumption that the man is Sean Woodhouse - "Satyr started, but Silverfang stopped her.
    "No, I don't think it is Sean. For one, he has a reputation for completely lacking any amount of seriousness despite the situation and an obsession with making as many people know that it is him doing the thing in question and not someone else. I don't think Sean would have worn a mask, or kept such a level head. You know, I would not be surprised if the fox-masked man was Balance, he had the build for it and from what I have heard he had the skill as well" Silverfang told Satyr, putting his point across. Satyr looked vexed at being interrupted but took a breath to start again; however before she even got anything out Eliot spoke out.
    "Still does not explain why he is here, he is meant to be somewhere else, doing famous things" this caused Satyr to look really rather annoyed. Jane picked up on this mood and moved to get out of the bed.
    "Well while you are doing the smart stuff I am hungry" She announced. Silverfang, also picking up on Satyr's vexation and decided that - being one of the reasons - he would remove himself as well.
    "There is some meat left in the kitchen" he said, helping Jane out of the bed and following her downstairs.
    When they reached the kitchen Silverfang reached out to the microwave and opened it, a plate of meat was sat in the middle and so he took it out and handing it to Jane, who pouted.
    "I can take food out of the microwave you know" she snapped, putting her fists on her hips. Silverfang hated it when girls did that, it made them seem scary.
    "I was just trying to help" he told Jane with a half cheeky, half loving smile, holding the plate of meat out for her. Jane laughed and took the plate.
    "I know, but I'm stressed, with good reason. Sorry I snapped" She apologized.
    "Don't worry about it, if I was in your shoes I'd be stressed as well. And my snapping hurts a lot more, sharp teeth and all" Silver said, gnashing his teeth softly and doing what he did best; making a joke to ease the tension that was building up. His ploy worked and he was rewarded by the soft giggle from Jane.
    She and Silverfang stood in the kitchen for the next minute, eat meat and complaining about how it was going to give them bad wind the next day. Then Beth and Satyr came down the stairs and headed straight for the coat rack, pulling on their shoes and coats rather quickly and heading for the door.
    "We are going out, we won't be long, just need to pick something up" She said before exiting the house without another word.
    "Err, I feel like I missed something" Jane said, Silverfang - who had taken a piece of meat from Jane's plate and was now chewing it - nodded in agreement. Fortunately, Eliot and the two remaining girls came down the stairs at a slower rate. They saw the bemused looks on Silverfang and Jane's faces and decided to explain.
    "Satyr and Beth started to talk about a book when you left; we quickly got left begin in the dust. I have no idea where they are going, only that they won't be long" Eliot explained as best he could, not that it was much of an explanation. But then, not many people could explain the winding, Labyrinth-like train of thought that Beth and Satyr followed nearly every day. Jane simply shrugged and returned to get plate of meat.
    "Well, if they are not going to be long then maybe we should do what we were planning on doing in the first place" Silverfang suggested, but Avrion yawned, quickly followed by Nehvna, then everyone else caught up in the infectious wave that yawning always brought. It was odd how one yawn could make a whole room yawn, but then - Jane thought abstractly - it was like a smile, if you smiled then chances where someone else would start smiling and that would make another person smile. She liked to share her smile with as many people as she could when her father let her out, which was not often and nearly all the situations that he dragged her to where no places for smiles, most where a place for the complete opposite of smiling, which crashed Jane's happy train of thought. Avrion brought Jane back to reality by speaking to the group, which was a nice distraction.
    "I'm tired, I'm going to catch some Zs while they are out, I'll come back down later" She told everyone, Nehvna nodded and sleepily followed her Familiar up the stairs.
    "Fair enough, just don't break anything" Eliot told them with a playful smile.
    I: Satyr looked at Beth as they walked down the road. She couldn't believe that, after all this waiting, it was finally time. The shackles would be thrown off and they would ascend, away from here, something Satyr had been waiting to do for quite a while now.
    "It is glorious that it is finally time, don't you think?" Satyr asked Beth, who shook her head.
    "It is simply the first step on a long road, Satyr; plenty of work is required before we can bear fruit" Beth replied, Satyr sighed and nodded.
    "I know, I know. But still, we are setting out on the long road after such a time of waiting, there is just something about that start that...Just...Mmm" Satyr ended with a noise, rather than a word since she didn't have a word for it.
    "That is true dear and I am rather ecstatic, but it is not like anything we have faced before. Three walls - that we know of and there might be more. The first has already been broken, and the plan for the second is being worked out but the third…" Beth trailed off, staring at the sky. After a while she shook her head. "But, we are at the start and that is something. Better than what was before" She finished. Satyr nodded in agreement. The two girls then began to speak about more mundane things, like the weather and how much they liked Eliot's newest Kitchen experiment, until they arrived at a rather large house. It stood out from all the others with its ornately carved statues of a woman wearing a dress made from leaves and holding a globe that, on further inspection, looked very similar to the Earth. The way the statue's eyes where carved made it seem as if the holder owned, or had created the orb.
    Satyr had seen it a few times and knew what it represented, but little other people did. The rest of the house was made from equally large - both in length and width - quarry stones that looked distinctively fresher than the rest of the street, which made it stand out from the rest of the red-brick houses even more. There was a feeling that this house had not existed for very long, or at least not as long as the other houses on the street.
    "Never could blend in, could he?" Satyr asked rhetorically as they opened the gate and walked up to the door, pushing it open without so much as a knock.
    The Inside of the house was devoid of practically everything, there were no tables, or clocks, or chandeliers that someone would have expected, seeing the outside. There was not even any boxes that would explain the bareness, it was simply an empty hallway, stretching on until it reached a set of stairs, the stairs then went up to another bare hallway, this one dotted with several, unpainted doors. Beth had seen it before, it was obvious considering the owners favourite pass-time. As she walked through the hallway, her footfalls light and hard to hear, she heard a thudding sound, as if something very heavy was moving on the second floor. She smiled and looked up as a bare-chested mountain of a man - easily thirty stone and topping six and a half foot - his muscles where so large that his bare-chested appearance was justified, since there was no shirt or jacket he could wear without his monstrous girth ripping it in half.
    His muscles where mainly around the top half of his body, but his leg muscles where well developed as well, if not to a clothes-ripping extent. To most people, the man would be terrifying to an extent that they would probably run and hide from him. Beth, however, had grown used to the bulk of the man and was not bothered by it, much. There was still a wariness of him, but it was suppressed.
    "Hello Glee, is Niall in?" She asked, Satyr stayed close to Beth's side, she was considerably more wary of Glee, as she was to everyone or everything that could crush her skull with a single hand and little effort.
    "It's Mr. Glee, not just Glee. And yes, he is in, what do you want with him?" Mr. Glee asked.
    "I want a book" She replied, obviously not planning on giving much - if any - more than that.
    "Fine, follow me" Mr. Glee said with a sigh. Beth and Satyr headed up the stairs and followed Mr. Glee along the hallway and into a room, as bare as the rest. Niall was sat on the floor with two women who were standing, the man was tall, six foot easily and has well-toned muscles, or though they were nowhere near the size of Mr. Glee's. Beth explained it to Satyr the first time she asked as concentrated strength, the muscles could exert as much strength as Mr. Glee's, but where a lot smaller. Niall wore a t-shirt and had hair that reached the middle of his back which was the opposite of Mr. Glee's bald, bare-chested look.
    "Beth, what brings you here?" Niall asked, upon seeing Beth and Satyr arrive.
    "I need a book. A very specific book. It is time" She told him and Niall needed no more. Mr. Glee looked more alert than he had before, and even cracked a grin.
    "Finally. Been a while, eh?" Niall asked, getting up and heading for the door, followed closely by Beth and Satyr, Mr. Glee to bring up the rear.
    Niall led them to a room that was miles, upon miles of bookshelves. How this was possible would have boggled the brain of a normal person, but Beth took it as par of the course. There where lights hanging overhead, as if it was a warehouse with full bookshelves rather than a room in someone's house. Niall took confident strides though the stacks, looking left and right for a moment before striding onwards.
    "So, how do you know you way around here? I never really asked before" Beth asked, always one to acquire new knowledge.
    "Well, you just have to stroll with purpose, and the shelf you want will present itself. Aha" Niall finished, walking over to one of the shelves and pulling a book from it.
    "There you go, one book" He said, beaming widely. "I shall be along later. Good luck with your endeavours" He finished, to which Beth and Satyr nodded and thanked Niall, turning around to see the door to exit the room a few feet away.
    "Always love how that works" Satyr commented, before following Beth out of the giant library.

    When the girls got back to the house Eliot was playing cushion to Avrion and Nehvna, it was so cute to see him being a cushion but it was ruined a second later by Beth and Satyr barging though the door, jolting the two girls awake.
    "I'm up" Nehvna squeaked as she sat up, Beth and Satyr went upstairs without saying anything to anyone and ignored all the curious looks. However, everybody followed the two up the stairs after only a few seconds of debating. But when they arrived at the bedroom that had been used to keep Jane's unconscious form - twice - in there was nothing understandable to be nosey at when, Satyr was sat reading the book and Beth was looking at her, the book had a lot of names followed by strange symbols that Jane had never seen, Satyr did not seem to pay them any mind so Jane simply ignored them, passing them off as unimportant.
    Satyr flicked though the book for a few minutes before pointing to one of the names, Jane did not see it before the book was passed to Beth.
    It was at this point that Jane noticed a paint pot next to Beth, a few seconds where spent wondering what she was going to do with it or even where she got it from before she took the brush out and began painting the symbols Jane saw on the book. When Beth had finished painting the last symbol they glowed with a bright light before a holographic woman appeared, but it was a fuzzy quality and Jane couldn't make out any details other than she was a woman.
    Satyr however didn't seem to need any detail and said something in a rather confusing tongue that Jane had never heard of. The woman nodded and the symbols stopped glowing, then the woman disappeared.
    "You see? Nothing to worry about" Satyr told Beth, Beth looked rather on edge about the whole thing but relaxed when Satyr comforted her.
    "I was worried that we would get the wrong one" she told Satyr before standing up and seeing the confused looks on everyone's faces.
    "We made a phone call" she said simply before heading past them. Jane and Silverfang looked at Eliot who simply shrugged.
    "You expect me to know what she means?" he asked so they all followed Beth and Satyr down the stairs like a game of follow-the-leader. When Jane asked Beth what she meant Beth stared looking rather annoyed.
    "You use phones to call people. That is why it is called a phone call" She said, annoying Jane.
    "Fine, keep your secrets" Jane said in a huff, returning to Silverfang who had sat on the couch.
    "Sorry about your party idea" she said, snuggling into Silverfang.
    "Don't worry about it, today has been much more exciting" He told Jane, relaxing so that he would be a more comfortable pillow.
    "Yea and much more painful" she said, looking at the bruise on his chin from her vantage point.
    While Jane and Silverfang where snuggling Eliot had not given up on finding out what Satyr and Beth had been doing.
    "Tell me who you were calling" He said, giving up on asking for the content.
    "Rose, I assumed that since she was the one in use then she would be the one handing things around here" Satyr told Eliot, ignoring his gormless look.
    "Rose? You mean Scarlet Rose? How can you just call her?" Eliot asked, throwing several questions at Satyr who was beginning to look annoyed.
    "Yes I mean Scarlet Rose and I can just call her because I got the phone book from Niall and that allows me to call any Familiar registered" Satyr said to him, shedding light on what she had just done.
    "So you are saying that with that book you can call any Familiar in the world?" He asked to which Satyr simply shook her head.
    "No, only the ones registered, Familiars are registered by default but people can opt to unregister them so people can't contact them, don't ask why though" She said before heading into the kitchen, an obvious sign that the conversation was over.
    "This day keeps getting weirder" Eliot said, scratching his head.
    "Give it time, the best is yet to come" Beth told him before following Satyr and leaving Eliot with a befuddled look.
    After a minute Eliot gave up and walked back into the front room, flopping down on one of the chairs. "What is with Satyr being so cryptic?" he asked, rhetorically but Jane answered all the same. "Because she has a secret and you know how she is with secrets". Eliot was not expecting an answer so it took him a second to realize that Jane was talking to her.
    "But she has never been so…secretive" Eliot told her, sighing heavily, Jane - for her part - simply shrugged.
    "Satyr and Beth, are extremely greedy for knowledge, they are the kind of people that would destroy half the world if they thought it would give them the secrets of the other half" Silverfang told Eliot like he did not already know.
    "I know but that does not mean I am not annoyed about it" Eliot replied.
    Jane looked at Eliot and Silverfang before smiling, she had no plans to return after what her father did to her. "So do you want to retry your night or do you think someone is going to interrupt it again?" she asked, the cheeky grin giving more weight to her words.
    "Well since we are expecting Satyr's guest whenever I guess we should just wait and not try anything that is going to get interrupted in an hour or so" Eliot explained so Jane simply shrugged and snuggled into Silverfang again.

    Shadow's face screwed up as his last wound was stitched up.
    "I can't believe you got beat" the man who was stitching him up said with a slight amused tone. "Watch it Doc or you will be your next patient" Shadow growled but this did not stop the man from chuckling slightly.
    "I believe we have not given this man the attention he deserves" the doctor said, cleaning the blood off his hands and leaving for the door. He opened it and turned back to Shadow.
    "I think you are going to need a better sword, or a new partner, before you go up against him again" the doctor told Shadow who smiled an evil smile.
    "I was thinking both actually and it has already been taken care of" his voice had taken on a dark undertone to it.
    "So I am to expect an addition soon then?" The doctor asked to which Shadow nodded.
    "Always good" the doctor said, leaving the room.
    Shadow stood up and rubbed the large shoulder stitching before picking up his tattered coat. "Working for a runaway to chase down a legend. How far can I fall?" he asked himself before leaving the room. This place was a nice haven for the unwanted people of the universe, the only question ever asked around here was 'how much will it cost' and even that one was not really asked that much. Questions around here tended to get you on one of the beds, or in the morgue. Shadow liked that about here. As he walked down the hallway he saw the man he was going to be working with now, he had that same feel, that same aura around him as the man that had cut his chest open and that was one of the reasons Shadow was working with him, but not the only reason. He wanted revenge and power and the opportunity to kill people. With this man, he would have all that.
    "Any leads?" Shadow asked, putting his coat on.
    " shall investigate" The man - Shadow was not sure it was really a man, just had the look of a man - growled. Shadow nodded and headed towards the main entrance, he wasn't treated with the respect he wanted, but it was better than being with Mark. Here he wasn't underestimated and here he had freedom, to an extent.
    Jane woke up. She didn't know that she had fallen asleep but she must have done, you rarely wake up without falling to sleep. Upon waking up she saw a new person in the front room, the hole in the wall had been fixed over the course of her sleep which made her ask how long she had been snoozing.
    "About an hour" Silverfang informed her before catching the questioning look. "That's Scarlet, she came down about ten minutes ago and has been talking quietly with Beth and Satyr for the past nine and a half" he told her, glaring at them, it was so bumming to be left out of a secret conversation. Jane looked at the new girl for a few seconds before she remembered something.
    "Where's Nehvna and Avrion?" she asked Silverfang scratched his head.
    "They are asleep somewhere, they told Eliot they were tired and so probably crashed on one of the beds, not sure which one though" Silverfang told Jane. She was satisfied with this answer as she laid back down on Silver's lap.
    "So this Rose? She isn't Scarlet Rose is she, Sean's Familiar?" Jane asked rather sceptically, not believing that she would come here. However, she did seem similar to that hazy woman Satyr and Beth where talking to.
    "Probably, I don't know. It was just 'Scarlet' so it could be Rose, or it could not be" Silverfang replied so Jane simply shrugged and snuggled back into him.
    "Wake me up when they let us in on the conversation" Jane said with an underlying grumpiness before going back to sleep.
    Jane was awoken half an hour after she went back to sleep.
    "They are involving us now" Silverfang told her, Jane was groggy but interested.
    "I have talked with Satyr and she tells me that you are the one Shadow tried to kidnap" Scarlet said, looking at Jane.
    "Yea, he is my dad's Familiar and so he tried to drag me back home" Jane explained, Scarlet simply shook her head.
    "No, I'm afraid Shadow is no longer your father's Familiar because your father no longer is. And he did not take you for your father, he took you for himself" Scarlet said in a neutral voice, but with a slight tone of pity.
    "Ohh, well then he was my father's Familiar" Jane reiterated, seemingly unperturbed by the announcement of her father's death, she was a bit confused as to what she meant by 'for himself' but she didn't really care to know the answer. Silverfang, however, was slightly more sympathetic.
    "Jane, he may have been a good contentder for biggest asshole of the year award, but he was still your father" he told her, and got a blank, nonchalant stare in reply.
    "And? It wasn't by choice. People have been trying to sling that line for years, and it never works" Jane replied, before looking to Scarlet. "So, who offed the old….can't find a good word for him really" Jane admitted.
    "Actually it was Shadow that killed him" Rose informed them casually, as if it was common knowledge that Familiars could kill their partners. The look of confusion on everyone but Beth and Satyr's faces however, told Scarlet it was not.
    "But I thought Familiars couldn't be here without a partner, so killing their partner would immediately cause them to disappear" Jane said, stating everyone's question.
    "They can if they have a new master before killing the old one" Rose replied, this did nothing for the confusion however.
    "Familiars can change partners?" Silverfang asked before Jane could.
    "Ahh, I forgot that humans and their Familiars where largely ignorant of the way in which Familiars work" Rose said with a slight smile, she looked as if she was going to speak but was interrupted by Silverfang.
    "You make it sound like humans aren't the only people that have Familiars" He said sceptically, unsure if this Rose was trying to trick him or actually though that people where really stupid.
    "You're an idiot" Rose told him, unintentionally answering his question. "The Orion–Cygnus Arm holds a lot more than just this system. And then there is the rest of the galaxy and then the other galaxies beyond that. The universe is a big place, so incomprehensibly large that only a half dozen beings have true omnipotence within it and you are trying to say that you are the only race to reside in it? Humans really are some of the densest sentient beings around" Rose told everyone, sighing slightly with vexation, she then spoke quietly to Satyr for a while, ignoring everyone else, before leaving.
    "He's coming soon" Silverfang heard before Rose left. Silverfang then approached Beth and Satyr with a rather un-amused look. "I have a few questions for you" He said with a strained voice, dragging both of them upstairs despite Satyr's protests that she needed to wait downstairs.
    "Right, stand there a second while I work out where to start" Silverfang told Beth as he dragged her into the guest room.
    "Start on what?" Beth asked, genuinely confused for one of the first times.
    "Probing you for answers" he replied, but before he could think of a question a voice came from the doorway.
    "Is there a problem?" it asked in a rather calm voice that had an underlying tone of such seriousness it would make the most prude man's voice seem silly.
    "No thank you Eliot, we are fine" Beth said before noticing that the voice was completely different to Eliot's, however when she looked over at the doorway there was no one there. Forgetting Silverfang for the moment - and he did not seem to mind being forgotten as he followed Beth - she walked over to the door and looked around. There was no one in the hallway or on the stairs. With her curiosity now at extreme levels Beth headed downstairs.
    "Has anyone come in yet?" Beth asked with a confusing scanning of the room.
    "Your Rose friend left only a minute ago, why would anyone be here yet?" Eliot said, answering her question with a question of his own and looking at Beth's confused face with his own face of confusion.
    "He has a point; it's not like Rose is even where she is going yet. And people can't just appear in houses with such a large group without anyone seeing them" The calm, serious voice said, but the speaker was gone by the time Beth had looked around.
    "This is not just me going nuts it is?" Beth asked but the looks on everyone else's face indicated that was not the case.
    "It wouldn't be the first time you have gone nuts" The bodiless voice said, a hint of amusement entering its voice. This time the voice spoke, a look of recognition crossed over Beth's face, quickly followed by a look of extreme annoyance.
    "I'm going to feed you to some dogs, kill the dogs and then feed them to some bigger dogs. Then kill them dogs and burn their remains" Beth threatened.
    "Scary" The voice replied with no deviation from its normal tone. "You don't mind if I draw on these walls do you?" It asked and obviously didn't wait for a reply because a second later a very realistic drawing of a Giraffe appeared on the walls. "Giraffe is such a strange name, but then so is Hippopotamus" the voice mused in a tone that was getting increasingly amused. Beth had already walked over to the cutlery drawer and was currently picking out a dozen knives.
    "I like Dobermen, them massive dog-bear-things, the only problem is that things tend to get really hairy around them" the voice said, laughing at its own joke. Jane and Avrion also forgot the strange events for a second and laughed while the boys just stood with confused looked on their faces.
    Beth then stormed over to the spot she was standing on and threw the dozen knives in the direction of the drawing. Several of the knives thudded into something and the knife part turned red quickly, a sharp "Ow, that hurt" rang out, the only one without a look of shock and confusion was Beth, who simply had an annoyed look on her face. "Et tu Bethee?" The voice asked before a thud rang out and the knives moved downwards, near the floor, but floating in the invisible man.
    Beth waited for a second before walking over to the area where the knives was and looking down. "Now stop pissing about" she said in a commanding sort of voice.
    "Trust you to ruin my fun" The voice said as the knives flew up again and pulled themselves out of whatever it was lodged in. The knife spun one and then it was devoid of any blood that stained it, however the blood was not on the carpet or the surrounding walls, it had simply vanished.
    "You're not seeing me though, I need to make my dramatic entrance, talking of which, is nearly here. Put the kettle on, I want a cuppa tea" The voice said and a couple of seconds later the knives lost their fight with gravity and plummeted to the floor. Beth then proceeded to pick up the rest of the knives and did her best to ignore all the confused looks she was getting from Eliot and the rest of them.
    "Wha?" Jane asked as Beth gathered the last of the knives and began to wipe them one by one and put them back in the drawer. She then filled the kettle up with hot water and started waiting for it to boil. Seeing that she would not get an answer out of Beth she turned to Silverfang. Nehvna and Avrion came down the stairs, yawning and stretching.
    "What was with all the noise?" Nehvna asked, but whatever reply she would have gotten was cut off by an extremely loud roar of an exceptionally powerful engine that came from outside, it was so powerful that things in the house started vibrating from the intensity of the noise. The noise sustained for a few more seconds, and then cut off.
    “Bloody ‘ell, he could wake the Kabals with that racket” Beth muttered as there was a knock at the door.
    "I’m not getting that, I remember what happened last time I answered the door" Eliot said, making Beth chuckle a bit as she opened the door.
    "Hello" the man at the door said with a smile before Beth punched him in the face.
    "Somehow that looks familiar" Eliot said, watching her punch the man.
    "You have a very strange way of showing your affection, you know" he said, rubbing his nose.
    "Yes well you are just very strange Sean, so I am allowed to have very strange ways" Beth told him before letting him inside to the ogling people. Nehvna gasped as she saw who was at the door, and moved close to Jane's ear to whisper in it, not wanting the others to hear.
    "I've got a crush on him, he is so scruffy in hair and clothes but he pulls it off so well he looks better than he would in a suit. He devilishly charming and the most chivalrous person I have ever seen, there is just something about him that makes me feel all gooey when I see him, even on the T.V, so him being here in person is...It's just...Ohh" Nehvna devolved into a squeal and was a hairs breadth away from jumping up and down. Jane looked at Nehvna with a smile before whispering back.
    "Nehvy, that just makes you like every other girl on the planet" then adding with thought 'except me, I can't fathom what the others see in him' she thought. Sean had walked into the middle of the room in the time between Nehvna and Jane's conversation; he then looked around at the people and bathed in the awed looks.
    "Everyone loves me, everyone thinks I am awesome, everyone - "he began but Beth cut him off sharply.
    "Don't make he have to stab you again you egotistic maniac" She said handing a cup of tea to Sean and sitting down, ignoring the scowl she was getting from Nehvna.
    "Well it seems I have won over the women around here, now all I need to do is win over you" Sean told Beth who scowled at him.
    "I seriously will stab you if you carry on" she said, taking one of the knives out of her sleeve to prove it. Then she thought for a second on what he had just said. "Does that mean you don't think I am a woman?" she asked, brandishing the knife rather dangerously for Sean's liking.
    "I’m just saying you're the only one not won over" He told Beth, pacifying her, as the knife vanished back up her sleeve. Sean took a sip from his cup of tea and then looked over at Jane, smiling like he was going to cause some mischief.
    "Awww, I want her as my sister, we could have so much fun" Sean said, causing Beth to throw the knife at him. It sunk into Sean's head and forced it to roll back before it returned to its original position. However, he didn't slop any of his tea and the rest of his body was unaffected by the knife.
    "Dammit woman, stop throwing knives at me. It’s a party trick only “he said, pulling the knife out of his head.
    "How..? How..?" Jane asked, her questions just trailed off to nothing.
    "Well this is a book, so I can do anything I want" he told Jane with an "I know more than you" type of smile before holding up a book.
    "How does that help you pull knives out of your head?" Jane asked again.
    "It doesn't. I wasn't even talking about this, I just thought it was a good book and decided to show it to you all" Sean told them before lowering the book, it disappeared from his hand after a few seconds.
    "Then what book are you referring to?" Jane asked, Beth was right; this day was getting weirder and weirder. Sean looked like he was about to say more but a very stern glare from Beth made him silent.
    "Well enough about that, I guess I should get down to why I am here. And to help me I have brought someone you might know" he said, nodding his head to a man stood with a good posture. He was the polar opposite of Sean with straightened hair and a posh suit. Even his body language was different, the new man was standing serious and looked "to the point" sort of person while Sean's stance was a lot more chill and, as he had just demonstrated, looked to be the person to have some humorous banter before getting down to business.
    "Balance, stop being a stiff" Sean said, taking another - this time larger - sip from his cup, Nehvna made a slight squeal as she found out who the new person was.
    "I am, by nature, a stiff. I am the serious person, you are the bantering person. Together we make the team" Balance told him, there was the memory of his words but no memory of him actually having spoken.
    "Stop showing off Balance, we can all do that, we just don't because showing off is only good if the crowd will appreciate it" Sean told Balance, his words made it appear that he was annoyed but his tone and body language showed that he was not.
    "My apologies" Balance told Sean, this time it was a normal way of speaking. He then looked at the people in the room. Five of them where looking bewildered, one of them was looking annoyed and one of them was looking bored.
    "Are we going to get to the Shadow problem yet?" Beth asked, she had heard then banter a hundred times and it was highly annoying.
    "Ohh yea, the Shadow problem. He took out Mark so he must have a new master, Shadow is not the kind of person to do such a thing unless he thinks it will get him further that staying with Mark but then let's face it, Mark is a dweeb and there is a billion people on this planet alone that could get him further than staying with Mark, so it is a bit of a redundant statement" Sean said, stroking his chin to make himself look like his thoughts where more deep. Silverfang picked up on the stance and smiled.
    "I do that as well" Silverfang said, which caused Sean to smile as well.
    "It is an awesome thinking pose" Sean replied, draining his cup before catching Nehvna's eye. "Why is there some shy looking beauty staring at me?" He asked. Nehvna's face quickly turned bright red and soft squeaks escaped her as she clung to Jane for support. She had never been called a beauty before and it was Sean calling her that as well, she couldn't handle this pressure, it was all too much. She wanted to stop the embarrassing squeaks coming out of her mouth but she had no control over them at all. Jane spotted how Nehvna was feeling and so decided to step in, to salvage the situation while she still could.
    "She is my sister and she can be shy at times, so please be nice" Jane told him, giving Nehvna a hug to comfort her.
    "Hmm, If I marry her then I could be Jane's brother in law" Sean said with a scheming smile, Nehvna's squeaking doubled as the prospect of marriage entered it and she buried herself in Jane's chest, not wanting to be seen by anyone, now that her cheeks rivalled the sun for brightness.
    "Sean. Focus" Beth told him, making two separate words and adding a large amount of emphasis to both of them. He spun round and spoke in single words.
    "Yes. Shadow. Right" He then returned to the use of proper sentences "From what I have seen already jumped ship, took him long enough as well. I'd head to Klass directly but I need to pick up a very important someone and such a jump would be hard to do undetected" Sean told Beth, plastering the over used look of confusion on everyone's faces.
    "Who is Klass" Eliot asked, Jane had apparently let him do the speaking this time.
    "Ahh, Klass, an old friend. He used to be a planet hopper, going from one planet to the next gathering holidays and festivals while spreading the holidays and festivals from the last planet; he takes about two, gives about two and then leaves for the next planet. He does this because he is a Thaui, a being that draws strength from being known. It is similar to Celestial style but require simple knowledge rather than prayer. I met him after one of his visits to a new planet and invited him into a…" Sean failed on the word and simply repeated "a" until Beth spoke.
    "You are simply making more questions with your explanation" Beth told Sean.
    "Yea that sort of happens a lot" he replied, looking at all the gormless faces, the only one that didn't look like their brain had jumped ship was Beth, but she had heard it all before.
    "He is a friend" Sean said simply, he disliked such simplicity but it was necessary for these people.
    "Try keeping on track, Shadow is bad, tell us your plan" Beth told him, he glared at her before speaking again and keeping it simple.
    "He has gone, I'm going to find out what he is up to and I want you to take them to Klass' place, that is why I brought him up" Sean told Beth, but Jane piped up with a question.
    "If Klass if a planet hopper" Jane spoke the word strangely, as if it was hard to comprehend herself saying it "Then where would his 'place' be?" She asked, fully expecting an answer she couldn't properly understand. Sean nodded, rather impressed, Jane had taken the knowledge rather well and was thinking laterally as well. He decided to voice his approval, because he was like that.
    "That is a very good question. He settled down after a while, I could tell you where but you would not understand where it was" Sean told her, it was not as confusing a reply as usual but it still shocked everyone.
    "So, this off planet is…actually leaving the planet. That…sounds…unique" Silverfang said eventually, finally managing to get the words out. "So, how are we going to get there?" He asked.
    "That is also a good question, as I don't have a space-ship stuffed down my pants, despite what people might think" He said, a rather lewd smile spread across his face before Beth glared at him.
    "Umm, sorry about that, well just watch the birdy for a second" Sean then lifted up his empty cup of tea and everyone was drawn to it, as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. It was Jane that first noticed the different surroundings. He then dropped the cup on the floor and it vanished as soon as it touched the carpet.
    "Why have the walls changed?" She asked, causing Sean to smile, he looked like he was going to go into a massive explanation when Beth starred at him and made him give the simple one.
    "We changed houses. And islands, we are now in Ireland, I moved with a certain amount of subtlety since I want to stay relatively under the radar for now" Sean explained.
    "And what radar is this?" Jane asked, she didn't know there was radar for people instantly changing islands.
    "The Radar. Explanation would be confusing" Sean replied, hating how he had to keep so brief.
    "Is that how we are going to go 'off planet' then?" Jane asked, it was not in any way how she though planet travelling would be like. The others had made Jane the 'Question Asker' as everyone else was staying silent.
    "No, same planet travel is nice and quick but going to other planets requires a bit more, especially when you move with the subtlety that I am moving with" He explained again, he was doing a lot of explaining but then he liked explaining so it was all good.
    "So what does this 'bit more' look like then?" Jane asked, the only person not completely stunned by the change of surroundings, but then she was a lot like Beth in that respect, she liked to know what was going on all the time.
    "Well it is going to look like the insides of your eyelids, since you are all going to take a nice nap while I set it up" Sean replied, as he finished Jane yawned, she had not felt tired a minute ago but now her eyelids where so heavy and hard to keep open. Everyone around her started yawning as well, Jane was uncertain if they looked more confused or tired but she herself was too tired to think about that.
    "What's happening?" Jane asked in a slurred voice, hardly pronouncing the words. She felt like she hadn't slept for a week and would like nothing better than to lie down and close her eyes but she kept them open with sheer force of will to at least get the answer from Sean before she crashed.
    "I simply suggested that you should take a nice nap while I sorted the whole planet thing out. You are the ones who are now heeding my suggestion and taking a nap" Sean said, his smile made it blatantly obvious that he was lying though his teeth but Jane could not stay away any longer stay awake. Several thuds where heard in rapid succession as everyone collapsed from extreme exhaustion. Beth, Sean and their respective familiars where the only people left standing at the end of it, he smiled in a satisfied manner and turned to his sister.
    "Mind giving me a hand? Planet travel is easy enough but when you have to cart such a large group of people around it gets slightly more difficult to move subtly" Sean told her, she shrugged and got up.
    "You know you didn't have to be so forceful with them, it was even affecting me with the force you put into that" Beth replied. The feeling of tiredness had gone from her body but everyone else was sleeping soundly, it would be nearly impossible to wake them up with the fatigue they were feeling.
    "Well I don't really have a guide to tell me what her resistance is, so I erred on the side of caution" Sean explained, kicking the carpet. A small obelisk, roughly 5 foot, rose out of the ground with four sides; each side had a space carved specifically for a person's hand. Beth, Satyr, Sean and Balance all put their hands on the obelisk and it glowed two different colours, A deep, lush green for Sean and Balance and a shocking violet for Satyr and Beth, The obelisk shone the two colours for about a minute and then the walls changed again and the whole atmosphere felt different, even the air smelt different and flowed down your throat in a different way to the air on Earth.
    "Well, now that that is done I'm going out. Watch the kids" Sean said, heading to the door. The obelisk sank back into the ground, its job done.
    I: A dream. Jane was definitely in a dream. After all, real life didn't have purple wombats with six arms. But then if she factored in the craziness of the day she had just had it would not surprise her to see them hopping around when she woke up.
    "This is not how I usually have a dream, I know they are usually vivid but this is a bit to vivid" Jane said, looking at her hand, she clenched it and then unclenched it, for some reason she was conscious of her actions and they worked just the same as when she was awake. She took a step and felt the ground beneath her foot; she took a breath and felt the air in her lungs. Everything was so real that it was starting to be a little bit creepy. While she was walking on the oddly multi-coloured floor that appeared like someone had had an acid trip in the countryside and crafted this place to reflect that she observed her surroundings. People of all shapes and sizes where popping in and out at regular intervals, they did not seem to be bothered by wombats hopping around and some people actually engaged in a conversation with them, further enforcing Jane's believe that she had gone absolutely bonkers.
    A person popped into the strange place and looked at Jane with a big smile, she didn't recognize her but there was a feeling of knowledge about this person in front of her. The mystery was solved the moment she spoke.
    "I wasn't expecting to see you here" The person said with a very jubilant tone, giving Jane a hug, Jane was to shocked to reply or even hug her back. After a few seconds the woman broke off the hug and looked at Jane. Jane recognized the tone; she knew exactly who this person was, regardless of their change in appearance. However, she was too stunned trying to work something out to say and as a result she didn't say anything.
    "Are you alright Jane?" She asked, a tone of worry creeping into jubilant speech.
    "" Jane whispered, failing to finish her sentence, tears started to spill out of her eyes and roll down her cheeks. Jane's mum pulled a tissue out of her pocket and began to wipe the tears away.
    "No tears Jane, this is a joyous time, not a time for tears" She said as she finished wiping the tears away from Jane's eyes.
    "You left" Jane told her mother, still incapable of speaking anything more than a few words at a time.
    "It was not a voluntary leaving dear, I came down with a slight case of death" She said with a slight giggle. Some small being that Jane had not noticed on her shoulder stood up and spoke with a voice that Jane would not have expected from someone so small.
    "Elana, death is never slight, unless you don't actually die. But then it isn't dead, so death is never slight" The shoulder being said.
    "Ohh shush Enkia, I’m trying explain to my daughter about stuff, or thought I have a feeling it is going to be very hard" She replied, the shoulder being Enkia didn't look pleased with the reply but he sat back down anyway, seeming to fade from view as he did so. "Sorry about that, you know how Enkia is" Elana told Jane, who was still staring in disbelieve.
    "You died?" Jane asked still completely shocked.
    "Only a little bit, man didn't know how to finish the job so I am here until I can get somewhere else to live" Elana told Jane before realizing it explained nothing. "Think of someone burning down your house, you no longer have your house but you still have yourself" She explained, or at least tried to explain.
    "I...I think I understand that, you are you, but have lost your house.." Jane said finally, basically repeating what Elana had just said. Then Jane spoke more heatedly. "How are you here? And while we are at it, where is here?"
    "Well, I’m here because this is where I live for now and here is the Astral Plain, where all thoughts go and all dreams come from. All people are attached to this place somehow, but only a few people out of the connected can come here properly. Somehow, I don't think you came here voluntarily, I don't think you can do that. Not Just yet anyway" Elana explained.
    "No, I didn't do anything. Sean just told me I was sleepy and then I fell asleep. Which was really weird, but then he is really weird, all that playing with pulling knives out of his head and...grrr he just he just irritates me" Jane told her mother, who understood.
    "Ahhhh. Well that I can explain. You see, Sean sent you to sleep and gave you the push you needed to get here, you have always been on the edge of this place which is why your dreams where always so vivid but Sean gave you that nudge you needed to get over here" She said, Elana saw that Jane didn't understand that part and sighed.
    "Don't worry; it will all seem clearer later. But for now it looks like you are going" she said, nodding to Jane's slowly disappearing body.
    "What...what is happening?" Jane asked frantically as she turned ghost-like.
    "Your grip of this place was borrowed, so you can't control it. You're waking up now and leaving here slowly" Elana told Jane calmingly.
    "I don't want to leave you" Jane replied, reaching out for Elana.
    "Don't worry, you will return soon" She said as Jane's eyes snapped opened. She sat up and took a sharp breath before looking around; everyone else was still asleep apart from Beth, Satyr and Balance, who were milling around the room.
    "Quite amazing, that you are up so soon. You shouldn't be up yet. “Beth said, helping Jane off the floor. She shook her head a few times and looked around the room.
    "It, feels different. I feel different. I can feel things more" she spoke generally and as confusingly as Sean. Beth frowned but she understood it clearly, it was just early was all.
    "That's fine, it's just a side-effect" Beth said quickly, swiftly making a lie and telling it flawlessly. Jane nodded and then looked at the door.
    "What's out there?" She asked, causing Beth to smile widely.
    "Out there, well dear, let's go have a look" Beth said, opening the door, sunlight poured though the ajar door into the room.
    A horrible smell wafted in from the door and Jane clenched her nose in disgust.
    "That is horrible, the first place you take me in a cesspool?" She asked, pinching her nose to stop the smell from getting in, Beth on the other hand smiled, seemingly undisturbed by the smell. Balance, however, was not so immune, and wrinkled his nose.
    “Not even the Kabals could sleep though this stench” he commented, wafting his hand in front of his nose.
    "Well this is not where we are stopping - you should have been out for this part - but Sean had to make a quick stop to pick someone up" She told Jane, the rest of the people in Eliot's house appeared to be waking up - something Satyr noted with interest - and gathering around the door, trying to find out what the horrid smell was and what a new planet was like. Several of the people on the street where looking into the house with mixed emotions, greed and lust where the predominant ones but they quickly scurried away as Balance appeared in the doorway.
    "This is not the safest of places to be, we should find Sean quickly and move on" Balance suggested in a tone that sounded more like an order than a suggestion.
    "Yes, your right. Let's go" Beth said with a sigh, stepping out of the house with everyone else in tow.
    "Wait" Jane said, stopping in her tracks "Where are Nehvna and Avrion?" she asked, not wanting to leave them alone in the house in this place.
    "Don't worry about them, no one could get into that house and they probably went back to sleep as they were woken up by the car, just let them sleep a while" Beth said, continuing to walk away from the house. Jane's stomach growled and Balance pulled a sandwich from his pocket, how it had gotten there - and how it had stayed in such a pristine condition - was beyond Jane but she was happy for the food so she took it from him with a quick "Thanks" and bit into it, the sandwich tasted so good and it filed her up a fair bit. She guessed that it was more of the weird stuff that had been going on so much recently and decided not to think any more of it. Silverfang broke off from the pack and moved down to Jane at the back. He smiled softly at her as she ate the sandwich.
    "How are you holding up?" He asked, referring to all the craziness that had happened.
    "I'm doing alright" she replied, finishing her sandwich and taking his hand, a smile appeared on her own lips as she walked down the street with her Silverfang. The only thing that made this scenario bad was the terrible smell and leers of passerbys. "I hate how they are looking at me" Jane said to Silverfang quietly, clutching to his arm tighter.
    "Don't worry, ill protect you" He said, secretly he liked how Jane clung to her, Jane - for her part - realized that she was pressed tightly to him and blushed.
    "Where are we going Beth?" She asked to change the subject before it got too much for her to handle.
    "To Sean, we are going to meet up with him and then get off this place, I just hope he has done what he needs to do by the time we get there" Beth told Jane, before slightly picking up the pace. They small band walked along the road and nine out of ten people glared at them or leered in some way, Jane got used to it eventually as it just became common place. Eventually they arrived at a large and sinister looking building, Beth was not put off by the look and opened the door, the sounds of gunshots echoed from within so she shut the door again.
    "He isn't done yet" She said simply, as un-put-off by the gunshots as the sinister look of the building. The rest of the group however had varied reactions, Eliot and Silverfang looked shocked, Jane looked shocked but also looked accepting, as if it was just par with how her life had been going so far and Balance looked as if he had seen this situation far too many times.
    "Those…those…those where gunshots!" Eliot eventually managed to shout, getting over his surprise and managing to be vocal again.
    "Yep, they were, one of the two things you get when you fire a gun, the other being a bullet" Beth said sarcastically, leaning against the building with a sigh. While Eliot was panicking and Silverfang was trying to look protective Jane looked up at the sign above the building. The letters where in some foreign alien language but somehow Jane knew what they said.
    "The Human House?" She read aloud, making the tone into a questioning tone. Beth was shocked at the speed in which Jane was progressing and Balance had to speak up before she noticed.
    "Yes, it is a place where people are sold to other people - the name is just a base translation, it doesn't exclusively sell humans - one of the many stains on this planet" he explained, scorn entering his voice at the end of it. Whatever reply Jane was going to make was cut off by Silverfang, who had begun sniffing the air.
    "Is that…smoke?" He asked, causing the others to sniff the air as well. Beth sighed and started counting.
    "Five…four…three" as she got to zero the doors crashed open and Sean walked out, a large revolver in each hand and a tall, green haired girl next to him, she looked about eighteen or so and was wearing ragged, old clothing.
    "I hate the clothes these places give you, so itchy" The green haired girl said, scratching herself in several places, the sub-standard clothes appeared to strain against the girl's large breasts and looked as if it was going to split at any moment.
    "Well, Nena, you will get yourself into these messes" Sean said, a large amount of smoke pouring though the building behind him and the fire not far behind. "Now, if no one objects I suggest we move on before we all burn to death" He said cheerfully, discarding the revolvers and stalking off down the street without waiting for anyone.
    The green haired girl - Nena, Sean had called her - walked off after him. A man leered obviously at her large breasts and so Nena swiftly head-butted him and carried on.
    "Do you know her?" Jane asked Beth as the rest of the people carried on at a slower rate so they didn't seem to be a part of the same group.
    "Ohh yes, I know all about Nenatalev" Beth said smiling but not revealing anything else despite Jane's repeated probing.

    Sean strolled into the 'Human House' and looked around. It took quite a bit of constraint not to pull out the obscenely large .500 revolver he had in his jacket and start firing off rounds at everyone in the building. He really hated these places and the only reason he was blending in was before if he started on a rampage right now was that he was not sure what he was looking for was actually here, and would never find it if he started just randomly killing instead of waiting. He was intercepted by a man - all smiles and fine clothes - who led him to a large hall, the sign marked it the 'Auction hall' and Sean knew this was where he was going to find her. He was led to an empty seat and given a handle with a number painted on it, then instructed to raise the handle when he wished to buy the person appearing on the stage. Sean forced a smile and thanked the man, it was the hardest thing he had done in a while. But then he made up for it be thinking about how he was going to set fire to this place and mercilessly massacre everyone who took part in this heinous market.
    The auction started and Sean gritted his teeth as people were dragged onto the stage and the man announced what race they were, what planet they came from and if they were famous or not. With his deep green eyes he could see the fear, anguish and unbridled horror on most of the people's faces. One man however, did not have any of that. He had the face of a man who was not going to give in to the overwhelming odds he was faced with and would stand defiant until his life was extinguished. The man was introduced as 'Captain Zann of the Khani military' which peaked Sean's interest.
    The Khani where old friends of his and he couldn't allow such a man to be bought. He was going to blow the hell out of everyone anyway, but it was a principle thing, little more than that. He raised his handle - feeling very dirty at doing so; regardless of the reason he was doing it - and another man in the crowd raised his. Sean had to raise his own four more times before his opponent gave up, deeming the man too expensive. A thought occured that Sean should have pulled that for all of them, but it was in the past now.
    The auction went on until it came to the last one. The 'best for last' as the announcer said and then a girl - barely 18 by the looks of her - was dragged on stage. The chains where very thick, the handcuffs and ankles reduced her movement speed to a crawl and she nearly fell over when the chain around her neck was yanked, dragging her on stage. The announcer appealed to the crowd a bit with his rather effluent skills before telling them who she is.
    "This one, our greatest catch in a decade, is Nenatalev Woodhouse. She is known to be one of the much sort after Demios and a prize for any collector. She will be difficult to tame, but we believe that it is worth the challenge to have one of these rare beauties. Bidding starts at 100 million" He announced.
    Sean thought that was quite a good price, considering her flaws. But then the seller wouldn't tell them until they had received none-refundable payment. At any rate, Sean now saw who he had come for and stood up. A few people behind him complained that their bidding sticks would not be visible, as many people where raising their own sticks in hopes of bagging this magnificent opportunity.
    Sean, however, had a different idea. He drew the revolver from his jacket and fired it at the announcer; the mammoth round flew from the barrel of the equally mammoth revolver with hollowpoint rounds, just in case getting hit by nearly a hundred and fifty grams of bullet wasn't enough to blow a person apart. Overkill was invented for these kinds of people.
    However, it never made impact, as the bullet smashed into a protective shield, a red ripple flung out around the impact area before dissipating. Sean had expected something like that and so had fired the bullet with expectations of failure, now his expectations had been met; he had properly gauged the gaps in the shield. He stomped the ground and a stalagmite ripped out of the wooden stage that the announcer and Nenatalev where standing on, ascending upwards until it caught on Nena's handcuffs. Nena quickly gripped the stalagmite and her whole body started glowing a deep earthen green. She then quickly parted her hands - the cuffs that where restricting her movement snapped like wet paper - she then parted her feet and they followed in the footsteps of their wrist-kin, pieces of chain scattered across the stage as she reached up and pulled the metal collar off.
    Sufficiently de-chained, Nena turned to the announcer with a smile. It was clear she was going to kill him from the smile, and enjoy the act immensely. The man pulled a gun from his coat - it was a very small gun compared to Sean's - and fired it at Nena. Either he was a poor shot or Nena moved out of the way of every bullet, since she was not hit once on her slow approach. His clip ran dry just as Nena arrived at him.
    "I don't like being chained like that. I think I'll show you what happens to people that try" she told the announcer, punching him in the ribs. The force of the punch rippled through his entire torso and rib shards ripped their way through his opposite side, killing him quickly and very, very painfully.
    She watched the man crumple to the floor and smiled, glad that another one of them was not to see the light of day again, they would be more, there always was more, but this one at least was finished. She then stretched, the chains had cramped her muscles and it felt good to give them some exercise again. With her business out of the way, she looked over to the audience stand and saw her dad, firing his gun into the crowd, shooting security and patrons alike. He was also splaying his free hand and stamping the ground, balls of compact earth where smashing into several people, stalagmites where hewing threw dozens of patrons with a single rupture and large walls rose up, then fell down again, crushing even more people under its stony embrace.
    A group of people reached the door and the man at the head frantically reached for the handle, but as his hand gripped it sharp spikes fired out, impaling the fleeing patrons. Nena had not seen Sean do such a vindictive thing like that in quite a while and that look in his father's eyes was not something she had seen often. It was determination and hatred, two things that did not suit Sean in any way. The hatred was understandable - even for Sean, despite his usually calm demeanour - but that determination to end life for someone that worshipped Gaia and respected all life, was unnerving. But then, worship was a strong word, it was rather more respectful acknowledgment. However, it was still scary to see him go all out like this. Nena sighed, she needed to get in there and start lightening the load, so he could get back to his smiles quicker. Nena didn't want his father to be like this, it was not right. She may have claimed to dislike him, and tried to show that dislike in everything she did, but sub-consciously she cared for him. He was her father after all.
    Nena approached the shield and looked at it, this close she could see a faint crackle in front of her, so she punched it. The red ripple flung out from the point of impact again, but the shield failed to maintain itself under this impact and so it shattered. Nena heard the generator explode from behind the stage, which made sure that the shield really was down.
    She hopped off the stage and slightly-faster-than-walked over to Sean; however by the time she had gotten there nobody was left alive. He had drawn a second mammoth revolver and added a second gun to his lead wall of death, mowing down the people before Nena could get to him.
    "Well, that was…bracing" Nena said as Sean smiled, but it lacked any warmth.
    "Just wait, it gets better" He told her, twelve red glyphs appeared around him and then flew away, slapping themselves onto the walls of the building. "Well, then. Time to go" he said, dropping the sheen on the door and kicking it open, he still held his two revolvers in his hands and Nena saw the reason why as a few security guards that were locked out of the Auction Room ran at him. Sean fired his two guns at them and they impact caused the areas where the bullets him them to explode.
    She then heard the activation of the glyphs in the auction room and could immediately smell the smoke, thick and acrid as it roared through the building. Sean didn't seem to care about the fire or the dead bodies he stepped over as he walked towards the front door, when he had arrived there he kicked open the door and looked at the confused, somewhat scared looks of the group surrounding the now burning Human House. Nena decided to defuse the situation with an off-hand comment.
    "I hate the clothes these places give me, they are so itchy" She said, scratching herself to further reinforce her point. Sean picked up on what she was doing and decided to throw his bit in.
    "Well, Nena, you will get yourself into these messes" Sean said, the building was really going up in flames now and so he added some more. "Now, if no one objects I suggest we move on before we all burn to death" He said cheerfully - a disconcerting thought considering what he had just done - discarding the revolvers and stalking off down the street without waiting for anyone.

    Sean and Nena had a considerable head start on the rest of the group and it took them a fair amount of time to arrive at the house, when they did they heard the sounds of a shower coming from a bathroom that did not exist when they set out, which must have meant that Sean had been doing his odd stuff again. Jane entered first and decided to make a joke, since Sean was looking a bit down; he had another cup of tea in his hands, which was half empty. She was sure they were not that far behind, but then he was strange so it was possible.
    "So you can do pluming then?" Jane jokingly asked.
    "Yep, I’m also Italian" He replied, equally as jokefully. He was obviously not going to let anyone see how he was really feeling and so was covering up with jokes.
    "Well then go jump on Shadow's head" Beth told him, rather exasperated with his antics. Beth didn't seem to catch on to Sean's mood, or probably thought that Sean couldn't feel down, that he was simply immune to negative emotions. Sean could wear a person out just by being more than a ten mile run. Jane laughed at Beth's comment, she wasn't usually so grumpy. It must be her brother.
    "So, is this that Klass person's planet?" Silverfang asked, hoping it wasn't.
    "Nope" Sean replied, making Silverfang sigh in relief. "I just had to pick up my daughter, she is a nightmare sometimes but hey, she is family" He continued, shrugging casually. However casual he was acting, Jane was staring at him with a look of pure shock.
    "You have a daughter?" she asked, nearly screeching in surprise.
    "Yes, I have a daughter, hell I have three daughters. Why is everyone surprised to learn that? I am a lot of other things, and no one is surprised to hear them. Well, most of them. And mostly not surprised" Sean replied in comically annoyed tone.
    "I don't know any of the other things!" Jane shouted.
    "Well then, stop shouting" Sean told her softly before draining his cup and throwing it over his shoulder; it sank into the wall and vanished a few seconds later. Jane looked like she was getting ready to throw another crazy shouting fit but Silverfang stepped in.
    "So, how did that hallway and shower, get here?" He asked, changing the subject and trying to control Jane who had suddenly developed a temper.
    "I made it, the shower as well. Not very complex really, just convinced reality that there was a hallway and shower there" Sean said with a nonchalant tone as if what he had just said made perfect sense.
    "You….you convinced reality?" Silverfang repeated, not quite sure that was what Sean had said. After all, it made no sense at all to say you convinced reality of something.
    "Well of course I convinced reality, who else am I going to convince? Chaoz sucks at plumbing, unlike me" Sean told Silverfang, piquing Eliot's previously uninterested curiosity.
    "Who's Chaos?" He asked Sean, who raised a finger.
    "It isn't Chaos, it is Chaoz. More of a zed towards the end rather than an ess" Sean told Eliot, pronouncing his name more clearly.
    "But that just makes no sense at all" Eliot replied, Sean simply shrugged.
    "I don't make up the rules. Or rather I do, but I don't make them make sense" Sean said, shrugging again before walking over to a couch and lying down.
    "There is no time to be lying around Sean, we have a ship to catch" Beth told him, causing him to groan. He sighed and got up from the couch.
    "Fine, let's go" he said, heading to the door. Balance coughed to get everyone's attention.
    "Are you forgetting someone?" He asked. A look of realization slowly dawned on Sean's face.
    "Ohh yea. Nena. Forgot about her" Sean laughed as the shower cut off. Nena walked out of the bathroom, fully dressed and with shining, slightly wet hair. The hallway closed off when Nena exited it as if it had never existed. Everyone didn’t seem as shocked at the sudden disappearance of the hallway however, like they were getting used to the rampant disregard for normality.
    "We off then?" She asked, flicking her hair out of the shirt she had pulled over it and joining the group.
    "We are" Sean confirmed, opening the door and ushering everyone out before shutting the door behind him.
    The walk to the Space port was stinky but otherwise uneventful, people usually avoided a large group on this planet - Nena’s glares reinforced this avoidance - aside from Nehvna and Avrion catching up to the group and grumbling about being left behind.
    Sean snapped his fingers and announced that he knew he had forgotten something then blamed Beth for not reminding him. She shrugged and replied it that it was not her responsibility to act as his memory. As the group arrived at their ship - a rather small thing, designed to carry only a few dozen people at most - a mountain of a man was waiting there for them and a tall, but not nearly as large man was stood next to him.
    "Hey Niall, come to see us off?" Sean asked, smiling, to which Niall nodded.
    "Not exactly, I am coming with you. I got Orders from Her" He said, before gesturing to the small ship behind him.
    "Her 'aye? Well, that's cool, but how are we all going to fit in that?" He asked, to which Niall stared for a few seconds, and then deflated.
    "I have no idea. My apologies" He told Sean, who waved his concerns away.
    "It's cool, I'll contact Scarlet, see what she can do for us" Sean replied. Eliot then looked over and frowned.
    "How is Scarlet yours when Balance is also yours? I thought a person could only have ever had one Familiar" Eliot asked, his tone conversational. Sean smiled as he remembered that Eliot was a human and humans have sub-standard knowledge about Familiars.
    "You can have as many Familiars as you want connected to you at any one time; there really is no limit to how many Familiars you can call your own, as long as the Familiars get along alright, if they don't then you are in for a rough ride. However there is a limit on how many you can have at your side. Familiars use you - "He gestured at Eliot to reinforce his point" - to anchor to this world. The greater your strength in….I guess humans would call it spirit, or willpower. Anyway, the greater your 'spirit' the more Familiars you can anchor to this world at one time" He explained, Eliot was nodding as if he understood, but didn't say anything so Sean asked him a question.
    "Have you ever tried to summon a second Familiar?" Sean asked, Eliot shook his head.
    "No, I never knew it was possibly. And I don't want to, I got lucky with Silverfang but I don't want to risk summoning a Familiar that is my opposite and then being stuck with them for the rest of my life" Eliot told Sean, who smiled - obviously as something Eliot had said.
    "You do know that you don't have to bond the first Familiar you summon right? You can try the summoning a hundred times to get a Familiar that you feel you could feel you could be with.Not that you really need to, Familiars that suit you are inately drawn to your summon. Some think that the Familiar you get is fated, or at least controlled by some other force" Sean explained again, the look on Eliot's face was an amusing one, he then looked at Silverfang - who seemed to be looking at Jane, for whatever reason, and spoke.
    "We are going to try something" He said franticly, dragging the protesting Familiar into the Space port and heading for somewhere less open that the runway.Sean looked to his daughter, and then tried to spark up a conversation.
    "So, how's school?" Sean asked Nena awkwardly, his skills rather lacking in this sort of thing.
    "How's school? How's school?! We haven't seen each other in nearly a thousand years and you ask the crappiest, most overused and over-rated question in the entirety of creation! If you ever cared to take notice of my life, I finished school a long time ago" She shouted at him, getting off all the frustrations she had since the last time she saw her father.
    "Well I was just trying to break the ice. I suck that that sort of thing, usually I am great at breaking things which makes this a lot more difficult to understand" Sean replied, shrugging. Nena simply sighed exasperated and walked off. "Try not to get captured again" Sean called after her.
    "Try not to go on another murdering spree" she shouted back, feeling bad as soon as she had said it, but there was nothing to do, so she simply stormed into the space-port. Sean then looked at Balance, who had been eyeing him as if he wanted to ask something but didn't want to interrupt the family chat.
    "What are you planning?" Balance asked, causing Sean to smile.
    "A more apt question is what am I not planning, which would be breakfast tomorrow" He paused for a few seconds before continuing. "I have decided. Pancakes" he told Balance, who shook his head in despair.
    "I'm going to do stuff" Balance told Sean vaguely. before he faded from view, simply not being there a few seconds later.
    Part Two.
    CHAPTER ONE: The Wolves
    Eliot looked at the Familiar circle he had just made. Silverfang watched from the corner, he had been told that people, all people, could have as many Familiars as they care to summon, the only limit being the amount out at one time. Silver had not heard this before and was sceptical, but he was humouring Eliot, because he was a good cook. Amongst other things.
    "Here goes something, on the word of a mad-man" Eliot muttered to himself, activating the circle. It shone a deep red and the light emitted from the circle, then a flash filled the room and a girl was stood in the now unlit circle. The girl looked passed Eliot and to Silverfang, a visage of awe on her face.
    "My King. I am at your service from this day hence, until my death" She said, bowing before Silverfang, whose own visage was one of complete confusion.
    "Err….that is nice and all. But he was the person who summoned you" Silver told the girl, pointing to Eliot.
    "I care little for who summoned me; it is you that I pledge my blade to" She replied, drawing a long polished blade, the drawing of such caused Silver to back away slightly.
    "Whoa-ok, let's put the swords away and calm the hell down" He told the slightly crazed girl. Whatever Silver thought of her, she did sheath the sword and stepped away.
    "I am sorry to have startled you my King. It seems you have lost your former glory. The humans have dulled your senses and your blade. It will be difficult to retrieve them, but I shall persevere for all Lupus Kind" She told him, holding her head high. It was then that Silver noticed a pure white wolf tail swishing between her legs.
    "Why…why are you calling me King, I’m not part of any hierarchy" Silver told that quite insane new Familiar.
    "You mean you do not even know what you are? I have some work ahead of me, Amarok lend me the strength to persevere" The wolf girl muttered, too low for the others to hear.
    Several minutes later, after managing to get the wolf girl to promise not to stab anyone, Eliot and Silverfang returned to Sean. He was stood facing a shirtless man who had a buckler shield forearm and a sword fitted though his belt on the shield side. He appeared to have the muscle and the skill to use them both flawlessly and Silver would not like to get on the wrong side of him, it would probably turn out like his fight - if that is what you could call it - with Shadow.
    The man's hair was short and brown but with a touch of grey in it, showing his age. He also had a thick beard the same colour of his hair. He had a pair of brown-grey wolf ears on his head and a tail sprouting out of his back. They were conversing about something Eliot couldn't hear and stopped when he came close.
    "It worked, amazingly. You're not so insane after all" Eliot told him, Sean smiled but the wolf man was more interested in the young girl they had just summoned, Eliot was getting a bit miffed at all the ignoring but didn't voice it. He smiled and walked over to the girl, giving her a tight hug.
    "Hey dad" the wolf girl said, snuggling into his dad's chest.
    "Hey Nailah, how are you?" the wolf man asked and the two wolves started speaking about all sorts of things that Eliot didn't think he should eavesdrop on and so turned his attention to Sean.
    "So, who's the big guy?" Silverfang asked, referring to the wolf man.
    "That's Takanuva - Tak, or Taka to most people - , he is one of my Familiars, apparently Scarlet is out, so he is the one that's going to get me a ship" Sean replied, Silverfang looked at the large man, and wondered if he was mad as well.
    "So you're the King of Wolves then eh? You don't look like much, but then Nailah has told me you have lost your glory. Don't worry about that, we will get that back" Takanuva told him, a solid, determined look in his eyes.
    "That…that's what Nailah says, I didn't really know until she told me; still don't understand what it really means either" Silverfang told Takanuva, stammering slightly at the sight of the large wolf man.
    "So, is this ship going to take long to get here?" Eliot asked, curious to see how long they were going to stand around here displaying their muscles. Niall and Bliss where already showing their muscles to Jane who looked rather scared and was clinging to Beth. However, Sean simply waved his hand.
    "Pah, it will be here in a small while, which I will use to find my daughter and you lot could use getting acquainted with each other. See you in some Earth minutes" Sean told the group before tipping a hat that was not there - or was possibly invisible, it was hard to tell with Sean - and walking off towards the entrance of the space port. He vanished as he walked through the doors however, obviously waiting a bit more speed than walking would provide. Silverfang stood for several minutes in silence, listening to Takanuva go on about how great the Hierarchy of the Wolf was, but then there was a break, and Silverfang tried to get a question in. however an ear-shattering explosion roared from the city, the cloud of fire and debris rose up in the air and cutting off what he was going to say. The flaming debris fell back to the floor with a clatter and the smoke rose up until it disappeared in the atmosphere.
    Sean and Nena appeared from thin air at the star-port doors a few seconds later. Sean was slightly amused as he had a small smirk on his face, Nena looked irritated but pleased. It was clear even before they arrived that they had caused the explosion and as they did arrive they smelt heavily of smoke and ash clung to their clothes.
    "Our ride is here; let's get out on with the awesome chase scene that isn't really going to be that awesome unless you like to stare at the stars, and probably won't be a chase since we will be gone before the realize" Sean told the large group. As Silver turned around to see what Sean was gesturing at, a ship had landed, relatively large, and able to hold the group with ease. Sean and Nena walked in with a touch of haste to their gait and were followed by Eliot everyone else. Sean headed directly for the cockpit and after a few seconds the ship started humming and then it took off and flew towards the sky, building up the speed necessary to escape the planet's gravitational pull. The group of people filled out in the ship, Beth having a disturbing knowledge of space-ship layout, but was followed anyway by Jane. Biss and Niall took to a large room, and began to talk amongst themselves. The girls, Nehvna, Avrion and Nenatalev, all followed Beth to her little room, while Nailah stuck with Silverfang and Eliot, who were in turn followed by Takanuva. It took about a minute to arrive in Space and those few minutes where rather amazing for Eliot and Silverfang, they had never been in Space before and the whole thing was quite exciting. However, the glamour quickly wore off as they realized that most of Space was just that - empty space - and there was little to see apart from the planet they had just been on, which was covered in a brown coloured cloud and looked generally unwell.
    Sean looked back at the people on board, and grinned, it was always nice to speak to people.
    "That planet's air tastes really bad and their Ley-Lines are coated in some foul sticky…bleeh" he finished his sentence with a grimace, sticking his tongue out to reinforce the show of his displeasure.
    "Well, we are off it now and unless someone - "Tak started, before looking at Nena, who had suddenly arrived in the cockpit - and continuing "Makes us go back, we will give it a wide berth" He finished.
    "It wasn't entirely my fault, I heard that the Demios had fractured, so I came to investigate and then got captured by someone who knew what they were doing far too much for it to be coincidental" She explained, Sean sighed and rolled his eyes in reply.
    "Great. So someone is playing silly buggers with the way the Universe works. I guess it is only expected, considering, but I still don't like the extra work this entails" Sean said, again speaking generally.
    "Who are...?" Eliot started before the ship lurched, putting Silverfang and Eliot on the respective arses; however it didn't seem to affect anyone else. Nena had vanished again, as if she was only here for the quick conversation that had her in it, but everyone else in the cockpit seemed fine.
    "What the hell was that?" Eliot demanded to know from the floor. Sean frowned as he looked at Eliot, obviously confused to find him on the floor. Then he worked out what had happened and answered Eliot's question.
    "Ahh yes. Sorry about that. That's the Hyperdrive kicking in, most of us are used to that pre-jump lurch and so it doesn't affect us and it didn't occur to me to warn you about it" Sean finished with a shrug but he helped the two up all the same.
    "Well please warn us next time something like that is going to happen" Silverfang told Sean and then fell over again as the ship lurched a second time.
    "Hmm, that was quick" Sean mused before looking out of the window.
    "Let me guess, that was the Hyperdrive stopping?" Eliot asked rhetorically, but he was still answered, sarcastically, but answered none the less.
    "Indeed it was, very astute judgement" Taka's voice was layered with sarcasm but he helped the two off the floor anyway.
    "Huh, we aren't meant to be here. Must be something wrong with the Hyper-drive" he muttered, before Nena arrived again - this time walking in, not just appearing - with Jane, who looked frantic and guilty.
    "I'm really sorry, and I didn't mean to and I never could before and I don't know where it even came from!" Jane yammered, with some important looking piece of Ship in her hand.
    "And I felt like I was being over-shadowed" Nena told Sean, a lot more calmly, with an equally important piece of ship in her hand.
    "Great, between 'ya you have dismantled the Hyper-drive navigation system. We could be anywhere" she scoffed, before shaking her head. "Nena, you tell Jane about what's going to be happening to her now, I'll land and look around" he said, taking the 'wheel' of the ship and directing into the ground. Nena then lead Jane out of the cock-pit again, seemingly not wanting to stay there for any period of time, while Eliot and Silverfang were talking vaguely to Nailah and Takanuva.

    Nena sat Jane down on one of the seats in an unoccupied booth, and smiled.
    "Right, you got to be careful now. Something happened recently, and you are going to have flushes of power that will allow you to break pretty much any mortally created object with little problem. A lot more things will come flushing to you as well, like a mental ability to discern any language, and a combat instinct to put a Reaver to shame" she explained, to Jane's glared eyes.
    "Ok.." Jane replied, in her best understanding voice, not even trying to understand what or who the Reavers where.
    "Glad you understand. A few other things might be happening later, but I don't know too much about them. To be fair, I don't know too much about what is going on right now, but then I really kinda know just enough to explain it to you. It's weird like that" Nena told Jane, before looking at that brain-dead expression and giving the girl a hug. "Just, be careful, ok?" Nena asked.
    "Now that, I can do" Jane replied, grinning before the ship lurched slightly.
    "Ahh, we're here, let’s go see where we are" Nena suggested, leading Jane out of the ship, and down the ramp. They were the last ones out, which was odd, considering they only took a few seconds to get out of the room themselves, but then everything was odd these days.
    "Royos, the purple district. Not a bad place to get robbed" Sean said, having deduced the planets identity and where they were. He then took a large swig from his Thermos.
    "So, why are we staying here then?" Eliot asked, confused.
    "Well, the girls broke the Hyper-drive, so we gotta get new parts, or failing that a nice place to stand" He replied, before walking towards the doors of the space-port, with the trail of people behind him. Sean led the group down streets, and up alleys, with each looking as safe as the other. During this time, Jane got a strange feeling, followed by a slightly larger party than their own. Which was an unnerving thought, considering they numbered near twelve. But then, Sean could survive getting stabbed in the head, and Niall looked like he could take a fair beating as well. Still, even with all these people, she didn't like the idea, and so she stuck close to Silverfang, and Nailah and Takanuva as a result.
    "Something wrong Jane?" Silverfang asked, seeing her a bit wary, and constantly looking around.
    "I just get a feeling we are being followed. By a fair few people" she muttered, to which Taka growled softly.
    "Probably. Everyone follows someone around here. And with us being the new faces, we are very likely suspects for being followed" He explained, seemingly unphased by the idea as Jane was.
    "But, isn't being followed a bit creepy? What if they try to rob us?" Jane asked, and as if to answer her question, a few men appeared in front of Sean, brandishing second, or third hand weaponry that looked like it would crumble to dust when fired. The man in the front smiled at Sean, who aptly returned the favour.
    "G'd day mate. You look rather new to this place, can we 'elp ya at all?" The front man asked, in a horrible accent, mangling every other word he said. However, it didn't seem to bother Sean.
    "Ahh, hello. I believe you can. See, we have just docked here after some unfortunate malfunction with our Hyper-drive, and now we are looking for a shop to buy a replacement for it" He explained, as if oblivious to the intention of these would-be robbers.
    "Ahh, we 'ave just the thing you need my friend. If your group o' peeps will just follow me" the man offered, to which Sean accepted gracefully.
    "Well thank you. So nice to see friendly people around here" Sean replied, with a stupidity that everyone knew he didn't have.
    "Why is he doing this?" Jane asked, as Sean set off following the men, and then everyone else followed for their own reason, from curiosity, to despair, and even not wanting to be left behind.
    "Because he is Sean. And Sean thinks on a different level to us. It is possible he has created a plan and this is it in action. Be prepared for anything, it could turn into a barbeque as much as a blood-bath" Takanuva told Jane, who quickly took on a look of surprise.
    "Blood bath?" She asked, but restrained her voice, to not alert the people in the front. "I don't want to be in a blood-bath. It'd ruin my hair for one" she exclaimed, not quite sure where the last part had come from, but it was still valid.
    "Ahh, don't worry. I'll protect you and the young pup. But get used to death girl, the universe is full of it. Every planet, sector and galaxy is one big blood-bath waiting to happen. Any Empire getting to full of itself can tell you that. Why, humans where originally-" He was then suddenly cut off by Beth, who started a complete new topic.
    "Well, this ought to prove interesting. Nena has procured a Trench coat from somewhere, and looks pretty good in it" She commented hastily, grinning.
    "Humans where originally what?" Jane prompted, not wanting to let the comment go.
    "Indeed she does. I wonder how the manage to procure clothes out of thin air like that" Taka replied, overtly ignoring Jane. The group was moving at quite the gruelling pace, and so he hoped to get where they were going before Jane cracked him. Jane didn't seem to like being ignored like that, and took a few seconds to concentrate. Didn't Nena say she would be able to do things?
    "Answer me, Takanuva" Jane commanded, her voice resonating with power that even the stout wolf man found hard to resist.
    "Well, you see, the thing is." he stuttered, trying his hardest to not reveal what he had accidentally started. Luckily, before he could spit anything out, Sean spoke up loudly.
    "Is that your shop? Doesn't look very shop like, does it?" He asked, looking at the warehouse they were being led to.
    "Ohh, we can't really afford a shop and a warehouse, but just a shop won't fit all the parts in, so we joined the two ideas together. It worked marvellously" The man replied, obviously have practiced the line.
    "Well, aren't you intelligent?" Sean exclaimed, still playing the dopey tourist.
    The party was ushered though a relatively small door for the size of the building, and the door was then shut behind them. Inside, there was nearly three dozen men, all with the same merciless, vindictive look.
    "I’m no expert, but this doesn't look to be a Hyper-drive store" Sean said, looking around and making a show of not seeing the intentions of the men.
    "Yea, well. We are robbing you, so hand over all your money and valuables" The man said bluntly, and Sean recoiled in shock.
    "Wow, I wasn't expecting that. But, sorry, we don't have many of them. You are welcome to search us, if you want" He replied, calm as a monk on Morphine, in direct opposition to his recoil moments earlier, as if he had only done that because it was expected of him. The now-obvious thief frowned for a second, before jerking his head, clearly the ring leader.
    "Well go on then" He prompted, snapping several people out of their daze and making them hurry over to the party, with Sean, Nena and Nehvna being near the front, with a large man, over six foot and covered in scars starting to pat down Sean, not that there was much to pat down. Once the man had finished patting Sean's chest, an odd aura blossomed from Sean, and the man backed away, clearly terrified. But, Sean hadn't done anything, he was just taking the frisk with a smile.
    "What the fuck are you doing?" The leader demanded, placing a hand on the large man's back to push him forwards again. Before that could happen, a sickening crunch was heard, followed by a choked gargle. Every eye turned to Nena, who had her hand in the man's chest, ironically very near where the man's own hand still laid, cupped across Nena's considerable breast, and with every intention of giving it a squeeze. When Nena saw everyone else looking at her, she casually pushed the man away, pulling out his heart which was quickly discarded.
    "He groped my boob" she stated simply. While Sean seemed to take it as an acceptable reason, the men in the shop did not. Guns were drawn - much better quality than the ones first displayed - and the thieves glared with hatred. On Sean's side, Taka and Nailah drew their sword, while Taka also withdrew his shield. Beth used the power of glaring, and the Earthlings panicked.
    However, out of all of them, the two most resounding reactions where Sean and Nena. Sean drew his giant revolver from its usual place - nowhere - and grinned at the people.
    ".500 Revolver, hollow-point round. 8 pounds empty, power of a smooth-bore cannon" He read off, a description which disturbed a few of the men, but not all of them. There was no way he could kill them all with five bullets. Nena, after looking at Sean's revolver, and then reached into her trench coat, and brought out a monster of a firearm.
    "Ten gauge, triple barrelled leaver action shotgun, incendiary rounds. A hell of a lot of pounds empty, power of...well, probably a Main Battle Tank hitting you at 60 miles an hour" Nena exclaimed, directing it more towards Sean than anyone else.
    "Dam, I think my E-peen has shrunk three sizes just now" Sean muttered. The brigands seemed very shocked by Nena's new gun, as did Sean's Party, and decided not to give them a chance to fire, releasing a wave of lead at them, some firing automatic rifles, the others semi-auto pistols. However, each and every bullet stopped dead, an inch from Sean, something not even Taka was expecting, since he had raised his shield in defence of Jane and Silver. A near-transparent haze expanded beyond the edge of his shield, but Jane had no time to wonder what it was.
    "Oi, that was rude" Sean exclaimed, looking out to the floating field of stationary bullets. The ominous, Fear Aura - as Jane pictured it, considering what it did to the man - expanded from Sean again, and the pupils of ever thief dilated, before they dropped, one by one, and didn't move. It seemed like all their organs had stopped working, or something similar.
    "Wow" Jane muttered, at the same time as Nena rounded on him, replacing her shotgun.
    "Hey! That was cheating, plus, what ever happened to staying stealthy? Every bugger within a million miles would have felt that" She exclaimed, before looking back to the stunned faces of the group, and sighing. "Just, get us out of here" she muttered, shaking her head.
    "Sean laughed softly, and shook his head. "Anyone who saw that wouldn't be telling anyone, either for now, or forever, depends how strong they are" he replied.
    "What the hell was that?" Eliot asked, shaking his head.
    "Yea, I'm curious as well" Jane put in.
    "I'll tell you later" Sean told them, before turning, replacing his gun, and staring into space. After small while, Jane frowned.
    "Has he fallen asleep?" She asked as a large, pitch black hole opened up in front of Sean.
    "Na, just making a hole. It’s a whole hole, not half a hole" Sean replied, grinning.
    "You expect us to go through that thing?" Jane asked sceptically with a raised eyebrow, to which Sean nodded.
    "Yes, I do. And this hole is a she, not a thing. Don't hurt her feelings or she might drop you in a volcano" He commented, nodding approvingly in the direction of the hole. "Or, you might get dropped into some strange other place where this whole thing is just a creation of someone else, a work of literature, to be enjoyed and the person creating this is having a lot of fun making all this stuff up" He droned, but most people had ignored him by this point.
    "If someone was making this stuff up, he must be the craziest kind of person" Jane commented before taking the lead and walking up to, and though, the hole. A few seconds of trepidation passed, and a few less than trusting glances where shared, but the rest of the group followed Jane though the hole anyway. Sean then went through last, the hole closing behind him.

    Jane arrived on the other side of the hole - clearly a portal of some description from the way it had worked - and was nearly knocked over by someone running past with what seemed to be a pair of pants in his hand. He was laughing manically and looked to be having a great time. Jane stared oddly at the man as the rest of the party entered though the pitch black hole, it shut behind Sean as soon as he stepped though. A few seconds later another man ran past in his boxers, clearly chasing the man with the pants.
    "Oi, come back with my pants you dirty little rat-bast" He shouted, waving his fist as he sprinted down the street.
    "That's not normal, just so you know" Sean explained in response to the stares he was getting. "Well, it is normal for them, but they are the only people that do it" He continued. Jane glared into space for a few seconds before turning to Sean.
    "Why do I get the feeling he is going to be pinned down by a Siberian Tiger?" She asked, causing Sean to bellow with laughter.
    "I think we should stay here, it will be amusing" Sean commented.
    Meanwhile, down the street where the pant thief and the pant less man had run down, the pant thief had been knocked off his feet by a Siberian Tiger leaping out from one of the alleyways. It was currently perched on his chest, growling and baring its large teeth. The pants thief didn't seem very worried however.
    "Morning Katrine, nice weather ehh?" The pants thief asked the tiger, grinning rather nervously. The tiger smiled as only a tiger could smile, eyeing him before the pant less man caught up.
    "Caught you. Or rather, Katrine has caught you, but still, you are caught, regardless of catcher. Now, give me my pants" He said, taking the pants out of the thief's hand and putting them on. "Now, unless you want to get some quality time in with Katrine here, I suggest we go see Sean" he announced, nodding at Katrine, who got off him. The strong tiger muscles shrunk, the teeth and fur receded and the tiger slowly stood up right, a woman in a t-shirt and jeans was the end result of the transformation.
    "Andrew was an easy catch, he wasn't even trying. If he was, the guy'd be on the back of Time, about a mile in that direction" She explained, pointing to the sky. Andrew, however, was displeased.
    "It’s Andy, and don't forget it, or I’ll make you Time's chew toy" he told Katrine coldly.
    "Oh don't be so stiff, it’s only a name. The words used in yours hold no bother. The name of the Kabal however holds great power" Katrine told the group.
    "Pahh, if anyone can say it properly. Now, let’s not keep our old codger waiting” The man now in pants told Andy and Katrine, heading back towards the party they had ran past a good minute ago.
    The trio arrived at the newcomer party and was greeted by Sean, who always took command of things. He spoke to the man who had his pants stolen first.
    "Hey John, glad to see you are now wearing pants. It was not a pretty sight, your boxers" Sean told John - who glowered but stayed silent - before turning to Katrine.
    "You didn't get in a quick nibble while he was down did you? A tiger nibble can cause some serious problems" He joked, causing the tiger-girl to laugh.
    "No, I have enough self-control to not nibble people. When I am a tiger at least. It’s a different matter when I’m humanoid" Katrine replied, equally joking. She then approached Nena and stood next to her, they clearly had some sort of bond with each other. Eliot studied this new girl for a few moments and then spoke up.
    "So, you’re a tiger, but you don't have a tail, like Nailah does. How does that work?" Eliot asked, in a quiet, questioning tone, but it was over-ruled by Jane, suddenly screeching at Sean.
    "You! How did you do that invisible trick, the one when you first arrived" Jane demanded, pointing at him and glaring.
    "It’s complicated. You need to grasp the ability to move between here and the Astral Plane first, and then be able to bend light around your spectral image you leave behind when you keep a foot in this plane" He explained, causing Jane to stare blankly, the usual reaction when Sean explained something.
    "I’m sorry I asked" Jane replied. Sean then turned on his heel and pointed down the street, to a large building.
    "We are all heading in that direction. Let’s go, we don't want to miss it!" He shouted, storming off down the road and not letting anyone get a word in edge-ways.
    Eliot tried to ask Katrine about why she didn't have a tail but couldn't get her attention properly. Then, walking down and wondering about it, he suddenly stopped, realization kicking in. Jane spotted this and tapped Beth, who stopped Sean's war-march.
    "What's up?" Jane asked Eliot, who ignored her and turned to Silverfang.
    "Why don't you have a tail?" He asked Silverfang, who took on Eliot's highly confused face.
    "I...I don't know. I just assumed it was normal not to have one. I don't even have one in my Familiar Form" He said, befuddled at the new development. Sean, however, scoffed at the comment.
    "You call growing some hair, and slightly elongating your teeth a Familiar Form? It’s a terrible, half-baked concoction that only humans could be pleased with. Honestly, I don't see how you can be sentient and still be so stupid" He ranted, as he did when it got onto the topic of humans. "You haven't got a tail because you have a half-assed summon that doesn't let you call half of your proper strength to bear. It’s like having a Mini cooper engine in a Dodge Viper chassis" he continued before sighing loudly. "But, you have me now, so I’ll teach you how to be proper later" he finished before continuing down the road, leaving everyone stunned at his rant.
    "Wow. That was, unexpected" Jane commented, being the only person that could gather enough coherency to speak. Sean simply shrugged.
    "Yep. It happens" He replied, marching down the road. Everyone else simply followed him in stunned silence.
    A good minute later the group arrived at a large building, several signs outside displayed things that Jane couldn't comprehend at a glance. One sign - whatever it was made out of appeared to be moving very slightly - had 'Universal Schism' written on it, in English. She thought, it was probably her mind doing stuff again, like it did with that Human House. She pointed to the sign and spoke to the group. She was more bothered about if it was in English rather than what the Universal Schism was.
    "That is in English, right?" she asked, not sure what she wanted to hear from the two. Eliot replied quickly, and shortly with a 'sure it is' but Silverfang was more articulate.
    "Yes, it’s in English. Why?" he asked, it was strange when someone had to ask about a language they were reading. Jane simply shrugged.
    "I don't know. I just thought it might be something else" She said, Sean clearly knew what she was talking about, and nodded.
    "You think that the thing at the Human House is going to be common ground now? Don't worry; it probably won't be until you get better. And the board is made out of Shifting Sands; it changes from viewer to viewer, and shows the language they are most fluent in" He explained, before nodding to Tak. "What are you seeing?" He asked.
    "I see Agnaet Erít Cam, the True Wolf Language. I thought the ability to write such was lost with Lupia. It is an interesting substance Sean" Takanuva replied.
    "It is. And really helpful for Tourist heavy places such as this place. Anyway, let’s get in" he announced, but Jane stopped him, clearly looking for a second question.
    "Isn't a Schism a division, usually between two groups?" She asked, not many band names made sense, so she didn't really know why she was trying to figure this one out. Sean looked at the board for a few seconds before nodding.
    "Yea, but they probably didn't know that when they named it, probably just thought that it was a really cool name" he explained, and then turned to the building and opened the door. A blast of noise roared out of the doorway, invading the group’s ears.
    "Dam that is some good noise reduction" Katrine commented, wide-eyed.
    "In we go" Sean all but ordered, entering the building. The group had no other option than to go in, which they did after varying levels of hesitation.
    As the group entered the building, they saw Sean talking - or though the level of din meant he was more shouting to be heard - a large man, clearly a bouncer. They clearly missed the start of the conversation, or it was a very strange conversation.
    "Well, I would like to think I am a very important person to her. Or though, I am not sure" He shouted, to which the bouncer nodded. He then looked at the group that had walked in and approached Sean, flanking his back half.
    "Your entourage has to stay here though, we get to many crazies" He shouted back, gesturing for Sean to follow him.
    "Where do you think he is off to?" Jane asked them, looking around as Nena shrugged and followed Sean.
    "Probably backstage. He is going to go see Lilly, his daughter, before they start” Beth explained.
    "Sean has two daughters?" Jane asked in an incredulous tone.
    “Yep” Beth replied basically.
    Whatever went on in that room Jane didn't know, but when Sean walked out of the backstage room carrying a large unconscious man, Beth shook her head, and Satyr just scoffed.
    "Can't you go anywhere without knocking someone out?" She asked, to which Sean shook his head.
    "Nope. It’s a necessity, like drinking tea" He replied before whistling softly, to a point where it couldn't be heard over the din of people. The bouncer sprang into life, looking around and straightening his suit.
    "Going to tell us what went on in there?" Jane asked Sean.
    "Nope" Sean and Nena said in near-sync, as the bouncer guy spoke to them.
    "Hey, the band will be on stage momentarily, have fun" The bouncer told them, trying to remember the last few minutes of his life.
    "Just like that? No ticket, or pay at the door?" Eliot asked, it was very strange.
    "Yep, San likes to keep people entertained, so this place has something going on all the time. And its free, the bouncer just keeps out guys that look unsavoury" Sean explained, leading the group though the now open double doors and deeper into the building.

    The group where lead into the main area, where thousands of people where gathered. Considering it was a closed area with thousands of people all dancing around, it was surprisingly cool. The earthlings where looking surprised at every feature, but the others treated it like every day things.
    "So, how do they keep this place so cool?" Jane asked as the others were staring at everything and everyone. There was a lot of non-human species around to catch the Earth eyes. Some looked like fish, lions and other animals from Earth and some of them where so strange that they had no base of comparison with anything from Earth. However, Jane was more interested in learning more about everything.
    "Basic air magic. San has a few dozen magi around, and they keep the current fresh and cool. They trade out every few hours, and get to eat, sleep and spend the money they earn doing this" he explained, before thinking for a second. "On a controlled basis, I don't see why you couldn't try it. Air is easy to use, due to its abundance, and the amount of stray mana around here should make casting simple, even for a novice like you" Sean continued, before flicking a finger at Jane. A breeze ruffled Jane's hair.
    "I would love that, magic seems pretty cool. So, any tips to make this easier?" She asked, running her hand though the air, she could feel it but it didn't move to her command.
    "Hmmm. Well, magic has been all myth and fable for you, so there is a sub-conscious block in your mind, so it will be hard. Try feeling the air. If you can get the sense of what the air is, then I am sure you can do a bit of air - flicking" He said, their conversation was brought to an unofficial end as the band came on stage.
    “That’s Lilly” Beth told Jane, pointing out one of the girls on the stage, the one with the guitar instrument. The band then began to start their songs, the guitar playing was amazing, and the drumming was highly proficient, but she couldn't make out any of the words. “It’s a din to wake the Kabals, but I’ll be dammed if it isn’t brilliant” she exclaimed lively, before melting back into the crowd. Jane decided to go find Sean, and see if he knew anything. Once she found him, she got his attention before speaking.
    "What are they saying?" She asked very loudly, and even then it barely got though.
    'Tele-speak darling. It’s easier in this kind of situation' Sean said into her mind, causing a touch of shock. She waited a few seconds and then thought something, with Sean in mind.
    'Darling? Are we back in the 80's?' she asked, knowing it got though because of a smirk.
    ‘Na just felt like it. And the mike they are using should have a translation enchantment on it, strange you can't understand them. But they are doing a song about trusting people; you probably haven't got it down at Earth. It’s a popular song, and Lilly plays great on the guitar' Sean explained, which Jane nodded to.
    'Ok, I’ll just listen to the music, it’s nice, even if I can't understand It.' she replied, and did just that.
    While listening to the band, Jane felt the air around her, trying to make it move to her whim, as the band played. She got nowhere with it, and the band played several songs - including on she thought she recognized from Earth - before the lead singer spoke up.
    The crowd was whipped into frenzy by this point, and Jane felt bruised and tired from the constant bumping she had endured.
    Sean didn't seem bothered though, either that or he simply did something to avoid getting bumped. She wouldn't be surprised to hear he had sent every bump into another dimension or something equally crazy. However, he had a truly pleased smile on his face, as if watching his daughter play in the band had made him happier than most things could. She thought that he had rushing so quickly, without vaguely explaining the situation and leaving everyone confused before walking off at with a smile on his face. He must have dragged everyone here with such speed because he wanted to show this band to everyone. It was a nice idea, and she could get where he was coming from with his enthusiasm, something she wished her parents to have with her. Lilly was truly lucky to have such a parent.
    "It’s great to see we are so loved in this house of entertainment. A few of the older people in the audience are giving me glares, but I have my lovely Lilyana here to protect me, so I'm safe as houses. Speaking of houses, I hope to see you all at San's house later for The Ball" she told the audience. Jane saw that Lily was grinning widely, and Sean was probably just as happy.
    Suddenly, as if summoned by her thoughts, Sean appeared by her side.
    "You ready to go? There is a lot more to this planet than just this building" He explained.
    "What was that?” Jane asked, referring to the gig they had just watched.
    “It was my daughter playing in her band” He told her, heading out of the band area, past the confused looking bouncer and into the open again. Lilly was outside waiting for them as they arrived, she didn't look like she had just be on stage, playing a guitar with astounding skill, for so long and thrashing around as if she had something under her skin. She there was not a single drop of sweat on her and her cheeks where not even slightly flushed. There was - like everything that was related to Sean in anyway - something else, something about Lilly that wasn't being announced, for whatever reason.
    "Thanks for coming down, I am glad you could make it" Lilly told Nena, giving her a hug before turning to her father. "You 'n' all, never thought you would be here" She said to Sean, grinning as she gave him a hug as well.
    "You’re welcome dear, wouldn't miss this any more than I would miss Nena getting sold in an auction and getting to kill every one of the little bastards that where there" He replied, grinning widely. His other smiles where rather maniacal - not that this one didn't have manic traces - or even a bit forced at times, but this one was the first Jane had seen that was proper.
    "Well it was a lovely break, but we got to get back, San is busy and we have to help him" Andy said, shocking Jane slightly by breaking the silence he had held. "I know I don't, exactly, but I stick by this one through thick and thicker" He continued, gesturing to John as he did. "I’ll probably see you up there in a bit Sean, but for the rest of you down here, goodbye and have fun" he finished, giving them all a light wave and heading off, followed by John and Katrine.
    Jane tried to take advantage of the momentary silence in Andy's wake but Lilly took the opportunity first.
    "That is great hair. How did you get it to grow so long?" She asked, running a hand down it. Jane blushed as she did whenever someone complimented her hair, and simply shrugged.
    "I am not sure, it just grows. My dad never cared enough to cut it, and I liked to keep it this long. It felt good" She replied before turning to Sean. "There was a song they played, the second one, and I recognized the guitaring in it" she told him, as Lilly ran her hand though the deep jungles of her hair. It felt a lot like a comb going though, for some strange reason.
    "Yes, I thought you would pick up on that" he replied to Jane's question, taking a breath to launch into one of his massive explanations before Lilly removed her hand from Jane's jungle and pointed to the building behind them.
    "I best be getting back as well, always more things to do" She told them before opening the door and going back inside.
    “Revolvers dues Est Lilly” Sean called to her as she left.
    “Ohh, I know that. I can store many rounds in…certain places” she replied before disappearing into the building.
    "On that note I’m off, going to take Nehvna and her lovely dear shopping for clothes, shoes, hair styling or Wave Motion Cannons. Whatever the shops sell" Beth announced hastily, dragging a softly complaining Nehvna by the hand off down the road.
    "What cheek" Sean said in wake of Beth's leaving, he shook his head before turning to Jane. She was clearly a bit confused - probably didn't know what a Wave Motion Cannon was, but he would explain it later - but attentive. "Anyway, about the song. You humans are an ignorant, self-destruction race bent on stripping every last scrap of wealth from the ground and killing yourself with the pollution of your factories, or the unbridled fury of the sun. And if that wasn’t enough, you invent weapons to kill yourselves even quicker than that. “Sean started, and Jane didn't seem to be in the mood for another anti-human rant.
    "Yes, I got the general idea that you don't like us. Now, can we talk about the song?" She asked him, which made him chuckle.
    "If you'd let me finish. Now, once in a blue moon, when the stars align and cows give birth to three headed offspring, you humans come up with a flash of creativity, and make something that doesn't actually blow up, ignite, cut apart or otherwise harm anything. So it could be said that your music is on a level that some other species enjoy it to the extent that it is copied and played by their musicians. And some species like your creative impulses and would like to take you and have you impulse on their planet, but unfortunately its illegal and carries a high punishment, so that doesn't happen often" he explained, finishing with a nod and generally looking pleased about himself.
    "So, you like our bands?" Jane simplified, deflating Sean. He clearly deflated and glared.
    "Yes. You music good. We like. We copy" Sean used short, sharp sentences, much like a person just learning to speak.
    "Ok, ok. No need to speak like a caveman" Jane replied, sighing before shaking her head. "I guess you have important you stuff to do, so I am going to follow Beth's lead and drag my boys - and girl, since Nailah is here - around to check out the shops" Jane told Sean, turning to Eliot and Silverfang with a grin.
    "Sure-sure. The 'Houses and Tak will head up to San's and talk business with the big man. But first, you lot will need money" Sean said, pulling a card out of his pocket and giving it to Jane. "That is for one of my accounts here at San's place. I am sure that you can't spend all that is in it, so go nuts. I’ll see you peeps later" he told them, but Jane looked like a light bulb flashed in her brain, and she stopped him.
    "Just one thing before you go. Is, or was Atlantis real?" She asked, and from Sean's hysterical reaction she thought herself rather stupid for asking.
    "Ahh girl. That question is complicated, I’ll tell you about it later" He replied, turning and walking away, followed closely by Nena. Jane shrugged looked at the card for a bit and then walked up to Silverfang and put her head on his chest.
    "I think this is the first time we have been alone since your house" She said, looking at Eliot as she spoke. "So, who's up for some shopping?" She asked. Eliot shrugged indifferently, but Nailah grinned, looking rather excited. Silverfang however, simply shook his head.
    "Really? Out of everything you can ask him for, you ask if Atlantis is real? That is just...well it’s just you really" he told Jane, holding her tighter to his chest so he wouldn't get hit. "Anyway, shopping sounds good".
    I. Shadow looked at the ferry shuttle in the port with a sigh, he knew he could make the Warp to The Hive - so called because it was a beacon to every pirate, mercenary, assassin and just about everyone with a broken moral compass, thus making it a 'hive' of villainy - with his new Master but he didn't want to draw attention to himself, he didn't know where the Daughter's people where, and he wanted to keep silent, and maintain the element of surprise for as long as he could. As he boarded the ship, he saw a couple of the fish-people looking at him, and so he decided to kill them when they departed onto The Hive. He didn't like being looked at by fish-people; it irritated him a great deal.
    "Ferry setting off, estimated time of travel, one hour, twenty three minutes" the tannoy system said. Shadow nodded to it, not that he needed to, and sat down on one of the seats, far away from the fish-people. The person sat next to him turned to Shadow and spoke.
    "Hey dude, what’s taking you to The Hive?" He asked, leaning into Shadow. However, when Shadow stared at him like a lion staring at his prey, the man quickly fell silent again, a state Shadow preferred him in. His mouth stayed shut throughout the rest of the journey, and the fish-people didn't look at him again, so he considered not killing them, he was in a hurry after all.
    The ferry lifted off and escaped the gravitational pull of the planet fairly quickly, it lacked any hyper-drive systems but the engine had sub-light capabilities, and was fast enough for planetary arm travel. Shadow usually avoided this type of travel, as did anyone that had the ability to Warp, but then it was necessary to keep a low profile, and so he endured it, for now. As the ferry reached its half-way point, an hour into the flight, Shadow changed his mind again about the fish-people. He was irritated and wanted to kill something, and they did look at him very purposefully, so they deserved killing in his book, which was a very strange book to everyone who wasn't him.
    Shadow was bored and thus annoyed as the ferry touched down on The Hive, it had been a boring ride, but his neighbour had been itching to speak but dared not for fear of what Shadow might do. However, that had not been enough to keep him entertained, and the fish-people would have to be forgone, since his informant, the man who Shadow had come here to see, was not at the landing area. This meant that Shadow would have to go hunt him down and find out why, which left no time for the stalking and killing of irritating fish-people, but then, from the way they were speaking he could tell they were going to be killed by someone else before the end of the day. Tourists didn't belong in this place, but it made good revenue for the thugs, bandits and thieves in the streets.
    Shadow knew that this place was a dangerous place for a person alone, so he took on his Hybrid form. His new master had given him the ability to get a proper Familiar Form - the form he would have used in the fight where his blade was destroyed, but his master at the time didn't have the strength to allow him that - but that would have been overkill for this place. His Hybrid form was much the same as his old Familiar Form, except for a deep red light in the centre of his skeletal eye, and his coat's hem and cuffs where lined with the same deep red - his own little addition to it, now he could control the form at will - which made it look all the more intimidating. As Shadow walked down the street, several shady people with large coats, perfect for covering weapons until they were needed, stared at him, but a quick glare with his skeletal eye sent them running with a panicked, somewhat fearful look.
    A few scantily clad girls also winked and him, some flirted openly, but he ignored them as he ignored the large people in the background, but just close enough to be at the girl's side if anything untoward happened. Shadow told himself that he was here for business, not pleasure. However, he compromised with himself by mentally saying he might pick one up on the way back, depending on his mood.
    It did not take that long to get to the office where his informant was, and so he pulled the handle down and pushed the door open hard, so it slammed against the wall, he wanted to make an impression and scare the man a bit, so he was easier to talk to when it came to the reason why he wasn't there to meet him. However, he could be the scariest thing in the universe, he could be Fear Incarnate and he would not scare the man that was he was looking at. Well, the piece of him that remained at least.
    "This day gets better and better" He said to himself sarcastically, walking up to the bloody remains of his informant and observed it, trying to find out who, or what, killed him. The man's torso was all that remained, his arms, legs and head had been brutally pulled off with great force, leaving ragged stumps and blood soaked clothing. It only took him a few seconds of observation to show that nothing he knew killed like this. That meant it was someone trying to hide as something else, and they were not doing a good job. But then, he didn't know who was doing this - either what he was trying to hide as, or the thing that actually did it - so thinking about it, they were doing a great job of hiding who they were. Shadow knew that it wasn't anyone on this planet, they made have been evil, hedonistic murderers, but they didn't kill like this, not that they had the strength to make the stumps like this. Even if a man dark enough to make this kill had come to town, he would have had it in a place more people could see it. Shadow knew that people this bad didn't hide their kills in the shadows; they wanted it to be seen by everyone, which made this body a problem. It wasn't exactly hidden, but few people had a reason to come in here, his informant didn't really advertise.
    The secondary question of where the man's limbs had gotten to was solved with a quick look around. They were dotted hap-hazardly around the room, as if the assailant didn't know what to do with them after he had pulled them off, so he simply threw them over his shoulder. Shadow had never seen anyone killed like this before, and he had hung out with a few murderers. He then turned away from the scene, his one lead into the location of the Daughter gone, and turned to the door. A door he had unfortunately left ajar. This meant that the Prementari where stood there, looking at him. They may have been little more than thugs that the head people called 'Law Enforcement' but they had enough pull to arrest people that where to sloppy with their miss-deeds.
    The look on their face clearly meant that they thought Shadow was the man who had made this kill and his skeletal eye and shiny red light was not helping to convince them otherwise. They also had rather powerful guns, and his sword was little more than a fractured piece of metal. He might have taken this party out, but the Prementari had developed a quick response to people stupid enough to resist them - a response that was a simple EMP to knock out everything the running person could use to escape, and then the shutting of the city gates - so he wouldn't get anywhere with that. And if he tried to Warp off planet, it would make the hellish ferry ride pointless. With these odds stacked against him, all he could do was put his hands up, casually exasperated.
    "It wasn't me" he told them, not expecting them to believe him. They didn't, and quickly shot him with guns, which turned out to not be the explosive kind he was expecting, and instead dart guns filled with a toxin that paralyzed its target in seconds. 'I hate today' he thought as his body collapsed onto the floor. A single dart would only slow him slightly, but the trigger happy Prementari hit him with half a dozen of the buggers.
    Jane grinned as she skipped down the street. From what Nailah was saying, there were so many shops here, with so many things to sell; Silverfang however was being a bit annoying, which was killing her buzz.
    "What made you ask about Atlantis? It was so, strange and sudden" Silverfang stated, which made Jane stop skipping and glare at him.
    "I don't know, it just popped into my mind. 'Hmm, he knows a lot, let’s ask about Atlantis'. I don't really know where the thought came from, it was just there, and so it had to be asked" She replied, having lost her giddiness to skip, she simply walked at Silver's side.
    "I think it was a cool question. I'd love to find out about the myths of home. The Yeti, the Lock Ness Monster, Shangri La, El Dorado, the lot of them" Eliot said, musing about Earth.
    "Wasn't El Dorado the name of some guy that covered himself in gold dust?" Jane asked.
    "Yea, that’s a point. But still, the others would be fun" Eliot replied before Nailah pointed out a shop.
    "We are going there first, and replacing them terrible rags you call clothing" she told the group in a tone that would brook no argument, but she argued anyway.
    "Hey, I am happy in this. It is a serviceable outfit" Jane told Nailah, who ignored her complaints and pushed Jane into the shop.
    The woman at the counter when Jane stumbled into the shop had shiny skin, and strange, staring eyes. There was no hair on her hands, and on close inspection, several places of her skin appeared scaly, rather than the one piece look of human skin. However, she was friendly enough.
    The woman grinned as she saw Eliot enter cautiously, immediately clocking him as a human. She didn't get humans in her shop very often, so she loved to play with them when she could. The human at the front, being pushed by the wolf girl, smelt strange, but she didn't dwell on it.
    "She needs a dress, and I will get her in one of if I have to tie her down" Nailah told the shop keeper, grinning.
    "What is with the sudden desire to get me a dress?" Jane demanded, paying little attention to the shop keeper, if she had her way they would be out of here in a flash.
    "You would look lovely in a dress, and I will be dammed if I let you walk around in such scruffy clothes and waste all that potential" Nailah replied. Nailah herself did not suit a dress, so whenever she found a girl that did, she made sure that they wore one. The shop owner moved fluidly from behind the counter, and stood in front of Jane, and observed her figure.
    "Yes, I have just the thing" She told Jane, rolling her s, making it almost like a hiss.
    "Seems rather strange, this person" Eliot muttered to Silverfang, but didn't voice anything. Nailah was - in his opinion - too eager to pull her sword out and swing it around.
    "Right this way, Miss" The shop owner announced, rolling her ‘s’ again as she lead them into a separate room.
    "We are going to look for more manly things to shop for" Eliot told Nailah before she entered the room.
    "With what? And anyway, you should stick around. It won't be long" She replied. Nailah then entered the room with Jane and shut the door.

    Beth was staying true to her word and treating Nehvna to a pampering session. Or at least, she tried to. When Nehvna saw how they were brushing their customer’s hair, she had to intercede, teaching them a few tricks she found convenient for Jane's hair. It didn't take long for the news to spread, and Nehvna found herself unofficially employed and working combs though people’s hair gracefully, and with no shortage of enjoyment. For Nehvna, there was nothing better than freeing a person's hair from the mess of knots, and cleaning the grease from it. After a couple of people had left with hair in a much better state than they had come in with, she found herself with Beth on her seat.
    "This was meant to be a pampering, not you getting a job" Beth told Nehvna slightly irritated.
    "It’s unofficial, and this is pampering. I love working with people's hair Beth, it would never get old or boring for me" She replied, working her comb though Beth's hair slowly, methodically removing all the knots without tugging on the hair itself. Beth had to admit that she was good at this sort of thing, but that wasn't the point, she still had a spa day planned for the girl. Beth then looked over at Avrion, who was sat on a chair in the corner, looking apologetic at everyone who offered her a glance, she had no backbone outside of a fight, which made things awkward at most times.
    Beth hesitated for a few seconds, weighing the pros and cons before speaking "So, I am just going to have this wonderful spa day by myself? It would be strange".
    "Yep. You just go and have you spa, with your mud masks and your foot massages; I’ll work on people hairs here" Nehvna replied, finishing her brushing and leading the chair over to the sink to wash her hair.
    "I know, but I was going to take you to the lovely Topaz Star's house. Her and her girls are amazing with their hands" Beth told Nehvna over the sound of the shower-head, making it sound like it meant more than just massaging.
    "You can have your great stars, I am staying here with the hair, and that is final. But take Avrion with you, she looks like she is about to cry, and needs a good day out to cheer her right up. If it is at all possible. I am beginning to think she can't be cheered up, but I am prepared to try. Or let you try at least" Nehvna then switched off the shower-head, having finished with Beth's hair. She softly combed it though again, straightening the remaining knots and getting out the excess water before placing a towel over it and starting to dry one section.
    "Fine, I’ll take your sulky girl out while you play with people's hair" Beth replied, slightly miffed by glad to have someone to take out.
    When Nehvna was done with Beth's hair, the door opened, and a tall man in a black hooded cloak walked in. He eyed Beth, as if silently asking to talk with her, but before Beth could reply, he was accosted by Nehvna.
    "My god, are you part hedge?" She asked in disbelief, his ragged hair spilt out from the cloak, and provoked Nehvna’s reaction.
    "Ex-excuse me?" he replied in a confused tone, not quite sure how to reply.
    "Your hair. I haven't seen anyone with it in that condition and I have seen a lot of hairstyles. Sit down, this is going to take some time" she told the man, ushering him into the seat Beth had just gotten up from and brushing her hands down it, doing a quick check before getting to work.
    "I’ll take your girl out then, have fun" Beth said, clearly amused at the way Nehvna had handled the man.
    "Sure, just be good" Nehvna told Beth, but was clearly focused on the man - who appeared very surprised at the way the events had turned - and his terrible hair. Beth was still giggling softly as she took Avrion out of her seat and out of the door.
    "Now, let’s get to work on this" She said to herself, brandishing her comb like a weapon of war.

    Sean and Nena made their way up to the massive hall that sat on the top of a slight hill, overlooking the rest of the buildings with the large wolf-man in tow. He would clearly prefer to be with Silverfang and Nailah, but Sean convinced him to give them some space. The building they were moving towards gave a slight feeling of jubilation just by laying eyes on it, and problems - while not outright dissolving - had less weight. Sean could feel the effects as he moved closer to the building, and he was sure that Nena could as well. This was - like many things in his life, and like Taka assumed, considering how well he had agreed to Sean's proposal - something he had planned, so he didn't totally alienate Nena and so Nailah could have some peace. With the atmosphere here, it would be easier to reconcile with his daughter. However, as they approached the giant building there was a man leaning against the wall with a smile - clearly he felt the influence of the building - and disproportionate armour that was straining against his bulky body. The thing that stood out the most was the two large bull horns on his head, looked very sharp and very strong. Despite his intimidating look - the smile did nothing to lessen this - Sean smiled upon seeing him, which was not something Nena had seen him do a lot, so she relaxed, which in turn prompted Taka to remove the hand he had so casually placed on his sword.
    "Hey Taurus. What brings you down here?" He asked, looking at the giant doorframe as he spoke.
    "The Council demands an audience with you. They know you have found her, and they want to see her" Taurus told him with a strong, but not very deep, voice.
    "Yea, well the Council can kiss my arse. They have no right to demand anything from me, and sending you down is very unofficial you know. Strange, considering how much of a stickler Aries is for the rules. And with them so out of favour right now, it’s amazing they had the nerve to try this" Sean replied, approaching the door.
    "I told them that you would not be amicable to this route, but they insisted. I shall relay your message". Taurus explained, but Sean waved his hand dismissively - at the comment, not Taurus himself.
    "Na, no need to rush back to that place, comes have a few with San" Sean offered. Taurus thought for a few seconds before replying.
    "Very well. I have been meaning to learn more about your daughters anyway, so I guess I can start with the eldest" He looked at Nena and nodded, to which caused a smile.
    "Always nice to have fans" Nena said before turning to Sean, who pushed the large doors open and stepped inside.
    A very large man - over nine foot tall and a mind-boggling amount of pounds in weight - was walking around the hall, periodically booming with laughter, and carrying a Stein that could bath a baby in, had it been filled with water, and not the alcoholic liquid that it was currently holding. He then saw the door open, and turned to see who had opened it. When Sean and his small party walked though, the large man's face grew even jollier.
    "WELCOME TO MY HALL!" He yelled, with such volume to burst a lesser man's ear drum. Sean smiled grinned and waved.
    "Want to say that a bit louder San? I think they missed it in the Ampyras" he joked, walking up to the man - who appeared to shrink to a more reasonable size - and giving him a hug.
    "You deserve such volume! You are a great man, worth of song and equally great volume! Any who stand against you are blind to your greatness!" San announced, his voice quieter, but still very loud. He did not seem to notice the vast volume he was speaking at, and neither did anyone else in the building. "And anyway, you know that things need to be much louder to get though the glyphs you daughter made!" he continued, swinging his stein, which had shrunk with his size, around before taking a deep drink from it. "Come, steins for everyone!" he finished, gesturing to a table behind him. Nena was almost gleeful as she walked over to the table. The men and women greeted her, and she was instantly sucked into the conversation, and aura of jolliness.
    "I shall have a Stein of tea" Sean said, a clear smile on his face, but his regular calm seemed too eminent from him, as usual.
    "Very well, a stein of tea for my friend Sean, a Stein of Krouberry for Taurus and a bowl of milk for Taka" San bellowed to his hall, dropping his voice at the last part.
    Taka growled softly and bared his large canine teeth.
    "Do not mock me, fat man" He warned San, but any reply was stolen away as, a few seconds later two women in attractive dresses and an abundance of mirth approached with the requested drinks, and then left again once the drinks had been taken. Taurus took a gulp of his drink and pure bliss crossed his face.
    "It has been a long time since I have had this. The Council doesn't let any sort of drink apart from water in. It gets annoying. Now, if you will excuse me, I will go dance. It has been long time since I have done that as well" Taurus told the two, trotting off to a large area of the hall, where people where dancing around a fire that cooked a giant hunk of meat.
    San watched Taurus go off to dance with a grin before turning to Sean again, his words interrupted by Taka.
    "I'm going to go find someone. I shall see you later, Sean" He stated, overtly avoiding San before stalking off. San was not put off, and took a breath before retrying his statement with much greater success.
    "Now, as I see it, you have brought several other people to this planet! Several, human people!" San's voice got lower than it was, but it still boomed.
    "Indeed I did, and one of them is very important" He replied, rather cryptically before taking a drink from his stein.
    "You mean you have found her!?" San asked, his voice increasing again in anticipation.
    "Indeed. She is here, and she is on the Third Wall as well. No idea how to break it yet, but give me some time. When have I ever failed?" Sean asked, looking into his stein. It was great tea, but then, San and his people where true artisans with all things liquid. San bellowed in laughter and then turned to the hall and shouted.
    "Time for a celebration, a feast for everyone!” A collective cheer ran though the hall in reply to his bellow, but one of the attractive women approached San.
    "Umm, sir. We don't have enough food stocks for a feast, we have The Ball coming up" She explained, and for the first time San lost his jolly look.
    "I don’t like this news, bring me something else" he muttered - his mutter was on par with a normal speaking volume. The girl frowned at San.
    “What do you mean?” she asked him.
    “I DO NOT LIKE THIS NEWS, GO FIND ME SOMETHING ELSE!” he boomed with extraordinary volume, sending the girl scurrying, he then turned to the hall again. "Scratch that, a feast for no one!" He bellowed again, and was met with a collective groan of disapproval. San's jolly look returned as two women - beautiful enough to make San's servers look plain and drab - approached.
    "Hello Sean" The taller, clearly older one said. Sean took another swing of his stein before replying.
    "Hello girls. How goes things?” The older one looked at the younger one, who smiled at Sean.
    "We feed on the ones you point us at but currently the streets crawl less with their ilk, and so we come here. We just need to stand and feed off the residue" The younger one informed him. San laughed as they finished speaking.
    "Trust you to have an entourage of two Succubi!" San laughed, clearly amused.
    "Well, they are just like any other women. You feed them, treat them well and save them from someone who is trying to kill them, and they are like putty in your hands" He joked. Two swift kicks to his shins cut his laughter short however.
    "Very dangerous putty that!" San put in, before laughing again.
    "Well, it’s no fun if they are tame, right girls?" he asked the two Succubi, who appeared to be glaring at him in a playfully angry manner that made Sean chuckle. His face then changed, and he quickly added something else to his sentence. "So, where is the bone-head and his friend? Where'd ya send them?" He asked San, who tapped his nose.
    "To work!" He replied, as cryptic as Sean could ever be.

    Jane was amazed at the speed and finesse that she had been undressed with. She was not at all bothered by her state of undress, even in front of this stranger. She had an unfortunate amount of experience in being undressed in front of strangers, but she hoped to put that all behind her and move on now. The slithering shop-keeper started to measure Jane's height, which caused a great deal of confusion.
    "I thought you said you had the perfect dress for me, so why do you need to measure me?" She asked, to which the woman smiled.
    "I have every dress in here, for basic travel robes, to an ensemble fit the Kabals themselves. Not that I sell many of them" She said generally, marking down Jane's height, and beginning to check her width. The answer simply gave Jane more questions to as though.
    "The Kabals? I have heard them mentioned a few times. Who are they?" She asked, feeling the tape measure around her breasts. This woman was a proper dress maker, not that Jane had a bust worth mentioning.
    "There are four of them, or so the rumour says, and they are the reclusive, hermit-esque rulers of Ampyras - some say they are myths, since they have not been publically seen in an extremely long time. However, it has been such a long time since they have been seen, that people have begun to say that exceedingly loud noises or very overt actions can ‘wake the Kabals’ or can be ‘heard on Ampyras’. Which labours under the assumption that they are asleep and not just simply not there. It also brings the rather sarcastic reply to people that ask their friend if they heard said extreme noises, in which the friend will reply they would ‘have to be on Ampyras to miss it’. Wither real or fiction, they hold sovereign over the Kabal Empire, which is only challenged in military and economical might by the Khani empire, ruled by the Kami of death Chaoz “Nailah lectured, giving an extremely long winded explanation to a simple question, and matching Sean for his ability to waffle. Jane looked brain-dead for a few moments, and so Nailah looked like she was going to go on, but Jane interrupted.
    "Chaoz? Sean said something about him, said he sucked at plumbing" she put in, which shocked Nailah slightly.
    "Ohh. Well. I guess he wouldn't be too good at plumbing, being the ruler of a very large...I am not actually sure what the Khani call their collection of planets" She confessed, to which Jane raised her eyebrows in surprise.
    "So, these Kabals, and Khanis stretch across multiple planets?" She asked. The snake woman had since scurried away to find Jane a dress that suited her, and matched her measurements.
    "Yes, and then there is the Galactic United Union. They were kicking up a fuss a while ago, but the Kabals managed to push them back and raze their sector when the Khani came to assist them. The Kabals and the Khani have been allies for a long time, so maybe Sean is affiliated with one of them, in some way" she mused.
    "So, is it common to 'own' a sector?" Jane asked - it was quite baffling to go from single planet existence to learning that the universe was in no way a quiet place - trying to get all the information she could. Translating languages was all well and good, but she wanted to know about the universe a bit more.
    "Kind of. It is less common for a sector to have more than two official rulers, and more often than not they are allied with each other, but having sole ownership over a sector is rare. There is only two and them two are the Kabals and the Khani" Nailah continued. Jane thought about it for a while, and then another question sprang to mind.
    "So...who owns Earth then?" she asked, hoping it wasn't a stupid question. Nailah laughed at Jane, but it wasn’t' a cruel laugh, it was more amused.
    "No one. The sector is considered holy ground by the worshipers of Gaia, and so most people leave them alone. Not that humans would allow anyone to do anything openly in that sector anyway, with all them inter-planetary demolition devices" Nailah told Jane, looking as if she was preparing to explain more, if asked. However, the question asked was not the one she expected.
    "What inter-planetary devices? We only have space rockets, and they are more for moving guys, not blowing things up" Jane asked, confused as to what Nailah was getting at.
    "The things that you call nuclear bombs. What else are they for if not blowing the bollocks off the person that dares make a settlement on the planet next door?" Nailah asked. She was in no way ready for the statement that followed. A statement that Jane was clearly reluctant to give.
    "Ohh, them. Yea. They were kind of used to kill ourselves. But then we realized how much damage they do, and now we just have them at hand and glare at each other with them, sort of like a standoff". From Nailah's facial expression, Jane knew that distain for the human race had just reached an all-time high.
    "Wow. I mean, I know you humans where fond of killing yourselves, but that is just...I have no words for it" Nailah finished, shaking her head. Jane stood, naked and ashamed, in silence until the snake woman returned with a dress.
    It was a deep green - the same colour as Jane’s eyes where - and had beauty in its simplicity. Jane instantly fell in love with it. It was an empty dress, there were no patterns or embroidery, and it was all made of one material. But from Jane's point of view, they would simply cheapen the dress, and take away from whatever it was that made it look so good. Jane was surprised at how much she liked the dress, considering she didn't like any sort of dress than Nehvna had tried to get her in over the years, and was visibly impatient to try it on.
    "I thought you would like this one. It was just a hunch I had. Now, give me a second and I’ll get it on you" The shop woman said, slipping the dress onto Jane with as much finesse as she had taken Jane's old clothes with. The dress itself felt like it was made out of some natural cloth, something that had grown undisturbed, into a dress, rather than someone fashioning it. Jane felt at ease in the dress, which was strange, she hadn't felt at ease for a long time.
    "This dress...its, amazing" Jane commented in a breathless voice, rubbing her hand down the skirt part.
    "I am glad you like it. To any other it would be expensive, to the edge of ruin for some. But to you it is my gift. You wear it better than any I could have sold it to, and that alone is payment enough" The snake woman told Jane, who could not find the words to express how she was feeling, and so simply stood there with her mouth open like a seal awaiting food. Nailah rose from her seat and took Jane's hand, the earlier dispute all but forgotten.
    "Come; let’s go see the boys, shall we?" Nailah asked, taking Jane out of the room.
    As the two girls and the snake woman exited, they were greeted by Eliot holding Silverfang's hand and looking as if he was concentrating very hard. Silverfang looked equally concentrated, and neither heard Nailah and Jane approach.
    "What are you two doing?" Jane asked, causing the pair to jump and turn to her.
    "Dam, you snuck up on me" Silverfang announced, taking deep breaths before looking at Jane's dress. His eyes just stared, and no words came from his open mouth.
    "I did no sneaking, you were just not looking" Jane retorted, before seeing Silverfang's eyes. "And now you concentrate on my figure with equal gusto. Am I really so alluring?" Jane asked, approaching Silverfang and sliding her hands around him.
    "Yes, you are to most alluring thing I have ever laid eyes on. Your allure is more than the alluringness of an alluratron 9000" He babbled before leaning down and kissing Jane softly.
    "I love it when you babble, you mash words to make a dictionary cringe" Jane replied, feeling extremely content at the moment. A moment that was interrupted by Eliot.
    "Well, unless you two wish to find a bed and consummate your new found relationship, I suggest we check out the rest of this district" Eliot announced, he was clearly in the know about how they felt about each other, which was a bit surprising for Jane, but she glared at him anyway for ruining the moment. Everyone else agreed with him however, and so they set off.

    Nehvna had just finished the hardest hair-dressing she had ever done. Even Jane's hair didn't get like this man's, and hers wasn't even washed that often. Not that her ex-father would let her wash it.
    'He won't be not letting anyone do anything again.' Nehvna thought, and then was quickly stunned by the confusing state of the sentence, and how cold it was towards Jane's father, regardless of how nasty he was. She quickly snapped back to reality and smiled at the now shiny haired man.
    "Don't let it get in such a state again, it’s not good for hair this length" Nehvna commented, running her hand down the shoulder length hair.
    "I shall endeavour to do so" The man replied, a sad voice, but with the will to bare it. He then stared into Nehvna's eyes, piercing black pits boring into her mind. "Now tell me, where is the Daughter of the Earth?" He asked her, his voice silent, and yet as loud as a volcano erupting. Nehvna opened her mouth to speak, without the action being run by her brain first.
    "She is in this part of the city. I am not sure where exactly though, Sean might know. He knows everything. He was going up to the ‘San’s place’ last I heard" She told him, bringing a nod from the tall man.
    "Thank you, I shall seek him out" he told Nehvna before turning to the door and entering onto the street, leaving Nehvna mesmerized for a few more seconds after his departure before she regained control of her senses.
    "Wow, what the hell was that?" She asked herself out loud.
    "That -” someone behind her said, making Nehvna jump, she forgot she was in a public place. Nehvna turning to see who was behind her, and saw a girl. She looked young, and was rather petite in stature. However, despite her bodily structure, she had a very commanding presence, and she appeared slightly regal. There was nothing in her eyes however, since they were covered by a strip of cloth, much like a blindfold. There was something strange - Sean level strange - about the blindfold, but she didn't dwell on it. San's planet was apparently very popular, so it was entirely possible that she was royalty from somewhere. And they had already visited three planets other than Earth, so what was to say the rest of the universe wasn't active as well?
    "You have a sharp mind, I nearly cut myself with my little probing" the small girl commented, smiling softly to herself. Nehvna had no idea what probe she was talking to, and Sean had taught her not to ask if she didn't want a few more dead brain cells, so she asked something different.
    "You made it sound like you knew what that man had done" Nehvna prompted, hoping for the girl to continue.
    "Yes, I did. And I do. It was a low level mesmerisation. Suitable for people with little to no understanding of magic. The aftereffects should have lasted for a while longer. You have a strong mind Miss" The blindfolded girl informed Nehvna. However magic worked in this universe - Sean had not explained that point yet - this girl was well versed in the art.
    The blindfolded girl smiled to herself, which was strange, there was no reason to smile, Nehvna hadn't made any jokes that she knew of.
    "No jokes my dear. But Sean has not explained how magic flows, because you have not asked. He is trying to lay off explaining without prior prompting. It is working well for him so far. You wouldn’t believe the avalanche he is storing up for when he can eventually explain" the blindfolded girl told Nehvna, seemingly very in the know about pretty much everything. She then sighed, and shook her head.
    "That man, he searches for the Daughter with random people, but he could have just asked me. Never was too good at using them two orbs he calls eyes" she muttered, but loud enough for Nehvna to hear, which brought up a point she was meaning to ask, but felt awkward asking.
    "Umm, if you don't mind me asking. I mean, sorry if it offends you but - " Nehvna verbally stumbled, before the girl tittered.
    "You wish to ask about my blindfold, yes?" She asked which shocked Nehvna.
    "Did you...did you probe me again?" She asked in trepidation, wondering how much bad stuff constant probing would cause.
    "No, it is a question that everyone asks. And there is no 'bad stuff' attached to constant probing, I can probe you as much as I like, and it won't do you any harm" she told Nehvna, before thinking about her sentence and blushing. "Great, I just had to think of it like that, didn't I?" she asked Nehvna rhetorically. "In any case, I am blind. You might have guessed that. I was born blind, and I have never seen the world with eyes that where my own. But I see better than most, without them, and have never had them, so I don't know what I am missing. It can't be that good" she explained, to which Nehvna nodded, in fake acknowledgement.
    "And you see with magic? Lovely" she said, making a comment to solidify her knowledge. A comment that turned out to be wrong.
    "No, I just see. It’s the same way you see with your eyes. Now, seeing more than I see, that is magic" She said confusingly before heading for the door.
    "You’re going to follow the tall man?" Nehvna asked, and saw eyebrows rise from behind the blindfold.
    "And they say my mind is unreadable. Yes, I am. He means no harm, but can get into trouble sometimes" She said before grinning. "Want to come along?" she offered. Nehvna fought with herself for several seconds before nodding.
    "Yes, I do". Nehvna decided to stick with this girl, she knew a lot.
    CHAPTER FOUR POINT FIVE: The release of Shadow.
    Shadow paced his cell with a grimace. He was not worried about the fact that he was in jail - that would be sorted soon enough, by him or another - but rather the state of his informant. If he had just been dead, shot through the chest, or stabbed though the head, then it would not have been too much to worry about, simply someone murdering someone else. It happened a lot, and Shadow would have passed it off as his own bad luck that it was his informant that was on the end of the kill. He scratched his chest scar - it still hurt sometimes, and was itchy a lot - and paced the room again. The arrival of the Prementari was also very well timed, as if someone had planned the whole thing. That train of thought made Shadow feel even worse, it would mean someone knew he was heading to that man, and probably knew what he was heading to that man for as well. The whole situation made Shadow so vexed he punched the wall with a growl. One of the passing wardens shouted at him for that.
    “Don’t make me come in there, you filth!” he shouted, watching Shadow for a few more seconds before walking off, checking on the other cells. Everyone knew that the state of the body he had ‘killed’ and, while not the worst thing this planet had witnessed, it was rather bad in their eyes. So all the Prementari treated him worse than the rest of the criminals. It seemed that even on a planet where murder was treated like car-theft on other worlds there was still actions that could be called atrocities.
    Shadow was so caught up in his own thoughts that he missed the subtle drop in bodily temperature that came when someone stepped out of a living being’s shadow. It was not until a hand was placed on his shoulder that he snapped back to reality.
    “My my, you have really fallen in favour with the master. You failed to capture the daughter, got soundly thrashed, and then you got captured yourself, after failing to protect your informant. I am surprised he let you keep breathing, but then again, I suppose that Shadow-dancers are hard to contact these days, so he wants to keep his assets. But, don’t expect that to keep you safe for much longer, dear Shadow” the voice mocked him, and he knew by the tone who it was, without even having to turn around. The girl that met his eyes was distinctly similar to him in the scheme of colour. Her hair, and dress where very black, as where her irises, just like Shadow.
    “Kyana, why are you here? I thought you would be kissing ass with the head-honcho.” He retorted, smirking as the warden - who had returned to Shadow’s cell - snorted.
    “Seems like even you imaginary friends have fallen out with you” he joked, before returning to his rounds again, laughing to himself. Shadow however, was far from happy.
    “Well done. They can’t see you. Want a cookie?” he asked sarcastically, even more vexed than before. Kyana, however, appeared as amused as the warden.
    “Well, what did you expect? It would make no sense for me to be here, and unlike you I am competent in my work. But I did not come here to argue with you, I came here to tell you that you have one last chance to redeem yourself in the eyes of the Master. And I would suggest you do not fail this one” Kyana intoned, but before she could get much further, Shadow stopped her.
    “How did you get in here anyway? I thought we were meant to be keeping off The Radar.” He asked rather snappishly. The comment made Kyana smirk even more.
    “Ohh that is a lovely new invention of the Master’s mind.” She started; the admiration for this ‘Master’ was clear in her voice as she told Shadow about the new invention. “He had made a way to keep a person off The Radar, if only for a single casting. They are used for important missions only, but I was given three. Two for myself, and one to give to you. Now, are you going to let me tell you how to save your near-worthless skin, or do you wish to rot in here?” Kyana explained, obviously enjoying the superiority she had over Shadow in this situation.
    “Fine. Speak quickly.” Shadow replied with overt venom. He was not going to appear meek in front of this girl, even if she had a better hand than he did, now at least.
    “Lovely. Now, the Titan San - “she started before Shadow interrupted. Maybe he was trying to show that he didn’t defer to Kyana, but it was probably just because he didn’t like San, from the snarl on his face.
    “That fat bastard, always claiming that jubilation is the key to peace, then doesn’t let people who take joy in killing go on a spree when they are bored.” He growled. His interruption didn’t offset Kyana at all though.
    “Quite. He has sent a few people to the planet of Sand, for a reason yet unknown to us. We need to you follow them, find out what they are doing and then, after you know, dispose of them. Once you are done, meet me on San’s planet, and we will enact the next piece of the Master’s plan.” Kyana finished, the end of which clearly appeased Shadow.
    “Lovely. And it is good to see that you are actually doing something instead of your daily routine of foot-kissing and pleasure-slaving” Shadow replied, which made Kyana break her composure and blush.
    “I just do what the Master commands me! And so should you!” she shouted hastily, before sorting her hair out and brushing her skirt - something Shadow had learnt that women do to regain a clear head - and stared at Shadow for a few seconds before handing him a smooth stone.
    “Crush that, and it will allow you to have a free spell that cannot be detected. Do not tarry, or the Master may become impatient” Kyana told Shadow, leaning against the cell wall.
    “And how am I meant to get off the planet after I finish?” Shadow asked, noticing the fact that he had only been given one of the strange stones.
    “I am sure you will find a way” Kyana replied with no lack of amusement. Shadow made a move towards her, but she smashed the stone - it appeared to have the strength of a hen’s egg rather than a stone - on the cell wall and disappeared into the shadow she was casting. Shadow stared at the wall for a few more seconds before turning his gaze to the stone. He bent down and placed it on the ground before stomping on it. He immediately felt something wrap around his body, but couldn’t see it. The feeling coated his entire body, and he knew this was what would let him get out.
    “What was that you just broke?” The warden asked - or rather demanded to know - Shadow.
    “Freedom. See you around, you shitbag” Shadow replied vulgarly, before falling into the shadow behind him, and vanishing from the warden’s sight. The warden looked at the bottle in his hand before pouring the rest of the contents away; sure it had made him see Shadow vanish.
    ‘I need to cut down’ he though, before patrolling the cells again.

    Far from the jubilant splendour of San’s planet, John, Andy and Katrine where wrapped in desert cloaks - skin-tight wraps of cloth to keep the sand away. But, even with the best quality cloaks, the sand still managed to find its way in - which was suited because they were at the planet that was made nearly entirely out of sand. Sandstorms where a regular occurrence here, and oases, while plentiful, where difficult to get to, due to the dangers of traveling. The strange thing about the planet was that it was not overly hot, at least not as hot as one would expect from a desert that covers most of the land mass, it looked as if the sand was not a natural part of the planet, and had been changed to this way by some unnatural being or occurrence. However, it was not just the perpetual threat of sand-storms, quicksand and death-by-thirst that made the planet dangerous. A dozen dangerous other-worldly beings stalked the sands, from the Dune Boars - a massive malformed shape that looked like it once had been a boar, long ago, and had a perpetual taste for flesh, which its razor tusks and several rows of teeth where more than happy to assist with - to the Sand-scythers.
    John was not worried about the Dune Boars, while they claimed many thousands of nomadic people that lived on the planet, they were stupid and impulse driven, which made them easy prey for someone that knew what they were doing. He wasn’t even particularly bothered the Sand-Scythers, part of the Scythers family - if family was a word that could be used to describe demonic creatures that wielded the same weapon - and deadly to most whom travelled anybody of sand. Their ability to Shift across the sands allowed them to make sudden and lethal raids on a party that was traveling, and their scythes cleaved though most things native to this planet with little worry. While John knew he could beat anything less than a dozen of the Scythers working together, an extraordinarily rare feat considering how much they distrusted their own kin, he would not come away from a fight against even one of them unhurt. But compared to what was really out there - the rumours of the sand having a mind of its own where not unfounded - they were not the biggest threat.
    “Sand, why did it have to be sand? I’m going to be pouring sand out of places I never knew I had for weeks” Katrine grumbled, tugging her cloak tighter, which was quite amazing considering it was skin tight already. John laughed, it must have been nice to have that level of obliviousness, and worry about the sand, and little else.
    “Don’t worry, I’ll get you a spa when we get back” John replied. ‘If we ever get back’ he finished, in his mind. However, clearly showing her blissful level of obliviousness, Katrine smiled rather broadly.
    “That would be lovely” She exclaimed, obviously much happier now. It didn’t matter if they were here for a day or a week; she knew she was going to get a spa eventually and it made her feel better.
    As the small group walked, the sand was more of an enemy than the savage natives. It strange that the sun was little more than an autumn heat, since the terrain was sand, as far as the eye could see. And sand beyond that as well. Luckily, the group did not run into any of the blood thirsty creatures that populated the sands, and so it was a simple trudge through the sea of sand. There was no change of scenery, and the dryness of the desert stole the moisture from the group, even without the oppressive heat of the sun. They moved across the unsure footing while keeping an eye for any dangers that could spring up. The sudden sandstorms and sinking quicksand where just as much of a threat as the giant boars and scythe wielding demons, along with a dozen other living creatures, and an equal amount of natural dangers.
    After what felt like an eternity, the view on the horizon changed, showing trees and grass, tents and people. The clearly marked Oasis was a wonderful sight, and the singed nerves fixed themselves as the oasis came ever closer, even Andy managed a smile, and he had done nothing but mumble about the sand since he got to the planet. However, their work was less than half done with the oasis in sight. It didn't take them long after spotting the tall trees to enter the oasis' bubble. There where strange looking tents dotted around the place - merely blankets on the ground with strips of cloth above them on poles - and the milling people looked identical in all but height, due to the nature of the clothing they all wore.
    Dotted around the semi-village where large, quad-pedal beasts with dozens of sacks on them. Each of the beasts had a thick greyish carapace and long tusk from the same material as their carapace jutting out of their head. The eight foot creature where probably able to defend itself very well, and while looking rather intimidating, it paid no heed to the children that played with its young. The beast was probably a domesticated animal that the nomads used for transport and protection. They eyed the new coming party cautiously, as if ready to spring if commanded, but otherwise simply milled around, keeping a constant watch over their children and the horizon, they were clearly not a new addition to the nomads life style, from the way everyone was so comfortable around them.
    It did not take long for them to be approached by one of the people dotted around the camp. From close up, they could see the age around the person's eyes, marking them as an elder.
    "<Welcome, travellers, to this rest stop in the Sea of Sand. How fared your journey?>" The elder asked in his native tongue. While John - and by extension Katrine - could understand it well enough, Andy was more fluent in its speech patterns. John or Katrine would probably end up asking his mother to make them oranges or something, and so it was him that replied.
    "<Thank you Elder, we are glad to be here. Our journey was fortunately uneventful.>" Andy replied, common curtsey was always laid out before the arrivee was questioned. The Elder offered them into his camp, and led the group to his tent. "<What brings you here? This was no aimless wander>" The Elder commented, and Andy was surprised at his observance.
    "<We shall be straight with you. We seek a very old structure, possibly partially buried, but it won't be fully buried. The nature of the structure won't allow it>" he informed the Elder. John had taken to staring into space, and Katrine was obsessed with the large pack animals and how such a mighty beast could be tamed.
    The Elder clearly to know what structure she was referring to.
    "<You refer to Ever There then? It is a sacred site for the Desert Kin, being the only Landmark in this ever changing sea. What business do you have there?>" The Elder asked, sceptically. Sacred sites where always tender topics around most people.
    "<We seek not the site, but what lies within.>" Andy revealed, which caused the Elder to laugh.
    "<I could tell you that now. Inside Ever There's door lays a great wall, fitted to the walls of the structure, and as impregnable as Ever There itself. But, if you must go for yourself, I will have to ask a task of you first. To make sure that you are trustworthy enough>" The Elder offered, to which Andy nodded.
    "<We get stories of many caravans, many Clavo are lost to the deserts. Far more than usual>" He started, before it was Andy’s turn to frown.
    "<Clavo? I am unfamiliar with this phrase. What are they?>" He asked. He thought his grasp of this language was very good, but he was now being proven otherwise. In response the Elder gestured outside.
    "<I am sure that the large, tusked beasts outside have not escaped your sight. They are Clavo. It is a local dialect, so I can understand your confusion. I believe the general term for them is Stor Hast.>" the Elder explained, and it was then Andy's turn to nod. The Elder took it as a sign to continue. "<They are not easy creatures to kill, and so we worry. There is something out there, very powerful. The rumours say that the Clavo make a terrible cry just before whatever is causing these massacres arrives. If you wish to be lead to the Ever There, then we ask that you find the source of this disturbance.>" The Elder told Andy, in a tone that would brook no haggling.
    Andy debated for a short while, before holding out his hand.
    "<It is agreed. We shall remove this threat, Elder>" He announced, to which the old man shook his hand.
    "<We look forward to it>" He replied, exiting the tent, followed by Andy. As he exited the tent, Katrine sighed very exaggeratedly and looked at him.
    "That sounds like a quest. Did I suddenly fall into an mmo or something?" Katrine asked, clearly listening in on the conversation. Andy sighed at Katrine.
    "We need to do this 'quest' so we can find the structure. It’s better than wondering in the desert and hoping to get lucky and find it before we get killed or die of dehydration" Andy retorted. "Now, take John and go find some water skins, I’m going to get Time and have him scout for anything that is really out of place" He commanded. Katrine glared for a second, and then turned away with a sniff, clearly displeased to be ordered around. John had no care about that however, and simply nodded when the order was relayed to him. Andy knew John wouldn't have a problem, so he did not worry about Katrine’s gripes. He instead worried about what could be out there. It wasn't a good train of thought.

    It did not take John and Katrine long to find an ample supply of water skins, the oasis was always liberal with the water it had. It was felt to be the upmost disrespect to refuse person water at an oasis, so there was no problem on that front. With the water obtained, the duo found their way back to the way they had come in, and found Andy standing there with another man. This man did not wear the usual desert garb, and the constantly blowing sand gave him a wide berth, going several centimetres around the man. The displaced sand seemed to be buffering Andy twice as much, but he didn't say anything about it.
    "We got the water.” Katrine stated, holding up the skins obviously. Andy nodded to Katrine and turned to the man next to him.
    “So, Time. You ready to take flight?” he asked, turning to the man beside him. The statement appeared to excite Katrine, she had never seen Time ‘take flight’ and so it was an interesting new experience.
    As it turned out, the experience was less than interesting. Time turned into some small newt with wings, it then jumped into the air and slowly few off into the sand-storm. The group lost sight of him in mere moments, and so they simply stood around for a few minutes before the small newt came back and returned to his large, sand-displacing human form.
    “I spotted something a few miles to west. It was strange, and definitely something that could cause the devastation that the Elder referred to.” Time told John, Andy and Katrine. Andy rubbed his goatee in a stance that would make Silverfang proud with the imitation.
    “Guess we are going a few miles to the west then. Any specifications?” He asked Time, not wanting to go in blind.
    “Well, from what I got, it looked like two beings emitting the uneasy feeling, and another half dozen creatures following them. I guess every creepy asshole terrorizing a desert planet needs a following” Time replied, clarifying his report. Andy took a breath, ready to ask more questions, but Katrine interrupted.
    “Let’s go kill some evil bastard!” she shouted, storming off and forcing others to follow her. The sands buffered the party, and blew viciously, but they were less bothered by it than before. The prospect of having something to kill at the end made Katrine happy, and the job drawing to a close was making John and Andy pleased. Time didn’t care either way, and simply walked. Probably because the sand wasn’t hitting him, or probably because he hardly cared about anything. The sun tried to be oppressive, but lacked any true amount of heat, and so the only real problem was the arid climate that slowly dried out mouths and eyes. But the water skins they had obtained worked well, and so they arrived at their destination with little trouble.

    When they arrived, they saw a ring of people that looked like the nomads they had just left, but their eyes where a deep,. glaring red, and they had long fingernails. The outfits they were all wearing looked battered from constant sandstorms, but the most interesting was what was in the centre of the ring.
    "That ain't good" Andy said, shaking his head, and then cracking his knuckles.
    "What is it?" Katrine asked, turning her smooth nails into curved, feline claws, more dangerous than the red-eyed people's nails. Even without knowing what it was, she still knew that this wasn't a friendly situation.
    "An avatar of a thing that shouldn't have one" Andy replied, before the glowing red eyes turned to them. In the space created, Katrine got a better look at what Andy had seen. It looked like a small sand-tornado had picked up a pair of rubies, only they never moved, and just stared at the group of people as a person would stare at an ant. John seemed to vanish from the group as Andy and Katrine took up ready stances, but neither mentioned it at all.
    Then came a whistling sound, very much like wind blowing hard, but a voice could be heard within in, but it didn't speak any language Katrine could understand.
    "It's weak now, but it has been consuming the big elephant things to get stronger" Andy explained, with caused Katrine to scowl.
    "I do know their proper name you know" she growled, before the red-eyed humanoids moved forward, finding the message Katrine lost. The lurked forward, and then suddenly struck, their sharp nails aiming to claw the eyes, or any part of the face. They didn't get very far though, as Andy ducked under the swipe and smashed his large fists into the assailants gut, feeling ribs shattered under the impact. He then brought his second hand up and hit the man - or woman, he couldn't really tell - in the chin and lift him off his - or her - feet. Katrine has similar luck, as she darted off to the side as her target moved to rake the claws down her face. Katrine then lashed out and sliced open the throat, letting blood spill onto the sand, and turning to the rest.
    "John done yet?" Katrine asked, looking around as best she could without taking her eyes off the remaining people.
    "Dunno" He replied. "John! You done yet!?" Andy shouted, moving to keep the circling buggers in sight.
    "Sand is different to earth but...yes!" He exclaimed, a crouched on the floor with his hands on the sand. Suddenly, a large ring started to glow around them, and light sprung from it, drawing an intricate symbol within its confines. "Lose form and return!" He shouted, the pattern lifting up from the ground and erasing the avatar as it rose, dispersing when it cleared the thing's top. The whistling voice then died down, and the rest of the red-eyes seemed confused, and then seeing their dead friend, scared. With scattered wails, they all fled the area, leaving John, Andy and Katrine alone.
    "Did anyone else thing that was...boring?" she asked, digging the blood out of her claws before retracting them into normal nails. John, who had walked over from the edge of the now unglowing circle shrugged.
    "Putting down cults before they can spring up is what we do, a boring as it is" He told Katrine, before looking to Andy. "Or though, the only thing that is cult-worthy here, well. Boring but fruitful" He said, taking a swing from the water skin and grinning. "Now, let's get back and tell the old fart and have someone take us where we need to go" John said, setting off and having Andy and Katrine fall in behind him.
    The journey back was just as joyfully boring as the journey back, interrupted only by Katrine chiming in asking how long they had been gone. Andy replied it was about 'an hour or so' which satisfied Katrine, since she didn't question it. When they got back into the camp and spoke with the Elder again, he seemed surprised they had returned in such a short time, but also glad. Andy then spoke with him about who was going to guide them into the desert, and got a smaller desert dweller, the small mounds on her chest marking her as a female. She didn't seem very happy that outsiders where here, and had the same red eyes and clawed fingers as the people they had just fought. Katrine was ready to claw her face off before the situation was explained by the Elder.
    "<The dwellers with eyes afire and fangs on their hands are natives of this planet, we are descendants of people who came here for an unknown reason, way back when this place was still lush. They do not like us, and call us 'The False ones' and themselves the 'Desert Kin'. They are set on killing our men and kidnapping our women whenever they have the ability to do so. But, sometimes one of them believes that the Desert Kin treat us to harshly, and join us so that we may survive in this world to see the Lush Return>" The elder finished, taking a deep breath, and nodding his head. "<Now, if you will excuse me, I must tend to the rest of the camp, safe travels>" He said, walking off into the camp. The Desert Kin glared at them irritably, but led them into the desert anyway.
    After a while, Katrine stared at the woman who was walking into endless desert so confidently, and so turned to John.
    "So, how does she know where she is going?" Katrine asked John, who grinned.
    "Well, the building gives off a sort of humming that they can feel, hear, and see. It perpetually guides them to itself, but I am unsure what happens when they get there. Most of the time it can be ignored, but right now she is concentrating on it, finding this half buried building should be a cake-walk for her. Not quite sure why it calls out to them as it does, but then there are a lot of things I am not quite sure about" John told Katrine, who was amazed at 'calling' of the building in the desert. She picked up her pace to match the female Desert Kin and began speaking in an awed tone.
    "It’s amazing you can find one thing in all of this" she gushed. Without breaking pace, the Desert Kin turned to look at Katrine with a strange look of confusion and disdain.
    "'It is easy to find the needle in a haystack if the needle is attached to a thread in your hand'" She quoted, which elected even more awe from Katrine. However, before she could squeal anything else Andy spoke up, talking generally, but directed more to the Desert Kin than anyone else. The water skin was passed around between John and Katrine, not wanting to interrupt Andy’s conversation.
    "I feel as if I am being tugged at, but the same time it can't get a grip on me" He announced, before turning his tone to the Desert Kin directly. "Is this you’re doing? The tugging or the lack of grip?" He asked. The clawed woman seemed slightly irritated that so many questions where being asked, but she answered them anyway. If only over her shoulder, while maintaining the gruelling pace.
    "Ever There does not like outsiders. It shifts the desert around them, so they lose themselves within it" She intoned. Andy's eyes opened widely in surprise.
    "That is...I have heard that the desert had a life of its own at times, but I did not know it actively moved people around" he replied, bobbing his head in new-found respect for the desert.
    "Only with people in the vicinity of Ever There. All others are free of the desert's ability to move. But not its ability to kill" She told Andy, a different tone was added to the last few words, and it made an oppressive feeling grow over the party, who moved in silence from then on. Much to the Desert Kin's delight. It was then that they gave the water skin to Andy, who accepted it with silence grace.
    After some decent legwork, they arrived at the building they were looking for. It was not as awe-inspiring as Katrine had thought it would have been. Neither was it a magnificent construction, or an intimidating piece of architecture. It was just twelve feet of rock sticking out of the desert 'floor'. There was an arch tall and wide enough to fit one of the Stor Hast though comfortably, and the sand continued into the darkness. Katrine was unsure if it dropped at a certain point, or the whole temple was submerged.
    "Here is your goal. leave soon, non-Kin" the female Desert Kin told them - her tone was slightly cracked, as if someone staring at their object of fixation and trying to ignore it - before turning back and heading away with even greater haste than she had led them here with. The sands swallowed her in minutes, leaving John, Andy and Katrine at the mouth of the temple, alone. Andy led the people into the temple, but there was something else around that Andy couldn't put his finger on. A noise just on the edge of hearing. It annoyed him as he progressed into the temple, and the silence of the temple annoyed him further. As they moved on, a good dozen feet into the temple, they came across the wall that they had been told about, with a large crack down the middle, not quite from end to end, but not far off.
    "I thought the wall was like, really impenetrable?" Katrine asked, looking at the crack.
    "Perception changes how impenetrable something is. One man's steel maybe another man's paper" he explained, moving closer to it.
    "Ya know -” Katrine started, before two unmistakable sounds rang out in the silent temple. The first was the sound of a sharp metal blade slicing through skin, and the second was the subtle thud of a person's head hitting the compact sand floor of the desert. John's reaction was nearly instantaneous. He span around, already knowing what was going to greet his eyes before he started. The scream he was building up never came to be, however, since a pitch black blade effortlessly pushed through his back, into his lung, and out the front of his chest. It was then swiftly pulled out and brought it a wide arc, cutting open the throat of Andy as he tried to comprehend what was going on. Mere seconds had passed since Katrine's beheading when Andy collapsed on the floor, blood gushing from his deep and definitely fatal wound.
    "Now that" Shadow started, flicking the blood off his sword and replacing it in its scabbard "is how you ambush someone" he finished, nodding to the Sand Scyther that had assisted him.

    Shadow could feel the gritty oppressiveness of the desert as soon as he entered it. There was a horrid dryness to the air, and while the sun wasn’t as hot as one would expect in a desert, the sand never ceased to buffer anything in its way. He silently cursed Kyana for not telling him about the desert so he could pack proper clothing, and as it was his skin felt grated and horrible. However, he needed to be here because if he wasn’t here, then Kyana would probably come to kill him, and then when he killed her, something bigger and uglier would come. That hassle outweighed this hassle, and so he coped with the buffering sands. Shadow’s ability to step though shadows was very helpful in finding people he was looking for. In this case, it was a man, part of the native race called Desert Kin. The leader - it was very obvious who the leader was, since he was the only one riding a Dune Boar and being followed by a Sand Scyther - was surprised when Shadow popped out from behind one of the tents. The Desert Kin prided themselves on seeing all that came near their camp, and so there was a certain touch of wariness about them when it came to Shadow, but for the most part they were impressed.
    “What brings you here, Outsider of Silence?” the leader asked, his comprehension of the Universal language was rickety, but Shadow was surprised this desert Kin knew it at all. They were a very isolated people, and so outside knowledge was not something Shadow had expected them to have.
    “I come to report a travesty that will happen soon.” He told the leader, who was clearly interested. He leant forwards on his boar, and nodded, giving Shadow the go-ahead to carry on. “Soon, two men and a female will be lead into the desert by The False Ones. They seek to debase and desecrate the temple, and steal its caressing touch over the sands. With it, they shall force the Desert Kin, The False Ones and the Sand Scythers to fight in their battles. I do not wish for this to happen, it would be against my moral code, and so I have come to tell you this, and to help you stop them. Brute force would be answered by brute force, and while you appear to be strong, I do not wish to risk that they could kill several of you before you managed to overcome them. So I offer an alternative” Shadow explained, lying expertly, and fooling the leader with ease.
    “This would indeed be a travesty of great proportion. We are glad you have brought it to our attention before they could enact their plot. What is this alternative you suggest?” The leader asked Shadow, clearly hanging onto his every word.
    “I would require one of the Scythers for this. If I was to tackle all three alone, they would notice me and would swiftly summon reinforcements.” He told the boar leader, who turned to his Scyther besides him.
    “For such…” he started, his breath raspy and as gritty as the sand that harrowed everything in this planet “a single Scyther could be arranged with haste” He finished, who made Shadow smile.
    “Excellent. Then I suggest allowing the three to reach the temple. Then, when they entered the temple, the Scyther would pick off the person at the back, and I would dispatch the other two.” Shadow told the leader, who nodded in agreement. It was a good plan.
    “Very well, we shall arrange it. Contact with the Scythers shall be made. Shall you leave for the temple immediately, or do you wish to wait for the Scyther?” He asked Shadow.
    “Well, I would probably get lost if I tried to find the way myself, so I’ll wait for the Scyther.” Shadow told the leader, who nodded and turned to his camp.
    “Then you may stay until they arrive. We offer water and shade” The leader announced, before shouting something in what appeared to be the native tongue. Shadow followed the leader into the camp with a wide smirk, he had not known how difficult it would have been to convince these Desert Kin, but they turned out to be true idiots. The leader took Shadow to one of the few flapped tents and opened it, crossing the threshold and then offering Shadow inside. He graciously accepted and stepped in, glad to be out of the sand for a while.
    Inside the tent where several ill-clad females with a variety of objects. They mostly appeared to be holding jugs of water and bowls of food. The food looked packed with liquid, and would serve as a refreshment as much as nourishment. Their eyes where a variety of normal colours, and their fingernails where of normal size, so they must have been captured False Ones. Shadow didn’t know whether the leader took pleasure in these girls being nearly naked, or if it was simply because they were so embarrassed by it, but Shadow was pleased to see them. It even made him grin.
    “You grin. Do my strova please you?” The leader asked, and Shadow regretted not taking ‘crazy desert language’ lessons before coming here. Shadow’s blank stare must have tipped off the leader, who grinned himself - he had taken his face wraps off, and shown the pale face underneath. The red eyes where even more intimidating with the surrounding skin, making them appear like desert ghosts. “You know not what a strova is, do you?” He asked, to which Shadow shook his head. “A strova is what the False Ones should be. Their ancestors determined this when they invaded is. A strova must be utterly obedient, or be fed to the Dune Boars while her sisters watch.” The leader explained, grinning widely at one of the girls and showing his sharp, malformed teeth.
    “What of the male False Ones? What do you do with them?” Shadow asked, curious about the culture of these creatures now.
    “That depends on the time we have. If we are rushed, then they are simply stabbed, and left to die. But if we have no limit, then they are cut out, and strangled with their own tubes. The females then don strova robes made from the fallen males. It ensures obedience, though fear” He told Shadow, who had come to like these desert kin in the small time he had been in their company.
    “That is very interesting. I like the artistic touch you handle these situations with” he complimented them, approaching one of the girls and gliding his fingers though her hair. “So, are they just ornaments, or do you do more with them?” He asked the leader, hidden implications in his tone.
    “Ahh, I see what you say.” He replied, but before he could get any further, one of the Sand Scythers entered the tent.
    “As summoned, I come” he rasped. Shadow sighed softly, and then raised his head jubilantly.
    “Ahh, Cockious Blockious. Are you ready?” He asked the Scyther, who glared at him from behind the hood.
    “I am not this name you give me. I am –“The Scyther then made a noise that - to Shadow at least - sounded like a glottal hiss. Shadow nodded and quickly changed the subject.
    “Well, have you been informed as to what is going to happen here? “Shadow asked the Scyther, who nodded.
    “Indeed. We shall slay the defilers for thinking of what they are planning” the Scyther announced vigorously.
    “Lovely. Let’s get killing interlopers then.” Shadow replied. He was never going to get his release after all, which made him really rather sad. But then, he was about to kill people, so he didn’t mind too much.
    The Scyther was eager to get going, and so Shadow could only pick up one water skin before heading off to the temple to set up their ambush. Occasionally, the Scyther would just vanish into the sand, before returning a few feet in front of Shadow. After a while Shadow got used to this, and simply kicked into a run when he reappeared to catch up. There were some points that felt like the desert was trying to move him, but the Scyther kept it at bay. Shadow thought it must be the Temple, and that said temple was more important than he was told. The temple was a fair distance from the camp, and so Shadow got near the bottom of the water skin by the time they arrived at temple.
    “Not that impressive” Shadow commented, looking at the buried structure. The Scyther made something that could be a scoff, and rounded on Shadow.
    “You use your eyes to see its glory. This is foolish. You do not see the dwelling, you feel it. That is where the impressive is” the Scyther told Shadow, clearly not grasping the finer points of Basic.
    “Yea, you do your spiritual thing; I’m going for a nap. Wake me when they get here” He told the Scyther, trying to find some shelter from the sand before giving up and lying down.
    Shadow wasn't counting how long he was napping, but eventually Mr. Hiss woke him up from the ground with a shake.
    "They are near. We must get ready" The Scyther told him, to which Shadow nodded.
    "Right then, let’s go" He said, starting to make a plan on how to set up an ambush. But then the Scyther played a hand on his shoulder, and they vanished to somewhere else. Shadow picked up the technique immediately, because it was the same thing that he used, in essence.
    "Sand Shift? Nice, but how will they not notice it?" He asked the Scyther, who stared at him.
    "The Sands are hard to see, for those not paying attention" he told him.
    "Right. Ill pretend to understand that. You go first, and take out the one at the back, then I’ll come into the middle and take out the other two" He explained, to which the Scyther nodded.
    "As you say" he replied, before waiting a few seconds, and then vanishing. Shadow grinned, drew his new sword for inspection - it wasn't the one he was really gunning for, but the solidified shadows would be enough for now - and then stepped into his shadow, and out of John's. He saw Katrine already decapitated, and John had turned to her, which provided Shadow with the perfect opportunity. A quick blade though the lung later, and John was history. He then span around, and sliced Andy's throat open before he could do anything. With that done, he flicked the blood of his sword and sheathed it.
    "Now that is how you ambush someone" he announced, nodding to the Sand Scyther that had helped him.
    Nehvna made her way up to the large building and wondered why she was following this blind girl. She had quite the regal presence, but that wasn't the reason. Maybe she did some sort of magical whammy on her as well. This magic thing was really helpful. But as Nehvna got closer to the large building, she found herself caring less and less about this. She found herself caring less about a lot of things, like if Jane was getting herself in trouble, or if Beth was treating Avrion nicely. All she could think about was the happier side of things, like how Jane was a lot happier since Sean had turned up. And how Sean had turned up. She even though confident enough to talk with him, maybe get to know him a bit more. She didn't know where this confidence was coming from, but she liked it, and didn't want to ask the blind girl about it because it might ruin her mood slightly if she knew exactly what was happening, but she loved it all the same.
    As they arrived, she let the blind girl open the door, and then rather meekly followed her in - the confidence brewing in her was sill brewing, and there was still a lot of meek to get though. Sean was stood there, with a massive mug of something and a roughish smirk on his face. His standing was so glorious, and Nehvna couldn't help but sigh when she looked at him. However, Sean's eyes were drawn to the girl next to her, which made her feel a bit bad. But then her spirits where bolstered when he spoke.
    "Elissa! How's it going hun, what brings you around these parts?" He asked her. A few seconds passed before he turned to Nehvna, and then he grinned. "And you bring the beautiful Nehvna with you. Happy days" He announced, walking over the Nehvna and offering her his giant mug. "Stein of tea? San's a wonder with this kind of thing" He offered. Nehvna wasn't a big tea drinker, but she took the offered stein anyway. It wasn't as heavy as she thought it would be, but anything she didn't quite understand now was instantly classified as magic. Sean smiled at Nehvna for a few more seconds, before turning to Elissa as she began speaking.
    "I follow Abaddon. You know how he is with things, so I thought I'd try to keep him out of trouble, so to speak. I saw a fair bit of trouble coming from him, so I stepped in and made sure he had a direct path to you. Then, I saw more trouble coming, and decided to stick around. Speaking of, the trouble is about 5 seconds distant" Elissa said, pointing to the door. A door that Sean turned to with a wide grin, as if a man, waiting for the wolf at the door to break in, the amusement – borderlining madness – of the unknown outcome giving mirth to a situation that should lack such emotion.
    The doors to San's place flew open with a bang - not that it disrupted the festivities at all - and a rather small woman - roughly five and a half foot - stormed up to Sean. She was wearing a hood pulled over her head to shadow her eyes and a cloak that reached her calves. There was also a thin coat that fastened around her front with a dozen buttons and her hands where behind her back, hidden from view. Everything, from the hood to the cloak where very ornate, and covered in sigils and runes. She looked at Taurus on the dance floor, and then turned to Sean, with something that was clearly a glare, even if her eyes where hidden.
    "You! What are you still doing here?! And how dare you trick Taurus into not carrying out what he was sent here to do!" She shouted at Sean, who simply grinned manically.
    "Well, it’s good to see you to Cancer. How have you been?" He replied.
    "Wait, Taurus. Cancer. They are the Zodiac" Nehvna mused, but Cancer burst into another rant.
    "Don't try to change the subject! You were ordered to the Council, and you instead tricked the messenger into...into dancing!" She yelled, before a large man with a beaming smile strode over.
    "Ohh, hey San. Cancer seems a bit stressed" Sean commented nonchalantly - or at least trying nonchalant, in reality he was barely surprising a smile, as if knowing what was coming - before raising his stein for a drink but realized he had given it away, and so he pouted.
    "Here" Nehvna said, handing the stein back as San spoke to Cancer.
    "Are you having trouble being Jubilant?!" He asked Cancer, grinning at her and adding great emphasis to the last word. Cancer felt the effects from the moment she had gotten to the building, but San was really laying it down thick. The layered effects of his sentence hit her like a truck, and she had trouble getting her sentence out correctly.
    "’s just...I have work" she said, showing her natural state and trying to fend off San's assault. It didn't work out very well.
    "I know why you are having difficulty" he continued, grinning widely. "It's because your coat is buttoned up in such a warm building" he finished, moving to unbutton her coat. However, as he touched the first button, a small blue spark danced from his finger to the button, and the rest unpopped themselves and the coat flew off. Then the cloak that was covering her eyes was knocked off as the coat blew backwards. The woman had beautiful purple hair and eyes - which currently held surprise in an ample amount. Her clothing was ordinary - nothing more than a plain long sleeved t-shirt - but she had a nice face, and so the t-shirt looked good on her. The strangest thing however, was a pair of handcuffs that topped the clothes pile, which must have been used to keep her arms behind her back, for some reason that only Nehvna seemed to be out of the loop on.
    "Don't worry about it hun. Enjoy The Ball. I’ll take all three of you up there come morning. And if that lump of vapid flesh sends anyone else down, I’ll bring'm back as well" Sean told Cancer. He seemed to be working something similar to San, but on a different emotional level. Cancer seemed a lot more vibrant since San removed her coat and cloak.
    "Ok. That sounds like a good idea" Cancer announced, before drifting off towards the benches where so many other people where sat. Cheers rang out as another person joined the small bench community, and then regular conversation continued, with one more voice in it.
    "There is something rather pleasing about overcoming someone like that. A feeling of accomplishment. Of victory" Sean told San, looking at Cancer laugh and join in with the merriment. He had never thought of taking her clothes off, so he only saw the quiet and reserved Cancer - except when it came to shouting at him, then she was scary - but he had never seen her smile, or heard her laugh. It was a new experience for him.
    "I would not have thought one of your nature would be able to enjoy victory, with it being so certain!" San replied, before turning to his other guests. “My apologises for that interruption. Foreseen as it was, I still feel the need to apologize!" He told Nehvna and Elissa.
    "It is alright San, we have only one method of controlling The Council, and it isn't a very good one" Elissa replied, which brought Sean's scorn - after he had finished taking a drink from his cup.
    "Hey, the complete genocide of every party that supports Aries is a very good plan. It's just you lot don't seem to think it" Sean retorted, with a tone that made him appear completely serious in his defence, and at the same time obvious that he was making a joke.
    "Hmm, I see a reiteration would be necessary. It is not a very prudent plan, in the long run" Elissa replied.
    "Umm, sorry. But, wh...who are 'The Council'?" Nehvna asked in a timid tone. The shouting woman suddenly becoming so meek and then happy had made Nehvna feel rather shy, and it was with great effort she managed to speak at all. Sean turned to her with that devilish half-smile and answered her.
    "Ohh, they are some big-wig ruling idiot people for the most part. Nobody likes them as a whole, but they have some nice individual people" he told her. Nehvna loved the way he could give vague answers in such a way that left the asker satisfied.
    "Huh. Fair enough" Nehvna said in a much stronger tone, suddenly feeling more confident. But before she could get her next sentence straight in her head, Sean spoke to Elissa.
    "So what bring you up here then?" he asked in a curious tone.
    "I just wanted to see how you would deal with Cancer. And to tell you that Abaddon has arrived" she informed Sean.
    ", where is the moody bat then?" Sean replied before finishing the dregs in his stein.
    "I would assume that he is heading in this direction, and will arrive promptly" Elissa intoned, to which Sean nodded.
    "Yea, and by assume you mean 'know for a fact'. Because you don't really assume anything" Sean told Elissa, who nodded in confirmation. "Well, until then, we got some free time" he announced before turning to Nehvna. "Will you accompany me? I need to sort some things out, and the company would be nice" he told her. Nehvna jumped at the chance, and nodded vigorously. "Lovely. See you in a bit Elissa" He told the blind girl before tipping his hat to her - a hat that was not there a few seconds ago, and was not there a few seconds later - and starting to move deeper into the building.
    "What do you think the odds are?!" San boomed to Elissa, who looked up at him.
    "You ask as if I do not already know. And as if I was going to tell you" she informed him very seriously. San simply laughed at Elissa's statement, and turned to wander off before a man appeared at his door. Sean heard this opening and turned back to look at the man, appearing slightly annoyed at Elissa that she didn’t tell him he didn’t have the time to go do anything.
    “Doth every man darken my doorstep this eve?!” San asked as he turned around to the man.
    “Err...what?” the man replied in a confused tone. He had a hooded cloak on, but currently the hood was down, showing his long black hair. It looked rather pampered compared to the rest of his clothing that was fraying at the edges, or sporting small holes in certain places. Nehvna thought he looked a lot like Shadow, save for the fact he had two working eyes, and so clung closer to Sean. If Sean could pull a knife from his head and then complain at said act, then he could easily deal with Shadow or anyone who looked at Shadow.
    “It’s San’s way of saying hello” Elissa told the man, staring at San - as well as a blind girl with her defunct eyes covered could stare - meaningfully.
    “Ahh, sorry about that” he mumbled before picking up his volume twice as much “Welcome Abaddon! What brings you to this house of jubilation!?” He asked, before taking a drink of his stein while waiting. Abaddon recovered from his confusion quickly, and spoke in a voice that displayed great age. And great sadness.
    “I am looking for the daughter. Where is she?” Abaddon asked - or though he made it sound as much of a demand as a question.
    “Not ‘ere. But, with so many people looking for ‘er, I guess we should go out an’ find ‘er ‘fore she gets ‘erself inta trouble” Sean replied.
    “Could you have missed out any more letters in that?” Elissa asked in disbelief.
    “Yes. That a challenge?” he inquired, finishing his stein and returning it to San and continuing. “That being said, it’s nearly time for The Ball, so we better get down there and find the young chick” Sean finished, taking Nehvna’s hand - much to her attempted protests, she didn't know why she tried protesting while clinging to his arm the way she did, but it happened none the less - and heading out of the door.
    “I shall see you soon San” Elissa told San, who began laughing at the perceived pun that Elissa had just made. Abaddon was silent, and simply stalked out after Sean.
    “All business as usual, that one” San muttered before turning to his hall and striding around once more.

    As soon as Jane stepped out of the dress shop she had so forcefully been dragged in, she knew something was different. It was like getting your first pair of glasses, and the world suddenly had sharpness, rather than all being a simple blur. She could feel Silverfang - and could suddenly relate to Nailah's claims of royalty - behind her as well as Nailah and Eliot. There was something strange about Eliot, but it wasn't as definite as Silver's. It was a strange sensation of knowing they were there, without having to look at them. There where pin-pricks of light in a dark tunnel, and they were comforting.
    Then, a few miles away, there was another feeling. This was less like a pin-prick of light, and more like a firework caught at the apex of its explosion, and suspended in animation. It was so large, so overt, and so...calming. Like most things, there was something she couldn't put her finger on that made this gigantic light so friendly. She was so distracted by this new feeling, that she forgot to use her older senses, and did not hear Silverfang coming up behind her. Jane suddenly realized that her new 'feeling power' didn't give an accurate positioning of the person, and only gave a vague estimate. So when Silverfang placed a hand on her shoulder, she yelped rather loudly. The sudden yelp made Silverfang also cry out, with a more mainly tone, but still a yelp.
    "Sorry" Silverfang apologized, to tittered laughter behind him. Nailah decided to cut though this tension and take charge of the party. Again.
    "Right. Jane has a nice dress, so we need to get Silver a suit" she announced.
    "A suit?! Why do I need one of them?" He demanded.
    "Why don't I get a suit?" Eliot asked at the same time, in a moping voice.
    "Well Silverfang would look better in a suit, but we can get you a suit if you want" Nailah told Eliot, but replying to Silverfang in a round-about way.
    "I got to agree with Nailah on this one. Silverfang would definitely look better in a suit" Jane commented, which made Eliot pout. A lot.
    "Fine, let's get some suits" he told the group, following Nailah like everyone else.
    Nailah led them down a street to a shop with an odd sign. It read 'Order's....Shop' with the middle in a constant state of flux, never quite settling until Nailah walked in through the door, at which point it stopped shifting and became 'Clothes'. Jane simply brushed it off as another strange thing in a mash of strange things and followed her in. Silverfang and Eliot where more sceptical, but entered a few seconds after Jane. Once inside, Jane saw Nailah was alone, and so decided to take advantage of it, for yet another question.
    "Where are the cars?" she asked Nailah, who grinned.
    "Not here. San doesn't like cars, so you either have to walk, or get a 'porter if you are going long distance" She replied without missing a beat, but before Jane could ask what porters where, a white-haired man appeared. His face did not match the age that his white hair insinuated and his muscles certainly didn't. It was the build that Jane would expect one of the old medieval blacksmiths to have, and certainly not to be found on a person running a clothes store. Jane tried her new feeling power, but it felt dulled in the shop. She could still feel a powerful aura emanating from him though, and she knew he was no ordinary man.
    Nailah didn't seem put off by his contrasting appearance or powerful aura - if Nailah could see it, which wouldn't surprise Jane - and grinned at him, before engaging in a conversation.
    "Hey Order. I need a few suits for tonight, one's a Lupus and the other's a human. Could you fix me up?" she asked the white haired man, giving Order a gleaming smile, and fluttering her eyelashes at the man.
    “Well, since you fluttered so well, I might just do that.” Order replied, disappearing into a door at the back of his shop.
    “So, how many clothes shops are there?” Eliot asked, looking around the shop floor.
    “Ohh, dozens. They are set for every opportunity, everything you could possibly need, from every gender, and every race” Nailah told Eliot grandly, all but throwing her arms up in the explanation. Eliot simply nodded and went back to gazing across the shop floor. Nailah had been a bit overzealous with that one, which was very strange.
    For Jane’s part, she appeared to be staring into space, but was in fact concentrating on something. Much like the sneeze that won’t come, or the sight on the every edge of vision, it was hard to concentrate on. Especially in here, where she felt dulled.
    “Nailah, I’m going to go outside for a little while” she said. Nailah was as happy with that as Eliot and Silverfang’s attempted escape.
    “This won’t take forever Jane” Nailah replied, clearly wanting everyone to stick together. Jane, however, was determined to get outside for a better look.
    “I won’t be long either” She told Nailah, walking out of the door, lamenting how difficult it was to strut in a dress. Not that she usually strutted, but this occasion called for a strut.
    Once she had gotten out of the shop, the world brightened again, and the metaphorical sneeze finally came. The odd feeling in Order’s shop was now that much clearer, and it was that much clearer that it was a bad thing, and it was a familiar set of feelings. The first one felt like fear, as if someone was terrified of current events. And the second one, as if someone else other than the fear-person was feeling it, was not something Jane had hoped to encounter again, but it was there and it was staring her in the face like an angry wolf. Without much thought into abstract concepts like ‘rationality’ and ‘consequence’ Jane rushed across the street to a small alleyway between two shops, where the feeling was coming from. But when she got there, there was nothing to see. It was an empty alleyway, but the feeling was still there, snarling at her, ready to pounce at any moment, so she stepped forwards in hope that she was being tricked by something. So, in experimentation, Jane took a step forward, hoping she wouldn't get vaporized or something equally strange.

    As soon as she had passed the threshold marking alleyway from street, the situation changed. Instead of being empty there were three brutish men, several strange looking symbols and a girl near Jane’s age. The girl had tears running down her face ruining the makeup around her eyes. The three men looked as surprised as Jane, but the biggest of them - obviously the leader - was the first to snap out of his daze and approach her.
    “Well, don’t you look like a little lost lamb” he said, his accent sounded as bad as his breath smelt, and so Jane decided to end this whole thing with a punch. But, her punch was not the super-powered skull shatterer she had hoped it to be, and the man easily caught it. He then twisted her arm and slammed Jane against the wall, before caressing her side with his free hand.
    “Never had a delivery before, how fortunate of us” he announced - causing the other two to laugh like generic thugs. The way they fit into the thuggish stereotype would be amusing, if it wasn’t so immediately dangerous. When the man’s questing hand got to her ass, he gave it a good squeeze, so Jane threw her head back and collided with the man’s nose. Several expletives rang out from the head thug, but Jane wasted no time listening. She ripped her arm out of the man’s grip, turned around and sunk her balled fist into his gut. Then with unnerving professionalism, she slammed her second fist into the man’s sternum, before finishing her salvo with a fist in the man’s throat.
    Jane stood there staring at the man’s writhing body for a few seconds and wondered where the hell she had learnt to do that. It had just come so naturally to her, and her brain didn’t argue with what her body wanted to do. Thug A and Thug B - as Jane had mentally named them - didn’t seem as intimidated by the display and rushed at Jane, who lashed out with her fist to catch the jaw of the guy at the front - she thought he might be Thug A, but they had a quick scuffle, and could have changed places. Then in perfect ‘better late than never’ form, the man’s jaw was violently ripped off by the force of the punch, and splattered loudly against the alley wall. This was enough to give Thug A - he was Thug A now, even if he wasn’t - a great deal of pause, as his budging eyes stared at the severed jaw. While he was staring at this, a man dropped down from the roof of one of the buildings, and began speaking as if he hadn’t just causally stepped off a twenty foot drop.
    “The only reason you’re still alive is because I don’t think this lovely lady would want her dress decorated in a new shade of brain. So I’ll give you ten seconds to get out of here before I become a decorator” He told Thug A, who didn’t even turn around to see who was giving him this order, he simply ran as fast as he could out of the alleyway, ignoring the groans of his unconscious leader, and the gargled choke of his jawless co-worker.
    "Well, that rescue could have gone better, on the, me doing something part" the man exclaimed, walking over to the other woman in the alleyway. Jane saw that he didn't have a gun in his hand, or anything that could be used to kill the Thug. Circumstational threatening was brilliant at times. Jane simply stood staring at the jaw she had just broken off with her fist. She knew that she was prone to spurts of strength, but this was the first time that had come into such light. She needed to control, or restrain, this surge before it happened when she didn’t want it to.
    “Well, what do you think of getting out?” The man asked, now minus a jacket as he had draped it over the other girl in the alleyway, she was clearly not handling this as well as Jane was. The knee-hugging and the jabbering kind of gave it away.
    “What do you mean, get out?” Jane asked, confused as to what he meant. She had just walked in, and so logically she should be able to just walk out.
    “Well, I was referring to myself and this lady instead of you. Why’d ya think I jumped off the roof? There’s a shield sigil, so most people wouldn’t be able to just walk in here. But you seem to be ignoring the majority of the Magical Language” he explained, picking the girl up and getting her to stand on her own feet.
    “Right…Well, this would usually be my first question, but this isn’t a usual situation. So, who are you?” She asked. Men didn’t just drop out of the sky and threaten thugs with guns they don’t have.
    “Ahh, apologies. It seems I was too focused on this young lady” he said, turning to her again to make sure she was alright before returning to Jane. “I am Captain Zann. Khani military. My unit was ambushed by Sickles, and I got sold to an auction until your man Sean rescued me. My honour and the honour of the Khan demands that I return in kind to him, or any person associated with him. You where the one in the biggest trouble, but the sigil delayed me” He told Jane, who nodded as if she understood. It was a skill she had gotten good at over today. Then the fact that it had only been one day hit her. It was getting late, but it was still the same day as when she had arrived at Eliot’s. "Of course, I didn't actually do anything so the honor remains" he finished, before frowning at Jane.
    “Are you ok Ma’am?” Zann asked, and Jane snapped back to reality. At first she thought he was talking to the victim of the thugs, but the she realized he was looking at her.
    “Ohh, yea. I’m fine. Just surprised how much has happened in one day. Yesterday I was laying on my bed despairing about how my life was, and today I am some sort of special super chick and everyone wants to worship me or kill me.” She intoned, not feeling as odd as she thought she would.
    “You have come into something going on for a long time Ma’am. Most will treat you as honorari iuvenis, but you must prove that you are more.” He informed Jane. It took her a few seconds to translate the word he used, but then she didn’t understand what it meant.
    “So, what does that mean? I know it's calling me an honoured child and all, but what does it mean?” She asked Zann, who was moving to the entrance of the alleyway, now he was confident that the other girl could stand on her own two feet.
    “It basically means that while you will be respected by most for what you are, they will ultimately view you as a child. A youth in the universe. But I have not seen many children punch peoples jaws off and charge so selflessly-“he began, but was interrupted by Jane.
    “Mindlessly. Beth is probably going to kill me if she finds out what I just did” she put in, which made Zann laugh.
    “Selflessness is usually mindless. Only the truly heroic or the truly dense can run into a situation where they are aware of how crap it is. Ninety percent of bravery begins with stupidity.” Zann replied, before drawing the gun he didn’t use earlier.
    “What are you planning to do with that?!” Jane demanded, their previous conversation lost in the wake of the gun.
    “Well, gotta deal with the sigils. Most people would draw a counter-sigil, or drain the sigil of its power and leave it a simple carving on the wall. I can’t do that, so I’m going to do it Khani style” he said, stepping back and pointing the gun at the wall. “Cover her ears, I’m confident yours will deal with it on their own” he continued, pointing his large semi-automatic pistol – in clear defiance of Sean’s earlier claim that ‘Revolvers are god’ – at the wall. Jane quickly leapt on the girl, and covered her ears tightly as the man started shooting at the wall. Shards of brick and mortar flew out in ample amount, and Jane covered the young girl with her back to protect her from the projectiles. Just as Zann had thought, the gunshots were not as loud as Jane was expecting, but they still caused her ears to ring for a few seconds afterwards.
    “Well, I am convinced of your status” Zann muttered loudly as he had finished destroying the sigil. Jane frowned, and turned to ask why, but as she turned she saw Zann fending off a sword-wielding wolf girl with his gun. He had caught the swing between his trigger guard and his barrel, and was currently doing his best to avoid getting stabbed.
    “Do you know this girl Jane?” Zann asked, twisting his gun to keep the sharp side of the sword at a safe distance. It took Jane a few seconds to recognize the girl, but she eventually realized who it was.
    “Nailah?! Why are you trying to kill him?” Jane demanded, confident that Zann would not mind being ignored while Jane worked to prevent Nailah inserting her deadly tool into the Captain’s head. Nailah herself did not relent her assault as she replied, which was shocking to Zann, but he continued to use his improvised weapon – the actually gun part of it worked properly, but it was not designed to be used to fend off swords – to protect himself.
    “Was this man not trying to kill you?” Nailah asked, in a voice that made it seem more like a statement than a question.
    “No…he was trying to help me, but got here a little too late” Jane explained, and it was only then that Nailah stopped trying to drive her sword though the man’s gun. She simply made a slight movement that seemed like a shrug, and then put her sword away.
    “Well then, I am sorry for this misconception” Nailah told Zann, who put his own gun away and shrugged.
    “It’s alright. Now I know how strong my gun really is” he replied, nonchalantly. The way they were so uncaring about Nailah’s attempted murder a few seconds ago was highly confusing, but Jane decided not to ask, there was far too many things that were highly confusing in this place. Jane avidly searched for a topic to change the conversation to, but it seemed only she thought it was the only one who thought the situation was awkward. Lacking a topic, Jane returned to the care of the girl who was still cowering on the floor.
    “Hey. What’s your name?” Jane asked in a soothing tone, smiling at the girl. The girl looked up like a terrified deer caught in a car’s headlights, but eventually managed to squeak out an answer.
    “I-Imiri” the girl stuttered. She had since realized that the people here where not going to hurt her – apart from that wolf girl, she might do something bad – but it was still a horrific situation. She was, after all, sat less than five feet from some guy’s jaw.
    “Imiri. What a nice name.” Jane replied, and by the tone of voice it was obvious Jane wasn’t just saying that to keep the girl calm. Imiri stared at Jane for a while longer, before reaching up and brushing her cheek.
    “Thank you. So much.” She told Jane, who blushed softly.
    “Ohh, well you know. Always ready to help girls in dis-“Jane’s sentence was then cut off by Imiri’s lips pressing against her one, kissing Jane passionately. Jane flayed for a second to keep her balance and then knelt still as the girl finished her face-sucking. Captain Zann and Nailah seemed to think it was highly amusing, and where giggling to some in joke, probably the culture of Imiri’s race that Jane didn’t know.
    “I owe you my life, letisaps” Imiri told Jane after she had finished kissing her, and Jane was to distracted trying to translate the alien word that she failed to fend off the girl’s second kiss, which bowled Jane over onto the ground, and had Imiri straddling her.
    “I...well, I’m glad you’re ok but…could...I mean, please would...-” Jane stumbled, not being able to form sentences properly due to the girl currently on top of her. She hadn’t ever been kissed by a girl, and the feeling behind it was so...loving. Like the one Silverfang had given her. Imiri then cut her words off again by placing a finger in Jane’s lips.
    “Your words trip themselves to be first out, letisaps. Do not speak; just allow me to thank you” Imiri ordered, in a silky smooth voice. However, as she bent down for a third time, Zaan placed his hand on her shoulder.
    “Come on Imiri. That’s enough, don’t you think?” He asked, which caused Imiri to look up and speak in a much more casual tone.
    “But Captain, I haven’t even unwrapped her yet.” She replied, grinning mischievously, in a tone vastly different to the one used before. It was a lot more carefree.
    “Yea and this is how you got into all your trouble in the first place. You are meant to finish eg å ia before you start casting or you’ll wind up with a dozen and ten different problems. One of them being instantiations displacement, and the other, if you’re not careful, death” He stated, and after looking down at Jane one final time, Imiri got off the green-clad girl and stood up.
    “I just needed a break. I had it all set out you know. Hannah told me that I am one of the best she has seen in a while. And hey! Implying being here was an accident” Imiri complained, looking back at Jane, who was just getting off the floor.
    “Well, then Look at her.” Zaan said, with strange emphasis on the word ‘look’, so Imiri looked over her shoulder, and her usual blue eyes had turned silver. Imiri stared for a short while, and then her jaw dropped.
    “Ohh. Ohh.” Imiri put more strength into the second ‘ohh’ and then blushed, her eyes snapping back to blue as she turned around fully. “I am so sorry; I didn’t realize who you were.” Imiri told Jane, who stood up and brushed her hand on Imiri’s cheek and looked to be debating something with herself. Then she moved forward and kissed Imiri, a muffled yelp of surprise was quickly followed by an equally muffled moan of pleasure.
    “It’s ok. Just, don’t do it again.” Jane told Imiri, rather sternly, and then snapped her fingers. “Saviour, or rescuer. That’s what it means” she announced, to which Imiri gave a mock cheer. Jane glared at her – which was met with a look that made Jane think her problems with the girl where far from over - before turning to Nailah.
    “Where are the boys?” She asked, referring to Eliot and Silverfang.
    “Right this way” Nailah replied, leading Jane back to the shop, with Zann and Imiri in tow.

    Beth had led Avrion by the hand into a shop that she was now currently fascinating about. Hundreds of different bows made from a dozen different woods adorned the walls, and even bows made out of a 'special kind of silver' that she was assured worked just as practically as some of the wooden bows. The owner of the shop - a person she could have sworn flashed a pair of pure white wings for a second when they walked in - even had a backroom where Avrion could test the bows before buying them. Currently, she was testing the silver bow, to see if it actually did work as they said it did. She nocked an arrow, and pulled the string back, not quite liking the draw strength, but Avrion was a strong woman, when it came to bows, and liked her strings to be stronger than this one was. But, she was sure she would be able to change it if she wanted to. Avrion drew the string back to her cheek, and then let go, watching the arrow sail through the air, and collide with the 'Near' butt, to her surprise - and Beth's chagrin at her surprise. Avrion did not expect a bow made from silver to actually work, but here it was, all working and stuff.
    "Pretty impressive" she muttered, looking at the bow, before turning to the owner. "Could...I get a stronger draw?" she asked timidly, failing her attempt to muster up her courage and talk properly. Beth scoffed playfully as Avrion asked.
    "Not exactly the Wave Motion Cannon I had in mind, but if this is what you like" Beth announced generally, before the shop keeper took the bow off Avrion.
    "Certainly dear. And if you are in my market for them, I think I have something" The owner told Beth, before going into the shop. Once the woman had gone, Beth turned to Avrion.
    "Avvy" Beth said comfortingly, approaching the girl and giving her a hug. "You shouldn't be so tense around people, they aren't going to bite you head off you know" Beth told her, to which Avrion nodded softly.
    "Yes, I do know. But, I can't help myself feeling so nervous around everyone new" Avrion mumbled, not quite stumbling her words but still failing to project properly.
    "I understand, but you are going to be meeting a lot of strangers from now on, so you need to be able to handle them a bit better, ok?" Beth asked, to which Avrion nodded.
    "Yes. I can do that" She stated. The door then opened, and the owner came back with two bows, Avrion's silver one, and a strange, deep red one.
    "I got this a few weeks back, not sure the capacity though, so give it a try. I know it is meant to be stronger than normal bows, but that's it" the owner explained to Beth, handing her the deep red bow. Beth's eyes lit up, and she took the bow with much gusto.
    "Thank you looks like...Flamewood, with some sort of Sigils on it, probably pertaining to the Firewood itself" she muttered to herself, going off to draw an arrow from a different quiver as the owner handed Avrion the bow back.
    "Here you go, I added a bit of weight to the string, so it should be stronger now" She explained, prompting Avrion to draw the bow without any arrow on it, and nod with satisfaction.
    "That is-" she started, but the rest of her sentence was cut off by a massive explosion blowing away the 'Far' Butt and a good portion of the wall behind it.
    "I...think they were air sigils" Beth explained, sheepishly putting the bow down and beginning to try and ease the tension by going deeper into her explanation. "The Flamewood naturally ignites any arrowhead launched from it on impact, and the air sigils would oxidize the tip, making it a lot sharper than usual. Once the arrow impacts with something, the oxidization would combust sharply with the ignition and create a large explosion" She finished, rather hastily. The shop owner simply stayed silent and nodded for a few seconds, before coughing.
    "Well" the owner stated, as if she needed to say something. "I guess I can see its potency now. Ill mark it as dangerous" The owner continued, still staring at the hole in her wall.

    Sean strolled down the road, flanked by his daughter Nena, his friends Taurus, Cancer, and the succubus twins, while having whatever relation Abaddon was next to him. Elissa was walking down the road a little bit behind him, and Nehvna followed as if she was on some sort of invisible leash,. It would not surprise to if she was, to be honest. Takanuva seemed to have vanished somewhere after they met Lily, as Sean hadn't seen him in a while. He would have preferred for, well, pretty much all of them –save Nehvna- to have stayed behind at San's place, but each one insisted on coming with him, so he now led this small entourage down the street. They were not interrupted by anything, until a massive gout of fire and rock blew out from the back of one of the shops. Smoke rose into the sky, and debris scattered across the ground, peppering Sean's shoes and leaving scuff marks.
    "Well, looks like someone is having a strong curry" he stated, causing the twins beside him to giggle and the rest to groan and shake their heads. Sean then took the lead and walked through the hole in the wall. The inside of the building looked to be a basic archery range, so this was probably the back room of one of them bow shops. Sean trudged up the lane, and caught someone say something about dangerous, which made him smile.
    "What's dangerous?" He asked, spotting his darling sister and....whatever Avrion was. Nehvna didn’t seem to mind what she was however, as she simply walked across everyone and embraced the girl in a hug. Elissa moved forward slightly, to Sean’s side for no reason he could see, reinforcing his leash theory.
    "That bow" The shop owner - who, to Sean's eyes looked like an Angel, which was nearly confirmed when Abaddon came behind him and started glaring daggers at the woman - repeated, and so Sean grinned even wider.
    "Wonderful. I’ll have a dozen" he stated, showing his white teeth that gleamed in the light that was behind him, so how they gleamed was beyond the owner.
    "I only have one, and I don't know if it’s fortunate, or unfortunate" The angelic owner replied, stroking her chin.
    "Shame" Sean said with a slightly deflated grin. "I’ll just have the one then" but as he said that, Beth came over to probably whinge, or moan, or do something like that.
    "Why do you want a bow? You don't even carry any arrows" she stated, to which Sean waved his hand dismissively.
    "Please, my mind can Make arrows" he replied, spinning a long shafted arrow that has suddenly appeared in his hand to proof a point. "Ha-ha. Long shafted" he laughed, which earnt him a kick in the shins.
    "Ow. That hurt. Don't do that again. Please" he stated, before looking behind him, the entire group had entered the building now, and Cancer seemed to be gesticulating at the hole in the wall, which was repairing itself slowly. "Anyway, we are off to find Jane and drag her to The Ball. Wanna come?" He asked Beth, withdrawing a wallet from his pocket and looking into it. "How much for the bow?" he asked the owner, who pondered, she could sell it for a lot considering its dangerous nature and what it was made from, but at the same time she didn't want someone else getting their hands on it. Sean was unpredictable, and a nightmare in most senses, but he wasn't that bad when it came to dangerous weaponry.
    "Ahh, make it four. I can't see it being used in a controlled environment, so that'd balance the mats" she stated, so Sean drew four small, heavy squares of metal and handed them to the shop keeper, replacing his wallet and picking up the bow.
    "Yes" Beth told Sean, in reference to his question about the ball "just let me pay for Avrion's new toy and I’ll come" Beth she finished, pointing to the silver bow, but the shop keeper shoot her head.
    "No, take the bow, payment for my wall repair. Getting a repairman may not have been that expensive, but I'd have to sit with a hole in my wall for an hour or two" she stated, smiling. Sometimes losing a little bit of profit was worth gaining a lot of good will from customers.
    "Well, certainly a lovely woman aint'cha?" Sean asked rhetorically, grinning at her before turning to Beth. "Well then, let’s sally forth" He said, heading for the door, obviously in a leading mood right now.

    Chapter Seven: The Blathering Before The Ball
    Nailah arrived back at Order's shop and saw him ably keeping both Eliot and Silverfang still despite their complaints. Nailah had obviously not explained anything before leaving, and so Eliot and Silverfang were getting agitated.
    “Jane, finally, what have you been doing?” Silverfang asked, running up to Jane now that Order had stopped trying to keep him in one spot and hugging her.
    “Ohh, I’m fine” Jane replied, hugging Silverfang back, he really did worry about nothing sometimes. Or though, in this situation, it wasn’t really nothing. She wondered if she should tell them about Captain Zann, and the alleyway debacle, but decided against it after a few seconds. They'd just freak out. And then there was Imiri, she was just glad that Silverfang had kissed her back on Earth - that was a very confusing sentence to say 'Back on Earth' but it was reality and she would have to get used to it. Not that she hadn't been kissed a lot before then, but it was the principle of the matter. It seemed they hadn't heard the gunshots, which was very handy. Gunshots always caused trouble when it came to explaining them.
    “You just walked off without telling anyone where you were going, then Nailah went out afterwards, and Order wouldn’t let us go see and…it was worrying.” Silverfang blathered, until he saw Jane’s face, and quickly shut up. Jane nodded with a grin, before looking at Silverfang’s attire.
    “Well, snappy suit” Jane told Silverfang trying to change the topic, who shrugged as if it wasn’t really anything to worry about.
    “Aye, I made it very, if I do say so myself. One of my better works” Order announced, puffing up his chest, before looking rather intently at Jane’s dress. Jane blushed under the probing, and made a move to cover her already covered parts, when Order stormed over and stroked the dress, but he seemed more interested in the dress than the person in it.
    “Amazing. I haven’t seen this in a long time. Or though, it’s like it doesn’t quite know how to work yet” Order spoke generally, and confusingly. it was as if he was speaking to the dress, rather than to the wearer.
    “It doesn’t know how to be a dress?” Jane asked, sceptically.
    “No, it knows how to be a dress, but it doesn’t know how to be what it is” Order replied, which made Jane roll her eyes and groan.
    “Great, another person who speaks like Sean” she muttered, but Order quickly brought her up on that point.
    “Wrong, Sean speaks like me. He got the habit from hanging around me all the time” Order told Jane, before continuing to look at the dress. “This could be whatever you want it to be, but you will have to teach it first. Right now, it only knows how to be a dress” Order was getting a bit worked up – In Jane’s opinion – about a simple piece of clothing.
    “On you, this is no simple piece of clothing. Only you or a person like you would be able to wear it so well, but it is magnificent when you do. Whatever you require it to be, it can be. Just believe in it, and it will be. Of course, Ley-Lines might help a bit, but this baby won't take much, so you could probably supply it yourself” Order continued, and Jane was beginning to feel a little uneasy, so Nailah stepped in.
    “Come on Order. It’s magnificent, yes. But you got other people coming” Nailah said politely. A few seconds later some muffled chatter was heard from the back room, followed by a less muffled explosion. The door to Order’s backroom opened, and Sean stepped out, followed closely by his stalkers.
    “I have come accustomed to walking through holes in walls, I will never change to how the philistines enter” Sean announced grandly, which caused no end of irritating from Beth.
    “It was one hole. How could you accustom that quickly?” Beth demanded, but Sean simply waved his hand dismissively.
    “Because I am me, and anyway, we were behind the shop so it was easier than walking around to the front” He feebly explained, trying to justify blowing a hole in Order’s wall. “And now he can get his walls replaced” he continued, before seeing Cancer repair this wall as well “…or not. Cancer’s apparently the official wall repairer of this place” Sean deflated, kicking a bit of debris off his foot.
    “When you are around, you need people to clear up the mess left in your wake, or the entire multiverse would be in tatters” Cancer replied.
    “So you say, I have never noticed it that much myself” Sean replied, before grinning at people in the shop. Each and every one of them – even the squishies – where giving him ‘that’ look. As if exasperated by his actions. The squishes didn’t live long enough to get exasperated by him. It was completely illegal.
    “Hey Order. How’s the shop?” Sean asked, not-so-subtly changing the subject.
    “Broken jackass. Broken” Order replied, in an oddly squeaky voice that did not fit with his girth at all.
    “Pfft, na. Cancer & Cancer Masonry (Established some time, somewhere) fixed you up really nice.” Sean exclaimed.
    “Did you just say ‘Parenthesis’ and then ‘close Parenthesis’?” Jane asked in disbelief, to which Sean nodded.
    “Yes I did” he announced, rather triumphantly, which caused Jane to flee in his direction, pass Sean and go onto Nailah.
    “Nailah, save me from the crazy man” She cried, hugging the girl in mock terror.
    “Can’t help you there hun. Man’s crazy is everywhere. It’s like a gas” Nailah intoned, hugging Jane. Behind them, Imiri appeared from nowhere grinned like a hungry predator and began to stalk up to Jane, with most lewd thoughts on her mind. Jane was still not happy about how she tricked her in the alleyway, but Sean saved her.
    “Imiri! Nice to see you again” Sean shouted, dragging the girl into a hug and foiling her plans. Imiri couldn’t decide if it was spontaneous Sean or if he was actually working again her on this. The shout made Jane turn around, and when she saw Imiri, she started to glare daggers at her.
    “I can glare actual daggers” Sean put in, but was ignored. Nailah looked at Sean's entourage, and then frowned in confusion.
    "Where is my dad? He usually follows you" she stated, to which Sean shrugged.
    "He said he was going off to find someone and vanished. I'm sure he will turn up when it starts to rain" he joked, and - very much like her father - Nailah growled at Sean.
    "Your mockery means little" she stated, before turning away from him.
    “We delay to long here. Much needs to be done” Abaddon announced with a serious tone, but was met with Sean’s much less serious tone.
    “Abaddon, Time not straight and sharp like an arrow, but wobbles all over the place like a drunk dude. We can delay as much as we want here, and there, and everywhere.” Sean said with a grin. Abaddon stared but stayed silent. He then let Imiri go from his hug, since she was beginning to punch him in various places, either from anger or a lack of oxygen.
    Imiri looked at Sean, as if she was about to blow him up, or do something equally rash, but Order quickly intervened with a statement directed at Sean.
    "I had something for you in the backroom, but you have probably blown it up" he commented, causing Sean to wave his hand dismissively.
    "Pah, if anything could have been broken by that, then it would not be worth having in the first place" He replied, to which Order nodded in acceptance of the comment, and walked into the backroom to rummage. Jane decided to take the advantage of Sean's silent anticipation to do what had become her favourite past time; ask questions.
    "So, is it just me, or can Sean strike people silent with just his presence?" she asked, pointing at him.
    "Ahh, that's a trait you will get used to in time. Not sure how he does it, but yes some people can find words dying on their tongue when Sean is around. Something about his hair, and the way it just...poofs" Beth told Jane, gestating the hair-poofing.
    "Ehh? Who's hair is awesome and worth killing for?" Sean questioned, looking around in mock confusion.
    "Ohh, just mine" Beth replied, giggling softly at Sean's glare of contempt.
    "Well then, fine. I'll just give this dress to Nehvna" Sean then grinned and drew a long skirted silk dress from his sleeves, ignoring the fact that he was wearing a t-shirt and didn't have any sleeves to hide a dress up. He then offered it to Nehvna, who was staring in fascination at his latest trick.
    "Heh, show off" Jane exclaimed, to which Sean stalked up to her and grinned.
    "Well, let's see what's up your sleeves shall we?" He asked, fingers wiggling mischievously.
    "I don't have sleeves" Jane told him rather calmly, before bashing her knuckles into his head.
    "Ow, watch it, you could really hurt someone doing that" Sean cried, rubbing his head.
    "Well don't try sticking your hands into the sleeves I don't have then" Jane replied, pulling one of her dress straps further up her shoulder.
    "I...wasn't I was just going to give you a lolly" He told Jane, a pout on his face, which simply led to him getting punched. Again.
    "I'm not five, I don't need a lolly" She growled. Any reply Sean would have given was cut off by Order returning from the back room with a sheath in his hand.
    "Here you go, frigging thing took a while, but it is finally done" He announced, handing the sword to Sean who promptly drew it and grinned. Everyone in the shop took a few steps back aside from Order, but Sean was ignoring them.
    "Dam, you can't even see the individual pieces. This is one hell of a sword" he muttered, smiling at it.
    "Well, I am glad you like it" Order replied. Silverfang, who's curiosity overcame his fear of a Sword-Wielding Sean. Silverfang opened his mouth, and then Sean spoke, as if pre-empting his question.
    "it's made out of 22,000 shards of metal. Each gathered from shattered swords, most of them really good quality as well. Thus, it is the Eponymously name Sword of Shards" He announced grandly, before one of the squishies ruined his fun.
    "Eponymous doesn't mean what you think it means" Jane told him, which made Sean deflate and put the sword back in the sheath.
    "Fine, ruin my fun. But this sword is an old sword, more suited to a man young, and ambitious" He declared, before handing the sword to Silver, who looked confused and slightly scared. "You shall require this, some time. Probably. So learn to use it" He stated. After a few seconds Silver sheepishly reached out and took it, grinning with a frown.
    "Er..thanks" He muttered, getting some approving nods from Nailah.
    "Anyway, time to get clothed" Sean told the group, who -aside from Abaddon - sprang into action.
    The next ten minutes where focused around the finding of clothes and then putting them on, and the subtle application of makeup. Once done, every woman -including Nailah and Nena, much to their grumbling protests - was dressed in a different style of clothing, with Nena having vanished into the back room, and dragging Avrion away for some reason, Nailah took a much more humble, single coloured dress.
    "See, you look amazing" Sean - who had changed his t-shirt for a shirt, and his jeans for a slightly darker pair of jeans - generally exclaimed, but no one really said much to the compliment beyond a few muttered words about flattery.
    "Nena might be a while, her dress is...well, her dress" Order explained, ducking back into the back room.
    "Sucks" Sean muttered, before spinning on his heel and gleefully looking at the remaining group.
    "You lovely people - Sans Abaddon, you just look morbid - look lovely. Let’s head out" He all-but-ordered them, pointing at the door, to which everyone moved towards. Jane wondered, as she was heading there, how he managed to get everyone moving like this. But then she wondered how he did a lot of things and questioning it wouldn't help particularly. So she simply followed the procession out of the door, and onto the streets. They then followed Sean up to San's large hall, like a silent marching band. They met others on the way there, and the two groups decided to mesh, and then they met a third, and a fourth. By the time Sean threw open San's doors there was a good hundred people following him.
    "I have returned!" She boomed, in a volume to match San.
    "So I see" San replied, in a quiet tone, as if the roles had been reversed.
    "I brought people" Sean told San, in his normal voice.
    "Then let The Ball commence!" San announced, also in his normal voice. The people following Sean milled out into the hall, which had changed in layout. The long tables filled with food and drink where gone to clear a large space in the middle, with a stage facing the space. There were a few, smaller tables dotted around the outside with the food and drink on, but they were mainly out of the way, or at least gave off that impression.
    A few people already resided in the hall before they arrived, and one of them -suited as usual but with two girls and a large red hat - was approached by Sean with a large grin. Shockingly, the man also smiled, and even gave him a hug when Sean threw his arms wide.
    "Hey Chaoz! thought you'd be too busy acting busy without being busy to come here" Sean said, to which the man - clearly the Chaoz he had mentioned earlier - laughed.
    "Well, I decided to stop acting busy for a while and come down" He replied, before holding up a finger, ignoring the small crowd of Sean's People that had gathered around to watch the exchange. Chaoz then pulled out and unfolded a Scythe, knocking the bottom of the staff on the floor triumphantly and beaming proudly.
    "New Scythe" he exclaimed. Sean looked on with a look of a child seeing a new toy, and then returned his gaze to Chaoz.
    "Nice Scythe" Sean replied, and then smiled wider. "It's mine" he continued, to which Chaoz shook his head.
    "No it's not", A statement which made Sean shake his own head.
    "Yes it is" Sean exclaimed, as Chaoz adjusted his hat slightly.
    "No it's not" Chaoz reiterated, before both Chaoz and Sean's shoulders where clapped.
    "Good day! Nice Scythe" San told Chaoz, who quickly folded it back into a portable size and put it away. "Your People look Ernst to be introduced" San prompted, and then slowly walked off when Sean looked around.
    "Ohh, sorry. This is Chaoz, he is cool. His two girlfriends are Rachel and Elouviana. They are also cool. And not exactly girlfriends. " He introduced, as well as he could. He then saw the look on the people's faces, and added to his statement. "No, not like that. More, He is cool and they are cool and their coolness sticks together" He told them. Jane was, as ever, the first person to break off and approach the three.
    "It's lovely to meet you, my name is Jane Evergreen" she said, and then saw the look on Rachel and Elouviana. It was very much like Imiri's 'hungry predator' look, so she quickly retreated to her wolves.
    "Protect me" She muttered, which prompted Silverfang to place a hand on the hilt of his sword, looking all menacing at...Chaoz. The two girls had suddenly vanished.
    Silverfang 'erred for a second, until fingers stroked his chin.
    "Ohh, I like this one. Can I have it?" Elouviana asked as Silverfang jumped back. "He is nice" She said, moving to stalk Silver as the wolf-man retreated, but found her path blocked by a softly hissing Jane. The girl moved to stroke Jane's face and probably drag her in for a kiss, but Jane reacted first.
    "Stop" She ordered, her voice layered with power that caused Elouviana to pause in mid-step. Jane's glare was then broken by hands reaching around and groping her breasts firmly.
    "Nice breasts. Very nice" Rachel told Jane, who yelped and looked back at Rachel, and Sean, who had just appeared. Just Appearing seemed like the stable skill of everyone who wasn't her.
    "Be nice Chelly" Sean told Rachel, picking her up and taking her back to Chaoz, before putting her down like some sort of naughty cat. "They are very energetic Chaoz, do no you not exhaust them?" He asked, picking up Elouviana and putting her next to Chaoz as well.
    "Ohh, you know the girls Sean. Always have a fresh source of oomph hidden away. Especially when they come here" Chaoz explained, before putting his arms very securely around both Rachel and Elouviana. Jane saw that the dynamic between Chaoz and Sean was one grown over a long time.
    "So, here is....?" Jane asked, looking around. "I mean, It's San's house and all, but what is this event thing he is planning?" Jane asked, to which Sean grinned widely.
    "Well, just look below" He replied, to which Jane looked at her feet. However, she didn't see anything to explain...anything really.
    Chapter Eight: The Ball
    Chaoz smacked Sean on his head, not roughly, but hardly gentle either.
    "Don't tease people with your metaphysical, wall-breaking abilities like that" He told Sean, who pouted and stole Rachel from Chaoz.
    "Well then fine. I'm going to steal your Tantric girl and run away" He said, stalking off and pulling the hapless Rachel with him. Before Jane could question, or her friends could stare blankly, something - several somethings, but Taurus finding a suit that actually fit him and wasn't oddly disproportioned like his armour wasn't really mentionable - caught her eye and she was left staring at the stage that had materialized. And the people who had materialized on it. Gods, did anything make a noise when moving large speakers, microphones and drum-sets?
    "No" Elissa told Jane, doing that annoying 'read your mind then answer it' thing. It made Jane want to punch something. Hard. "Punch it hard, or punch something that is hard?" Elissa asked, and got punched. Or at least, Jane tried to punch her, but when she made the swing, Elissa seemed just out of arms reach, and she stumbled in the long dress into Silverfang, who was not prepared to be collapsed on by a Jane-shaped object and so fell over as he was collided with.
    "Like clockwork dominos" Elissa muttered, the image of clockwork dominos was a strange one but."Finish that sentence and I'll gouge your kidneys out with a spoon" Elissa threatened. Jane looked up from her rather hairy vantage point - Silverfang seemed to be taking his whole 'I'm a Wolf King woot!' seriously and always had his hair out- and sighed.
    "Is there any way to stop her reading my mind?" Jane asked, getting off Silverfang and helping him up.
    "You need only close the door. Then she breaks it down with a giant bomb, but that's a different story" Chaoz replied, confusing as ever.
    "Great, more cryptic jumbo" Jane muttered in exasperation, shaking her head and detaching from this wacky wackiness, yes that meant you Elissa, shove your mind-reading powers up your arse and give them a twist, by walking away casually. She moved, with Silverfang's hand clutched into her own as if she was trying to shatter every bone in it, with as much grace and dignity as one could muster, having just bowled over your boyfriend in an ill-attempt to punch a blind girl.
    Or though, hopefully far enough away so that Elissa lost interest in her and didn't subsequently get a right laugh out of this thought-pattern, Jane realized that was the first time she had properly referred to Silverfang as her boyfriend. It was like, a milestone for her. A mental milestone not visible by anyone except the Blind Bint and herself but still.
    "Milestones for everyone" she exclaimed, and then met Silverfang's frown of confusion with a grin. "So, I'm hungry. Let’s go eat everything on that buffet table" She told Silver, who laughed softly and followed Jane instead of being dragged. A quick look around on Silverfang's part saw that as if Jane was the metaphorical wax connecting the feathers of Icarus' wings, the Collection of People was drifting away as she left. With Nailah and Takanuva drifting directly towards them, and the rest spreading out to find other things to do. Silverfang continued his sweep after watching the people go off, and saw Sean talking to another different woman, not the Tantric girl Rachel, or anyone else Silver had seen in the group they arrived in. What was even stranger, was that Sean seemed to actually have a sense of normality around him, which was like jumping into the sea and remaining completely dry. Which, Sean would probably tell him was totally possible if you moved your tonsils in just the right fashion.
    But, mass-derailment of thought-trains came when the doors flung open, and two women stood in the doorway. Two people Jane knew well, but never thought they would wear something like that.
    Nenatalev had a ribbon wrapped around her neck and the top part of her chest was bare, with the tops of her breasts showing. It also had very short arms, not even coming down to her elbows before cutting off with a frilly pattern. The top of her breasts had a frilly fabric look to it but this just made the dress all the better. It then carried on down to the stomach area where it was plain and fitted tightly to her, it looked to be offering support for the rest of the dress by the way it hugged her. The actual light brown dress started around her waist and the sides had the same light brown fabric that with overlapping layers that the rest of the dress was made out of but the front appeared to be a separate part of the dress and was made of silk rather the taffeta the rest of the dress was made out of. Roughly ten tiers of this pink silk ran down her waist part of the dress, each tier getting wider until it reached the floor. The dress was studded with fire drops, rubies and emeralds in a very gaudy fashion, and her hair, once rather short, was now longer than Jane's, and tied up in two ponytails. She had a touch of makeup on her, with her full lips a shining red, and her eyelashes where a striking black, but there was little else.
    Avrion's dress, however, was different. The clothing she was wearing was not as flashy as Nenatalev's dress but it was still rather grand. The headdress she wore was a dark black and it, like the rest of her uniform, seemed to mesmerize the observer with the sheer depth of the darkness, like Shadow's sword, only actually beautiful. Avrion herself had no makeup on - not that she needed it - but was blushing furiously, either at being the centre of attention, or the lovely dress she had on not being something she would really wear.
    She had a frilly collar that ran from her chin to her collarbone. The bare opening was a lot smaller than Nenatalev's dress as it was only a short a small portion of the chest area as opposed to Nenatalev's completely naked upper chest area. The opening was decorated in a frilly pattern and just below it was the same look as Nenatalev's dress, a crinkly look to the uniform made it look good but it did not seem to offer much support, that came from the two dozen laces that kept a corset like thing closed.
    The arm sleeves where plain and short, cutting off just above the elbow, but they ended in the same frilly pattern the chest opening was made from. She was also wearing frilly cuffs tied with a single lace to keep them from falling off, one of the laces was pointing outwards but the other one was pointing inwards. She had a pure white apron over the bottom half of her uniform that ended in the same frilly pattern that was predominant in the rest of the uniform. She seemed like some sort of gothic maid, and when Nena glided calmly over to a group of other women who had equally gaudy dresses, Avrion followed her without any motion from Nena. Which was weird. Jane had a bit of dress envy, with Nena having the most beautiful thing in the universe, and Jane having a nice but not eye-catching dress. But then Jane was, being Jane, distracted.

    "Why does Buffet sound like it should have a y in it?" She asked, looking to the food and ignoring Nena's grand arrival. She then picked up a plate and deftly piling food on it to make 'Cuisine a la Everest'. Silverfang recovered from the grandiose sight, and returned his gaze to Jane.
    "Probably because whoever invented language wanted to mess with phonetic speech as much as possible" Silver replied, getting his own monstrous collection of meat-slaps, in opposition to Jane's rather well balanced platter.
    "Huh, that's odd. Well, I’m going to go talk to Sean" She told Silver, heading over there as Nailah and Takanuva came to the table, with the younger wolf being enamoured by the huge variety of food, and the older one looking over it with vague acknowledgement.
    "Does Jane seem, disjointed to you?" Silverfang asked, slowly picking up the first of many pieces of meat and biting it in half. The wolf-fangs that grew out certainly helped with chewing, that was for sure.
    "Probably the building. Most people seem a bit out of their own head if they spend to long around here. Especially Jane, or people of Jane's stature" Takanuva told him, before seamlessly staring at his feet as if they had suddenly become very interesting, so much so that the probing questions from Silverfang about Jane's stature where completely missed. Or ignored, which seemed more likely.
    Over by Sean, Jane saw that he had changed from the look of a man listening to his favourite song, to a man listening to his favourite song for the fifteenth time this hour. He was nodding approvingly towards Nena's dress, or the fact that the women she was speaking with - all flanked by maids of their own - seemed the sort of people Nena would punch for the fun of it. The woman Sean was listening to was babbling, and Jane got a bit as she arrived.
    "But, I just left her, didn't do anything to help her. Didn't try. Can I really just walk up to her and expect everything to be forgiven?" She asked. At this distance, Jane got a closer look at her. The dress she was wearing was much like her own, nice enough but not gaudy or flashy. She also had hair of decent length, but not overtly long, like Nena's seemed to be now.
    "Considerin' she doesn't know any of this....yes" Sean replied, sipping some more tea from a slender wine-cup. Then, before his newest companion could embarrass herself further, He grinned at Jane.
    "Hey Hun, how's the Ball?" He asked, and when his lady friend saw Jane, she jumped and spilled her food from the plate. Which, never actually hit the floor, it just, re-appeared on her plate a few seconds after it felt off. Then she gave Jane a small nod of greetings without saying anything. Jane looked at the woman for a few seconds, before smiling at Sean.
    "It's cool. Nice food. But, Elissa is being a twerp, and I think I might have upset her" Jane explained, taking one of the green sticks from her plate and biting into it, and then promptly putting it down with a disgusted look, and swallowing. Reluctantly.
    Sean looked at the reaction and laughed, offering his tea to take the taste away, so Jane swapped her plate for the cup and took a deep gulp.
    "You can't offend Elissa that easy hun, she is a solid girl" Sean explained, swapping the plate for his cup again as Jane offered it. She seemed to be more wary of the food pile now, giving everything a serious look over. "Any-how. Meet my friend, she's...err.." Sean faltered, as if he didn't want to say what she was. But before Jane could press him, the microphone on the stage let out a soft shrill of feedback before the woman Jane had seen earlier started talking.
    "Hey everyone. Hope you are enjoying The Ball. Now, I stand here and I see some people I know; San, Chaoz, The Celestials Taurus and Cancer, And the ugly git in jeans-" It was clear who she was talking about, since only Sean was wearing jeans, and everyone else was in gowns and dresses, or suits "- but I also see quite a few new faces in the crowd. So I guess I should get to explaining what this whole thing is all about" She continued, which made Jane smile.

    'Finally, I get to find out what is going on around here' she thought. A quick, muffled exchange of words happened on the stage, and then the woman was back on the mike with a grin.
    "So, just been explained to me - I’m thick, too many late nights and empty bottles of alcohol, usually taken together - that the thing San brought me here to do actually explains what this is all about in a sort of way. I don't think I could wrap my head around that, but here we go anyway" she finished, clearly not as confident as the last time Jane had seen her. And, she had just missed out on her best chance to find out what was going on, because no song was ever going to help her. So she grumpily, she pulled the largest piece of meat she could find from the plate and violently bit it in half. But, the meat laid still in her mouth as the woman on stage - Jane really needed to find out her name, but it never really came up - began to sing. Or though, to call it singing would be amiss, like calling the sun 'a light'. She created a plethora of emotions and feelings within her words, and some were translated into images by Jane - and she assumed everyone else's - mind, but others remained as just feelings brought by words she could not comprehend or, really...hear.
    The woman's mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out. Like someone had hit the mute button on the universe. And then Sean nudged her in the ribs.
    ""So, gonna stand gawping like a fish, or gonna chew?" he asked, and for the second time in the presence of this band, she found herself snapping back to reality with the song over and her head whirling beyond the epilogue of the Silent Song. She then blushed softly as she realized what Sean had said, and swiftly chewed, and then swallowed it before looking at Sean. The irritating bastard actually looked mellow - in a mellow sense, not the usual half asleep look he normally had - and happy.
    "What....?" She asked, her words not forming properly, but Sean translated it anyway.
    "Bardic magic. Extremely high level Bardic magic, impressively. She used very old words to evoke feelings within the memory all living creatures share, but lacked the experience or control to make solid images, which I think went down better" He commented, before stealing a piece of meat from Jane and eating it himself. Jane didn't seem to mind, or even notice, since she was shuffling though the maelstrom of emotions she had suddenly been burderned with. They all came at once so their distinct flavour had been lost, but if she split them apart then the individual feelings could be identified. While she was standing like a statue, Sean shrugged and wandered off to do something, probably find the woman he was with earlier.
    There was grief, sadness, and despair, mixed with hope, rejoicing and an exalted degree of happiness. And overlaying it all was Fear. A fear that if felt first-hand would terrify the most courageous of people, a fear that seemed like a thing all to itself, like it deserved a large, capital letter to separate it from the normal kind of fear. But she felt distanced from it, as if watching a dangerous animal from behind glass. And, within the gaps there was something Jane felt more unnerving than the fear. It was an emptiness that could never be filled, but came with a driving desire - no, stronger than desire, an instinctual programming - to be sated. That, Jane thought, was the saddest part of it. Jane subtly brushed away a tear, before turning around to face Silverfang, who's presence she had grown accustomed to, and it was becoming easier to pin-point him when he was close.
    "Interesting vocals" He commented, flanked by his two tailed bodyguards. Jane nodded slowly, wondering if she was the only one that had taken the mess apart, or if there were others that saw the emotions straightened out, rather than tangled in a mess.
    "Yes, very interesting" Jane said absently, chewing on what looked to be a lettuce leaf but was very far from the taste of one. "But, I am not letting him get away. He has avoided so many of my questions so far, and I will pin him to the ground if I have to now" she proclaimed, handing her plate to Silver - who wasted no time picking the meat off it and stuffing them into his mouth, occasionally offering some to Takanuva - and setting off after the jean-wearing Enigma that was Sean.
    She found him, stood next to his daughter, which softened Jane's heart a bit, and so she arrived casually instead of the irrefutable bearing she had tried to arrive with. She was immediately seen and hugged by Nena - a shocking turn out, since she never seemed one for emotion - and then Nena gave another shock, a smile.
    "So, how's the ball going for you?" Nena asked, delivering a third shock by speaking with an almost noble-esque tone, instead of the casually brutish one she usually used.
    "I...good" Jane replied in a stunned tone, amazed Nena could actually speak so softly. "I came to talk to Sean" Jane continued, grasping solid word control back from the Shock Monster who had stolen it.
    "O'aye? An' what'cha need'ta speak ta me 'bout?" Sean asked, turning on his heel and dropping more letters than the average postman. Jane stared at him for a few seconds as he spoke in direct opposition of his daughter's new-found verbal eloquence. And then she shook her head softly and sighed.
    "Well, several things, but first. She was singing, but there wasn't any sound coming out" Jane prompted, a prompt Sean jumped on.
    "Ahh. She was using a very old language, and you couldn't understand her" Sean said, and then immediately frowned at his own comment. "No, that's not the right one. You couldn't..." he paused for several moments, his eyes drifting off into space, before he blinked. "Audibly perceive the words existence; therefore it came out as nothing, to you" He finished, and to Jane's mental surprise, it wasn't the oddest explanation she had ever heard.
    "Right." she tried to start, suddenly hit with a wave of fatigue and again losing her ability to form sentences, but this time to a monster different to the Shock Monster. Sean frowned, and Jane swore his eyes turned golden for a few seconds before reverting back to green.
    "Well, there is something I will have to teach you in the morning" Sean commented, moving forward to catch Jane as she collapsed.
    "W's 'at?" she slurred, now losing the ability to form whole words.
    "You have been using your initial powers - sense, strength and reflex and comprehension - passively, but without much efficiency, so you have burnt out most of your energy. Trying to comprehend what Ilyia was singing must have finished you off. So, when you get up I best teach you have to use your abilities without blowing a hole in your metaphorical petrol tank" he told her, with a laugh at the end before picking her up, as her legs refused to walk on their own anymore. Silverfang was, as Jane had thought, there and looking worried as soon as Jane was picked up.
    "What's wrong?" he asked frantically, holding an empty plate for no other reason than the lack of a place to put it down. Jane turned her half-closed eyes to Silverfang and smiled at him.
    "S'ver" she murmured, her head bobbing slightly with the effort to keep it up
    "She exerted herself a touch too much today. She'll be fine in the morning. Or afternoon. But she will be fine" Sean told Silverfang, which pacified him. "You'd best get some sleep as well. Jane won't be the only one receiving lessons" he said, nodding to Nailah before walking off to presumably where the bedrooms where. As he got closer to the small door at the end of the hall, he turned to Jane. "Don't worry about Silver hun, I'll keep his furry face safe for you" He told her, which elected a twitch from her mouth that might have been a smile.
    Silverfang took a step to follow Sean, thinking that was where all the bedrooms where located, but a burly hand was thudded down on his shoulder.
    "That is the woman's wing! The men - and I guess wolves in your case- are this way!" San boomed in his usually extremely loud voice. Nailah's glare and stroking of her sword told San she was not going to leave Silver's side, but Takanuva smiled at her.
    "If he is not allowed to be with his little love, then you can survive a night alone" Taka counciled, in a gruff but fatherly voice. The wolf girl pouted at her father a bit, before nodding and slinking off to the woman's wing.
    "Well then, best retire. Big day tomorrow" Takanuva exclaimed, turning to Silverfang with a more conversational tone.
    "So I hear. Thanks San" Silverfang said, nodding to the giant man, who laughed like the rumbling of thunder and wandered off elsewhere. "To bed then" Silverfang announced generally, heading in the direction of the small but distinct door, the only other door being the huge double-doors that couldn't have been more obviously the kitchen area if a big flashing sign was on the top of it.

    In the room Sean had taken for Jane, he laid the now unconscious girl on the bed, and gave a casual wave of his hand before turning to leave, a soft, short lived magical enchantment smoothly undressed Jane and then tucked the quilts around her, before dispersing into the air. A few minutes later, two shadowy hands stretched out from the bed, and pulled Jane down, though her own shadow and deep into the murkiness of the Unknown.

    Part 3
    Chapter 1: The Asylum.
    Jane woke slowly from her exhausted slumber, and found several things that she was not expecting upon doing so. Firstly, San had either decorated over night to make her room look like a ward of an asylum, complete with padded walls and plastic windows. Secondly, Sean - because it wasn't really something San would do - had somehow undyed her hair, and the original brown colour had come back out into the matted mess of hair that she was currently sporting. The matted texture made it feel as if she had not washed it in months, but she knew it had only been yesterday she took a shower at Eliot's house. Thirdly, instead of being in her dress, or naked, she was in some bleach white robe that fit in with the hospital-esque theme this room had going for it, and irritated her even more. They even took her underwear off her, which was very annoying and very rude.
    And, the fourth, quite easily the most evil of all things and definately the one for which she was going to pull Sean's arms off and beat him to death with the sloppy end was the fact that she couldn't feel the hum. Since that debachal with the hyper-drive, she could always feel a soft hum within herself. Even when she walked across the ground, the hum reverberated with it in a very subtle way, like the beat of a humming birds wings. But it was always there, until now. She slid over to the edge of the bed and placed her feet on the ground to confirm her fear, and felt nothing. Once, there was a wordless sonnet playing in her heart. Now, there was deathly silence. Until the door opened, and a nurse - a human and tall one at that, with short black hair and a nice body but not overly seductive body frame - walked in carrying a tray.
    "Good morning Jane" She said in a cheery tone, shutting the door behind her and walking over to the bed, and met with Jane's Death Stare.
    "Who the hell are you?" She demanded, getting highly pissed off at how long this very tasteless joke was being dragged out for. The woman looked concerned and walked over to Jane.
    "Jane, Your relapsing. We where making so much progress as well" She said in a sombre tone, her eyes filled with the geniune sadness. The whole thing made Jane laugh.
    "Heh, this is going to be funny" She announced generally, shaking with uncontrolled mirth.
    "What is?" The nurse asked, not the least bit wary of Jane's sudden change in emotion.
    "I'm going to see how long Sean can keep laughing with no fucking teeth!" She screamed, barging past the nurse and knocking the tray and it's contents all over the floor, only to realize that the door was shut, and the handle was not moving dispite her best efforts. Jane writhed at the handle for a few more seconds, before turning back to look at the nurse.
    "So, unlock this door before I decide to use your rib-cage as a lockpick and contemplate the practicality of such an instrument later" she threatened. There was a small part of her in the back of her mind that was shocked, and almost terrified of the anger that was flowing from herself, of the sheer bite to her tone, and the venom of every word. It was this small part that made her realize how much of an impact the humming had made. But, the rest of her was still in angry mode,so the small part of her mind that was sane made some popcorn and settled down to watch.
    "Calm down Jane. If you want to get out so much, I won't stop you" the nurse said, slowly withdrawing a small set of keys and holding them out for Jane, who snatched them like she was trying to rip the nurse's arm off and then shoved them into the door and wrenched the lock open. She then yanked the door open and stormed off down the hall, not even looking around at the until she got a dozen feet down and felt a hand on her shoulder.Jane tried to shrug the grip off, but it simply tightened in response.
    "You have to get back to your room Jane, and apologise to Rei. She is really hurt with the tone you took with her, relapse or no relapse" the voice said. It was male, and calm but solid, ready to commit violence if the situation called for it.
    "Fuck you an' all. I'm not playing into whatever indepth mind-fuck prank Sean is playing here. I'm going to find him, kill him - of course, find out a way to kill him, bastard has laughed though the conventional methods - and then get some very hungry, angry dogs and feed him to them" She announced, reeling off her plan in great detail.
    "All sounds lovely, aside from the fact that Sean isn't real" The man replied, which made Jane laugh softly.
    "Yea, I thought that as well. When someone like him appears, pulling knives out of their head and basically speaking gibberish, it makes one doubt their own mind" she replied,which made the man with his hand on her shoulder a touch confused.
    "You know, I am always a bit thrown off when people make comments about doubting one's own mind considering where you are" he muttered, before moving to look Jane in the eyes. She noticed he had nice eyes, deep sapphire, but that was besides the point. She wanted to punch him. She wanted to punch everyone that stuck their face in her face. "What is the last thing you remember?" He asked, with a seriously inquisitive tone that Jane could only glare at for several seconds before deciding to indulge him.
    "Fine. Sean-Slaying is on hold. The last thing I remember is being at The Ball, and apparently I burnt out my mana by being me. Sudden, violent onset of exhaustion" she told him, which made the man sigh in dispair.
    "Well, it's not that bad I guess. Last time you had a relapse, you looked around and started screaming for Silverfang. You also said something about a Shadow attacking him". Jane frowned softly and looked more deeply at the man. Maybe the humming was gone, but her Voice Thing could still be active.
    "Tell me where Silverfang is, now" she ordered, but knew it wouldn't do anything. Her voice didn't reverberate with the power it usually did.
    "He is inside your head. Practically everything you think you know about your life is a made up fantasty. Six years ago, you witnessed a tramatic event at your house between your mum and dad. It caused you to retreat inside your own mind and create a fantastic world that would probably make a good book or something, if you didn't believe in it's existance so absolutely that you refused to acknowledge this world at all. We have been trying to coax you back to us, and we thought we where past your first relapse three years ago, seems we are back at square one. Or, two. At least this time you are screaming, just spitting venom" He told Jane, saying it with a fact-stating tone that seemed to brook no claims to the contuary.
    Jane stared at the man for a few seconds, and then turned away from him.
    "I can't trust you. Because I can't trust Sean, and he has the ability to pull something like this off, just to psyche me" She replied, but the conviction was wavering in her voice, the sharpness of her anger had dulled a subtle touch.
    "And what is his motivation? From what I got of your world in between yammerings and screamings, he finds you very agreeable" The man put in, hearing Jane lose her bite, and so he slackened and became less tense.
    'Less tense....' Jane thought, keeping her eyes forward for a few more seconds before driving her elbow into his stomuch. Even if everything was fake, she could still use fake memories of her fights to make real results. As the man was recovering from the sudden, brutal strike to his gut, Jane rounded on him and slammed her palm into his sternum, but as she came up with her fist to finish the attack that had floored that one thug, the man ducked under her fist, and with controlled agression, tackled Jane onto the floor, keeping her pinned to the ground while he got his breath back.
    "Forgot you could pull crazy shit while going mental" he muttered in a much less friendly tone, before speaking into his ear-piece that he must have been wearing. Jane didn't pay much attention to the acessories of the person she was trying to knock out. Jane writhed and thrashed to get out of the man's grip, some how expecting that if she could get away, all this, weither prank or reality, would just melt away. Within the minute, several other people arrived on the scene to help the man. Two of them held her down so her thrashing was for naught and another stuck a needle - two needles to be precise, Jane had kicked the nurse in the face the first time while the men where busy keeping her fists from hitting anyone - into her leg which made the world go fuzzy,and then her head lolled back into a drug-fuelled slumber.

    Several hours later, Jane would have sat up from her bed, waking with a start, but ther was a thick leather belt across her chest, and another across her legs, and so any sort of movement was impossible, even if her watery muscles wouldhave allowed such.
    "Good afternoon Jane. How are you feeling?" Rei asked, looking at her with that comforting smile, but Jane couldn't muster the enthusiasm to be angry with her. All she could think of was how much of the world she knew was a lie. Where Familiars a lie? Was Emily?
    "Terrible" she murmured staring at the celling.
    "Well, you haven't been taking your pills for several weeks now. We found the doses in your pillow case. Has someone said something to you about them?" Rei asked, curious. Some of the patients they had delighted in tormenting the others, and spreading fault rumours.
    "You know, you say I have been here for six years, and that I had a bad relapse three years ago, and all the rest, but I can't remember any of it" She muttered, not taking her eyes off the celling.
    "It's natural Jane. But, if you take your medicine regularly, and talk to your friends, I am sure it will come back to you eventually" Rei counciled, holding a new tray for Jane.
    "Why do I find it bad that I have more friends in an asylum than I did in my Fantasy Highschool?" She asked, finally turning to look at Rei.
    "Some people's subconcious can't handle the entire world being sunshine and roses, it just doesn't work in their mind. They have to add something in to make them want to go on the adventure that suddenly springs into their life, and something that makes it feel real, so they can really believe it. Now, here, let me unbuckle you so you can sit up" Rei announced, moving to Jane and removing the leather buckles.
    "You are scared of me, aren't you?" Jane asked, in an almost teasing voice.
    "Not scared, just cautious. Beneath your slender, muscleless form, you are actually pretty strong. After all, you broke Louise's nose, and bruised Jacob's ribs" She told Jane, helping the girl sit up on the bed.
    "Hmm, well they weren't meant to tickle" Jane replied, looking at the tray. There where some pills, and some liquids, but she didn't really feel like she trusted any of them. Not that she could do anything if Rei decided to force them down her throat. Her arms felt like they couldn't stop anythingright now.
    "You said that last time as well. It's interesting to note the similarities, and well as the differences" Rei commented, picking up the first tiny paper cup of pills and holding them to Jane's mouth, since the girl had no workable arms of her own to use at the moment.
    "Say ahh" the nurse cooed, and got a half-hearted glare from Jane before she opened her mouth. The process was repeated for each of them, with Jane even complying to make the stupid noise for Rei on the last one. "There, you see? All better now. How do you feel now?" Rei asked, looking at Jane. In truth, she didn't feel any different, but she knew the woman wouldn't want to hear that.
    "Better. My head was a wirlwind before, but it's calmed down now" she said, smiling shakily at Rei. "Sorry about before. I, don't know why I did that" Jane admitted, which was the truth in a way. She had no idea what made her go off the rails like that, but she wanted out of this small room, and to streach her legs.
    "That is fine Jane. These things happen. We are going to leave you in here for the rest of today, so you can properly settle down, but we did bring you one of your friends" Rei replied, smiling widely as she got up and opened the door, revealing a girl stood on the other side of it. She was small, looked about fourteen, and had long green hair, roughly to the middle of her back. But her eyes where the most interesting thing. One was a deep emerald green, much like Jane's were, and the other was a striking sapphire blue that seemed to sparkle softly in the light.
    The girl, Jane's 'friend' bounded though the open door and gave Jane a big hug, giggling as she did so.
    "I heard about you. It made me sad. you remember me?" The girl asked, to which Jane shook her head softly. "That's ok. I can give you my name again. I have a very big pile of my name, so I can give it out to everyone" She exclaimed cheerfully, before looking at Jane for a few seconds, as if expecting something. Or analyzing something. It put her in the mind of Sean, and the way he would - or rather, the way she would make him - just silently stare at something till he had figured out what he was trying to figure. Then the girl blinked afew times, and stood up, sticking her chest out proudly and raising her head.
    "My name is Hannah. I have a family of some. And we all pick our names from a House made of Wood".
    Chapter Two: The Humming
    " That's!-" Jane started, before Rei interupted.
    "Yes, that is the surname you gave to Sean. You drew quite a lot of traits from Hannah and gave them to Sean. Our Hannah was quite flattered" She explained, before hands appeared on Rei's breasts.
    "You've grown! Give me some" Hannah exclaimed, not exactly making it a question, and embaressing the nurse. Rei took Hannah's hands off her swiftly, and stood up, heading for the door as her face flushed red.
    "Well. I have some work to do. Have fun with each other" she said before bolting from the room. Having just witnessed the attack on boob, Jane felt a bit worried about what 'fun' would entail, but all that thought left her mind when Hannah turned around to Jane. Her eyes had changed from that barely coherent innocence to a much harder, experienced look. A degree of experience a person as young as Hannah couldn't have obtained.
    "There is something strange here, I can feel it. But, my mind slips away with worrying frequency. I hope you can help me solve what is wrong while your mind is fresh, or we are all doomed" Hannah told Jane, a deep and powerful tone that felt like it belonged to a old woman, rather than this girl that was barely a teenager. Jane felt an emotion in the words, but it was distant and muffled, so she was unable to put a finger on it. So she dealt with the emotions much more clear, confusion and surprise
    "I....what? What are you talking about?" Jane asked, jarred by the sudden shift in persona. However, the answer - proper answer, that is - would have to wait, as her eyes reverted to how they where when she first came in.
    "The Great Cookie Mystery. Tim gets more cookies than any of us, so he is obviously up to something. We must find out what it is" Hannah explained, before leaping up on Jane's bed, and pulling a small case from her clothing. "But that's for later. Now, we play" she whispered dramatically, before opening the case that turned out to be a chessboard, and began setting it up.
    "I, don't know how to play Chess. I don't even know half the rules to it" She admitted, but it didn't stop the flow of Hannah. Her arms where getting some feeling back, but they weren't going to be much good for anything more than slow movement.
    "This is a special chess. It's pieces are made from Sar...Sar...Something Stone. And it's a special stone, so you will be able to play even if you don't know anything" she told Jane cheerfully, and so the brown haired girl sighed and waited for her to finish placing the stones. The stones where similar, but easy enough to tell apart. Hannah's side - clearly intended to be the 'White' side - was polished to a shine, while her own was rough and dark. Dispite Hannah being able to move first, Jane was glad she had the black chess pieces. They where more natural, and beautiful. Hannah opened with a King's Pawn, and so Jane decided to respond with the same. But, as her fingered closed around the pawn, the stone shocked her, and she pulled her hands back with a soft cry of pain. And then, her arms where not the lead weights they had been. The drugged fatiage vanished in an instant.
    "I don't know why, but there is some sort of connection between these stones and me. And between these stones and you, as it happens" Hannah muttered, her voice once again strong and powerful. But Jane didn't care. She had tears spilling from her eyes in joy. The Humming had returned.It was brief, for only a few seconds, but Jane clearly heard it.
    "Connection with these stones clears my mind, but with diminishing returns. The first touch of the day clears it for a few minutes, then a single minute, and wittling down to mere seconds. But, I managed to keep a grasp enough to impart my love of chess to the Other. So now I clear my mind, and don't bring suspicion to myself" Hannah continued, looking at Jane and waiting for her move.
    Jane thought for a moment, amazed that the shock had seemed to impart her with the rules and knowledge of chess. So she changed her stratagy, and moved a Queen's Pawn instead. The touch didn't shock her this time, but the humming returned again for a few more seconds. It was enough to banish all doubt. She wasn't crazy. The World did exist. And this place, whatever it was, was evil. And also not part of Sean's doing. Hannah replied by moving her pawn further up the field, and smiled.
    "Sarsen Stones" Hannah commented from nowhere as Jane took her move, frowning in confusion at the end of it.
    "What are they?" She asked, watching Hannah move the pawn even further, nearing capture.
    "The stones that these pieces are made of. The original Sarsen stone sat at the center of the Nexus, and absorbed the power of the Ley-Lines into itself. Once it had it's fill, the rocks found their way across the planet it resided on, and to this day, even Sarsen stones that are not connected to the original contain a great deal of Terran energy within them. To people that are sensetive to the flow of the Ley-Lines, they can provide serenity, and stability. But they can't, by there own, resist the wrongness of this place. However, you are far more than just sensetive to the flow of Ley-Lines" Hannah spoke, enthralling Jane with the discussion.
    " I?" She asked, moving her pawn and taking Hannah's.
    "I don't know. Stability and serenity only goes so far. My mind is blocked off from myself, and I can't access half of what I know I should be able to. But I do know, you are extremely important" Hannah admitted, before giving her concentration to the game, and Jane did likewise.
    The way Hannah had thrown away the pawn at the start was clearly not an indication of how she played, since even with the inate knowledge of the rules and most valid moves, Jane never managed to capture a single piece, even though she had lost several of her own. This was due in part to Hannah's skill, and also in part to her dispair at how the humming's return was getting shorter and shorter each time she touched a piece. Several minutes in, however, Jane managed to capture a Knight, and savoured the victory for a few seconds before Hannah - now the young and carefree girl again - pouted, and said she wasn't playing anymore because that was her favoirate Knight. Jane tried pointing out that Hannah had another Knight, but the situation looked like it was going to burst into a tantrum before a voice rang though the halls, indicating it was bed time, and for night medication. Hannah obeyed the voice and packed away her chess, putting the pieces back into the case, and the case into her clothes, before leaving for the door and waving good night. Jane then leant back on the bed, and Rei came in before she could think of anything important. The same situation as before played out, except Jane could take the pills herself now, and only had Rei watching and making silly noises. After the last pill was swollowed, Jane wanted to think about important things, but her eyelids slammed shut before she could make her first coherent thought.
    Morning came in an instant. The pills she was given yesterday took her out like a light, and carried her throught the night. She was sure Rei was going to come in in a few minutes with her pills and make Jane take them. The humming was gone as well, but she clung to the memory of yesterday, knowing that the world was real. And that these people where lying bastards. She wondered how she would find her way around this place to locate Hannah and convince her to play chess again, but that came later. For now, she had to find out where she was. Yesterday, she just assumed she was on Earth, but that was not the case today. She could be anywhere. With the ease Sean jumped from planet to planet, why would she be there?
    But, just as Jane had thought, Rei walked through the door with her tray of pills. The pills where...ominous now. Knowing what they did, what they where trying to do - what they where trying to steal - she couldn't help but feel revoltion at their existance. But, unless she wanted to repeat what happened yesterday, there was nothing she could do about it.
    "Morning Jane. How are you?" Rei asked, in a tone that Jane never realized was sickly and forced. She was seriously blind, and deaf yesterday to not have noticed that. But, nessesity demanded civility, or she would be stuck in this room for a longer time, and that wouldn't bode well. So, Jane forced on a smile, and politely replied.
    "I am well, thank you. Had chess with Hannah yesterday, and it was fun. Until I took her favoriate Knight, then she pouted and refused to play" Jane replied, shuffling over to the edge of the bed and extracting amusement from the nurse's slight hint of fear. She had clearly left her mark on her, and probably others as well.
    Aside from the subtle look in her eyes, Rei made no show of her fear, and walked up to Jane, handing her the tray of drugs.
    "Wonderful. You take those, and then we can go out and get you re-aquainted with the building" Rei exclaimed, putting on a cheery front for Jane, not that it did anything except get a acceptive grunt from Jane before she started on their infernal 'medicine'. Forcing them down was hard, and she was reminded of that green thing she had picked up at The Ball. Or though, in this case it wasn't the taste - not that the taste was all that nice - but rather the intent. However, she took it pill by pill until they where all gone, not even noticing if Rei was making her stupid noises or not. As the last pill was swollowed, Rei clapped and held out her hand for Jane to take.
    "Lovely, then let's go exploring" Rei chimed, and because there was little choice in the matter, she took the hand and let herself be led out of this small, empty room.

    Chapter three: The Black Room
    As Jane left the room, she saw it was in a row of similar rooms, most likely designed for the people who made a scene like Jane did yesterday. Most of the doors where white and nondiscript, but there was one, in the middle, with a good three feet either side of it, that was a deep black. The door looked more like a bulkhead of a ship than a door, and had no little window to look in like the others did. Jane wondered if there was even a window in that room, and then wondered what kind of person would need such a room.
    "So, who's in there?" She asked Rei, who dropped all pretense and looked equal parts shocked and disgusted.
    "Don't talk about that. Don't even mention it. To you, that room does not exist. It's the same for everyone here. Nobody asks questions about The Black Room" Rei warned, before softening again, and talking Jane out of the hallway and into a large room where dozens of people where gathered. Some shuffled around aimlessly, others built or drew on paper - or the floor, when paper did not suffice - and several of the white-clad men Jane had been taken down by yesterday where dotted around the room. Clearly keeping watch, keeping guard. Jane recognized one girl, and started to head over there. Rei thought it was a great idea to have Hannah guide Jane around, and so left the two of them at the table where Hannah seemed to be playing chess with a chessboard, but no pieces.
    As soon as Rei was out of earshot, Jane looked at Hannah.
    "So, what's The Black Room?" Jane asked, with a slightly rogueish grin. The question, clearly a taboo around here, made Hannah laugh nervously.
    "Don't be asking that to loudly. They won't like it" She told Jane, before leaning in closely. "But, the Rabbit knows things. To draw the Rabbit's eye, you'll need" Hannah started, before being interupted by Jane.
    "Nope. Nooope. Not doing the run-around for someone called 'Rabbit'. Couldn't they have come up with a better name?" She asked, shaking her head softly.
    "Well...the Rabbit got her name because she, goes at it like a rabbit" Hannah explained, to Jane's irritation.
    "Seriously? I am not getting my bones jumped by another girl. Imiri was enough. There has to be another way to attact her attention" Jane demanded, getting slightly headed.
    "I have heard the Rabbit is looking for Rei's underwear" Hannah suggested.
    "What the hell is wrong with this place?!" Jane shouted, regretting it immediately. The guards looked over, but the outburst wasn't repeated by Hannah, so they lost interest and continuted to scour the halls.
    "Well, the Rabbit has a way of finding out things, or getting things that others can't. So she can make her own demands. And she doesn't demand matieral things, since she can just get them" Hannah meekly told Jane, who was really being overbaring right now. But, before Jane could continute, some arms slid around Jane's waist, and her ear was nibbled on.
    "Rabbit likes to nibble" The voice from behind Jane whispered. Jane was not really suprised, this sort of thing happened to her all the time these days.
    "So, you are the chick with the crazy-high libido then?" Jane asked, in a distinctly unimpressed voice. Rabbit, however, seemed amused by it.
    "Ohh, Ilike you. Rabbit would love to nibble every part of yo-" Rabbit started, before Jane interupted, again.
    "Finish that sentence, and I'll have your tongue" Jane warned, in no mood to play around right now. She had to get out and find Silverfang.
    "A bit of bite. I love it. But fine, if you must be like that. You, are special. You, are not like anyone else in this place. Not even little Hannah here" Rabbit explained, but it was not exactly news to Jane.
    "Yea. I know. Everyone seems to think that. I'm not feeling to special though. I needed Hannah's help to even remember I wasn't insane" Jane lamaited, and then pulled out of the Rabbit's grip as she felt those lips brush against her ear. There was no denying she has some soft, lushious lips, but that wasn't the point, Jane told herself. Repeatably. The Rabbit shrugged and moved over to Hannah, taking a seat next to her and leaning her head on Hannah's shoulder. To Jane's suprise, Hannah started to playfully stroke the Rabbit's hair.
    "You two, 'aquire' things often then?" Jane asked, laughing softly. Everyone had their secrets.
    "Hannah here got every chess piece of her wonderful board individually. Such objects couldn't be obtained in a set, after all" the Rabbit informed Jane. The idea of this cute, innocent girl - or for that matter the other Hannah within her - could use such.....such services thirty six times was mind-boggling.
    "What is the significence of a full chessboard? Wouldn't one or two pieces sufice?" Jane asked, to which the Rabbit shook her head.
    "Not really. Sarsen stones synergy with each other. They bolster and enpower each other. Thirty six pieces would be able to cut though whatever interference this place seems to give out. I haven't been here nearly as long as Hannah, so I haven't been screwed over completely by the people here. But, even with the Sarsen stones, I can't use my magic" the Rabbit admitted. The casual admittion that this girl could use magic was a shock. Aside from Sean, no one had discussed magic so openly. She was begining to feel like it was just another one of Sean's unique tricks.
    "What magic can you do, when you can do it?" Jane asked, her anger at the girl's exessive eroism melding in the face of curiosity.
    "Conjouration, summoning and creation. And Farsight. They work well together" Rabbit said, before looking up at Hannah with a teasing visage. Like she wanted Hannah to want her to get something. But the girl stayed silent, much to the Rabbit's dismay.
    "Why do they work well together?" Jane asked, smiling softly at the way Hannah continuted to absently stroke the girl's hair but at the same time trying to ignore that the Rabbit existed ay all.
    "Well, Conjouration is limited by knowledge. You can't summon something if you don't know where it is. So, that is where Farsight comes in. It lets a person see far beyond their usual eyes, from a few miles to another planet, varying on skill. I'm not quite planet level, but I can get about a two hundred miles out of it. So I can scout something with my farsight, and the summon it with my conjouration. Which, is actually why I am here. Some guy got angry that I summoned his entire bank account and donated it to a charity. Then I woke up here, and it interfers with magic of most reasons. Which is why Hannah here is still all trapped and stupid" Rabbit teased, to which Hannah punched her softly on the head.
    "I'm not stupid" She said with a cute, kicked puppy tone.
    "Compared to who you are, yes you are" Rabbit retorted. Hannah didn't have any comeback ready from the looks of it, so Jane got back in.
    "So, Hannah is good at magic then?" She asked. Apparently it was an amusuing statement, since
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