Friday, 25 May 2012

One For You, Two For Me... (Yes! The whole thing!)

Just so every new reader out there (I'm not betting on many of them) knows, this is set nine years in the future, so it's in 2021.

Chapter 1 - Hello, Welcome To My Life...

       I stepped over to the man on the floor. I took an arrow from my quiver and nocked it. "Any last requests?" I asked sweetly.
       "Yes," he said "Please don't kill me, Miss Lost." You'd be surprised how many times I hear that in my line of work. I fired the arrow and hit hit the middle of his chest. Blood started to seep from the wound and his eyes still had their last look of terror in them. I removed the arrow from his chest, the point was not broken so I placed it back in my quiver, no point wasting it. 
       I pulled a black Sharpie pen from my pocket. I drew two fancy L's and a kiss, x. This was my signature, so they knew I'd done it. Well I didn't want anyone else taking the credit - I would not get paid.
       I stepped over the body and heard sirens outside. "Lynxia Lost," came a male voice through a crackling mega-phone. "We know it is you, come out with your hands up."
       Not bloody likely! I thought and gathered the shadows and shadow walked back to my apartment.

My apartment was on the ninth floor of the apartment building. I walked through the door and my two cats came over. One was a grey colour with yellow eyes, she was Mist and the other was black with dark brown eyes. She was Night. The curled round my feet. I reached down and stroked them. "Hello, I've been working all day, let me finish and I'll get you something to eat."
       I walked to my glass spiral staircase. I had bought the apartment above and made it into my second floor. I walked up and into my study. I closed the door and switched on my laptop. I clicked on the screen button and the badly scarred face of Hanson McKreen appeared on the screen.
       "It is done?" he asked in a low gravely voice.
       "Yes, the police are there now but they don't know you had anything to do with it." Hanson was a big-city banker and needed his nephew taking care of, he knew something. I don't pry, though, so what he knew that needed him dead was a mystery.
       "Excellent, how much did we agree?" he knew exactly how much but I still told him.
       "We agreed on three hundred and fifty. Will I get my money?" 
       "Yes, I wouldn't double cross someone like you, Miss Lost." I wasn't sure but I nodded and closed the laptop. I decided to take a knife with me to get my money tomorrow, just in case. I got up and placed my bow and arrow on the wall. I got changed from my black top and white skinnys into my striped top, black skinnys and slippers. I went downstairs as if I just had a normal job and got out the cat food.

I walked into the library and handed in the copy of The Merchant Of Venice I had been reading. Shakespeare isn't that bad. I headed over to the Nature section and was looking at the covers when a man in dark clothing came over. "Miss Lost, I have the money" he turned and opened a briefcase - what a cliché! - and in there was my money in twenty and ten pound notes.
       "Excellent," I said "Hand me the money and we can part ways."
       "Not going to happen, I'm afraid." and he pointed a gun at me. Jerk. I lashed out with the knife and slit his throat befor he could blink, gathered the money into my coat packets and walked out of the building.
       I walked to my car. It was exactly where I'd left it. However there was someone reading a Kindle on the hood. He sat there like it was a park bench, not my car. He looked up as I got closer. He had sandy blonde hair and black eyes. He had high cheek bones and a square jaw. He was fairly handsome. He also had a silver stud in his hose. He put away his Kindle and got up. He held out his hand to shake. "Miss Lost, pleasure to meet you." I looked him up and down. Gold earring in his left ear. Un-tucked shirt, top button un-done. Black trousers and black All Star deck shoes. I then looked at his hand. I waved it away.
       "Who are you?" I cut straight to the chase, I had no time to waste. I had the package in my pocket and had around three minutes before the alarm bells would ring.
       "I knew you were one to cut straight to it but that was a little rude." His hand dropped to his side.
       "Who are you, I don't have time to waste." I glanced over my shoulder - nothing yet.
       "It is not who I am that matters, it is my employer." He opened the door of the passenger side of my car and offered it to me. My car. I got in and he got in a started the car.
       "Who are you?" I asked for the third time.
       "I am Detective Inspector Daniels and you've been arrested."

Chapter 2 - I'm Arrested, Again...

       We drove down to the police station and when we got there he put me in those stupid mortal hand cuffs and took me in. I was put in an interrogation room and waited for half an hour before he came back with another older guy who I presumed to be his boss. The old guy sat at the table and faced me. DI Daniels went and stood in the corner.
       The old guy placed some notes on the table with pictures paper clipped to them. "You are Lynxia Lost, is that correct?" he asked.
       "I am." I replied, short and sweet, well, maybe not sweet.
       "You killed these people?" he asked and indicated to the photos, of which there where many.
       "Yes, but you didn't get all of them. There was the guy in the ditch and that family in the burned out house too. They were some of mine."
       "And this one," he held up a picture of a man with long blonde hair and my sign on his cheek "You do realise you face the death penalty in America for this one, right?" 
       I nodded.
       "We will deport you." he said, and it sounded like a threatening tone. I didn't like being threatened, and I didn't respond well to it either.
       "Deport me then. I'll slip through their grasp just like I've done with you on many occasions." I smiled.
       He was fast turning red. "Look here, you are no great person. We can knock you off your ass as easily as a knife can cut through melted butter." he was a leaning over the table now, pointing in my face.
       So I leaned forward and whispered in his ear. "I would like to see you try." And I was thankful for his hand being so close because I reached out, touched it and heard the fingers break. I also noticed that the single bare bulb cast lots of shadows in the room. It must have been my lucky day.
       He cried out and I flipped the table so it landed on him. I took hold of the shadows and grabbed DI Daniels and knocked him against the wall and he fell. I kicked the door and it blew of its hinges. I looked left and right and ran. Down the left hand corridor and I was already at the back door when the alarms started to ring. 
       I scaled the fence and ran. 
       I ran to the apartments. I got in and started to pack stuff at the speed of light. My cats came in and stood in front of me. I tapped the sigil on my wrist, the one sigil I had ever needed and the only one I had ever carved into my skin, it glowed a deep green. I faced my cats, held up my wrist so they could see it and spoke clearly.
       "Revert." Instantly they grew. I had no idea what they heard but it did the trick. Night grew into a sleek black panther and Mist into a large, grey European lynx. "Guard the house. Do not let anyone within fifteen metres. When I leave the building. Follow me but out of sight." They slunk off and I turned and got my bow and quiver. "This will be fun." I said to myself "I haven't done this in months."

Chapter 3 - The Old Gang...

       I turned and ran to my door. I opened it and found myself face-to-face with DI Daniels. He looked like he'd ran all the way here and was in a mess.
       I glared at him.
       "What do you want? If you're going to try and arrest me again, don't bother."
       "I've... They've... They think... Me helped... You." he panted.
       "They think you helped me to escape?" I laughed "I don't need anyone's help."
       "They're on their... Way." he said, collapsing against the door frame.
       "Shit." The symbol on my wrist pulsed green, someone was in the perimeter. I grabbed his hand and shadow walked into an alley a couple of streets away. Mist and Night slinked up and DI Daniels turned and was sick on the side of a heavily graffitied building. I looked down the alley. People were walking to the sound of police sirens but no one looked down the alley. I pulled out my phone and dialled a number.
       "Hello?" came the voice at the other end.
       "Sheldon, get your ass here. Now." I said.
       "No can do, Lynx, old buddy." Sheldon said.
       "Sheldon, that wasn't a request. I'm calling in the favour. I saved your teleporting ass from the Diablerie now get up here."
       "I can't. I'm... Look I'm on a date on a warm Australian night, so no. Not now." he replied.
       "Wait. You're in Australia? Good. Round up the old gang. I want them all here."
       "We haven't seen each other in years, though. How would I know where to find everyone?" I seemed to be getting his attention now.
       "But my date!" he was whining now.
       "I don't care. Do it!" I snapped.
       "Who, exactly?" he asked, sighing with defeat.
       "Flame Phoenix, Sparky Braginski, Robin Snowscar, Ivy Animosity, Eve Azure, Zathract Mist and Nixion Strange."  I said. How many years had it been since the camping trip? Seven or eight. Possibly nine. We saw each other last then and had not spoken since. Would they still remember me? I wondered.
       "Right. I'll get you first." And as the phone went dead a spindly man appeared next to me. "Your hand my lady." I grasped his hand. Waved my hand to my cats who dissipated in the wind and grabbed hold of DI Daniels.
       "Go." I said and the world vanished to be replaced a few seconds later by a dark night and an over grown house. "Whose house is this?" I asked, totally shocked a friend would end up like this.
       "This was the last know dwelling of Nixion Strange." Sheldon said as DI Daniels through up in the bushes.
       We walked up to the door and knocked. It started to crumble away where we had knocked. I walked inside to find it was dark. No electricity, but clean. Everything looked cared for - nothing like the Nix I remembered. We checked the kitchen, upstairs and finally came to the living room at the back of the house. The door was shut so I pressed my ear against it. 
       I heard scratching and mumbling. I pushed it open and there writing on a screwed up piece of paper by candle light on a desk, was Nixion Strange.
       I walked over and looked down at what he was writing. It made no sense. It was symbols I couldn't understand but it was not sigils. It was a lot of joined lines surrounded by different sized dots. He was still mumbling, unaware I was even there.
       "Nix?" I whispered. "Is that you?" I saw the candle had bite marks on it. I smiled at the time he'd swapped a photo frame for a candle. Was this the same one?
       "Nix?" I said louder. Sheldon and DI Daniels were now backing out of the room. "Nix, look at me."
       He glanced up at me and looked away. Then turned his head and looked straight at me. He remained silent.
       "Nix, we need your help." I said.
       He looked at me. He blinked once, twice. "Help." he repeated.
       "Yes," I nodded "Help. We need your help."
       "I no help." he said and turned away.
       "Yes you will." I gathered shadows and turned his chair to face me. "You will help."
       "NO!" he screamed and jumped forward. We clattered into the coffee table and I heard glass break beneath me. He was howling now, punching my face. He seemed to have forgotten his magic. 
       I grabbed his wrist and broke it and flipped him onto his back. I straddled him now. "You will help." I was panting now and he cracked a grin.
       "You've kept in shape." he smiled.
       I got off and helped him up. "I hate you." and I slapped him. He turned back to me with a red hand shape on his face.
       "Ow." he said. "Don't I get a hug?" he extended his arms.
       "No. People who play pranks don't get hugs. Go and clean up. Long night and day ahead." I said and pointed out of the room.

       We took Nix's car, which had a mysterious red stain on the dash board, out on to the country roads. Nix spoke to me whilst driving. "So where have you been all these years?" he asked.
       "Around." I said. He knew what I meant because he'd used that word when we asked him where he had been when he was a serial killer.
       "So, I see Sheldon's squirmed his way in-"
       "Hey!" came Sheldon's voice from the back.
       "-but who's the other guy?" Nix asked glancing at DI Daniels in the mirror.
       "I'm Nicholas Daniels. Who are you?" said the DI before I could respond.
       "I'm the person who's gonna have their fist in your face if you speak to me like that again. Got it?" growled Nix, turning round whilst still driving.
       The DI nodded and looked out the window. "Where are we going?" I asked Nix.
       "Zath and Eve's place. They live in the country and Zath does off-the-beaten-track jobs for the Sanctuary." he said, taking a right past a black lake and into a forest.
       "You kept in touch?" I said.
       "No, but when I last got arrested I looked at the papers in the filing cabinet after knocking out the guard." he cracked a grin. I shook my head, rolled my eyes and looked out the window. The trees were flying past. We'd been travelling the whole night. I could see a grey tinge on the horizon of the plains when the forest ended. We were travelling through farm land now. No artificial orange light like in the city. Just the light from the moon, the scattered stars and the greyish line on the horizon. Just when I was starting to nod off an outline of a farm house appeared in the middle of a field. Nix took a left onto a tight lane and drove through the fields. At the back of the house I could see an over-large chicken pen. 
       Yes, this is Eve's place, I thought.
       We pulled up by the house and I went to the door. It was red with a brass knocker. I knocked twice and I heard a shot gun click behind the door. "Who is it?" Eve's voice called sing-song like behind the door.
       "Lynxia Lost and Nixion Strange." I called back.
       "Miss me out then." grumbled Sheldon.
       "OK, I'll open the door." The locks clicked and the door opened. I ducked and used the shadows to snap the axe that came down. Eve looked at me and smiled showing her pointed teeth. "Yes, you are Lynxia." She came up to me and hugged me. "Shads! Good to see you!"
       "Is it them?" came Zathract Mist's growl from upstairs.
       "Yes, it is. You can come down now." Eve called back. Zath appeared at the top of the stairs putting on a jacket the wrong way round. He noticed and righted it. He came down and stood in front of Nix.
       "Nixion." Zath said.
       "Zathract." Nix said. They shook hands. "Long time buddy." Nix said.
       "Yes, a very long time." They stopped shaking hands.
       Eve shook her head. "Men. You don't know the meaning of the wordhug do you?"
       Zath decided to ignore that and elbowed Nix in the stomach when he tried to respond. He turned to me. "Why are you here? It's been nine years, round about, and suddenly you turn up on our door step with Nix, a should-be-dead teleporter and a mortal. What's going on."
        "I can't tell you now. We need to find the others first." I looked away and could feel the looking at each other. Eve decided to break the silence.
        "Who's next then?" she asked whilst doing the awkward Nyan Cat.
        "You're in?" I asked, shocked.
        "Yup, now - who's next?"
        "Robin." I replied.

       When Eve had said goodbye to the chickens that ran away from her, everyone linked arms. "I feel so stupid" Sheldon said.
       "Nobody cares." snapped Zath.
       "Humph. England here we come." Sheldon replied and we found ourselves standing on a moor with the sun going down. Down the moor was a valley. And at the bottom, fighting a demon, was Robin Snowscar. Her sword was out and just as we landed she killed the thing and it crumbled into ash. She turned, wiped her red hair out of her eyes and stared. We walked down to her. She was standing by some boulders with the new ash pile at the bottom.
       "Robin Snowscar!" I laughed. "Where've you been." we hugged.
       "Here and there." she laughed back and hugged Eve. "Same question to you." she went to hug Nix and Zath but they stepped back and looked at her sword warily. "Men." she muttered.
       "Places." I said and smiled. It had been a long time since I had seen Robin. She had been one of the first people I had met when I had gone to Blogland and had definitely been one of my first friends.
       "So why are you all here?" she asked looking round at us all.
       "Lynxia won't tell us." Eve said watching Nicholas stagger back to the group after being sick again.
       Robin turned to me. "What is it?" she asked.
       "I need the others otherwise we'll fail. I'm sorry." I said.
       Robin shrugged. "Okay but I want to be the first to know." she said.
       "So you'll come with?" asked Nix elbowing Sheldon so he'd stop staring at Robin.
       "I will but I'll need to leave a message." Robin said looking through her pockets.
       "Who for? There's nobody out here." said Nicholas.
       "Yeah, no mortals but those ashes are gonna go back in a few minutes." she said pulling out some paper "Have any of you got a pen?" Robin asked.
       Zath pulled out a green pen and handed it to her. "Who is the message for?" he asked.
       "The Sworn. Otherwise..." she shivered "I've got no idea what would happen. I'm their leader, they need me." She finished writing and placed the note on the ashes. She stepped back and the ashes vanished in purple fire. "I hope they'll be OK." she muttered.
       "What... What, how'd you.... What?!!!" DI Daniels was looking at where the ashes had been with an open mouth and staring eyes.
       "Just accept it. No question, just accept it." Nix said clapping him on the shoulder.
       "So, Shads, you said you were getting everyone back together. Who's next" Robin said, coming back to the group.
       "Ivy Animosity, know where she is?" I said, hoping we could get a trail.
       "Last I heard she was in some prison called St. Anne's in America. We could try there." Robin replied.
       Great, I thought, a prison break....

       We teleported to America. We appeared on a cliff under a cloudy sky and a dark grey ocean. Over on a cliff to our right was a large building. It looked like the typical prisons from films. Grey, made of cinder blocks, watch towers, big walls with barbed wire on top and the big gates and forest of dead looking trees surrounding it. The flood lights were searching the grounds. I turned to Sheldon. "Is it a mortal prison?" I asked.
       He nodded. "I don't know why she'd be here but I can just tell." We started walking up to the gates. I covered us in a veil of shadows so they couldn't see us, kind of like camouflage. Robin snapped the old fashioned padlock with a flick of her sword and we went in. I laced the shadows around the perimeter so we could move freely and started up the winding road. Nix went off the road and onto the field. "I'm as quick as a shadow and as free as a bird." he spoke in a fake-hoarse voice and ran. He stopped and did a sort of karate pose.
       I rolled my eyes and Eve said "And that's a bomb in front of you." she pointed to a slightly raised pile of earth and the smile that was inching onto Nix's face vanished.
       "Bomb?" he almost squeaked, staring at the pile of dirt "How can you tell?" he was whispering now, like it was a sleeping bear.
       "Not really!" Eve said "I'm just messing. It's a mole hill, silly!" we all laughed and Nix stuck his hands in his pockets, glared at us and walked behind us mumbling.
      We kept to the path all the same. When we reached the main building, Zath climbed through the window. We heard a few grunts and banging heads and the doors creaked open. We walked inside to find Zath hiding guard bodies under the guard desk and eating one of the doughnuts from the box on the table. "What?" he said "I like sugar coated."
       We laughed again and even Nix smiled a little. Zath clicked his fingers and a flame appeared in his hand. I raised an eyebrow. "You chose Elemental, then?" I said.
       "Yeah, it's helpful." We walked behind Zath and watched as our shadows danced on the walls. Cells were lined up and numbered and thin, metal staircases rose to meet catwalks above our heads..
       "Right," Robin said "How are we going to find Ivy in a place like this?" she said.
       "Good point." me and Eve said at the same time.
       "Split up?" Nix said going to the closest staircase. "There's five floors and five of us. I'll take top." he said and started going up.
       "Great, leave out me and the mortal. We won't help then." said Sheldon and him and DI Daniels stood by the staircases.
       "I'll take third." I said, completely ignoring Sheldon, and went up after Nix. From below I heard Eve say she'd take ground, Zath say he'd take first and Robin second. I reached the third floor and looked round. A sign indicated the male half and female half. I turned left onto the female rows and looked through each.
       I heard a fight down below. Guards, I'd forgotten the guards! "Nice you warned us, Shads!" shouted Zath. None seemed to be on my level. That was strange but when I got to cell marked 4H I knew why. In there was Ivy Animosity. There was something about this cell that made me feel hopeless. No wonder there were no guards.
       I opened the door with the shadows and went in. Ivy was curled in the corner, staring at the wall. She looked at me with dead eyes as I came in. "Ivy? How you doin'?" I asked. Sitting on the floor beside her.
       "Fine. I like my cell. All mine. Now, anyway." I didn't want to know what the 'anyway' was so I moved on.
       "Why are you in here? You wouldn't be here if you didn't want to be." I said looking at her. She was wearing normal clothes unlike the other prisoners.
       "I got bored. Killing got boring. Same thing over and over. The same screams, the same begging. It all just... Got... Dull."
       "Well we're doing something new. New challenge, just like the old days, you know? Robin, Zath, Nix and Eve are here. We're gonna get Flame and Sparky and then go on a... Mission. Want to come?" I could see the proposition taking root in her mind. Her eyes widened and then the old murderous twinkle returned.
       "Heck yeah!!!" she jumped up. She pointed her hands at the wall and blue light exploded onto it. "Yeah, I still got it." She licked her finger, touched it to her head and went tsss.
       We ran into the corridor. Jumped down the staircases and everyone else grouped round trying to hug Ivy but ended up having to wave instead. Lots of guards lay unconscious on the floor, in various states of being beaten up.
       "Flame next. Let's go!" They cheered and grabbed Sheldon's arms...

       We appeared in Sydney. "How did you know to come here?" I asked. 
       Sheldon looked at Ivy.
       "You kept in touch?" I asked.
       "I got a few letters. The sending address was from here." I looked up. There were storm clouds over our heads. Currents of dark grey and black. Rain started to fall as I looked at the house. It had its back to the Parramatta river and behind it I could see the opera house. It had white washed walls with a neat front garden with carefully cut bushes and tidy flower beds. The path was made of gravel and led to the big wooden front door and the double garage to the side. 
       I led the way up the path. The door, I noticed, was made of mahogany with a large, ornamental silver knocker. Three white marble steps led up to it. I put one foot on the first step when the door opened. Out stepped a smart looking man in a black silk suit but without a jacket. He had a black leather umbrella under his left arm and locked the door with his right. He turned and looked at us all. His eyes were a deep blue. His hair a bright orange. His skin pale. The face looked slightly grim, and some stress lines were on his brow. That face could only belong to one person.
       "Um..." Flame Phoenix said.
       "Phoenix!" Eve shouted and tackle-hugged him. The umbrella went flying and landed on the ground. Eve got up and Zath helped up Flame.
       "Good to see you." Flame said and shook hands with Zath and Nix. He looked at Ivy, scowled slightly but shook her hand anyway. He hugged Robin, spared a look for Sheldon and DI Daniels and finally looked at me. "Well, what a merry bunch this is, Lynxia." he said giving me a hug.
       "Yes, well. It's important." I said, still averting the big question that hung in the air.
       "Can I ask what it is?" he asked the Question.
       "Not until we find Sparky." I said.
       "Not to hard to find any more, given her job and all. She left just a few minutes ago." Flame said, opening his umbrella. "She should be there by now."
       "Where does she work?" I asked.
       "Sanctuary. Come one. I'm going there now. We'll all go see her. If we can get an appointment..." he mumbled the last sentence.


We reached a corner shop and went down the alley. There Flame pressed him hand against a brick and a panel opened in the floor. We went down to find an orange stone lobby lit by wall brackets. Five different corridors led to other parts. A skinny woman with her brown hair tied in a bun walked up. She wore a black dress suit and carried a black clipboard. 
       "Detective Phoenix," she said "You've brought... Visitors." she looked at the rest of us like muck. Me and Robin had to hold Ivy back. 
       "They would like to see Grand Mage Braginski." Flame said.
       "And do they have an appointment?" she said looking at her clipboard.
       "No, Flame. Not theywe. You're coming too." I said.
       "I have work to do." Flame said walking down a corridor.
       Robin ran after him and pulled him back in a headlock. "We need you on this, what did you call it Shads? Oh yeah, mission. We need your help and we haven't teleported round the world for you to say no." She let him go but carried on glaring, making sure he wasn't going to run.
       "Well, if you join these... People, I might be able to fit you in." the Administrator said, looking at Flame.
       He nodded. "OK, I'm with them." The Administrator sighed and walked down a corridor, we all followed.
       Nix sidled up to Flame. "So, that's yours and Sparky's place right?"
       Flame nodded.
       "You should have seen Nix's place. Total dump." I said and got a glare from Nix in return. Flame cracked a grin.
       "I can imagine." he said and got glared at by Nix as well.
       We reached a large oak door. The Administrator pushed it open and ushered us inside. It was a circular room with a grey stone, domed ceiling. The floor was a sheet of shining white and the walls were mirrors. at the other end of the room was a kind of stage with three thrones on it. In the centre throne sat Sparky Braginski. On her left was a dark skinned woman with floor length blonde hair and piercing green eyes. On Sparky's right was a man with grey hair and a short grey beard. He had brown eyes and frown lines on his brow. 
       "Wow." Sparky said "I never thought I'd see you all again." she got up and came down to us, hugging us each in turn. Including Ivy. 
       "Grand Mage Braginski. Where are your robes?" The Administrator asked. The other two Elders were wearing theirs but Sparky wore skinny jeans, a purple vest top covered by a black check shirt with black boots. Her Makhaira was strapped to her belt. 
       Sparky shrugged. "I hate those things." she said and turned back to us as the Administrator started to speak. "Why are you all here?" she asked. Everyone looked at me.
       "Tallulah Vengeance is back." Everyone except Nix gasped "I got hauled in for questioning and they placed some photos of my victims in front of me. Only one of them bore the mark of Vengeance."
       "That's not good." Sparky said.
       "Damn." said Flame.
       "Dear Goddess of Wisdom!" Robin said making a sign over her heart.
       "Uh oh." said Ivy and Eve.
       "What should we do?" asked Zath.
       "Hello? Will anyone tell me who Tallulah Vengeance is?" asked Nix. Everyone looked at him. "What? I was locked up as a child, remember!"
       "Well," Eve said "Tallulah Vengeance was around when we were probably around eight or nine. Our parents fought with her but she was also a big killer. She would go after anyone she wanted to. No reason needed. If she didn't like your name, she killed you." Eve finished with a shrug.
       Nix stood looking stunned.
       "So what? You're gonna jump in and fight her? Whole armies couldn't kill her. If she's back I need to prepare the Sanctuary and you two," Sparky pointed at Flame and Zath "Aren't going either. We'll need all the help we can get now." she said. Everyone was stunned.
       "No," Zath said "If Eve's going then I go to. I know where my priorities are." He put his arm round Eve's waist.
       "Sparky, we need to help. Lynxia, where was the body?" Flame asked. I looked at DI Daniels.
       "Where was the body of Helen Merritan found?" I asked him.
       "Uh... Uh... Merritan? Derby, I think." he stammered.
       "Well we need to prepare then. She's not here yet, we have time." Sparky said, sounding urgent.
       "So what? Leave England to die? We need to help them!" Flame held Sparky's hands in his own. "I know you're doing what's best for Australia but what about the rest of the world?" He looked in her eyes.
       Sparky took a deep breath. "OK, let's go."
       "But-" The Administrator started to say something but Sparky put a finger to her lips.
       "Sssh we're about to save the world."

Chapter 4 - Happy Families...

       "So..." Sheldon said "Do we have a leads but more importantly - can we crash first?" he yawned to emphasise his point.
       "No, not me and you Sheldon. We're going to England. We'll get the leads." said Ivy.
       "What? You a teleporter too?" he sounded shocked.
       "No, but I can." Ivy teleported behind Sheldon and back again in blobs of blue light. Sheldon stared but Ivy poked him and disappeared so he followed suit.
       "Can we crash though?" yawned Robin.
       "It's morning." Sparky exclaimed.
       "Not in England." Robin in grumbled. "Please?" she whined.
       "Fine, I guess we can crash at our place." Sparky said.
       "Hold up!" We all looked at DI Daniels.
       "What?" said Flame impatiently.
       "You told me not to ask questions but I can't help it! What the Hell can you do. I want to know." he was looking at us all and pointed at Flame.
       Flame sighed. "Control of the Elements, leans towards fire."
       "Control of electricity." said Sparky "Also I can make you think what I want, only mild though. Some people can do it in a stronger form but..." Sparky trailed off.
       "Control of the Elements, again, leans towards fire. Also have a sword that I keep my aura in." Robin.
       "Bone breaking. I touch you, your bone breaks. Simple" Said Nix.
       "I'm not telling you!" Eve said, looking shocked.
       Zath rolled his eyes and said "Elemental."
       "Necromancy, control of shadows," I said at Nicholas's face "Bone breaking like Nix too and a sigil on my arm with which I control my cats, they also share my memories and are impervious to magic of any kind."
       "You still have them?" Flame asked, arching an eyebrow. I nodded.
       Robin yawned half way through asking Nicholas if he would shut up now so we made are way back towards Sparky and Flame's house. Inside it had a polished dark wood floor with yellow-white plastered walls. It had a curved staircase upwards and we all climbed. The house had many spare bedrooms so we had one each. Mine was simply furnished and with calm colours. I was exceedingly tired so I flopped on the bed and just managed to pull the covers over me before sleep snatched me away... 


In my dream, a woman stepped out of the mist and smiled at me. I knew the face.
       "Vengeance." I said.
       "Is that anyway to great your mother?" she chided "Do I get a hug. You've grown so much since I sore you last which was... When? When you were... Seven was it?" she said calmly.
       "Six. Now what do you want?" Her dark brown hair swirled around her like she was in water. She had the hair and skin I had inherited but her eyes were a deep green.
       "You know too much. I need to make you forget." she smiled like they were discussing their day, not memory wiping.
       "But I've told the others. Wouldn't you have to zap them too?"
       "No. They don't know me like you do. They think I'm erratic but you can see the method behind the madness. I made the mistake of trying to train my own child as my apprentice but, well... We can see how that ended. You ran away to a Necromancer temple then left there to apprentice a Russian assassin." She shook her head the carried on "The only other who might suspect is that Mr Strange but I took care of his memory a while ago." she chuckled while I stepped back in shock.
       "That was you?" I gasped.
       She nodded. "Mm-hmm. I tried to brain-wash him into my apprentice. I chose to force him into bone breaking. He would be your perfect enemy. However, it didn't work. Such a shame." her head bowed slightly. "So now I am just avoiding death. I am coming ever closer. Being an Adept it is almost too easy." she chuckled again "And still I need to get rid of you." she sighed and went on in a calm, commanding voice "Lynxia Lost, my only child. You will fall asleep when I say and when you wake - you will remember nothing. Only survival instincts will remain. Now, sleep." she faded away into the mist waving.
       I wanted to protest, to call out but I couldn't. My head went fuzzy and sleep came, bringing with it a wave of amnesia...

       I woke to a blinding light coming through the window. "Come on Shads, time to get up." A woman with red her stood over me. She was smiling like we were old friends.
       "I'm sorry, do I know you?" I asked, completely puzzled.
       "Come on Shads, we don't have time to play games. Ivy and Sheldon came back with some leads." she said and pulled me out of bed.
       "Who are you?" I asked again then thought about it and asked "Who amI?" I couldn't remember a thing, only that I'd woken up fully dressed and in a room somewhere.
       The woman's smile faded then disappeared all together. "Lynxia, don't play this game" she was shaking her head now.
       "What game?" I said, again very confused. Then another woman appeared in the doorway. She had brown hair.
       "What's taking so long? All you had to do was wake her up." she was looking at the woman with red hair.
       "Sparky, she says she can't remember me, where she is or even whoshe is." her voice shook as she said this.
       The one named Sparky looked at me. "Lynxia? Do you remember me?" she asked calmly, yet slightly commanding.
       I shook my head. "She's been wiped." Sparky said. "Come on." she grabbed my hand and lead me down stairs. The downstairs had creamy walls and a dark wood floor. Doors led to different rooms while we went to the back of the house into the kitchen and dining room. The floor was black stone, the walls white and with orange oak cabinets and table with chairs. At the table sat five men and two women. One woman had black hair and pale skin and her eyes were a deep indigo. The second had pointed teeth and claws instead of finger nails. She had short brown hair.
       The closest of the men had black hair that was slightly long and a tired look about him. The second had bright orange hair and blue eyes. Next to him was a brown haired man with dark eyes. Then one who seemed to shrink away from the brown haired one. He had sandy hair and a stud in one ear. Next to him was a faded looking spindly man with light brown hair. They all looked up as we came in.
       "Lynxia, glad you could join us." said the orange haired man. They all seemed startled when I didn't reply.
       "Someone's wiped her memory." Sparky said. I sat down feeling nervous while the others looked at me. Sparky and the red haired woman sat down as well. "This is Eve," she pointed to the one with short brown hair "Ivy," then to the woman with black hair "Zathract," the man with black hair "Flame," he nodded his head "Nixion," he smiled slightly "Nicholas," the one with sandy hair jumped at the mention of him name "Sheldon," Sparky had a slight distaste in her voice as she said his name "And I'm Sparky and that's Robin."
       I blinked.
       "Don't you remember any of us?" asked the woman named Eve.
       I shook my head.

Chapter 5 - Love's Twisted Heart...

       After the meeting in the kitchen/dining room I went back upstairs while the others talked. Bits of conversation floated up to me. Stuff about magic, words I couldn't understand and and me forgetting everything. I heard the front door open a number of times, probably the others going to get more 'leads' as Robin had said. Robin had come to see me again, back in that plainly furnished room and asked me questions like 'What was my favourite colour?' and 'When had I first fired my bow?'. All of the answers were a series of 'I don't knows's and Robin went back downstairs. I looked at the bow propped against the wall. I realised this must be mine and a sense of longing drifted through me.
       Later, when the sky had turned deep indigo, I realised I was hungry. I went down to the stairs. Some of the others were still out but I hoped at least one person was still in who I could ask. I went to the kitchen door and pressed my ear against it to hear if anyone was in there. 
       "Just calm down Nix." it sounded like Flame.
       "Don't tell me to calm down! I hoped that we might get back together, but how can that happen now her memory is gone? Hmm?" Nix sounded angry, hurt and miserable.
       "Maybe she had moved on by the time she had come to get you. It has been nine years remember." Flame said in a calm voice.
       "I know that, but I still love her and I hoped she still loved me." he replied, in a forced-calm monotone.
       "And I'm sure she does. And as soon as she gets her memory back you'll be the first person she runs too." said Flame.
       "And what if she has moved on?" asked Nix, in nearly a whisper.
       "Then we'll deal with that when we come to it but for now, let's focus on getting Lynxia's memory back, shall we?" replied Flame soothingly. Something stirred in the little memory I had. Robin had called me Lynxia. 
       They were talking about me.
       I ran back upstairs and into the plainly furnished room, all thoughts of hunger lost. I dropped onto the bed. Nix loved me and I had loved him. Should I tell them I heard? No, they would think I was spying on them. But would I be able to look at Nix now? Now I knew the truth, I didn't think I could.
       I felt like crying but something told me that was not the kind of thingLynxia did. And after all, I was Lynxia. Or at least I had been.
       When my door opened later and Robin stepped in, I rolled onto my side, faced the wall and refused to talk.

       Over the course of three days the others made different attempts to retrieve my memory. Robin's were jumping out from a cupboard and screaming 'BOO!' and hitting me over the head with a wooden plank. They didn't help. I heard Sparky saying one evening to a troubled Eve that they were wasting time and should just go. I was starting to get incredibly annoyed. Nobody was saying anything to my face, always behind my back. Everyone tried talking to me about simple things though, food, their day - well, everyone except Nix. Every time I saw him we would lock eyes for a moment and then he would walk away. I had caught him a few times about to knock on the door when I was actually on the stairs but he never did.
       As the fourth day passed I was ready to do anything to get out of the house so I went to see Sparky in the study. She sat there looking through a thick book with frail, yellowing pages. She turned round as I came in. "What is going on?" I asked, keeping eye contact "I want to know everything. This magic you talk about. What I was like and what the Hell a Necromancer is." I took the other chair and sat.
       She sighed. "You're not gonna leave until I tell you are you?" she asked.
       I shook my head.
       She sighed again. "Fine. Lynxia, you were, well are, a really good friend..." And she went on. She explained how we had met in somewhere calledBlogland. She also explained my past, or what she knew. How I had grew up in a Necromancer Temple and trained in the Necromancer art. Then she said that I had hit the High Priest and became apprenticed to an assassin named Tesseract who had taught me the Adept discipline of bone breaking. She went through books as well telling me things I had known and lots of different stuff that I seemed to absorb. She didn't, however, touch on the subject of me and Nix. Maybe I had imagined that conversation I had heard but this still did not explain why Nix wouldn't talk to me.
       "So, how can I still do Necromancy and this bone breaky thingy when I can't remember them?" I asked.
       "Because the Surge locked you into the powers. Try it. Form a fist in front of you and think about the shadows curling round it." Sparky replied.
       I tried it.
       My hand became laced in curling and coiling streams of shadows. Dense enough to break something but light than air. It was an odd feeling.
       I stared at Sparky. "How - how can I do this?" I stammered.
       Sparky pulled back the left sleeve of my striped top and there on my wrist was a black bracelet with silver beads on it. The shadows seemed to jump from one bead to another like they were alive. I laughed. "I don't think I should try out the other thing though." I said, forming shadows into different shapes.
       "I think you should." she pulled out a chicken bone. "Eve let me have a leg." she said shrugging. Then her eyes grew wide Oh, you wouldn't remember. Eve eats live chickens."
       "Live?!!" I asked.
       Sparky nodded. Then held out the bone. I touched it and it broke in to two halves. "Wow." I breathed staring at my finger, to the bone and then to my finger again.
       Sparky smiled. "Well that's it. I've told you everything I could think of so," she smiled a little wider "We can hit the road and track down Vengeance."

Chapter 6 - On The Road Again...

       I went back to the room I had woken up in and picked up the bow. It was a dark ebony and felt smooth in my hand. My fingers fitted perfectly with the grooves. I picked up the dark cloth quiver and strapped it to my back. It fitted against my spine like it had grown there. I knew now that I had been a good archer. I counted the arrows. Twenty five and another with a red crusted end. It looked like blood. I decided to ignore it but it still kind of made my skin crawl to think that probably wasn't my blood on there.
       Just as I was about to open the door to get onto the landing my vision wavered and in stead I saw a man with frightened looking eyes and an arrow being aimed. Before I could get a good look, however, it faded and I realised that the picture I just saw must have been a memory. Something that the magic memory wipe had misssd. I resigned to think about it later and went downstairs.
       The others were waiting in the hall andwere looking from Sheldon to Ivy. Ivy nodded and everyone linked arms. They let me into the circle and the room spun. I felt like I was being squeezed through a tube and then we were in an alley with people rushing about at either exit.
       I resisted the urge to be sick but Nicholas still through up.
       "Will you stop that?" said Robin, more demanding than asking. "You do it every time!" Nicholas stared at Robin but didn't say anything.
       He was a pale green and looked like he didn't want to open his mouth, just in case.
       "So... Where are we?" asked Eve. Going to the end of the alley and sticking her head into the street so people glared at her as they moved round her.
       "London." replied Ivy, smiling evilly "We found a... Lead, you could say. He was reluctant to share information at first but soon got going." she chuckled darkly.
       We all shared glances but decided not to say anything.
       Ivy walked past Eve with purpose and weaved between the mortals carrying briefcases and dressed in suits. Many were talking on phones. The buildings that lined the streets were either old, red brick or shining, grey metal. We reached a squared old building in the outskirts of the main city and went in.
       Inside it was damp and dark. There was barely any furniture but Ivy walked over to the power bow on the wall and pulled the leaver. Lights flicked on and a scream came up from the basement.
       "Oops." Ivy shrugged "I guess I forgot to 'unplug' him."
       "'Unplug?'" echoed Sparky but Ivy was already going down the steps. Down in the basement we all looked at the man in the chair.
       He had metal spikes in his hands which were connected to the electricity. He was strapped to the chair with rusted barbed wire that had cut deep gashes in his skin. His face was slick with sweat and he looked half starved. A little water dripped through a tube into his mouth. That was what had kept him alive 5 days. He was still screaming himself hoarse.
       Ivy walked over to him and he looked at her in horror and stopped screaming and just gritted his teeth but she just smiled. "Tell my friends here what you told me and I might think about letting you go." she said sweetly.

       Ivy pulled the metal spikes out of the man's legs and turned him to face us, his neck cracking as she twisted it. He gasped as the spikes came out as the electricity stopped. He looked at me. "You." he gasped hoarsely "You look like her!" I stood there as everyone else turned to me.
       "Look like who?" I asked.
       "Mistress Vengeance." he said.
       "I... Do?" I asked, cursing my lost memories.
       "Come to think of it, you do look a bit like her..." pondered Eve.
       "Yeah, you-" Nix started. But Ivy twisted the hostage's leg so he screamed.
       "Getting back to information." she said. She looked at the man in the chair. "Tell. them." she said firmly.
       He gulped. "Th-the old warehouse. On the dockland. Number fourteen. That's her warehouse and training ground. I work at the Sanctuary. She pays me as a spy. Just don't let her find me!" he was begging by the end. Tears rolling down his face. He was clenching his fists trying to get out of the barbed wire but it only made it cut him more.
       "What should we do with him? He's a little traitor. I say we kill him." said Robin looking at the man in the chair with disgust etched on her face.
       "I agree." said Zath and Eve together.
       Nix nodded.
       Flame looked at Sparky and they shared a glance before both saying they agree.
       Nicholas and Sheldon were slowly backing out of the basement as Ivy started to smile.
       Everyone looked at me. "Well?" said Sparky. "Should we?"
       "Not my call. You're the almighty magic-y people. Not me." I said shrugging.
       "Well we've all said we will anyway." said Ivy, sounding creepily eager to kill him "So I'll do it." She picked the metal spikes up off the floor and jammed them into the man's neck, oblivious to his pleas. She turned the voltage up toHigh then walked towards us. The man twitched in the chair until his eyes rolled back and he fell limp. Everyone walked out, following Ivy up the steps leaving me alone in the basement with the smell of burning flesh.
       My head screamed at me that I should have stopped them.
       But my heart told me I had done worse.
       I followed the others out of the house and down towards the river...

Chapter 7 - Warehouse Of Hell...

       We headed down towards the river. Most of the crowds had dispersed now leaving only a small trickle of people. I glanced up at a large clock tower and the time said it was ten minutes past ten o'clock. The warehouses were behind the docks, shielded from passers-by by the cranes. We picked our way through the warehouses until we came to the one which had a large, white number fourteen painted on the door.
       This warehouse seemed abandoned but we went inside. Inside there was a large space in the middle with all the old machinery pushed to the edges. Steps rose to catwalks lining the room and in one corner was the tower which held two offices.
       In the middle, a man stood practising with a sword on a scarecrow dummy. He was talking to himself as he did it. "Ha ha! Bet you didn't see that coming." he would say or "You nearly had me then." as he jumped round it.
       Ivy smirked and the man fell over. "What? You- You talked... Back!" he squealed.
       Eve was doubling up with silent laughter and Zath and Nix were grinning. I stood there confused. And Sparky, Robin and Flame acted as if they'd seen it all before. Nicholas stood as confused as me and Sheldon decided to end it. He teleported over and took the man. When he came back, the man wasn't with him.
       Ivy scowled. "I was having fun." she said.
       "Too bad." Sheldon said.
       Robin pushed past them and headed over to the bottom office. "If this is their HQ, I thought it would have been guarded better." she said.
        "Me too." replied Sparky, looking round suspiciously.
        Nix walked over to the door. It wouldn't open. "Locked." he said. He tried kicking it. It didn't give.
       In turn Sparky, Flame, Robin, Zath and Eve tried to get the door down but failed.
       "Oh, Move aside." Ivy said, kneeling in front of the lock. "Mist, give me that pen."
       Zath gave her the pen.
       We heard a series of clicks. "Flame, shut up." Ivy said over her shoulder.
       "I didn't say anything!" Flame said defensively.
       "You're thinking aren't you?" Ivy said, turning the pen in the lock.
       Flame sighed. "I can't not think." he said.
       "Try." came Ivy's reply.
       There was silence.
       "I can still hear you." Ivy said after a few seconds.
       "I didn't think about anything!" Flame replied, clearly getting angry.
       "You were thinking about not thinking." Ivy said calmly.
       Flame growled.
       "Even after nine years you're still winding each other up." Zath said, rolling his eyes.
       Ivy grinned and pushed the door open. "We're in."

        In the office it was furnished like it was a modern bank. It had a white marble floor with granite columns and black wood furniture. It surprised me how much stuff they could fit into this small office or through the small wooden door we had come through, but they had managed it and it was not cramped inside either.
       Flame went over to the desk and started going through the draws. Everyone followed his lead and went to check draws of filing cabinet.
       I went over to Sparky. “What are we looking for?” I whispered.
       Sparky smirked. “I don't really know. Anything that would tell us where Vengeance is I suppose.” she said, pulling out a notebook that held nothing in it but children's drawings. Each one used the same thick lines, it looked like the same child had done them all. Sparky turned it over and her eyes widened slightly but I thought it was nothing to do with me. I turned round to look for a draw or something I could search. But what I saw, however, was a little more helpful. It was a calender. And on the date marked for two days from now was something written in big red lettering.
       “Uh, Flame.” I said, pointing at the calender. “I think I've found something.”
       Flame looked up. He walked over to the calender. “Nine o'clock, McKreen Bank Office Party.” he said.
       “Well that was easy.” Nix said.
       “A little too easy...” Zath muttered.
       “Well, there's no point hanging round here.” Sparky said moving to the door. She opened it and looking back at her was a man in black clothing wearing a matching balaclava. “What?” she said but he pushed past and ran at Ivy. More followed. Pushing past and running at us. Soon there were so many we could hardly move. Everyone had been pushed together. I felt Sheldon grab my arm and Robin grabbed my other. I felt the air vanish and we appeared in the main building of the warehouse.
       “They are incredibly cliché ninjas.” Eve said, laughing at their thin swords and thin clothes.
       “Thanks for that, Eve.” Ivy snarled and lowered into a stance. “Cliché or not, I wanna kick some ninja ass.” With this, the ninjas charged. They moved with each other like black water. Forming rows, they pulled out there swords. Everyone else settled into stances. Flame and Zath with fire in their hands. Nix was about to charge by the look of it. Sparky's fingers crackled with electricity. Robin had her sword out and it was pulsing a faint red. Ivy stood there smiling, she looked murderous. Nicholas had pulled out a pistol and was aiming at the closest ninja. Even Sheldon had settled into a kind of low stance, like a tackle.
       I realised I was the only one not in a fight position and so tried to look like I knew what I was doing. My bracelet felt cool, like it knew what was coming. I realized then what I should do. I curled my fingers and felt the shadows latch on like magnets. The shadows rose in the room and came to me like obedient dogs. I knew now, this was where I belonged. I smiled too, loving the feeling.
       The ninjas charged, lifting their swords. I let instinct take me and charged with everyone else. A roar escaped somewhere to my left but I didn't look over. I used the shadows to punch a hole in one ninja's chest the whirled and kicked another into his colleague. One made a grab for my neck and so he got a slap, amplified by the shadows now streaming over my body. They seemed to have a mind of their own. As I turned around again and again they seemed to know what to do. Yet something in the back of my mind told me not to go too far. Something told me I didn't want to go too far. I continued to turn, kick, punch and, occasionally, bite my way free. When I got the hair out of my eyes, I looked up and everyone was looking at me.
       “What?” I asked.
       Sparky walked over. “Shads, I think you better sit down. Just for a bit.” she said.
       “But I feel great.” I said, confused.
       “That's the point. Please, sit down. Let it pass.” I sat down while Sparky went to help the others move the bodies so they were hidden by machines. Robin walked over and sat next to me on the floor.
       “You did great.” she said.
       I looked at the bodies that had been chopped in half. There were more than a few. “So did you.” I said.
       “Come on. You seem all right now. I think she's gone.” Robin smiled then clamped her hand to her mouth like she had said something she wasn't meant to.
       “Who's gone?” I asked.
       “Doesn't matter. Come on.” she said and we helped to hide the bodies.
       But somewhere at the back of my mind, something was screaming, wanting to be let out.
       “Soon...” Elaisse whispered in my unconscious “Soon...”

Chapter 8 - A Plan And Old Friends...

       From the warehouse we headed back to the house where Ivy had kept the, now dead, man prisoner. When we realized where Ivy was taking us Sparky stopped and looked at Ivy.
       "I'm not going in there until the body's gone." she said.
       "But I don't want to move the body." Ivy whined "Killing is fun. Hiding the body is boring!"
       Sparky looked at her, stone etched into every feature.
       "Fine." Ivy sighed and went down to the basement. She came back up with the body and left. During the half an hour she was gone everyone checked out the house. Two bedrooms, 19th century, wooden.
       Falling apart.
       When Ivy came back Sparky archer her eyebrow at her.
       "Well?" she said.
       Ivy sat at what once was a cosy kitchen table and put her feet on it and leaned back in the chair.
       "He's gone for a swim." she said, cracking an evil smile.
       Sparky sighed, rolled her eyes, smiled slightly and went back to counting the crushed crackers in the crumbling wooden cupboard.
       I went upstairs, avoiding the broken steps, and went to check the walls leading to the other houses to make sure the neighbouring 'mortals' could not hear us or see us and such.
       I got to the landing when Sheldon stuck his head out of one of the bedrooms.
       "Hey Nix!" he called to the other bedroom across the landing.
       "Yeah?" Nix called from the room.
       "This place is more of a dump than yours." Sheldon called, smiling gleefully.
       "One day..." Nix grumbled followed by a stream of unprintable language.
       I heard laughter from downstairs that was swiftly cut off and followed by the sound of trying not to laugh.
       More unprintables came from the room Nix was checking. The mildest of which was 'I'm going to shove my sword up Sheldon's ___ one day.'
       "So..." Zath called when he could keep a straight face. "What're we doing? Staying here until, when was it, Thursday?"
       "Guess so." replied Flame.
       "But there's only two bedrooms and one thing that could be classed as a sofa." Nicholas said as I was covering a hole by the stairs.
       "You're sleeping on the floor then." Robin said, a smile in her voice.
       "But what we really need is a plan. Not bickering over beds." said Sparky, silencing Nicholas with a glance.
       "Yeah, and I think I've got one." Flame said, a thinking look on his face.

       We were on the twelfth floor of the HQ of McKreen Banks Ltd. We had discovered, on arrival that the dress code was formal - and here we were in dark clothing and weapons strapped to our belts. Perfect for dark corridors, not for the brightly lit offices and function rooms of the skyscraper.
       So, that explained why we were in the cupboard looking for shirts, jackets or anything that could be viewed as normal. I was also looking for shoes as, apparently, I 'hunted' (as I used to say according to Eve) bare foot.
       "Here." Robin said, chucking a pair of size nine Doc Martins at me.
       I caught them and placed my bow against the wall as I tied them up. They were three sizes too big so I shoved ripped shirt into the ends.
       It didn't help much.
       Soon we all had jackets to cover our weapons and my quiver and shirts too, for effect.
       "I look ridiculous." Sheldon said, wrinkling his nose at the striped shirt he had pulled over his navy blue T-Shirt.
       "We all do Shelly. Deal with it." said Zath, pushing past him towards one of the function rooms.
       Everyone followed him, Sheldon scowling, into the room.
       Instantly we were absorbed by the crowd, nobody really paying any attention to the oddly dressed people who had just arrived.
       People were laughing, talking, gossiping, clinking their champagne glasses in toast and just mingling in general.
       Sparky had shown me and Nicholas a file picture of Vengeance so we knew what to look for.
       "Remember," she had said "If you see her, come and find the rest of us. Don't go up to her alone." she had warned.
       We were just covering who was looking where when a woman with dark auburn hair, dark blue eyes and wearing a shimmering, silver dress ran up and hugged Sheldon.
       "Sheldon!" she squealed.
       "Li - Linden?!" he stammered, hugging her back.
       "Of course!" she said standing back. "I kind of, maybe, followed you a little when you left. You know, saw your thoughts. I decided to wait in London because whenever Lynxia," she said my name with venom and threw a dagger glare at me "Drags you into trouble, you end up in London." she finished blushing slightly and smiled sheepishly at him.
       "Psychics." he said shaking his head "Just as long as you're okay." he said smiling back now.
       Ivy groaned and pushed between them and walked down the southern corridor.
       Sparky gave Sheldon an apologetic glance then turned and went with Flame to the northern area.
       Nicholas and Nix went after Ivy, who had disappeared.
       Zath and Eve headed west and me and Robin went east.
       We wandered from room to room looking. When we reached the fifth room, we were just about to go and find the others and tell them she must have heard of us coming and left when we saw the woman in the strapless, crimson dress. It flowed down to her feet and moved like liquid.
       It was no mortal fabric.
       She had ebony brown hair like mine. The same pale skin but with dark green, glittering eyes.
       Tallulah Vengeance.
       She flashed a dazzling smile and flicked her elbow length hair over her shoulder.
       The man she was talking to moved to his right slightly. He had brown hair, cropped short and scars running down his face. Two on his right cheek. A large one from just above his left eyebrow to the left side of his lip. And one were his right eyebrow should be.
       He looked around and looked straight at me.
       His smile dropped and terror became apparent.
       His eyes widened.
       He rubbed his hands on his trousers.
       He then stammered something to Vengeance and all but ran to another room.
       I looked at Robin, an eyebrow raised. She just shrugged and looked as confused as me.
       I looked back towards Vengeance and she made a 'come with me' notion with her finger.
       Robin pulled out her phone and text the others then started after her.
       "Shouldn't we wait for them?" I asked, holding her upper arm.
       She shrugged me off. "Wow, you have changed Lynxx." she mumbled and pushed through the glass doors into the corridor.
       Within minutes Zath, Eve, Sparky and Flame came from a room up the corridor to the right.
       Sheldon and Linden from a room across from the one we had just come from.
       Ivy and Nicholas from a corridor on the left.
       "Nix should be back soon. There were only three guards." Flame said, consulting his watch.
       "Only three? I thought he would have been back soo-" Zath was cut off by four women entering the corridor from the room me and Robin had come from.
       One had light brown hair with blonde flecks. She also had blue eyes and an oval face. Her features looked kind but at the moment they were set in a look of determination.
       Next to her was a woman with creamed coffee coloured skin and dark brown eyes. Her hair was also brown but with a red-ish tinge. Her face had angular cheek bones and a rounded chin. The affect of which made her look younger than she probably was.
       The last two were clearly twins.
       They both had short, choppy raven hair that was slightly blue in the light. Their faces were angular and pointed with cheek bones so sharp they could probably cut flesh and their eyes were a deep blue. The only way to tell them apart was that the twin on the right had a a dark brown freckle under her left eye.
       All three were wearing dark clothes, like ours under the disguises, and had a feline sort of stance. Particularly the one with dark brown hair.
       They all stared at us.
       We stared back.
       Finally Sparky choked out two words.
       "Star? Lav?" she said.
       "H - Hi Sparky." the woman with the light brown hair said sounding surprised.

Chapter 9 - Secrets Revealed...

       "So..." said the woman with the dark hair said in an American accent. "What have you been up to? This is Cece and Florence, or Flo as she prefers, Shade, bye the way."
       "Well..." Sparky said and explained what we had been doing over the past few days, with everyone adding some stuff. Even me although they explained who they were first. After Sparky's de-brief Star and Lav hugged everyone (except Ivy, naturally). Even me although they explained who they were first.
       Nix came back from a corridor on the left with a small green notebook and some rope.
       "Hi Keyboard Face!" Star said, waving at him Nix half growled, half sighed.
       "I thought we settled this. My. Internet. Failed." he said through clenched teeth.
       "Right..." Star said arching her eyebrows. Everyone was trying not to laugh. Except me and Nicholas because we were just standing there wondering what the Hell was going on. Star noticed our confusion and said "Nix fell asleep at his computer and woke up with the keyboard stuck to his face."
       This pushed everyone over the edge. Laughter rung like church bells in the quiet corridor.
       Nix tried to remain calm and said "Let's just get this over with."
       "Whatever you say. Keyboard Face." Star smirked and followed laughing silently
       Nix sighed heavily.
       As we walked down the corridor Robin whispered to me "The twins," she said "They're Sworn."
       I only vaguely knew what Sworn were.
       What I did know was that they were magic warrior people who place their 'aura' or 'spirit' into  a weapon, usually something with a blade. Also, any here without Robin's go ahead, here as in our world not their world in some other dimension (still trying to get my head around this part), as her voice now indicated was a bad, bordering on apolitically bad, thing.
       "We can still hear you, you know." the twins called from the back of the group in chorus.
       Robin reddened slightly.
       "Well, are you?" she asked.
       "No," Cece said, the one without the freckle.
       "Half Sworn. Our father was one." Flo explained.
       "He left without your permission. Got dear old Momzie pregnant then scurried off somewhere else." Cece continued.
       "The search for him merged with the search for Vengeance and eventually we met Lav and Star." Flo finished looking slightly superior. A mistake that would not be forgotten.
       Robin muttered and carried on walking, clenching and unclenching her fists and her head down.
       We reached the end of the corridor and were faced with white painted wood double doors.
       Nix pushed his way in and we followed. All fourteen of us stood in a large office with a view of the London skyline at night.
       And who would be sitting at the glass desk filing her nails?
       Why Tallulah Vengeance, of course.
       "Took yo long enough." she said, putting down the file and looking at us as though disappointed. "Six minutes and thirty two seconds. I am disappointed. And here I was, thinking you all wanted my head on a spike." she sighed theatrically.
       "Give Lynxia her memory back." Eve said, cutting straight to the point.
       "Astrid!" Tallulah exclaimed, using Eve's Taken Name. "what makes you think it was me?" she said with an innocent tone and round eyes.
        "Well," Zath said "Do you want all the facts?"
        Tallulah sighed and rested her elbows on the desk and placed her head on her hands. "No, not from you anyway. Linden?"
        "Linden?!" me, Sheldon and Flame said at the same time.
        Linden picked Sheldon' arm from around her shoulder and went and stood by Tallulah behind the glass desk.
        She shrugged.
        "Crime pays." she smiled.

       Linden's smile was sweet but evil seemed to wrap, curl, dance and play among her features.
       "Li-Linden?" Sheldon stammered, repeating what he had said when we had first seen Linden in the building except this time it was in horror, not pleasant surprise.
       "Yes Sh-Sheldon?" Linden said, looking innocent.
       "How could you do this? Don't you... Don't you love me?" he asked, shock being replaced by a hurt look.
       Linden laughed, a tinkling laugh that should not have belonged to her. "Love you? Who could love you, Sheldon? You're weak, mindless; a sheep and you should be dead. I never loved you. I acted and played along and you sang like a bird and what I couldn't get out of you I simply took from your mind. To me, Sheldon, you are a book. A very boring book, granted, but a book nonetheless." she finished giving Sheldon a mocking wink but his face had gone from hurt to an empty, emotionless feature and his eyes were hollow, barren and unfeeling.
       "Aww..." said Vengeance "I see I've messed with your life like I have done with everyone else's." she smiled then made a false shocked face. "Oops. I shouldn't have said that." she laughed again.
       "What do you mean, Vengeance?" Flame said, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.
       "Well..." she said, sighing and rolling her eyes. "Who do you think was responsible for your, how do you put it? Ah yes, incident, Star?
       Robin, how do you think Lightning knew what to do and who do you think helped those witches control their demon blood?
       And Zathract, Vathrasi was too stupid to do anything by himself. I orchestrated Ragikk's death. very fun, actually. He was insanely clever and a crazily good sorcerer."
       Zath's eyes flared and he started forward but Eve held him back as Vengeance smiled a little more and continued.
       "Ivy, Ivy, Ivy... Where can I start with you? Messing with your life was very fun. I guess I should just say that it was I who planted the seeds of doubt in your family's minds when they discovered your magic. All it took was a few calls, a letter and a lunch date. You did the rest."
       Ivy lunged for Tallulah but Sparky managed to tackle her and hold her down.
       "Cece and Florence, my dears, your father wasn't very nice to you was he? I'll give you a hint, he owns this building." she winked and Cece and Flo looked at each other then ran from the office.
       "Nicholas Daniels. I'm surprised to see a mortal here but I did pull the strings so you would be. Who do you think your father ran away with, leaving your mother in depression with two daughters and a son? It was easy really. He was very easy to manipulate and as soon as he'd served his usefulness..." she ran a long finger across her throat and giggled. "Insanely fun." Nicholas stood and the look on his face showed that he didn't want to believe it.
       "As for you, Nixion, you were supposed to be Lynxia's replacement but, well, we can see how that turned out. You could have been so much more but you had to away didn't you. And kill a lot of people in the process, I might add." she shook her head as if exhausted while Nix stood to shocked to move.
       "It's such hard work pulling the strings. Oh Lynxia, my perfect little Lynxia. Your loss of memory is like a black stain on a otherwise white hall. If only you'd-" Vengeance was cut off by a man walking in from a door on the left. He was fairly tall with pale skin and white-blonde hair that flopped over his eyes which were hazel brown. He wore simple jeans and a T-Shirt but scarred hands were visible underneath the hoodie arms.
       "It's time, ma'am." he said with an Australian accent. Linden had started brushing her hair with her hands and smiling at the newcomer.
       "Already? Oh, time flies when you're having fun I guess. Linden?"
       "Yes? Oh, right." Linden said coming back into focus and looking at us all. "Bye." she said an a white flash filled our vision.


When we had all managed to get over the dizziness and get up; Linden, Vengeance and the mysterious man had gone.
       "All this time..." Zath was saying, forming fists then stopping himself.
       "Nothing on us though." Sparky said, frowning as she indicated to herself, Flame, Eve and Lav.
       "Strange..." Robin said.
       Conversations started and points were gone over and counter arguments thrown on how she could know all this. Only me and Nix didn't join in. I stood thinking about Vengeance was about to say before she was interrupted while Nix stood staring at the wall.
       "Did you know?" he said, barely more than a whisper.
       "Hmm?" I said, snapping out of my thoughts and turning to face him.
       "Did you know that I was going to be your replacement for something?" he said, looking at me now. "DID YOU?" What little resolve he had broke and this outburst caused the others to fall silent and look over. He took a step forward but I moved to meet him rather than back away which caused a little surprise to cross over some faces. If Nix was surprised it was covered by anger.
       I looked up at him as I was a few inches shorter and let my own anger show on my face. "Did I know? I've got no idea if I knew. I lost my memory, remember? I woke up with no memory of who any of you are or who I am so how the Hell am I meant to know what I knew? Do you think I'm faking, is that it?" I turned to the rest of them. "I'm not the same Lynxia. I can't do what she could, so go get Vengeance by yourselves." I stormed out and almost ran down the corridor.
       Shouts of 'Lynx' and 'Shads' echoed after me but I kept going. They weren't shouting me, after all.
       I reached a balcony and stepped onto it. The cool night air felt good and I closed my eyes and focused on where my memories should have been.
       Still the same blankness. Like a solid shape that you couldn't see or touch.
       I sighed and the anger started to recede but it seemed to claw and thrash as if it wanted to stay.
       Soon, Lynxia. Soon I will have my revenge...

Chapter 10 - True Family?...

       I stood for a long time on the balcony. I have no idea how long but all I know is, is that when Sparky found me, a pink tinge was in the sky.
       Sparky came and leant against the railings and watched all of the early morning commuters on the street below. "You OK now, Shads?" she asked, still looking down.
       "Yeah, I just kind of lashed out. Sorry about that." I said.
       "You're really not yourself, are you? You never say sorry." she laughed but it sounded tense, almost nervous.
       "Don't I? I wouldn't know." I sighed. "Sparky? can you answer me a question?"
       "Sure, what on?" she said, looking at me now. 
       "I feel like everyone is keeping something from me. When I get angry or I fight, I can feel something inside me, like the anger and stuff has taken on a personality. Robin said 'she' was gone. Who is 'she'?"
       Sparky hesitated. She looked away as though this conversation was uncomfortable. "Um, Shads, listen. If you really want to know I'll tell you but you might not like it."
       "Please. Tell me." I said. Curiosity may have killed the cat but this was not simple curiosity any more, this was a I-need-to-know-I-think-my-life-depends-on-it kind of thing now.
       Sparky sighed and then looked at me. "'She' is Elaisse. She's your True Name form and is completely heartless. If you get angry or are about to be killed - she surfaces and kills everything she sees. Most of all, she hates you and she hates us. You stop her from surfacing, I have no idea how but you do. Nothing else really. Just a cow with a load of power."
       Now I understood and, somewhere in my subconscious, I knew it was true.
       "Anyway," Sparky said, changing the subject. "Cece and Flo found their dad and have him tied up. They can be pretty cruel. Speaking of family, I think you have a brother." she smiled now.
       My head snapped to face her and something told me that this was new news. "What?!"
       "Mm-hmm." she nodded. "You always told me you never knew your father and Nicholas says that his father left when he was four and it now seems that he went with Tallulah. And, between you and me, she's your mother." This stunned me.
       "What?!" I said for the second time in as many minutes. 
       "Yeah, face it. You're too similar in looks and you often said your mother was a nut."
       "I did?"
       "Yeah. So now it looks like DI Daniels in there is your big half-brother by four years." she finished with a slight smile. She was clearly proud of herself for figuring this out.
       "Something tells me this isn't a good thing." I mumbled.
       Sparky laughed. "Maybe. Now come on They're about to ask the traitor Sworn where Vengeance is." she pulled me along after her down the corridor.

       We reached a small office and went in. In there was Robin, Cece, Flo, Flame and Zath. There was also a man strapped to a chair. He looked very scared. Surprise, surprise. What I did notice though was that it was the same man who had been talking to Vengeance the night before.
       "Where are the others?" I asked.
       "Went to look for any sign of Vengeance outside." Zath said.
       "M-Miss Lost," the guy strapped to the chair said. "I didn't mean anything by sending Jackson after you. No hard feelings, eh?" he stammered, sweating visibly.
       Everyone looked at me.
       "Um, do I know you?" I asked.
       "His face lit up. "You don't remember? Ha! You're no proper assassin. Next time I'll hire someone better." he was laughing now and I was close to the edge. I could feel the anger inside me.
       No, not you. I thought, trying to keep this Elaisse back.
       "Just tell us where Vengeance is" Flame almost spat at the man as if he disgusted him.
       "Or what? You'll set Miss Forget-me-not over there on me?" he seemed very smug now and I was powerless to the anger inside me now. I was dragged down and Elaisse clawed her way out.
       Damn, I need to keep her under control. was all I could think.
       Elaisse surfaced and leant in close to the man in the chair.
       "Don't ever call me that again if you value your life and don't underestimate me. I may not remember why I hate your guts but if you don't tell us where Vengeance is I will cut you open, pull out your guts and use them to paint with. Understand?"
       No one is stopping me from getting my revenge. Elaisse hissed in her/my head.
       Everyone was looking at her/me now with wide eyes and open mouths.
       "That-That's the kind of think I expect Lynxx to say." Robin said.
       Elaisse backed away from the surface and I fell into unconsciousness. But as I fell I heard the prisoner scream "Whitehall Asylum!"
       And as my eyes rolled back I managed two words. "Elaisse's revenge..."

Chapter 11 - Awakening...

       When I came round we were in the back of a car and Ivy was driving. The car was stolen then. 
       "Welcome back, Lynx." Eve said. I blinked and stretched as much as I could in the back of the seven seater. This registered something in my head. Seven seats. No wonder it was so cramped.
       Nix saw the look on my face. "Sheldon and Nicholas had to make a certain... Sacrifice." he smiled and pointed in the general direction of the back of the car.
       "Really? The boot?" I asked. He nodded. I should have known.
       Ivy was on the motorway now speeding past the other cars and the buildings had formed grey streaks on either side of the road. "Why couldn't we just teleport?" Ivy asked, skidding off the motorway and onto a country road.
       "We've told you, with Linden, Vengeance could see up miles away if we used magic. Believe me. I hate this as much as you." he said and he did seem very jumpy about being closed in the car.
       "She's gonna find out we're here anyway." Ivy grumbled and took a sharp right. As we came round the corner, we saw it. A great stone building like a large, stone, Victorian house. It looked abandoned and the grounds were un-kept. Ivy stopped the car, that would have died is she hadn't stopped it, and opened the boot.
       Nicholas was the first out. "I am never, ever being a closed space with that lunatic again! Do you know how much he moans and whines? Never. Again." he said dusting himself off. I couldn't help but stare. We were nothing alike it looks but in some areas of our personality we were very similar. Both rash and easily angered but I still couldn't see how he was my brother.
       "You can talk. You moaned too!" Sheldon said, climbing out and glaring at Ivy.
       Nicholas ran at Sheldon but nobody saw the tackle as we heard a splash and when we looked, Cece and Flo were climbing out of a pond and Robin was trying to look innocent. 
       "Oops. I might have accidently tripped them." she said, her grin ever-so-slightly evil.
       Cece was about to say something but thought better of it. It seemed they had got the message about who the top Sworn was.
       Nicholas got off Sheldon and dusted himself off. Sheldon got up and spat some blood on the ground and gave Nicholas an I-hate-you-so-much-right-now look.
       "Charming." Eve said and walked through the hole in the hedge row to the gravel path beyond. In the grounds it looked even more like a scene from a horror film. There was a suspicious red/brown stain on one of the crumbling benches, there was a headless doll in a fountain and what looked lie a torn straight jacket in a tree. 
       "Creepy." I muttered.
       "You get used to it." Flame said. "So, if I was a psychopath, in a creepy old asylum with two more nutters, where would I hide." he looked at Ivy.
       She took this as a compliment. "I would be round the back of the house." she said, pointing to the large iron gates that lead to the sloping lawn at the back.
       We crossed to the gates, each step on the gravel sounding like an Earthquake, and found they were already open. It opened with a cliché squeak and we went into the back garden. It was more of a field than a garden but it still had a creepy I'm-watching-you feel about it.
       "This place doesn't feel good." Cece and Flo said at the same time. 
       "I say we split up and look for stuff that could be classed as Vengeance-y." Eve said looking all leader-y.
       "Good idea." Nicholas said.
       "Really? Aww." Eve replied then went to the back door of the house and went in. Everyone shrugged and disbanded looking in all the normal places and a few not so normal ones as well.
       I went and looked in the woods at the back of the field. I was searching a hollow tree when Nicholas walked up. "Has Sparky told you?" he asked.
       "Told me what?" I said, refusing to look at him.
       "Her theory. That I'm your big bro." he said.
       I sighed. "Yes, she has."
       "You don't seem happy about it." he said. "Don't you want a family?"
       "Seen as my mother is trying to kill us and you're a mortal that got dragged into a world of very strange things, not really." I said, looking at him now.
       "Wait, your mother is trying to... Oh my God, your mother is Vengeance?" he said, taking a step back.
       "No shit, Sherlock." I snapped. "Caring and having people to care about can make you weak, you can lose sight of what you need to do. I can't risk that. Not now."
       "Caring can make you stronger. You have something to fight for." he said. I couldn't deny that it could be true. "You'll be fine. We'll get Vengeance, you'll see. Family have to stick together, after all." This got me to chuckle a little. 
       "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped."
       "No, I'm sorry. I was the one who arrested you." he said. "What away to meet. Arresting your little sister." he laughed.
       "You arrested me?" I said, narrowing my eyes.
       "Um... Yeah. Sorry about that. I didn't know any of this would happen." he said, rubbing his neck and looking away.
       "I think it was good you arrested me. Otherwise we wouldn't know Vengeance was back." As soon as I said it, I knew it was true even though I couldn't remember.
       "Yeah, I guess. I'm saving -" he was cut off by a yell back in the field. We looked at each other then ran back to where it had come from.
       Cece and yelped and had now drawn her sword along with her sister. Coming down the hill were hundreds of Hollow Men. Each one stumbling down and often falling. 
       "Damn, that's a lot of Hollow Men." Sheldon said. Then a thought crossed his face. "Help, we need more people to help. Lynxia touch your left wrist." he called to me.
       "What! Why?" I yelled.
       "Just do it!" And I did. I placed the middle three fingers of my right hand against the underside of left wrist and it pulsed green.
       "What the He-" It felt like a dam had burst in my head and the blankness was no longer blank. Memories filled my mind and I lost sight of everything round me.

       My memories came back, rushing and swirling like waves in a storm.
       They swirled, collided and joined together. Early memories first. Vengeance standing over me getting me to punch the wall again and again and the pain from my bleeding knuckles and the knowledge that if I cried I'd get a beating.
       Running away to the Temple.
       Becoming a Necromancer then running from the Temple, too.
       Tesseract taking me on as an apprentice.
       Tesseract dying. The funeral. Me, alone, on a hill in Russia burying the body.
       Finding my friends in Blogland.
       The trip and everyone disappearing.
       Finding them again.
       Finding out Nix still loved me.
       Then everything from the past week or so slotted into place.
       Including the voice in my subconscious. 
       I'd been forced to my knees, gripping my head in fear it would break. Now I stood up, more confident than I had been in a while.
       "Lynxia...?" Robin asked.
       "Are you OK?" Sparky and Nix said in unison.
       "Paper skinned bastards." I muttered, looking at the Hollow Men. I nocked an arrow and let it fly. It ripped through the first Hollow Man's face like it was, well, paper.
        Everyone smiled slightly in spite of themselves but it vanished when the paper skinned creatures charged.
        No rest for the wicked, I guess.
        Suddenly, we were all blocked in by the Hollow Men with no sight of any of the others. I lashed out with my bow as I had no space to fire arrows. I pulled out two of my knives and tore gashes in their papery skin, releasing the fowl gasses within. The awful stuff got in my eyes and forced them shut so I had to attack blind and listen for the low thwunk of one of the creatures taking a lumbering step. Soon I was lashing at nothing and felt two cats round my feet. "Good girls." I whispered and then tapped my wrist, releasing them again. I squinted now and saw the last of the green smoke being snatched away by the breeze. Everyone was looking at the tattered remains when clapping echoed down to us.
       "Well done, kiddies." Tallulah said, sarcasm dripping from her words. Linden and the man from London walked behind her.
       "You," she pointed at Flame, "You," she moved and looked at Sparky, "You," she swept her gaze onto Eve, "And you." she finally pointed at Lav.
       "Yes?" Eve said, stretching out the word.
       Vengeance ignored the interruption and carried on monologuing. "You four, should be dead. I foresaw things in you futures that would put you out of the game but somehow, you lived. So, I had no chance to change your lives and are here by chance, and chance alone. Why am I telling you this? To give them time." she finished by pointing at the asylum. We only then realised that she had been distracting us to give the full army of Hollow Men time to stumble down. This time there was possibly thousands of them, not the measly three hundred or so from before.
       "Oh..." Sheldon said, paling and his eyes widening.
       "Hang on" Sparky said, looking at the man from London, seemingly oblivious to the army gathering round us. "You're Nathan Titan. You killed Hayley!" and she lunged, knocking him down.
       "So?" he said and knocked her off with a blast of air.
       Flame tried to take a step but he couldn't. Linden stood smiling as she held us down.
       Then, as Sparky leaped at him again; teeth bared, Flo tackled him to the floor. Linden realised she hadn't held someone down and that person was about to kill Nathan as her hands clamped round his throat.
      "How dare you!" Flo hissed.
      "NO!" Linden roared and flicked her hands, freeing us and flinging Flo back. She landed, eyes open and glazed, reflecting the stormy sky. She didn't move.
      Two things happened then. Cece tackled Linden to the floor then lifted a rock and repeatedly hit it over Linden's head until the woman lay as still as Cece's dead twin but with less of a skull and a lot more blood pooling around her.
       At the same time, Sparky had drawn her Makhaira and had slit Nathan's throat, the wound bleeding and opened like a tear in his neck.
       I walked up to Vengeance while the others took in what had happened.
       "Give it up, Mother," a collective sharp intake of breath from everyone but Sparky and Nicholas.
       Everyone looked at her. They ignored Nicholas.
       "I figured it out. One, they look incredibly similar and two, Shads chose her name at a young age. I found pictures in Vengeance's office with her name on."
       I smiled at Sparky then snapped my focus back on Vengeance. "As you can see, I've got my memory back so don't even bother."
       She smiled at my like I was still four. "I wiped your memory, my point." You got it back, your point." she said it very slowly as if explaining it to a child. "But I've still got plenty of tricks up my sleeve, so to speak." she said, indicating her vest top.
       "One for you, two for me..." shadows swarmed over her and she disappeared.

       I spun looking for her. "Ivy!" I almost screamed but she was already gone.
       We waited the tense few seconds, each one seeming to last a year. Then, in the middle of the group formed the blue smear that signalled Ivy's approach. Ivy appeared dragging Vengeance by her hair.
       "You can't shadow walk with me around. I know where you're going and I'll come for you" Tallulah realised she wasn't gonna get out and her thoughts etched themselves on her face. 
       I'm alone.
       "Yes you are alone, Tallulah. All alone in that little head of yours with only your mangled and tortured screams for company." Ivy said and flashed an insane grin.
       Flame walked over and clasped some cuffs onto Vengeance's wrists. "Sheldon? Can you take this cow to the English Sanctuary?" he said, not taking his eyes away from Vengeance who had now started to cry a little and was looking at me in a don't-let-them-do-this-to-me kind of way. I just looked at her. She was no mother of mine.
       "But -! Why can't Ivy take her?" Sheldon stammered.
       "Although I don't want to admit it, we need Ivy here." he said, indicating the Hollow Men that were closing in to form a rough circle.
       "Fine." he sighed and held Vengeance's arm but just before he left, she managed to choke out one word.
       Just as Sheldon disappeared the Hollow Men stumbled forward, some being trampled by the ones behind them. I had never seen this much blood lust in Hollow Men before.
       Just as before, they swarmed around us, blocking all vision of anyone else.
       Somewhere to my left I heard Nix shouting as he killed them. "I  might not be able to kill you as you're never technically alive but I can still end your existence. Maybe because you can't die I can make you my own personal punch bag. You know, tie you up and laugh as I repeatedly beat you into unconsciousness!" he yelled. Same old Nix.
       I lashed out once again. Kicking and stabbing or slashing. Soon, the putrid smoke had filled my eyes and nose so I worked mainly by sound. If I heard something move then I sent out a shadow pulse that knocked everything back a few metres. One managed to get close and pushed me down. They all, pretty much, fell on me in order to rip my throat out. I raised my left hand and the shadows snapped like whips from my silver bracelet.
       Laughter echoed in my head.
       No, not now. I thought.
       "Lynx!" came a shout to my right. The person who shouted was blocked from view but I think it was Nix.
       "Lynx, you have to let her out! There's too many!"
       "What about Nagier?" I shouted back, just saying Zath's True Name made my insides freeze but it made Elaisse even worse. She loathed Nagier, as he was the only one who could ever beat her in battle, and this anger made her stronger. I slipped more into her grasp.
       "Mist is already unconcious. Nagier can't help. He seems to have a personal hatred of me anyway! Please!" he sounded desperate now. The sounds of battle were fading  as each of my friends fell.
       "I'm sorry." I said to quietly for anyone to hear then fell into nothingness. I felt the anger, hatred and fear rise up inside me like a bird and it broke onto the surface.
       Elaisse smiled as her eyes opened to find destruction.
       "Oh goody!" she said, clapping her hands.

Chapter 12 - Elaisse's Revenge...

       The only way I can explain how it feels when Elaisse is dominant is that I'm watching but if she gets stabbed then I can feel the pain too, well, I get the pain and she just ignores it and keeps going.
       All it took was for her to raise her hands and shadows knocked back all of the Hollow Men within ten metres. That cleared a path to Nix who had already collapsed but he was breathing.
       See, he's safe. Elaisse said to me mockingly, but she did seem a little happy that he was too.
       Shut up and keep going then give me back control. I replied but I was relieved to see he was alive.
       Elaisse sighed and then shot tendrils of darkness at any lumbering idiot who got within her range. In thirty seconds she had nearly destroyed all of the army. Any who remained seemed to have got the message and ran away in their awkward stumbling way.
       Now hand over control. I thought, pounding at the mental cage.
       "Not yet, Lynx. Fun first." she said and took a step towards Nix whilst drawing a knife, oblivious to the person who had just teleported back behind her.

 Sheldon Haze looked at the others. Elaisse was drawing near. They needed him to stop her.
       He took a step towards her then stopped. Why should he help? He'd always been mocked by them. Why should he help?
       But another voice chimed in. Lynxia saved you, it said. You owe her your life. it continued.
       But the doubt fought back. You've already repayed the favour. Leave. Teleport. Don't look back. it said.
       And he did.

       Sheldon teleported behind Elaisse and grabbed her then teleported with her. She sent shadows at him but he teleported round them.
       "I really hate teleporters." she hissed. She turned and thrust her hands out, sending streams of coiling darkness towards him.
       "Crap." he muttered as he got hit by the streams.
       Sheldon groaned and tried to get up but a healed boot rested on his chest, holding him down. He was rubbing his head where it had hit the the floor when he heard a click. He looked up and Elaisse was pointing a pistol at his face.
       "No sudden movements or I'll decorate the pavement with inside of your head." she said, leaning in closer so he could see that mad twinkle she had in her silver eyes.
       Sheldon was now cross-eyed looking at the tip that was just a centimetre from his head. Think! he told himself. What did Lynxia teach you? The arm lock thing! Then he remembered. Push the wrist and lock the elbow. He raised his arms in 'surrender'. 
       Elaisse's blood stained lips formed a cold smile. "Good. Now-" he cut her off by slapping her wrist, making her drop the gun, locked her right elbow and teleported. They were now in a field in Wales but what he hadn't expected was her to pull out a knife with her left hand and straddle him. So of course the farmer ran when he saw Sheldon being straddled y a woman holding a knife to his throat.
       "Nice try." she said. "You really think I wouldn't expect something like that? I've never trusted you and neither has Lynxia. We both know you're a little weasel."
       He had one last shot. He thought Ivy! I'm here, Wales! Please! Sheldon knew Ivy could hear people from a distance who she knew. Wales wasn't that far so he hoped, oh God did he hope, she could hear him. 
       Just as Elaisse moved her hand for the killing stroke, a boot appeared from a blue blob that kicked her off him. The boot was followed by the rest of Ivy Animosity , then Nixion Strange, Zathract Mist and Eve, Sparky Braginski and Flame Phoenix, Robin Snowscar with a limping Nicholas Daniels, Star Midnight and Lavender Hope then finally Cece Shade.
       Cece helped Sheldon up then tapped her arms and black markings swarmed over their bodies. The others had already gathered their magic, well, Nicholas had his gun. 
       Sparky walked to the front of the group and looked at Elaisse. "Give us Lynxia back or we'll have a little rematch of what happened ten years ago." she said, looking into those silver eyes.
       Elaisse laughed, a cold sound like screaming and grinding metal. A laugh nothing like the laugh that usually came from that mouth. That laugh could be cold but also friendly and, in some cases, unnerving, too. "A rematch then! It was so fun before!" Elaisse smiled and shadows ran up her legs and down her arms, criss-crossing her her chest and mingled with her hair. She started to rise from the floor. You could see it on everyone's faces, the look of 'Oh not again...' and 'We're dead.' But their was also the look of cold determination behind them.
       The wind coming down from the hills and through the valley sent the shadows into chaos. They dipped and dived and shot about like deadly humming birds. Magic was thrown but it did nothing to penetrate the vast darkness surrounding Elaisse. She had become more skilled in ten years, but so had they. In stead of doing separate things as before, Ivy telepathically told everyone the plan and they burst into action. Eve stood firmly and projected on Elaisse. Elaisse's eyes widened and she became more focussed on Eve, trying to shut of the image. 
       Ivy stood by Eve, obviously supplying the sound track for the image. 
       Elaisse was now losing focus on everything but them, she was slowly lowering and Robin, Flame,Nix and Sparky sung at her legs and waist with their swords. Not fatal blows but something to weaken her.
       Cece was throwing daggers of green and yellow that exploded on her chest and were starting to eat through the protective clothing.
       Zath stood by Eve and Ivy hurling fire at Elaisse when an opening appeared as she shot shadows at them.
       Nicholas was firing his gun with little affect but it certainly kept Elaisse on her toes trying to keep bullets away from her head.
       Star was tipping gallons of ink onto Elaisse then binding it to keep her from moving. She was starting to look worn out but she kept going.
       Lavender was morphing into different birds and swooping into the shadows to claw at Elaisse.
       Ivy gave Sheldon the sign, a waving left hand, to show Elaisse had a weak spot. Sheldon gritted his teeth, teleported to Elaisse, grabbed her and teleported a hundred feet up. He let go and was back on the ground before she could take a breath. 
       They watched, holding their breath that Elaisse was gone and Lynxia was okay as the woman's rag doll form fell to Earth.

Chapter 13 - Nothing Truly Ends...

       Nix broke apart from the rest of the group and ran to catch me.
       He caught me and lay me on the slightly damp grass as it was now raining.
       I rolled onto my side then sat bolt upright.
       "AAAGRHH!" I screamed.
       Everyone came forward then, now they knew it was me. Everyone hugged me, even Ivy for about two seconds to my surprise. My breath came in ragged lumps as I noticed how badly cut I was. I had slashes on my face, burns on my chest and arms, deep gashes to my legs and a huge bruise forming on my back. Not to mention the state of my clothes. My trousers were now shorts. My top was crumbling away from the burns showing the bullet proof vest beneath and the sole of my lest boot was burned away while the right boot was just gone.
       "I hate her." I said as Nix helped me up. 
       Elaisse laughed quietly in my head, weakened but still there.
       Robin laughed and scoffed. "I think we all do." she said. Everyone agreed.
       Cece looked me over. (It was weird seeing her without her twin.) The shadows were not healing my cuts. This kind of shocked me. "I think you should see a doctor." she said.
       "How would I explain how I got like this?" I asked.
       "I don't know. Say you fell in a ditch or something." she shrugged.
       "Okay, I can see a town in the valley. Everyone grab hold of their favourite teleporter who just saved your lives and hasn't got one thanks yet." said Sheldon.
       "Thanks Sheldon." came the response from many people, Ivy being the one who didn't say thanks.
       "It was nothing." he smiled.
       "No more teleporting. Please, please can we walk?" Nicholas said, looking green at the thought of teleporting.
       "Fine." Ivy sighed then started walking towards the road sheltered by jeans.
       Cece shook her head. "I'm gonna go back to the asylum. I'm gonna get- get Flo and then... I don't know." she said and walked in the opposite direction. Me and a few others shouted goodbyes but she did not seem to hear.
      I was about to follow Ivy along with the others then I realised Nix wasn't moving. I walked back to him.
      "What's wrong?" I asked.
      "It's just..." he sighed "Nine years ago you said you loved me. Then you just disappeared. Everyone did. I carried on doing what I could to get by but I always wondered where you were. Then a couple of weeks ago you show up and I thought 'Maybe, just maybe'. Then you lost your memory and I started to wonder if you'd already moved on anyway." he finished with a hurt look on his face and even my heart softened.
      "After the camp out I was thrown in jail for a triple murder. I got out two years later because of a mass prison break. I came looking for everyone but there were no traces. Anywhere. And I meant what I said. I do love you and always will." I stood on my tip toes (I only now realized he was a head taller than me) and kissed him.
      Oh, not you two too! Ivy whined in my head.
      "Way to kill the moment, Ivy." Nix grumbled, his eyes closed.
      I laughed, grabbed his hand and pulled him after the others.

The End? Or A Beginning...?