Other Fan Fiction ❯ KISS Next Generation ❯ Astral Rescue ( Chapter 9 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Odyssey 2
By Trynia Merin.
Elliott slowly rubbed his head, lifting it up as he shook the cobwebs away. Whatever had been in that spell had hit him with the force of a sledgehammer. Where the hell am I now, he wondered.
"Kelsey, Shandi?" he asked, but heard no answer. Rich silk hit his face, and Elliott realized he was lying in a goodly sized bed. Gauze curtains hung around it, but he wasn't sure whose it was. How long had he been out, Elliott wondered. He saw darkness behind the glass, and realized it was still night wherever he was. In the distance he heard the sounds of passionate screams, and recognized the voices. He could sense Kelsey and Shandi's minds brightly in a flare of what seemed like passion, which soon faded into blissful nothingness. Apparently they were in no danger, wherever they were.
He pushed himself out of the bed, and moved over to the ornately carved door. Into his hand he took the knob, carved in the shape of a rosebud and turned it. Stubbornly it refused to budge. Glancing down at himself he realized he still wore a loose garment of purple silk.
"This is a gilded cage," he thought bitterly. Sighing, he returned to the bed, amongst the riches in the small room. Narrowing his eyes he struggled to conjure the piercing gaze. Focus centered at the door to a fine pinprick as he channeled all his anger and aggression. Nothing happened, and Elliott was flabbergasted. There came a pounding in his head, and the sensation of something itching his neck. Reaching up he felt ornate beads of jewels that were familiar.
"Damn," he cursed at the feel of the inhibitor collar. Strangely the door to his mind was not
completely shut, but dampened considerably, the equivalent of a person having wool in their ears to block out the loud sounds at a rock concert.
"So their power isn't absolute," Elliott reasoned, folding his legs as he sat on the bed Indian style.
Slowly he closed his eyes and sensed the awareness around him. The crackling of the fire, the soft in and out of his breathing, and the softness of the silk robe he wore. All merged into a layer of reality he struggled to leave far behind.
Something tugged at the blackness he centered into his mind. Shutting out all perceptions proved
impossible, for he could swear he heard a voice calling to him, over the distance. It was faint, and insistent. Through the blackness he casted his thoughts, only to feel blinding pain shoot behind his temples. Desperately he tugged at the collar, sending new spasms of pain erupting over every nerve. Hot fire surged along his legs and arms, paralyzing him to a quivering mass.
"God damn it!" he gritted, hugging his knees. This pain was far worse than that in the camp. Whoever had imprisoned him here had no desire to let him use his powers in any way that would afford him any more information then he was already receiving.
He didn't feel like moving. Not even when he heard a familiar voice calling his name, "Elliott!"
At first he thought it must be hallucinations caused by the receding pain. Only now it had begun to die to a level he could withstand. Shaking his head he tried to clear the thoughts. A presence, atonally familiar filed the empty places inside, and his heart leapt.
"It's only an illusion," he told himself. She was gone. With his own eyes he had seen her disappear beneath the waves, with his own thoughts he had sensed the snuffing out of her mind touch.
"Elliot Harvey Stanley, get your ass out of that bed and look at me," came a reproving voice. He mustered the courage to lift his head and peer around the room. What he saw in front of the fire made his head stop. "No… it can't be… how?"
"Elliott… it's me," came a softer voice this time. On golden dragon boots she strode toward the bed, her spiked glove hand extended.
"It has to be a dream," he moaned, hugging his knees as the pain erupted again. "Shit!"
"Elliott, what's wrong, why don't you look at me?" Jeannie's voice came. Gently her fingers touched his shoulder, turning him over.
"The pain… no… it can't be real!"
"It is I, your mate," she said, voice choked with emotion as she leaned over him. Hot breath sounded in his ear as she moved a dragon scaled knee onto the soft bed. Her dark vampire cloak spilled down her back as a pool of midnight, green eyes moist with concern and love. Ebony lips parted to reveal her beautiful flawless teeth.
"Jeannie?" he gasped, reaching up a hand to caress her white cheek. Weakly he drew his finger down it, tracing the points of her Demonic mask tenderly.
"What have they done to you," she shook her head, leaning over him. She had to be real, didn't she? Or was this a trick of Star Bearer, the elder? Or of the Major Domo.
"Inhibitor," he groaned. "Pain…"
Rolling him over on his back, she straddled his hips gently, settling into place. Her fingernail, black as night traced the outline of his star delicately. "We'll take care of that thing, just relax… it's gonna hurt."
"Jeannie… the Dark Light… I thought… I thought…" he sobbed.
"Shh, relax. This will only take a minute," she promised, bending over to press a tender soft kiss to his lips. "Be brave."
He nodded as she slipped her fingers between the soft flesh of his neck and the jeweled choker inhibitor. Her weight pressed him down, his hands closing around her wrists as she began to wrench the collar apart. IF she moved with too much force, she could break his neck, but not enough and the collar would not snap in time. Wrenching pain shot through him, and Elliott arched his back in the white hot miasma.
"YEAAAAGH!" he cried out, tears pouring down his face. He thrashed and kicked, almost bucking Jeannie off of him, but she held fast to him, pinning him steady between her thighs as she continued to wrench.
An instant before the hot poker pierced his skull, there came a sharp click, and release. Elliott's tears dripped freely now as he began to cry from the pain. Jeannie held him close, pinned under her as she shushed him against her body. Hands stroked his back, her sweet kisses attempting to expunge the pain that quaked him now.
"Shh love, it's all over… easy now… I've got you…" she whispered in his ear. "Nothing is going to take you away from me again… not even Blackwell or the Elder."
"Jeannie… oh Jeannie," he cried, burying his face into her shoulder. "How did you escape Blackwell?"
"I had a little help. Bastard almost got me… but that's not important now. Are you okay?"
"Now that you are with me," he nodded, breathing heavily with desire.
"I wanna be with you, and I don't give a damn what happens next," Jeannie growled to Elliott. She could not deny the hunger for him at that moment, letting it override any other desire.
"God knows I want you, Jeannie," Elliott breathed, feeling the aching in his loins. "But we don't know about Ty and Moni."
"They are freeing themselves as we speak…" she said. "Or they soon will figure out the means to. This leads me to why I'm here."
"How… did you get here?" Elliott demanded. "This room is locked, and I bet if they put this inhibitor on me to soak up my chikara… they must have warded it against any teleport spells."
"I feel the wards. They let me in all right, but not out. We're gonna get out of here though… but not now. Right now you're mine."
"Jeannie… this isn't the place!"
"Nonsense. This is a bedroom, and you're with me, and I'm damned horny. I'll be damned if I'm gonna let this opportunity slip away from me…" she laughed wickedly, lightly tracing his lips with her tongue. Elliott let out a low groan, releasing his fear at her touch on his bare chest. Tenderly she pulled off the halves of his robe, stroking her nails over his chest and stomach. Her soft tongue licked a path to his navel, and she moved off of him as she lay on her side. Elliott leaned up, kissing the space between her throat and neck, just under the spiked collar she sported.
*Oh Jeannie… my love, came his thoughts into hers, a welcome friend again present.
*You feel so good around me.
*I missed you too, Stanley, she whispered back in her thoughts, able to clear them and transmit them to him now. He felt the buildup of energies surging through his body.
For a moment they lay there, letting the feeling pass as they sighed with pleasure. Elliott rested across Jeannie, whispering, "Please, tell me how you got away from Blackwell."
"Our dads… in the outside world," Jeannie explained, as he pushed a bit of hair out of her
sweaty face. "They got me out of it. It was your old man Paul that saved me from Blackwell's
"Score one for him," Elliott laughed, stroking her forehead and kissing her ear. "But I don't think he'd like being called an old man… even though he is compared to you and me."
At the base of his spine Elliott felt the energy twanging into a ball of bright lavender force. Identical power surged through Jeannie, the red fire of her chikara haloing her body. Red met lavender in a blaze of power that tingled both their bare skins with a thousand points of pleasure beyond their tolerance.
"What's… going on?" Elliott got out.
"Your chikara and mine, merging into one," she whispered to him. "It happened the last time, but I never stopped to realize it till now."
"I can see it now…" he gasped, shaking his head. "The world's lifeblood is chikara! But our world, the real world I couldn't see it before!"
"There are many sides to our powers we have not learned," Jeannie laughed deeply. "Didn't you remember anything in your shared bond with Sean?"
"Yes… we shared so much, but here with you, it's as if I'm forgetting so much of it. I feel so much more alive here then that shadow of a world."
"Elliott, what are you saying?"
"This world is as real as ours," he whispered. "The other is a pale shadow of this. Magic… or chikara if you like it flows here so much more easily."
"Your energy and mine… complement each other, fire and water," Jeannie nodded. "As Ty and Moni complete each other, air and earth. A volcano cannot erupt without the buildup of steam and magma mixing… as air needs the gravity of earth to hold it down."
Strange doors opened in Elliott's mind, and he gasped with the myriad images fluxing in. Jeannie' fire surged throughout his body, purging all pain, all fear. In turn his soothing lavender chikara drove all traces of Blackwell's black embrace from her soul, healing the fractured pieces of her heart.
"They came from here," Jeannie whispered. "Didn't they?"
"Yes. It all makes so much sense now," Elliott nodded. "The Talisman. They must have originated here."
"But just who and what took them to our world," Jeannie asked. "And why? Didn't you ever wonder why that box was in the basement to begin with?"
"Box… in the basement?" Elliot blinked.
"Yes… you remember when we first found them. But when we came back to the future, after giving the talisman to our dads,” Jeannie nodded.
"They had the talisman with them," realized Elliott, lavender gaze fixing into her ruby one.
"Then why are we here?" Jeannie asked.
"The Elder cannot leave the Citadel," Elliott said slowly. "They act… through Champions. Chosen in the trials…"
"But if they are so powerful… how did they get that way?" Jeannie wondered.
"They were once ordinary men, changed by Morpheus' magic," Elliott told her. "Till something transformed them."
"Yes…? But if they had the Talismen, perhaps they could leave," Jeannie suddenly realized..
"It makes so much sense. But the girls… Kelsey and Shandi, they are gone… and Christine and Domino…"
"Isn't it a weird coincidence that there were four girls held prisoner on that island?" Jeannie asked him.
"Yes… unless it wasn't a coincidence… and that's why we were brought here," Elliott said.
"What do you mean?"
"I saw portals used. Magical gateways between realities, Jeannie. I passed through one to get here. I have a feeling that the Elder brought us here, to help them, because they cannot help themselves. And somehow the girls fit into it."
"Where are they?" Jeannie wondered.
"I presumed that Kelsey and Shandi, who got here with me, were teleported away somewhere," mused he.
"Are they prisoners?" Jeannie asked. Elliott reached out with his mind, listening for stray thoughts. All he could sense now was a strange contentment that mirrored his own.
"No," Elliott said. "In fact, I think the elders are very pleased that they are here. But something or someone is stopping the Elder from knowing the whole story."
"What?" Jeannie asked, as he pulled out of her. Reaching down he picked up a purple robe, and slipped it on. He handed a cloth to Jeannie, but she stared past him, unfazed by her nakedness. "Well, it's like this…" In halting tones he told Jeanie of the revelations of Shandi, and the Major Domo. She shook her head in disbelief, telling him in turn about Blackwell's eerie words.
"Gateways," Jeanie shook her head. "But this isn't our world Elliott."
"No, but we're involved… and we have to figure out how we can help make it right."
"Then what are we waiting for?" Jeannie asked him as she pulled him off her and they both sat up. A sense of well being came over Elliott as never before.
"Ty and Mona. They got out. I can sense their thoughts now," Elliott said, slowly reaching for his forehead. "We gotta join them."
"Sounds good to me," Jeannie nodded.
"Jeannie, you really should put some clothes on first," Elliott said, pointing to her armor on the floor. "Besides, I wanna be the only one who has you dressed like this."
"All right, lover boy," she winked at him lasciviously. She gathered up the pieces of her armor, shaking her head at the torn spandex under suit. Instead she put the armor on her nude form, her skin showing beneath the amber armor. Only her batwing cloak had escaped being torn in their frenzy before, and she fastened it to her shoulders. Turning she saw his lean muscled form obscured by the purple robes draped gracefully to the floor. The richness set off his dark mass of hair to perfection, and she couldn't help staring at him. God she missed him so much.
Feeling her eyes on him, Elliott shifted his hips a little, glancing over his shoulder to peer at her buckling on the long sword he hadn't noticed before. "Where'd you get that?" he asked her. "Brought it with me," she said. Resting his hands on her shoulders he pressed a sweet kiss to her lips.
"Oh," he said, suddenly feeling the awkwardness set in. Shyly he belted his robe, and moved to the door.
"Won't budge," he said, turning back to her.
"Let me have a try at it," she said, pushing him aside. One well placed kick from a dragon boot slammed into the carved surface. It did not budge. Jeannie gave an annoyed growl, and channeled a fine shaft of flame at the lock. Again she kicked, and the door swung open with a protesting creak.
"Nice…" he nodded, and stepped in front of her into the dark hallway beyond. He stopped
again, and extended a hand toward her. "Coming?"
"Most definitely," she nodded, putting her hand in his.
Out of a deep sleep Kelsey awakened, and forgot where she was. A strong massive arm pulled her close to a male body, and she smiled at the feel of his hands caressing her breasts. She had never felt so safe or secure in a man's bed before, but this was the bed of no ordinary man she shared. Turning over she settled into the curve of his body and relaxed. It was still dark, but the darkness she had come to like again. It would not devour her. When she felt his tongue on her ear she sighed deeply, and turned over to feel his lips on hers. The low growl indicated his pleasure, and she wrapped her arms around his neck. In the darkness she saw the sparkle in dark eyes and the glimpses of white on his cheeks.
"Milord," she whispered.
"Milady," he whispered back, wrapping her close in his arms. "I trust you are well?"
"The best," she sighed, kissing him hungrily. Against her lips she felt his smile, and a low growl again rumbling through them both. Just then came distant shouts, and she shifted into warrior's instincts. Demon pulled her down when she was about to sit up again.
"Wait here, I will deal with this," he snorted, kissing her ear as he rose from the bed. She saw his massive form cross before the dying embers of the fireplace, a black shape rising to drape over the giant figure.
"What is the meaning of this," he bellowed out into the hall, throwing wide the door. Over the thin shaft of light she saw a head and shoulders, pale white. It seemed to be one of the mages.
"They escaped! They escaped from the dungeon!" he stammered.
"The two… who appeared out of nowhere… and we have just awakened Celestial and the others to tell them… that the two cannot be found on the island."
To this news the Demon growled, "What of the other?"
"Gone out of his room without a trace! Some massive power disrupted the enchantment."
"Did it now?" Demon wondered. "Leave me. I will deal with it presently."
"Milord, the Major Domo…" spluttered the voice from behind the door.
"Can wait. I'm busy. I do not wish to be disturbed again!" Demon roared at him. "Let Celestial handle this!"
He slammed the door unceremoniously in the mage's face, and turned away. Kelsey sat up, her eyes glaring at him in the darkness as she demanded, "What is the meaning of this?"
"Your friends have escaped," Demon said, his face hidden in shadow. "It is obvious that my commands to release them were not followed."
"Are you going to 'deal with them?'"
"Better. I'm going to let the Major Domo deal with his mistake. I wager he'll try to stop them from escaping. But I don't think he'll be very successful, do you?"
"Wait, you're just going to sit back and let them get recaptured?"
"My dear lady, you yourself suspect the Major Domo would be the one who betrayed me. It is not a surprise. This will prove his mettle, and those of your friends," the Demon laughed, with a deep rolling peel like thunder.
"Why the charade, why not release them?"
"They have been brought here for a reason, milady. They bear the marks of the Elder. You know as well as I do what that means."
"Only Champions are allowed to wear the sacred markings," she nodded. "But they're not from this world."
"Exactly. I want to see if they are worthy. And they are indeed if they have overcome the inhibitors."
"You captured them, and you admit it?" Kelsey demanded.
"I did not. The Major Domo did. And now he will pay for concealing that fact from me, without consulting the Elder first. Do you really think if I wanted your friends to be my prisoners I would let them escape so easily?"
Kelsey's jaw dropped as she stood up, stark naked. Demon held up a robe to her, silent as his face was still hidden in darkness. She shook her head in shock, saying, "Why?"
"They are needed. You are needed. I must know who my enemies are. And who my friends are. If this Four Who are One are worthy to bear the power, they must prove it through a series of trials. They have already shown their dedication to each other by defying the odds. They have shown their compassion by freeing you and Shandi, and their conviction to right by bringing you here. Now is the final test…"
"Are you going to fight them?" Kelsey wondered, twining her arm around his own.
"No. IN fact I am going to be there to greet them when they demand an audience. Do you wish to accompany me, milady?"
"I… wait a minute. This is all a test?"
"Exactly. I had suspicions all along about my Major Domo. When I first saw you before they took you away I knew that you were special. But before I could act, you were taken to Blackwell's island. I tried to free you, but you know our enchantments do not work beyond the Barrier."
"You!" she gasped, pulling back. Angry at being used again she backed away from her lover.
"That is why the Four were brought here. There is an Imbalance that must be rectified. And since I cannot leave the Citadel without losing my powers."
"You need them to do your dirty work for you. But what about me?"
"We require something that we cannot achieve with our powers alone. But with the help of a woman, we can…"
"Children?" Kelsey guessed, blushing light rose.
"WE need helpmates. Guardians to train. Since the Four are not of this world, we need four warriors to take our place and our mission to the outside world. But the Four are the catalyst that brought you to us, that we might face Blackwell again."
Kelsey tapped her chest under the Demon's borrowed robe, "And that is me, I'm one of the Guardians?"
"You will be a Destroyer," he said to her. "You, Shandi, and the other two. You are also being
tested. And so far you are more than worthy to begin training under us…"
"Yes. And now we will greet your friends properly…" he said.
Kelsey grabbed the front of her robe, still reeling in shock. She didn't know whether to feel used, or privileged. She knew Demon would not have let her rot in Blackwell's hell-hole if he could have helped it, and yet part of her was still suspicious. He had plans within plans, for his cleverness was legendary. Just how this would all play out, she wanted to stick around to find out.
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"This way," Tyler said as he continued his way up the stars. They seemed to go on forever, and Mona rested on the Black Lion's broad back. Slowly the pain subsided, and she felt the rocking motion of his silent canter lulling her to sleep.
"I feel like crap," she moaned as she came too again. Even though Tyler's fur felt soft under her cheek, she felt as if her stomach had been turned inside out. Why was she so ill?
"Are you okay kitten?" Tyler asked, turning his head in concern. He stopped, and she slowly lifted her head.
They emerged at the edge of a vast space that took her breath away. Tyler let out a low grumbling roar of astonishment at the rich hung tapestries festooning the walls. Under his paw pads the cold stone chilled him to the bone. Something ancient burned his nostrils, and he realized it was the scent of alien chikara. Power surged through him, humming with its various frequencies. Far stronger here then before he felt it humming in his bones. Once the inhibitor had been removed it was so easy to change. This was why he didn't understand why Mona was so ill.
"I feel like I'm gonna hurl," she moaned. "I'm sorry Tyler…"
"Don't be," he said, shifting into human form. He caught her in his arms, gently stroking her cheek as he gathered her under the knees and back.
"Where are we, and what are we going to do?" she asked him.
"I smell Jeannie and Elliott," he shook his head, silver nose sampling the atmosphere. "Even as a person my senses are so alive. Man!"
"They're here too?" she asked, lifting her head as she leaned it against Tyler's shoulder. He held
her protectively close to himself. Just then he tensed, his ears picking up minute whispers as the floor vibrated under his platform boots. Each footstep he could feel closer and closer. He carried Mona carefully across the vast chamber, glancing at the high placed tapestries and banners. Sharply he drew in his breath when he realized the symbols were dastardly familiar.
"Sweet mother of mercy," he muttered. "This is intense. Moni, look at this!"
"What?" she got out before he indicated where she should look with a toss of his blond mane. "Oh my god… it's like some kind of tribute!" Mona pressed her hand to her mouth.
"Yeah, to us… or our dads," Tyler completed. Each banner held familiar markings, a dark star
with a crescent moon superimposed, or a silver burst of light like twin merging stars, or a Demon's face, or even that of a feral Cat.
"They would freak if they saw this," Mona gasped, holding tightly to Tyler's shoulder. She felt
the cold metal of the bandoleer strap over his bare chest. Her own costume was tattered and smeared with the grime of the cell, and she sighed as she looked at the stains on it.
"Shh," Tyler hissed, pulling her behind a tapestry. He shifted to Lion form in the blink of an eye, lowering Mona to the floor temporarily. Voices in an alien tongue now could be heard by Mona too, he guessed. Six females in flowing robes rushed about, holding glittering swords in their hands. They passed by the way of the tapestry where Tyler and Mona hid, and both tensed. Thankfully they rushed off in another direction.
Mona could hardly believe what she had just seen. Did they have pointed ears? Steps thundered soon afterwards, and Mona saw a hulking shape approach two double doors. Tyler slipped her onto his back, his muscles tensing for action. A pair of boots stopped beside where they hid, and Tyler felt instinct overtake reason. He crouched down, waiting to decide if he should flight or flee.
Large pugnacious nostrils sniffed the air, snorting as the creature turned its head. Tyler gasped, as the tapestry was lifted aside. A low growl escaped his throat as he leapt out, hissing and
spitting onto a massive shape.
"RRROOOW!" he roared, scaring the hell out of Mona who struggled to hold onto him by his
bandoleer straps. The hulking shape blinked with a mixture of horror and fear at the sight of two green orbs fixing into his face. A battle axe clanged to the floor.
"Back off," Tyler growled fiercely. Apparently the creature understood what a threat meant, and froze.
"Ty…" Mona gasped.
"Hang on!" he growled, and tensed his hindquarters. A mighty leap and he was off, Mona astride his back. Silver boots struggled to hold onto his fluid form as he bounced away at top speed. After them she heard the massive foot falls of the creature snarling after them. Anger had overridden fear, and he wasn't about to let an overgrown cat get the better of him.
"Where are we going!" she shrieked.
"As far from that as possible!" he meowed urgently. Through a labyrinth of corridors they cantered, turning crazy directions. It was not her imagination when she saw more of the creatures sheathed in skeletal armor appear from behind the pillars, waving their sharp implements menacingly. She tried not to look, holding on for dear life as Tyler leapt over their heads. He landed neatly on all fours, doubling back.
The haze in Mona's brain made it difficult to even think, but she had to try. She caught sight of
an axe arcing downwards. Grabbing Tyler tightly she reached for that switch in her mind, staring past the danger in that split second. A silver flash and they were behind the hulking shape.
"Whoa, next time tell me when you're gonna port!" he yowled.
"Sorry, I just had to do something," she said, shaking her head to clear it. Just then he reared, his obsidian claws slashing at another battle axe arcing down. The shaft cracked in two, and the head clattered to the floor. Another quick swipe and the warrior fell.
"Behind you!" Mona screamed. Raising her hand she blocked the view. A weapon arched down, and suddenly bounced off an invisible wall.
"Good going Moni!" Tyler purred. All around them four warriors raised their weapons, pounding them futile on some invisible barrier.
"What do you know, it worked," she cackled with glee.
"Chalk one up for your old man! How did you do that?"
"Vibratory energy… I just made the molecules vibrate slower in the air, and hey presto a force field!" she crowed with triumph. At least her powers were still effective despite feeling ill. Each blow vibrated the barrier, and made her grit her teeth as she struggled to keep it up.
"Now what?" she asked him.
"Just hold it a few more seconds, sweetheart," he urged, his whiskers twitching. "I think I hear one distraction coming right up!"
"What is that?" Elliott wondered as he heard a snarl. "It can't be…"
"I know that roar," Jeannie said, her hand tensing in Elliott's grasp. Demon looked at Star Bearer, and a single word shared on their lips, "Tyler!"
"C'mon!" Jeannie shouted, grabbing Elliott and running toward the direction of the roars.
"Wait… there are other minds… Jeannie, put me down!" he protested. Unheeding his cries she tucked Elliott under her arm, dragon boots pounding into stone. She roared in answer, leaping up as she flew neatly over the heads of the four hammering on something. They landed on the far side, their platform boots touching stone.
"It's them… but how?" Elliott got out.
"Who cares, let's help them…" she said. "Make with a distraction, Star Bearer!"
"Will do," Elliott nodded, still not sure of what he was supposed to do. But Jeannie took it in stride, her black lips parting. Tongues of fire surged toward the backs of the two closest warriors. They whirled, their piggy eyes focusing from the sockets of skeletal helmets.
"All right boys, time for some punishing," Jeannie laughed, and drew her sword. It swung in silver arcs, from left to right shoulder and back again. Elliott felt his power surge through him, narrowing his focus toward the far two warriors hammering on the barrier. He realized it was Mona, astride Tyler as she held her hands to her head, silver face twisted into a frown. She was tiring fast. His gaze narrowed as he glared fiercely to the first. A pencil thin beam of light singed into the first's face, while the other turned at the source of light.
Meanwhile, Jeannie leapt over the blow of one warrior, her sword arching to block the blow of his comrade. Dragon boots landed, the floor quaking under their impact. She spun on one, slamming her foot into the midriff of the second warrior, her sword glancing off the other's shield. A blast of fire slammed into their faces, blinding them. In seconds two crimson streaks arched from their bellies, her sword claiming its target. Blood had been shed upon the gray stones.
Mona let down her barrier with a splitting headache. Tyler pounced on the nearest warrior, while Elliott again spread wide his hands. Rose petals dropped from the ceiling and pelted the second on his nose. A quick kick from a silver platform boot landed neatly in his stomach. The stunned warrior still did not fall, till a blast of silver lightening slammed into him from Mona. Shakily she clung to Tyler, mustering her power as best she could. In seconds it was all over. Four hulking shapes kissed stone, leaving the Four to regard each other in confusion and wonder.
"We won," Mona gasped. "How cool is that?"
"Jeannie! You're okay!" Tyler got out. "Holy crap are we glad you guys showed up!"
"Elliott?" Mona gasped. "How… in the world?"
"Not in our world, but this one," Elliott smiled. He and Jeannie strode over to them, their hands extended. He gripped Mona in a strong hug. Tears formed in her eyes as she threw her arms around his neck.
Tyler shifted into human shape, and hugged Jeannie. "You came just in the nick of time! Next time can you cut it anymore close?"
"Just be glad you didn't get neutered, Kitty," she joked, slapping his back.
"Ty," Elliott got out, and felt his friend grip his hand. Mona and Jeannie hugged each other, Mona lifted off her feet by the exuberant Dragon Womyn.
"This is so cool," Mona cried. "Elliott, you're alive!"
"I don't know how, but it's damn good to see you again," Tyler laughed.
"Now that we know we're all here, someone has some serious explaining to do," Jeannie reminded them. They all glanced at her, smiles vanishing in the seriousness of her gaze.
"If you mean what I think you are," Elliott said with a warning flick of his dark hair.
"You know it. Those Elder are gonna get an earful from me. Are you all with me?"
"Yeah, sure, but what the hell are the Elder?" Tyler asked. "You can't mean some cheesy album our dads did has anything to do with all this!"
"It makes sense Ty. This whole place is some KISStory nightmare gone crazy," Mona said. "It's like being in an alternate universe or a fantasy flick…"
"Exactly," Jeannie nodded. "You got it right, Celestial. And now we're gonna write our own script!"
"Wait, hold on here. You mean this isn't our world, right?" Tyler said. "I know it's a dumb question, but where the hell are we?"
"Some world, in which our dreams are reality," Elliott said.
"Don't give me that crap, Stanley," Tyler muttered. "Give me a straight answer!"
"This world is another dimension," Jeanie said. "We don't' have much time. I'll explain on the
Quickly they followed Jeanie through the maze of corridors. Mona still rode on Tyler, transformed in between Jeanie who had the lead, and Elliott who brought up the rear. His thoughts reached out, struggling to shield them from any chikara probes. Most likely the magicians of this world would be sweeping the Citadel from top to bottom in their efforts to find the Four.
"Wait, you mean our dads know about this place?" Tyler demanded.
"Yes," Elliott said gravely. "Jeanie was able to get out of here for a time, when Blackwell…"
"Hold it, this is too much!" Tyler held up a hand. He, like Elliott and Jeannie was well acquainted with all the KISS albums, his father having kept careful track of KISS exploits since his exodus from the band. Mona felt hopelessly lost.
"Please, fill me in?" she begged.
"One of the biggest mistakes our dads made was this album," Jeannie explained. "A concept album, called the Elder…"
"And even though Ezrin thought he had a winner, it was a flop," Elliott completed. "A colossal blunder according to some fans."
"That's when your dad left the band," Jeannie told Mona.
"Oh man," she shook her head. "This is too heavy. Do you mean that this place somehow inspired the Elder album?"
"Yes," Jeannie said. "Some time they, KISS, visited here. And sometime they did something, and someone is expecting us to finish whatever they started…"
"Why us?" Tyler asked.
"That's what we are gonna find out," Elliott nodded. "Where now, Jeannie?"
"This way. The main chamber is down this stair… but beware. Everyone on their toes!"
"Mages, ogres, and elves," Tyler muttered, whiskers twitching.
"Oh my," Mona added, and everyone groaned. She was getting worse every day, Elliott thought with amusement. Ace would be well proud of his daughter in more ways than one. Jeanie extended a hand behind her to stop their progress. They reached the foot of the spiraling stairs that led upwards, into the main room again. She knew the corridors from her previous dream well, and with her friends felt sure she could triumph whatever dangers lay ahead.
"Where to now?" Elliott asked.
"There," she whispered to him, pointing with a spiked glove to the twin double doors, each fourteen feet high. Two knockers with a rose motif hung at the midpoint, about seven feet from the floor. A huge iron bar latched across them, the ornate carvings seeping over the massive wood with runic carvings. Mona recognized the same motifs as in the banner.
"It's guarded by ogres," Jeannie told them. Indeed they saw the two eight foot figures, sheathed in bone armor with their massive horned helmets reaching three quarters of the height of the doors. Mighty spears almost reached the top of the door frame with their sharp points.
"Ty, you take the left. I'll get the right. Elliott, stay here and guard our rear with Moni,"Jeannie whispered to them. "Then wait to make your move. Get ready."
Simultaneously Jeannie rushed out with Black Lion's pounce. The force of her kick knocked one over as he landed on the other. Rolling over he snarled, his claws battering his opponent senseless. Jeannie's sword met its target. Elliott moved, holding Mona up as the doors swung open.
"Oh man," Elliott got out. Glittering swords arced in gleaming wheels of death as six maidens rushed out to block their way. Jeannie glanced to Tyler, nodding.
"Jeannie,” he said.
"Mona, you and Elliott, get ready…"
"But…" Elliot spluttered.
"Get ready!" Jeannie shouted, her sword flying to block the rain of blows. Suddenly a green force reached out over the heads of the elves, slamming into Tyler and Jeannie.
"No!" Elliott gasped, as he saw the very chikara sucked from his two friends. Desperately they struggled to keep up their guard from the rain of blows.
"Moni, shock them!" Jeannie gurgled as the blows slammed onto her armor.
"Who…" she yelped.
"Behind the power," Elliott told her. "Look!"
Mona had seconds to act when she saw the source of the beams arching in gleaming tentacles from somewhere behind the wall of elfish sylph maidens. She spanned her fingertips wide as she reached out with her silver chikara. Lightening slammed along the lines of green mist beyond. A cry of anger in an alien tongue met her ears.
"Elliott, now!" Jeannie shouted. Reaching out he felt the source of twin mind touches, his own chikara rising to block the source of their concentration. Lavender energy surged along. The line of sylphs pared off to face Jeannie and Tyler. Black claws and slashing swords kept them occupied when they saw the twin mages casting from ancient tomes. One struggled to keep up the chikara sucking spell as the other flicked through his book. Elliott narrowed his eyes, purple energy fizzling into the spell book.
There was a sharp flash of glitter as it exploded in the mage's face. Mona's power slammed full force into the other mage before he could cast another incantation, and into the lines of the sylphs. They crumpled to the floor senseless. Before she could follow, Tyler caught Mona around the waist.
"Wow, that was awesome," Elliott whispered to Jeannie. They saw the far end of the chamber, with its raised dais, just as Jeannie had described from her dream weeks ago. Four thrones, ornately carved behind a rectangular table were empty. Candles burned all around in gleaming constellations on the iron candelabras.
"You cannot go further!" a figure in blue robes stammered.
"Well well, if it isn't the Major Domo," Elliott laughed. "So, what do you have to say now?"
"You… Novice, will pay!" he shouted. "How Dare you invade the sanctity of the Elder!"
"How dare you capture my friends!" Elliott shouted at him, striding forwards with Jeannie at his side. Tyler carried Mona, close behind them.
"You… you obstinate fools!" blubbered the being, his face chartreuse with outrage.
"Where are they?" Jeannie growled. Seizing the Major Domo by the front of his robe she lifted him off his feet. Her long tongue lapped over her teeth hungrily.
"Put me down you savage…" he huffed.
"Answer the Lady's question, or I'll let her bite your neck in two," Elliott snapped. "She hasn't eaten all day!"
Now wasn't the time for niceties Elliot realized. He was fed up, as were the other three. One way or another they'd get the answers they sought. His eyes widened in fear at the hungry look in her dark green eyes. They flared red, her tongue flickering at him mockingly, only inches from his bare neck. Knees knocking together the Major Domo whined, "I… I can explain…"
"Where are Kelsey and Shandi? Tell me!" Elliott hissed. "Now!"
"You… they… how did these creatures escape the dungeons…" he gasped, looking wildly out of the corner of his eye at Tyler and Mona.
"That was the bastard that put us there," Tyler snarled.
"And why did you lock my friends away?" he asked.
"Surely we can come to some… understanding," the Major Domo babbled, his hands extending. Jeannie lifted him higher, her mouth opening to embrace his throat. Hot breath fanned his pale skin.
"What sort of understanding?" Elliott asked.
"I… can be convinced of your sincerity... for a price!"
"WE want the elder," Tyler snarled. "Now."
"They…are busy. Surely I can answer all your questions…"
"That's better," Elliott nodded. "But you still haven't told me where Kelsey and Shandi are…"
"They… are not here," he got out. "But I can assure you if they are your friends… they are in as much trouble as you!"
"Why?" Elliott asked.
"They are not worthy… they… profane the Citadel with their presence…" he stammered.
"Is that why you sent them to Blackwell?" Jeannie demanded.
"I… they… well…"
"Answer the question," Elliott said, his eyes flaring lavender.
Suddenly there came a bright flash that blinded them all. Chikara crackled throughout the chamber, making Tyler's whiskers twitch with its force. It smelled of all of them, and the Talismen magnified a thousand fold. Four shapes appeared on the thrones, larger than life and familiar. Four sets of powerful eyes fixed on the newcomers, with varying shades of amusement.
Major Domo stammered as he picked himself up and brushed his robe off, "Masters do forgive me for this intrusion. But I was in the midst of looking for them…"
"Save it," came a low growl from the Demon. "Who are you looking for?"
"The traitors… that Novice, he came in here with them!!!"
"Traitors? How could they get into our citadel?" Celestial asked, hiding a hint of a grin.
"If not by your doing," Demon rumbled. His eyes fixed into Jeannie's, urging her silence. She
stopped the words that almost formed on her lips.
"It was him!" Domo pointed at Elliott. "He came in unbidden with deception! With two from the Island!"
"Which two?" Beast King asked.
"The two maidens!"
"Kelsey and Shandi," Elliott said. "They have names. I merely brought them hence so they could make things right. But this man had sent them there."
"It's a lie!" he shouted. "A bald faced lie!"
"Why don't you ask the maidens their version?" Celestial asked.
"He can't find them," Jeanie laughed. "Can he?"
"I… I… assure you they will be found and punished…"
"For what purpose?" Demon demanded.
"They… they…" Suddenly he gasped when he saw who was sitting on the laps of Demon and Celestial. A fiery red head reclined on Demon's knees, while a brown haired maiden in blue robes perched on Celestial's lap.
"No… it can't be…" gasped the Major Domo, pressing hands to the sides of his rotund face.
"Can't be what?" Kelsey asked her gaze acid.
"You… I sent you…" he sputtered, then clapped his jaw shut with an audible snap like the springing of a trap.
"Bingo," Jeannie grinned, licking her lips. The Major Domo clamped his lips shut, shivering in his robes.
"Sent you where?" Demon asked Kelsey, stroking her hair.
"To the island, isn't that right?" she asked.
"What was her crime?" asked Star Bearer dispassionately, his eyes fixing into Mona's for a moment. She blushed as she remembered her own dream.
Sheepishly the Major Domo fiddled with his fingers and looked down. Then snapping his face up he glared at Kelsey. Stabbing a finger toward her he cried, "She insulted the Elder and my person!"
"Because you tried to force your will on me!" Kelsey snapped, trying to get out of the Demon's lap. He held her down, stroking her hair soothingly.
"Is this so?" Star Bearer asked.
"I… I…" Major Domo croaked, dropping on his knees.
"By your hesitance you condemn yourself," Demon rumbled.
"What is their word against mine," he stammered out.
"More than gold itself," Celestial answered, holding Shandi as he pressed a kiss to her forehead. "And worth more than your useless prattle!"
"Begone, and profane us no more," Demon growled. "You are no longer in our service, you worm!"
"So say we, the Elder," Star Bearer added, his purple gaze striking fear itself into the Major Domo. Gasping he threw hands over his face at the combined gaze of all four Elder. Each focused their power upon him on turn, their gaze fire and acid. His screams vanished into the radiance of chikara that blinded the Four. Till nothing remained, but a charred cloak.
"What did you do to him?" Jeannie asked.
"Sent him back to where he belongs," Celestial answered.
"Jeannie!" Shandi cried. "You're okay!"
"Yes," she smiled.
"You did it! You got away from Blackwell," Kelsey cried, climbing off Demon's lap and rushing to Jeannie's side. Both women embraced. Jeannie looked past her shoulder to Demon and the other Elder.
"Why do you look upon us thus?" Star Bearer asked.
"Why the hell are we here?" she demanded. Kelsey parted from her, and returned to Demon, a bit put off by Jeannie's challenge. Jeannie strode up to the table, her eyes flaring red.
"Jeannie are you nuts?" Tyler asked.
"I want answers, and I want them now!" she demanded. "Why did you bring us here?"
"I thought you would never ask," Demon smiled cryptically.
"Now is the time for answers," Star Bearer smiled.
"But you may not like the questions," Celestial added.
"Or where they will lead," Beast King further added.
"Oh man," Tyler groaned as Mona shook her head.
"Now what?" Elliott asked, coming to stand by Jeannie. "Are you gonna stop the riddles and give us a straight answer?"
Four Elders exchanged glances, and remained silent. Each focused their gaze on their
counterparts. Celestial began, "This will take some time to explain."
Folding arms across her chest Jeannie squared her gaze on the four seated figures in their ornate thrones. “Try me!”
"There is an evil that seeks to enter your world," Demon rumbled. "That is why you were brought here. Events must play out now that they are set in motion."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Jeannie demanded.
Celestial turned his turquoise eyes to here, "You are already part of the pattern. It was initiated mere months ago for you, but for your sires it was thirty of your years in the past. The past has touched the future, and the future has come to pass."
"Something precious to us was stolen from our Citadel, and sent away to your world," Star Bearer explained. "That we at first wanted returned. But then they were part of what the betterment of your world… was before we knew the whole picture of reality… and how the events would unfold."
"They are the lynchpin that holds your reality to hours, funneling the power from the Citadel to your realm," Celestial continued to explain. "And because the Dark Light tainted your world, we realized that they were needed to expunge its evil."
"Without them we are limited. We cannot leave the citadel, to battle Blackwell's minions. Thus we chose Champions. By our presence here near the Source we can entrap his body on the island… but we cannot abandon control," Beast King growled.
"You see, that is why we did not know he had entered your world. Till your sires first manifested the power, and we realized what they fought. Your world's future was suddenly closed," Star Bearer sighed.
"Blackwell's powers extended within, to find the gateway to your world, and thus influence things astral," Celestial said.
"You are talking about the talisman, aren't you?" Mona asked.
"And you are saying the meteorite that hit earth… was directed there by Blackwell?" asked Tyler with a shiver.
"All summations are correct," Celestial nodded. "For what purpose we cannot yet discern!"
"So leader could have her world," Jeannie snarled, eyes flaring red. "But we stopped her!"
"Indeed, and you paid the price for interference," Demon nodded. "All the pieces fell into place when you first entered the Citadel, Dragon Womyn. IN your dreams. Now Morpheus has shown us what we must do."
"Secretive bastard, isn't he?" Tyler whispered to Mona.
"His ways are not known to us even, till he sees fit to reveal them," Star Bearer stated emphatically.
"So, let me get this straight, you want us to get the talisman back for you, is that it?" Tyler demanded.
"No. Your world faces Blackwell's threat now," said Demon. "For us to take them from your possession would be detrimental."
"Can't you make new ones?" Mona asked.
"To do so takes great portions of our energies. Our mages are already working on this project," Celestial said. "We cannot stop Blackwell in our world and yours, and empower them."
"Or train champions at the same time," Beast King said.
"There are four of you," Jeannie muttered.
"That is not enough!"
"That's what you need us for. To stop Blackwell in our world?" Elliott guessed.
"That is why you were summoned here," Celestial nodded. "Now we know."
"To know Blackwell here in ours, is to know him better for the battle ahead," Demon said.
"Can't you help them somehow?" Kelsey demanded, still on the Demon's lap as she pulled his hair.
"They shouldn't do all the fighting! I want to kick Blackwell's ass for what he did to me and my friends!"
"You and your friends are the next champions," Demon smiled, stroking Kelsey's hair as he pressed a soft kiss to her lips. "You will learn to fight his minions here, my love."
"It is the will of Morpheus," Star Bearer smiled. Suddenly a door opened to the chamber, and large ogresses escorted two others in. A proud Elf strode in, next to a Centauress.
"Domino! Christine!" Kelsey shouted, leaping off Demon's lap. Shandi rushed to them also, and the four embraced gladly.
"You're alive!" cried Shandi with delight as Domino hugged her.
"Aye, little one. We escaped the island, only to find our sentences were revoked by them. I knew
that reason would prevail…" Domino grinned.
"WE fought well, and now we are together again," Christine laughed, as Kelsey moved into the four way hug. They turned to see the others, and the two groups exchanged greetings.
"So these are your friends," Domino said as she glanced at Mona and Tyler. "I must say, the Lion man is handsome."
"He's also spoken for," Mona smiled, her arm around Tyler's waist.
"She bears his cubs," Christine nodded. "And fine kittens they will be."
Mona blushed. Tyler beamed with pride. Then the eyes of the Elder fell on the four females, as Star Bearer rose from the table and strode over to the others.
"You are Domino, Elfin princess of the wood, are you not?" he said, licking his lips.
"Star Bearer, you were known to me in dreams," she said, running a hand over his muscled chest. Moonstone eyes peered up into his amethyst ones, filled with desire. "Am I your chosen?"
"Indeed I could ask for no better mate," Star Bearer whispered in her ear, shifting her platinum hair aside. He tasted her lips eagerly, leaning over to do so. Meanwhile, Beast King shifted to the form of a huge black panther, leaping off his throne to land beside the Centauress. He rubbed his muzzle against her flanks, as she clopped her hooves.
"Be my mate," he whispered to her, in a low purr. "I have chosen you."
Instantly he shifted to another form in a melding of green sparkles, and a huge proud Centaur lifted his hand to finger her cheek. They rubbed flanks, clopping their hooves as they trotted about the chamber. Each Elder led his mate to the large dais, and sat down. All save Beast King pulled their females into their expansive laps to sit with them in majesty. Beast King merged into a hue of light into his humanoid form, and extended a hand to Christine. She suddenly gasped as her own body flowed like quicksilver into a humanoid form with two legs instead of four, so she could sit with him as well.
Her face filled with wonder, "How is this so? You do shape others?"
"Indeed, and there is much for you to learn, my sweet. Will you be my mate?"
"I cannot refuse," Christine whispered into his ear. Domino rubbed Star Bearer's chest, purring like a kitten as he stroked her back. She pressed kisses to his ears, as he nibbled on her neck.
"And now," Demon said, pulling Kelsey onto his lap again. "You have done us a great service, Four who are one."
"Can we go back now, please?" Tyler asked.
"It is time for you to depart," Celestial said with a slow smile.
"No!" Jeannie cried out, suddenly. "I don't want to!"
"Jeannie!" Elliott gasped. Everyone's mouths dropped in shock as she moved away toward Elliott, her hands held up defensively.
"Why not?" Tyler demanded.
"Jeannie no! You gotta come back!" Mona wailed.
"You can't mean that," Elliott whispered, standing beside her, yet not touching her.
"Don't you get it? Here I can be with you, and we can be together, like we were always meant to be!" she cried, grabbing his shoulders. "You're dead back in the real world!"
"Jeanie… I am still there."
"In Sean?" she snorted. "Living in a possessed body? Here we can be together, I can be with you!"
"What about our child, our son?" Elliott asked her, rubbing her belly. "Will you deny our child life?"
"No! WE can have him here!" she cried. "It will be perfect!"
"But what about our world?" Tyler asked. "Jeannie you're not being fair!"
"Can't you do something to help them?" Shandi begged Celestial. "You have the power of life and death! Can't you bring Elliott's body to life in their world?"
"I am sorry, little one," Celestial sighed, stroking her hair. "But we don't have that power there."
"Is it so terrible for me to want to stay?" Jeannie cried. "Haven't I fought enough?"
"Will this solve your problem? For the greater good?" Demon asked her.
"Demon, please!" Kelsey implored him.
"I wish I could do more, my love," he growled. "But I cannot."
"What about Morpheus?" Shandi asked.
"He will refuse," Beast King growled.
"Even Blackwell could not help you in your world," Star Bearer said to Jeannie, guessing her next question.
"It isn't fair!" she roared, putting her hands over her ears.
"I am sorry, Dragon Womyn. But life is not fair…" Demon told her.
"Bullshit!" she screamed.
"Jeannie… please," Elliott implored, wrapping her in his arms. "I love you, and God knows I want to be with you like I am now. But we can't have it that way! My death was the price paid for a better future."
"It cannot be," Celestial shook his head, and Shandi began to cry. "I am truly sorry."
Jeannie hung her head, burying it in Elliott's shoulder. He held her close, pressing lips to hers in a last deep kiss. They held each other as if they never wanted to part, their minds merging in a soul filled embrace that lasted an eternity but only was a few minutes.
"I will always be with you, my love," he whispered.
"I don't want to lose you again!" she sobbed.
"You won't," Elliott said, holding her face in his hands. His eyes fixed into hers, their promise sincere.
"It's not the same… in Sean," she sniffed as he wiped away her tears.
"You made love to him, didn't you?" he asked in a whisper.
"But… I…"
"What does form matter? When my soul is there. We never were apart, Jeannie…"
"I can't answer that," she stammered.
"You have to look past appearance, Jeannie," he scolded her. "It's not fair to Sean either. He loves you too, as much as I do. Even if I could get my body back, he and I are forever one. To divorce our minds and souls would be suicide for us both. So you see, even if we could do it, it wouldn't work."
"I'm sorry I just…" Jeannie shook her head, kissing him again.
"We both love you, Jeannie MacLaren Simmons. Isn't that enough? "
"It is," she whispered. "And I will learn to accept it…"
"Our world needs you," Mona whispered, coming up to the couple with Tyler. "I need you…"
"We all need each other…" Tyler told her. "We're a team, remember?"
"I know…" she sobbed. "I know…"
From above the Elder and their mates looked on, each lost in their own silent meditations. Till at last Demon again spoke, "You must make your farewells."
"It is nearly time," Celestial nodded. "Are you ready?"
"Kelsey, Shandi?" Star Bearer asked. Both women rose and joined the Four on the main gallery floor. Demon's request sounded more of a command. Jeannie, still clinging to Elliott reached out a hand to the duo.
"You're one hell of a fighter," Kelsey said to Jeannie, and caught her up in a fierce hug. "Don't give up on me now."
"Goodbye Elliott," Shandi sniffed, hugging him close. He kissed her gently on the cheek, stroking her chin.
"Keep practicing your spells," he told her.
Domino and Christine also strode up. Elliott felt Domino give him a pinch on the butt while Shandi threw herself into Jeannie's arms for a tearful embrace. Kelsey kissed Elliott on the cheek, and whispered, "I'm sorry I hit you."
"Hey, practice for dealing with him," he nodded to the Demon. Kelsey grinned. Jeannie gave a low growl to Domino, who backed off and turned to Mona and Tyler. Domino bowed to them both, as Christine inclined her head.
"Good fighting, all of you," Domino nodded. "It is good that the Elder have their representatives to carry their work to your world."
"Now Celestial," Demon rumbled, in a tone that shook the whole chamber like a bass chord at one of their father's concerts. "Open the way!"
Celestial stood up, and spanned his arms. Lightening surged, dancing between his fingertips into intricate patterns of force. It was a hundred times more intense and real then Space Ace or Mona's demonstrations, marshalling reality itself to spin a corridor. Kelsey and the other Champions stood back to watch, their hair battering in the winds of interstice.
"Step through, and you will awaken," Star Bearer told them. First Mona and Tyler clasped hands, and rushed forward to vault through the shimmering oval. Over its surface lightening skittered and swirled like soap film before it is blown into a bubble.
"Jeannie…" Elliott told her. She wiped an eye, and felt his arms around her. Her wings spanned, and she carried him bodily across the chamber through the rift. Light and sound merged into a shimmering pyrotechnics display that would put KISS itself to shame.
"I got em!" Ace shouted his eyes blazing silver as the patterns of reality crackled around his fingertips. Paul stood nearby, his hair crackling with Starchild force. The others waited patiently by the prostrate ones, hoping.
There came a flash, and a blinding fire that all could see their own bones through as they held up their hands to blot it out. Mind numbing force drilled into their very essences at the powers unleashed, then put back into place the next instant. All was silence and the breathing in and out as Paul lowered his hands, and saw Jeannie slowly sit up, rubbing her eyes.
"Jeannie," Gene whispered, stroking his daughter's hair. "You did it!"
"Daddy, I didn't want to leave him," she cried, her green eyes misting with tears. "It was so hard!"
Father and daughter embraced soundly. Next to awaken was Mona, sitting up from where Ace had brought her to lay on a sofa in Jeannie's room. He hugged his daughter close, joining her on the sofa when his powers had sealed the rift. Tyler awakened and stretched catlike from a pose on the floor, where his father Peter had reclined. He felt the reassuring squeeze on his shoulder.
Paul gripped Sean's hand tightly, and then embraced the youth soundly, saying, "Good job kid. You did us proud!"
Jeannie turned her head to look at Paul, and Sean, both sitting there on the edge of her bed. Sean was in next to her, shyly tracing his eyes over her night gowned form with a strange awkwardness. Paul stroked Jeannie's cheek with one hand, pushing back her hair.
"Thank you for saving me," she told him, green eyes fixing into his dark ones.
"It was nothing baby," he laughed. "Just glad you decided to come back."
"You heard?" she asked, almost flushing the white patterns on her face red.
"Every last word," Paul nodded.
"Don't I get any goddamn privacy," she grumbled. Gene nodded with his own growl of affirmation. Then she turned to Sean, extending a hand to him, "I'm so sorry I…"
"I know love, I know," he said. "This isn't easy for me either… but if you need time…"
"C'mere you," she said with a low growl in her throat. Paul coughed to Gene, and both got up off the bed.
"I think they need some time alone," Paul winked to Gene, who rolled his eyes.
Already the others strode out of the room, closing the door behind them as they went. Paul and Gene said little till they had reached the main course of stairs leading down to the first floor of Gene's home. "Don't say a word," Paul warned.
"I'm not saying anything. I just can't believe I've got you as a goddamned relation," Gene growled. "Of all the women, my daughter?"
"Hey, at least it wasn't Ace she went to bed with," Paul said.
"I heard that!" Ace cackled. Mona groaned, and grabbed Tyler's hand as she rushed away with embarrassment.
"I can't believe I'm related to him sometimes," she whispered to Tyler, who nodded. Peter gave Paul a good whack on the side of the head as he strode past.
"You should be kinder to your in laws," he laughed.
"At least they kept it in the family," Ace joked.
"Shut up Ace," Gene and Paul both snarled in unison.
"Finally they agree on something," Tyler said. "That's a first!"
"Let's go and spend some quality time together ourselves," Mona nudged him.
***************************************************************** *
Later, Paul Stanley hovered in serene meditation, about two feet above the plush carpet. His platform boots were folded into the half lotus, his hands extended. Within his mind he reached out to sense the presence of any survivors. Around him he felt the home, reinforced and reconstructed with the fruits of Leader's future technology. Ace and Mona had got the inventions working well, turning Gene's home into a virtual fortress.
Sean's mind cast rose then diminished, and Paul closed off that corner of his mind to his son's perceptions. After all they did need their privacy. Something odd flickered through his thoughts, and he frowned. Two mind traces he could swear he had sensed before. While Jeanie had returned to the Elder's realm, he had telepathically linked thoughts with hers to check her progress. He had sensed the minds of the Champions, and the Elder.
Which was why this was so weird? He could swear he sensed Kelsey and Shandi, together with that same darkness that he had seen before. Shivers prickled his skin, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Paul realized who the blackness was. But why did he sense the two women? Not in their world, but here?
"Shit," he muttered, when the blackness flared, and two minds unfolded in his. "What did Blackwell do next?"
Time would tell. Before long Peter or Tyler would go to investigate. But now they had to rest and restore their strength for the battle ahead….