Other Fan Fiction ❯ KISS Next Generation ❯ Betrayal ( Chapter 11 )

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

Ladies Room
By Trynia Merin
Disclaimer: KISS belongs to themselves, as do the terms of the Elder, and the
likenesses of their makeup and persona. The concept of the Four who are One belongs to Psycho Circus. Mona, Elliot, Tyler and Jeannie are my own creations, and are my attempt to create a next generation of KISS. This means no harm to the organization or the band, and represents a tribute to a rock and roll legend.
"So, what do 'rock and roll' stars do?" Kelsey asked again. She was still in shock of the strange world they had landed in, and glanced repeatedly down at her clothes.
"Well, we play music, for one thing," Gene told her. She had not let go of his hand since they had remained alone in the sitting room, and Ace was fussing over the DVD player as Shandi looked on with Peter. He held her hand, stroking her cheek with reassurance. They seemed so human; these men with face markings like their elder.
"These letters, do they have some, meaning?" Kelsey asked, looking down at the rhinestone lettering on her shirt.
"That's what everyone asks," Gene laughed, stroking her hand.
"I guess it's obvious I'm not from around here," she grumbled.
"Hey it's okay," Paul laughed lightly, settling on her other side.
"That moving tapestry," Shandi gasped, looking up as the television screen flickered to life. "It's like my reticule."
"Uh yeah, I guess, whatever," Ace cackled, and settled down next to her. He aimed a small box at the screen, and lines appeared across an image that had formed. Shandi gasped at the prickling of chikara spewing from the screen. Each little box and machine had its own field of it, strangely alien, and completely different prickling from that she knew in her world. Everything seemed so cold and strangely open here. Not the safe warmth of her home, despite its dangers. There was aloneness and a lack of the chikara force she knew. It was filled with the burbling alien fields of force, which she realized must be what Ace called Electricity.
Suddenly it seemed as if the screen clouded up. Ace slipped an arm around her shoulders automatically, and Shandi instinctively relaxed into his embrace. They hardly knew each other, but she felt very comfortable around this mortal who bore Celestial's markings. Her senses told her the chikara flowed through their bodies, but they were of a stature more in keeping with humans then the Elder, who were nearly twice her height. Ace was long and slender, but only a head and shoulders taller. Her exhalation coursed out with the riveting of her eyes to the screen. Fire rose from two sides, a huge set of letters flashing as they erupted onto stage. Strange sounds formed odd harmonies buzzing with awesome power. It was an assault, but it was spectacular.
"By the chikara that finds us all," she gasped.
"Incredible," Shannon breathed in appreciation. Gene and Ace watched with amusement as their charges were totally enraptured.
"That's what KISS is, and rock and roll," Gene laughed lightly.
"They're really here?" Mona asked. She sat on the sofa with her feet up, as Tyler was gently rubbing her swollen ankles. Already her abdomen rounded gently with the advancement of her pregnancy, only four months along.
"Yes, they are," Sean announced, striding impatiently around the room.
"What I want to know is why."
"Well maybe they were sent here against their will," Mona suggested.
"That's the problem. It's all too convenient," Sean shook his head. "And now they've got KISS eating out of their hand!"
"Well maybe Blackwell is responsible. Because the Elder were damn sure they wanted the girls with them," Tyler suggested.
"Blackwell? What if these Elders are playing games? And we have no proof of Blackwell in this world."
"I don't know, but we can't turn them away. After all one of them is preggers, right?" Mona asked.
"True," Sean sighed.
"I'll stand by them for now," Darryl nodded.
"I would like to meet them," Mona said, trying to get up.
"Uh uh, you're staying put," Tyler cautioned.
"Now come on, I'm not invalid for crying out loud!" Mona griped at him.
"Baby, I don't want you to have to work too hard," Tyler protested. "You're carrying our kids remember?"
"With you hovering over me how can I forget?" she laughed as Tyler kissed her sweetly. Just then Peter Criss and his daughter Jennie entered the small dwelling, and smiled at his son and daughter in law.
"How's my kitten doing?" he asked.
"I'm going crazy," Mona groaned. "Your son won't leave me alone!"
"It's only for the best," Peter said, kissing her cheek as he leaned over her. He stroked a hand over her belly, and stood back with a gleam of pride in his eyes. "Always wanted grand kids."
"Is that a hint, Dad?" Jennie groaned.
"Don't be too much in a hurry, little girl," Peter cautioned her. He caught sight of how her eyes met Darryl's, and grinned to himself. Darryl wasn't a bad kid, but they were still teens. There could be a nice delay before his next child got involved, he hoped.
"Mr. Criss... Peter... I'm worried about those two newcomers," Sean stammered out. "Doesn't it seem suspicious that they are, just found in the middle of nowhere and they look exactly like the girls in our dreams?"
"Yeah, that's kind of suspicious all right, but let's just wait and see. Gene and Ace can handle them. And Paul's got his eye on them. "
"But Jeannie is in there with them..." Sean got out.
"Paul's there with her."
"I want to see them..." Mona said, trying to get up.
"Well, let's just wait and see okay? You need to rest. "
"I've rested half the day!" Mona spluttered.
"Oh, all right, let her go," Peter groaned. "Both of you. You don't want to make the little lady unhappy son, because you gotta put up with her for five more months!"
"I heard that, Dad!" Jennie scolded her father, nudging him.
"Lighten up, you guys," Peter joked. Helping Mona to stand, Tyler walked her toward the door. Darryl and Sean made to follow, but Peter stopped them for a moment.
"Why don't you guys go out on patrol or something? Make yourselves useful. I mean man; you need to chill a little, guys..." Peter suggested.
"I normally go out with Tyler..." Darryl muttered.
"Well, it won't kill you, and you have the gun, right?" Peter asked him. "Look, if it will make you feel any better I'll tag along..."
"Don't worry, we can take it from here," Sean said boldly, and grabbed Darryl's arm. "Let's go out and get some air."
"Okay man," Darryl agreed. "Later, Peter!"
"See you guys," Peter nodded. "Be careful," Jennie called to them both. She saw the thoughtful look in her father's warranted face, and nudged him. "Dad what's on your mind?"
"Darryl. You like him, don't you?"
"Don't be silly dad!"
"I saw the way you were making eyes at him, Jennie. You dig him."
She shrugged, "Well, we are the last people on Earth right? Can you blame me for wanting to scope out the possibilities?"
"Not at all, but you're still a young woman, and Darryl's a teenager! Slow down and enjoy it."
"It's hard to, when the world's blown up, dad," Jennie sighed, sinking into the easy chair. The guesthouse was furnished nicely with its own bank of computer synthesizers and other amenities. Peter and she spent much of their time here with Mona and Tyler now. Except when Jennie spent the night in Susan's room. She and Gene's younger daughter got along pretty well, despite their age difference.
"I know, but we gotta be tough and hang in there, now the next generation's coming, honey," Peter said, leaning over her and squeezing her shoulder affectionately.
"I just miss mom," Jennie blurted out.
"Damn, so do I," Peter muttered. He sighed as he thought of Georgia, who had been senselessly claimed by the blast of the comet impact. She had perhaps been at ground Zero back in NYC where it hit. His heart ached at the loss, and he fell silent.
"I'm sorry..." Jennie got out as Peter sank to the sofa, and put his head in his hands. She rushed to his side, sitting next to her father.
"Shit. it still sucks.... damn I miss her too," Peter got out.
"Dad... I..." Jennie got out, laying her head on his shoulder and hugging her father tightly. He gripped his daughter's hand in his gloved one, holding her close as he wrapped his arms around her.
"I still have you, sweetheart... and Tyler and Mona and the grandkids. And I'll be damned if I'll let anything happen to my family again..." he gritted.
From the house Paul sensed Peter's anger from the guesthouse, and sighed deeply. He had nothing of his family left, save that, which grew in Jeannie's belly. His own son was dead, forced to inhabit a KISS army fan's body. He moved over to Jeannie, who was watching the concert footage intently, yet keeping a watchful eye on Shandi and Kelsey. They cuddled up to Ace and Gene, who had slipped arms around them both. Shandi sighed with contentment as Ace let her lean her head on his chest, and Gene had Kelsey leaning against him as well. They wore their costumes, except Gene's had been changed for the open chest Love gun version. She herself had adapted a modified one to accommodate her swelling belly.
"Hey, maybe we should leave them alone," Paul joked as he sat next to Jeannie on the other couch.
"Yeah I guess," Jeannie sighed deeply. Paul gripped her hand, and squeezed it to deposit a soft kiss on the back. He traced a hand over her belly, feeling for any signs of life. There would be no kicks so early on, he knew.
"Hey, I know you're bummed, Jeannie. Is there anything I can do?" Paul asked.
"Other then make passionate love to me, no," Jeannie joked. "But seriously Paul, I'm worried about Sean. Something not quite right with him."
"I was afraid of it too," Paul sighed. "His mind... well... it's as if Sean's beginning to fight Elliot."
"Shit, I knew it was a bad idea," Jeannie snapped.
"Well, Sean was willing at first. But there's something wrong. The two spirits are no longer in harmony. That splitting in the Odyssey world... well I think it did considerable damage to the link Elliot established. Because your minds were stolen from your bodies by the Elder."
"They promised that they would send him back!" Jeannie cried out. "That there was no way that Elliot's mind could be split from Sean's!"
"Possibly, but they were wrong. If Sean's mind rejects Elliot's, then he link will be broken."
"But how will the right pieces of their minds form?" Jeannie asked, tears in her eyes as she began to fear again for her love.
"Jeannie, you okay, girl?" Gene asked as he looked toward his daughter and Paul.
"I... I don't know," she began to cry, and rose off the couch. "I don't want to bother you. I'll just go upstairs."
"But Jeannie," Gene got out before she rushed upstairs, head in her hands.
"I'll talk to her," Paul volunteered, and rushed after her. "You stay with those two."
"Jeannie are you okay?" Kelsey asked, and Shandi wondered together.
"It's okay. She's just pregnant, and you know how women get into moods when they're expecting."
Gene said. "I'm sure Paul will talk some sense into her."
"I should know," Shandi laughed, rubbing her belly.
"So Shandi, any idea who the dad is?" Ace asked.
"Ace, put a sock in it!" Gene muttered angrily at Ace's forgetfulness, because Shandi and Kelsey had told them about being in the world of the Elder.
"It is the child of me and Celestial," she told him. "And they had told us you have been there before."
"True, doll, but any idea how you two got here, considering it's a dream world to us?" Gene asked Kelsey.
"Good point, Gene," Ace nodded.
"We were doing something we shouldn't," Kelsey admitted sheepishly. "And next thing we woke up here!"
"Anything else you can remember?" Ace asked.
"I felt dark magic drag us here," Shandi admitted. "And a fire that felt as if we were burning, and then..."
"We were here," Kelsey sighed. "Without our Elder... because of some dumb prophecy by Celestial!"
"It wasn't his fault!" Shandi shot back. "If you hadn't twisted my arm to make me tell it!"
"Hey, I had a right to know!"
"If you hadn't made me make the fire we'd still be there!" Shandi cried.
"You don't know that!" Kelsey cried. "But because of that damn prophecy I'll never see my demon and you'll never see Celestial again!"
"Ladies, please!" Gene held up his hands. "Enough already!"
"I know but I... oh damn," Kelsey began to cry.
"I'm sorry okay! I wish Celestial had never told me the stinking prophecy!" Shandi shrieked at her.
"Chill, it's not worth fighting gals!" Ace urged her.
"Kelsey... I know you're upset..." Gene said, taking her hand. "But is getting angry at your friend going to help you get back..."
"No... I just... I'm sorry Shandi I'm just so upset I could spew... I'll never see him again, “Kelsey stammered, hugging her knees. Shandi sobbed as Ace held her again.
"Hey it'll be okay," Ace soothed, stroking Shandi's hair. She clung to him, weeping bitterly.
"I'm so sorry Kelsey it's all my fault," Shandi bawled.
"It's my stupid fault," Kelsey added, voice muffled in Gene's chest. He sighed, and exchanged a glance with Ace.
"Hey, why don't we get you up to bed," Ace asked Shandi. "C'mon... You can stay in my room."
Gently he picked her up as if she were the most valuable thing in the world, still hugging his shoulder and sobbing into his chest. He took her upstairs, leaving Gene alone with Kelsey in front of the television. He knew he had to do something, or else somehow distract her from the depths of her despair.
"Kelsey," Gene sighed, tipping her chin as he pulled her off his chest to peer into his face.
"I'll never see him again. oh God I feel so alone," she sniffed, eyes filled with tears.
"Kelsey, there's something we forgot to tell you. You might not be able to go back there now, but there is a way, when you're asleep," Gene whispered.
"How?"
"The way Paul and the rest of us visited. Paul can use his powers to open a gateway to their dream world. You can see them in your dreams."
"Oh," Kelsey gasped. "Really?"
"Sure thing, doll," Gene smiled, stroking her cheek lightly with his fingers. She sighed deeply at how soft his touch was.
"I had forgotten."
"Yeah and I'm sure that next time you go to sleep, you'll dream about him."
"But I miss him now," Kelsey pouted, looking irresistibly cute. Gene felt the desires grow inside, realizing that her need mirrored his own. Both had lost their lovers. Lightly he fingered her soft lips, running his fingers over her teeth and tongue. His other hand rubbed her back through the leather jacket, attempting to push it off.
"Aren't you a little warm in that?" he asked her. She pushed the jacket off, shedding it as they sat together. Cuddling up to him closer, she peered into his dark eyes. They were as human as hers, but held wisdom, and great desire. Desire for her. A low moan escaped her throat at the feel of his fingers massaging her neck, then down her back toward her shoulders
"Oho that feels so good," she suddenly got out.
"Good. I want you to feel good," Gene lowered his voice, sending shivers all over her body. He seemed to know exactly where her secret points of desire lay, and how to stimulate each one perfectly. What other similarities existed? That kiss he had given her when she first awoke surged through her with hot fire, almost like that of her own Demon. He was a mortal man, but a very large man, solid and strong under her, built like a warrior. She ran her fingers over his bared chest, moving the chains that linked collar to the large ring in mid chest playfully. He emanated a low growl that drove her to the point of insanity and back.
"Do you have anyone now?" she asked him, peering up into his soft brown eyes.
"I have you here," he answered neatly. He was aged, but still very strong. How old was he in mortal years?
"I mean do you have a mate?"
"I once did. In fact, I have two children. But don't hold that against me, doll," he laughed lightly, licking his lips. She noticed that the length of his tongue was disproportionately long, and licked her own lips. He was no ordinary man even if he were a mortal.
"I won't, if you don't' hold the fact that I'm not from your world… against me," Kelsey answered, as he brushed her hair aside. She fingered his dark locks, feeling the wiry soft texture of his hair. He sighed as she ran her fingers through it. Over his marked cheek her fingers ran, her other hand slipping down beneath his costume made of some strange material she had never seen in her world.
"Mm, naughty girl," he laughed as her hand approached the belt and codpiece of his elaborate costume.
"Does it offend you?"
"I'm not stopping you," he laughed again, stroking a hand down her neck to stroke over the front of her shirt. She gasped again, arching her back as he caressed her breasts through the soft cotton shirt. Kelsey leaned up, and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. Strong arms wrapped her in them, pulling her flush with his chest. Within her mouth his tongue teased and stroked hungrily. Kelsey took both his cheeks in her hand, moaning as she caught her breath.
"That feels so good," she gasped, and opened her eyes. His mischievous smile seemed all too familiar.
"Come closer and say that, little girl," Gene growled, more of a command then a suggestion. He pulled her onto his lap, and she straddled him eagerly. The hunger burned inside Kelsey as well, and she desperately wanted someone to hold and touch her, for she missed her Demon badly.
"Make love to me," she whispered. "I miss him so much and yet… would it offend you if I slept with you, thinking of someone else?"
"Shh," Gene whispered, putting a finger over her lips. "I don't mind. You're a woman, you're lonely, and I'm available, so what's wrong with that?"
"Absolutely nothing," Kelsey panted dark with desire as he gently teased her breasts under her shirt.
***
Out into the ruins of LA they ventured, keeping close to one another as they drove along in a restored black convertible. The grinding engine kept away any nosy wildlife, and afforded a far safer means of egress since neither youth could fly. Behind the wheel, Sean pensively narrowed his gaze to the ruined roads ahead.
Darryl rode shotgun, glancing back and forth for any sign of activity amidst the piles of rubble. Something in the expressions and behaviors of Sean lately made his skin crawl. As if beneath the surface of his friend trouble was brewing.
"You okay man? I mean, you don't seem yourself."
"No shit Sherlock," Sean muttered. "I mean you aren't two people under one skin…"
"You agreed to it man, not me.
"Yeah, and I'm a hero. But where's the great battles? Day in and day out the last two months I've been freaking out! There's nothing going on… and this damn city's getting old… why can't we just… go out and find some other place to stay?"
"I agree there, bud, but where else is there to go?" Darryl asked. "I mean we could ask them to go back to our own time?"
"C'mon, how could I possibly fit in looking like this?" Sean asked. "Well maybe you should just call it quits?" Darryl asked. "If you can't hack it."
"I like the powers. For the first time in my life I'm somebody… but I don't have… well…"
"You're bored and bummed?"
"It's all gray damn it! No place to go, nothing to do! How many times can I practice my powers before I can use them! We kicked leader's ass, but there's been no action."
"Between the sheets either?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Are you pissed because you and Jeannie aren't getting it on?" Darryl came out and asked. Sean scowled, and grumbled.
"Well, we did for a while, but I know when she makes love to me she wants me to be Elliot, and I'm not."
"But you are… I mean he's in there!"
"Yeah. But lately… it's like… he's not there. And man, I'm scared to think of what would happen if he…"
"Wait a minute; I thought he was inside of you!" Darryl said slowly. "You mean to say he's not…"
"He is, but it's like he's slipping away. I used to be able to jive with him, but it's like now every time he's awake with me, we argue, and there are so many thoughts it drives me nuts. we're not in sync!"
"His fault or yours?"
"I don't know. we try, but every time we try, it's like it hurts too much… and then… we start to argue. I can't get away from his thoughts or he from mine. I don't know where he ends and I begin," Sean said slowly. "Like I don't know if what I feel for Jeannie is love, or infatuation."
"Does it matter?"
"She loves Elliot, not me." Sean grumbled. "And he's the one who knows how to use the powers. I… sometimes feel like I'm not important anymore."
"Well you accepted it, now you're stuck with it," Darryl said.
"I wish I could bring him back, but I can't!" Sean sighed. "I wish I could be the man Jeannie loves, but I can't be him! I never will be!"
"Then, what are you going to do?" Darryl asked.
"I don't know. shit I don't know," Sean sighed with despair. Star Child had been instructing him on the use of his telepathic senses, but he did not have the range or the grasp. Rather he sensed emotions, and one suddenly burst out of the surrounding monotone like a supernova. He stopped the car to the tune of screeching tires.
"What man, what?" Darryl gasped, cocking his trigger as the sudden stop threw them back into their seats.
"Something… someone just woke up… and they're scared shitless…" Sean gasped. "From over there… that apartment building… the basement…"
"A bomb shelter?"
"Starchild said he'd scanned, but maybe he didn't scan this far! There could be survivors who need our help! Come on!"
"But the car…"
"I'll put it in stealth," he whispered, and pressed a key. Suddenly energies shifted and the car vanished from view. Leaping over the door, he rushed toward the source of the flare. A continuous stream of tear and terror screamed out like a beacon, and he knew its source. At his heels, Darryl raced in the eerie twilight that was fast fading to night.
"We only have a few hours till night."
"Who can tell?" Sean shot back. He reached the base of the apartment tower, only ten stories high, but the top half had been blown out to a dozen eyeless windows gaping to the street below. Shards of glittering glass had rained into the street, now gleaming in the eerie twilight. Any passage of time seemed to be measured by artificial means now. Increasingly urgent the fear prickled his skin, beneath the leather-studded jacket the Bandit wore. He raised his hands, forming a muzzle with his fingers, as his thumbs were held back. A pencil thin beam spread down his arms from his mask, spewing from the point of his fused index fingers. Steel bubbled and melted under the assault of his laser focused telekinetic force beam. He burned a neat round hole that fell away with a kick from a silver platform boot.
"Showoff," Darryl muttered, when he saw that a simple melting of a door bolt would have afforded the same access.
"Hey, do it with style or don't bother doing it!" he laughed, and Darryl recognized this as a pure Sean laugh. Less and less of Elliot seemed fused in the voice lately, and he knew perhaps that Elliot was slowly losing his hold on this body. If so, would Sean loose his powers altogether? They stepped inside darkness, and Darryl pulled a flashlight from his KISS army vest, beaming it into the dankness that rose humidically around them both.
"This way… it's like a basement access…" he whispered. Gun in one hand, flashlight in the other, Darryl led the way.
He stopped when Sean put a hand on his shoulder. "That way. Down…"
"You gonna burn a hoe in the floor or use the stairs?" Darryl asked, beaming the flashlight towards the left. Sheepishly Sean followed his friend down the winding staircase. So tangible was the fear now that Sean inhaled and exhaled each breath of its owner now. He could see in his mind's eye the fear of being alone in darkness, the bulbs having gone out. Seeing each person around you dies one by one as the air became slowly spent. The food was low, and people seemed to die of strange maladies.
"Why am I the only one left alive? Why is the air so thin? Oh god the last bulb flickering… I'll be alone to die in the dark… please God Please… don't leave me here… can't get the door open… if I walk from here I'll die… the radiation!"
"Hurry!" he cried, racing toward a bolted heavy door, like that of a safe. He ripped at the bolt
with urgency, his heart pounding with the added fear that was not his now. Darryl joined him, shoveling aside rubble and bars while Sean tugged. Finally, he narrowed his gaze on the door beam, focusing the beam of telekinetic thought as sharply as he could.
"I'm coming, don't worry you'll be safe," he thought loudly in his mind, hoping she would hear. She, he was sure it was a girl whose thoughts he heard. :
*Hurry, whoever you are. am I going mad? Am I to be saved?
"I'm coming!" he cried, the lock almost burned through. At last, the bar fell with a clang, and Darryl and Sean ripped the steel door open with a mighty combined shove and straining of muscles. Once the door slid open, a blast of stale air whooshed out. They heard a panting shriek from someone within, and felt a warm body drop into the beam of Darryl's flashlight. Long hair flopped over a face as the figure pitched helplessly on the floor. Sean dropped to one knee, moving the hair aside of her face in the beam of the flashlight.
"She's the only one left alive," he whispered. "I felt her fear. she was scared of the dark."
"Better get her out of here…" Darryl nodded, dropping to his knees beside her as well. Blond hair shimmered gold, a pair of fair lashed eyes fast shut. She heaved breaths slowly, and quietly. Darryl shoved the gun into the front of his pants and helped Sean to make a chair of their hands and lift her body between them. They bore her slight form out of the basement shelter.
"Any food?" Darryl glanced back.
"None… she's wasted… almost starved. They almost fought trying to survive on the food they had," Sean shuddered. "I saw her fear and memories."
"Oh man," Darryl shuddered, not envying his friend now. They made their way thankfully into the outside air, which was blissfully cool and open compared to the hot claustrophobia they'd left. In their arms, they saw their damsel in distress more clearly. Long straight blond hair covered her face, once pushed aside to reveal classically beautiful features, now sallow with hunger. Her ribs showed in the tight spandex top she wore with the smudged jeans. On her feet, she wore sandals, which afforded a view of gold painted toenails. If they peered at her back as they lowered her into the car, they saw the glimpse of an Egyptian eye of Horus and the ankh under her raised shirt. Sean pulled it down over her back. Resting her in the seat between them, they saw the glimmering of a diamond "V" around her neck.
"Probably her first initial," Darryl guessed as Sean started the car and they roared back to the Mansion.
"Victoria, Valerie, Veronica?" Darryl asked.
"Vanessa," Sean completed. "Her name is Vanessa."
"You're sure? The chick's half scared and you got all that?"
"I feel… well I touched her cheek, and I sensed that. Vanessa. And she's eighteen, like us," he said slowly.
"Wow. But you weren't able to sense thoughts without touching were you?"
"I… was in her mind… her fear was so strong. it was like I became her for that moment," he gasped. "Better ask Paul about that."
"Why not ask your roomie?'
"Gimmie a break, he doesn't know either!" Sean snapped irritably as they drove along. Darryl turned his attention to Vanessa, steadying her between them. She felt enticing as her form bobbed and swayed into Darryl's shoulder, and he could feel her breast and shoulder press to his chest. He flushed, feeling the bolt of desire rising in his groin. She was going to be trouble; he just could feel it in his bones.
Back at the main house, Mona and Tyler glanced around to see if anyone was there. They saw Nathan and Susan turning off the DVD movie and placing another one it. Nathan sat down on the couch while Susan settled into the chair.
"Hey, where' your dad?" Mona asked.
"Upstairs in his office," Nathan laughed. "And he probably doesn't want to be disturbed."
"And my dad?" Mona asked.
"Went up to his room," Susan said. "You guys want to chill with us to see if Dad's coming back down? He usually does after a performance."
"Don't tell me, he took a redhead with him?" Tyler asked.
"On a rocket ride?" Mona added.
"You could call it that," Nathan grinned.
"I'm going to go see my dad. I'm sure he's still awake…" Mona said, starting up the stairs. Tyler remained with Nathan and Susan, determined to get more information about the newcomers, or tactfully wait for Gene to return downstairs. She carefully strode up, under the watchful eye of Tyler. At last she reached the second floor landing and strode down the hall toward the room her father inhabited. At first, they had shared this guest suite, but ever since Ace learned, Tyler was her mate he insisted they sleep together.
She fingered the wedding ring that had been given to her, and flushed. Where had Tyler gotten it from, she wondered. Even though they could not find a priest or JOP to legally join them, Peter and ace had presided over a makeshift wedding ceremony of sorts, where Ace and Peter symbolically gave their children to each other to dedicate their lives. It was what Tyler called ham fasting, a dedication that a man gave a woman from ancient Celtic rites for seven years. Eventually it would be renewed. Peter would have preferred a proper religious wedding, but there were no priests to be found, yet.
"Dad, you up here?" she asked, knocking on the door. "Shandi?"
"Down here, Mona," Ace's voice came. She opened the door, and stepped into another world. Banks of computers lined three of the walls of the front room of the guest suite. Before a flickering screen Ace moved ciphers back and forth on his touchpad keyboard. He looked up at his daughter and grinned. "Come to visit your old man? You should've waited for me to drop by!"
"I wanted to see if Shandi and Kelsey really were here! I was told…"
"She's back in bed, sleeping. Poor chick was bummed she couldn't be with her Celestial dude. It's a real downer."
"I know, you are sweet to bring her here."
"Mona?" came a voice from the back bedroom. "Is that you?"
"Shandi?" Mona cried, and rushed into the back. She stumbled, but Ace was right there to steady his daughter.
"Careful with the gravity, kid," he cackled.
"I… well… try walking with 20 extra pounds on platforms!" she joked back as Ace helped her to walk to the back. Shandi lay comfortably on Ace's bed, the comforter pulled up to her waist. Mona giggled at the sight of the soft flannel jammies she wore.
"Mona!" Shandi cried with glee, holding an arm out to her. Mona sat on the side of the bed, and both women embraced. They instantly shared that common bond that two women expecting would have. Initiated into the school of pregnancy, they glowed in mutual awe. However, the look of sorrow in Mona's eyes told Shandi she knew the great loss the girl faced.
"I'm sorry, so sorry," Mona nodded, taking Shandi's hand.
"I know. I miss him so much," Shandi began to cry again. Ace wedged his way between the two, draping a slim arm around each to hug them close.
"Hey now, don't start crying again, gals, I don't want the two main ladies in my life to get all bummed!" Ace urged. "Please… after all my hard work to get this little girl smiling!"
"I'm not a little girl!" Shandi protested.
"Well she's well and legal where they come from," Mona added hotly.
"Oops, major off target!" Ace held up a hand. "Now, before I put a boot into my mouth again."
"So you say you had an accident that brought you here?" Mona asked. "Care to tell me about it?"
"Well…" Shandi blushed. "It started when Celestial told me about a vision he had."
Jeannie buried her face in her pillow, crying like a baby. She hated these mood swings that came and went with no warning. It was so hard to keep it all together, and she knew that Sean wanted little to do with her now. She could sense the battle raging within, and it was painful to behold.
"Penny for your thoughts, beautiful?" came a smooth voice that sent shivers of awkwardness all over her.
"I… don't feel like talking, Paul," she got out.
"Tough, because I'm available, and you're gonna listen…" Paul answered, striding in.
"I… oh shit," she got out. "I hate this."
"Hey, c'mere you," Paul urged, sitting on the edge of her bed. Jeannie laid her head into his shoulder as he stroked her back gently. He held her close, letting her cry for a time.
"It's not fair! I know Sean means well, but I just… can't… forget who he is… and… I feel like he wants more then I can give!"
"You can only give what you want Jeannie? Is it so bad to let go and put yourself first?" Paul asked her, cupping her chin with his hand.
"I want Elliot back!" she sobbed. "Oh god I know I say it so much."
"I know. I want him back too," Paul sighed.
"Oh Paul I feel so mad I could scream. It hurts less and less, and yet to have Elliot and know he's not himself, and both of them are suffering in that one body… why have things changed all of a sudden?"
"I sensed the split when you came back…" Paul sighed. "I thought it would settle down."
"Why didn't you tell me, Paul?"
"You already knew. I didn't want to frighten you."
"What's happening to them both?" Jeannie demanded, parting from Paul's hug for a moment.
"I think… it's something to do with the fact that Elliot's soul was taking from Sean's body without either being willing. And that created a rift in the bond they shared. So when Elliot was returned to his 'host', Sean wasn't ready."
"But he was… I thought he was…"
"I'm concerned that something came back with Elliot… for the ride," Paul admitted. "And that Elliot should have found another host instead of Sean coming back."
"But they said that the bond couldn't' be undone."
"They were wrong," Paul said slowly. "It can be. Elliot is inexperienced in this. The host was willing, but the stress is taking its toll. He must chose another host soon, or move on."
"Paul, I don't want to lose him. Is it possible he could go back to the Odyssey world, and live there?"
"Yes, I had thought that would be best," Paul sighed deeply. "But I'm like you. I'm selfish. I want my son in this world… so he can have a chance to live."
"So do I. I want him so badly. He's my other half Paul, and the thought of losing him… is more then I can bear! How much longer do I have to go through this shit?"
"It needs to stop, now," Paul sighed again. "I want him to be at peace. And you too."
Jeannie laid her head on Paul's chest as he swung onto the bed next to her. He simply cuddled her close, letting her know she was not alone. Sean had done this in the past, but lately he had come to share her bed less and less. Finally, she broke the silence, "Paul, Sean and Darryl, I made love to them before. But now, neither one will even lay a hand on me… because of my condition."
"They're afraid making love to a pregnant woman's a sacrilege and will hurt the baby."
"Am I wrong?"
"No. You want to be held, loved, and touched…" Paul sighed. "They just want to respect boundaries."
"I know."
"You need to take care of you, Jeannie Simmons," Paul told her, stroking her hand. "And that grandson of mine."
"But the child needs its father."
"Sometimes it doesn't work out. man I see all those other kids… and I just… shit," Paul began, trying not to lose his composure. Jeannie held him in her arms, pulling him close as he sighed deeply. He tried valiantly not to cry, but it was fast becoming hopeless.
"Shit, here I am supposed to be comforting you, and I'm about to lose it," Paul laughed ironically, wiping a tear from his star covered eye when he lay on his side next to her. She stroked his hair aside of his cheek, and he lay a hand over her belly's curve.
"Hey, we're all a mess," Jeannie sighed with a sad smile. "But we're alive, aren't we? For what it's worth."
"It's worth that," Paul smiled, lightly stroking over her belly again, as he struggled to sense the life forming within. Jeannie instinctively curled up, pressing her back to Paul's chest as he wrapped himself around her protectively. He pulled the blankets over her to make sure she was warm. In truth, the heat from her body seeped into his cold one, granting him gentle warmth. Protectiveness surged from him to her, and he knew he'd do anything to protect his best friend's daughter and his grandson whom she carried.
"Who is that?" Gene asked, as he strode downstairs. It was the middle of the night by his reckoning, and both his children, Nathan and Susan, were huddled around the couch with Darryl and Sean.
"I don't know Dad," Susan confessed, parting from the group and walking up to where he stood halfway up the stairs. "Darryl and Sean found her. They say she was the only survivor of the whole shelter…"
"Really," Gene muttered. "Well, is she awake or not?"
"That's what we're waiting for," Susan shrugged. Nathan and Darryl hovered over Sean, who had the girl's head cradled on his lap. Gene let out a growl, his anger rising at this man who he saw previously with his daughter, now paying an extreme amount of attention to this stranger.
"I don't like it," Susan whispered to her dad, walking up the stairs to join him. "It's like he's dissing Jeannie… it's not fair."
"Figures. Once she's pregnant and unable to put out, he's not willing to stick around. Don't like it much."
"What is his deal?" Susan wondered. "Unless… they had some fight… and I don't think they did, but if it was Elliot."
"He's not Elliot," Gene whispered. "That's the problem. Once we found that he was the host, we treated him differently. Kid's resenting our expectations probably. He's only seventeen. Elliot was almost nineteen, and a hell of a lot more mature. This kid had no idea who he wanted to be before KISS, and he worships the ground we walk on. He's a devoted fan, but now that he has the responsibility he doesn't' know what to do."
"Elliot needs to find someone else," Susan muttered. Then she coughed and glanced up at her dad again. "So, you and that Kelsey girl… you uh… like her?"
"Aren't you a little young to be asking for a blow by blow?"
"Dad, I'm sixteen!" she said rolling her eyes. "You think I don't know two people looking at each other in a certain way."
"Well, she's lonely, I'm lonely," Gene said, and his voice trailed off as he shrugged. He was torn between leveling with her and protecting her, even though she was on the verge of adulthood, seeing Jeannie grow up so fast made him hesitate.
"It's none of my business, right?" Susan asked.
"Well yeah, and no," Gene shifted his weight, awkwardly. "Look, it doesn't change how I feel about you, Jeannie or your brother. It's just… well."
"I want you to be happy Dad," Susan laughed. "So if you're having sex with her it's no biggie okay?"
"Okay, but don't be too interested… you're still sixteen okay?" Gene warned her. "Stay that age a little longer. we don't' need too many adults around here."
"Dad, gimmie a break," she groaned. Gene stroked her cheek gently, fingering her hair. Concern
filled his face, and Susan knew that look in his eyes well.
"Well there aren't many people you can lecture here, Dad," she joked back. Slipping an arm around her dad the two strode downstairs together. Nathan glanced up at his father and sister, then quickly back to where Sean and Darryl fussed over their charge.
"So, you found this chick in a bomb shelter?" Gene asked, hand on his hip.
"Yeah," Darryl said, glancing up. "Sean here… he…"
"I sensed her fear and followed it. She almost suffocated, because the air system in the shelter was clogged for some reason. Most of the food was gone, and the other people in the shelter succumbed to some disease," Sean cut in quickly. "She was all alone."
"Well isn't there a chance she has that disease?" Gene asked levelly. "And maybe you should have told us before you brought her in here."
"You guys didn't hesitate before bringing in those girls," Sean shot back.
"Peter can sense disease. It's part of his powers as the Cat Man," Gene answered. "He's tapped into nature. That includes telling if someone's infected or ill."
"Well I didn't sense anything wrong," Sean said hastily. "She was weak, but the sickness did most of it."
"Keep her down here. Nate, go get Peter… or Tyler… quick," Gene snapped his fingers.
"Gotcha dad," Nathan nodded, knowing it was best not to argue or ask why. Within minutes Tyler followed Nathan back, and rested his hands on his hips as he peered at Sean and Darryl.
"So, is she sick?' Darryl asked him. Susan still stood near her father, feeling as if she should remain a spectator.
"No. She's starving half to death. That's probably what killed the other people there… from what Nathan told me quickly. Darryl, you sure everyone else there was dead?"
"Nobody else was breathing. And this girl was barely alive…" Darryl said.
"Her fear called out to me," Sean said softly, stroking the girls' soft blond locks. She moaned, whispering something under her breath. He leaned over close to listen, as Darryl glanced from Tyler to Gene.
"Well if she's not sick, then she can stay in the downstairs guestroom...” Gene said gruffly. "And
since you're the big hero who rescued her, you can take care of her…"
"I will, you don't have to worry," Sean nodded eagerly. Almost too eagerly, Susan shook her head.
"I'll help," Darryl offered. "If that's okay."
"Whatever," Sean said, and gently picked her up in his arms. Darryl helped him, and together they followed Nathan.
"Dad, I don't like this," Susan grimaced. "It's like he doesn't' give a shit about…"
"If my sister used that lingo my dad washed her mouth out with soap," Tyler teased, then shut up at Gene's warning look.
"You're worried about Sean and Jeannie right?" Gene asked Susan.
"Well, Jeannie's a big girl now. Her love life is her business," Tyler shrugged.
"Well he just drops her… I mean Elliot wouldn't," Susan protested. "Are you telling me we shouldn't care if he hurts her feelings?"
"That's not what I mean," Tyler raised a hand. "I simply mean that she's old enough to make her own decisions. If Sean and her aren't getting along… well, we shouldn't' interfere in her problems."
"He's not Elliot, that's the problem, like I said before…" Gene reiterated, folding his arms across his chest.
"Well if he's hosting Elliot, he's sure as he… heck not acting like him," Susan stamped her foot.
"That's what worries me," Gene said evenly. "And what's worrying me now too is that you should be getting sleep, little girl. You and your brother both."
"Aw c'mon now…" Susan started, but her protest died with his firm glance. She trotted upstairs without a further word to the contrary. Gene caught her waist and pressed a kiss to her forehead.
"Speaking of sleep, I'm surprised you're not still in bed," Tyler said slowly.
"I was just wondering what all the excitement was," Gene answered. "And shouldn't you be with your girl?"
"I came over to bring her back…" Tyler answered.
The two exchanged awkward glances, and then it was Gene who broke the silence, "You and Mona… are you comfortable?"
"It's nice of you to give us our own space," Tyler nodded. "Thanks…"
"If it helps, why the hell not," Gene shrugged. "It's not like I don't' have the room. But don't' be strangers."
"Absolutely not," Tyler nodded. "I am worried about Elliot… I mean Sean too… but I didn't want to make Susan more worried."
"I wonder if Elliot is in there at all," Gene growled. "Anyway, thanks for checking the girl out."
"Gene, she has some strange chikara around her. Like Shandi and Kelsey do. But it's not that otherworld energy."
"Is it like ours?"
"No. Or Leader's. It's different."
"Hmm," Gene muttered. Glancing one last time back at the downstairs area, he strode upstairs with Tyler.
Mona stepped out of Ace's room at that moment, feeling a strange buzzing in her temples. Ace had just kissed his daughter goodnight, when they realized how late it was. That chronometer seemed the only measure of time in this twilight world, except the darkening in the cloudy skies.
"Hey Mona, how's my lady doing?" Tyler asked, striding down the hall. Gene smiled at Mona, and headed back to his bedroom.
"Get your lady outta here and get her to bed already," Gene joked.
Tyler grinned, and turned to his mate, "So… Shandi?"
"She's sleeping now. It is her all right."
"Man, I wonder how they got here," Tyler muttered.
"Some spell of Shandi's backfired when they were trying to look into our world. Because Celestial had a prophecy."
Tyler absorbed her version of the story as he walked her back down the rear stairs of the second floor. It was a servant's passage in the huge mansion, leading directly to the courtyard where the pool and guesthouse lie. He somehow wanted to avoid the small guestroom on the first level.
"Tyler, what's going on?" she asked noticing the faraway look in his penetrating green eyes.
"Well, Sean and Darryl found a mystery woman too. But her chikara… the energies... you know how I can smell them?"
"She has a strange chikara, as if she had powers?"
"Exactly. But it's not a sort of Chikara I've smelt before. IT smelled ancient. But she's just a chick, which they found in a shelter, and the last one left alive… barely."
"Oh man."
"And Sean's drooling all over her, and totally not giving Jeanie a second glance."
"Damn," Mona cursed. They reached the courtyard, and crossed quickly to the guesthouse. Before they could even open the door, it swung open to reveal Peter.
"There you kids are! You know what time it is son, letting your woman stay so late?"
"Don't nag, Dad," Tyler groaned. "You're ruining my rep."
"Get in here you two," he joked.
"You heard about the new girl?" Mona asked.
"By way of Nathan express, yeah. And those other two."
"Definitely Shandi and Kelsey. They're cool," Mona added, as Peter closed the door behind them.
"But it's the other one I'm worried about," Tyler said. Peter chewed his lip as his son and daughter in law went back to the master bedroom of the guesthouse. Hairs suddenly rose on the back of his neck, and he glanced back at the main house.
"I don't like this at all," he shook his head.
"Where am I?" Vanessa asked, opening her eyes. She blinked up into the black and white blur that leaned over her, and slowly grew into focus.
"You're safe, you're here with us," Sean cooed, stroking her forehead.
She moved back, blinking wildly. "Who the hell are you? Where the hell am I?"
"You're safe," Darryl repeated. "Don't' worry."
"You could be some homicidal maniacs who want their way with me," she said suspiciously, even though she felt weak.
"Yeah, but if we did, then you'd feel it," Sean joked lamely.
"Well, you have a point. Are you the guy who dragged me outta that rat hole?"
"Yeah, both of us," Darryl said.
"Good of you. I could swear I was losing it when I heard this voice in my head… say are you some freaked out magic types?"
"Well depends on what you mean," Sean blushed. "I…."
He backed away; fear all of a sudden in his brown eyes. Slowly her gaze fixed into his, questioning and probing in a way that made him shiver. Within something stirred and flooded him with a squirming, loathing revulsion.
"It's not like that," he whispered within his mind. "I know I know nothing about her, but what makes her any less special then the others."
"Is he… sane?" Vanessa asked Darryl, still backing away.
"Leave me alone, can't you stop already," he snapped. Then next instant he said slowly, "It's a difference of opinion… but you must be careful… I'm not…"
"Sean man, you're scaring us!" Darryl got out.
"I am sick of living up to their expectations!" Sean got out.
"Who I she talking to?" she asked Darryl as they watched him closely yet not daring to interfere.
"Is it multiple personality disorder?"
"Uh… sort of."
"Shit," she got out.
"He's not been this bad… but…"
"Leave me alone!" Sean cried. "I can't think."
Vanessa pushed Darryl aside, and managed to stand. She moved over to Sean, who slumped down onto his knees. Lavender energy surged around his head, crackling his curly hair into a wild forest of frizz.
"You gotta tell it who's boss," she urged him. "Get them to stop! Tell them who is in control!"
"I… no… you can't… trust… leave me alone!!!!" Sean yelled, pounding the floor.
"Sean, snap outta it man!" Darryl shouted, moving to his other side, and grabbing his friend's shoulders. Suddenly Sean snapped his head back, throwing Darryl off of him with a whip cracking toss of his shoulders. Head over heels Darryl rolled, landing hard against the sofa at the other side of the bedroom. Sean began to convulse, energies building to a climax as the battle raged within.
"Get out of me!" a loud shout rang out.
Jeannie awakened to feel a warm body next to her. Hot breath fanned her ear, a pair of arms wrapped securely around her. Over onto her back she turned, to notice Paul's head occupying the pillow next to hers. He lay on top of the blankets, which cocooned her, but pinned access to one side of the bed because of his wonderful weight.
"Paul," she asked, nudging him. "You awake? Is everything all right?"
"Mm," he murmured, and then blinked, shaking his head. Dark lashes opened to soul pools of complete midnight.
"I heard you cry out… was it you?"
"Man… I was out," Paul gasped, then registered Jeannie in the bed, covered to her waist, but still very close.
"I hear you shout, Get out… and it woke me up…" Jeannie told him, reaching a hand out to his. "Are you okay?"
"I… for a moment it felt like someone was pushing, fighting… and then… there was silence. I…"
Green eyes glanced into dark mahogany, and simultaneously they said, "Sean."
In the depths of Paul's gaze she saw lavender energy sparkle, feeling the prickling over her skin arising. Purple haze crackled from around Paul, and his eyes flared amethyst. He sat bold upright on top of her bed, his focus shifting somewhere beyond the present reality.
"Must leave… can't… get out of there… danger… someone pushing."
"Paul… what…" Jeannie demanded, gripping his arm. Purple chikara surged over her body, pushing against her own life force. A firm hand pushed her gently away, as Paul swung his legs over the bed and stood straight up.
"You must leave him… you must… break the link," Paul repeated softer this time. "Come out… before you're buried."
"Shit, Paul, what the hell are you doing?" Jeannie demanded, not sure if she should disturb him or leave him be. Tension knotted Paul's face, wrinkling the star into an intense frown of concentration. As soon as it had appeared, the radiance crackled into a gentle glow, then faded entirely.
Paul inhaled deeply, and then turned his gaze on Jeanie. "OH man… I'm sorry I didn't mean to wake you, but I could swear I heard Elliot calling me. He needed my help."
"Paul is Elliot here… or in Sean. you must tell me!"
"He… Sean… has cast him out," Paul whispered sadly, taking Jeannie's hand in his.
"What are you saying?" Jeannie demanded.
"He's… gone. Just… I… don't know… I was trying to scan Sean's mind to see which personality was dominant… and then… I could feel him pushing, resisting… and Elliot shouting out to me for help… and then… a fight."
"Shit… we'd better…"
"No. It's over."
"What do you mean it's over… he's not…"
"No… he's still here," Paul whispered. "Just not in Sean… it's hard to explain."
"Then where…" Before Paul could answer, they heard a scream piercing the night. Both were halfway out the door before they could think straight.
Vanessa saw that Darryl was all right, a little shaken but still breathing. He got up, shaking his head when she moved to his side. He had landed by the sofa, head upside down, where his backside should be, his legs splayed over the sofa seat.
"GET OUT OF ME!" Sean roared, wreathed in lavender mist. He raised slowly, his boots a foot above the carpet.
"Oh man," Darryl breathed, and Vanessa gripped his arm tightly. It seemed as if the room itself had come alive with a hidden wind. Around and around him the energy surged as his eyes flared bright crimson, arms outstretched into the open air. \
"Stop it!" Vanessa cried, hair streaking past her head. She forced her way to her feet, and slowly moved toward the floating figure. Harder with each passing second the phantom wind slammed into the sheets of the bed and slashed at their faces mercilessly. With her last bit of energy, she grabbed his legs, struggling to pull him down. What good it would do she didn't know, but it seemed as insane as what was just transpiring. Darryl turned over, and slowly began to crawl to her aid.
"I CAN'T… NO MORE!" Sean yelled, in a voice of many.
"STOP IT!" Vanessa shouted, shaking his legs violently. "Before you tear this room apart!"
"Vanessa, what are you doing?" Darryl moaned. "That won't help!"
"STOP IT!" Vanessa shouted louder over the noise of the wind, and Sean's screams. "NOW!"
Was it Darryl's imagination, or did the lavender energy surge into Vanessa? She arched her back when the radiance suddenly flared up, throwing her off. A bright flash blinded all reason, and for a moment, Darryl could see the bones in his hands. The next minute he shook his head, groaning. Sean lay on the floor; face down near where Vanessa had fallen. Silence drilled into the air.
***
"Hey, shh, it's okay," Ace whispered, holding Shandi close to him. She shivered coldly, staring past him into some hidden place.
"I… it was two people fighting… and then nothing. a psychic battle," she shook her head.
"Baby, it was only a dream."
"No, I sensed it. My magic sense let me feel chikara… but this was the astral plane. Two forces fighting a pitched battle, and one was chucked out."
"I thought your powers were like, air and illusion," Ace said. "You're not telepathic are you?"
"I was trained to sense energy," she said slowly. "And that battle gave off a whole wave of it!"
"Oh," Ace cackled sheepishly.
"Shandi… you okay?" Jeannie asked, standing at the doorway.
"Jeanie… you heard it too?"
"Actually we heard you," Paul said with a slow wink of his star covered eye.
"Man this is grand central station tonight," Ace joked.
"But you felt it too…" Shandi looked to Paul. "I felt your chikara."
"I was a spectator," Paul admitted. "But the danger, it's passed for now."
"Say what?" Shandi and Ace asked together.
"I mean we don't' have to worry, about Elliot," Paul said. "Because…"
"Paul, get your butt in here!" came Gene's voice. Paul cursed under his breath when Jeannie turned at the sound of her father's shout.
"Gene I'm right in the middle of…"
"No I'm serious, Paul," Gene growled, sticking his head and shoulders in the door. "C'mon… It's the kids, downstairs. Some serious shit's gone down!"
"What do you mean?" Ace asked.
"I went down to check on Darryl and Sean, and the new kid."
"What new kid?"
"Darryl and Sean found someone else," Shandi told him.
"Man, I need to wake up!" Paul groaned.
"What's worse is that Nathan heard something from downstairs and he came running like hell to tell me that he saw a flash, then the three kids, lifeless,” Gene gritted.
"Ace, better port us down there," Jeannie said.
"No way, you are staying here!" Paul said firmly.
"Now wait!"
"Do what the man says!" Gene gritted. "Ace, get us down there now!"
Darryl moved first, rolling to sit up, agonizing pain in every joint. He should have broken bones all over his body, and yet the pain slowly subsided. Each passing second made it easier to move, as if he could feel the bones themselves knitting together. Before much more time passed he could move his arm, and breathe without the tight bands of pain crossing his chest. Face down across the room he could see the girl sprawled next to Sean, who laid face up, Bandit markings still in place.
Slowly he crawled over to his friend, and listened. Even before he reached Sean, he could swear he could hear the heartbeat halfway across the room. Every minute sound seemed strangely magnified. An odd musk scent filled his nostrils. He turned to the girl next, slowly inhaling the floral scent of Vanessa. IT seemed to demarcate her as unique. What was that tingling acrid bite that wafted into his nostrils suddenly? He twitched his nose, and rolled her over. On his lips formed a gasp at what he saw, for her pale skin was even paler. Cream features were blanched milk white, the dark eyes outlined in black markings he could swear harkened back to the pharaohs. The strange gold trappings she wore also floored him, the kilt in gold and the leather halter-top completely alien compared to what she was wearing before. Around her neck jingled a chain, and an Egyptian Ankh dropped out into view. Had she been wearing it before? Had the world gone mad?
Slowly she stirred, and moaned. Blue eyes peered up from their outline of kohl, eyebrows incorporated into the large gilded ankh on her forehead and the length of her nose. She fixed her gaze on him and shuddered. She backed away in fear.
"Hey its Darryl... are you okay?"
"Freak," she gasped. "Just like the other. who the hell are you?"
"Wait… its okay… we're alive. I know you're probably freaked, but there's a reason for it," he said, holding out a hand to her. She panicked, chest heaving in and out in fear as she glanced anxiously around the room. Beside her, she saw Sean, still in bandit war paint.
She leaned over him, shaking him desperately, "Sean, wake up dammit! Everything's gone psycho!"
"Ohhh," Sean groaned, blinking as she supported her neck. He drew in his breath sharply at the white face figure peering into his own.
"Darryl… it sounds like him… but he's not…" she cried. Blinking, Sean looked to his friend, who was desperately moving closer.
"Sean…dammit it's me!"
"It is him…" Sean sighed. "But… he's changed… and so have you… Vanessa."
"What are you talking about?”
"Look," Sean said, grabbing a bit of gleaming mirror from the shattered mess on the floor, and holding it up to her. She let out a scream, backing away into Darryl's arms. Shuddering, she accepted his grasp, seeing his face alongside her own.
"What the hell has happened!" she wailed.
"Holy shit," Darryl got out. He saw the black swath across his eyes, much like a raccoon's mask, his hair twisted into auburn curls streaked with black. Dark black leather gloves enclosed his fists, which clutched Vanessa's delicate hands in support and mutual shock.
"You've changed, like I did, when I picked up Elliot's old guitar," Sean told them, moving close. Shivering, Vanessa clung tightly to Darryl.
"No shit," Darryl gasped.
"The energy… you were giving off a hell of a lot… did you do this?" Vanessa glared accusingly at him.
"I got rid of whatever was controlling me. A voice… it told me to cast him out and I did."
"What voice?"
"I don't know, but I hear nothing but silence... and it feels great!" Sean laughed a gleam in his eyes that Darryl didn't care for.
"But Elliot," Darryl asked. "Where is his soul?"
"I sent it away. Got rid of it."
"Wait, you mean there really was someone else inside you?" Vanessa asked, shaking her head.
"Yes. He hitched a ride. At first, it was cool, but then he started wanting everything his way. I wanted my own piece. So I sent him somewhere else."
"Where?" Darryl cried.
"Back to the place he went last time. I didn't kill him. But where he's gone he won't see his
precious Jeannie again. And she'll be mine…"
"You… sent him away… shit."
"They don't have to know. Besides…"
"You gave him permission to stay, remember," Darryl said. "What was all that stuff about becoming one?"
"That was to learn his powers. And they are still here. I still feel the chikara, but Elliot's not here to boss me around! And now you've got Chikara too."
"But where did it come from?" Vanessa asked.
"Hmm, good question. And I think I know the answer," Sean said slowly.
"Spill it."
'There's another world. A world of magic. Elliot, Jeannie, and the others were there. When Elliot's mind came back to my body that last time, we shared the memories. I was floored. That place was much better then here. And I asked myself, why couldn't we use some of those powers here? Elliot was adamant that it was forbidden. Well, he's not the only one who can pass between worlds. So I waited till his soul was asleep, and I stole away, blocking myself from him… and tried to cross over. But when I tried to come back, Elliot accused me of lying and going somewhere I shouldn't. WE had a huge argument."
"Oh man."
"But I brought someone else back to help me," Sean confessed. "And he gave me the power that you bear now. I didn't realize the whole import, but now it's coming back."
"Why till now did you not remember?" Darryl asked.
"Elliot tried to fuse with me, and it scrambled my brain. It took all my will to push him away, because he was determined to bring me to heel. I couldn't let him gain control. So I cast him out, and he's no longer in this world," Sean explained.
"Damn, when the others find out," Darryl whispered.
"They won't. And you won't tell them, will you?"
"Uh…"
"Wait, what are these powers you say we have?" Vanessa asked slowly.
"Come close… and we can share each other's thoughts. Take my hands, and I'll open the way to the portal… and you can see for yourself."
"Damn," Vanessa gasped as they linked hands and knelt in a triangle on the floor.
Sparklers exploded as Ace, Paul and the Demon descended. All they found were three bodies laying on the floor, in a triangular formation. Head touched feet of each, their faces pointing up. Yet, the markings on their faces alerted Gene at once. He emitted a low growl pushing Ace and Paul back.
"Sean's that guy but who…" Ace asked. "Man that guy looks like Eric!"
"Yeah… but the girl," Gene hissed, pointing at Vanessa.
"The Egyptian Warrior," Paul breathed. He felt a strange passage of one thought to another, and suddenly there was a presence that blocked his perceptions.
"What man…" Ace asked, and then shivered. "Damn, someone's opened a space rip, but how…"
"What are you talking about…?” Gene asked, and then saw the eyes of the woman blink open. She peered up at Gene oddly, and gave a slow hiss of breath. The eyes of her companions snapped open as well, glancing up into the three other painted faces in mutual confusion.
"You don't have to stand like that," Sean said smoothly. "We're fine."
"But your faces…"
"Changed, right?" Vanessa laughed, smiling smoothly up at them. Sean got up, helping her and Darryl up. Gene kept Paul and Ace both back.
"How?" Gene asked.
"Damned if we know," Vanessa played dumb, but the gleam in her eye alerted Gene she knew much more.
"Are you… okay?" Ace asked.
"Fine, never better," Sean smiled.
"I'm fine but I look weird," Darryl laughed.
"They seem all right," Paul said slowly, narrowing his eyes, but soon he was aware of something missing. However, he said nothing.
"You sure?" Gene asked.
"I'm sure," Paul said, raising his voice ever so slightly. Gene shut up.
"We're cool," Sean assured him.
"If you say so man," Ace shook his head.
"We'll take your word for it now, kid," Gene said levelly, not liking the challenge in Sean's eyes. "But you take it easy. This place down here is yours to crash if you want."
"How generous," Sean smiled smoothly.
"And you lady, what's your name?" Ace asked Vanessa.
"Vanessa. Vanessa Corazon," she said slowly. "But I doubt that would fit me in this freak outfit."
"I don't know what made you two change, but I'm sure you'll have some badass powers as a result," Gene said practically. "So let us know if you do anything you're not used to…"
"Will do, chief," Sean mock saluted. Gene and Paul exchanged glances, and bundled Ace out the door with them, closing the door.
"So, what is going on?" Jeannie asked, halfway into the room.
"You were supposed to stay upstairs," Gene scolded.
"But Sean… Darryl…"
"They appear to be fine, for now," Paul answered hastily.
"Well what happened?" Jeannie demanded, eyes flaring red with impatience.
"They've got weird threads and war paint just like we do," Ace answered. "And dig this, one of them looks like Eric Carr, with the fox paint!"
"And the other, the girl is the Egyptian Warrior," Gene answered. "I don't like it."
"Just cause you couldn't' stand Vinnie doesn't' meant Vanessa," Ace's voice trailed off.
"She gives me bad vibes, as you would say Ace," Gene growled. "And she seemed entirely too sure of herself."
"Sean did too."
"Is he all right?" Jeannie asked.
"He says he's fine," Paul said with a note of sadness. "But I sense no presence of Elliot."
"Then… he is gone," Jeannie lowered her head slowly, and then peered up at the three members of KISS.
"I'm afraid so," Gene said. "Didn't you say that you sensed a tear in space, Ace?"
"Yeah… on the astral plane," Ace reported. "A big one."
"He cast Elliot out, as I feared," Paul said slowly. Jeannie's eyes flared red, and a low growl
escaped her throat.
“Now don't' go freaking out now," Ace said.
"That son… of a bitch…" Jeannie growled, long black fingernails rising into an attack position. "I'll tear his freaking throat out!"
"You'll do no such thing!" Gene snarled back, grabbing his daughter's wrist tightly. "You'll behave or I'll have to…"
"Let me go! That's as good as murdering him!" Jeannie roared, eyes flaring crimson as she fought against her father's grip.
"Starchild!" Gene bellowed. "I can't hold her!"
"Good as Done, gene," Paul shouted, fixing Jeannie in his gaze. She wrenched out of the Demon's grasp, flying for the door of the guestroom. However a blaze of amethyst light flared from Paul's dark eyes, slamming into her with the force of a jackhammer. Jeannie stopped, levitating in midair, a scowl on her Demon face with her fangs bared. Paul's glow levitated her, the nimbus surrounding the fire in her eyes and her body.
"Jeannie, cool it now," Paul urged. "I hate using my powers on you."
"Let… me go…" she gritted, fighting his power.
"Stop it this instant, young lady!" Gene barked. "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you, as your father!"
"I… I…" she gasped, and then finally gave way to the Starchild's emotive power. "Am sorry."
Slowly Paul's amethyst nimbus lowered her to the ground unharmed. The crimson glow faded from her green eyes, replaced by the gleam of new tears. Gene moved over to her immediately, holding his arms out. She finally accepted his embrace, letting her father hold her close.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart," Gene got out. "But something's not right… and I can't have you rushing in there and put the baby at risk."
"I can't control my temper sometimes," she sighed. "It's like the passion builds and I just have to let it out."
"You'll learn to handle it," Gene said, stroking her cheek. "I did."
"Almost," Ace cackled. "Like father, like daughter! The egg didn't fall far from the dragon's lair did it?"
"Shut up Ace," Gene and Jeannie said simultaneously, and then groaned.
"I'm sorry Jeannie, it was necessary," Paul began his apology.
"Save it, you did what you had to," Jeannie sighed. "But now what?"
"My words exactly," Paul agreed.
"Right now why don't we let 'em have their space?" Ace said quietly, moving close to both band mates.
"But…"
"We can keep an eye on 'em with big brother," Ace winked, nodding up to the video cameras. "Have 'em installed all over your house, Gene."
"Ace, who said you were spacey. You actually do make sense sometimes," Gene muttered. "Now, let's sit down and figure out what the hell to do, if there is a problem. And get some sleep."
"I'll take the first watch," Ace said. With a flick of his wrist he sent all three tired souls up to
their bedrooms to complete their rest.
Kelsey panicked at first when she felt the bed empty next to her. She gasped, patting sheets and glancing anxiously around. It was a dream surely… she was in her Demon's room again. "Demon… milord are you there?" she asked, slithering out from under silk sheets.
Sparklers exploded like magic dust, revealing a tall form in gleaming armor and a half length cloak. He peered down at her with dark eyes, hitting a panel on the side of the room. Instantly the illusion faded, and she realized she had not been dreaming.
"Kelsey, you okay girl?"
"I… had thought I was back in my Citadel, with my Demon," she said shyly, gathering the sheets around her bare body. Before any other man besides her Demon, she was loath to uncover.
"Still shy after what we shared? You have a beautiful body. Shame to hide it," Gene licked his lips, and teasingly pulled the sheet out from around her. She shrieked with protest, but when she saw how his eyes feasted on her glorious nudity, she relaxed a bit.
"Forgive me… milord. Gene… but where I came from, I was ill used by men," she said slowly.
"Were you a prostitute?" Gene asked her matter of fact.
"A what?"
"A hooker, a whore?" Gene asked, serious. "A woman who is paid for sex?"
"I… was ill used almost, by Blackwell himself. I did what I had to so I could survive…" she said slowly.
"I'm not knocking you at all. I'm a slut myself," Gene laughed, sliding onto the bed and pulling her into his arms. Fully clothed now, his armor was cold against her warm flesh. It was an odd sensation, and she liked it.
"I was afraid you would think less of me."
"Why should I?" Gene asked. "If you knew how many women I have had."
"It is not the same for a man," she said with shame.
"Bullshit," Gene growled. "What you chose to do with your body is your business alone, Kelsey. I don't' care how many men used you or whatever. No more then you should worry about comparing yourself to the other women I've had."
"You… mean you don't' mind?"
"Wait a minute," Gene said, and took her hand. He led her over to wall upon wall of strange paintings that looked strangely real. She gasped when she realized each was of a woman, a different one, each wearing nothing but a smile or the scantiest of garments.
"What is this? Your women?"
"Yeah. And I was wondering if you wouldn't mind if I…"
"Took my portrait?" she asked with amusement and relief. "If that is your wish I gladly obey. But it will take time."
"Nope. It'll only take a second or two," Gene said, holding up a strange creature he took from one side. He pushed her onto the bed, and held up the daemon with the single eye fixed into its face, its mouth a mere slit. Must be some sort of talisman, she thought. She glanced at it warily as if it would bite her.
"Say cheese," Gene laughed. She jumped at the flash, and the whirring sound. Out of the mouth of the cyclopean box came a small square of parchment. Gene pulled the strange tongue from the creature's slit of a mouth, and showed it to her. In minutes, it shifted into an image of her, astonished and wearing little else but her shock.
"Magic," she shook her head, glancing at it.
"Let's try again," Gene laughed. Kelsey joined in, and dropped the sheet, spreading her arms wide to give the best view of her body for her new lord and master to immortalize her for all time.
In the downstairs guestroom, three youths joined hands, to make the link that was severed rudely by KISS. They opened their minds to the strange trip that lay ahead, Sean leading the way. Chikara wreathed lavender around him to engulf them. Vanessa could swear she felt gold chikara rising from her skin, followed by rust red from Darryl. His locks curled with gold and auburn, pleasant features wrinkling from the acrid scent of all their chikaras mingling.
"The answers will be found my friends, if you open your minds," Sean said slowly, in a voice o many. Elliot had taught him to detach mind from body and travel in an astral form. It would serve well, and he could take the others along to the in between place.
"How can I trust you?" Vanessa asked without speaking.
"Did I not save your life?" Sean asked.
"He did," Darryl said slowly. "But I don't like this Sean, man. You seem pissed."
"I do not fault KISS, for I think they are but puppets for a greater power," said Sean. "My friend explained everything."
"Your friend, who is he?" asked Darryl suspiciously.
"One I met on the other side," Sean smiled with knowing. "You will meet him too, and everything will make sense."
"I sure as hell hope so," Vanessa grumbled.
"Patience," Sean laughed. "All will be revealed…"
Ace returned to his room, and slowly opened the door. Shandi murmured and sat up in his bed with a rustle of sheets. He closed the door behind him and locked it, moving on platform space boots to sit on the edge of the bed near her.
"Celestial, or Ace?" she asked slowly.
"It's Ace, baby," he said softly, leaning over to brush hair out of her face. "Sorry I'm not your Celestial."
"I'm glad you're here at least," Shandi sighed, relaxing into his arms as he wrapped them comfortingly around her in a warm hug. "You have been so sweet to me."
"You're like my daughter in a way," Ace cackled.
"I wish I wasn't," She muttered, but Ace heard.
"What was that?"
"I wish everyone would stop treating me like a child," Shandi snorted.
"What's wrong with acting like one once in a while? People tell me to grow up all the damn time and did I do it? No fucking way!" Ace cackled again.
"You are like a child," she laughed back. "But in a sweet endearing way."
"And you're pretty mature for your age, girl," Ace returned. "Besides if you're having a baby, you gotta have some smarts in your head, and grow up a little."
Shandi gasped sharply, and grabbed Ace's hand. She put it over her belly, and he felt a small flutter. "Did you feel that?"
"Sure did. Just a little flutter, not a kick. Not really far along yet, right?"
"When I was in my world I couldn't see it. Which is weird, because in this world I'm feeling all bloated and I have a stomach already!"
"Maybe time moves differently in this world babe," Ace suggested. "I mean when you dream, time moves really fast, but in reality only one minute's passed. Could be like that in this case."
"That's so…"
"Cool?" Ace supplied.
"What does that mean?"
"Uh… it's like what you say when you really like something, and it really grooves with you."
"In my world we say it moves," Shandi giggled. Ace moved a knee onto the bed, and pulled off his boots. He sat next to her, holding her close.
"That works," he laughed again. "You okay?"
"I… think so. But will you stay with me?" she asked. "I was afraid… all alone."
"Can't let you down then," Ace laughed. "I'll stay, if you want me to.”
"Thank you," Shandi sighed. "I miss having him next to me... and you are the next best thing."
"Better get out of this getup," Ace said. "If you want me to get in with you."
"Keep me warm," Shandi winked. Ace pulled off his halter and spandex, and she saw his lean body bared for a moment. He pulled a T shirt on, and slipped into the bed next to her. Sighing, she curled up against him as he lay on his side. She was so soft and warm in his arms that Ace echoed her sigh, pulling her protectively close to him.
Turning over, she placed her belly against his, but he didn't' mind. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed a soft kiss to his lips. Ace returned the soft kiss, stroking her hair aside of her cheek. Before long, she was fast asleep in his arms.
***
Strange powers suddenly fused over them, from deep within their minds. A strange blackness filled the room, and Darryl gasped. "He's calling, coming through. Welcome him," came Sean's voice. He took their hands, and lavender chikara wreathed them both.
"What?"
"Let go. Let go and let me lead the way," Sean whispered.
Vanessa felt her soul being tugged from her body, by velvet hands. Darryl resisted the pull, but Sean's coaxing eventually let him release his fears. The blackness wrapped them like a blanket, and their heavy shells fell away.
"Now, listen well. Come with me," Sean urged. He shimmered before them, and Darryl gasped as he felt his body flowing with a rust colored light. Vanessa blazed gold, by Sean in the blackness.
A voice that crunched bones echoed with its laugh, startling Darryl. Sean stood resolute, and Vanessa peered up in mingled awe and disgust at the darkness. Their own light seemed swallowed up in its path. "Children, you have come. I welcome you into the night."
"Why should I believe what's going on?" Vanessa smirked.
"It is your choice. But do you want to live, or die of hunger and disease in the world you inhabit? Even now, you approach starvation. There are limited resources on your world, and they must be shared and preserved."
"What do you mean?" Darryl asked.
"To survive, you can either scrimp and find food, and exist. Or you can thrive and rebuilt your world. Those called KISS whom you worship can use the power to dominate and take the world for their own, but they do not. Their time is past. But you and your friends hold the power to take back the world, and tame it for your purposes."
"Get real. The world's dying," Vanessa hissed.
"There are ancient forces that can be mastered. If you but take them, and master them, you can rebuild your world in blood and fire. Those that survive are living like you did, Vanessa. But they need leaders to rescue them and show them the way…"
"Like us," Sean agreed. "Don't you see?"
"Why can't we go back to 1976 and take the children with us?" Darryl asked.
"That is our last resort," said Sean. "Back then we were nobodies, freaks."
"KISS gave us something to believe in," Darryl reminded him.
"Yes, but their time is past. They cannot help us," Sean said. "And their children are fools. Elliot dominated me, and Tyler only means to use Mona as his slave. Jeannie and Mona carry the future. If they stay in that house, waiting on their fathers, they most surely might die."
"I can't see why that makes sense," Darryl disagreed.
"Don't you see? As long as KISS lives, they hoard the Talismen. When the Destroyers were defeated, they took them back. When will they pass the power on to those more worthy?" Sean asked.
"They are worthy."
"They are old. Let the legends die, and let us carry on," Sean shook his head.
"Tell me more about the ancient powers," Vanessa asked the darkness. "What all can they do?"
"Good question, my dear," Came the bone crunching voice. "And I will tell you. But only if you help me."
"What's in it for you?"
"I want the one called Shandi. Bring her to me. She carries something I want."
"Why her?" Sean asked.
"She is from my world. I mean to take her and the one called Kelsey back to where they belong. They belong to me, but the Elder have stolen them from me."
"I thought they were slaves of yours," Darryl asked.
"They refused me. I need them to barter with the Elder, to negotiate. They hold certain magic that could heal and restore your world."
"Why do you need us?" Vanessa asked.
"They bind me in my world, but in your world I can exist. Only in spirit form. The energy it takes to resist them cannot be spent in manifesting myself in a body. But I can make sure you have the knowledge, and carry it for me to use on my behalf."
"So, you need us for your arms and legs," Darryl muttered.
"The choice is simple. Take the power and knowledge I offer, and your world has a chance to live. All I want is the woman Shandi. I will give you the power I have in advance. And the knowledge to master it. Serve me, and I will be your slave."
"If we serve him, he serves us," Sean said slowly. "If we follow him we live. If we don't, we'll die. That technology only keeps us alive, but we aren't living."
"I will give you a cause, a direction. Others will follow you. Your names will be feared and respected… forever," came the promise.
"Sounds good to me," Vanessa smiled eagerly.
"Now, you will listen as I impart the knowledge. After that you will take the woman Shandi while she sleeps."
"What about Jeannie and Mona?" Sean asked.
"If you can, they will be useful, for they are women. You will need them and their children, to help build our numbers. But Shandi is mine…"
Kelsey stretched and sighed, feeling the warm body that lay against her. Licking he lips, she blinked again, and found a hand slowly creeping over her bared breast. Blinking, she gasped when she saw where she was, and tears burned in her eyes. It was only a dream, wasn't it?
"Kelsey, my love," came the deep voice that sent shivers all over her body. "You have come to your Demon."
"Milord?" she gasped, looking up into a pair of dark eyes. His massive frame raised over her bared body, and she began to cry with confusion as soft lips pressed grateful kisses over her flesh.
"The way has been opened, even if for a short time, I had to see you again, know that you are well," he rumbled. Over his shoulder, she saw the flickering of the fire, strange sparks flying it its depths. Sobbing with joy, she wrapped herself around his massive body, burying her lips in his. Against his muscled body she felt him crush her, then hold her out to admired her body stretched under his.
"But I'm back."
"The way was opened, but even now I can feel the blackness pulling you away," Demon
whispered. "You have become part of that world… and I have brought you here also for a
warning."
"Love me, please," she begged.
"I hunger for you!" he cried. The plaintive note struck at him, and he bathed her in hot strokes of his tongue.
"My Kelsey, the darkness has entered your world. Among your allies are enemies, and the seeds of Blackwell have been planted. Even now, they infect the souls of three youths. You and Shandi must prepare to face them after they return."
"What say you?" she asked, his face inches from her in their intimate embrace.
"While you slumbered, another woman was found. Celestial saw the visions, and shared them with me even as I saw them in the flames of the Fire. My agents among the Darkness have seen Blackwell's sorcerers open a Gate. It was only last night that the Champion returned from your world, and told us what was going on."
"Champion?"
"The one called Elliot, the Star Bearer. His host has cast him out, and claims his power for his own. Elliot is among us now, training to be a Champion.”
"You mean Jeannie's lover?" Kelsey asked.
"Indeed the very same. All while you sleep now. The Four who are One are four no more and their sires face great danger."
"In that world they're called KISS," she said to the Demon. "And I have found comfort with one who bears your markings and name, one called Gene. I could not help but make love to him."
"That is good. He needs you, for he has lost his mate. When you love him, you love me. I think that was why you and Shandi were sent. These men of KISS are lonely. But they must have all their strength for the battle ahead, when the Betrayers will strike. Already the host of Elliot has listened to the blackness, which set itself in his mind."
"How was he infected?"
"When we sent the Four who are One to their own world, part of the seed had been planted in the one called Jeannie. Only the power of Star Child saved her. Yet, that blackness jumped from her to the one called Sean, who held Elliot. As long as Elliot fought the darkness inside, Sean was safe. Now the darkness has expelled Elliot, and he is safe with us here. He cannot return, for he must be our Champion, now that you and Kelsey are gone."
"Why can't things be the way they were?" she sobbed.
"Because, women are needed in the other world, as men are needed here. But Jeannie will not be alone. For the sire of Elliot loves her greatly… and will protect and defend her and her unborn child. As you must protect Shandi and the children when they come."
"What will KISS face? I thought the Four had to fight now."
"The four are four no longer. Moreover, there will be a great secret magic, dark and terrible that the three will learn. Shandi knows of it. It is the great devourer of age that we all face. They will use this Devourer spell against the mothers, Dragon Woman and Celestial. But I tell you this now so that you will warn them, and save them… Shandi has the key to soften the blow."
"I don't understand."
"Remember my words, and tell them to Shandi, and all that will hear. When the Three ask to leave, let them go. They are even more dangerous among you then if they are left to roam free."
"But if they are listening to Blackwell, if they are let go, then they'll learn more." Kelsey said.
"But if they remain they endanger you while you sleep, and the children. Blackwell wants the child of Celestial and Shandi. You must protect them…"
"I will…"
"Even now I can no longer hold you to this world… you must return… for your body their awakens…"'
"Demon please…" she cried. Already she felt herself slipping away from his grasp, to fade like the dream.
"Kelsey, remember!" Demon cried.
"Milo rd!" Kelsey cried, sitting up violently. Sleepily the figure next to her roused, and saw her tear filled eyes clamping shut.
"Kelsey, it's all right," he urged, as she buried her face in her lap and sobbed. She let Gene pull her close, hugging her tightly as she cried.
"I saw him! I saw my Demon, and he couldn't hold onto me," she sobbed. Gene stroked her and shushed her, pulling her head to rest on his shoulder.
"Where did you see your Demon? In your dreams?" Gene asked.
"Yes," she said, pulling away as Gene wiped away her tears. Dawn must have broken, for the twilight outside had slowly grown a lighter tone, and eerie gray shone through the tall windows of his bedroom.
"Want to talk about it?" Gene asked.
"He... had used his dark magic to bring me…so he could see me, and he also brought me to give me a warning. He said something about three rebels who would destroy us all. unless we let them leave."
"Say what?" Gene asked.
"And he said Elliot was there in our world, and that Blackwell is threatening yours," Kelsey breathed, trying to steady her shaking voice. "Gene, I know you must think I'm mad."
"No, too much shit's been happening that defies explanation. And remember, KISS has been to that place you're from a long time ago. We know better than to ignore any weird shit."
"I have to tell Shandi," Kelsey said, getting out of bed. She shivered, goose bumps erupting over her skin. Gene too rose, pulling on a long bodysuit over his thighs. She admired him, although he was advanced in age, his legs were still well shaped and pleasing to behold. He tossed her a flannel jerkin; with strange fastenings he called buttons. She managed to fasten them, and take the leggings he handed her.
"Let's tell Ace, and the others," Gene said. "Before the kids wake up."
Kelsey was amazed he took her so seriously. Gene took her hand, and led her out of his bedroom, and down the hall. The massive pieces of armor seemed to appear of their own volition around his body. From downstairs came the sound of fierce arguing. Kelsey and Gene rushed down as quickly as possible, both at the ready. A door opened, and Ace poked his head out, with a very sleepy Shandi next to him. She wore one of his oversized t-shirts, and glanced anxiously at Kelsey.
"Where are they going?" Ace yawned.
"C'mon, get me down there!" Shandi cried. Sleepily Ace put an arm around her waist and jerked his thumb. Both vanished in a wink of an eye, to appear downstairs. Tyler had Darryl pinned to the wall by his throat, while Vanessa wrestled with Jeannie in her pink bathrobe, and Sean struggled against Peter.
"You son of a bitch I'll teach you to attack my family!" Peter Criss snarled at Sean.
"Let me go, you old has been!" Sean yelled back. A light slammed into Peter's face, blinding him. Sean punched the Cat man in the jaw, and he crumpled to the ground. A laser blast landed into Peter's chest, and he lay still. Gene reached Sean, roaring and he pounced on the Bandit. Over and over they rolled, Gene snarling.
"Is this how you repay our hospitality," Jeannie snarled at Vanessa. Suddenly a blaze of gold energy flashed into Jeannie, knocking her flat. Kelsey reached Jeannie first, and landed a kick into Vanessa's jaw. Tyler struggled against Darryl, who suddenly morphed and shifted. To Tyler's astonishment, a shaggy mane and wolfish muzzle opened and snarled as massive strength twisted him out of his grasp. Tyler too shifted into Lion form, pinned under Darryl. Hissing and snapping they rolled over.
"WE don't mean harm but you provoke us," Darryl snarled. Ace acted quickly, his hand forming a fist and pointing toward Darryl. Silver lightening coursed from his fingers, slamming into the lupine creature and stunning him.
Gene pinned Sean, who gritted under the Demon's massive strength. "Treacherous little shit… what the hell are you doing fighting in my house!" Gene roared.
"Get OFF of me!" Sean yelled, pushing his foot into Gene's stomach. He managed to push the older Demon off him.
Kelsey struggled to hold Vanessa, but felt a fist in her jaw. Rolling aside, she swept her foot as Vanessa struggled to get up. Suddenly the girl toppled, and Kelsey landed a kick in her belly. Anger sparkled in the blue eyes framed by black kohl. Crossing her arms over her chest, she let fly a blast of wind that slammed Kelsey backwards into Gene.
Jeannie sent a stream of fire towards Vanessa. Crossing her arms again the flames slammed into a golden barrier Vanessa had erected. Sean managed to stand, and narrowed his gaze at Jeannie. Ace turned, and sent a stream of lighting toward the youth, meeting the burning gaze of his laser. As both energies met, they fizzled.
"Damn… he's a tough nut to crack," Ace gritted, as he intercepted another blast. Tyler moved over the stunned Darryl, who began to move. Jeannie rammed her shoulder against Vanessa's barrier, repeatedly. Again and again she hammered, boots landing kicks and spiked gloves slamming hard. Turning his gaze, Sean let a blast fly to Jeannie. Only Shandi's scream of warning and a feeble missile fizzling into Sean's face managed to divert his aim. Jeannie rolled away, while Vanessa raised her hand to point curiously at Jeannie.
"Leave her alone!" Shandi cried. Darryl suddenly sprang into life, knocking Tyler over in human form. His paws pinned Tyler, as his teeth closed around his throat, but did not sink in. Gene and Kelsey lay out cold, knocked out by the force of their fall. Vanessa reached Sean's side, dodging the bolts that Shandi hurled at them, and the smoldering bursts of lightening that Ace loosed on them. He jerked his thumb, teleporting himself and Shandi over to defend Gene and Kelsey while Tyler and Darryl wrestled in a snapping mass of fur and fangs.
Jeannie recovered, wings spreading as she flew toward Vanessa. Her dragon boot crashed against another strange barrier of gold, while Vanessa's wrist flickered, and in her grasp appeared a short curved sword. Sean rolled away, his own blasts meeting Ace's blow for blow. Suddenly something pelted Shandi from above, and she saw a cloud of pink objects landing on her. In a panic her bolts flew, sizzling rose petals. Ace's gaze turned shortly, and a laser sizzled past his head. He ported to Shandi's side, and flicked his wrist. Sean found his blasts crashing into an invisible cone shape that had sprung up around Ace and the sorceress.
"Like what's your deal?" Ace yelled.
"I want her!" Sean shouted as he pointed to Shandi. "I must have her!"
"Shut up!" Jeannie shouted, and swung a spiked glove at the sickle shaped blade that swished down before Vanessa. The Egyptian warrior spun, slashing again and flipping over Jeannie's powerful kick. Gold sparklers blazed in Jeannie's face suddenly, momentarily blinding her. A sharp kick knocked her dragon booted feet out, and Vanessa advanced, sword upraised.
"Jeannie!" Shandi cried.
"Give me her, or I will kill Jeannie!" Sean shouted.
"No way!" Ace shook his head, struggling to keep his barrier up against the rain of lasers from Sean's narrowed gaze. He wasn't as young as he used to be, he realized. Tyler struggled in vain to pin Darryl, but the lupine figure matched him blow for blow. Suddenly a flare of purple energy slammed into Sean, knocking him over. Another blast slammed into Vanessa, knocking her flat. Paul swooped down the stairs, landing between Jeannie and Vanessa.
"What took you so long?" Ace demanded.
"That little shit nailed me in my sleep with a relaxation ray," Paul pointed at Sean, who shook his head. Star Child and Bandit rose to meet each other, gazes narrowed. Vanessa managed to squirm to her feet. Kelsey slowly raised her head, and glanced around. Behind him, Jeannie slowly hugged her stomach.
"You will all die," Vanessa hissed, stumbling over to Sean. Energy crackled around Paul's face, his eyes flaring amethyst.
"I think not," Paul hissed. Suddenly a nimbus of lavender energy reached out from Sean, wreathing around Paul. Amethyst power matched it, crackling.
"You're old and weak," Vanessa taunted them. Ace raised his hand, and lightening arched toward them. However, a golden bolt flared into silver, scattering Ace's lightening. A stray blast slammed into Peter, who was struggling to move, only knocking him down again.
"No!" Ace cried. Tyler suddenly felt himself shoved off Darryl, and thrown clear across the room. Glass shattered as Tyler slammed through the far window. Darryl bounded over to Vanessa's other side, joining his friends. Sean and Paul's battle continued, as Vanessa and Ace squared off.
"You are powerful, Space Ace, but even now your energies ebb. Where are your precious Talismen?"
"Shut the fuck up!" Ace yelled, pushing Shandi behind him.
"Shandi… we got to let them go!" Kelsey groaned, trying to pick herself up.
"They aren't going anywhere!" Shandi cried.
"Give up, Star child!" the Bandit cried, lavender energy crackling against amethyst. "I'm younger and stronger!”
"That's what you think," Paul yelled back, his own energy slamming into Sean's. Darryl watched, and crept toward Jeannie. Shandi slammed him with a missile that only fizzled harmlessly against his face.
"Leave her alone!" Shandi screamed. Kelsey threw herself at Darryl, and kicked him in the stomach. The fox rolled over, and Kelsey stood before Jeannie.
"Enough of this," Vanessa hissed. Another bolt slammed into Ace, and he teleported out of the way, to stand near Shandi, Jeannie and Kelsey.
"I don't want to hurt you," Darryl groaned. "But I must obey."
"No…" Shandi cried. "Why are you doing this?"
"The blackness," Darryl snarled, shifting back to the strange lupine form. Paul's brows creased in concentration. Upstairs, Nathan and Susan rushed, to peer down.
"What's happening?" they cried.
"Get back!" Paul shouted. It was enough for the lavender energy to overwhelm him. A pulse of laser power slammed into Paul, and the Star Child crumpled stunned to the ground. Only Ace now stood, glancing back and forth anxiously.
"Now Vanessa…" Sean cried, and rushed to her side. They joined hands, and Vanessa fixed the fallen room in her gaze. Ace waved, erecting a bubble of force to shield the fallen. Kelsey shook the haze from her mind, yelling at Gene's kids to stay back.
"Paul," Jeannie cried, crawling over to him. A bolt from Sean's fiery gaze slammed into her, and she lay still, stunned.
"You fight well, but in vain," Vanessa hissed. "All the powers of Ancient Egypt are now mine."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Ace asked.
"Blackwell, he's using them!" Kelsey cried.
"Shit," Ace gasped. "No fucking way!"
"Mighty Anubis now arise, sweep the years from your children's eyes. Your daughter pleads you rise the fears, and gnaw away their remaining years," Vanessa began to chant.
"Give me a break," Ace cackled.
"Oh no… no…" Shandi gasped. She recognized the chant, a dark spell from ages past. Around Vanessa the golden energies swarmed and spread. Sean's nimbus of lavender joined hers, and spread out to slam into Ace. He stood transfixed, unable to move his power fizzling.
"Mighty powers heed my plea," Shandi began to chant, struggling to remember the words she had learned from Celestial. "And bind… bind… the charms of my enemy…"
Vanessa screamed, her power shortly halted. Sean's own power surged into hers, lending her his chikara. Even Darryl moved to flank her, rust chikara spewing from his body into hers. "By Set, destroyer of the desert, I command the winds of Time…" Vanessa chanted, drawing chikara from her two companions. "To steal fourscore years and ten from each that lay within… sweep away their years… I command thee, by Anubis and Set… your daughter pleads!"
"Winds of time, heed not her call, and dispel your power, to make it small…" Shandi wondered. Her silver energy flared out into the midst of the golden amber rain that surrounded KISS and the fallen ones. She heard the cries and moans as they began to wrinkle in age.
"Let them join the dust of the dead!" Vanessa continued her chant, mustering the ancient chikara. Again renewed, her spell wreathed and sparkled with added power and desperation. Shandi struggled to marshal her own strength that would stop this ancient curse. However, there were no words she could recall countering a dark spell such as this. Except the novice spell that twisted a curse around. She might not be able to stop Vanessa's spell, but she could somehow soften it.
"Let her pox be twisted, and ages past… ne'er existed!" Shandi screamed.
Chikara flared from deep inside, radiating outward against the golden radiance. Nathan and Susan felt the blinding energies sweet out and slam into their brains, blinding them. Vanessa let out a scream, and collapsed in Sean's arms. Darryl glanced around, and gasped as Shandi crumpled to the ground. Nathan and Susan lay out cold as well, joining the mass of bodies in the sitting room.
"Let's get out of here," he told them.
"Agreed," Sean nodded. Carrying Vanessa they bust down the door, and walked outside. As they rushed off into the eerie twilight, Darryl confronted Sean.
"Why did we have to kill them?"
"Because, they would have done the same to us," Sean hissed. "We only were supposed to get the one called Shandi, or the one called Mona. But we couldn't reach when those Cats attacked us!"
"What the hell did Vanessa do?"
"She knows many spells of darkness. Didn't you listen to a word he said?" Sean hissed.
"Only enough to know I hate this. those people were the last hope… for humanity… and we killed them all."
"No. I sense the life force of the one called Mona, and the one called Shandi still lives. As does the Dragon Woman. We will rest and listen to more of Blackwell, and then we will capture the women for our own. With them, we will build a new race."
"Isn't there another way? We once worshipped KISS. . And to destroy them."
"They are old fools now. The old must pass away to make way for the new," Sean said coldly. They moved off into the rising cold of the night, to find a place to recover and listen.
************************************************
"No!" Mona screamed as she saw the flash of energy. She teleported from the house, despite her mate and father in law's warnings. Tyler moaned and shook the glass off his fur, and she rushed to his side. Strange energies seethed and spilled through the window, misting around Mona. He slowly shook the glass off, groaning. "What are you doing here… I told you to wait inside…"
"Shut up," she cried, hugging him. "The others!"
Another blast of energy flared and she heard the screams echoing in its wake as it faded. A hastily erected cone of vibration shielded her and Tyler from the blast, which still knocked her back. She groaned, hugging herself as she came to. It became difficult to hold the shield up, but Mona did so. She collapsed as Tyler held her up, and took her into his arms. Strange cramps claimed her stomach, golden mist bathing her as her shield faded. Wisps of that strange acrid chikara wafted into Tyler's nose, and he shook them away. Slowly the mists faded, and he peered into the open hole of the window. All was silent. He saw the bodies strewn about, and shivered.
"Stay here," he told Mona, and leapt inside.
"But…"
Glancing around he saw no presence, nor smelt any strong sources of scent, but the residuals remained. He leapt out, then carried Mona in through the gaping hole left in the wall from his own unceremonious exit. Mona gasped when she saw the bodies draped over ruined sofas and chairs, facedown. Tyler put her on her feet, and she wandered over to where Jeannie and Ace lay.
"Father… Jeannie… No!"
"Dad…" Tyler gasped. Something was not right. Whom would he tend to next? From upstairs they heard the moans, and saw Susan and Nathan moving down, both haggard but alive.
"Shit what…"
Jennie suddenly climbed in through the jagged hole, and rushed to Tyler and Mona. "What… oh no!"
"Help dad!" Tyler shouted. Nathan rushed to Gene and Kelsey, while Susan went to help Jeannie. Mona tended to her father, while Tyler helped Shandi. Slowly Ace moaned and stirred, as Mona gently turned him over. She drew in her breath sharply as a pair of eyes flickered open, and stared up at her. Gene groaned, rubbing his head. He blinked up into the face of his son, who appeared stunned for a moment.
"Dad," Nathan gasped.
"What the hell… Nathan…I thought I told you…"
Paul groaned, and pushed himself up, and Tyler turned to face him after laying Shandi on a sofa. She was still breathing, and he managed to lift her to the sofa Was it his imagination, or did her belly look larger then before? How far along was she?
"Shit," Kelsey groaned, shaking her head.
"What… Gene…Nathan," she gasped.
"Dad…" Nathan gasped. Susan stroked Jeannie's hair, but the Dragon Woman did not move. "Why are you staring at me like that?" Gene demanded, rubbing his head.
"Jeannie!" Paul cried, shaking off the help that Tyler gave him. He rushed over to Susan, and knelt beside Jeannie. In shock, Susan pulled away, gasping. Jennie helped her father to turn over, and stifled a scream of alarm. Gone were the streaks of silver, replaced with jet black. Paul shook off ebony curls, his muscled body firm and toned, dark hair curling over his bared chest. Gene blinked again, and could swear he had lost weight.
"Dad… you look… young," Nathan blurted out.
"Mona, what's wrong?" Ace asked, sitting up as his daughter pulled away.
"You… you're changed!" she gasped.
"Changed, what are you talking about kid?" Ace cackled. She pointed to her face, and his hands. Slowly Ace ran hands over his face, and looked down at his hands. Granted the veins had always been prevalent on his hands, but they looked far less worn. Even his hair was soft chestnut brown, no white hair anywhere!
"Jennie, don't you know me, little girl?" Peter asked his daughter and son.
"You… you're changed too," she gasped. "Just like… in the old pictures."
"Jeannie," Paul whispered, stroking her face delicately as he urged her awake. "Are you all right?"
"Paul…" Gene gasped, and registered that his friends were sitting up. "Your hair."
"What?" Paul laughed. It was easier to move, and his knees didn't ache any more. Strangely, he felt full of vigor. Nathan helped Gene to stand, and they tended to Kelsey, whose own eyes popped open in amazement.
"Milord… Gene… you are young!" she blurted out.
"Shandi… is she," Ace asked, rushing over to the couch. He stumbled a bit as Mona tried to stop him.
"Careful," Mona cried.
"What's happened… to us all?" Peter demanded. "You guys. Holy shit you look like you first did twenty freaking years ago!"
"What?" Paul asked and then Gene pointed to his face.
"Someone get a mirror," Mona said practically.
Speechless, Susan ran upstairs. Gene strode over to Paul, staring at him oddly. Peter moved over to Ace, who was gently fussing over Shandi. Mona moved close to Tyler, fear rising in her. "Ty…"
"I don't believe it. They smell exactly like they did… in 1976."
"Get a load of you!" Ace cackled at Peter. "No gray hairs."
"The pain's gone," Peter muttered, moving his hands without fear of the wracking carpal tunnel. "Shit… it's not just the Talismen."
"I feel… great,” Gene shook his head. "Man… I haven't felt this alive since…"
"1976?" Tyler supplied.
"Say what?" Peter asked.
"You're young again, don't you get it?" Mona cried.
"Damn…" Gene gasped.
"It's true Dad," Susan chimed in. "It's like looking at those old videos!"
"Major weird," Nathan gasped, staring at his father. "It's like looking at a Tribute band!"
Gene leaned over Jeannie, Kelsey and the other two children at his side. "Is she okay Paul…"
Peter peered into the mirror that Susan had brought down; shaking his head as Jennie fingered her father's dark hair. He looked very similar to Tyler now, except for the blond in her brother's hair and features.
"Elliot," Jeannie moaned, moving her head back and forth. Slowly she blinked and her eyes fixed into the dark ones filled with concern.
"It's Paul. look I know we look different but…"
"Are we in the past?" Jeannie asked, sitting up and blinking in confusion.
"No… it's us," Gene told her, moving close and taking her hand in his. "Whatever that Vanessa chick did…"
"It must have made us young," Ace said.
"Where are they? I have a score to settle… ahhh," Jeannie began, but moaned as she hugged her abdomen. Gene and Paul leaned over her in concern.
"Mona… your belly… it's larger," Tyler suddenly realized.
"Shandi too," Ace muttered. "Wait… time itself… its gone crazy man."
"I feel it too," Mona winced, feeling the muscles in her stomach and abdomen contracting. IT felt as if she had gained twenty pounds in one hour!
Shandi blinked awake, and looked up into Ace's face. "Oh good, You're alive!" she cried, and threw her arms around him.
"What did you do?" Kelsey asked.
"I threw… a jamming spell," she explained.
"Whatever Vanessa was doing was what made us like this," Ace said. "She was throwing some kinda freaky spell."
"It was an aging spell… to age you all to death."
"Excuse me," Peter piped in, and sat down by Shandi. "If that's the case, why the hell are we younger?"
"Beats the shit outta me," Paul muttered.
"Don't you get it?" Gene asked. "If it was an aging spell… then it fucked up. Because it youthed us instead of aging us."
"That's right," Shandi agreed, as Ace brushed hair from her face. "I tried every spell I knew, but the only one that would work was a simple fate twist."
"Fate twist?" Ace asked.
"It reverses the hex back, and softens it."
"So instead of making us older, it had the opposite effect," Gene nodded.
"Oh I get it!" Ace cackled. "So we got younger! Twenty years each!"
"Actually you are all twenty five years younger," Shandi said. "Give or take a few years…"
"Damn," Paul gasped.
"You know what this means?" Gene asked, glancing down at Kelsey. She liked the sparkle in the young eyes, which seemed to drink in her details.
"Our strength, our health is all returned," Paul said.
"Pardon me for raining on this parade guys," Peter held up a hand. "But how long is it going to last?"
"It is permanent," Shandi said. "At least, I mean you're going to age normally, but you're going to stay 25 years younger."
"I like it already," Gene smiled.
"But what about that Vanessa bitch?" Kelsey asked.
"We wait for her to come to us," Paul clenched his fist. "And then…"
"I say we hunt them down and kick their asses," Peter snorted. "Sons of bitches!"
"But they're under Blackwell's influence!" Kelsey cried.
"They might not be aware of what they're doing," Mona pointed out. Suddenly she let out a cry, holding her stomach. Shandi did the same.
"What the f…" Gene asked.
"Don't' you see, the time spell didn't just affect us," Ace said. "It affected them… look!"
"Uh oh," Paul shook his head. Indeed Jeannie's belly did look quite larger. In fact, they seemed on the verge of nine months.
"I sense time going nuts," Ace gasped.
"Nate, Susan! Get some hot towels at once," Gene shouted. "I think these kids are going into labor!"
"Oh shit," Peter froze. "What the hell do we know about giving birth?"
"I do," Kelsey piped in. "Plenty. When I was a slave for Blackwell, I learned about helping midwife the fellow whores when they gave birth."
"What do we do?" Ace asked.
"Listen to me," Kelsey barked. "Get them upstairs and comfortable. Use Gene's room for Jeannie, and Ace, put Shandi in your room. And Mona take the guestroom down the hall! I need to be within walking distance."
Paul scooped up Jeannie, and Ace helped pick up Shandi. Tyler and Peter helped carry Mona upstairs as well. Susan, Nathan and Jennie bustled about following Kelsey's directions.
 

Chapter 10
Chapter 12
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